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Evilschemer

Stand-offs

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I had a situation pop up in last week's game where the the PCs and the NPCs faced a stand-off.

The NPCs had no wish to start a fight, but they needed the PCs to put their guns on the ground and come in to the local jail for questioning.

The PCs did not trust the NPCs and had no wish to put their guns down (PC's never do, ever). That being said, the PCs had no desire to start a fight either.

No one had drawn their weapons yet. It was a tense stand-off.

And very annoying for me as the GM! I did everything I could to reassure the players that nothing bad would happen to their characters. I wasn't going to screw them. These NPCs were trustworthy. I also pointed out that the PCs were outnumbered and out-gunned and if fighting started, they would probably all die, and a TPK over this would be stupid.

I was unable to negotiate in character because the PLAYERS had the advantage, not in game but meta-game. They were essentially forcing my hand, "We'll die before we give up our guns" and I, as the GM, didn't want that to happen!

Ultimately, I dropped the plot-hammer on them and explained that they needed to give up to get to the next phase of the story. The whole side-story in the town that ended in the stand-off was an unexpected side trip that was NOT the main focus of the story I wanted to tell and the players wanted to play, and I was trying to get everyone back on track. They agreed and we proceeded.

However, thinking about this today, I came up with a fair in-game mechanic for resolving these stand-offs. A kind of social combat mechanic.

Rules for Resolving Stand-offs

For situations where neither side really wants a fight, but neither side wants to back down, use the following procedure:

Step 1 – Everyone gets one skill roll to make a plan. Knowledge, Insight, Strategy, Psychotherapy. (Optional)

Step 2 – Everyone gets skill roll to make their case. Persuasion, Fast Talk, Command, Perform: Acting, Bargain, Etiquette. (Optional)

Step 3 – Both sides make a POW x 5% rolls, modified by the following:

-20% per fumble from steps 1 and 2.

-05% per failure from steps 1 and 2.

+05% per success from steps 1 and 2.

+10% per special from steps 1 and 2.

+20% per critical from steps 1 and 2.

If one side succeeds and the other side loses, that loser capitulates and gives up peacefully. Otherwise, repeat steps 1-3 until one side wins and the other side loses. A fumble in step 3 means you have escalated the stand-off to fighting. Begin combat.

If, at any point, either side changes their mind and wishes to escalate, then combat begins. If, at any point, either side wishes to voluntarily capitulate, then the contest ends.

This, of course, only works if both sides honestly don’t want to start a fight, but at least one side doesn’t trust that the other side won’t, or won’t take undue advantage of them if they capitulate.

Edited by Evilschemer
EDIT: I just realized a Mexican Stand-Off is with three participants. So forget the Mexican part.

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I just had an e-mail conversation with one of my players, a player who emphatically states:

This may be a little off-topic, but, in all honesty--Just never, ever put the PCs in a situation where NPCs will take their toys (weapons & armour {maybe thieves picks & tools}) away and confine them. If you like campaigns ending in a blaze of glory keep writing in to the story that "the PCs get captured". I won't. I'll release nerve gas in a town of innocents to prevent my capture. I'll fucking nuke the site from orbit to prevent my capture. I'll shoot my cone rifle into the nuclear reactor to prevent my capture. I will never be voluntarily captured alive in-game. Probably out-of-game as well.

If you want me to derail another campaign with YET ANOTHER example of how my character will not be captured alive, please feel free to write in to your "script" how Dave's character will be captured. If I am captured by GM fiat I will make every attempt possible to destroy the campaign in a fireball of nuclear nerve gas and angry and spiteful recriminations. Just a FYI.

He has a great point. His reaction is representative, I think, of the thinking of almsot ALL players I've ever gamed with, whether they realized it or not. If put into a situation where the only three options are fight, flight, or surrender, the players will ALWAYS choose fight!

I, as GM, should be more aware of this. Instead of trying to get THEM to change THEIR thinking, or implementing game rules to FORCE them (fair or not), the campaign would probably be better served by not getting them into these stand-off situations in the first place. Or, failing that, because stand-off situations can and sometimes do happen because they are the only logical direction for a story given the PCs' actions, then it's my duty to provide a THIRD ALTERNATIVE to fight, flight, or surrender.

In my situation in last week's game, I could have interrputed the stand-off by having the rebels side with the PCs. A fun fire-fight would have ensued and the story would have advanced in the direction I wanted. Or I could have interrupted it with a bandits raid, or a retributive attack by the lizard people, both of which would have changed the dynamic, either allowing the PCs to slip away or allowed the two stand-offs to team up. Again, the story would have been advanced with a cool battle.

These are all in hindsight, of course. The lesson for me is, when this happens again, stop everything and think of a third alternative.

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In our campaigns the player characters occasionally have to surrender

and get captured, and this has never been a problem. Whatever the

characters' goals were, committing suicide by attempting to resist an

obviously far superior opponent or by otherwise insisting on getting kil-

led would certainly have prevented them from reaching these goals. Be-

sides, surrendering to a superior opponent or to avoid an unnecessary

risk of getting killed is also just a very plausible behaviour, as even ma-

ny real world elite soldiers did it.

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Ultimately, I dropped the plot-hammer on them and explained that they needed to give up to get to the next phase of the story. The whole side-story in the town that ended in the stand-off was an unexpected side trip that was NOT the main focus of the story I wanted to tell and the players wanted to play, and I was trying to get everyone back on track. They agreed and we proceeded.

Personally, I think this is the root of your problem right here. Unless you and your group really likes railroading (and from the response of your player, he doesn't, though certainly others do) then you shouldn't allow yourself to get caught in a situation where the characters need to do something in order to advance your story. You should think of it as their story - a story that unravels as the PCs perform actions - and just roll with the punches. My personal opinion is that you should have played the NPCs according to their own motives. If that meant shooting and killing PCs, then so be it. If that meant maintaining the stand-off while they called in reinforcements with teargas grenades, then so be it. If that meant letting them go, then so be it. Edited by Thalaba

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Well Evilschemer, I think your player has taken a bit of an overvalued stance. After all, you were all playing a game, and it almost looks a little personal how his text reads. If he tends to get that heated up over something that happens in-game then perhaps it really isn't the hobby for him. A little like all these fellas who do online MMOs and have 'gaming rage' all the time, it kinda defeats the purpose of doing a hobby for fun. Maybe he's not that emotive, but it certainly looks like it in your post. I'ld be a bit taken back from it, actually.

I suppose it depends on how the rpg session is viewed - the old 'Players vs The GM World' way of thinking has the players competing with the GM over everything, and I tried to leave that behind sometime during my university gaming days in the early '90s. I still have a mate of mine whom I regularly game with and he is pretty much in this mind-set, sometimes not consciously so. It tends to be disruptive to the session at times, despite him being a great gamer in many other ways.

A better way of gaming in my opinion is a "Group Storytelling' session which is a combined effort between the GM and the players. It seems to be less conflicting on a personal level, although the players have to know that if the story line is to advance that their characters won't be directly led to an untimely demise, only to a complication that will give them an excuse for action and heroics. This way a certain situation can occur as it is part of the story, rather than being viewed as 'railroading'. It is the same thing, of course, but it has a very different emphasis is regards to group dynamics.

There often must be a balance between following the path you design for the scenario, and allowing the characters to free-form. Usually too much of either isn't a good thing for an rpg session in my opinion.

The other way to look at it is when do you need the 'railroading' to occur to advance the plot line? If it is to occur mid-session then you'll probably always have problems with players who are in the 'Players vs GM' mindset. Perhaps it can occur as a narrative before gameplay actually starts. This is very much in the flavour of pulp storytelling, and usually means the first scene is packed with action.

An example could be opening the story with something like this:

" While on the hunt for the black stallion herd, the characters stumbled across ruffians at the old mine. A brief fight ensured, but out-manned and out-gunned, the heroes were forced to surrender and be captured. The story opens with the captured heroes realising they are being taken to the homestead of Red Dog McCowl, the notorious villain of the county..."

So perhaps the only way to get things where you want the action to take place is to do it 'off-screen'. Every new session doesn't need to begin with what weapons the characters have bought or what skills they have advanced with, I'ld start things off very pulpy. That's probably the only compromise, as you have the characters where you want them and it will be a good way to start the session. Most options after that you'll have to leave to the characters, although if you throw in your desired option amongst some likely undesirable ones then you may have a chance of having the characters behave along the lines of how you envisioned. Just try not to stick too rigidly to your plot, just to a few milestones in it, and leave the player-characters a wide scope of actions in between. It's a difficult thing to do, really.

Good luck

Edited by Mankcam

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Personally, I think this is the root of your problem right here. Unless you and your group really likes railroading (and from the response of your player, he doesn't, though certainly others do) then you shouldn't allow yourself to get caught in a situation where the characters need to do something in order to advance your story. You should think of it as their story - a story that unravels as the PCs perform actions - and just roll with the punches. My personal opinion is that you should have played the NPCs according to their own motives. If that meant shooting and killing PCs, then so be it. If that meant maintaining the stand-off while they called in reinforcements with teargas grenades, then so be it. If that meant letting them go, then so be it.

The situation last Friday came about as the result of the OPPOSITE of railroading. I was ad-libbing, responding to player choices and throwing plot twists in to spice up the situation. Let's just say PCs robbed a pawn shop, one of the PCs murdered the pawn shop and his friend and the other PCs tried to cover it up. When the authorities arrived, a witness accused the PCs of being involved, the authorities wished to detain the PCs for questioning. I wasn't even accusing them of anything, just detain them for questioning. The entire stand off was the result of a combination of player-driven story and my ad-libbing the response.

The stand-off was terribly not fun. Ending the campaign with a TPK after the entire episode would have been terribly unsatisfying for everyone. I just wanted to get everyone back on a less skeevy track.

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If the PCs in my games want to act like psychopaths then the world will treat them like psychopaths i.e. shoot first and ask questions later. If you describe a situation in which the PCs are outnumbered and outgunned and they still insist on fighting, I say let the dice fall where they may and if it ends in TPK so be it. The players have only themselves to blame.

I had a group of Shadowrun players once that liked to play psychopath characters so I designed an entire campaign for the sole purpose of showing them that NPCs do not exist in a vacuum. The first run they went on they encountered a security guard armed with pepper spray and a nightstick and the group decided it would be just as easy to gun him down rather than try to sneak past. Just as I knew they would. What the players didn't know at the time was that this lowly security guard had a brother who was also a Shadowrunner and a very elite Decker (Hacker in 4e).

The Decker was none too happy to find out his brother had been gunned down and was easily able to recognize a run gone bad. So the Decker used his vast resources to track down the runners who had done the job and proceeded to track them and even hire them to perform some runs (through 3rd party Johnsons of course). All the while the Decker is gathering/planting evidence regarding the runners activities.

After about a year of playing this campaign it was time to bring things to a close. The Decker sent the runners on one final mission that unbeknownst to the PCs was a veritable suicide mission due to the security at the facility being tipped off ahead of time (by the Decker of course). The PCs made it out alive, but just barely. They limped back to their hideout to lick their wounds and had exhausted most of their ammo making their escape. Upon returning to their hideout they find a manilla envelope taped to their door. Inside is an old style photograph and a note telling them to turn on the trideo (t.v.). The photograph was of a man (the security guard from the first run) and his wife and daughter. Upon turning on the trideo (t.v.) the PCs see their faces and real names plastered all over every news station with the reporters announcing that evidence has surfaced linking these individuals to numerous crimes over the past year including the murder of a security guard. The game ended with the characters hearing sirens and seeing flashing red and blue lights outside their window.

The players were a little perturbed at the way that particular campaign ended at first, but after awhile they started to think about all the little clues I dropped that they either dismissed as irrelevant or misinterpreted altogether and decided it was a great campagin afterall. When the next campaign started I noticed they weren't so quick to try and kill everything that moved just because they could.

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You should've killed them.
You're probably right about that, or at least let the NPC opponents inflict some mighty Major Wounds...

...you don't need rules for this. This is a role playing issue, not a rules issue.
That's okay. This is a role playing forum, after all, not just a rule-playing forum. I think this is a great place for GMs to ask other GMs and/or game designers their ideas on how to run a game better. Evilschemer did the right thing by posting his dilemma; I know I've done the same over the past few months.

Actually Evilschemer I think Redcrow's example above is a good way to go, if you can run it. Let the game world react by sending bigger and nastier goons after the characters if they continue to behave irresponsibly. You'll need to read up on tactics etc, but a mixture of hired professional killers using ambush tactics can do a lot to knock down player-characters with tall-poppy syndrome or sociopathic tendencies.

Edited by Mankcam

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Ending the campaign with a TPK after the entire episode would have been terribly unsatisfying for everyone.

This is certainly true. On the other hand, the tension - and therefore much of

the fun - in a roleplaying game is usually based upon the idea that characters

have to take risks to achieve their goals. These risks have to be real to make

a success meaningful and valuable, otherwise the story becomes a kind of bun-

gee jumping, with a fake risk leading to a meaningless fake success.

So, if you want a plausible, challenging and rewarding setting, I am afraid you

will at least occasionally have to introduce the consequences of a miscalcula-

ted risk, even if this means to have the entire party killed. In my view the si-

tuation you described would have been such an occasion.

Armed people resisting disarmament and interrogation by the authorities in a

murder case take a suicidally high risk. It depends on your setting's "plausibi-

lity level" whether the characters have a chance to survive such a stupid be-

haviour, but under normal circumstances they would be dealt with by a SWAT

team, with almost zero chance to get out of this unharmed and little chance

to survive a firefight.

In other words, I would have killed the characters. While it may reduce the

fun in the short run, to me it would seem necessary to keep the setting plau-

sible, and through this to support the future fun with this setting.

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I have recently been in the "being disarmed" situation twice in the same campaign in a fantasy setting. (Within the past seven or eight sessions.) Both times we fought. The first time the group gave up when the reinforcements arrived. The second time we fought with the reinforcements and they beat us down. They did nonlethal damage to us, which is an option when you do actually have a superior force facing the party and the availability of magical healing.

I believe that the GM has to be willing to kill the group. It sets the "stage" for the world. My response in the game (after the two "showdowns") is that my character will no longer enter the city where the guards are in force. If they want my character, they will have to send their force out to get him. Of course, this also means my character has no interest in doing anything to help the locals.

I think the GM was expecting more cooperation from the group and I think he is unsatisfied that the players are building up a disdain for the town and its ruler/guards/inhabitants. He laid some groundwork for us cooperating with the locals after the first showdown, but the players clearly ended up working with the locals despite their ill feelings because it appeared obvious that the GM wanted us to stay there. The second showdown was our last session, so I am not sure how things will play out from there.

This is one of those interesting dynamics that plays out when the GM does require an element of assisting an NPC that does not feel s/he needs the party (so that fighting/killing them is an option) as part of a central campaign arc.

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I just had an e-mail conversation with one of my players, a player who emphatically states...

He has a great point. His reaction is representative, I think, of the thinking of almsot ALL players I've ever gamed with, whether they realized it or not. If put into a situation where the only three options are fight, flight, or surrender, the players will ALWAYS choose fight!

Wow! That sort of reaction is very far from representative in my own experience, indeed out of many dozens of people I've roleplayed with over the decades, I have never encountered that sort of intransigent behaviour.

With consideration to the three options; I've seen all three occur, but when facing overwhelming force (or justified representatives of the local authority) I (or my players) will eventually capitulate trusting that the GM will evolve the story from that point onward.

If you like campaigns ending in a blaze of glory keep writing in to the story that "the PCs get captured". I won't. I'll release nerve gas in a town of innocents to prevent my capture. I'll fucking nuke the site from orbit to prevent my capture. I'll shoot my cone rifle into the nuclear reactor to prevent my capture. I will never be voluntarily captured alive in-game. Probably out-of-game as well.

If you want me to derail another campaign with YET ANOTHER example of how my character will not be captured alive, please feel free to write in to your "script" how Dave's character will be captured. If I am captured by GM fiat I will make every attempt possible to destroy the campaign in a fireball of nuclear nerve gas and angry and spiteful recriminations. Just a FYI.

I'm sorry, but if a player of mine ever wrote something like that to me I'd throw him out of my group. I think its belligerent, childish, unnecessarily rude and quite frankly questions the player's ability to actually roleplay.

Stand-offs are an inherent part of dramatic tension, whether its arguing against your commander when he orders you to perform a questionable deed, to resisting arrest when innocent of the crime one is accused of. Stating that you'll never capitulate means removing a, if not the, major tool of the GM to provide non-combat specific drama. Should they be used sparingly? Yes. Should characters suffer the consequences of stupidity? Of course! But threatening to deliberately blow up any campaign it occurs in, is not only selfish (after all the other players may have no issues) but also raises the question why that person is even playing in the first place.

All my own opinion of course. I just don't understand this sort of psychology - especially in a game which we do for fun.

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The reason why I really HATE the Divine Intervention rules in RQ2-3 is that it once happened to me that, when put in a situation where the PCs should have been captured - and the adventure included a mission they were given in order to be released - they DIed out of it. This had a double detrimental effect on fun - they broke the story, and they also broke the characters: try playing a shaman with POW 3, and check how fun it is. I stopped planning this kind of situation ever since.

In any case, the kind of answer given by the player should not be tolerated. Evilschemer clearly stated he had not scripted the capture in the adventure, and the PCs were facing the consequences of their choices. If this includes capture, let it happen.

The great problem here is that classic games are designed to handle only LETHAL combat well, so even with superior forces there are only two options: the PCs surrender, or you butcher them. No "we tried hard but they got us" option on the table, although this would eliminate the sense of being forced to make one precise choice and let the players accept the outcome. Providing such an option (Legend/RQ6 works better in this sense) woudl eliminate most of these problems - albeit not all.

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Besides, being captured alive and having to find a way to deal with such a

situation is an archetypical theme of heroic fiction, the huge majority of all

hero's tales include just such a situation, just think of the Lord of the Rings

(the companions in Lorien), or of the legend of Robin Hood, and so on and

on. To tell a referee that he can never use this theme with one's character

is completely ... a very bad idea.

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Well I'ld certainly have this player 'on notice' in my game. I'ld be very uncomfortable running a game with him if he's going to have a tantrum every time something doesn't go his way. I think he is overvalueing the whole thing really. Besides, it takes alot of prep to be a GM, abd if it's not appreciated then I would down tools for a while, as it probably won't be all that enjoyable gaming whilst a player is so demanding. I hope this fellow is only a high schooler, as I'ld have major concerns if an adult was behaving this way...

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The situation last Friday came about as the result of the OPPOSITE of railroading. I was ad-libbing, responding to player choices and throwing plot twists in to spice up the situation. Let's just say PCs robbed a pawn shop, one of the PCs murdered the pawn shop and his friend and the other PCs tried to cover it up. When the authorities arrived, a witness accused the PCs of being involved, the authorities wished to detain the PCs for questioning. I wasn't even accusing them of anything, just detain them for questioning. The entire stand off was the result of a combination of player-driven story and my ad-libbing the response.

The stand-off was terribly not fun. Ending the campaign with a TPK after the entire episode would have been terribly unsatisfying for everyone. I just wanted to get everyone back on a less skeevy track.

You may not have been railroading just prior to this event, but your player clearly thinks you were railroading: "...never, ever put the PCs in a situation where NPCs will take their toys...keep writing in to the story that... please feel free to write in to your "script" ..."

So if you aren't railroading, there's clearly some disconnect here between you and your player that needs to be resolved.

It might be worth pointing out to him that you didn't script that event at all - that, in fact, he authored it through his actions.

I know if this had happened in my group - if a PC had robbed a shopkeeper, then murdered him, and been spotted and reported to authorities, and then the whole group cornered, all the other players would have blamed the player for bringing this down on them - not the GM. I'm also pretty sure that this guy wouldn't last long in our group, given his attitude - the other players would ditch him. Personally, I think it's worth finding out what's at the heart of his attitude, though. Did you ask him why he committed murder and robbery to begin with? He seems to have trouble separating PLAYER from CHARACTER, so maybe he's acting out something from real life that doesn't really belong in the game.

It's difficult for us to really understand what's going on at your table from a distance, of course, but it seems that you and this player at least have a disagreement about play style (real or perceived) and rather than tell you straight up, he's acting it out in game. He might not even be reacting to you, but projecting some other GM's syle on you - maybe even his own!

Either way, by holding the game hostage, he's putting you in the exact same position he told you not to put his character into - and that really is a standoff!

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Agree with the general trend here about "railroading," but, looking at your player's e-mail as quoted in your post - YEEESH!!! Someone needs to lighten up.

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This is certainly true. On the other hand, the tension - and therefore much of

the fun - in a roleplaying game is usually based upon the idea that characters

have to take risks to achieve their goals. These risks have to be real to make

a success meaningful and valuable, otherwise the story becomes a kind of bun-

gee jumping, with a fake risk leading to a meaningless fake success.

So, if you want a plausible, challenging and rewarding setting, I am afraid you

will at least occasionally have to introduce the consequences of a miscalcula-

ted risk, even if this means to have the entire party killed. In my view the si-

tuation you described would have been such an occasion.

Armed people resisting disarmament and interrogation by the authorities in a

murder case take a suicidally high risk. It depends on your setting's "plausibi-

lity level" whether the characters have a chance to survive such a stupid be-

haviour, but under normal circumstances they would be dealt with by a SWAT

team, with almost zero chance to get out of this unharmed and little chance

to survive a firefight.

In other words, I would have killed the characters. While it may reduce the

fun in the short run, to me it would seem necessary to keep the setting plau-

sible, and through this to support the future fun with this setting.

Wow. Very well said.

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I had a situation pop up in last week's game where the the PCs and the NPCs faced a stand-off.

The NPCs had no wish to start a fight, but they needed the PCs to put their guns on the ground and come in to the local jail for questioning. .

Are you sure they had to be taken all the way to the station for questioning? Why couldn't the local authorities have placed them under surveillance first, thus providing an opportunity for the PCs to grab one of the police and question him about what was going on. PC: "Who are you and why are you following us?" NPC: "I'm a Cowboy County law man an' I'm followin' you 'cause I have reason to believe that you had somethin' to do with the killin's at the Yellow Chicken Ranch!". Then if the PCs want to take the law on instead of trying to exonerate themselves, so be it. You've given them a chance to peacefully resolve the situation.

The PCs did not trust the NPCs and had no wish to put their guns down (PC's never do, ever). That being said, the PCs had no desire to start a fight either.

If the PCs didn't trust the NPCs then why not give them good reason to trust the NPCs, such as having the local law man know one of the PC's parents- NPC sheriff: "You're Tom Jackson's boy aintcha? We fought in the war together.." Or even have one of the law men a be brother to an NPC brother: "Jimmy, you always wuz a hot head. Cool it and just answer a few questions. We ain't wantin' to start a war here!"

No one had drawn their weapons yet. It was a tense stand-off.

Cue spaghetti western music!;t)

And very annoying for me as the GM! I did everything I could to reassure the players that nothing bad would happen to their characters. I wasn't going to screw them. These NPCs were trustworthy. I also pointed out that the PCs were outnumbered and out-gunned and if fighting started, they would probably all die, and a TPK over this would be stupid. .

Outnumbering by NPCs can look like the GM lording it over the players. So it might have been best to have the law men outnumbered, then have them back down, thus letting the PCs have control of the situation and hopefully making them feel secure enough not to start a firefight.

NPC: "We ain't wantin' no gunfight mister. We just want to know where you boys were around 10 last night when the murders at the Yellow Chicken Ranch occured!" Thus giving the PCs the chance to tell the law men " We wuz whorin' 'n' drinkin' at Madame Feather's bordello!" Which then gets the law men off their backs for a short while, and hopefully gets the PCs interested in who killed whom at the Yellow Chicken Ranch.

Edited by Conrad

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It's certainly kosher for me that some players wouldn't want the characters to be captured alive. Some characters might not allow it, either, even if the player doesn't mind.

When a player like this plays with a GM that thinks it's not a big deal, it's just a clash of expectations. So you should talk it out.

You may not have been railroading just prior to this event, but your player clearly thinks you were railroading: "...never, ever put the PCs in a situation where NPCs will take their toys...keep writing in to the story that... please feel free to write in to your "script" ..."

So if you aren't railroading, there's clearly some disconnect here between you and your player that needs to be resolved.

It might be worth pointing out to him that you didn't script that event at all - that, in fact, he authored it through his actions.

(snipped)

Either way, by holding the game hostage, he's putting you in the exact same position he told you not to put his character into - and that really is a standoff!

And that's the issue that needs to be resolved, IMO.

This is certainly true. On the other hand, the tension - and therefore much of

the fun - in a roleplaying game is usually based upon the idea that characters

have to take risks to achieve their goals. These risks have to be real to make

a success meaningful and valuable, otherwise the story becomes a kind of bun-

gee jumping, with a fake risk leading to a meaningless fake success.

So, if you want a plausible, challenging and rewarding setting, I am afraid you

will at least occasionally have to introduce the consequences of a miscalcula-

ted risk, even if this means to have the entire party killed. In my view the si-

tuation you described would have been such an occasion.

Armed people resisting disarmament and interrogation by the authorities in a

murder case take a suicidally high risk. It depends on your setting's "plausibi-

lity level" whether the characters have a chance to survive such a stupid be-

haviour, but under normal circumstances they would be dealt with by a SWAT

team, with almost zero chance to get out of this unharmed and little chance

to survive a firefight.

In other words, I would have killed the characters. While it may reduce the

fun in the short run, to me it would seem necessary to keep the setting plau-

sible, and through this to support the future fun with this setting.

BTW, that would have been my response, although most games I play allow for incapacitation without death and given modern medical response and average dicerolls, most of the PCs that didn't get a sniper round would have waken up in hospital;).

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Classic powergamer. And even trying to bully the GM, tut-tut.

You could try using... dare I say it... alignment. (OK, call it 'Allegiance' if anyone says "...but this is BRP!")

Just Good/Neutral/Evil with 'tendencies' should be enough. Murdering some pawn shop guy means they're Evil - right? And those covering-up such a murder are probably at least half-way to evil - i.e. 'Evil tendency' (another similar act and they go the whole way).

You never know, that might be all that's needed. Powergamers I've known have really disliked their characters being (accurately) labelled as Evil. They'll fight it - maybe as hard as fighting capture - but using the 'railroader GM' argument against it is harder for them: it's just a description. And some may hold back from murderous behaviour in order to avoid the 'Evil' label...

But most won't. They'll go ahead and do evil, despite GM warning they'll then be known as evil. So then what?

Hopefully not all the group will have crossed that line. So it won't have to be a TPK.

In the pawn shop example, the murderer is the Evil one, and the accessories just have 'evil tendencies'. When they won't go quietly with the authorities... shoot-out. But the lawmen will naturally primarily target the most threatening-looking - the Evil one. All shots on him till he's a jam-covered doiley. Then the rest have a chance to surrender... (and blame the murder on the deader). When they get out in 5 years (i.e 5 mins later) the adventures continue. Psycho can use the rest of the session to roll up his new, slightly-lower-points character, then go home and cool off.

Worth a try?

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A few things to keep in mind from my original example:

a) In the original example, the PC's didn't want to start a fight. The NPC's didn't want to start a fight. NOBODY wanted to start a fight! The NPC authorities wanted to ask the PC's some questions and they needed the PC's to be disarmed during the questioning, Just a polite "We're not accusing you of anything, but to be safe we'd like you to disarm while we sit down and have a talk.". The PC's did not want to be disarmed and said "We'll come with you and answer your questions, but no way are we giving you our weapons!". The PC's weren't threatening anyone. They were just wearing their weapons on their gunbelts. The authorities were just trying to be prudent, as they usually are. THAT was the stand-off!

In the real world, the NPC Authorities wouldn't start a gun-fight because the PC's refused their request. In the real world, they'd negotiate with the recalcitrant until they got tired and gave up their weapons, or they could taser them. I didn't feel like role-playing a 4-hour stand-off as the authorities tried to get someone to put down their weapon. In the real world, the PC's might actually acquiesce and temporarily hand over their weapons on the promise of their return. But because this is a game, I had no bargaining position and I was trying to move the story along to the next part, the part that WASN'T about a 4-hour stand-off negotiation. Thus my first attempt was for rules that simulate and resolve a 4-hour stand-off negotiation. Then my second realization that I should have just by-passed the scenario with a third option.

B) the guy who sent me the e-mail wasn't even in the stand-off! He committed the murder, but was hiding. The other PCs were covering for him. His e-mail and attitude aside, this thread wasn't about him. His comments, however, got me to think of alternatives to a mechanical resolution.

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B) the guy who sent me the e-mail wasn't even in the stand-off! He committed the murder, but was hiding. The other PCs were covering for him. His e-mail and attitude aside, this thread wasn't about him. His comments, however, got me to think of alternatives to a mechanical resolution.

I'd have let him go out in a blaze of glory, as the other characters panicked as to what to do.

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In the real world, the NPC Authorities wouldn't start a gun-fight because the PC's refused their request. In the real world, they'd negotiate with the recalcitrant until they got tired and gave up their weapons, or they could taser them.

This had me laughing too hard to label it lol...Thanks, I needed that.

If you weren't trying to be funny (I've convinced myself both ways now), ooops. :)

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