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12:42 AM
@Ben I did that on a damage roll for Shatter once. :p
 
hey there @KorvinStarmast
 
@Shalvenay hail shal. How is trix?
 
OK here, as for you?
 
So far so good, running a session in my brother's world tonight.
I like shared worlds ... the world building as a collaborative effort ... makes for some interesting variations and themes
 
 
1 hour later…
2:09 AM
@V2Blast I was wondering about that "+1 or better..." bit also. Definitely existed in 1e/2e, IIRC.
 
@KorvinStarmast want some druid 🐝 s?
 
hey there @nitsua60
 
hiya
 
2:26 AM
@nitsua60 It was also (IIRC) a 3.0 thing, but not a 3.5 thing.
 
Ben
@Miniman took a Con ASI after all that. Turns out my Storm Barb abilities were based off Con as well, so my saving throws, ac, hp, and save DC all went up :D
 
@Ben that's some nice SAD at work, there.
 
@Ben I remember being surprised when you said they ran off Wis! I should've investigated that.
 
Ben
@nitsua60 SAD... S.A.D..... Nope... no idea lol
@Miniman Yeah, think that was from the UA maybe?
 
(S)ingle (A)ttribute (D)ependence
 
Ben
2:29 AM
@nitsua60 Ahhh right
Yeah, I'm at 20 Con now, so I'm pretty happy with that :D
 
@Ben Not a chance - that would mean they buffed it, and we both know there's no way that could ever happen :P
 
Ben
Nope, you're right. I just checked and it was always con haha
 
@nitsua60 how're things going?
 
Can I ask some things? When you DMing, do you make descriptions for every building that PC could visit and for every character that they would see (a few paragraphs of description)? For example, do you describe the odour (or another interesting trait) of every building or set the name, alignment, age, personality/goal for all NPCs?
How can you know if a PC would want to talk with them or visit a place? Also, do you make a difference between NPCs that talk to player than passive NPCs (I mean, those NPCs which are just a decoration, like a drunk person in a bar or a buyer in a shop)? Do you plan a dialog for every NPC (you can't never know if a PC would like to chat with the drunken man or the woman who is buying food from the shop)?
Does all NPCs has always something meaningful to say (like information or a quest) o sometimes some NPCs do nothing worth of tell? Thanks
 
Ben
@EnderLook You don't have to. Unless it's important, I wouldn't worry about it
 
2:37 AM
@Shalvenay father-in-law had two positive days, then a little bit of a backslide today. So that's got us a bit down. Trying to crank on grading, but one kid had their last swim practice tonight so that frees up a bit of breaking room in the family life. So... busy with swirls of good and bad? Thanks for asking. You?
 
@nitsua60 OK here, still hoping to get a chat in with you in the near future here :)
 
@Shalvenay Next week I'm hoping to take what free time I have and both get up to see my dad (hospice) and get down to see father-in-law again. So... about eight days from now?
 
@nitsua60 hopefully?
 
Ben
@EnderLook Again, you only need to plan if it's important. Part of a quest etc. IF a PC wants to talk to everybody, then that's probably somethin you should discuss with them, because that is likely only going to lead to issues. Maybe just restrict conversations with PCs to relevant information - if they've heard anything about something the PCs are looking for, etc, otherwise they're not overly talkative.
@EnderLook That could probably be tied to a dice roll. If a an Orc PC came up to a random stranger and just said "HI! I'M GRUG GRUG", while covered in crusty blood from their last adventure, likely still sticking since it's been 4 days since his last bath, I doubt they would want to stay and chat.
All in all though, that could probably be asked on the main sight
 
@Ben (that's basically my first day as a TA in grad school you're describing there. I'd been at a three-day Ultimate tournament in Montana, camping out for the overnights on the property of a wolfhound-breeder--read: no sleep--and the car broke down on the way back so I had to hitch 500mi, getting into town about 7:30am before my 8am class.)
("GRUG GRUG" may be more coherent than what I managed, crusted blood on my legs and twigs in my beard....)
 
Ben
2:49 AM
Yeesh! Haha. How did everyone handle that?
 
@Ben The problem is, how do you know if something is important? My little hamlet has the house of a nobleman, the judge of the town (like a kind Governator and tax collector), a temple, a tavern, a barn and saddler, a general store, a weaver and cloth maker, a tannery, a shoemaker, a bakery and a blacksmith.
Each building can be used by the players: cloth maker and shoemaker, maybe they want new and cleaner clothes, a barn and saddler, they could buy a horse, a general store, obviously, a temple, for healing or a quest, the tax collector, a quest, the nobleman, a quest, tavern, I have ideas for two or three quest.
I have just started to make the tavern, inside there are 3 employees + 7 clients, each one could have a quest. There is a young woman who is learning divine magic in the temple, she wants help for the PCs since she is afraid of a near goblin camp. A Farmer said that goblins stolen their animals and now the tax collector (who is evil) want to claim some taxes that they can't afford, he needs help.
A local hunter found an interesting cave, but he is too busy to investigate it, etc. I can give quest to every person, I don't have time for that. I don't know how to manage it! There are so much variables and different paths
 
@Ben No recollection!
 
Ben
Are you the DM or a PC?
@nitsua60 Hahah fair enough
 
@EnderLook I typically don't even have a fixed number for the population size of a town; just a rough idea. What I typically do is have some resource nearby for easy character generation. For example, the Dungeon World rule book has "Appendix 4: Instant NPCs". It has a 100-entry table for Instincts (goals), 100 entries for Knacks (quirks), and a list of names. Grab 2d10 and roll on it. Throw in a d6 for race and make yourself a d12 for current mood, and you've got thousands of possibilities.
Also blatantly stolen from Dungeon World: keep a short list of three relevant/pressing things in the world. Looking at your example town, let's say the nobleman is drafting townsfolk for some border skirmish. The blacksmith is now low on iron/steel, and the baker is making money hand over fist selling hard tack to the militia men.
 
Ben
@Enderlook, I would suggest asking this on the main site.
 
2:57 AM
@JoelHarmon Thisssssss. Frontssssss.
 
So now you're in game, and find you've blurted out that there are three drunk guys at the bar. You quickly roll on tables to find out that:
- this dwarf is the baker in a great mood out to celebrate his newfound (relative) wealth
- this human is a surly guard captain who is wallowing away a tough day of training incompetent militia men
- this elf is a worried apprentice at the blacksmith, and he's currently trying to ply the guard captain for information on why the next shipment of iron is late
 
@nitsua60 I saw that of Dungeon World, but I thought I should take each NPC as a different small front. Then, at a geographical point of view, I made a front per cardinal point (N, NW, NE, S, SW, SE).
 
@MarkWells so are you really objecting to this comment on this answer or are you being sarcastic?
 
@nitsua60 Yesssss, my precioussssss
 
Because I'm honestly confused how else you expect us to answer and I gave a hard time believing your mistook this commonly cited interpretation to be a "house rule"
 
3:02 AM
@JoelHarmon Ahh, I think I understand what you did. First, you made the fronts, then you made the NPCs. Instead, I did the NPCs and then I had to made a front per NPC.
 
@EnderLook There is a ton of interesting stuff going on all over the characters' world. It just so happens that nearly none of it impacts the PCs. Fronts (or less formal short lists) are a good way of keeping track of what the PCs are interested in.
 
^^
(Preferably influenced by notes made during session 0, when themes, tone, and narrative flavor were discussed.)
 
@nitsua60 That is another problem I find. You make the world/campaign after or before meet the players? I mean, you make the setting and then make a party in roll20 (as an example), or first, you find some players, had a session 0 and then make the world? The second will obviously be more immersive to players since it will be made according to the backgrounds/bonds/etc but the time from session 0 to 1 is very limited. You can't make a world in a week, can you?
 
@EnderLook much prefer to build world/setting with players.
If I'm presenting a world to players without their input, it's because I'm running a published module.
 
@nitsua60 But how much time do you take to do that? You can't just take a month to make the world and then play, the players are waiting for you. Make it before meet them solves that problem.
 
3:09 AM
Which brings up a good point; how you generate/tailor characters depends on the kind of game you're running. A dungeon crawl means no personality; an NPC is only worth the quest rewards or loot drops they provide. A comedic farce means absurdly quirky and humorous characters. An exploration quest means you show that NPCs are real people with real problems, some of which are solved by the PCs (potentially at some other cost).
 
I haven't worked on worldbuilding without players since the 80s--it's just too much of a time waste, given my preferred style.
@EnderLook I can prep enough for one session in a week =)
 
@EnderLook In some games, I walked into the session as DM and the entire planned world at that point was "small generic medieval town". cough cough Great Ork Gods cough
 
@nitsua60 Ohh, I can't! I am too perfectionist, I want to polish every single aspect before, but there are too many random variables (like players!). Also, if I don't do that, I could get stuck in session
 
@EnderLook It solves one problem but creates two (for me): it's not a world the players care much about or know much about, and it means I only get to play in worlds that I would have thought of myself, anyway!
 
@nitsua60 Me plus 3-6 friends are inevitably more creative and interesting than just me.
 
3:12 AM
@JoelHarmon Frankly, I'm such a narrow thinker that 3-6 friends minus me are more creative than 3-6 friends plus me =)
I'm best if I just ask prodding questions and take notes =)
 
@nitsua60 That sounds like GMing to me.
 
@EnderLook Well, you have to consider the purpose of things. In general you can freeform play when the players just want to sample the flavor, but when they want to do game-important things there should be game mechanics.
 
Then at some point it clicks in my head, and I say "okay, this definitely gives me something to work with."
 
So, all you really need is a little motivation and personality if the players want to make light conversation.
If they want to get the hot deets on where the iron shipment is held up, that's, like, a roll for streetwise or gather information or something.
(Discern Realities, says Dungeon World.)
When they make that roll it represents as much walking around and talking as they need to do to get the information.
And you can put it in the mouth of whoever's going to be the most reasonable source.
So it's not a matter of ASK GUARD CAPTAIN IRON SHIPMENT, ASK APPRENTICE IRON SHIPMENT, ASK BAKER IRON SHIPMENT
 
(And at that point we're where I'm going to say to that player "hey, here's my idea for the back-story of the iron stuff. Can you take this sketch of a kingdom map and flesh out the whole trade war that's going on? Let's chat a few times between now and two sessions out. Here're three things I know to be true and a few things I can rule out....")
In any case, just finished grading the quiz so I'm out for the night. Be well, all!
 
3:17 AM
@nitsua60 'Night!
 
Goodnight!
 
@nitsua60 What? You would send a player to flesh out some content? Isn't that the DM work? Usually, players play, DM DMing, not players DMing... Should DM make the content?
 
So you need to know what's happened to the iron shipment. But if you just sit down and have some random NPCs, you don't need to know what they each know about the iron shipment.
 
@nitsua60 Oh, Bye
 
@EnderLook As much as possible they want to!
=)
 
3:20 AM
@nitsua60 But if the players make the stuff they won't enjoy discovering it, since they made it
Also, I don't think that works with newbies... and I'm one, so my players would also be newbies
 
@EnderLook So what? N-1 of the players will discover it, and 1 will get to giggle as their friends spring a trap.
I'm totally unashamed to say "yeah, you want to head to Metropolis next session--great idea. Who's going to design it?"
 
@nitsua60 That is interesting... but weird
 
Eh, I don't really go that far, crosses too many lines.
 
@nitsua60 I don't know if I could say that
 
Here's my philosophy: GMing (esp. homebrew) is awesome, because it means I get to play my favorite game all the time. I like to share that experience as much as possible.
 
3:22 AM
Looks like I'm being paged; sorry, gotta run.
 
@Glazius Oh, I am not the only one who thinks that, great
 
@Glazius how far?
 
@nitsua60 "Make a city" far.
 
@Glazius That's fair.
 
I mean, I can say "hey, Fletcher, didn't you grow up in Metropole? What's the one thing about it that made the greatest impression on you when you were young?"
Or "inside the warg's lair is an ancient stone coffer with a crumbling lid. Say, Wizzrobe, what did the lost sages of Magelorica use for money? Asking for a friend."
 
3:25 AM
We actually discussed stuff along the 'player as partial DM' line earlier today, heh. For what it's worth, if you don't mind the vulgar/aggressive persona, I found angrygm's three part series useful in figuring out my first session 0.
 
Anyway, I really do have to run. Night, all.
 
@nitsua60 But couldn't that make a mess? If you give players too much power they could use it wrong. I only have experience in school, but when we had to make some team homework my brother or me always leader the team and try to make as much as possible, allowing others to do things is also a responsibility, things usually go wrong, better prevent than cure. I can't still imagine how could work a collaborative storiteling with players... sound very fragile!
I wouldn't like to make a bad memory of that
 
@EnderLook Yes and yes. But they could use it well, and may just use it totally awesomely.
 
I don't know about other people, but my brother is a min-maxer. If he can modify the story, he will do in the most productive way. And the problem with that, is that if he earns what he want very quickly, he will get bored. Allowing players doing thing wouldn't harm you, but they. People aren't machines, if they do something they will do in subjective ways, how you avoid that? Instead, if you make everything, they would spoil the fun
@CTWind That are a lot of links to read!
wouldn't*
Well, 12:32 a.m. I should go bed
 
@EnderLook Well, in both those cases, the questions don't look it but they're sharply channeled. A childhood memory is just a sense impression. Years have passed, things have changed. The warg has 50 gp of treasure, I just want to make it sound cool.
No matter what somebody says, it's not going to jump the rails.
Even if Wizzrobe says the sages of Magelorica used scrolls of wish for money! Ages have passed, the parchment has crumbled, the ink has faded. Only the mage-brass caps are left, but those are worth 50 gp.
I mean, it's entirely possible that somebody's going to pitch a fit and walk out the door because he didn't get 25 scrolls of wish just by asking for them.
 
3:41 AM
In my experience when minmaxers have meaningful impact on the setting, they can grow bored of minmaxing! Minmaxing is sometimes a symptom of someone feeling (perhaps subconsciously) that they only way they can achieve anything meaningful in the setting is by being in a position to bludgeon the GM with a rulebook.
Not all minmaxing, for sure. Sometimes it's just fun to "solve" the puzzle.
But some minmaxing, definitely.
There's no question that throwing parts of the world--big or small--into your players hands requires trusting them. If you don't trust your players with the playground you'll
4
 
Generally when I'm demoing a collab-style game I'll at least set expectations at the start of it:
"Every now and then I'll ask you about some cool thing your character has already experience or known as a person who lives in the world."
 
^^
 
"These questions don't have a right or wrong answer. They have an interesting answer, and I'll work with it."
 
Yes. You definitely don't walk up to a table of so-called powergamers, say "I'm your new GM," and start GMing in the style I'm talking about.
(Okay, leaving for the third time.)
 
Go to sleep nitsua!
<3
 
4:29 AM
@nitsua60 I've personally experienced both of those
so I agree on the perspective
 
4:53 AM
@EnderLook Learn to improvise. When you plan, focus on the important stuff that absolutely must be true. It's infeasible to prepare every single detail of your game world in advance.
If you spend your time defining every minutia - every NPC in a town, every drink in the tavern's stock, every loose coin, every window on every house - it's over preparing a lot of unnecessary detail.
Similarly, if you define a fixed set of information, and the players try to interact with something you haven't defined before, then you'll need some way of quickly creating that information on-the-fly.
 
5:48 AM
I think Fate Core has an accessible game creation guide which is easily used with other systems. I don't use it out-of-the-box myself, but it's inspired a lot of my approaches.
The Codex's tips for managing the conversation are also broadly useful.
 
Eh, the Fate GCG is good for Fate but Fate wants to be played with a certain mindset.
Like, Mouse Guard and Torchbearer, you're not really supposed to feel too proactive or competent. You're overmatched and staring at more successes than you have dice to roll, but you pile up all your help and give it a go anyhow.
The general form of "talk about the sentiments this game is trying to convey" works, but in a lot of cases the plain-language sentiments behind a game are left as an exercise to the reader.
 
The Fate GCG is straightforward about its themes and goals. Establishing the PCs' role as competent and proactive and dramatic is explicitly part of the GCG, so if you're using it for another game you have this space to define it for your situation.
And the rest of the GCG's structure isn't particularly dependent on the proactive/dramatic/competent trifecta. For most games the scale, issues, and faces/places design structure is a solid way to do setting design whether you're playing with Fate-like PCs or not, and even if you're doing it alone as a GM rather than collaboratively.
The tools work without the Fate context.
Most games are about the Fate trifecta, though. Mouse Guard is about trained mice (competent) who have chosen to push against their mouse natures and take action to feed, shelter, and protect their villages before things get too dire at home (proactive). The stakes are high and they're constantly struggling against their natures to accomplish their goals (dramatic).
If Fate characters aren't in over their heads at least half the time, I haven't offered enough compels, or my compels weren't chewy enough.
And I'm having a hard time thinking of a long-form campaign planning session that wouldn't benefit the scale/issues/faces/places prompts.
 
6:24 AM
@BESW Fair enough, I had those filed under a different slot in my head and didn't see them in the sidebar.
It's definitely time for bed.
 
 
2 hours later…
8:42 AM
Hey, folks, Guam's got a typhoon incoming tonight/tomorrow. We should be fine, if Troggy or I mysteriously disappear it's just because the power/internet is out. And don't listen to the news if they say Guam's been wiped off the map, they like being dramatic.
 
Hope it won't be a huge inconvenience!
 
If it follows predictions it will probably make Saturday pretty much a write-off but not be too bad for me otherwise.
It won't follow predictions.
It's predicted to go south of us, and has been for five days. Typhoons NEVER follow the course predicted five days before landfall, and when they deviate they always go north and west of the prediction.
However, it's going pretty fast so it probably won't be able to get much stronger.
(A typhoon's internal wind speed is inversely related to its forward momentum.)
 
 
3 hours later…
11:40 AM
Yeah I do expect it to hit us a little harder than they are saying it will
But that being said, much stronger typoons have hit us directly and we've been ok
So like BESW says, our total destruction is probably going to be greatly exaggerated
 
12:31 PM
I, too, was confused by Steven Moffat's modern revision of the classic mystery franchise.
 
Sorlock Holmes and the case of the multiclassing spell slots
 
1:31 PM
@Joshua heh, the party has two clerics, so we are about divined out.
@nitsua60 Man, looks like some rough days, prayers for you and yours.
 
1:48 PM
@Glazius Nice phrases! Sadly, years haven't passed, only 3 months since I finished high school XD. But I understand the point.
@nitsua60 Ok
@MikeQ you are right, I'll have to try
@BESW Ok, I will check that
 
@EnderLook You may want to read this theangrygm.com article. It suggests that no details in the game world are true, until the player characters interact with it.
For example, rather than pregenerate all the specific NPCs in the tavern, as well as their backstories and dreams and favorite foods, you could instead write "The town has a crowded tavern" in your notes. Then, if the PCs go into the tavern, you improvise some sample NPCs.
 
There's multiple schools of thought on that: some people at least claim to prefer a "realistic" world where things are on some course the GM has plotted regardless of any player intervention (a classic example would be that DnD story where a lich turns up to destroy the world because the players ignored a plot hook early in the campaign to pursue social issues instead), but I find it overwhelmingly easier as a GM and more satisfying as a player if the campaign focuses where the players do.
Somewhat sadly, many people accept realism as a goal of the game without ever giving the alternatives a thought.
 
2:05 PM
@kviiri True. Some DMs approach tabletop RPGs like a dynamic story that the players build; others approach it like a (relatively static) video game.
 
> Somewhat sadly, many people accept realism as a goal of the game without ever giving the alternatives a thought.
Maybe back in the 80s or at most 90s. Nowadays, there's a lot more information and opinion exchange, and people who prefer realism tend to do so despite giving thoughts and discussion to the alternatives.
 
@vicky_molokh I dunno, at least every Realism First GM I've played with has had no experience with the larger gaming community except for DnD meme dumps on Imgur.
 
@MikeQ So I have an example of this. In my Masks (a PbtA system) game which admittedly is billed as a collaborative game from the ground up (much more so than 5e) I had a character that was friendly towards the characters, but the players had a very reasonable suspicion that he could be working against them. I decided to not decide until the story would be more interesting with the decision made.
 
Not saying it's a choice never made consciously, but it seems to be overwhelmingly the default option among those who don't know better.
 
In the end he turned out to be good! Because of the PC choices and the way the story had diverged it turned out to be the most fun and made the best story. But I had contingencies the entire time for making him come out as evil.
 
2:11 PM
@MikeQ Yeah, although video games seldom get really extreme with their storytelling in the "things happen even when you're not looking" sense
 
@kviiri I think that's less about realism, and more about adhering to the DM's secret expectations of the game world. I see it as a communication issue.
 
Which is, like we've discussed before, really smart, despite being a bit silly :P
 
@MikeQ I liked the name of the Schrödinger’s Gun
 
@MikeQ There's an anecdote regarding the classic JRPG, Final Fantasy VII
 
@kviiri The problem isn't just that things happen without the players' knowledge - it's that the DM makes important decisions based on information that they didn't communicate. I've done this in the past, and in hindsight, it held back the quality of my games.
 
2:13 PM
Humble currently has a Pathfinder bundle available, 50 books/modules for $18.
 
@MikeQ Yuh
 
@kviiri See chat yesterday for my thoughts on D&D memes. Tl;dr: UGH
 
@Rubiksmoose :D
I think I saw them already and pretty much agree
 
@Rubiksmoose Yes, this is a clever approach.
 
@MikeQ Early on in FFVII game there's some minor character who's dying because of stuff that happens in a cutscene, and the party healer says something like "I can't heal him, my powers are too weak." Some players took this to mean that you should level grind the character before progressing
(it didn't work)
They should've just gone with the Metal Gear option and make her say "I can't heal her, the spell refuses to target non-party members"
 
2:16 PM
@MikeQ I can see it also not working out well depending on the circumstances. But I was lazy and indecisive. However I think that also happened to play into the system strengths and the character was just on the sidelines enough where the players never forced me to reveal his "true" self until the very end.
It was really refreshing to be able to do. I seriously love that system
 
@Rubiksmoose I had a classic traitor character in my 5e game and then the players figured it out, I asked them if they'd be willing to play along. They were :)
I think the whole traitor thing got better after the players learned of this
 
"Play to find out what happens" is a key tenet of the game. Love it. In one easy sentence it is saying "GM, this is not your story — it is the table's story."
 
Yeah
I'm playing Lady Blackbird on Sunday. It has a similar rule for the GM
 
@kviiri Nice! It is really good to have players like that (also shows you are likely not playing with people who see themselves as "against" the DM which is good in my book)
 
@Rubiksmoose I agree. They were my favorite group so far <3 almost all of them were new to the hobby, too
I think just asking people to work with stuff goes a long way, though. At least it has always worked for me
The problems start when you start twisting stuff in hopes you never need to ask... it doesn't tend to go well
 
2:28 PM
I think protagonists detecting and thwarting a hidden plan early is the whole point of pre-planning things in what was referenced as the realistic style.
 
@kviiri absolutely! My big thing as DM is to talk to the players. About issues, about feedback. I like being very open with them to try to make for an enjoyable experience
 
It was something that was happening, and the PCs had true agency over it - they could miss it or detect it.
 
@vicky_molokh I didn't mean to imply that it's the whole of realism or somehow equal to realism
Or that a game has to do that to be realistic, for that matter
 
And again, I don't want people to fall into the trap of thinking there is a dichotemy here. Most games likely operate on some sort of scale oscilating between the two.
 
@vicky_molokh I see that, although badly communicated expectations between the players and the GM can easily make situations like this seem unfair or downright mean.
 
2:33 PM
Miscommunication can ruin anything. Shrug.
 
When is Ms. Kommunication going to the ruins?
 
@goodguy5 She goes biweekly at 12.
 
I'm not personally fond of the "thwart big plan early" playstyle, nevertheless, because it defies the kind of narrative I want from my games
Even less of the "fail to notice big plan, so you get vaporized in session 7"
 
@kviiri yeah it really depends on the game and what the expecatations are
Some games can be really fun to short-circuit, others not so much.
@kviiri Well I mean I vaporize all PCs after session 7 regardless. Just to show them who is boss.
 
I like lesser versions of that, though.

"You fail to notice the big plan, so you have a boss fight in session 7"
 
2:38 PM
If thwarting the villain's plan is the win/lose condition of the campaign, then it won't make sense to keep it hidden from the players
 
agreed
PCs should always be aware of win/lose conditions
 
If your notes say that the win/lose condition is X, but the players think it's Y, then adhering to your notes means you're effectively playing a different campaign than your players.
 
@MikeQ I'm not interpreting it as keeping it hidden. I interpret kviiri to be saying that the goal is known, but they aren't a fan of always letting the PCs short circuit the plot and find a way to end the plan before it is "supposed" to happen.
 
There's ways to work around all that though
 
@Rubiksmoose It was more of a response to the "badly communicated expectations" point
 
2:41 PM
@MikeQ ah yeah gotcha. Carry on then.
 
A classic technique once told to me by @BESW is that if the players defeat the bad guy early, a shot rings out and the villain falls dead. Now it's up to the players to figure out who was the Man behind the Man.
 
@Rubiksmoose Having the lich show up and take over the world, without the players being aware or clued about the lich in the first place, is narratively near-equivalent to "Suddenly rocks fall and the party dies"
 
@kviiri (and so does the DM!)
 
@MikeQ Yeah, exactly. In the case I'm remembering, the players had gotten some vagueish clue about it in the first session
 
@MikeQ oh yeah, I certainly would not advocate going for this.
 
2:43 PM
Y'know, under the usual conventions, you get like so many warnings before a lich takes the world over
 
@Rubiksmoose Oh, man. Kalaril the Vile, though
Actually, I just realized we did something that I should put into my campaign notes so I don't forget it.

They willingly accepted cursed tokens from the thieve's guild.
 
@kviiri There's also the method of checking your DM plot notes in advance, and iron out any conditions that could short-circuit the campaign narrative
 
> a shot rings out and the villain falls dead. Now it's up to the players to figure out who was the Man behind the Man.
Sounds like stealing most of the victory from the PCs and players.
 
@KorvinStarmast Thanks.
 
@vicky_molokh again it certainly could be that, but it really depends on the game you are playing and the details around it.
You can make a victory really rewarding and still manage to move the goalposts if you do it well.
 
2:49 PM
Yeah, if the players are really looking forward to punching the villain, then suddenly taking away the villain could be anticlimactic
 
I'm not a fan of bait-and-switching my players at any point, but I think this could certainly come across as doing that in certain circumstances.
 
You know this rule for mystery books about how the investigator protagonist should not have access to information the readers lack? This is a similar case (but not identical; I'm using an analogy).
 
Depending on the effect you're going for with the villain, a secret shot that would kill the villain can be caught as he continues to read from his tome. A body guard can catch the shot.

But that's a certain amount of planning that you should ask yourself. "what happens if the players find the bad guy?"
also, unrelated. Something that people in my life struggle with a lot: Why you should get your hopes up
 
@vicky_molokh How so? I don't understand the analogy.
 
Generally, a Man Behind the Man that came out retroactively out of nowhere comes off as a Villain Sue who is so successful at hiding not because it's witty but because of pure authorial fiat without being thought through. Among other things.
 
3:03 PM
@vicky_molokh How so? And why exactly is this bad?
 
Hey, it looks like our discussion may apply to this question well:
12
Q: How can I handle players killing my NPC outside of combat?

LarKMy players tried to capture one of my bosses (they didn't know it was a boss) and after a few rolls they succeeded. They started to interrogate him (the NPC is a human) and after obtaining the information they wanted he was stabbed in the chest. Now here's the thing: how do I handle realism and...

 
People play games with conflict and adventure for a reason --- if the players should somehow cheat themselves out of these, wouldn't it be bad?
 
@kviiri I am guessing it may be causing a similar feeling to what is described here
 
A victory is still a victory --- but Harry Potter doesn't have to end with Harry offing Voldemort in book 1
 
@kviiri I mean that is the other side of the coin. The players can play their way unintentionally into a situation where they already are going to be unsatisfied with the result and thus the technique could result in a more pleasing result.
 
3:07 PM
Imagine applying this to a different story. Say, 'A victory is a victory, WWII shouldn't end in the 1940s because there is more time left to live'. ^_^
 
@Sdjz That sounds more like a spotlight/machismo outlet issue than a narrative one
@vicky_molokh Real life isn't a good story though.
 
But seriously, devaluing a victory, especially with retroactive, unjustified fiat, is an easy way to disappoint players. Cheating them out of satisfaction, I'd even dare say.
 
@vicky_molokh I mean, the Allied occupation of Japan technically ended in 1952...
 
How would you handle it, then? "You killed the villain, end of campaign?'
 
Was the campaign tied to one villain? If so, perhaps.
Otherwise there's always other arcs not related to that villain at all.
 
3:09 PM
Tbh that sounds far more devaluing to me
I gave my players this cool world to adventure in and now it's over because of some lucky rolls? No way says me
 
Why? You succeeded. You received the fair reward of your success. Where's the devaluing?
 
What reward? Nothing of the game is real except the enjoyment of playing.
 
I do think it is situation dependent though? Should you always do this as a DM?Absolutely not. Like you say, this can easily cross the line into robbing players of a victory. On the other hand, I can see it being a tool that can get you out of a last-ditch situation (which you probably only got into because you missed somthing in planning or didn't adapt well enough) and result in more pleasing resolution for players. It really all comes down to the specific implementation.
I don't think you can say the technique is universally good or bad.
 
Imagine you're playing baduk or shogi or chess. You manage to play awesomely in the early game. Then just when you feel you can have a breather and enjoy your victory, an invisible hand places a dozen stones or pieces on the board, of an enemy's colour, with big neon letters saying 'this is just early game, so here you go'. That'd be infuriating.
 
Yes, but chess is a whole different thing from RPGs, starting from the fact that in RPGs the invisible hand is always there.
 
3:14 PM
@vicky_molokh That is placing the players in a very adversarial sitation with regards to the DM. That assumption is not present at every table. In many systems it is outright wrong to play that way.
 
Not with the GM. With the opposing NPC.
 
I'd sooner compare it to a novel, say a version of Lord of the Rings where Isildur slips and falls in Mount Doom with the Ring. End of story
 
So I think the analogy is flawed.
 
It could've happened, realistically, but it'd be a bad story.
 
If comparing to LotR, I'd say it's like having Gollum suddenly gain powers to swim in lava because when he falls into the volcano it's still far from the end of the sixth book.
 
3:16 PM
@vicky_molokh which would be a clear example of a bad implementation of the technique
 
A villain should be defeated when it makes sense.
 
The assumption in using the technique is that the DM is using it to "fix" the story into a more fun fulfilling narrative for everyone players included.
 
If the sudden twist doesn't make sense, such as due to being a retcon, it's a bad twist.
 
Sure I think we can all agree to that.
 
@vicky_molokh Y'know, I agree with this, but you should realize the PCs managing somehow to defeat the villain "ahead-of-time" is also a twist.
 
3:17 PM
If by bad you mean narratively jarring and likely irksome to the players
 
And I disagree with retcons being bad twists universally.
At least if we're using the same definition here
 
Yeah it really depends what you mean by "bad". How is it being used? What are the goals of the game? Does it further those goals and fun at the table? Not bad. Does it not? bad.
 
The One Ring itself is a huge retcon :)
 
Let me whip up a quick example of where this technique can be used well. The campaign is built around the party taking down an evil wizard terrorizing their country. The players expect this to be an extended campaign where they will end up being high level and heavily treasure laden by the end and are excited to have their characters grow and develop in addition to accomplishing the story goal.
Through (un)happy accident they manage to find a loophole and end up taking out the wizard during session 7 and it is clear that nobody is happy with the campaign ending there.
In the final act of the battle, the wizard captured and defeated by the PCs is struck by a killing spell from an unknown source. Ah the wizard came from a cabal of wizards. He wasn't even the top one. The boss was furious at his lack of progress and had come to check up on him. Now he's taking over personally.
 
Another (but similar) technique in magical settings is magical projections or somesuch.
 
3:26 PM
@kviiri Applause. Nicely said.
 
@KorvinStarmast /me bows slightly
 
@kviiri Or Elrond grows a sack and shoves him in ... yeah, I know, they were related, so he would not do that
 
Everyone ends up happy. The players get to keep playing as was their expectation. The DM gets to have the players explore the world they created longer. The DM also gets to fix up a mistake they presumably made during prep and the story can continue on.
But it is equally easy for me to come up with a case where it is used poorly and for the wrong reasons.
 
Yea
I look at it essentially through tropes of the genre we're playing
Like with many other issues :p
 
indeed indeed.
In the end, it is a tool like any other. If it is used in the wrong place or time and for the wrong reasons it will end up poorly. If used to further the goals and expectations of the game it is good.
 
3:34 PM
you're a tool like any other
 
Like in heroic fantasy, chasms exist for three reasons: 1) for goblins to fall in, 2) for heroes to pick another route, 3) hanging from the edge dramatically
 
@goodguy5 dawww that is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me ;)
 
🔨
 
Anyone ever see Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog (if not you really should)? Just call me Captain Hammer.
 
omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg
I love DHSALB
Basically everything Neil Patrick Harris.

We just finished A Series of Unfortunate Events
💪💪 <-- these are not the hammer....
 
3:50 PM
@goodguy5 Excellent I'm somebody got my vaguely not family-friendly allusion :)
I also love it so much.
NPH everything as well.
Actually that whole thing was a collection of my faves. NPH, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day. Love them all.
 
I don't have super strong feelings about Fillion, other than hammer. Seems swell, I just don't have that fangirl thing.
I didn't see firefly until it was already a cult favorite.
 
Same here, plus I've seen the Firefly pilot thrice because it didn't really hook me
Or my SO
We watched most of Firefly on one night when we were making and packing Christmas presents :D
(We stopped because the episodes started just whizzing by)
 
is there a 4-thrice?
frice?
fource?
twice-twice?
 
warning: it's disappointing
 
4:05 PM
thoroughly
 
@Sdjz MEGALOVANIA.wav
 
I think I'm going to stick with "twicetwice"
 
4:33 PM
@goodguy5 Same, but I like it quite a lot.
NF has also been in other good things since then which I also liked.
 
I never watched.... Castle?
 
@goodguy5 I watched a lot of it but I got real tired of procedural-type shows and thus dropped it.
 
omg he was in buffy
 
@Rubiksmoose Castle got really nuts in the last season or two
 
@goodguy5 The first few seasons of Castle were great.
 
4:37 PM
@Carcer in a good way or bad?
 
And I do appreciate that they resolved the "will-they-won't-they" headache/conundrum halfway through.
 
shark-jumping way to be honest
one of the episodes appears to confirm the existence of time-travel
 
oh dear.
 
Yeah but that episode also featured Morgan from Chuck.
So we're all good.
As far as shark-jumping goes, I feel like they kinda lost their idea of where to go after Beckett's conspiracy plot was resolved.
So they tried to bring it back.
 
ah. Well it seems I didn't miss too much then
 
4:41 PM
Eh, I wouldn't write the whole thing off because of how it ended.
 
it was definitely good for a few seasons and it lost the plot a bit at the end yeah
like supernatural is a fantastic 5 season show, and it just gets worse from there on
 
Heroes is one of the best single-season series I've seen and it's a shame that they didn't make any more episodes.
 
@Yuuki Just like the two Shrek Movies. They were so good, and it's so weird they never made any more...
 
@Yuuki Well I'm still just not into procedurals any more so unfortunately the show, right now, is kind of already written off because of the genre. Maybe someday I'll get the itch again and pick it up.
 
Scrubs had the perfect run. Eight great seasons and then that perfect finale.
 
4:52 PM
@Yuuki OMG I love Scrubs. (and yes I see what you did there ;) )
 
I need to get the DVDs for Scrubs. I think my wife would like the show, but I want the one that doesn't have the substitute music since the rights expired and they replaced it on all the streaming services.
 
And Scrubs had some really good music choices.
Say what you will about his post-Scrubs career, but anything that Zach Braff's been in has had a really good soundtrack.
 
@CTWind oh no!
I've never heard about that. I'll treasure my DVDs more then.
@Yuuki Yeah he seems to have a really good ear. Most of the post 70's music that I know are from Scrubs and Guitar Hero.\
 
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