Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Save Me

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • dream
    started a topic Save Me

    Save Me

    I needed a space to post some advice regarding your BBEG a.k.a. your game's main villain. Some GMs leave them out in the open or undeveloped, both easy recipes for PC discovery. And hence, defeat. As a player, I'd tell GMs this:

    I. Hide them: Never, ever bring the main bad guy out in the open unless they are so (see below) that the PCs wouldn't guess they're the villain, or, he/she/it has a small army and hostages for protection. Give them the "Power of Plot", using the destruction of what Players hold dear - their PCs or innocent NPCs - as fodder against possible attack.

    "Ok, you attack? An unseen bomb explodes, killing the hostages, to include your loved one who was caught while shopping downtown. Begin Perception checks to find your way through the smoke & debris ......."

    "Ok, you attack? 50 Ninja warriors rush you from various doorways adjacent to the room - let's roll initiative - oh, and the small unit of supervillains attack as well ...."

    II. Hide them more: What if your main bad guy was presented as something lesser? Lex Luthor, the street-level hood, ruffed-up by cops & other hoods alike, to further their own ends, which could be information-gathering or disinformation? Presenting the main villain as a lesser NPC victimized by others is a delicious angle, especially if you give the players several others to suspect as the BBEG. It allows the villain to get close, possibly direct PC actions, and move around the setting untouched, enabling them to affect the greater adventure.

    III. Connections: Big Bads usually have a culture of corruption they use to further their ends; politicians, cops, feds, ect. Anyone willing to take their money & do as they're told. This grouping can be ambivalent, possibly exposing them, but usually connections don't know who's really calling the shots anyway, so betrayal is very limited. The key is connections can turn the wheel around the players, shifting the setting against the PCs at any given moment: the media attacks, cops go for PC arrests, Feds set ambushes, ect. Using their social connections, Big Bads can force the PCs into a "world of their own", where there are no friends.

    IV. The Team: Big Bad Guy need a team of super-villains who do their dirty-work. Masterminds know the law (Expertise, maybe) and wont put themselves in position for prosecution. The villain team does what needs to be done & if defeated, the Big Bad just finds another resource. If they get exposed somehow (evidence or someone rats on them), villains can be isolated as "terrorist" or psychopathic. The key here is there are superpowered people who will do the BBEG's bidding, for money or rep or fun, and the PCs have to deal with them prior to getting to the BBEG.

    V. Complications: What if the BBEG & one or more of the PCs share ideals? "The world is corrupt and needs heroes." Ok. The BBEG embraces that as a daily mantra and feels they are a hero for positive change. "Some criminals stand beyond the law and someone has to deal with them." OK. The BBEG sees this and has taken steps to remove duly-elected officials from power (sorry Mr. President, but) in order to preserve society. "I hate people who text while driving". Ok. The BBEG goes on a rant about text-drivers that appeals to certain PCs with the same deal, establishing a connection, despite their social adversity.

    In the end, the deeper you create your BBEG, the more difficult it will be for players to uncover and defeat them. Done well, you can plague a team of superhuman heroes with a non-superhuman Big Bad master of interaction (Persuasion & Deception) as long as you like. It all comes down to what that villain wants and how useful the PCs can be to them.

    What do you think?

  • mrdent12
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    Depending on the day, keeping track of all the details can be trying even for a GM in PbP. Players can slip, but GM's need some degree of consistency in the details or the players just get confused. The bad guys hq might have started as a castle, but somehow became a warehouse in the city...that only looked like a castle somehow...

    Leave a comment:


  • digitalangel
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    That's a good idea. Probably almost a necessity in a long PbP game with an intricate plot.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ysariel
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    Most players aren't that meticulous. While stories can be fun to read, sifting through posts looking for particular details is usually tedious. I suggest that if you want to run a long-term behind the scenes villain with a lot of investigation going on, maybe you could do something like the New Vindicators guys did and keep a list of dangling plotlines, and probably add a campaign bible and list of clues the players have found. That way every can keep updated easily and has a tangible sense of progress.

    Leave a comment:


  • digitalangel
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
    In addition to what Kyle and Horsenhero said, I'll add that in play-by-post so much time elapses between adventures that players will have clean forgotten all the clues they picked up by the time they become relevant.

    Finally, the entire idea of frustration + challenge = good strikes me as odd. Challenge (especially challenge in combat) rewards cutthroat, abusive play that's not conducive to telling a story, and frustration will drive away players if there is no reward in sight. Both must be used carefully and in moderation if at all.

    Your advice is definitely going to be kept out of the games I run, and my players can judge for themselves if it makes my stories weaker.
    The flip side of this in PbP is that you can always go back and reread the thread for things that you have forgotten along the way. It also means that if a new player joins the game later on, so can they. They then just have to keep seperate how much of that information their character should or should not have depending on the character background and how they joined the group.

    PbP does require a certain amount of change in game style over all sitting around a table face to face though. Face to face, you tend to know your group better going into a game, and have a lot more opportunity to BS about side topics and get to know each other above table to an extent that is hard to do in PbP even when the game has a seperate thread for that kind of thing.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ysariel
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    In addition to what Kyle and Horsenhero said, I'll add that in play-by-post so much time elapses between adventures that players will have clean forgotten all the clues they picked up by the time they become relevant.

    Finally, the entire idea of frustration + challenge = good strikes me as odd. Challenge (especially challenge in combat) rewards cutthroat, abusive play that's not conducive to telling a story, and frustration will drive away players if there is no reward in sight. Both must be used carefully and in moderation if at all.

    Your advice is definitely going to be kept out of the games I run, and my players can judge for themselves if it makes my stories weaker.

    Leave a comment:


  • Kyle
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    The problem -- in my experience anyway -- with long drawn out plots centred around a master manipulator operating from the shadows, is that real life gets in the way all too frequently. Things happen, groups split up, games fall by the wayside, there are distractions; it takes a singular strength of will to GM a long running campaign and keep it on task for the length of time necessary to weave together all the threads of your master plot, and really stick that pay-off.

    Even if you've managed to pull off the grand reveal, if you've worked too hard to obscure the BBEG's identity, the players aren't going to appreciate it. The cold hard truth of being a GM is that players are never going to be as invested in the story you're telling as you are. Again, there's too much real life in the way. At best, the players will acknowledge that it was a cool story, but unless you have someone meticulously pouring over every detail of your plot for hints and clues, they're not going to know how much effort you put into the intrigue. Worst case scenario is the players feel cheated when you reveal that the person they thought was the villain all along is defeated, and you reveal with cackling laughter that, no it was really some NPC they've only met twice and never bothered to remember the name of all along!

    Don't get me wrong, I like plots where there's a grand manipulator working behind the scenes, but when that's the game I'm running, I make sure my players and their characters are aware that there's someone hiding in the shadows, pulling all the strings. I want them to be aware that there's an evil genius moving pieces around on the board, and I want them to be able to discover who it is after a reasonable amount of time, and then they're going to get the opportunity to kick that dude's teeth in.

    Leave a comment:


  • Horsenhero
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    Originally posted by dream View Post
    So frustrating players is now a bad thing?

    What's wrong with players being frustrated and having to think about solutions? What's wrong with falling in love with story from a Player perspective? If I deprive a player of story to satisfy a weak-legged "story", players get what from the game?

    I've heard of players running through campaigns with little or no serious conflict and wondered "why play that game?" Always thought the challenge was the game.

    Educate me.
    Your initial post was nothing about "falling in love with a story from a player perspective", it was about protecting your big bad from the pc's. Almost everyone knows to throw in some red herrings or plot twists to make the characters think about what they have to accomplish. Heck, I'll even let an overzealous character get their tail whipped if they decide to take on a villain more powerful than they are without back-up (especially when they could have avoided that situation).

    What you're post seemed directed toward was stymieing any forward progress the players might make when it came to discovering the villain. What do you do when a clever player outsmarts you? Do you adapt your story to their success or do you change the story so they fail? If in order to protect the planned reveal a GM goes with option 2 it's kind of sad, because it doesn't reward a player for being clever, in fact if they discover what you've done, all it does is teach them to wait for the GM to lead them where he wishes, when he wishes as opposed to getting there themselves.

    What I don't do is lie to my players. If they outsmart the plot, then I adapt to the circumstance and reward them for clever play. I'm not in love with my villains...at least not at the expense of my players.

    At the end of the day, much of it has to do with GMing style. In my tabletop games, my players biggest source of uncertainty comes from the fact that I don't make singular arch-villains. Villainy is political. If Dr. Menace is defeated, that opens up the field to Master Massacre, the Evil Empress and who knows what other villains or organizations. My campaigns are devoid of Darkseid or Thanos-like entities or at least devoid of them in the singular. My heroes are just as likely to find the frustration in their heroic lives stemming from other, well-meaning sorts as from villains, since nobody has the exact same idea of what is good and nobody has the same idea of what is evil. Neither evil, nor good is monolithic.

    PBP's can be a different story, since they progress more slowly than tabletop games, I streamline my normally crowded morass of subplots and factions, because the pace is prohibitive toward too crowded a playing field. In that case, my plots become more like intellectual puzzles such as you suggest, but that's a requirement of form, not a preference of style.

    Leave a comment:


  • mrdent12
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    While I fall in to the camp that the GM shouldn't take sides and if anyone should be defended it should be the players from GM miscalculations and cruel fate, the initial post is perfectly valid with the right players. I can even see it working for a game with a planned ending. In regards to story, and once again this is my take, it should be developed between GM and player cooperation organically as opposed to the GM dictating the story and frustrating players who skip ahead a few steps or throw everything the GM had planned out of whack. This method doesn't always work admittedly, but it boils down to who you game with and the groups tastes.

    Leave a comment:


  • dream
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    So frustrating players is now a bad thing?

    What's wrong with players being frustrated and having to think about solutions? What's wrong with falling in love with story from a Player perspective? If I deprive a player of story to satisfy a weak-legged "story", players get what from the game?

    I've heard of players running through campaigns with little or no serious conflict and wondered "why play that game?" Always thought the challenge was the game.

    Educate me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Horsenhero
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    I'm going to side with Ysariel here. This advice is all about taking an adversarial stance against the pc's. When I run a game it's for one thing and one thing only and that's to tell a story and once the first story is finished, I move onto the next story. Some stories require more effort than others and some b"big bads" are more difficult to bring down than others, but this advice...this is the recipe for frustrating players and doing the one thing, I never do and never encourage any GM to do, and that's hold your villain in higher regard than your protagonists.

    The nature of rpg's is serial in general, with the unspoken agreement between GM's and players that the players are the heroes of the story, not simply obstacles to the plans of the GM's "big bad". This isn't to say that getting to the "big bad" of the scenario shouldn't be difficult and maybe the villain escapes to plot another day, but why bother telling the story if the point is to frustrate your player's efforts?

    There are always more big bads in the world and to limit it to one is to engage in a couple of the most awful mistakes a GM can make. First, you make evil monolithic. Bad is as varied as good and should be presented that way, with a multitude of players on the field. An ultimate "Big Bad" simply puts you in a LotR situation, which is fine if you're running a desperate quest against impossible odds. I however, prefer a more nuanced approach to my worlds where some bad guys want one thing, others want something different and not all the good guys are even on the same page as to how things should be done.

    The second mistake is you move the GM from the position of orchestrating the story to defending the villain from the heroes, otherwise you have what I call "The Aragorn Problem" or what does the big damn hero od now that the story is over? Quests are a bit like dungeon crawls in that they can be part of a campaign, but they shouldn't be the point of the campaign. Why do you think comics like the New Gods or Eternals fail so miserably? They present a problem with two sides and eventually, telling the ongoing story of the stalemate of those two sides gets boring. Darkseid can't die or even be defeated longterm, because without him, Apokolips doesn't have a big damn villain. You can do awful things to the heroes, but you can't hamstring them too much or their continual failure becomes boring to read about. Unfortunately, since you've only got two sides, eventually one is going to have to triumph or the story stagnates. Worse yet, since there is no "other evil" because all roads lead to one source, you've guaranteed the story is going to stagnate if you don't have an endgame for the campaign in mind.

    In the end, the advice presented here is good for a villain in his/her own microcosm within the game, but if you make him/her the villain then you've written a guaranteed expiration date into the game.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ysariel
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    Most of these ideas look frustrating from a player perspective. I think the game should be about the players defeating the villain, not about preventing the players making any headway against evil. I'll definitely avoid using these in my own games.

    Leave a comment:


  • dream
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    It was just advice, not dictates.

    Magneto is easily beatable by certain opponents & tactics. Same with Lex. PCs come up with unexpected twists all on their own.

    What if the trad villains did things different? That's what I'm suggesting. Keeping an open mind about how you run your game is all I'm looking at here.

    Angles vs. edicts.

    Anyone that has good ideas, I'm open to them, as well. Anything that makes RPGs fun is welcomed

    Leave a comment:


  • mrdent12
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    I am going to have to agree with saint_matthew. Once you make a list of what the big bad should be you limit yourself concept wise. For some big bad guys hiding behind minions might work such as Lex Luthor when not in a power suit or powered in some fashion. Similarly, Magneto doesn't need to be too subtle with his villainy. It all should boil down to what kind of game you want to run as opposed to a set of rules. Also, who says you need to have one big bad guy? Magneto can ally with Doctor Doom and some other big bad guy to achieve a joint aim.

    Leave a comment:


  • dream
    replied
    Re: Save Me

    Thanks, St. Matt.

    But I'm beyond "first steps" here. This is about protecting the main villain. First steps, in my opinion, are Theme, the 3 Tiers of Game, developed NPCs and developed scenes.

    Basics.

    My advice (vice being difficult) was how to protect your Big Bad. Just that. Rather than restrict, the 5 points give GMs other paths to consider. Only consider. I'm not big on "One True Wayisms": there are many ways to play. Hell, let's try everything twice and see what sticks.

    But to say, "Jesus, this way is craziness" may not be the best way to achieve what we want as players & GMs.

    There's no limitation to imagination that we don't create.

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X