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 Post subject: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign :(
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:19 am 
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Steely-Eyed Heathen-Slayer
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The two characters brave enough to go into the crawl space found the real tomb first. The ghoul pouncing on them was a great way to make sure that they found it. However after crawling to the end of the shaft and taking a look inside the last room they decided to go back, but Area C-9 was calling to the players. The site of another spear plus a shield was to much of a temptation for them. After looting the Ulfheonar's chamber they went back to report to the main group. Returning with all that loot gave the party the confidence to shed armor and leave gear behind and crawl to the last room. The two warriors pushed sacks of armor ahead of them and dropped down into the room to suit up while everyone else followed after. It didn't take them long to try and move the puzzle pieces on the column and trigger the trap. Only two people had initiatives high enough to react before the end. One used his turn to boost the wizard up to the crawl space and was crushed with the rest of the party for his efforts.

Everything ground to a halt right here. One player who has died more times than I can remember in my short campaign said that he was never going to play this game again. He hates it. Every time he starts to enjoy it he dies. It's a shame because the wizard did survive and can crawl back out. He can pick up the real spear and horn along with a bunch of gear and head back to Hirot to recruit a new party.

A quick question
Where is the crawl space opening on the wall? I assumed it was high above the floor near the ceiling. When the massive stone slab fell down the player that dies all the time cried foul saying it wasn't very believable that a 20' high stone slab just fell down to cover the exit. I was stuck at that point and pointed out the fact that it did say massive.

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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:40 am 
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DCCfan wrote:
One player who has died more times than I can remember in my short campaign


It sounds like there is a disconnect between your DM style and this player's play style. One thing I like about DCC is that it is deadly and capricious. But if a player is dying this much (outside the funnel) then something needs adjustment, most likely on the DM side. Maybe the players aren't getting enough hints about the possibility of traps or the danger of beasts, or perhaps they are taking actions to try to avoid risk but you are deciding that those actions are ineffective, or maybe once they realize how much trouble they are in they try to get out of it but you rule that they aren't able to avoid/escape the danger, or perhaps the player just doesn't want to play a careful adventurer and DCC really isn't for them.

It's too bad you've reached this point. You might consider allowing the players to roll back this event if they would be interested in continuing the campaign. In the future, consider more hints that the trap is coming and also provide ways that at least a few of those caught might survive if very lucky. I sympathize with the players. A TPK to an unknown trap just isn't fun.


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 Post subject: SPOILER?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:49 am 
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meinvt wrote:
It's too bad you've reached this point. You might consider allowing the players to roll back this event if they would be interested in continuing the campaign. In the future, consider more hints that the trap is coming and also provide ways that at least a few of those caught might survive if very lucky. I sympathize with the players. A TPK to an unknown trap just isn't fun.


One thing I've tried to do is always foreshadow the save-or-die situations. As Judge, that's something I always try to telegraph. For example, in Tower of the Stargazer (a module for Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess), there's a dead thief who -- in the module -- is described as having fallen to his death. But the door has a save-or-die trap on it when a bronze snake/doorhandle bites a character. I changed the module to have the thief dead from some kind of snakebite. That way, when the characters walk up to the door and get bitten, it has more of an "oh, i get it now" response. It's less of a surprise and more of an explanation.

I think that crawlspace trap is adequately foreshadowed. I might feel bad about it if I didn't emphasize the puzzle-piece nature of the column in the center of the room. It's something that a Thief or Dwarf might pick up on innately. Something along the lines of... "Hey, these pieces are supporting weight..." or "Even savages aren't dumb enough to design a room that requires that much weight support in the center..."

In addition, the death of the PC is dependent on either a really bad Initiative roll or a bad Reflex save (or both). But that's hardly solace when they're re-rolling characters left-and-right. Some of the changes I've implemented in TA/TG are a response to this sort of reaction to the capricious nature of death in DCC. I think it's entirely appropriate to the genre and style of play. I mean, I prefer it as both a player and Judge. But many roleplayers are no longer accustomed to their characters dying in this way.

That's why, as a Judge, I foreshadow the heck out of save-or-die situations. And I'm also more likely to require multiple saves for save-or-die monster abilities -- with the character suffering irreparable damage on the first failed save and death on the second. And it's also why I made some of the changes I did in TA/TG, as well as giving players and Judges more choices in regards to character death.

I'll often warn players too when they're faced with a critical life-or-death roll. In the case of that trap, I'd warn them that characters who roll below a 20 on Initiative are likely to die. And I'd recommend they spend some Luck. This sort of advice has helped players in my group. Half of them are 4e players too. So there ya go.

We've had more near deaths than deaths since we started TA/TG playtesting. But we had a few deaths in DCC too. Nothing like multiple PC deaths per player, though. Which is probably more due to my style of presentation than anything to do with the game. I mean, 30 years ago I would've totally sprung a deadly trap on players without thinking twice. Now, I'm more reluctant to do so. Sometimes I feel like my job as Judge is more about emphasizing the threat of death than killing characters left and right. It's just how things have drifted over the last 3 decades.

I'm actually quite surprised that the TA/TG characters have survived this long, although one of them has recently been attacked by a feral vampire and it's likely she's on the downward slope of mortality.

======

And back to the "what do I do now?" situation of DCC and this group.

That's a hard one because a lot of times I've found groups operate on their impression of a game. For example, my local group felt that DCC was really stingy with Luck points. When in reality, I didn't have access to the Judge's chapter giving advice on how PC's should recover Luck or get it back. I informed them that the issue wasn't with the game. It was with me. And I rectified my approach to Luck, Alignment and all that sort of thing to tweak it more towards the group's expectations. I'm doing what the Judge's chapter says. Just maybe a little more often and obvious than the advice would think necessary.

Maybe that approach would work?

I mean, what we're really fighting in this situation is the group's first impression of the game. I wouldn't be squeamish about using the Recovering the Body rules on p. 93 in this situation. It's not my favorite rule. But if you haven't made much use of it, you could be like "whoops! hey guys, there's this rule I totally didn't understand and this guy on the forum totally pointed it out to me and it's my bad. Roll to recover and take 4 XP because I goofed up."

Something like that could maybe turn it around.


Last edited by smathis on Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:56 am 
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It doesn't mention in the module, but I would have put the crawlspace at the bottom of the wall, otherwise it becomes difficult to escape the room in time as you have demonstrated. Burning luck on the initiative roll is essential in this room. As a GM, I would stress the urgency of leaving that place ASAP.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:03 am 
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I think your right. It is a disconnect between the style and tone of the DCC RPG and this player's play style. I am trying to play the rules as written and roll the dice in front of the screen for all to see. Most of the deaths have been zero level PCs. Since the funnel
he has lost three first level guys now. I have tried to bend the rules to slow down the death toll, but a combination of one bad decision and crappy rolls have done him in every time. He did mention rewinding to before that room happened, but I said no. I hate doing that sort of thing. However I think after reading your reply that maybe that would be the way to go to continue play. I just hate to open that particular can of worms. I don't want to get into an argument with a player every time he makes a bad decision that ends with me giving in just to keep the game going. I need to think this over carefully before I make a decision. Thanks for the advice.

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"When creating your character,choose an ethical system that can justify nearly any fit of temper, greed, cowardice, or vindictiveness, for example, Chaotic Violent..."

THE PROTOCOLS, ADVANCED PROTOCOL #10


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:12 am 
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Does the player who keeps dying understand the Luck mechanism? Is he burning Luck to better saves, initiative, or whatever else he needs to survive?

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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:31 am 
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Raven_Crowking wrote:
Does the player who keeps dying understand the Luck mechanism? Is he burning Luck to better saves, initiative, or whatever else he needs to survive?

I have tried to remind him every session. I have suggested to him that a zero should never die without burning all of his luck. Each zero that is not going to be used after the funnel is a meat shield that can burn luck to change at least one failure into a success. He has yet to spend even one point of luck. I think I should have done what smathis suggested and said point blank burn luck now because you are about to die!

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"When creating your character,choose an ethical system that can justify nearly any fit of temper, greed, cowardice, or vindictiveness, for example, Chaotic Violent..."

THE PROTOCOLS, ADVANCED PROTOCOL #10


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:40 am 
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Hi. I'd just change the module if the players were getting really fed up. Or change the rules to allow a bit more of a chance against such things.

If you have a group that loves the danger, fine but if you have a group or a few players who prefer an easier ride (that doesn't mean they are bad players just like the volume knob turned down) then just temper the game to fit what makes everyone have a good time :D

My own way of doing things is going to be not to suggest that I am running a campaign. That implies to everyone that they can expect characters to develop and progress in a somewhat predictable manner to fame and power. I know it shouldn't but it does these days. With things like Prestige classes and Paragon Paths...it has become common for players to expect these things and for some to plan their path in advance. The random nature of DCC RPG sort of throws that out the window and runs an 18 wheeler over it.

I am just saying to my gang... We'll play some DCC RPG. I am running my games as single adventures. A single feature. Self contained. I think the game is utterly brilliant at this. Using the same characters but trying to stress that they shouldn't get upset if their super favourite Wizard turns into a Sprout when he messes up his spells.

Just my take on things.

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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:55 am 
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I agree that it should be stressed that this is not a super hero version of D&D. Believe me I have tried. I just don't think that this is the D&D game that this person wants to be playing. At this point I think that my DM style combined with the high potential for death is not what this player wants in his game. We may come back to DCC RPG after a break and a cool down period for this player.

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"When creating your character,choose an ethical system that can justify nearly any fit of temper, greed, cowardice, or vindictiveness, for example, Chaotic Violent..."

THE PROTOCOLS, ADVANCED PROTOCOL #10


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:07 am 
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It's tough when a player turns against a game. Maybe just try DCC for them as a once in a while thing and maybe in one session, things might click and be fun for them and off you go...

Or pass the game to somebody else to try running from your group. I couldn't enjoy DMing Pathfinder so I gave it another player. They did a brilliant job and we had a great time.

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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:37 pm 
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Some players are tough nuts to crack. I feel your pain. I hate seeing players get mad and threaten to leave. I don't know about your group but in our case some of the players of previous editions got so stupid when things didn't go their way, I simply stopped inviting them. Good luck I feel your pain and in no way am I comparing your players to my previous toddler ubermunchkins.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:23 pm 
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DCCfan wrote:
He has yet to spend even one point of luck.


I think this is your answer. This player wants to play something more like 4E where he can be a cinematic hero. (I actually really like 4E, but it has a totally different tone in play).

Given this info, I don't think it would help you to just capitulate. It also isn't fair to others at your table if you cut just this player a break.

My only other suggestion is coming up with a "Escaped from Certain Doom" table - a sort of third step after "recover the body". This table would be populated by things like disfigurements or injuries with game effects, permanent stat losses and obligations to demonic forces (all with little story hooks of course). Then you could allow any player to roll on it and have their character come stumbling back into town at dawn the next morning.


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:16 am 
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I did assume that the opening was at the bottom of the wall. Players were very lucky, there were 4 of them in there when the trap sprung, and they all managed to get out (one by burning some Luck). Unfortunately they didn't find the real Spear, so have gone off to fight the Hound in its lair in the Fens with the one from the trap room. I guess they'll find out when the Hound re-appears again...


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:38 pm 
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Well I had a talk with the player who was upset about the death trap and I think he may give the game another try. Turns out he was more upset with himself for not seeing the room for what it was than he was with me or the game. Thanks for all the good advice everyone. It helped me to find a way around this roadblock in my campaign.

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"When creating your character,choose an ethical system that can justify nearly any fit of temper, greed, cowardice, or vindictiveness, for example, Chaotic Violent..."

THE PROTOCOLS, ADVANCED PROTOCOL #10


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 Post subject: Re: The Ulfheonar's Tomb + Curious Players = End of Campaign
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:23 pm 
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Best of luck!

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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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