roleplaying – As a player, I am approaching a situation where “My Guy” syndrome seems inevitable and almost appropriate. What can I do to soften any problems?

Alright, so this problem takes a bit of background to explain, but in a nutshell:

Having talked with the other players in the group, and having seen how things play out in-session with the party, there is a very real chance that the party will attempt to kill an NPC that is a love interest of my PC (“cause she’s evil,” and they wouldn’t be wrong, pretty sure the NPC is a villain on the edge of being redeemable). If it comes to this, my gut response for my PC would be to either turn on the party or leave the party. I do not wish to retire my character or betray the party, but I also don’t want to downplay or ignore the fact the character loves the NPC, as this is currently a strong motivation for the character.

On the front of it, this seems to fall under “My Guy syndrome” (in summary, players sometimes choose to use the explanation “it is what my guy would do” in order to disclaim responsibility for problem behavior, and often it is mistakenly viewed as good roleplay), after all, I don’t want the game to cease to be fun for the group as a whole, or to really drag this out. The problem seems to be that while certainly, we shouldn’t just remove responsibility by saying its what My Guy would do, there still is a point where if the actions of the group directly and totally clash with a character’s motivation, something potentially drastic is going to happen.

What are ways I can try to work with the party, both in and out of character, to either soften or even prevent this potential conflict?

Background:
I am playing in a Pathfinder campaign with a good group of friends. We’re on book 2 of Strange Aeons, and one of the elements of this adventure path is that all the PCs have no/limited memory of their past. They just wake up in the same room and in their gut know they should work together. I should also note the theme of the module is Lovecraftian horror, so party paranoia is increased.

Long story short, we had split up because we were running away from a major loss (the party was quite paranoid at the time). On his way back, my character met an NPC that was his girlfriend before he lost his memory. As dramatic narrative would have it, she works for the bad guys (as the group, apparently, did as well before memory loss). Somehow the situation was navigated socially (there were a lot of Casablanca references), and the result of this meeting was that my PC on some level knew he still loved this NPC (and that the same emotions were reciprocated, and the GM even let me roll that Sense Motive check so I’m pretty certain), the NPC provided real and tangible evidence of helping the party (she called off the other cultists hunting the party as a whole, and gave advice where to attack the cult next), she wants out of the cult and is really only there to help a friend, but it was also established that she very much has evil in her alignment (“I’ve gotten very good at hurting people”).

At this point my PC has revealed some amount of information about this NPC to the party (e.g. she exists, is in the cult but wants to leave, she isn’t a true believer in the cult, she is helping us). But some things have been left out, such as “she’s also good friends with a member of the cult’s senior leadership” and “she is the cult’s chief kidnapper/executioner/assassin” (I should note here, I’m pretty certain she is an assassin, so in the event there is a party betrayal, this could easily lead to several character deaths, which I definitely don’t want to cause). Out of character and among the group it’s about the same level of disclosure although I’m more open to saying she really is kind of a villain NPC. As most of that interaction happened out of session, there is a strong sense of party paranoia that I’m either in cahoots with the GM or that there is some sort of other compulsion in effect.

The party is mostly good aligned (LG Inquisitor of Iomedae, NG Occultist, LN Monk, CG Ranger, CG Barbarian, and N Investigator (my character)). The inquisitor mentioned is often quite trigger happy with the Detect Alignment class feature, and there is at least some sense among the party/players that alignment is a valid reason to severely mistrust or even attack an NPC. The barbarian player is also quite often the type to prefer fighting rather than taking a chance trusting an NPC, and has OOC made the argument basically saying “If they’re evil and in the cult, then why shouldn’t we kill this NPC?”. The others are more the kind to be along for the ride.

What are ways for me to navigate this situation and do my part as a player to help maintain a fun game, while still helping maintain the goals and motivations of my character?

I should add, party PVP is fairly uncommon in our group. We’ve maybe had players have their characters bow out from time to time, but never do we have PCs attacking PCs. When I say “turn” on the party, I mean hand my character sheet to the GM and re-roll on the spot. This is partly why I see this as an issue as well. This line of behavior is not the status quo for our group.

It should be stressed the other party member is an Inquisitor of Iomedae, not a Paladin. They still get Detect Alignment as a class feature. But they at least don’t have any sort of code or required behavior. Strange Aeons as an adventure path has some pretty weird concessions with how it handles character backgrounds/classes (such as how anyone could play a paladin/good aligned divine caster). More than likely the party was involved with a cult that was kidnapping people and conducting human sacrifices before they lost their memory. For example, we know for a fact that the Inquisitor had been involved with gathering up certain “troublesome” townsfolk into a house, locking them in, and torching the place. None of our characters have any known affiliation with any given temple or organization. Evidence is actually pointing to the party being former lackeys/cultists of the main villain. Our characters basically just woke up in a cell in an asylum with the knowledge/abilities of whatever class we have.

The GM clearly is trying to play up/into the situation. While I might not have laid out my current thoughts and concerns as directly as I have done here, he certainly knows that I find the likely prospect of the party deciding to kill the NPC troubling for my character. His response was to go over item creation rules for how cheap it would be to make some sort of amulet or item that provides Undetectable Alignment. He also does find the interaction with the NPC to be one of the better established character motivations/roleplaying hooks. As mentioned, a lot of the group is “along for the ride.”

The GM has also pretty much said (or at least strongly hinted/joked/coyly didn’t comment on) that the NPC has levels in Assassin. Apparently I narrowly avoided having to make some very difficult/important fort saves. In Pathfinder terms this would strongly indicate that the NPC has an evil alignment, so while this is metagaming to assume, it’s kind of a foregone conclusion (at the moment I’m banking that the GM is going to give her a necklace of Undetectable Alignment, so that might allay issues with Detect Alignment). Also, her “friend” is likely the person currently in charge of the cult at the moment (who most certainly needs to be stopped), it’s not so much that she is helping a friend in trouble, but rather that she is working with a friend of hers who is trying to do some evil stuff.

roleplaying – How to role-play serious characters?

Comedy, tragedy, and drama are subtle and tricky– smart people like Aristotle have tried to figure it all out and no one has really definitively nailed it. And even Aristotle wasn’t worried about role-playing games. But based on observation, here is what I think.

First and foremost, in order to play a serious character well, you and your character need something serious to act against: Either the overall setting needs to be serious, or the setting at least needs to have serious moments. This might not be as obvious as it seems at first blush, though. I think most people would agree that a religious war is a serious thing… but I could be wrong. Consider the two following passages.

First:

“It was in that year when the fashion in
cruelty demanded not only the crucifixion of peasant children, but a
similar fate for their pets, that I first met Lucifer and was
transported into Hell; for the Prince of Darkness wished to strike a
bargain with me.

The War Hound and World’s Pain, Michael Moorcock

Second:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!”
He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in
God?”

He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A
Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said,
“Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I
said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said,
“Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or
Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern
Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative
Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great
Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He
said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of
1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

— Emo Philips, stand up comedy routine

The first is from a novel set during the Thirty Years’ War, a horrifically destructive religious war in Europe. The second is from a late 20th century stand up comedian. It’s perfectly possible (and a perfectly valid choice, subject to tastes of the group) for a GM to subvert a serious background and play it for laughs.

If that’s what the GM actively wants out of his or her game, you have a real challenge on your hand.

Second, and very closely related to the first, you need co-players who broadly support– or at least tolerate– your desire for moments of a serious tone. Comedy is tricky, and no one has properly nailed it down, but one definition I find persuasive and explanatory (if not perfect) is that comedy stems from the incongruity between expectations and results. Which means, if you play with an expectation of seriousness and the other players simply don’t accept it, that incongruity itself can become comedic. (Specifically, your character might become a type of straight man.)

Third, and finally, some concrete suggestions on (my paraphrasing) playing a serious character without either being overwhelmingly grim (i.e., entertaining) or degenerating into a clown:

  • It’s hard to sustain overwhelming seriousness all the time, either as a person or in drama. A movie or a play is one thing, a long form TV serial or RPG is another. It is also hard to be overwhelmingly serious about everything. Consider having one or two particular things that the character considers not funny, and play it that way.

  • This works best, I think, when the GM is active and on-board, so that situations can be presented with reasonable pacing between them– too much is overwhelmingly grim, too little can see your character’s default become comic. It also works better when they stem from the character’s past, either background from before the game, or develop in-game.

  • If it’s serious enough and not overplayed, Tranquil Fury can be an effective manifestation. Several examples at that site are from notionally comedic or light-hearted characters, ranging from the cosmic (Doctor Who) to the borderline downtrodden (Dan Conner.)

  • If the notion of being serious about only one or two things doesn’t seem like it’s “enough” consider also that humor is also a defense mechanism, and that this is the mechanism that has driven some of the most successful dramedies of the 20th century. I am thinking specifically of MASH, but even more than the series I am thinking of the characters. Especially Hawkeye, a surgeon whose comedic defense mechanism against the horrors of modern war was almost indistinguishable from insanity… but when the time came, no one could question his commitment to medicine.

Fourth and finally, because so much of this depends on the mood of the GM and players, I would strongly encourage talking to your GM and the to other players in that order. It may be that you are not the only one in this situation of wanting to be serious but feeling trapped by a group dynamic. (Or the opposite– but either way, knowing will help.)

dnd 5e – How do you handle role-playing NPCs as a DM?

How I helped a novice DM with this

A lady I work with was starting a D&D group with her church youth group, and discovered that I had long experience with D&D and DMing. She asked a very similar question to yours, in terms of “How do I do this NPC thing? There are so many kinds of characters to play!”
I broke it down into a few parts.

1. You’ll get better by doing, don’t worry

When you are new to DMing, no matter what someone else tells you, you still have to go out and do this NPC play and as you do it more you’ll be more comfortable doing that.

2. Give important NPCs Traits, Bonds, Ideals, and Flaws

I recently noted that some of the published adventures do this now, but back then I hadn’t noticed that. I pointed her to Chapter 4 (Player Backgrounds) in the PHB and walked her through how to roll for or hand pick those aspects for an NPC. One of each. These weren’t to be a three dimensional character study, they were meant to be a point of departure to help her get a feel for who the most important NPCs are.

3. Play the NPC from one of three opening stances

As each NPC interaction begins, determine if the NPC is generally hostile, neutral, or friendly to the PCs. The DMG has a small section about that that I showed her when I gave her a new copy of the DMG (my ‘welcome to the world of DMing’ present). She had not seen that and appreciated how it would help when she got stuck.

4. Start by acting naturally and simply, then let the interaction grow organically

As one gets more experience with NPC play, one can get sneaky and more nuanced, but I suggested to her not to make her job hard on herself. Start with a regular conversation, and let it grow from there based on what the PCs do and say.

Result? After about a month and a half I got a box full of homemade brownies and a big “thank you” for helping her get started. She told me that she had found those all of these tips useful.

She’s still DMing for that group. Last time we talked, she’s near the end of her second campaign a bit over three years later. (I also introduced her to roll20 as a resource when the COVID nearly did for her campaign).

How do I do it?

After all these years, there’s no simple answer but some things I typically focus on during an NPC interaction with PCs are:

  1. What do I(NPC) want?
  2. What am I(NPC) afraid of?
  3. Are these PCs helpful, dangerous, or simply unknown?
  4. If I(NPC) help them get what they want, do I believe they’ll help me get what I want?
  5. What have they done for me(NPC)?

Where do I go when I get stuck? Usually, the Alexandrian

Justin Alexander has an RPG blog with a lot of good DM advice. When I am looking for a better idea, I check out his articles on NPCs.
Here are some of his articles on NPC from the DM perspective:
NPC templates., advanced NPC templates, memorable NPCs, and a couple of others here and there.

“How do I play NPCs” is a pretty big topic. 😊 As The Alexandrian notes in the memorable NPC article:

This will not attempt to be an exhaustive discussion of how to create memorable characters. You could write whole books on the subject, and people have.

Some related Q&A already posted here at RPGSE

Making engaging NPCs, how to show emotions for different NPCs, becoming a better NPC/Monster actor, and creating emotions.

balance – Is the magic system in the XD20 roleplaying system unbalanced?

I’m currently reading XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery by Tracy and Curtis Hickman, published in 2009.

The “deconstructed” magic system in their XD20 roleplaying rules caught my eye – magic-user players simply make up a spell they want to cast on the spot. The DM gives them a target number they have to beat on a 1d20 roll to successfully cast the spell, and they roll another d20 for degree of success.

This magic system is refreshingly simple and sounds fun, especially for young players. Has anyone tried it?
Are there balance issues? Potential for abuse?
As a point of comparison, use D&D 5th edition.

game recommendation – What online collaborative communication tools have the most components for roleplaying away from the table?

I run a lunchtime game session once a week. Due to temporal constraints, we try to keep our sessions around the table limited to the more active aspects of encounters; for example, those that require maps, charts, spreadsheets, figurines and/or copious amounts of dice rolling. As such, we move much of the actual roleplaying away from the table and onto alternative forms of collaborative communication.

Until recently, the method of choice for these interactions was Google Wave. However, with its impending death, we now find ourselves without an adequate communication tool for PC/NPC interactions (i.e. plot development).

What now is being lauded as the best communication tool for RPGs and what are the compelling features? I’m looking for web-based options more specifically, since my players use differing OSes and the web is a universal platform.

shadowrun – Tracking Ammunition – Role-playing Games Stack Exchange

Ranged weapons are a mainstay in many games. Most fantasy games come with arrows, bolts, and sling stones. Wild West comes with lead, powder, and percussion caps in the early times and metal cartridges in the later end of the timeframe. Modern games blow out ammunition in the dozens – even hundreds at times.

However, all those expendable items come at bookkeeping troubles: Is there still an arrow in the quiver, is the next chamber a bang or click, or can the MG put out another burst?

In computer games and playing traditional games online, this problem can be mitigated by having some kind of ammo counter on the screen for each weapon user. But table-play doesn’t offer that ease of use. Players have not unlimited floating numbers next to the head or self-updating character sheets.

At a table, the problem however is you need to update manually. In a fantasy game, my elven archer ended up needing a new sheet after the second or third session because I had erased a hole into the spot where ammo was counted. Putting the arrows on a separate sticky note made that page replaceable, but it was prone to be lost. Looking for the main copy of the inventory to make a new one was a noisy thing between the different pages of the sheet – amplified by the limited space on the table – barely more than the open pages of the core book was available to put down stuff for each player to handle the large map in the center.

But fantasy games like that usually don’t need to account for more than 20 or such arrows per player. So were absolutely needed, I had used an ammo-counter D20 for my quiver and used a holder-ring with some sticky in it to make sure it didn’t roll and wouldn’t be accidentally taken as a dice.

Tracking Ammo for the Bullet-Hell

The real problem however is when games combine many people shooting with shooting a lot and variable ammo usage. That is when shooting isn’t happening consistently. This gets us to Shadowrun: Firearms can let loose between one and 10 rounds per action of the runner, runners can have between one and four actions and could shoot akimbo. Oh, and each gun has different ammunition capacities…

In a scene that turned into a bullet hell, I was one of 5 runners. While we fought some rather resistant thing and I took a lot of drain, the other four spent several hundred bullets shooting full-auto. I am sure that at least two players lost count of what was left in their guns at some point: One recalculated twice if he had to reload using a calculator and slowing the game down, the other had a tiny post-it note upon which he just added strikes to see if he still owned any bullets and guesstimated if he had to reload or not.

How could players track the ammunition for their runners in a way that the amount of ammo left in the gun is easy to spot at a distance, fast to update, non-destructive to the character sheet, and not bound to a movable object (dice, marker) that might be accidentally shifted?

Identify this Dungeon Adventure – Role-playing Games Stack Exchange

My daughter is home for college and has asked her friends over to play (and me to DM).
A request was made for a combat-light short adventure with mystery elements.

I am trying to remember a specific Dungeon magazine adventure, I believe from the late ’80’s or earliest 90’s. Could be 1e, 2e, or BECMI.

The players survive a shipwreck and land on the island of a minor noble / wealthy merchant.

The noble (?) is hosting a party and something mysterious is going on among the invited guests that the PC’s can investigate (possibly a murder or disappearance?)

There are a number of different NPC’s to have social interactions with – much of the adventure involves questioning witnesses and comparing stories.

There may be a set of female twins among the guests to confuse things.

There is some sort of shape-changing monster like a mimic or protein polymorph in the manor house.

Title and/or issue number would be greatly appreciated.

Fate RPG Conflict Help – Role-playing Games Stack Exchange

I am looking for advice regarding Fate/FAE conflict.

In my group, the conflict takes quite a while. Not because our team is just doing simple attacking and defending. We spend lots of time on “create-advantage” and “overcoming” action. However, it just becomes a tedious advantage arm race.

Sure, the situational aspect they are building is different each time. But my players feel all of the combat feels too similar. In the end, it is whoever stacked the most advantage, without getting erased by overcoming action, is the winner.

Our usual conflict goes like this:

A wants a’, B wants b’. A’ and b’ can’t coexist together, so they get into conflict. (For instance, A needs to get out of this temple, and B wants A to stay in the temple.)
1st round:
A makes an advantage a1.
B either tries to disarm the a1 or try to make b1. (Usually disarm fails because A use advantage defensively too)
2nd round:
A makes advantage a2 if a1 is defended.
B either tries to disarm a2 or try to make b2.

(repeat 1,2 round for 5~6 times)

A or B, whoever feels confident they can knock out the other side with stacked advantages finally attack.
With three players, this usually means 5~6 advantages, thus winning the fight. (Usually Knock out doesn’t happen, but gives 1 or 2 consequences, thus forcing the other to concede or risk losing)

If one side doesn’t reach that point, we continue to create advantages or sabotage the other side’s advantage. Both sides, knowing attacking with a mere one or two advantage won’t cut, continue to churn them out. This making advantage to the tipping point is what slows our conflict process. More often than not, the competition-type scene is faster and more engaging for my players because they don’t have time to create multiple advantages. In competition, players can try to make advantage only once and have to fight right away. They can’t just sit there and keep making advantages till they sure win.

So how should I help to make conflict more engaging & fast?
Changing Stress Box from 1, 2, 3 to 1, 1, 2 slightly helped.

TL;DR: Our team stacks advantage during the conflict until they can surely win. This advantage grinding makes the battle feel dragging and boring. What could I do?

online dungeons-and-dragons – Role-playing Games Stack Exchange


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product identification – What’s this roleplaying game that came with a video and a box?

I seem to recall an introductory D&D box from the mid 1990’s that had a video.

There were several D&D boxes with audio CD’s; One was a starter set, called “First Quest” (The others were supplements.)

The Dragon Strike game was released by TSR, has a hybrid play mode (That is, it’s a board game but uses a GM, and can be used as an RPG; to the non-RPGer, it can be easily mistaken for an RPG. THis is the most likely one to be so confused. It has a “Learn to Play” VHS cassette.

The DragonRaid RPG also has an audio CD to assist new players. There was, at one point, discussion of a VHS cassette showing as well as telling, but I don’t know if it got off the ground. (And while not a bad game, it’s definitely very focused on a Christian allegory mode similar to Narnia, but more obvious about it. (My copy predated the CD version, and had audio cassette.)

Il gioco di ruolo di Ken il Guerriero was sold bundled with the VHS of Fist of the Northstar in Italy; the Game doesn’t use the video, but is based upon the video.