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Amusing but Difficult to Handle Situations


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#1 Mikmaxs

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 12:04 PM

First off: I'm Max. If you're in my group, read no further.

Long story short, here's a summary of my last session and some fairly amusing situations that came up, which are presenting me with problems...

The general plot of the mission (Which was supposed to be a milk run after a very dangerous planetfall), was that an important dignitary's 18-19 year old son had been kidnapped, and he had called in all the favors he had as well as donating a frankly ridiculous sum to the inquisition in exchange for a team to discreetly investigate. (If anyone finds out that he has no heir, he's vulnerable to assassination attempts to steal his empire, since it would be up for grabs.) The big 'Surprise' was supposed to be that his son had run away to seek his own fortune, staging it like a kidnapping and fleeing with several of his low-life scum friends. (Who, of course, he had been forbidden from speaking with.)
Except, when they were being told the situation, one of the players wasn't paying too much attention or else just had too much meta-knowledge, assumed that the son had run away, and from that point the entire group started searching as though he was simply a runaway, and not a kidnapee. I'm not 100% sure everyone realized they had been blatantly told he was kidnapped, since nobody pursued that lead even a little bit.
They also wanted to find anyone who might know the son's criminal-scum-ish friends... But they were in a hive city of several billion, didn't know the friends' names, and didn't know where they lived. One player called it a 'GM wall' when I pointed out how bad an idea it was...

Anyways. I thought that was a little frustrating, but amusing. It gets better.

They managed to track down the son and his friends, finally, where it was essentially five people with lasguns and Guard Flak all beating up another guy. (The son had used stolen gear from his escape to arm his friends and himself. The guy had gone back on a deal and stolen gear from an assossiate of theirs.) There were 4 players, at this point: A level 5 Assassin, a fellowship level 5 Scum, a tanky level 3 Tech Priest, and an entirely lore/tech level 5 Tech Priest.

So what do they do? They have the assassin go get the car, then send the Scum in to cause a distraction and shoot someone in the head.
Without their only high-level character (Who was gone for 6 rounds getting the car,) the entire party was pretty neatly dealt with. Everyone took crit, and our lore-Tech Priest lost his face, which would have blinded him if he didn't have an optical mechadendrite. (Oh, and our Scum lost 1 point of armor to his chest.)

The only reason they didn't have to burn fate points is because the Assassin came back and threatened to turn them in to his father, sending him back to a luxurious captivity.

Their logic was apparently that they could kill the friends, knock out the son, and take him back.

Did I mention that the son has a best quality Cybernetic arm, with a built in Power Blade? And also that both of the Tech Priests wanted to cut it off because he 'Didn't deserve it'?

I'm really baffled by their decisions, and am trying to figure out ways to handle it without just beating them all up when they attack stronger enenies than them, while unprepared. I already pulled punches to keep them from a total-party-kill (Or, Total-Party-Fatepoint,) but I don't want this to happen repeatedly.

#2 darkforce

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 07:52 PM

Alright, a few thoughts in the early morning about your situation. 

 

1. The son might have been actually kidnapped while running away. Maybe some of his scumbag-friends (or all of them) might have decided he's more worth sold then a friend. 

 

2. About not-recommending to search for the guy, well, I would have simply said "you know it's a Hive-City with a few billion inhabitants, right?" and leave it at that. Have them spend a few weeks searching, all while the son makes it off-world. 

 

3. About 3 (4?) Level 3-5 Acolytes losing a fight against one dude with a Power-Blade and four guys with las-guns and flak-armor... just what... I boldly state, without knowing the stats of both the party and the scum, this would've been a fight a mere starting-group could have resolved.

 

4. About pulling punches... don't do it. Just don't. Firstly, Dark Heresy is Call of Cthulhu (IN SPAAAAAAACEEEEE!) so the PCs will inevitable die a gruesome death or simply go mad. Just let things flow naturally, let the Players have easy victories where they worked for them (even if it means you don't get to show the cool villain you spend designing all night) and brutally murder them where appropriate - as long as they have always a no-GM fiat possibility to escape. Especially in that situation, after the Buddies of the Son have seen how easily they dispatched of the other mercenaries daddy hired: He's only a lone guy, let's just kill all of them, get off-world and be done with it. Even if the PC's survived, good luck explaining that failure. 

 

Always talk about how you will horribly murder their characters in unspeakable ways each session. It will make them work harder to survive, and if they do something stupid, well, service in the Inquisition isn't easy, is it?



#3 Mikmaxs

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 08:17 PM

The Enemies/Son all had randomized stats using Hive Worlder base, and the Son had an extra couple thousand Experience and a fate point to spend. (Using the Guard tree.) He had a largely inflated WS (I used his reroll to get a base of 38 and bought 3 Advances), Swift Strike, Crushing Blow, and a SB of 5 once you factor in the mechanical arm. When he hit in close combat, he was dealing D10+10 Damage with a pen of 6. This basically meant D10+6 Wounds no matter who in the party he hit. He rolled a 13 on his first attack, against the Scum (Who only has 11 wounds,) and rolled a 10 against the tanky Tech Priest he hit, inflicting an extra four points of crit damage. (6 Crit total, if I recall. Even without getting bonus damage, though, the Tech Priest would have been screwed.)
Meanwhile, the lore-based Tech Priest (Who inexplicably has not bought new armor yet) got hit in the face twice against lasgun hits, but both rolled well for damage and he doesn't have Dodge. His face melted.

The Assassin would have made a big difference, had he been there, unless the Son could charge him in Close Combat before being hit. (The Assassin has zero Close Combat except for pistols. Well, one Pistol.)

The Son didn't flee the planet, but that's because he never planned on it. He and his friends are trying to access a lost artifact of the Adeptus Sororitas which allegedly grants its weilder great power and might, which he'll use to seize control of his fathers empire. He's told the Acolytes about it, and convinced them he wishes to sell it and take the vast amount of money its worth. They've agreed to split the money in exchange for silence and help finding it.
(He's wired his portion of the data-map with explosives and given it to the Acolytes. If he betrays them, they can destroy it. If they betray him, he can destroy it remotely. If they try and remove the explosives and fail a hard test, it detonates.)

The players are planning to knock him out and take him to his father before resuming the search for the artifact. Which is actually afine idea, if they can pull it off. If they screw up, though, they could have their biggest clue destroyed and possibly be killed or badly maimed, again. (As it is they had to spend a long time recovering from injury, during which the Son simply kept looking for the rest of the map while having one of his friends keep an eye on them.)

#4 Askil

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 05:25 PM

Two tech priests a murderer and a thief... not exactly the Holy inquisition you`d expect to see enforcing the laws of mankind.

 

Two are exempt from most laws and don`t even worship the Emperor, one is a lawbreaker by definition and last is a killing machine.

 

This party needs an indoctrinated individual who might actually be motivated to care about law and order like an adept, arbite priest or guardsman, it looks more like an AdMech explorator party with a minder and hired guide right now.

 

Ignoring that for a moment.

 

Why didn`t you just kill (at least some of) them? They screwed up big time, they walked piecemeal into a gunfight with heavily armoured criminals armed with military grade weapons, that`s the sort of cockup that should kill players.

 

Also your NPCs are way to complex just slap out some d10 statblocks and give them generic weapons and armour special gear is fair enough on important guys but don`t bother with talents and skills NPCs don`t need that kind of effort, I go by the maxim "NPCs are as capable or incapable as the GM needs them to be."

 

This kid they are after is a noble born politico, educated in intrigue and diplomacy from childhood, he probably should have about half a dozen plans to double cross almost everyone he`s ever met just the survive this long.

 

Now he`s out from under daddy`s thumb this idiot upstart can become a serious psycho, make his friends start dying. Show this ambitious youngster`s descent into something truly messed up, show him becoming manipulative. decadent, drug-crazed and morally bankrupt, make it increasingly obvious the son has no interest in anybody else`s lives as long as he gets what he wants.

 

Then make the relic something awful. like a box of interlocking sororitas bones, washed with their blood and carved with sacred warding sigils filled with the very essence of an unspeakably powerful slaaneshi playmate for the brand new cultist you helped fall to chaos.

 

Guess what? The legends where true. The relic can grant wealth and power, but at what price?


Edited by Askil, 05 August 2014 - 05:39 PM.


#5 Mikmaxs

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 07:01 PM

Two tech priests a murderer and a thief... not exactly the Holy inquisition you`d expect to see enforcing the laws of mankind.

 

Two are exempt from most laws and don`t even worship the Emperor, one is a lawbreaker by definition and last is a killing machine.

 

This party needs an indoctrinated individual who might actually be motivated to care about law and order like an adept, arbite priest or guardsman, it looks more like an AdMech explorator party with a minder and hired guide right now.

 

Ignoring that for a moment.

 

Why didn`t you just kill (at least some of) them? They screwed up big time, they walked piecemeal into a gunfight with heavily armoured criminals armed with military grade weapons, that`s the sort of cockup that should kill players.

 

Also your NPCs are way to complex just slap out some d10 statblocks and give them generic weapons and armour special gear is fair enough on important guys but don`t bother with talents and skills NPCs don`t need that kind of effort, I go by the maxim "NPCs are as capable or incapable as the GM needs them to be."

 

This kid they are after is a noble born politico, educated in intrigue and diplomacy from childhood, he probably should have about half a dozen plans to double cross almost everyone he`s ever met just the survive this long.

 

Now he`s out from under daddy`s thumb this idiot upstart can become a serious psycho, make his friends start dying. Show this ambitious youngster`s descent into something truly messed up, show him becoming manipulative. decadent, drug-crazed and morally bankrupt, make it increasingly obvious the son has no interest in anybody else`s lives as long as he gets what he wants.

 

Then make the relic something awful. like a box of interlocking sororitas bones, washed with their blood and carved with sacred warding sigils filled with the very essence of an unspeakably powerful slaaneshi playmate for the brand new cultist you helped fall to chaos.

 

Guess what? The legends where true. The relic can grant wealth and power, but at what price?

Addressing your stuff one by one:

About the party. Our group comp isn't perfect, exactly... We also have one other Assassin who couldn't make it. I play a very faithful Arbite! (Yay!) But I don't like playing a character while also GMing, so I only use her when our other GM is taking a turn. When I do play, I end up as the de-facto leader mainly because I make decisions using bullets that it's hard to argue with, and because nobody else has a moral compass.

 

About killing them:

I nearly did. They had to spend lots of fate points recovering wounds and re-rolling dodge tests to avoid spending Fate Points, and if the Assassin hadn't driven up and very carefully handled the situation, three of our players would have been finding themselves one Fate Point short very quickly. 

 

About the NPCs:

Most of my NPCs amount to '30 stats all across!' 'Homeworld stats all across +10!' 'He's vaguely important, so 35 stats all across!' I mainly generated actual character stats for this party on account of two reasons: One, I was bored and felt like rolling up some characters. Two, they're pretty much the most important people in the mission, (Or, at least, the Son is, and they're all the posse of the son.) Only the Son (Who I'm calling Leto Atreides III since my group hasn't read Dune,) actually has any abilities beyond weapon training for their weapons and some generic basic across-the-board stuff.

 

Now, about the kid:

I like the way you think. One of his friends already died, and he really hates the Acolytes, he's only working with them to further his own goals and keep his father off of his back until he can retrieve the relic. He's already planning on stabbing them in the back as soon as possible. (And no, he's not going to drink or eat anything they give him, and he's not letting his guard down.) Under years of a fairly oppressive father trying to 'Train him up to be a fit heir,' he chafed and spent as much time as possible away from home. His 'friends' are basically a street gang whom he joined, and who allowed him to join because he was so wealthy. They've since become a tight-knit group, saving each other's asses enough times that they trust each other... Though they still lock their valuables up at night. No need to take chances.

 

As for the relic...

It's a Halo Device. That a small group of insane townsfolk have built a cult around. There's also an actual imperial relic, sure, but any good it could possibly have done has been utterly corrupted by false worship from the same insane townsfolk. (YUP, it's a twofer.) 


Edited by Mikmaxs, 05 August 2014 - 07:10 PM.


#6 Secutor 00K

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 10:46 AM

Mikmaxs
 

I understand your situation, I have also been struggling with the issue of keeping my players on track, and avoiding the resulting party wipes.   I try to be more lenient with my PC's as long as their actions add to the fun of the group. I usually make 2 or 3 attempts to get them back on track, and if they still don't take the hint, unfortunately i have to kill them. 
 

Their last Mission, was to investigate a rogue Techpriest, within a very strict timeframe, and somehow they decided that the best way to find the Techpriest's lab was to track down and interrogate all of the low level drug dealers in that section of the underhive, which resulted in one of my player's going full Batman and shouting "WHERE ARE THE DRUGS GOING???"    it was very funny, and all my players enjoyed the session, even though the end result was the whole lot of them waking up in medical facility stripped of all of their gear, and being forced to start from scratch.  



#7 Mikmaxs

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:57 PM

On a related but not completely pertinent note:

I have a low-level Tech Priest character who actually knows how to build... Kind of. By level 4, he'll have armor of 5, TB of 7 and a SB of 6 (Between a Machinator Array and the right Gear).

He'll also have an Agility of 16.

 

I'm trying to figure out how to balance combat against a player like that, so that he can be injured but it won't just slaughter everyone else. Some thoughts I've had:

 

He pretty much can't move. With an Agility Bonus of 1... He's not going anywhere fast. A run movement of 8 Meters, Charge of 4, and Full Move of 2... He's not going anywhere. Melee opponents will make mincemeat of him if he tries to move quickly. More importantly, he will be unable to run away if the rest of the team is down, or chase anything down if he gets into a pursuit. MORE importantly, he'll not be dodging away from any grenades, and flame weapons will completely screw him over. I'm thinking that some low-damage weapons that hurt people with low agility will be the way to go. (Bolas anyone?)



#8 Covered in Weasels

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:06 PM

On another note, it sounds like your lore Tech-priest isn't taking any combat advances or even buying himself better armor. This is not a bad thing -- by making these choices, he is telling you that he's more interested in investigation than combat. In future combats, try not to punish him for these choices by roasting his character with the firepower meant to challenge the combat-focused Acolytes.


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#9 Mikmaxs

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 12:25 AM

On another note, it sounds like your lore Tech-priest isn't taking any combat advances or even buying himself better armor. This is not a bad thing -- by making these choices, he is telling you that he's more interested in investigation than combat. In future combats, try not to punish him for these choices by roasting his character with the firepower meant to challenge the combat-focused Acolytes.

Oh, he's by far my favorite member of the team. His character doesn't really influence the group all too much, but he's an excellent roleplayer and a really fun addition to the group.

The only reason he got shot at when he lost his face is because one member of the team was already at crit and I didn't want to shoot him while he was down (Figuring that the enemies would rather shoot at the immediate target), and the other teammate was in Combat. He was the only viable shooting option at the time.

More recently, he had to burn a fate point because he stepped in with a Cryo Sprayer/Hand Flamer (His character runs off of a cryo core, so we fluff-wrote it that his Hand Flamer ran off of superchilled cryo whatever sci-fi macguffin,) to try and hold back an army of Cultists. (Well, 50, and they weren't Cultists, just crazy, but same dif.) The team actually ended up winning that fight against the 50 dudes because they had most of them held off at a choke point, our Psyker had cast Fearful Aura very successfully, and those of them with close combat weapons (About 2/3rds of them) were all primitive, making it difficult to crack through anyone with armor. (Since most of our team has 4 armor and 4 Toughness, against enemies with D10+3 primitive damage in Melee from their swords, they had to roll a 10 just to hurt anyone. Those with axes or hammers did slightly better, but not much.) Pretty much our entire party went down to crit (For the second time this mission), but they made it out alive.

 

His defenses were noble and between cryo spray and grenades he held back quite a few minions, but he was pretty well overwhelmed before the fight was through. Ironically, he took the Rending crit to his chest that reduces armor. Reducing his two points of armor... To one. 


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#10 Askil

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 01:37 AM

Rather than get guilt issues (or more likely aggro from players) about shooting "my friends" n the face when they are down I tend to employ the "utterly random combat" method.

 

Lets use the example of a group of NPCs twice the number of PCs (lets say five PCs.)

 

I make roughly a third of the NPCs (that's three) attack the closest or most threatening PC, and the rest attack any PC randomly determined by rolling scatter behind the screen and looking where my players are in the real world. (this works best sitting at a table.)

 

My players are aware of this and know I have as little control over the NPCs as they do. So I can dish out horrendous beatings without any claim of unfairess on my part.


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#11 Secutor 00K

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 09:35 AM

I try to allocate all of my combatants based on criteria,  proximity, perceived danger level, recent combat actions.

Obviously, if you're the closest to the enemy, you'd be attacked first, so they get the most number of enemies 

Next I go after the big guys, the guardsman, or the close combat assassin (big scary guy with a huge sword)

Finally, if someone has done something in particular to make themselves noticed (one of the snipers makes a heretic's head explode) they will take a little bit more incoming fire the next turn. 

 



#12 Visitor Q

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:31 AM


My players are aware of this and know I have as little control over the NPCs as they do. So I can dish out horrendous beatings without any claim of unfairess on my part.

 

My response to claims of unfairness is to laugh.

 

If I'm feeling very generous I'll give an explanation,

 

'Dude, Warhammer 40,000, yeah its unfair.....

 

....Now take another mono blade to the chest and the assassin poisoned it so remember to roll toughness for Toxic '.....


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