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Why don't Acolytes run away?

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#1 Alekzanter



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Posted 12 May 2012 - 10:02 PM

 Players are stubborn. No one wants to run for the hills. Why?

Smart players will beg, borrow, scrounge, cheat, lie or steal to get a good set of armour. Let's say they requisition a suit of Enforcer Light Carapace. Then they get a shield, which adds more AP to the arm holding it and the body. The next culprit is Toughness. Smart players will by Toughness Advances…it's a survival thing. A TB of 5, plus AP 5 for the armour puts a characters damage reduction at 10. You throw a dozen mooks in flak vests at this Acolyte, they have a crappy BS, auto pistols, get no Righteous Fury, and have to roll 8+ on a die to ding him…if he isn't getting extra AP from his shield! Next comes Sound Constitution. The Acolyte started with 10 Wounds, but he's purchase SC three of four times, so now he's at 14 Wounds. I'd say he's pretty solid.

Throw the same amount of hired mercenaries armed with D'Laku Hellguns loaded with overcharge packs at the same Acolyte and you're wounding him on the die roll of 3+…and he doesn't run away. What the eff is up with that?


Can anyone explain why Players don't have their PCs run away when the feces hits the fan? Are we, as GMs, failing our players by wearing kid gloves when it comes to TPK? Should we be killing PCs early and often so they understand the grim dark a little better, or are Players just that dense?

#2 Zakalwe



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Posted 12 May 2012 - 11:13 PM

This is an age old poblem for GMs.  Some players believe that every encounter is win-able.  This won't change until you disabuse them of that belief.  There are a number of ways you can do that.

One is to just tell them.  "Gloves are off and this isn't an MMO, if you guys are going to do stupid things, then be prepared to start burning fate points; if you have some left that is!"

You are already using autofire weapons so hit them where it hurts - their WP scores! Use surpressing fire and pinning.  Players may not want to run away, but you can use the mechanics to make (some of) them poo their pants and seek cover.  Have half the bad guys use surpressing fire, and the other half target the PCs directly.  They will learn from this.

The obvious way is to put them up against foes or situations that are obviously too tough or too dangerous for them. This is my favourite tactic for forcing a narrative 'run-like-frak' but you have to let the escape if they take the hint and run.  If they don't take the hint (and some won't - I have little sympathy for these ones) then it is their fault as players when their PC gets turned into mincemeat by the (for example) 'too-tough' cyborgs in carapace armour with the heavy stubbers and grenade launchers firing krak grenades.  Or even just get creative, have a horde of 'too-dangerous' stimm-jacked scum charge and grapple them - you better run away because you can't kill them all and they don't feel no pain. Your imagination is the limit here but make it obvious that fighting it out is foolish. 

This may inevitably lead to your next option if they still don't get it.  Fight the combats like you mean to win them.  Take the NPCs and use them as creatively as you can if their (the NPCs) goal is to kill the PCs, then use them to the best of your ability to do it.

It's just a game after all, make them value their fate points.

#3 BrotherKane



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Posted 13 May 2012 - 10:49 PM

I agree with the above basically.

You need to make it obvious once or twice that a situation is not winnable.  If they then don't take the hint don't back down.  If they really won't listen/realise make them make logic/intelligence checks and tell them point blank.  I think a series of winnable encounters isn't fun.  If the PCs are never in danger then what is the point?  May as well just read them a story.

#4 Seizan



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Posted 15 May 2012 - 06:26 PM

 I had this problem pretty bad with my players, I just threw them at the most ridiculous fights I could think of until they were battered and bruised, then threw them something even bigger.

It was then that I realized I had never had an opponent try to flee, and after a xenos and a psyker turned tail at least one of them started to consider running (once he'd lost an eye, was down a fate-point and was rocking 2 wounds)

#5 IdOfEntity



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Posted 16 May 2012 - 02:06 AM

This was a bit of a sticking point to me as well.

What finally got my gaming crew to flee?  Being targeted by Ordo Hereticus Acolytes who were a bit more seasoned.  It turned into a story arc about just eliminating the threat incoming from another Inquisitor.

Anyways, nothing gets them running like a Pyromancer receiving good cover from Shotgun wielding Stormtroopers.  They took down all of the acolytes when they learned to divide and conquer.

#6 breez



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Posted 16 May 2012 - 05:30 AM

I do not have this problem with my crew, self preservation is a big objective. When faced with 3 slaught, they ran away as soon as they realized they were out matched. The slaught stole their truck and they are forever known as the 'car stealing aliens' :)

#7 Garner



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Posted 16 May 2012 - 12:00 PM

The most dangerous battles in a pen and paper game are the ones in which the fight is hard and probably too hard but the players can still wound the enemies and the group is getting whittled down. Interestingly it takes awhile in this scenario before a group of strategists (I mean come on they are playing a pen and paper tactical game with miniatures) realize that the fight is not winnable. By that time it's likely too late an they have committed.

However players who realize very early in the fight that it is not winnable will likely run. If your players can barely do damage to the opponents and the opposition just did three quarters of John's health in a single round then the'yre likely to believe that the fight is not doable. It's because the gamers at the table are projecting in to the future. If they think about round two or three they'll have to burn fate points and the fight won't even be close to finished… well then they will make the rational decision.


TLDR: Players don't respond well to attrition (ironically the gaming gold standard). If you want them to run make the combat stats very menacing.

#8 Terraneaux



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Posted 19 May 2012 - 09:39 AM

 One of my ST's asked me the same thing, but he had spent multiple sessions building up the idea that our Inquisitor thought we were **** and would throw us out in airlock if we 'failed' him, and who would compromise a mission to punish us if he could.  So we didn't run away from fights.

#9 Radulf St. Germaine

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 12:03 AM

Why do players not run away? I have several theories….

a.) They do not realize they are outmatched (the enemy was just lucky…. there must be a weak point..)

b.) They play people very devoted to their cause (Brother Ignatius will not run from the foe!)

c.) Because nothing is sweeter than winning a battle that the GM designed to be "unwinable". :-)

These are my theories. Often when I think as an GM - "why are my players acting like idiots" - it is not necessarily their lack of mental capacity but very often a different interpretation of the situation.

Ask yourself. Why is one combat a tough challenge that can only be mastered by true heroes and the other one a situation where only a fool would stay and fight and what do you as Gm do to make sure that this difference is obvious?


#10 BrotherKane



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Posted 28 May 2012 - 09:07 PM

I spoke to a very experienced GM I know.  He doesn't run DH but mainly wfrp 2nd Ed.  He has a session that he runs early for new players or people that he thinks need to learn the lesson.  It involves meeting a rat ogre when the players are in their first careers.  Basically it is a good idea if you think you will have this problem to hammer the point home early!

#11 Erborn



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Posted 29 May 2012 - 04:29 AM

To give voice to an opposite point of view: technically, what's the point of running away from a challenge?

Inquisitorial agents are supposed to be capable of actually achieving things, not fleeing their way through the investigation. If a servant of the Holy Ordos finds the odds impossible, then he is not trying hard enough… That doesn't mean you should charge every problem head on, of course. Be cautious, plan every encounter meticulously, manipulate lesser minds to get your way, lie, steal, murder, damn your soul if needs be - but always strive to win.

Granted, you might still fail in the end, but at least you were doing your best to succeed. An honest defeat could be forgiven, the cowardice - most certainly not.

#12 N0-1_H3r3


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Posted 29 May 2012 - 05:05 AM

Fundamentally, it's important to disabuse players of the notion that running away is in some way unworthy of them, or inappropriate for them to do. IMO, this is the main use of the Maggots in the Meat adventure in the GM's Kit - the players aren't supposed to triumph against the Slaugth Infiltrators, they're meant to learn that discretion is the better part of valour.

Failing that, it's sometimes useful to put them in a situation where they can't throw their weight around as servants of the Inquisition and get away with murder… by reminding them that they will be disavowed should they get into trouble, the players are placed in a situation where they have to learn to be cautious and circumspect about their actions.

In my experience, however, once players have learned those vital lessons, they become much more dangerous - they never take anything for granted and work all the harder to overcome obstacles cleanly. Those who know to fear the enemy will respect them, and those who have been denied power and freedom appreciate those things all the more.

Writing Credits for Fantasy Flight Games: Into the Storm, Edge of the Abyss, Battlefleet Koronus, Hostile Acquisitions, Black Crusade Core Rulebook, First Founding, The Jericho Reach, The Soul Reaver, Only War, The Navis Primer,Ark of Lost Souls, and Hammer of the Emperor

I no longer write for, or am employed by, Fantasy Flight Games in any fashion. All of my comments are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of any employer, past, present, or future.

#13 Noctivagent



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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:26 AM

I've had players run from fights, and I've had players know that they probably shouldn't fight certain things.

However, last DnD session, whether it was a bout of recklessness or just pure confidence….

…everyone knew that they should run from the Headless Horseman, except for one player that had missed the prior session(his character was unconscious anyway), decided to stay and attack. The other players now suffered for his actions, as the honorable types were not going to let their friend die alone, and they knew that they stood no chance.

The player that started the whole fight ended up being the last one standing against the horseman after everyone else had died, and he ran. Activated his last resort suicide bomb and ran right back into the horseman, blowing himself up along with the horseman and everyone else's corpses.

So, my point is that there's a possibility the player just doesn't care anymore, and is willing to see it all crumble down, bringing everyone else with him.
Or it wasn't obvious enough that they shouldn't fight in the first place. I honestly think that no matter how you set up your encounters, players will do what they want to do.

#14 Turtletron



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Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:01 AM

Radulf St. Germaine said:

Why do players not run away? I have several theories….

a.) They do not realize they are outmatched (the enemy was just lucky…. there must be a weak point..)

b.) They play people very devoted to their cause (Brother Ignatius will not run from the foe!)

c.) Because nothing is sweeter than winning a battle that the GM designed to be "unwinable". :-)

These are my theories. Often when I think as an GM - "why are my players acting like idiots" - it is not necessarily their lack of mental capacity but very often a different interpretation of the situation.

Ask yourself. Why is one combat a tough challenge that can only be mastered by true heroes and the other one a situation where only a fool would stay and fight and what do you as Gm do to make sure that this difference is obvious?



+1 and I also think that introducing a new enemy in a cinematic and gore way is a good method to make the player see they are outmatched. A little like when the players see the Widower for the first time in the Haarlock's Legacy campaign, the creature just slash it's way through peoples so fast the characters can't even see it correctly. After such a presentation, it's the players fault if they go head-on against such a monster.

#15 Angel of Death

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:03 PM

1 of my DH PC an Moritat, he right now will not run from anything if his cleric sends him to kill it.  So far the Emperor been with him, or why the Cleric says he is the Emperor Scalpel.

Another is a Guardsman, and well in the his role with the team, he the Heavy Muscle.  So far he held places for them, let the rest of part move away.  Rigged Boobytraps to delay the enemies at risk to his life.  He not doing it because he stupid but he doing his job, especially when he the only professional soldier.


"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"


#16 Denmar1701



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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:34 PM

One trick I used a while back. I added 2 burly types from the 'more experienced' retinue of the Inquisitor. They had better arms & armour. They went down in 2 rounds… the group figured it was time to run.

With that said, I don't like to use tricks like that often. Players who have played in heroic games, like D&D are too used fighting to the bitter end, because they believe they're the 'heroes' of the piece…they don't have a choice, but to fight or die trying.

I believe my signature says it all.

"It's what we do... we live, fight or die, at the God-Emperor's graces"


... Inquisitor Mardenicvs Aneas Rexvs, shortly before his death.

#17 Adeptus-B


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Posted 03 June 2012 - 10:24 AM

A recent combat-heavy phase of my campaign resulted in the PC with the most Fate Points being forced to burn 3 of them in a 2-day span. When the dust had settled, that character's player said "I'd like to play him more cautiously, but, now that he's been saved from certain death three times by 'the intervention of the Emperor', I'm pretty sure he would be under the delusion that he's invulnerable!"

#18 venkelos



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Posted 08 June 2012 - 01:53 AM

Your characters are suffering from a case of "Player Character" Syndrome; they are assuming (a dangerous habit) that, in the grand scheme of things, they matter, and that if they do things right, you DO plan on having the end of the game come around with them still alive, and maybe the grimdark future will be a little bit lighter from their efforts. aren't nameless, expendable schmoes you don't give a toss about, like the Imperium views every other person who ever lived, and wasn't fortunate enough to be chosen to become a Space Marine. They want to believe that you DON'T just want to kill them for kicks, and so every scenario should be winnable, if they try the right stuff. If they don't have a prayer, why did they end up there? You intend for them to win, and they did spend an hour making this character, more hours playing it, and they have a lot invested in it; it's THE character that they want to play. If that character dies, they aren't just going to shrug it off, and cheerfully write up another one.

This is a little problem I feel many players have. In a d20 homebrewed DW game I once played, our GM decided that a group of 3 SM's (a Tactical Leader/Apothacary, a Devastator with a h. bolter and a missile launcher, and a Grey Knight) and their cyborg sniper would be too powerful for most single threats to fight, so everything was a mob, and mobs always roll 20s, whether for skills, attacks, or what have you, and they NEVER stop being mobs, even if we widdled them down to 2 guys. We NEEDED our stand-in Apothacary, AND Fate points all the time. We started to wonder if the GM was trying to just kill us for his jollies. When you play D&D, and the plot involves you and your buds stopping the foe to save the world, my first question is always, "if it's the whole world, where's Elminster? Where are the most powerful good guys?"

Now, please don't think I'm trying to be rude; I just wanted to give this a bit of a "from their POV" feel to it. A players, I think we have all worked thinking that we are the most important people in that universe, and that everything is rigged to be doable by us, if we can just figure out by how. Sometimes, it just takes us a few tries to realize that "tactical withdrawl" was the win condition for the scenario.

#19 LethalDose



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Posted 19 September 2012 - 04:19 PM

N0-1_H3r3 said:

Fundamentally, it's important to disabuse players of the notion that running away is in some way unworthy of them, or inappropriate for them to do.

"All models are wrong, but some models are useful."  - George E. P. Box

#20 Droma



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Posted 19 September 2012 - 06:04 PM

I agree with the above sentiment. PC's should be able to handle a lot. They can't take care of everything by themselves though and when you're dealing with things on the scale that an Inquistion team deals with things sometimes they will need to fall back and call in backup. Whether that be requesting better equipment for themselves or PDF, IG, Sisters of Battle, or Space Marines. It entirely depends on the threat the they face and DH is simply a game that requires a bit more thinking and understanding of the setting than most.

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