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politicfish

I Might Have to Kill a PC...

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Here's the short story:

a player was very reckless and the crits have basically started feeding into each other. He is now bleeding out and blinded among 3 other more minor issues. I haven't ever had to kill off a player before, how should I go about it?

 

Long story:

Ok, so I have a player who totally abused the min/max potential of a droid and ended up taking 4 brawn, 4 agility, and 1 in everything else. This made him think, in the first session after character creation, that he was a tank who could charge an acklay that existed simply as something they would have to avoid. Even after significantly weakening the acklay on the spot by halving its soak and decreasing its brawn he still ended up with something like 2 crits and falling unconscious.

 

He then decided to try to climb a ruinous spire (they're on Geonosis looking for Clone Wars artifacts) by punching the walls to make holes (this is despite another character having and using climbing gear), succeeding in a formidable difficulty athletics check, but I had upgraded the difficulty and lo and behold it lands on despair. The walls and ceiling start crumbling around them, giving them precious little time to search for the artifacts they came for. I basically set this situation on a timer, where they could use coordination checks to avoid falling debris, but each time the difficulty and damage received from failing increased by 1. The droid gets hit in the head by debris and falls unconscious, taking another crit. Another player slaps a repair patch on him and they escape as the crumbling spire.

 

This commotion attracts the attention of the Empire who have the planet essentially on lockdown because of the whole death star building site thing and the sterilization of the planet (new canon stuff). The players manage to steal the Imperial Shuttle that landed troops to search for them, park it next to their ship, but instead of escaping they start looting the Imperial Shuttle. Granted, I tempted them with stuff to take, but also made it clear that those soldiers saw them and were close by. A battle with some unfortunate rolls began and ended fairly quickly and our heroes are now unconscious prisoners of the Empire. Also important: a really bad crit roll for the droid player, and he is now bleeding out.

 

Cut to them in an imperial prison on board a star destroyer. They escape, but the bleeding out stuff does a number on the droid, and he ends up blinded too. I even included a mechanic that they ran into who could have fairly easily been coerced/deceived/charmed into fixing a crit, but instead they kill the poor little ugnaught on the spot.

 

So that's where I am with this, they escaped into a maintenance shaft, away from immediate harm but that droid is a mess. On one hand I want him to make a new character because the min/maxing doesn't make much sense (for instance, why is a hulking combat droid devoid of any willpower that could give him coercion/vigilance/discipline). On the other hand, this player seems pretty attached to this droid for some reason and I don't very much like putting him through this. The thing is that it is really difficult to accidentally die in this system, and he has managed that through thorough recklessness and poor decision making.

 

So I guess I'm asking for people's thoughts on killing off characters and perhaps how to do it gracefully and diplomatically if possible.

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Whenever I would run other games in other game systems, I always told my players, "I'll set up the situation, tell the stories, run the game.  I won't tell you what you should do, what choices you should make, or save you from bad decisions."  And my players knew that if they did something 'stoopid' and their characters got killed, there would be no Deus Ex Machina to save them.  It sounds like your player made some impressive, yet dumb choices.  If the dice (and his actions) say the character dies, then the character dies.  It may sound a bit cold, but you really aren't there to keep the players alive.

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You should talk to player and maybe the whole group, but you need to be careful. You don't want to discourage the player's creativity. He's coming up with some interesting solutions to problems, which can help make the story interesting.

 

But you do need to discuss with the player that the actions of his character are going to up killing it sooner rather than later if he's not careful. Try and put the situation in terms that the player can understand. As a human, the character would be pretty beat up with multiple broken bones and internal injuries. Presumably, the player would want to go to the doctor and heal his woulds before trying anything daring. Perhaps the droid should seek some repairs and enhancements first.

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I've talked to him about it, and he seems to understand my decisions while also being very disappointed in what's happened to his character. We are also friends aside from RPGs, so that makes some things easier and some things more tricky. And I'm not worried about him losing creativity. If he has one thing going for him as a player, that's definitely it. Just a loose canon at the same time.

Edited by politicfish

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(for instance, why is a hulking combat droid devoid of any willpower that could give him coercion/vigilance/discipline)

 

This part is easy:  size isn't everything.  It's why people can stare down a bear, or a grandmother can fight off a leopard with a sickle:

 

http://www.theweek.co.uk/south-and-central-asia/60133/grandmother-survives-fight-to-the-death-with-leopard

 

Maybe the big mean droid has a tick, a vocabulator stutter, or sounds like Alvin the Chipmunk, and nobody takes him seriously. Or maybe he's too threatening and people are assuming they're going to die anyway, so refuse to be coerced.

 

Besides all that, the game doesn't give freebies.  If the player wants good Coercion, he can invest his XP like everybody else...if it's a career skill it's only 30XP for YGG.

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Well, you can go about it a couple of ways:

 

1) Is everyone (including you) having fun as-is? If so, why bother changing things up.

 

2) Talk to the player. Tell him your concern about game balance and how being a front loaded combat beast is screwing up the game. Ask him if he would be willing to dial the destructive capabilities back, reassure him that you will still give him plenty of chances to be an awesome behemoth on the battlefield, and let him respec his character. And this time, work with him to round things out.

 

3) Straight up tell them "Hey, if you do stupid things to powerful people then bad things will happen, up to and including character death." Tell them that if they make their bed, they get to lie in it - and then let the chips fall where they may. Don't gun for them, but don't hold their hands either.

Edited by Desslok

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Fun and story before rules.

 

If the story is just awesome and do you believe that, like in movies, that character has to survive, just let "something" happen. Tell player to spend a Destiny Point and let the magic begin ;)

Edited by Josep Maria

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Cut to them in an imperial prison on board a star destroyer. They escape, but the bleeding out stuff does a number on the droid, and he ends up blinded too. I even included a mechanic that they ran into who could have fairly easily been coerced/deceived/charmed into fixing a crit, but instead they kill the poor little ugnaught on the spot.

 

One thing I'd be careful of is assuming that things that are obvious to you are obvious to your players. For example, you put an Ugnaught mechanic in there that you know perfectly well would be able to fix your PC's "injuries," but they are on the run from Imperials, and this little dude is in their way while they're fleeing for their lives.

 

Sometimes you've gotta be really, painfully obvious if you want players to actually catch on to what you're trying to do.

 

And even then there are no guarantees :) But still, the principle is that just when you think that you're being Captain Obvious, your players are just starting to catch on.

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One thing I'd be careful of is assuming that things that are obvious to you are obvious to your players. For example, you put an Ugnaught mechanic in there that you know perfectly well would be able to fix your PC's "injuries," but they are on the run from Imperials, and this little dude is in their way while they're fleeing for their lives.

 

Sometimes you've gotta be really, painfully obvious if you want players to actually catch on to what you're trying to do.

 

And even then there are no guarantees :) But still, the principle is that just when you think that you're being Captain Obvious, your players are just starting to catch on.

 

I think I made it pretty clear... the ugnaught was in the middle of grumbling about having to repair an engine and the group actually even deflected his questions about who they were. Then they killed him because they didn't want witnesses. I had stressed the fact that he was a mechanic, and he was not aggressive. The next step would have been him out of the blue offering to fix the PC. Which I guess could have happened, but this was an on-the spot improved encounter, trying to throw the player a bone.

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One thing I'd be careful of is assuming that things that are obvious to you are obvious to your players. For example, you put an Ugnaught mechanic in there that you know perfectly well would be able to fix your PC's "injuries," but they are on the run from Imperials, and this little dude is in their way while they're fleeing for their lives.

 

Sometimes you've gotta be really, painfully obvious if you want players to actually catch on to what you're trying to do.

 

And even then there are no guarantees :) But still, the principle is that just when you think that you're being Captain Obvious, your players are just starting to catch on.

 

I think I made it pretty clear... the ugnaught was in the middle of grumbling about having to repair an engine and the group actually even deflected his questions about who they were. Then they killed him because they didn't want witnesses. I had stressed the fact that he was a mechanic, and he was not aggressive. The next step would have been him out of the blue offering to fix the PC. Which I guess could have happened, but this was an on-the spot improved encounter, trying to throw the player a bone.

 

 

Sure, I agree, it's obvious the way you say it. But again, if I'm on the run and trying to focus on surviving, and someone throws a bone at me, my first instinct may well be to duck and run faster, rather than grab the bone and see if there's any meat on it. 

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This brings up the question: what exactly is death for a droid? My first impulse is to have his body be so heavily damaged that it crumbles apart and can not be saved. His core processors (head) can be saved with a little work and placed onto a new body. This creates a new quest line where the PCs try to find a recover a body for him. I may even impose varying levels of penalties untill the proper body can be built or found. (i.e. lowering his brawn/ agility/ strain/ wounds to something more appropriate for the body). if they can not get a body for a session because they are running have them connect his head to the ship so he can help pilot/ perceive/ gun? This may encourage him to spend some xp in other talents. 

If i took this option i would give him the chance to build a new PC if he chose. Even on a temporary basis until his Head is recovered (though i wouldnt give the "head" xp unless he was involved in the action through the ship or a temporary body)

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This brings up the question: what exactly is death for a droid? My first impulse is to have his body be so heavily damaged that it crumbles apart and can not be saved. His core processors (head) can be saved with a little work and placed onto a new body. This creates a new quest line where the PCs try to find a recover a body for him. I may even impose varying levels of penalties untill the proper body can be built or found. (i.e. lowering his brawn/ agility/ strain/ wounds to something more appropriate for the body). if they can not get a body for a session because they are running have them connect his head to the ship so he can help pilot/ perceive/ gun? This may encourage him to spend some xp in other talents. 

If i took this option i would give him the chance to build a new PC if he chose. Even on a temporary basis until his Head is recovered (though i wouldnt give the "head" xp unless he was involved in the action through the ship or a temporary body)

 

I like this. Give him a sensible opportunity to respec, make his failure part of the narrative without killing him, and give the player an excuse to explore a more varied skillset.

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I was going to mention what SWRider did. 

The body becomes too damaged to continue moving, so the other PCs have to yank his memory/personality core-things and escape. 

I wouldn't make things too difficult for them, though. Maybe have a deactivated protocol droid stored on board the ship they escape with - so they can upload him into the protocol droid and they can keep on keeping on, but they have to be careful since the protocol droid is more fragile. Then once they're away, they can start piecing together a new body or start upgrading the protocol droid body to return him to combat droid status. 

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For what it's worth, the official rule is that death for droids functions the same as it is does for organic characters - the character is permanently, irrecoverably gone.

 

So if you permit the party to, say, recover a droid's memory banks and install him in a new body, that would be a houserule.

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Being sensitive to the setting, it's certainly easier to save a droid PC than it is a human...just grab their head and run with it.

 

But yes, all things being equal, death is death. A blaster bolt through the memory banks, melted circuitry, what have you. The rules should be followed when it comes to droid PCs, as they are with normal PCs, being (again) genre-sensitive.

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I also like the idea of a new body. It also depends on if they like the story potential of being a head and having to get slapped on the nearest droid, or if they want to re-roll a more balanced character?

If they just want a new droid ASAP but are attached to the old one, I'd hand wave that the group stuck them to a new body they found (maybe they came across a droid storage area or a maintence room?) which I'd let them create as if it was a new character, and then just get on with the action. Then what happened is a warning to be careful. Consider this a generous one time deal perhaps. Though I'd heavily encourage them not to take the min/max route again.

Otherwise they're a head and as a GM you get to throw them other possibilities and see what they go for.

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I would say that if the Droid PC is 'dead' the chassis and components are so badly trashed that only a skilled mechanic can repair it, and even then the Droid will effectively have been mind wiped and so be at starting character level. As OverMatt says, if the system says that they are dead then they are dead. No one likes character deaths in games like these, you get attached to them and when they die you have to start again, though I would look at giving the new character a bit of extra post character gen xp based on the xp levels of the group (perhaps half of the lowest characters xp). However, if there was no threat of character death then you lose a vital part of the Star Wars mileu.

 

As to the OP's original query, I would let the chips fall where they may. If the party come up with a good way to fix him or preserve that which makes him who he is then great, but if the system rules him dead then sympathise and give him a chance to run up a new character (perhaps another prisoner, a turncoat, or a rebel spy).

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For me the question still goes back to what someone asked before: Is your group having fun? If so, that's fantastic. If you just want to teach the player a lesson about not min/maxing slap a restraining bolt on the droid (which the Empire should have done already when it was captured). The droid won't be able to escape with such abyssmal stats and that will open up the player's eyes to what they overlooked.

 

To save a droid from bleeding out? Have the players use a Destiny Point and throw it in an oil bath until they can get to a mechanic that they trust. I know per RAW it shouldn't work, but if C-3PO can be put back together after being blown apart then why the heck not. It's Star Wars, roll with it.

 

If your group is not having fun because of the crazed Mr. Roboto however, then yeah, steal the head. Put it on a new body but it requires a memory wipe. New character.

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I vote that if he gives the full, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe," speech that he ought to be given sufficient XP to match the lowest XP of any character in the party (maybe reduced a little bit, but not much). 

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