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fatedtodie

My players seem afraid of combat

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So after 7 sessions with my current group, it seems it is clear my Players are afraid of conflict.

 

I am pretty sure my last group went into every situation thinking "this is a great time to shoot people". This time it is the exact opposite.

 

While they started a few attempts at fights the first 2 sessions, since then it has been steadily avoiding combat all all costs. I have put situations that could be easily solved with combat, instead they try the hard way of talking their way out of it.

 

Last session there were at least 3 combat opportunities, all avoided. I got one person wanting to fight last session, during the first opportunity, but the other group members talked him down.

 

It is rather comical to watch the lengths they will go to avoid any form of combat whatsoever.

 

Not sure if I should force the situation or reward it. =)

 

Anyway it is much more fun for me as a GM to see a diplomatic solution than to have every angry issue end up in combat that is so mechanical.

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If they're happy and enjoying the game and you're happy and enjoying the game, I don't see a problem.

 

Just give them consistent consequences to their actions and things will stay fun.

 

One of the biggest things about non-combat encounter consequences is that now there are NPCs in the world that have relationships to the PCs.  They can like them (successful Charm checks), hate them (successful Coercion checks), have been embarrassed by them (successful Deception checks), have conducted business with them (successful Negotiation checks), etc.  Now you'll need to track NPCs and their attitudes more than you would if the party simply killed everyone they came across.

 

It's an entirely different set of possible results than running around shooting people.

 

However, if you want combat, have the NPCs shoot first.  The easiest way of doing that is to have the PCs noticed on some kind of surveillance device (cameras, droids, sensors, etc.) and then the NPCs receive orders to eliminate the group rather than interrogate them -- or stun them.  If the PCs try to negotiate or charm them during the combat, the NPCs can simply say "We're under orders."  Stormtroopers work best for this due to their mental conditioning.

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I will explain one situation that could have had 2 different combat outcomes, both of which didn't happen.

 

The group went to a bar. 3 of the 5 players went to play at one of the gambling tables. The group proceeded to win the first game and then one of the Players (not the winner) proceeded to talk trash to the NPCs. One of the NPCs didn't like that especially when it was going more than simple joking. He and the other NPC at the table threatened to "take it outside". At this point the arrogant PC wanted to go, but at least 1 of the other 2 PCs didn't want to. They were there for a reason they wanted to get info. But it escalated. The Players still didn't budge. The 2 NPCs rallied the patrons of the bar for one final threat, either leave or everyone in there would deal with the off-worlders. Due to this the PCs backed down and walked out instead of fighting.

 

While the end of the situation may have been more NPCs than PCs it was still in a bar and one of the PCs had a grenade which could have made short work of many of them.

 

It is pretty obvious the consequences as they cant go near that bar and anything that happens after that day, may have them with a reputation of being loud-mouthed off-world punks.

 

The funny part is the Player with a grenade has 3 times used it to help in coercing a situation and every time it worked so he is now getting a reputation for over the top threats as well.

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Oh, encourage it by all means! I've had a great many characters that are better at outrunning and outtalking the enemies than outfighting them. They've been a blast, each and every one.

 

(Of course I seem to have mastered the art of befuddling the GMs - talking and running they've planned for a big fight and fighting when they've planned for talking and running)

Edited by Desslok

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If nothing else, have them stumble into a situation where they have to fight.  Or have something stumble into them.  Picture the group headed down the flight line to their docking bay when they hear shouts and shots from behind them.  They turn and see a small group of people sprint around the corner just ahead of several blaster bolts.  The running group stumbles into your party, knocking everyone down.  As everyone is regaining their feet, a squad of stormtroopers rounds the corner.  The squad leader barks "More rebels!  Open fire!".  The group has to either A. Run like hell from some very determined 'troopers.  B.  Return fire and save their skins.  C. Hope like hell the 'troopers take prisoners.  Given that the 'troopers have already made up their minds that the PC's are rebels, they may be more inclined to shoot the PC's than to capture them, but it could go either way.

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Have them stumble on a scene where some goons are clearly about to hurt an helpless NPC and let them decide how to react: they can scare the goons off or fight them to save the NPC. This way they have a non combat option available, but they should be motivated enough to actually shoot if push comes to shove. And if you make the scene compelling enough your group will not want to ignore it and walk away.

The reward? the get a new contact or someone who owes them a favor that could be exploited later. And an increased positive reputation.

Edited by Lareg

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I had a group like this for a while, and chase scenes became my go-to move for action. It's a lot of fun when you get to craft encounters and NPCs who aren't going to end up looking like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru at the end of the encounter.

 

Also, the way the PCs handled the bar situation is great. That plays out like a scene from a movie, and has a more realistic edge to it. Good stuff. 

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Are they ostensibly playing the types of characters who want to fight, but the players end up turtling and trying to avoid it out of fear?

 

Or are they playing characters with different goals than fighting?

 

Those are two different things--there might be a little of both. If they're playing combat-type characters whose personalities and obligations should ordinarily steer them toward combat, I'd recommend having a chat with them about the nature of roleplaying games and how there's nothing *really* at stake here, it is just for fun!

 

I often preface new games with a chat about how players can sometimes identify too strongly with their characters. This can mean they want them to always succeed and never fail and never get in danger and never get captured and never lose.

 

In Star Wars, the characters lose all the time! They get captured in every movie! James Bond gets captured in every movie! Failing is part of the fun of it, because they have great odds to overcome. You're playing a heroic adventure game--if they didn't want challenge, they should be playing Star Accountants instead of Star Wars :)

 

 

If your players just don't seem very bloodthirsty but they're enjoying the game, they might just want different challenges. They might want to explore, or socialize, or gamble, or steal, rather than fight. This just means you should shape your adventures accordingly.

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I've actually seen this with new players, used to combat-heavy games like D&D (particularly 4th edition) or Pathfinder or even Saga Edition, where they've gotten used to the PCs being incredibly difficult to take down in a single shot, and with a proper build can easily wade through their foes with relative impunity.

 

Then they get into a fight in this system, and quickly learn that the humble stormtrooper, who was often seen as a laughable foe not unlike your common orc, can be incredibly dangerous as a single successful attack with their blaster rifles can nearly cripple most PCs, leaving them dangerously close to their wound threshold, even if the PC was rather "beefy" for a starting character.  After that, the players suddenly become a lot more eager to either avoid combats entirely or at the very least begin to see combats as a means of last resort and look for other ways to overcome an obstacle.

 

Given that the combat system in this game is meant to be dangerous no matter how much XP your PC as accrued (unless they've chosen specializations that pile on the Toughened talent to push their wound threshold into the stratosphere), this isn't an unexpected thing by the designers.  As Awayputyrwpn noted, this is probably a good thing for your group, as they're open to exploring other alternatives to fighting.

 

Of course, it also depends on the composition of the party.  If there's no Hired Guns or Bounty Hunters in the party, then they're going to be pretty light on combat prowess, making combat a more daunting prospect for them.  I'm in a campaign where my Seeker/Ataru Striker is now the primary combat character, with a Colonist/Marshal being the next most capable combatant.  And for us, we try to find ways to avoid combat if we can; of course that doesn't stop the GM from putting us in the occasional situation where violence on our part is simply unavoidable, in which case we do our best to end the fight as quickly as possible (having a PC with a lightsaber and Move helps in that regard).

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RPG Adventures often have a little non-optional combat - it stretches the skillset for success on the group.

 

I applaud rational consequences for the players actions.  But not everyone they meet will be rational.  A Wretched Hive of Scum & Villiany would have a few handfuls of jerks looking for easy credits, both on the Ground & in Space.  Then there are resolutions to missions that won't please every NPC entity & some of those will notice the PC group.  Then there are those that respond with:  "This armed group don't work for our syndicate, so they are rivals, run them out of town/kill them".

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For some reason I keep hearing in my head:

 

"He doesn't like you."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't like you either. You just watch yourself. We're wanted men. I have the death sentence on 12 systems."

"I'll be careful."

"You'll be dead!"

 

Personally I love it when my players find ways to avoid combat. But there are lots of times when I really want to just hit their characters with something large and not necessarily blunt. As a GM you may be missing that feeling of awe and fear as you unsheathe a lightsaber or aim the barrel of a BFG at a character's head. If you are then we have the facility for you! Our devoted staff of unwilling lickspittles will allow you to take out all of your dice-rolling frustrations on their backsides with little to no complaints and no simulated tears shed. They will cry with Triumph or wail with Despair as you gnash your mangled NPC machine across the landscape of their consciousness. If this sounds good to you, and we know that it does, submit your application to the Mortal Kombat GM's Society post-haste!

 

*Sponsers not responsible for the opinions contained within. Mortal Kombat GM's Society may or may not be a ficticious figment of an overactive imagination. Some assembly required.

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Sorry. That was terribly unhelpful.

 

I would reiterate that this may or may not be a problem for your group depending on the fun being had by all. I would only add that this includes you, and if you really are missing combat (there are nights when I most definitely do), then don't be afraid to throw an Aqualish and a demented Two-face wannabe that delusionally believes he's wanted on twelve systems at them. Initiative... oops, you dropped your arm. Clean up and move along, move along.

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I like it and dislike it for different reasons.

 

Dislike:

1, The group members spent a decent amount of time going through the motions of getting weapons/armor it is a waste to have none of it used except a grenade (which is used more as emphasis than explosive which is awesome).

2, It can be fun to have a tangible consequence for being mean to people. Without a fight, the Players don't feel like it mattered soon as they left the situation.

 

Like;

1, The way they weasel out of combat is impressive.

2, While I don't get to hurt them physically I get to give more subtle consequences.

3, It is more like real life.

 

The unfortunate part is one of my Players reads this forum and now wants to initiate combat on purpose "just to shake things up". This could either be a return to a more normal game, or it could alienate him from the other Players.

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Ambush them.  You don't get a vote once someone else corners you and starts shooting.

 

I did ambush them... 3 - 4 times already, at the same time I did not want to stifle their creativity so I let them bribe/talk/handle the situations their way. Eventually they will fight, but I think I made the decision I will let them choose when rather than demanding it. It is funny seeing them wiggle out of things.

Edited by fatedtodie

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Ambush them.  You don't get a vote once someone else corners you and starts shooting.

 

I did ambush them... 3 - 4 times already, at the same time I did not want to stifle their creativity so I let them bribe/talk/handle the situations their way. Eventually they will fight, but I think I made the decision I will let them choose when rather than demanding it. It is funny seeing them wiggle out of things.

 

Then there is no problem.  They are actually doing what is reasonable.  Getting into fights over and over for the sake of it just ends badly at some point, so they'e being very realistic.

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Wondering, what are their combat skill pools like? Are they reticent to engage in combat because they lack the appropriate skillsets?

If you think a situation would be more fun for everyone involved if a fight broke out, it might be worth broaching the topic with your players and seeing why they seem to be going to such lengths to avoid combat.

Again, this sounds like a great group, but IMO Star Wars needs the occasional blaster shootout.

As another idea, if they really just aren't interested in combat, you could have fights going on that they can see out watch, but in which they aren't obligated to participate. That way you get a fuller experience without the risk of personal combat!

Edited by awayputurwpn

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The combat pools are not the reason they are going against open combat, they just get too creative with what to do and decide to do random fun rather than fight.

 

9 sessions in still combat shy. =) We will see what happens during tonight's session. I have 3 combat scenarios that COULD happen, but I won't force any of them unless the story requires it.

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Sometimes, NPC's shoot first and ask questions later.

 

Sometimes, NPC's don't let the players get a word in edge-wise.

 

Sometimes, $hit happens.

 

Sometimes, Bounty Hunters are so desperate, they'll take the "Dead" option instead of the "Alive" option.

 

Sometimes, Jabba just isn't in the mood.

 

Rancors don't negotiate over dinner.

 

Neither do Jabba the Hutts.

 

Sometimes, NPC's don't speak Galactic Common.

 

Sometimes, Player Characters don't speak Huttese.

 

Sometimes, NPC's are offended regardless of how a player meant it.

 

Sometimes, Vader.

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