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scotter23

Help with Looting Players

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I've started to get myself into a pickle as a GM that's been completely unintended.  So let me explain:

Early on in my campaign with players new to the system I explained that the concept of "kill stuff, take its stuff, rinse, repeat" is not something that's necessary nor an outcome of this narrative dice system.  After a couple of early incidents, for the last 7 months my players haven't worried about looting the bad guys for things.  Well... things are starting to turn.  Here's how and why...

My players are now 250+ earned XP playing almost weekly for 8 months now.  So, they're going up against bigger bad guys, bad guys that have more gear, have more stuff, have better stuff, etc.  Well as a result the players are now starting to ask for what the bad guys have on them when they are taken out.  I'd like to get things back to how they were for all these months.  Not only would I love to hear ideas and advice for encouraging players to *not* loot or at least not need to loot so that I can feel free to populate the game world with people and things, I have a specific issue I'd like advice on.  I really did it the other night and have a specific problem.

I had a situation where my party, who has been an upstanding member of the Rebel Alliance and always done things on the up and up, were overseeing a 'drop' between a local smuggler and a Hutt lord.  The adventure was going just fine and the drop turned into a very fun, moral dilemma for the PC's.  They were shooting bad guys, etc... all is good.  Until...

Well, for narrative reasons I had the Hutt lord and smuggler exchanging a million dollars in credits, designed, narratively, to be a 'retirement' score for the gangsters.  Well, halfway thru the adventure, suddenly, all the players wanted was to get their hands on the money.  The objectives, morals, roleplaying, all those things that were so coveted for so long by my group, suddenly were reduced to "get the money".  So now when we pick things up this wee, my players are going to be trying to get their hands on money rather than trying to play.  What was just supposed to be a narrative detail, the group has now taken to looting and just going after the money.

I'm not sure how to fix the specific situation of the money in the drop, and I'm not sure how to get my PC's to keep facing strong opponents and threats, yet not keep themselves in a 'looting' mindset.

Any help is greatly appreciated! :)

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Don't worry about looting, as long as they aren't carrying absurd numbers of things, let them.  This game spins up offensively but it's not matched defensively, so it's easy to challenge PCs regardless of gear.

Let them take the money.  See where it goes.  Create needs for the money.  Make the money traceable unbeknownst to them. 

As soon as you try and restrict the narrative you're killing it.  Now that doesn't mean let them act like 12 year olds, but it doesn't mean make them do what you want either.

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When I read "get their hands on the money," I thought of half a dozen stories where the perfect crime goes horribly, excitingly wrong. Or it goes right — but really, when did someone score a lot of money and live happily ever after, no exceptions? So many misadventures. Maybe lessons, so the party can get back on the straight and narrow?

This is where a tabletop RPG distinguishes itself from a video game. You have the power to ensure that even fictional reality is a lot more complicated than one may think.

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How is going for the money not playing? It may not be what you want them to do, but that is completely irrelevant. 

If you want to fix this, the first thing to do is ask the players why they are going after the money to the exclusion of everything else. You may find that there was a hidden desire that the players had that was hidden under the surface, but you just rolled the perfect way to do it into their laps.

Or you may find that the players are blinded by all the zeros and that the characters shouldnt be. Talking with them will fix that pretty quick.

Either way, you should talk with your players every now and then if for no other reason just to ask about what the players want or dont want. 

Also, you may have intended the money to be just background 'flavor text' but players will frequently fixate on that sort of thing and blow it all out of proportion. If the players do that, there is nothing wrong with taking a couple minutes right then and ask why. It can keep a game from self destructing just because the players and the GM have completely different understandings about what is going on.

 

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A million credits is a lot of money - people are going to protect it.  if they get their hands on it, then they're a moving target.  Stealing from a Hutt?  That sounds like good story fodder to me.  It might not be the story you planned but it's the story you have.  Sounds like a classic Murder Hobo troupe.

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Cr 1,000,000?

Scotter23, how did you NOT see this consequence arising?  We're talking about Cr1,000,000!

Let me see if I understand the situation.  TWO bad guys are exchanging Cr1,000,000 and they're both going to be dead.

That is a LOT of money for a struggling rebel alliance.  That is an amazing amount of capital that could be re-invested into "the cause."

And it's not like the authorities are all that good either, so our normal assumption of handing it over to the "cops" flies out the window too.

I'd recommend letting the players have a little leash with this 'motivation' and seeing where the chips fall.

There is also the aforementioned problem that they're "ripping off" a Hutt lord.

 

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Yeah, they're pretty good normally which is why I was surprised when they flipped and it turned into murder-hobo-dom.  To be honest, narratively, I didn't know they'd even have a chance to get at the $$$, it's just where the adventure went.

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My advice: don't worry about the money and stop scaling up opponents.

The great thing about running a narrative game like FFG SW is that it doesn't use any sort of D&D-style CR score system to ensure perfect gamist balance. Combat is typically resolved in a couple of dice pool rolls. Developing the perfect statistical counterpoint to your players isn't the best use of your time. The fun is in creating a cohesive narrative and watching the players reveal the overall story.

Money doesn't actually matter that much by the time you're at 250XP. If a PC succeeds on an acquisition roll, no piece of gear is going to make or break the game as the dice pool bonuses a piece of gear provides aren't that high. 

Treat the money as a plot device and build a story around it. Like Shakespeare said, mo' money, mo' problems.

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2 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

Cr 1,000,000?

Scotter23, how did you NOT see this consequence arising?  We're talking about Cr1,000,000!

Let me see if I understand the situation.  TWO bad guys are exchanging Cr1,000,000 and they're both going to be dead.

That is a LOT of money for a struggling rebel alliance.  That is an amazing amount of capital that could be re-invested into "the cause."

And it's not like the authorities are all that good either, so our normal assumption of handing it over to the "cops" flies out the window too.

I'd recommend letting the players have a little leash with this 'motivation' and seeing where the chips fall.

There is also the aforementioned problem that they're "ripping off" a Hutt lord.

 

Because... it was a narrative element and then due to choices that the PC's made... they ended up in the same room with it.  Then, the way the politics and narrative of the drop went, the opportunity arose where they *could* go for it.  Now, I get that it's a natural tendency.  However, they abandoned all else.  They stopped making moral choices, left friends in need, they did all sorts of things completely unlike them.  I have even suggested that they "donate" the money to the Alliance or use it in an admirable way but... it seems the team is only interested in "getting paid, going shopping".

I like other suggestions that make the PC's have considerable consequence for doing this.  The money wasn't supposed to be the 'thing' or even a thing.  The narrative and their bizarre choices made it work out that way.

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I know it's already been brought up that you can let them steal it and run off with a bounty on their head, however if you want to do something else you could always set up the transfer drop as a sting by the Empire/a rival Hutt boss/etc. and all of a sudden tons of enemies show up to bust/steal the credits themselves and arrest/kill the NPC's doing the trade. That way if your group wants to steal it they no longer just have to fight 2 guys, but now have to fight them plus an entire squad of stormtroopers/thugs and their commander/boss.

If they choose to still go for it not only do they have to defeat multiple enemies but they would have the wrath of the Hutt plus the Empire on their head. You can't go dang near anywhere in the galaxy and get away from the likes of both of them...maybe one, but not both!

Edited by Ender07

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29 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

I find it pretty realistic people's morals would become more like guidelines with a million space bucks in front of em....

I find this actually amazingly great roleplay. Ok, I am not on the table, so it might be terrible :D. But the basic idea that all morals, all friendships, all loyalty to the cause melts away in the face of a paycheck fat enough to never again care about the empire, because you can retire from a million credits. 

It would be actually fantastic if the grand final of his campaign would be the player characters turning against each others, while GM and players have a great time. At the end the pc who keeps the money leaves the game, while the rest of the group stay hungry and is looking for revenge for that betrayal. That is what I would call a great campaign. Now there are other options too, redemption, realisation that the money is not worth it, etc or simple doing the math and realising that the paycheck is rather small if you need to divide it among the party, becomes much less of a deal. You even could add some alliance liaison who actually encourage the PCs to go after the money, because the alliance needs it and who tries to bribe the PCs with a preview of their next duty reward. This make solve the hunger of the players themselves for new gear, when they know that the alliance has a lot of nice goodies for them too.  

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12 minutes ago, Ender07 said:

If they choose to still go for it not only do they have to defeat multiple enemies but they would have the wrath of the Hutt plus the Empire on their head. You can't go dang near anywhere in the galaxy and get away from the likes of both of them...maybe one, but not both!

Yep, taking the money means they painted a big target on their backs.  Plus, by betraying friends and the like they will have no one to turn to when the **** gets real.

I have no trouble with PCs building an empire of their own, if they are smart about it, and I like to give a lot of leeway.  But I also try to keep the universe "honest", and I would take great pleasure in leveraging aggrieved and betrayed NPCs to grind the PCs down over several sessions until they end up naked and trapped in a box canyon.

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Remember that even in the movies, the main protagonists steal gear from defeated enemies.  Luke and Han use armor.  Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie use stole stormtrooper guns.  Both in Episode IV.  This happens in other movies as well.  So long as it does not get to the proportions that most Video Games go to as the primary means of gaining cash it is ok.

In one group I am playing in, we have a small stash of 5 or 6 Stormtrooper Rifles, a dozen or so grenades, 4 utility belts, a Heavy Blaster Rifle, and a dozen or so vibro-knives.  All taken from som kind storm troopers. 

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17 hours ago, scotter23 said:

I'm not sure how to fix the specific situation of the money in the drop, and I'm not sure how to get my PC's to keep facing strong opponents and threats, yet not keep themselves in a 'looting' mindset.

You'll find a longer discussion here, but I might nip this in the bud by removing the need to loot by making sure you're not stingy with the purse strings? Let them get a big score! That should take the wind out of their looting sails.

4 hours ago, themensch said:

A million credits is a lot of money - people are going to protect it.  if they get their hands on it, then they're a moving target.  Stealing from a Hutt?  That sounds like good story fodder to me.  It might not be the story you planned but it's the story you have.  Sounds like a classic Murder Hobo troupe.

Exactly! Even if he can easily afford the loss, do you think that the Hutt will let such an offence slide? Sounds like the players just bought themselves one million Space Bucks worth of trouble and bounty hunters and dealers who will no longer talk to them for fear of incurring divine wrath.

 

 

***EDIT***

Okay, here - you want to know how to deal with this and where to go with the story? I have some homework for you then. Go watch this movie:

and then this movie:

Problem solved. Your players just crossed Brick Top - go have fun and revel in the player's tears.

Edited by Desslok

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I think someone would be quite upset that the million credits they spent went to a bunch of low lifes and the person who was suppose to get it was dead.

most hutts would gladly spend ten times that amount to recover it, and make an example you do not just take credits from a hutt and not give him something of equal or better value in return

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7 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

Cr 1,000,000?

That is a LOT of money for a struggling rebel alliance.  That is an amazing amount of capital that could be re-invested into "the cause."

No, it really isn't. It's a good bit to start up a cell on a backwater world, but in the greater scheme of things, Cr 1M is practically nothing.

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After venturing forth multiple times at great risk, followed by much negotiating, my group have obtained 96,000,000cr. The players told me I "broke" the campaign. I guess there comes a point when even make-believe breaks down. Still, having all that money can't be the cure for all ills.

One PC is looking to purchase a capital 'ship. One is considering financing an independent colony. And one is probably going to donate a considerable sum to charity. I'm sure someone will notice all that money changing hands, if the payday hasn't been already.

I decided long ago my players can and likely will have a lot of money and tricked-out gear. They can't carry it all.

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I'm guessing there's a whole load of obligation gained from the heist and as a result no chance of them actually spending XP for quite some time? I would be having ISB agents, bounty hunters and general underworld figures out after this party. The Hutt and smuggler no doubt had enough friends/allies/partners that they would certainly be on their tails and a lot of people won't want to deal with the party due to who they made angry so they could save their own skins - please tell me they didn't steal a custom swoop bike and kill the Hutts baby rancor too ;)

Things like this should have consequences, what those are is up to the GM and while at some tables the "murder hobo party" can easily cause a GM to lose control it can still lead to opportunities and given that this feels like a moment of impulse it could be something to run with. Since they had previously been on the up and up with the rebels I think it's quite plausible that one of the more extreme cells (remember they are an alliance with different groups and different goals united mainly by their hatred of the Empire) might decide they want the money for their own ends. I'd take the direction that maybe some of their allies are having their eyes turned by the score in a similar way that the party did. It needn't become a huge tangent if the arc you're working towards would be REALLY thrown out of it but adds an extra something to encounters or a couple of "down" sessions.

 

As for the increase in investigating corpses. If you're bumping up a lot of their foes to scale up with their higher level, my take would be to focus more on stats and talents rather than gear. A highly trained and experienced bounty hunter as an example might be proficient in most weapons and able to use pretty much anything they find on the job. A standard blaster rifle can be highly damaging if I'm rolling 4 yellow and a green die due to being trained in ranged heavy and AG5.  A big hit can be enough to cause the party to either get out of there or at least start trying to use cover and think things through, this is without taking into account any ranks in adversary and any extra talents. Obviously not something I would throw on every minion but the average mook is even more unlikely to be having lots of credits and special gear on them any way as they make up for gear in numbers. 

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Obligation is a resource that you spend on benefits and consequences come as a byproduct. It is not itself a consequence.

A group pulling off a heist doesn't "gain Obligation" from doing so through their on-screen time. Now, they could accept Obligation in return for favors/information that helps them to accomplish the heist along the way. Usually those favors will tell you what kind of Obligation is appropriate, but it's fairly easy to have circumstances convert one type of Obligation to another. The player has to agree to taking on Obligation, but not necessarily to the type of Obligation (you might think you're taking on Debt to some crime boss, but maybe they get busted shortly after your deal and instead you get Criminal from the authorities that linked your datatrail to the guy rotting in a cell).

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51 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Obligation is a resource that you spend on benefits and consequences come as a byproduct. It is not itself a consequence.

A group pulling off a heist doesn't "gain Obligation" from doing so through their on-screen time. Now, they could accept Obligation in return for favors/information that helps them to accomplish the heist along the way. Usually those favors will tell you what kind of Obligation is appropriate, but it's fairly easy to have circumstances convert one type of Obligation to another. The player has to agree to taking on Obligation, but not necessarily to the type of Obligation (you might think you're taking on Debt to some crime boss, but maybe they get busted shortly after your deal and instead you get Criminal from the authorities that linked your datatrail to the guy rotting in a cell).

I mean, it kinda depends on how the GM uses it since this system is so fluid.

How I often use it: When PC's do things that result in a situation where they become wanted by some party, an obligation is formed. I have a PC that's wanted on a space station for murdering station security just so they wouldn't get stopped and asked why they were in a private elevator. The situation came about, the player made the choice and I just said "you're going to be wanted on this station now". In my experience, players seem to accept Obligation as a consequence to their actions fairly well. Now this player knows that at some point, there will be a story that happens based upon them killing people who were just doing their job.

I've also gone with the RAW way of offering them obligation for something now. One time a player wanted a sniper rifle they didn't have all the funds for. This led to them getting it when they were 1k short of the cost but they had to assist the people who sold it in a secret operation that turned out to be a mission from the Rebellion.

Edited by GroggyGolem

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1 hour ago, HappyDaze said:

Obligation is a resource that you spend on benefits and consequences come as a byproduct. It is not itself a consequence.

A group pulling off a heist doesn't "gain Obligation" from doing so through their on-screen time.

Ripping off a Hutt to the tune of a million credits sure seems like something that would mechanically fit as an Obligation.  The benefit here is the large purse of credits,  the consequence is that the PCs are now hunted by an angry crime boss.  I would say this isn't exactly a square peg in a round hole, even if it's not RAW or RAI.  

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I've no opinion about making it Obligation or not, it's fine either way, but I think an out of character chat with them would probably be good.  I'd explain it's not a video game where their avatars just increased their credit balance by a million credits.  It's an RPG and they ripped off the mob.  Soooo

1. No dealer with half a brain would touch their money, and with a good Negotiation roll they might be nice and tell your idiots/PCs that they didn't steal credits, they bought tombstones.

2. Most dealers would also likely rat them out, or sell them something with a tracker and get some cash from the Hutt.

3. The Hutt would want them dead, and spend 100x as much to make an example of them, a million credits is chump change to them, it's the symbolism.

4. The Rebellion would give them the boot, they blew their cover, can't be trusted, and now risk pulling the Alliance into a mob war with the Hutt.

Sooo, yah, there it is.  They could decide if they want to play it forward or maybe hit the magic rewind button.

 

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The alliance did not mind that much when Leia killed Jabba to rescue a single man. As long as the alliance can claim "not my problem" and as long as the characters can solve the mess themselves, the alliance is unlikely to mind. What they will not do is get involved, because that is challenging not one, but all Hutts. 

So yeah, the characters are in a pinch and you just started a new campaign or added obligation for a new campaign (in this context giving a large obligation is mechanical imho fine, because it taxes basically a resource pool of the players until the situation is resolved). Still, Hutts are not gods, they can fall just like any other crime boss and not all of them have as much power as Jabba, not even close. What the players create here is a complete derail of whatever plans the GM had. you are now literally playing a different campaign, but that is imho fine, that is what roleplaying is about and that is the kind of space players need to tell their stories. 

Some explanation to the players of the consequences would be still rather splendid, not only when they are inexperienced, but in general, because the ideas what the consequences are might vastly differ between different players and especially between players and GM, so the GM should in such a case give the players some pretty good ideas what can happen, does not need to be 100% accurate, but it should fit the world, the lore, and as well the expectations of the players characters as those are well aware that they need to buy some tombstones now, but they will still be tempted to try. 
 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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47 minutes ago, themensch said:

Ripping off a Hutt to the tune of a million credits sure seems like something that would mechanically fit as an Obligation.  The benefit here is the large purse of credits,  the consequence is that the PCs are now hunted by an angry crime boss.  I would say this isn't exactly a square peg in a round hole, even if it's not RAW or RAI.  

As an example of the off-stage exchanges:

  • Having an NPC slicer clean the credits might be done in exchange for Favor (possibly turning to Blackmail if the PCs cross the slicer).
  • Having an NPC make a formal apology to the Hutt for a "misunderstanding" might allow them to wash the issue away in exchange for Favor or Debt.

Things done on-stage result directly in complications that are part of the active story, not Obligations. However, if the group doesn't want to deal with them in the active story, then  it's OK to say "We can either play out the issue or you can take Bounty X to put the whole thing on the back-burner until it comes up again later." Note that playing out the issue should offer a chance to reduce the Obligation even if it doesn't resolve the issue (after dealing with the consequences to some degree on-stage , the Obligation value should go down). This is because Obligation is a narrative currency used by the players not by the characters.

 

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