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Tyberius_Deangelo

Player Disputes on First Game

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Hi Everyone,  this past weekend I GM'ed my first Star Wars game with a group of friends using the Edge of the Empire Beginner game.  During the course of the game an issue happened that has cause out of party disagreements and I don't know how to find a compromise.  In the game the group decided to take a droid that was an acquaintance of Jaken, a force-sensitive player character, strap explosives on it, and blow it up to cause a distraction to get inside the hanger bay for Trex's ship.  Jaken did not want to harm the droid so the leader of the group - another player character named Sirru Wedd - used his Falleen species ability to take  two strain and "convince" Jaken to kill the droid by using a charm check.   The way I did this was I took Wedd's charm dice pool and added the difficulty based on Jaken's Discipline dice pool.  The dice roll succeeded for Weed and the droid was killed in a horrible way.  In retaliation later in the game Jaken outright murdered Trex.   Because of the murder of the droid and Trex the group has taken morality losses down to 40 points.  

After the game, the player playing Jaken was upset that the character could be coerced into doing things they didn't want to do and equated the experience to being date raped.  The player playing Weed argued it was within his character's ability to convince them to see his point of view on issues.   I think I may have screwed up in GMing my first game by allowing this to happen and the group may not get back together because of this.  Speaking with some of my friends who have GM'ed for years about this incident I was told that is it NEVER good form to allow people's characters to be taken over by another player.  How to I fix this? 

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2 minutes ago, Tyberius_Deangelo said:

Hi Everyone,  this past weekend I GM'ed my first Star Wars game with a group of friends using the Edge of the Empire Beginner game.  During the course of the game an issue happened that has cause out of party disagreements and I don't know how to find a compromise.  In the game the group decided to take a droid that was an acquaintance of Jaken, a force-sensitive player character, strap explosives on it, and blow it up to cause a distraction to get inside the hanger bay for Trex's ship.  Jaken did not want to harm the droid so the leader of the group - another player character named Sirru Wedd - used his Falleen species ability to take  two strain and "convince" Jaken to kill the droid by using a charm check.   The way I did this was I took Wedd's charm dice pool and added the difficulty based on Jaken's Discipline dice pool.  The dice roll succeeded for Weed and the droid was killed in a horrible way.  In retaliation later in the game Jaken outright murdered Trex.   Because of the murder of the droid and Trex the group has taken morality losses down to 40 points.  

After the game, the player playing Jaken was upset that the character could be coerced into doing things they didn't want to do and equated the experience to being date raped.  The player playing Weed argued it was within his character's ability to convince them to see his point of view on issues.   I think I may have screwed up in GMing my first game by allowing this to happen and the group may not get back together because of this.  Speaking with some of my friends who have GM'ed for years about this incident I was told that is it NEVER good form to allow people's characters to be taken over by another player.  How to I fix this? 

The short answer is players should almost never have control of their character taken away from them, especially by other players. There are always exceptions to this general rule. Second, PvP almost always results in hurt feelings; players must understand this aspect and actively avoid it. Arguments of "But it would be in character" are a cop out and simply do not work. For every in character reason the player can come up with to take a PvP  action, there are 10 other solid reasons why they shouldn't.

In the scenario above, I would not have allowed the Faleen character to mind control the other player to take a course of action they were strongly against. But the retaliation by the force user against the Falleen was grossly excessive and unnecessary.

Ultimately where you will need to start is to first find out of your group wants to play again. If so, then you need to have an out of game conversation with all of them expressing that you feel you made mistakes that led to a negative play experience for everybody. Talk it over, and listen to viewpoints. The players are also not off the hook here though. The players must work together to tell the story, and that PvP is simply not OK. Disagreements are bound to happen of course, but players should not assume they can just play however they want and try to cover it with game mechanics or other clichéd arguments such as "it would be in character."

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1) Persuasion / Charm / Whatever is NOT mind control!  If the PC was so upset about the loss of their droid that they murdered someone over it, they never would have condoned it to begin with.  And even if it had been mind control...

2) It's never a good idea to allow a PC to be mind controlled unless there's some major trust and communication between the player in question and the GM (or whomever is doing the mind control). 

3) Unless everyone signed on for some back-stabby hi-jinks; the moment players start rolling dice against each other, you're already on shaky ground.  Nip that **** in the bud; there's no good reason for it.

4) Find better players to play with.  

Edited by Vorzakk

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Never remove player agency with player permission. While comparing it to "date ****" is both insulting to people who have been sexually assaulted and gross, it's important to recognize that the only thing a player has control over are the actions of his character.

If you want to salvage this group, explain that you're new to game mastering, that you made an error in judgement, and recognize that what happened is poor gaming protocol. I'd propose simply ret-conning the event so that the distraction did not involve the destruction of a droid. I'd also propose that, moving forward, if the players are coming up with a plan, it's best that everyone be on board with it. If someone says "no," then the group needs to exercise its creative muscles and come up with an alternative.

Real-life negotiation is a part of role-playing games.

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I'm going to present a somewhat different piece of advice here. I believe players making social checks against other players is fine, provided that success simply gives the other player setback on any other course of action they might take. Think of it as seeding doubt into that player character's mind or making an exceptionally convincing argument.

 

I also think that deceiving other player characters is just fine, though I would likely not call for a deception roll, as my players know when it comes to deception you can't metagame it as much if the talking character never rolls dice. So I let them make checks on their own (Discipline is the correct one for Star Wars but I have them use Vigilance). If they succeed then the player has to tell them if they were being honest but not any specifics of which parts were true or false, as it isn't a mind reading effect, that's what the Sense power is for.

 

As far as actually taking away player agency, I don't believe it's a complete no-no, seeing as how there is a power that allows it and is a pretty common trope of Star Wars (Jedi Mind-Trick, the Influence power upgrade that can alter emotions and beliefs of characters). It's an opposed roll, it only lasts for a certain amount of time & if the player is concerned with it they can increase their Discipline so they are no longer "weak-minded".

 

I used the Influence power against a player twice with a nasty villain, the effects were mostly narrative tho they dealt some wounds to their party members. Here's the thing though, they still played their character while they were mind-tricked, so it was still them acting. They decided to turn that situation of dealing wounds (actually strain, because the order was "protect me and help me escape" not "kill them") to allies into a narrative result by playing up the guilt from hurting their allies while their mind wasn't their own. Made for a good story point and kind of drew that character closer to their party, more protective of them.

 

That said, if a player was going to initiate anything beyond just a social check against another player, you might consider stopping them, asking both players if they are okay with this proceeding and ONLY continue if they both agree that it is acceptable.

 

Personally though, my groups know I allow PvP completely now before we start a campaign. None have gone through with any PvP so far but I feel a turn to the Dark Side coming...

Edited by GroggyGolem

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On 2018-04-24 at 9:51 AM, Tyberius_Deangelo said:

How to I fix this?

Just be open and honest.  Explain it's your first session and you didn't know and you'll do it differently going forward.  Ask for feedback.  Heck, after 40 years I still do this if a session was a dud or I handled something poorly.  Making a mistake is no big deal, if you show you'll learn from it.

But they also have to take some responsibility, as it's on them for creating inter-party tension in the first place.  I'd ask these guys if in real life they'd steal each other's cars and go for a joyride...that's basically what they pulled in the game.  The party of PCs is supposed to be together for a reason, and it's not entirely on the GM to determine or enforce what that reason is.  It's a good default, at least in the beginning, for the players to assume that they have each other's backs.  If some players can't abide by something that simple, they don't deserve to be at the table.

 

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On 4/24/2018 at 12:05 PM, Vorzakk said:

1) Persuasion / Charm / Whatever is NOT mind control!  If the PC was so upset about the loss of their droid that they murdered someone over it, they never would have condoned it to begin with.  And even if it had been mind control...

IRL, people are persuaded/charmed into doing stuff that they later regret all the time. And yes, sometimes they regret it so much they kill others...or themselves. Decide if you want that kind of thing in your games or not, but don't try to say it can't happen.

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Call a mulligan, tell everyone 'whoops', and move forward.

In regards to PCs effecting one another with social skills.  Most people can maybe talk someone into trying a new flavor of ice cream.  Most people cannot talk most people into committing murder, that's absurd, and frankly I wouldn't allow a social check like that on even an NPC unless they were sociopathic or just pre-disposed towards taking the kind of action somewhat anyway.  I agree, social skills aint mind control.  Even Jedi can only influence the weak minded and all PCs should be considered exceptional.

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Player agency is a very complicated issue, with a long history in RPG theory circles. The overwhelming consensus is that, like many in this thread have said, player agency is very important, meaning - be very cautious about forcing player characters to do things against the player's will.

Unfortunately, Star Wars, while having many innovative mechanics, is a bit old school when it comes to social skill checks, in that it lacks a good mechanic for how social skills relate to player agency. The problem is excarbated by the fact that social skills are valued as much as other powers in Star Wars, so if we do -not- allow social skills against player characters at all, we hurt the balance in the system.

There are several ways to approach this, that you as a GM might consider. Several of these can be combined:

- Social skills can never be rolled against player characters. The drawback with this is that social skills become almost worthless for NPCs.

- Social skills can be rolled against player characters, but only if the player is okay with it.

- Some systems, like the swedish game Eon, have clever opt-out mechanics. in Eon, if your character is targeted by a successful social check, you can refuse to accept the result, but the character who used the social check against you get to choose consequenses that happen to your character instead (for example, your character's core motivations might be changed for a time). This means that players have the comfort of being able to never be forced to do something, yet always considers carefully if they couldn't accept the result after all, for the story's sake. Star Wars doesn't have many such consequenses to play with, but strain or setback dice to future rolls could work.

- Social skill checks are modified by how strongly the targeted character is opposed to what the check is intended to accomplish. I use this all the time; if an NPC is vehemently opposed to being talked into whatever, for example, I give the PCs several setback dice in trying to convince him.

- Some types of social skill checks are rolled more often than others. Negotiation about the price of something, for example, never gets too personal, whereas someone trying to seduce a character using the Charm skill often might.


In swedish RPG circles there's a slogan that I'd roughly translate to "be brave and vulnerable". It means that you should try to go outside your comfort zone every now and then, and expose your character to adversity, humiliation, and dramatic change when it serves the story or gives other player characters a moment to shine.




 

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Social checks against PCs are always tricky. In order not to rob players of their agency there should always be some kind of way to 'opt out' for the target.

The simplest way would be to trust your players to go with it, and only allow social checks on PCs who's players are willing to accept the result. Step out of character for a moment and ask the player if there's any way their character could be convinced, charmed etc and hopefully the situation isn't as absolute to make it impossible and the player might even get the chance to stipulate some terms, such as "My PC can be convinced to go to Bardotta first if she's promised that we'll go looking for her brother next.". Then roll, and use those terms to spend advantages and threats on. A very successful roll might mean a very vague promise and a success with despairs might mean the swearing of blood oaths to  convince the character.

The game @Natsymir mentioned above handles it by always allowing PCs, and in some cases NPCs, to refuse the result of a failed social conflict, with consequences. While I really like this system, the consequences are a little hard to translate. Strain would be appropriate in some cases but might to be to fleeting of a consequence in many cases. Mechanically, you could take a page from the consequences of failed fear checks and apply those as the result of stress and doubt from refusing the result of a social check.

Or, you could let them refuse by flipping a destiny point, which gets the entire group involved, and sends a clear message that inter-group conflict has severe consequences. If you go this route as a GM, try to make sure that there is a destiny point for the players to spend if you throw social checks at them.

Edited by penpenpen

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On 4/25/2018 at 8:58 PM, HappyDaze said:

IRL, people are persuaded/charmed into doing stuff that they later regret all the time. And yes, sometimes they regret it so much they kill others...or themselves. Decide if you want that kind of thing in your games or not, but don't try to say it can't happen.

Degrees of volition and persuasion matter. Real-life examples involve perpetrators having been convinced or encouraged to carry out acts they contemplated independently. Even saint-to-sociopath transformations require comparatively lengthy indoctrination. That can be modeled with dice, but with substantial conditions for those degrees.

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38 minutes ago, wilsch said:

Degrees of volition and persuasion matter. Real-life examples involve perpetrators having been convinced or encouraged to carry out acts they contemplated independently. Even saint-to-sociopath transformations require comparatively lengthy indoctrination. That can be modeled with dice, but with substantial conditions for those degrees.

We are also talking about Falleen pheromones, which have been shown in previous SW stories to be akin to getting them highly intoxicated on whatever emotion the Falleen is projecting, be it lust, rage, jealously, whatever..., so it's not like a bit of chemical mend-bending can't take the place of lengthy indoctrination.

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4 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

We are also talking about Falleen pheromones, which have been shown in previous SW stories to be akin to getting them highly intoxicated on whatever emotion the Falleen is projecting, be it lust, rage, jealously, whatever..., so it's not like a bit of chemical mend-bending can't take the place of lengthy indoctrination.

Also irrelevant. If they players are getting upset enough to ruin the game, you should not be doing whatever it is you are doing. 

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A lot of good advice in this thread already, but I want to echo the sentiment that player agency should not be removed, especially by other players. I don't think any amount of pheromones could convince me to strap explosives to a beloved friend or pet.

I also wouldn't compare it to "date ****". As a sexual assault survivor, it left a bad taste in my mouth to read that, altho the player in question might be a survivor and I can't speak to their personal experience. I would be cautious of sharing comparisons like that in a public forum and/or mixed company.

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Thank you for your replies and comments.  Over Facebook, I had a long group chat on this situation and I made it clear that I goofed big time letting the Falleen character use his pheromones on PCs and that would not happen again unless it is okay with the PC.  We would have out of game conversations if the players are okay with what the Falleen player wants to do.  

 

Edited by Tyberius_Deangelo

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Thing is that what's happening at the table must be absolutely clear to everyone that it's a game. So I believe it's ok to use charm and social skill between characters the thing is, nobody should be mad about it... In my group one uses alot of charm on the other, but when it fails or isn't good enough the PC accepts that the others are mad, punch his PC or even shoot the PC (1 time it happens). 

 

Set what you want as GM, I have decided that all the players had the rights to do what ever they want against each other, but don't cry if the group kill you for selling them to the empire for the bounty.  It usually make big plot twist that is fun or even create a big nemesis to the group that was a former teammate.  A rodian always make trouble in cantina, a duros bought shockgloves just to control the rodian. Both PC had fun about it, yes one of them was controlled but for a good reason. It's always about the in game aspect and no retaliation out game. Yes at some point the rodian shot the duros in the face. ... But the medic of the Groupe healed the duros and the rodian became a slave for 3 session hahaha 

 

Remember always your call, your table. 

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On 4/29/2018 at 6:20 PM, korjik said:

Also irrelevant. If they players are getting upset enough to ruin the game, you should not be doing whatever it is you are doing. 

I guess we each see irrelevance in different parts of the situation. If my players aren't up for wearing their grown-folk pants to the game, they know where to find the door.

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I think you handled that good by taking it seriously and talking it through with your players afterwards. If you can reach a consensus in the group for the future then you'll have gained much from this situation. 

My feedback: Don't ever retcon stuff, what happened, happened. There is always a way to move forward as long as the players feel that it was fair consequences for their actions. 

Also agree 100% on player agency. When my players want to roll off against each other  I encourage it by trying to highlight the role playing aspects. However, I also ask the player being targeted if they feel comfortable with abiding by the result. Player buy-in is essential to these type of interactions. This is a moment where the GM need to step in and be a clear support to both players. If the GM can help make the result Fun and Dramatic, it may end up becoming a positive experience instead.   

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 I think the player could have been given the choice to go along with it or resist. It seems like it came down to player control issues instead of What Happened in-game issues. The player with the Coercion power obviously saw this as a proper use for his power, but was any of that played out? Was there an attempt by the Faleen character to convey an argument, or was it just a squirt of Pheromones and now you're my puppet? I don't remember how that ability works in game but in the Shadows of the Empire novel I seem to remember it required verbal suggestions. 

Sometimes a player will be up for doing something like this if they feel like they are part of a cool story and not just controlling their gamepiece as they see fit because other people are trying to ****** it from them. 

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