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PzVIE

Are these Minions or Rivals ...?

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I was asked that by the players. How are they supposed to know?

It was a situation where they decided to attack a bandit hideout and scouted a group of 12 baddies. Then they began to wonder ... "should we engage them, because they are "only" minions, or should we withdraw because it's too many guys!"?

Do you tell your players?

 

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I'm a forgiving GM, so I usually let them know who's grouped and who's not. After all, they're going to figure it out as soon as they start shooting and some of the enemies are targeted/attacking as groups.

But you could also remind them that such a question is 100% metagaming and that instead, they should ask in-character questions to arrive at the information they're looking for. How tough do they look? What's their gear like? Are there any people in obvious positions of leadership? And so on. 

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14 hours ago, PzVIE said:

Do you tell your players?

I don't.

While some meta-gaming is unavoidable, in cases like this, it's totally avoidable.

Think about it like this: Dump the game, and just envision the scene like you would see in a movie.

The heroes sneak up and look at the bandit camp... what does it look like? Is it clean and orderly, or just a mish-mash encampment with trash all over and no real rhyme or reason to it's layout? Is there an organized defense with kill zones and clear lines of sight, or just a repeating blaster up on a rooftop with a couple thugs sitting next to it?

What do the bandits look like? Are they cleaned up, wearing like clothing, or just whatever? Are they partying and drinking, playing soccer, unloading supplies, or just going about their business?

Does the camera zoom in and highlight one of the bandits doing something?  What does he look like? What's he doing? Is he all buff and bench-pressing another bandit? Is he cleaned up and giving orders? 

 

These are all observable things that you can feed the players or have them roll for, and it's information that provides a non-meta clue about meta questions.

Lots of scruff looking nerf herders? Probably all minions that will form up into small groups or not at all. 

Clean and organized, minion groups will be larger and coordinate better.

Special guys mixed in? There's Rivals and Nemesis here.

Buff dude? He's a tank. Leader dude? He's gonna buff those minions (and boy can leaders buff minions.)

Solid Defenses? You might have to deal with traps, mines, and sensors in addition to the bandits.

Unloading supplies? They may have additional support you can't see.

Perception, Vigilance, and Warfare checks could all yield this information, awarding players for plusing up those skills. And the dice results help too. Rolled a Despair on that perception check? I wonder what they didn't see...

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15 hours ago, PzVIE said:

 

Do you tell your players?

 

Sweet F.A!

 

As characters we usually reply with... 'Attack' or 'Sure we'll do that smuggling run!' then we take an immediate time out and and one of us will say.. Coz if we don't we may as well get in the car and sod off back home and not bother with gaming night again etc etc

 

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The way I would do it is via descriptions obtained on perception checks.

"With after about 15 minutes watch, you are able to observe six individuals that are relatively lightly armed/armoured that are patrolling in loose formation; in all honesty as much interested in the game they have going on inside the complex as they are with their patrol pattern, indicating there might be more inside. Though their approaches differ greatly; their comparative firepower is fairly uniform. With the advantage, you observe that they seem to look up to two other individual who seem somewhat sharper then the others (gives a big description of the two characters). The captain is currently nowhere to be seen; though judging by the occasional sight of people heading up and downstairs, it wouldn't be implausible to suspect that an individual of some authority is on the upper floor."

With that you kinda establish a frame work of people. compared to:

"There is a explosion; 6 people rapidly enter the cargo hold from the breach, rapidly covering ground and gunning down any security along their way. They are travelling in loose formation but judging by the commands being issued these people are serious professionals, unlike those thugs you roughed up in the cantina earlier. Seems like that little rumour you spread about their rival has drawn their full attention. Despite their individualistic demeanor, there is one burly Transoian that is directing the squad effectively; his loud voice commands respect even in this chaotic environment. The Dread Pirate Reed Richards has arrived."

By working in some good descriptions and only giving special attention to rivals/nemesis type characters, you can build a rappore with your players that you aren't going to drop them into a 14 target environment.

Edited by LordBritish

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11 hours ago, Silim said:

At the very least in combat, your players should know (through both Initiative rolls and for targeting/strategy purposes). Anything else is just being intentionally cryptic for the purpose of annoying your players, which is just bad form.

There are abilities in the game that work differently with minions vs everyone else. Concealing which targets are what massively weakens those by introducing a chance of wasting them on inapplicable targets, or at the very least keeps players from making an informed decision.

 

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14 hours ago, Silim said:

At the very least in combat, your players should know (through both Initiative rolls and for targeting/strategy purposes). Anything else is just being intentionally cryptic for the purpose of annoying your players, which is just bad form.

Can't disagree more.  I'm not doing it because it's "annoying" it's because I'm trying to inject a level verisimilitude.  I'm trying to keep the players thinking about the story, and not the stats and the arbitrary game mechanics.  I will try to be honest with descriptions of equipment and behaviour, but that's about all they need to know.

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3 hours ago, Stan Fresh said:

There are abilities in the game that work differently with minions vs everyone else.

You are probably referring to Signature Abilities, but those don't really require any interaction.  The player activates, and the minions all fall down over a couple of turns.  And that's fine, when the smoke clears only the non-minions will be standing and it becomes self-evident.

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21 minutes ago, whafrog said:

Can't disagree more.  I'm not doing it because it's "annoying" it's because I'm trying to inject a level verisimilitude.  I'm trying to keep the players thinking about the story, and not the stats and the arbitrary game mechanics.  I will try to be honest with descriptions of equipment and behaviour, but that's about all they need to know.

It's called role playing, if you aren't being cryptic as a GM, you're a boring GM.

Edited by 2P51

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46 minutes ago, whafrog said:

Can't disagree more.  I'm not doing it because it's "annoying" it's because I'm trying to inject a level verisimilitude.  I'm trying to keep the players thinking about the story, and not the stats and the arbitrary game mechanics.  I will try to be honest with descriptions of equipment and behaviour, but that's about all they need to know.

The story flows from the game mechanics; the mechanics flow from the story. By withholding pertinent information you're making it harder for the players to engage with the game as a whole - story AND mechanics.

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1 hour ago, Stan Fresh said:

The story flows from the game mechanics

What?  Not remotely.  "Today's top story:  Agility 3 Stormtrooper Minions with special Pierce weapons attack innocent PCs and bystanders!  Rolls at 11!"

1 hour ago, Stan Fresh said:

the mechanics flow from the story

Barely.  The mechanics simply facilitate conflict resolution, breaking the fourth wall temporarily (and as briefly as possible) to inject a random element into that resolution.

If you want to play like D&D where you have to show the page in the Monster Manual where the dragon has AC X and Legendary Power Y or the players will think you're "cheating", then have at it.  But that's not a "story".

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10 minutes ago, whafrog said:

What?  Not remotely.  "Today's top story:  Agility 3 Stormtrooper Minions with special Pierce weapons attack innocent PCs and bystanders!  Rolls at 11!"

Barely.  The mechanics simply facilitate conflict resolution, breaking the fourth wall temporarily (and as briefly as possible) to inject a random element into that resolution.

If you want to play like D&D where you have to show the page in the Monster Manual where the dragon has AC X and Legendary Power Y or the players will think you're "cheating", then have at it.  But that's not a "story".

Good thing I've not proposed anything of the kind.

If a random stormtrooper and Darth Vader have different stats in your games then the mechanics flow from the story. And if a fight against Vader ends with the newbie PCs running away while a fight against the trooper ends in PC victory then the story flows from the mechanics.

Or is it different in your games?

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If you're relating a bunch of meta game stuff at the beginning of every fight you aren't role playing, you're running a tabletop tactical mini game.  If you wanna know who is what? start shooting....

Happy Daze calls it casting "Detect Minons"......

Someone else said it's a good use for Knowledge Warfare as a first Action in an encounter, which I thought was a good idea.  Bottom line is laying that all out by default is total buzzkill GM skills.

Edited by 2P51

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