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Lord Dust

Rule Question: Influence Induced Suicide

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Long story short.

I have a miniboss and a player rocks up, rolls Influence, passes the roll, and says, "Your suicidal. Kill your self."

I veto that immediately, unless they can show me a source. They point to the control upgrade, "believe a lie." Read the talent long hand.

My question is: did I miss a section that says the power removes Npc control from the GM or states the player has absolute control over said npc?

They are citing Force Unleashed 2, and Joruus C'baoth.

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Posted (edited)

You're the GM, you have the final say.

Also, to Force-force someone into comitting suicide is very un-Star Wars'y, and morally abhorrent and detestable in the extreme. If they aren't Dark Siders already, I would at the very least give them a gazillion points of Conflict. Also, if you allow this one time, they're likely to use it again on every challenging NPC they meet from now on, right? So you better make all your NPCs Hutt & Toydarians from now on...

No, I wouldn't allow this at all. The only time I would consider having something so evil in my Star Wars is for some scripted, narrative scene to establish how truly evil that one buddy-turned-sith character has now become (or something to that effect), and even then I would in all likelyhood change my mind and go with something else.

Edited by angelman2

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Posted (edited)

My argument against this would be that "Kill yourself" isn't making the character believe something that isn't true. Nor is "You are now suicidal". Present the player alternative options which are more in-line with the example they gave for The Force Unleashed 2. "Your life has been a lie", "Yours is a lost cause", "You don't deserve to live". 

The reason I would let them do this instead is that - depending on the NPC - the result could be very different. For example:

  • Using this on a stormtrooper could result in the hilarious suicidal moment, or at least inducing serious depression that makes them give up in a fight. They may join you in combat for a couple of rounds, or run away from the combat out of fear or sorrow.
  • Against the BBEG, this could actually make them more dangerous; they could become desperate or filled with rage, or become remorseful and change the target of their attacks. They could become reckless in a fight if they believe they have already lost, and may act vengefully by endangering themselves as well as the party (e.g. bringing down the ceiling in a cave, triggering the super-weapon they control, setting fire to the room they fight in, begin venting the atmosphere in the ship)

However, the big kicker with this is that the effect will eventually wear off (depending on upgrades). If the PCs capitalize on the effect while it's active, then award them a truckload of conflict, otherwise they will have to deal with the consequences of someone who probably realizes they have been tricked. 

Edited by SufficientlyAdvancedMoronics

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8 minutes ago, kaosoe said:

This thread could probably do with a content warning in the title

Not trying to be mean or controversial, but having the words "Influence Induced Suicide" in the title isn't enough of a content warning? Are there some guidelines for the forum that I'm missing here? 

(Genuine questions. Please don't take it as me being deliberately insensitive.)

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Yikes.

Well, here's my two cents. (Or would it be "here're my two cents"? Is "two cents" plural or singular in this case?)

First of all, I think that's a bridge too far in a lot of ways (I probably wouldn't allow something like that at my table, period, rules be darned), and in-game should probably garner Murder-level conflict for that character if it leads to the NPC's death, and lesser (but still extremely serious) conflict if it does not. If I'm reading the rules right, it should also require using only dark side pips. This means a Destiny Point, Strain, and even more conflict. I would also remind you that it's an Opposed check (I have seen multiple people forget this), and I would suggest adding a number of Setback based on the implausibility of the lie or how contrary to the character an emotional state would be. Getting a pacifist into a blood rage would be much more difficult than calming an irate pacifist.

The book says "Believe something untrue" and "Adopt an emotional state" (the latter is the most correct choice for this situation). Neither of those give the player direct control. If someone is suicidal or wants to kill themselves, it doesn't mean they're going to suddenly do it right then and there. Most of the time when someone is suicidal, they do not (at least immediately) kill themselves, even if they have the means. Further, if the character is engaging other characters, they are even less likely to do it right then and there. You as GM are in charge of the actual actions the NPC takes, even if the PC can influence (pun intended*) those actions.

 

*Something important to consider is that it is not mind control. The name of the power is very important here: It is influencing the character, not forcing or controlling the character.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Lord Dust said:

Long story short.

I have a miniboss and a player rocks up, rolls Influence, passes the roll, and says, "Your suicidal. Kill your self."

I veto that immediately, unless they can show me a source. They point to the control upgrade, "believe a lie." Read the talent long hand.

My question is: did I miss a section that says the power removes Npc control from the GM or states the player has absolute control over said npc?

They are citing Force Unleashed 2, and Joruus C'baoth.

I think they didn't word it very well, so whether it "works" or not because of that, is the question for me.

Had they said, "You wish to kill yourself immediately.", I would definitely allow it, IF the Adversary failed the opposed check.

Why?

Because I like to have a functioning Mortality mechanic.

And this is precisely the sort of the thing that warrants a juicy Conflict reward. It is, at a minimum, equivalent to Torture on the Conflict table - your mind being immediately filled with the belief that continuing to live is worse than death? Yea, torture.

So, if they're willing to take 10 Conflict. Plus, I'd allocate probably +5 or 6 additional at least cuz it's just evil and an outright massive power-grab. AND they passed the opposed Discipline (which I don't stat Adversaries without considering this specific possibility)?

You got it. That's the kind of gameplay I LOVE with Force Users.

I LOVE trading Conflict for short-cuts through challenges. That's what the mechanic DOES, and is FOR.

Edited by emsquared

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A Episode of Rebels had Ezra cause some troops to walk off a cliff. But I agree telling someone to kill themselves does not make sense I dont think the force can do that. But having them walk off a cliff thinking they are farther from the edge is possible. 

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1 hour ago, emsquared said:

So, if they're willing to take 10 Conflict. Plus, I'd allocate probably +5 or 6 additional at least cuz it's just evil and an outright massive power-grab. AND they passed the opposed Discipline (which I don't stat Adversaries without considering this specific possibility)?

You got it. That's the kind of gameplay I LOVE with Force Users.

I LOVE trading Conflict for short-cuts through challenges. That's what the mechanic DOES, and is FOR.

I think that players that do this sort of thing are also very likely going to see getting 10-20 conflict as an added bonus rather than a disincentive.

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Thinking about this in more detail, my problem with this is that it's basically a 'One-roll-to-win' situation, where the entire scenario can be resolved with a single, boss-killing success. That more than anything else is the thing that doesn't sit right with me.

6 hours ago, angelman2 said:

The only time I would consider having something so evil in my Star Wars

There's not a huge difference to me between killing the BBG with a lightsaber or by compelling them to end their life, especially if you force the NPC to see things from the PCs point of view (e.g. that the BBG is evil and needs to die). There's nothing morally wrong with forcing the BBG to believe this, other than the use of dark side points on the power roll for the inherently negative emotional state it gives.

2 hours ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

If someone is suicidal or wants to kill themselves, it doesn't mean they're going to suddenly do it right then and there. Most of the time when someone is suicidal, they do not (at least immediately) kill themselves, even if they have the means.

This is part of the issue for me; it seems too insta-kill and too easy to do something unthinkable. I think the players should have the choice, but it needs to be tempered with the opportunity for other players to say "Dude! seriously, stop. That's not cool".

Ignoring the RAW for a second, the solution here which makes sense to me personally (and I can understand that people may disagree) needs to be multiple power checks which push the emotional state further and further. If anyone has played the Mutants and Masterminds system, then you'll know how their status effects progress, and that feels like a better fit for the scenario above to say 'their emotional state is damaged by one step'. This fits with the Lore I'm aware of in the Extended Universe (see Darth Zannah pushing someone to claw their own eyes out by using illusions, where she could stop, but decided to push it further)

I think that if I were to house-rule this, it would be that something as drastic as "you want to kill yourself" would require [NPC Adversary Ranks + 1] number of rolls to accomplish. The reason for this is threefold:

  1. Minions can still be easily influenced.
  2. More rolls means more conflict, which seems to align with how most people feel about this use of the power.
  3. If the degradation of the NPC's emotional state on each roll presents the PCs with sufficient narrative that an alternative solution to subduing them becomes viable, it gives the PCs a chance to change tactics (i.e. a less MDK method of dealing with said NPC).

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39 minutes ago, SufficientlyAdvancedMoronics said:

There's not a huge difference to me between killing the BBG with a lightsaber or by compelling them to end their life, especially if you force the NPC to see things from the PCs point of view (e.g. that the BBG is evil and needs to die). There's nothing morally wrong with forcing the BBG to believe this, other than the use of dark side points on the power roll for the inherently negative emotional state it gives.

Free will should be a factor in that analysis. Robbing someone of their free will is very serious. Further, if you can actually convince someone that they are really evil and should cease to be evil, you should reform them, not just force them to kill themselves. Then again, they may not care that they are evil, or in some cases they may embrace it. Then that entire line of attack would and should fail.

A big difference between killing them with a lightsaber and forcing them to kill themselves is similar to the difference between killing someone in hand-to-hand combat vs. stabbing an unaware target in the back.

Part of why there is a difference is a matter of control. If they are unaware of your presence or you are in their mind, you have control over the situation and can choose a better path. Forcing them to commit suicide or murdering them (even if you think those courses of action are justified) are not the best options available, and certainly warrant conflict at a minimum.

 

I agree with pretty much the rest of your comment though.

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29 minutes ago, SufficientlyAdvancedMoronics said:

Thinking about this in more detail, my problem with this is that it's basically a 'One-roll-to-win' situation, where the entire scenario can be resolved with a single, boss-killing success. That more than anything else is the thing that doesn't sit right with me.

So there's a lot to unpack here. A lot of tools at your disposal and gameplay considerations.

Like, how is this any different from the Move specialist who grabs Silhouette 3 or 4 boulders to crush ppl? Or the Auto-fire Jury Rigger that can kick out 3 or 4 sets of 15+ wounds at will? Or the Scathing Tirade specialist that can kick out 3 doses of 4-5 un-Soakable Strain every turn? Or your Gunslinger Gambler? Or? Or? Or? Why do they all get their one-roll kills but not Influence?

Or do you go around and make sure that no one gets to do that thing they're awesome at? Of course you don't. Yet they all have one roll kill capabilities. What's the difference?

Point is, first, you have to stat your bosses  and structure encounters to account for your PCs capabilities (i.e. Force Powers, here). That means giving them ranks in the Discipline skill.

Second, as GM, you can easily and according to RAW, modify the check for narrative circumstances.

If you think this lie is particularly difficult to believe for the NPC, you give the PC Setbacks to their check. How many? Why not 4? Equivalent to Full Cover from such a mental attack.

And you can of course also flip a Destiny to make it more difficult.

Third, if you're allowing this, and the PC(s) wants to play that game, it goes both ways. Hope they all are up on their Discipline!

Next, how do you determine how successful the attempt is? That's up to you, GM. So put your GM hat on. If I didn't want it to be automatic, like if the NPC was one of my most Mary-est of Sues, then I would just follow RAW on how to make an attack. Apply Difficulty, Soak and everything as normal. They're likely not gonna one shot themselves. The PC gets to shine in that way, you get to slap them with a ton of Conflict, the universe is at peace.

Lastly, again, THIS IS HOW THE MORALITY MECHANIC WORKS. PCs trade Conflict for shortcuts. That's how you have a functioning Mortality system.

If you don't want to play the game, which allowing this and everything else - and meeting it all on it's own terms - is how you play the game, then you need to "fix" it by having a conversation about not doing this kind of stuff at a meta-level.

Not by going, "Hey, you know that thing you spent XP on and thought it would work according to how the book said it would? Now that we're in play, and I don't like it, I am not gonna let it work like you thought it would. Sorry."

Same way you fix all the other exploits.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/3/2020 at 5:45 PM, SufficientlyAdvancedMoronics said:

There's not a huge difference to me between killing the BBG with a lightsaber or by compelling them to end their life

This is growing into a technical ethics debate (as Force debates inevitably do), but as a suicide survivor* my personal stance here is that the difference is enormous. But this is getting a bit heavy for me so I think I'm going to bow out. I probably shouldn't have posted anything in the first place :)

 

My important point to the OP remains: the GM has the final say.

 

*For the record, that was a long time ago (almost two decades). No need to worry and fuss :)

Edited by angelman2

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Thank you for the help.

My issue is not the use of morality (They had 30 conflict at the end of the session) or Rule Zero(The suicide was veto'd). I am looking for information that I may have missed on Influence acting as an absolute Mental Domination. Did I miss some ruling somewhere?

Sorry if that was not clear.

I want to know before the party turns on its self.

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1 hour ago, Lord Dust said:

 I am looking for information that I may have missed on Influence acting as an absolute Mental Domination. Did I miss some ruling somewhere?

Read the Power. There is a Control upgrade that makes it so the Target - upon a successful opposed Discipline check - will adopt an emotional state, or "believe something untrue".

You have read that, right?

Is it mental domination? No. But can a properly worded lie can be very powerful? Oh most definitely.

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As an addition: 

Although we have seen use of Influence in this way (rarely, I can only remember this being possible once in KOTOR), it's conflicting with most depictions of Influence.

Most Descriptions of Influence have something in there that prevent's someone from being influenced into hurting themselves (actually most "Influency" Powers / Abilities / Spells in Pen and Paper do so).
From a Force perspective, I'd guess and rule it like this: 
Yes you can change the Emotional State or have someone believe something untrue / true. 
But you cannot change basic principals a sentient being has, like self-preservation and so on; and making someone believe he will be able to survive jumping from a bridge on Nar Shaddaa would definitely break that rule and so break the influence effect.  (It might bring him to stand near the edge, but even that is likely to pull them out from the effects rather instantly).

And yes, as was said already: It's not really befitting a Space Opera, its extremely dark and would probably warrant for an near instant Fall to the Darkside.

I can only second the notion already stated in this thread multiple times: Do not allow stuff like this, I feel this holds a really high risk of the ForceUser in question becoming extremely murder hobo'y once he was able to do this once.

 

 

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I know you already resolved with the player, but I thought to add something after reading the thread.

Nothing says the target will attempt to kill themselves immediately, right? Perhaps they walk away, very sullen and contemplate how to kill themselves; Only for the effect to wear off after they leave the area of the Force user.

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Posted (edited)

Just to chip in a little late; mind trick and influence in general is a tool that mildly tweaks the mind into accepting an outcome that a character would be inclined to accept. To quote an opinion; a natural 20 in DnD shouldn’t convince the King to hand over his Kingdom. Likewise, asking a Hutt to hand over their entire fortune isnt gonna fly. It takes more then being successful to do certain deeds.

 

that being said, despite that shortcoming it’s got plenty it can do. It can make someone feel incredibly happy, depressed, I’ve used it as a tool to mentor my apprentice, a clone who was raised to kill to show her what balance of the self truly felt like, so that she had something to aim for. Or convince someone of a plausible lie, or release amy reservations they might have ice a course of actions. Even convince someone that death is the only way to pay for their sins if it would be plausible, it just requires the right circumstances or a environment to do so and is mighty uncomfortable territory if you folks haven’t signed up for it.

 

I’ll clarify again. Just because it is possible, doesn’t mean it should be done. That is what session zeros should be for.


So yes, it’s possible but would take more then a limp wristed gesture to accomplish, it would likely require something to go horrifically wrong first and well; is pretty **** dark at the best of times. Either a climatic moment of a hero spiriting into evil or a point of contention that will ruin a gaming night, friendships and more.

Edited by LordBritish

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