Page 544 - Voice of Treason

17th Jan 2015, 6:00 AM
Voice of Treason
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 17th Jan 2015, 6:00 AM edit delete
Newbiespud
Social challenges with puzzle-like solutions are risky, though maybe only slightly more than regular puzzles. The risk is that the solution will be too obscure, or the players aren't in the right mindset to intuit the answer, or you haven't laid down enough clues. Unhealthy debate or unexpected stonewalling is a surefire way to create frustration and anger, which can sour the session. This can be said of any tabletop puzzles, but social challenges structured this way are an even higher risk, I think.

Anyway, here's some more Fallout is Dragons, finally putting us back on track.
Session 34 - After the End: Libsyn YouTube

40 Comments:

Crazy Tom 17th Jan 2015, 6:14 AM edit delete reply
I usually leave my social encounters flexible enough that the players can come up with logical solutions, even if they're not ones that I had in mind. I find it makes such tags easier.
Grant 18th Jan 2015, 2:25 PM edit delete reply
Really I'd call that a necessity. Sure there are some where the GM has to put their foot down (as in 'you let them massacre those protesters and burn the neighborhood, that's an instant drop into Evil') but when it's trying to reach a situation where everyone's okay, there are so many different possible responses that it can overwhelm the player.

Of course you can always use some of those later. So you pushed the noble to let the princess carry out the ceremony here as part of a multi-religious event instead of barring it? Well in a later campaign some priests have gotten angry enough that they're preaching rebellion and a lot of people have joined the cause just to avoid being the next target of the mob. Congratulations!
Lord Derpius 17th Jan 2015, 6:55 AM edit delete reply
Typical pinkie.
Evilbob 17th Jan 2015, 7:13 AM edit delete reply
Evilbob
Methinks social challenges run the extra risk simply because those type of puzzles are the most likely ones to have more than one answer. Unlike the regular puzzles which is usually simpler, more straightforward, and require less of the icky social context thingies.
you know that guy 18th Jan 2015, 11:32 AM edit delete reply
Any social challenge can be solved by a sufficiently large explosion.
Disloyal Subject 18th Jan 2015, 7:11 PM edit delete reply
ANYTHING can be solved by a big enough explosion.
Lord foul 18th Jan 2015, 9:58 PM edit delete reply
What if your problem is "all of existence was destroyed by an enormous explosion, past present and future are coloring, and We're all trapped forever in a brief moment of existential agony"
Disloyal Subject 19th Jan 2015, 2:00 AM edit delete reply
Believe it or not, I actually considered that one. I won't claim any particular expertise, but I strongly suspect that a subsequent explosion of sufficient magnitude could solve it.
Blyndpwn 19th Jan 2015, 6:17 AM edit delete reply
That, or reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.
ThatGuy 17th Jan 2015, 7:29 AM edit delete reply
Tell us a time when doing the "Wrong" thing ended up being the "Right" thing.

Example - instead of not trying to terrify people you are supposed to frighten them because it's the Halloween spirit.
Digo 17th Jan 2015, 9:02 AM edit delete reply
The adventure had the party essentially blackmailed into assassinating a prominent leader. We snuck in weapons to his place but not with the intent to actually kill him. Instead we found out that this leader made some powerful enemies who wanted him dead so those smuggled weapons helped in DEFENDING him. :D
Icipall 17th Jan 2015, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
We were playing Runescape II and our group was hired to either kill a pirate lord who had taken over a important coastal city, or capture him and take him to the capital to face judgement.

After some hijinks, few great fights, two crazy plans to capture the pirate lord were one of them didn't work (stupid pirate ship not having an anchor chain) and another involved a barrel full of water and my awesome dire wolf -pet, we managed to capture him, took all his stuff, tied him up like a Christmas turkey and put him in a bag. Mission accomplished, right?

Unfortunately, on our way out of the city, one of our team's bounty hunters who was wearing a high quality armor from a member of another pirate crew whom we had killed earlier, got recognized by other members of that crew and we were brought before their captain on their ship, who also happened to be one of the pirate lords lieutenants.

We didn't manage to talk our way out of that, since he wanted to know what was in the bag, which led to a short fight with him until he bolted, which led to our healer acting like a dirty coward and me using the bagged pirate lord like a battering ram to push my way through about 50 pirates to get out of the ship.

Unfortunately, me and our second bounty hunter got captures by the pirates, while our healer and other bounty hunter managed to escape, but not before I did my best to maim, kill and murder the pirate lord (turns out he beat Death in a game and became an immortal...Hax).

The pirate lord of course wasn't happy with that, but since we still had all his stuff hidden away (including some very powerful magical items and his pistols, which were the only gunpowder weapons in the setting) so, he made a deal with us: one-on-one duel between him and my hunter. If I win, we can go free and he and his cohorts leave the city.

We dueled and I won (I ended up smashing his lower jaw off) and he honored his end of the bargain leaving and we went back to the capital to earn our reward. It was only after the game was over that GM told us that the pirate lord wanted to get captured in order the get to the capital and kill the head of the nation. So, basically we did the right thing by failing.
redwings1340 19th Jan 2015, 5:40 PM edit delete reply
redwings1340
Wrong thing being the right thing? Hah, I finally have a story here!

So, the characters in the story were led to a portal that took them to a place called Paradise, which they knew nothing about. The government captured them immediately when they portaled in, but then a mysterious girl with a Luxray and an Alakazam saved them and led them to the resistance. The group was suspicious of both the government, the resistance, and this girl, named Jenny.

Jenny decided to introduce the group to resistance operations by taking the group to a simple food mission. They went to a farm, talked to the farmers there, and were about to take the food back to the resistance when the group decided to knock out Jenny and try to make a break for it.

Unknowingly to the group, the government was already here, spying on this food transfer. They had placed trackers in the food, and were planning on following the food directly to the rebellion base. Upon seeing the group make a break for it, the government panicked and sent in the attack immediately. Their air force came, and should have taken the players back in to custody there, but a new character played by another player showed up just in time to rescue all of them.

After all of this, the players overly paranoid and suspicious actions of knocking out the rebellion leader actually managed to save the rebellion. This rebellion would later succeed and take over the paradise government with the party's help. Sometimes, being overly paranoid can help prevent against traps from people you don't even think are there!
Mykin 17th Jan 2015, 8:13 AM edit delete reply
Mykin
I can't believe I missed it either, Pinkie. With all this clearing of Luna's name plot going on, I completely forgot that Nightmare Night is Halloween. Heck, it didn't hit me until I re-read Twilight's question and I realized how utterly silly it was once I put some thought into it.

So thank you Twilight, Pinkie Pie, for making me realize how much of a stupid idea it was to attempt to not scare children on a holiday completely devoted to scaring children. Sure, it doesn't quite solve the whole "who is smearing Luna" plot, but at least we can deal with the smearing more effectively now.
Digo 17th Jan 2015, 9:05 AM edit delete reply
One group I'm with seems to have turned social puzzles into a combat encounter, where you just keep rolling your Diplomacy until you've succeeded enough times to "win".

It's really a bad way of doing things, so I tend to just not roll and come up with social actions that elicit the GM to think instead of simply assigning some arbitrary DC.
Zuche 17th Jan 2015, 10:25 AM edit delete reply
I've had players roll a 20 on the Diplomacy check that follows doing something they've been warned was terribly stupid, announce that their modifiers bump that up to a 35, and look terribly surprised when the person they're trying to interact with tries to cave their skull in.

Sometimes, "The rules say--" must be countered with, "And the story/situation says--".
Voj 17th Jan 2015, 11:21 AM edit delete reply
Basically comes down to Rule Zero, at the end of the day.
Digo 18th Jan 2015, 12:29 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, cause there are times the players want to justify the most absurd things with a single die roll and if the GM doesn't step in to control that, it will end in fire. Lots of fire. D:
Malroth 18th Jan 2015, 4:15 AM edit delete reply
Malroth
Honestly a 35 diplomacy check in the wrong hands should be enough to turn a nation of Liderhosen dressed beer dancers into an unthinking mob of Goose stepping facists, Yeah historicaly he really only won over 51% or so but it should be enough to get away with a whole lot of stupid.
Draxynnic 18th Jan 2015, 5:35 AM edit delete reply
As I recall, he didn't even have a majority, but somewhere in the general vicinity of 30% (and non-compulsory voting, which tends to skew voting patterns towards the fanatics). However, this was enough to give him enough power that he could manufacture an "emergency" to get the rest of the way.
Specter 17th Jan 2015, 11:33 AM edit delete reply
Specter
I just let my players choose how they do things so they can feel like they're way of progression isn't wrong.

Puzzle too hard? Blow a hole through it and move on.

Diplomacy not working? Go for the hostage negotiation approach.

Can't find the hidden fortress in the forest? Burn it down.

... I hate my GMing experience so much.
Zeeth 18th Jan 2015, 8:00 AM edit delete reply
They can't find the hidden fortress in the forest after burning everything down, if
A: the fortress is also made of wood and burns, destroying the stuff the party wants there
B: the fortress is invisible (might be detectable by the lack of wood ash and scorch marks in that particular spot)
C: the fortress is underground/in a hill and only its entrance is visible above ground
D: the "fortress" is a person who lived in the forest and got the F- out of there when everything burned (fortress-style plate armor, really tough fighter-type, or maybe a sort of social bastion position...)
Digo 18th Jan 2015, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
I like option A. Consequences of one's actions! And a fortress made out of trees makes sense for camoflage. :D
FanOfMostEverything 18th Jan 2015, 8:01 AM edit delete reply
The key to that kind of group is to make sure that there are consequences for their actions.

Want to set the hedge maze on fire? Sure! Water appears out of nowhere to extinguish the blaze, followed by a reminder that this is a no-smoking section of the wizard's mansion. You've learned something!

Want to drag a hyena carcass into the elf village and demand they prepare it for you? Sure! They're too stunned by your sheer chutzpah to react... this time. Don't plan on making a return trip unless you want to be a pincushion.

Want to vandalize the temple of the lawful neutral goddess of beauty? Sure! You've been declared anathema. Roll Perception. Okay, yes, the sanctified rogues succeeded in kidnapping you in your sleep. Everyone else? They've announced that he's going to be hung by the neck until dead unless you can bust him out. The holy war he started should provide plenty of cover.
Mykin 18th Jan 2015, 10:46 PM edit delete reply
Mykin
We tend to get severe consequences for not really knowing what we want. It's the kind of problem I'm starting to run into as our GM started his new game with the equivalent of dropping us into a sandbox and telling us all to "go do what you want to do".

For example, in our new Star Wars RPG game (the re-skinned DnD clone, not the new one), our group of mercenaries hadn't actually figured out what we wanted to do with ourselves and, in a fit of trying to justify my leadership role (because no one wants it and I did such an excellent job at it last time, so why not?) and in desperation to try and find something to do, I used my excellent gathering info skill in my attempt to find us a lucrative job doing whatever. A high roll of 26 lead me to the Imperial office and a nice easy mission to help the Empire establish themselves on the peaceful planet of Naboo. Fast forward to us being stuck on the back lines of an epic battle between the new empire and some rebels at their command outpost. Outpost apparently translates into "fortress of death" given the landscape, the AA cannons, and all the dead Imp bodies around. The only people making up the back lines was 16 storm troopers and us against 96 rebels and 8 AA cannons. I'm not sure how long we glared at our GM before he swore to us for the 5th time that he wasn't trying to kill us.

Personally, I viewed it as punishment for me mistakenly telling the recruiter that we'd take "any" job available.
Doctor Sweet 17th Jan 2015, 11:04 AM edit delete reply
I hope we get an Applejack-centric arc after this one. Twilight had the introductory arc, Fluttershy had the dragon, Rarity had the Diamond Dogs and Canterlot, Pinkie had the Pinkie Sense arc, and Rainbow Dash had the Wonderbolts. AJ hasn't had anything.
Specter 17th Jan 2015, 11:29 AM edit delete reply
Specter
In all fairness, Rainbow only had the Wonderbolts because it gave her a reason to be in Canterlot for Rarity's second arc.

But your still right, we're still going to need one for AppleJack eventually (an probably an arc for Rainbow that wasn't improvised).
Digo 18th Jan 2015, 12:32 PM edit delete reply
Over A Barrel or The Last Roundup would work. :D
Disloyal Subject 18th Jan 2015, 7:21 PM edit delete reply
Strangely fitting, given the show's track record with her. She makes an excellent support character, helping the others through tough spots; maybe that's why they don't shine the spotlight on her too often.
Specter 17th Jan 2015, 11:45 AM edit delete reply
Specter
Pinkie, I know you're random and unpredictable, and very random, but I doubt trying to scare them more will help.

But I will give your plan a shot because... I don't know, just don't be wrong.

(Must keep player knowledge from character knowledge)
Raxon 17th Jan 2015, 2:40 PM edit delete reply
Raxon
Wonderful idea! Let's all frighten children!
bombom13 17th Jan 2015, 3:14 PM edit delete reply
Why do I get the feeling you have some experience at scaring small children?
Clonchrooper 18th Jan 2015, 7:32 AM edit delete reply
Why do we all get the feeling he has some experience scaring small children?
bombom13 17th Jan 2015, 3:14 PM edit delete reply
Why do I get the feeling you have some experience at scaring small children?
FanOfMostEverything 18th Jan 2015, 8:03 AM edit delete reply
Why am I afraid that you have some feelings about experiencing small children?
you know that guy 18th Jan 2015, 11:30 AM edit delete reply
Why do I get the experience you have some children at small scary feelings?
Blueblade 18th Jan 2015, 8:15 AM edit delete reply
Why do I... Well it's probably because he already has.
Disloyal Subject 18th Jan 2015, 7:23 PM edit delete reply
I rather liked the Halloween short he wrote about scaring small children.
Scaring anyone is fun, but kids are special. Only thing better is wusses who shriek in terror before you even start getting serious about it.
Odious Call 19th Jan 2015, 4:29 AM edit delete reply
Odious Call
I am proud to say, last session I managed to make my party feel truly guilty about what they were doing to a poor nameless sap. They were hired to rob a pair of wagons and did so in typically unexpected style. By pulling down a balcony (and subsequently about half a building) onto the two wagons to seperate them. One guard was distracted by the noise of battle in a nearby building (ghost sound) and ran to investigate, one guard fell to a nat 20, 21 damage orb of acid and simply melted, the remaining two guards (four per wagon) fell messily to the dreaded halfling's (with a pretty pink bow in her hair) onslaught. A stinking cloud covered the remaining four guards leaving them all retching on their boots. They attempted to put one guard out of his misery via throwing knife (2 damage) but were distracted by loot. A few rounds later the friendly wizard got him with an arrow (5 damage) then later another knife (1 damage). This poor guard (on one hit point) is laying on the ground with a pair of knives in his shoulder and an arrow protruding from his gut, his face in a puddle of his own sick and blood, moaning piteously, like a puppy.
Many a face went green.


So, regal me with tales of when the situation, be it combat or social, went nasty. Or perhaps tales of when the party stopped and realised 'oh gods, did we really just do all that?'
LegendofMoriad 19th Jan 2015, 5:45 PM edit delete reply
I happen to like social encounters.

I've been in too many parties of characters that see violence as the only solution. Maybe not quite murderhobo-level, but refusing to see talking as an option. In my campaigns, I tend to increase the amount of socializing the players have to do. There often isn't even a right answer, they just have to come up with a compromise that works. They have continuously surprised me, finding a better solution than I expected.