Page 1253 - No Fear, One Fear

30th Jul 2019, 6:00 AM in School Raze
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No Fear, One Fear
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 30th Jul 2019, 6:00 AM edit delete
Being slightly cruel to my characters in this comic is a small price to pay for providing an object lesson in don't do this to your players without establishing boundaries.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Classic Steve 30th Jul 2019, 7:12 AM edit delete reply
Gee, I didn't think this would be a problem in a tabletop RPG. A LARP, maybe.
Digo 30th Jul 2019, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
One might not think, but can happen. I once had a player who was severely phobic to roaches, so I tried to avoid using them in any dungeon description because I didn't want him to get uncomfortable after the swarm incident. Yeah, that wasn't fun for him.
ZhonLord 30th Jul 2019, 1:57 PM edit delete reply
I had a campaign ruined for me by a DM crossing that boundary. He had a yandere character stalking my mage, and while it was interesting at first finding creative ways to deal with her, at one point he had this NPC cross a line that made me lose all interest in the campaign. Period. I was slightly fortunate in that the rest of the players agreed with me and we universally agreed to end the campaign and move on to another one.

Those boundaries need to be established and kept, regardless of tabletop, LARP, or whatever other medium you're playing in.
Stephen 31st Jul 2019, 11:18 AM None really. edit delete reply
But if a DM doesn't leave at least one player with post traumatic stress disorder by the end of it can you really say that he ran the game at all?
Robin Bobcat 30th Jul 2019, 5:47 PM edit delete reply
I once completely skeeved out a player by having a zombie show up in a 1920s mob game. He's polayed several games with horrible monsters and the like, but I had very carefully finessed the undead horror, both leaving clues and making said clues seem wholly ordinary... Weird stuff going on, but.. you know.. ordinary wierd stuff.
Kedamono 30th Jul 2019, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
One of the folks in our Sunday game has arachnophobia really bad, to the point where we can't even just talk about giant spiders unless we don't describe them. He gets weirded out when we talk about their many legs, etc.
Guest 30th Jul 2019, 8:25 AM edit delete reply
I used to have a milder amount of arachnophobia where just knowing one was in the same room as me could grind everything to a halt, but somewhere over the years it like completely swapped for me, and now I'm mildly obsessed with them always trying to save them and posting about it on r/spiderbro.

But yeah, it can be such a problem when something sets it off, and there's just so many ways to set off arachnophobia. Weirdly, my group stopped using giant spiders for me back in the late '00s, and now we still don't because inertia I guess.
Story Time 30th Jul 2019, 3:25 PM edit delete reply
"Psychological mind games" something that most DM are experts but... Any good story with a DM going too far with it? Or doing a very good job?
Hariman 30th Jul 2019, 6:06 PM edit delete reply
...That's a rather specific fear, but fear is something like that.
First time commenter 30th Jul 2019, 7:14 PM Did the Discord arc put all the players really on edge? edit delete reply
They seem... oversensitive? A fear of spiders? Fair. Wariness of manipulation and bullying? Valid and real.

... fear of puzzles? Did Dash's player think the DM was lowkey calling her an idiot? I'm very confused...
Digo Dragon 30th Jul 2019, 7:43 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
It might be that Dash's player is simply not good at puzzles and fear getting their character killed because of that. My long-time DM experience says that not that many players are good at dungeon puzzles.
albedoequals1 30th Jul 2019, 8:04 PM edit delete reply
Indeed. I'm the type of guy that loves a good Myst-style puzzle more than any monster fight, so I was quite shocked to discover that there was only one other puzzle-solver in the tabletop group where I was a player. The GM considered it his duty to break up the fights with intellectual challenges, so there were occasional puzzles. But all of the players with INT-based characters had no puzzle solving skills whatsoever. One guy would just freeze up and do nothing, and the other two would guess randomly until someone died. I was only too happy to solve the puzzles, but when I was playing a barbarian and the others were wizards and such, it felt a tiny bit immersion-breaking. :p
Gamemaster80 31st Jul 2019, 5:16 AM edit delete reply
Times like that an Int roll should be made by Int based characters since high Int characters can't always be played to that intelligence level.
albedoequals1 31st Jul 2019, 6:16 PM edit delete reply
They didn't even ask if that was an option. While it is a good way to get a hint sometimes, solving a puzzle with a roll is drastically less satisfying than solving it for real, even if it's an easy one.
Malroth 1st Aug 2019, 1:18 AM edit delete reply
There is no satisfaction if the puzzle is solved and none if it is unsolvable. The only joy in dungeon puzzles is in either the sadistic dungeon master feeling smug that the players can't read his mind or in the twinned maximized disintegrate that invalidates it.
CrowMagnon 31st Jul 2019, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
Given the off-screen incident with "Flim & Flam", there's probably a history of Dash's player having trouble with intellectual/puzzle challenges and getting mocked for it. Frustration over being made fun of turns inward, part of her starts to think maybe she really IS just stupid, and that makes her even more frustrated the next time she's presented with a puzzle. This causes her to keep failing, which creates a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

This is just conjecture, of course.
Kaze Koichi 31st Jul 2019, 8:04 AM edit delete reply
I don't like puzzles in DnD. Why would DM think it would be good idea to challenge my intellect instead of intellect of my character? Shouldn't my wiznerd just autoresolve any puzzle? Should my barbarian even be able to understand a puzzle? Should I play different game if I want to challenge myself intellectually? (The answer to the last question is yes, btw).
Cygnia 31st Jul 2019, 10:51 AM edit delete reply
At a con game for high school anime heroes, things were going swimmingly until the GM brought up a graphic suicide in-game...

...husband and I had a word with him afterwards about the potential problems of that trauma.
DuoScratch 1st Aug 2019, 6:02 AM edit delete reply
You'd be surprised about what boundaries you have to establish I think my buddy liked the whole concept of Goblin Slayer too much. He had to be politely, but FIRMLY told that if he has those goblins actually rape my character, I'd actually punch him in the face for even bringing such a thing into our game.
ZzzDJ 2nd Aug 2019, 12:44 AM edit delete reply
In a custom Pathfinder game I DM'd, I chose Qlippoth as one of the types of enemies that would appear semi-frequently, and they were a component of the BBEG's Evil Plan.
If you don't know, Qlippoth are Chaotic Evil Things from the Abyss, they pre-date the creation of Demons, are a bit Lovecraftian in nature, and have horrifying appearances that can actually make your character Nauseated, or even insane.
I wanted to really lean into the horror and disgustingness of these creatures, because I kinda like that kind of horror. The first time the party encountered one, just as I was beginning to describe the Qlippoth's horrifying appearance in gruesome detail, I thought to actually ASK my players if they wanted real horror elements.
They didn't. They were only OK with just the barest touch of it.
So I cut a couple paragraphs of gruesome transformation into just a basic description, stripped out a few horror sub plots, and the game moved forward just fine!

In contrast, I was a player in a game where the DM decided to send us into the plane of nightmares, and tortured each of our characters until they reached some sort of breaking point.
He never asked if we were OK with it.
We weren't OK with it.
We all hated it.
Heck, even I didn't have fun with it! At first it was a vaguely interesting puzzle- how to survive the torture and gain the advantage- but the clues were contradictory, he didn't follow the game's own rules ABOUT the Plane of Nightmares, and the form the torture took wasn't even one that my character would CARE about or even take seriously!
If I'm honest, though, the biggest boundary-cross and what really makes me mad isn't his rulebreaking or his storytelling. It's that when I hit my limit of frustration, when I yelled out "I'm so frustrated I want to tear up my character sheet!"... he just said "Go ahead.".
Trixie (Cleric of the Great and Powerful Nethys) did NOT have her character sheet ripped up that day... because my fiance(now wife) stopped me. I'm glad of that because I liked the character, even if I hated the campaign.
Ugh. Sorry about the rant there, clearly I'm still mad and upset about it all. That one session killed the entire campaign, by unanimous player decree.
Boundaries. They're important, and they need to be talked about.