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 Post subject: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:39 am
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
As the GM, you are the final arbitrator of what goes and what stays (...usually...). At what point do you cut the players off when they ask for things at character creation? What about during play? So, first, because I know many of you will give me "It depends on the campaign" answer ( :x ) i'll start with the following.

The game is Rifts. For those of you who don't run it and don't know much about it, it CAN be the kitchen sink of gaming. Literally anything is possible, and since this is true, I think it's perfect to illustrate where we cut the PC's greed off and start enforcing your rules (not THE rules, YOUR rules...as by the book, many silly things are possible if you're a stickler for grammar and known for liberal interpretation).

Rifts can be pretty exciting, but also very stressful for a GM because of the possibilities. You can have HU conversions, which, to me, throw everything completely out of whack. In Rifts, I tend to draw the line at super powers because they don't have any resource management. Most powers just happen and there's really not much of a way to combat how they work (there are a million ways to be invisible in Palladium, some of the best are in HU, for example). PF conversions aren't as problematic, though the conversion itself can create interesting problems (how does magic armor go from having AR to no AR when all its doing is becoming harder and not covering more of the body? Mind you, I can give a reason, but it's my own assumptions).

N&SS has it's own problems converting over. People have created entire websites dedicated to transitioning N&SS abilities over to Rifts so they make more sense and don't contradict...then Rifts Japan happened and threw everything upside down again creating parallel powers with the same names and intent that do two different things.

Enough of that, let's get to the point.

The group is set in Kingsdale. It's independent, it's the hotbed of Crazy, Cyborg and Juicer conversion, it has a Headhunter academy, a powerful Mage Guild, a nearby ley line (nexus not toooooo much further off) and a ruler with an invincible mansion. Wilks, Northern Gun, Wellington and NE all have giant warehouses there as well, it's difficult NOT to find something you want as long as you have the money or can trade the right favor.

There are a lot of angles to take a game here from. It can be heroic (The CS comes knocking on Kingsdale's door finally, fight to defend from Uncle Skullhead!), it can be gritty (a group of hoods working out of Dredgetown steal a relic from the mage guild to sell to the highest bidder) or it can be really dark (same hoods, same relic, only the highest bidder is a demon lord who wants the hoods to do his bidding with it).

Pick something, show me your creativity. THEN show me what restrictions you'd put on the players at character creation. Do they have to pick geographically regional classes (mostly North American), are races restricted the same way? Or do you let them bring things from the outside?

If you do...do you allow conversions? As I mentioned above, they can be silly. In Rifts, since anything can happen, you can do the contrived and whacky thing of just bringing challenges that fit the player's power level, or you can use the environment. If you do that, suddenly the GM is the one restricted. He'll have juicer wannabe thugs at his disposal, as the PC's hang out in Dredgetown, but the PCs themselves are demigods with superpowers and Phase World tech.

I suppose that's the real core of it. If you limit the PC's, limit yourself? If you don't limit the PC's, open the megaverse wide and cackle from behind your screen? One thing I've noticed about some GMs and players is they effectively fight a cold war with each other as they game, upping the ante constantly. PCs do something crazy, GM lets it slide but reminds them if they keep doing the NPCs can too...I've always been of the mind that NPCs do what they are supposed to. If they're skilled they exploit their strengths. If not, they flail about and die pretty fast.

To avoid this, we tend to set boundaries at the beginning. Though as I mentioned above, do you restrict AFTER character creation. In Kingsdale, as the example above, you can get just about anything you need. So do the PC's buy LRMs for their black market purchased MK VII APC and rain death down upon various parts of the world, invisible until the last minute because of TW enhancements? Do you "punish" them for obliterating the countryside or do you look at the environment of the game and go, "huh...there's really no one out that way who could do much about that..."

These are just thoughts I have from time to time about GMing. I hope they were slightly entertaining. If you're willing to tell me how you sell your players on restrictions, or how you guide them into making the choice you want them to for the game you're running, feel free. Anecdotes are fine, I love stories and examples.

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:23 am
  

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Hero

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I had a game where I gave a setting and a theme to the players and most of the players went with a moderate power level, but one of the players went munchkin. He kept whining that I was not being fair to the concept of his character.. I finally said fine and that he could deal with all the angry players when their characters all die because I had to bring up the power level to challenge his character. He said that I didn't have to pump up the power because he wouldn't be playing his character at full power, I told him that that didn't matter I still had to contend with his character as made. Either that or I could award him significantly less experience. He finally caught a clue when he heard the other players conspiring to kill his character.

After 30 years of gaming together the group I am part of talk allot when making characters for new campaigns.

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:40 pm
  

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There are people that prefer to run the game wide open with all of the options available at all times. I prefer to focus on one set of themes at a time. So I limit what classes and races can be selected and I restrict access to the top tier equipment most of the time. Unless I'm running a game about cutting edge powered armor suits, or rune weapons, or whatever, they won't get them. I just find more specific games to be more entertaining, and as long as I'm running things I guarantee that I will be entertained. I have lost a few players over my restrictiveness, but not many, and there always seem to be more interested in playing.

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:02 pm
  

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Demon Lord Extraordinaire

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Alrik Vas wrote:
How much is enough?


Well since you asked, here is my answer.


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:26 am
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Too add to my own discussion, I run it to the environment.

Though since it's rifts, this is also it's own version of wide open.

A player recently made a demigod, where all previous characters had been either plain human, or a strong d-bee race (though still SDC). I didn't stop him. I didn't feel it would be unbalanced. He's a son of Hermes, he took the super run speed ability. He's a brutal killer headhunter. Yah, he has like a 30 SN PS, okay he's got 120 or so MDC. That doesn't really matter. The campaign has transitioned several times (small time mercs-monster hunters-battledome champions-saviors of the NGR-war profiteers-running scared and dying a lot), there's always a challenge.

I don't draw the line at rune weapons, but there are factors in the world that like to keep then out of the hands of greedy mercs. Though, if they'd fought and killed the dude who told them to give it up, they'd have a sweet spear version of an Impaler. :P

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:22 pm
  

Champion

Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2000 1:01 am
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It kinda really does depend on the campaign though. A game about a unit of experimental mecha pilots in the NGR is gonna have a different vibe to a game about grifters and con artists on the run in the Chi-Town burbs, and they're both gonna be different from a game about transdimensional badass mercenaries offering their uniquely enthusiastic services to various planetary governments in Phase World. Equipment in the first would be limited to what the NGR military can realistically get its hands on, in the second it would be limited by the extremely low power level of the game (like to the point where having MDC gear at all would be a humungous deal and I'd probably have to run some homebrew rules to make megadamage less dumb), and the third would be virtually open slather because it's meant to be a ludicrously high-powered epic romp in the same vein as Exalted.

About the only hard and fast rules I'd be able to apply to absolutely every game would be "If i don't like it you're not getting it" and "if your backstory needs some ridiculous adventure or 'I fell through a rift' to justify why you're here, your character sucks".

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:11 pm
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
How ridiculous is ridiculous back story? Example?

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 5:58 pm
  

Champion

Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2000 1:01 am
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Alrik Vas wrote:
How ridiculous is ridiculous back story? Example?


Well there's a lot of kinds of ridiculous backstory, but I was mainly talking about flimsy pretexts to justify playing a character that's not from the setting. Like if we're doing a game about crooks in Chi-Town and you rock up with an OCC/RCC that comes from Wormwood or Japan or something, you're a terrible person who shouldn't be allowed to make characters unsupervised :)

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 6:58 pm
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
So how flimsy? What's the worst you've seen?

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:54 pm
  

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Palladin

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Rallan wrote:
Alrik Vas wrote:
How ridiculous is ridiculous back story? Example?


Well there's a lot of kinds of ridiculous backstory, but I was mainly talking about flimsy pretexts to justify playing a character that's not from the setting. Like if we're doing a game about crooks in Chi-Town and you rock up with an OCC/RCC that comes from Wormwood or Japan or something, you're a terrible person who shouldn't be allowed to make characters unsupervised :)


Except you're talking about Rifts, a world where people dropping in out of rifts is totally believable and not that uncommon. It's like the entire point of the planet/setting is that it's still one of the most dimensionally unstable worlds in the megaverse where rifts are opening every second of the day somewhere and something's almost always passing through either intentionally or accidentally. Rifts: Mercenaries probably has at least a half-dozen of the NPC being from off-Earth (like Zippo, a super-hero from Heroes Unlimited, and that alien cyborg from a universe where they have to battle against something worse than Mechanoids, Berserkers seeking to destroy all organic life) alone.

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It's 'canon', not 'cannon'. A cannon is a big gun like on pirate ships, canon is what you mean when referring to something as being contained within one of the books such as how many dice to roll for a stat.


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:32 pm
  

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Palladin

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Comment: Palladium Books Canon is set solely by Kevin Siembieda, either in person, or by his approval of published material.
The idea of requiring coming from another dimension as part of your back story should have no bearing on if that back story is good or bad. As Nightmask points out that is part of the backstory of the setting itself after all. What I would say should matter is if the character that is proposed fits with the other members of the group. If your a gritty group of grifters in the Chi-Town burbs then a couple more grifters who are from the streets of Some Place Else can fit right in. Heck it fits in the theme already as they already have a strike against them from the legal side, and so it makes sense that they would be on the downword spiral to crime and the shadows. Now if we are running a game about elite commandos in a warlords camp in Russia then yah....its probably ethic Russian human or nothing. But the point to me is the character needs to fit, contorted backstories are a symptom of a greater problem not an issue in and of themselves.

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:27 pm
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
This is all pretty commonly known, I think. That's why I was asking for specific instances.

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 3:37 am
  

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Hero

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One player playing an Immortal Mega Hero blatantly ripped off Casca the Immortal Warrior cured by God.

Casca (Longinus) the Roman soldier at the crucifixion of Christ and stabbed him with the spear of destiny and was cursed to live until the return of Jesus (the second coming).

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Sic vis pacem, Para bellum
Audentes fortuna iuvat
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Oderint Dum Metuant


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 6:24 pm
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Yeah, that's a bit much. Any time your player submits a character and the GM goes, "man, that guy should be the villain of this game, wish I'd thought of it", you might have an issue. :lol:

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:50 pm
  

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Palladin

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Comment: Palladium Books Canon is set solely by Kevin Siembieda, either in person, or by his approval of published material.
Alrik Vas wrote:
This is all pretty commonly known, I think. That's why I was asking for specific instances.

It depends :lol:

In all seriousness. When I open games up for PC creation I first give out my current version of my house rules and character creation guide lines (which currently runs about twelve pages if you wish I would be happy to share copies of this in email or PMs, but its a wee bit much to post here :lol: ) plus the outline/rules for the specific game in question (usually another 2-5 pages)
I then will discuss each character proposed with the player, first asking that they present a general idea or concept to be approved before they start creation. This eliminates the "but I spent three weeks working on it" hard feelings bit. Next once we have a mutually agreed upon character they will roll the needed dice for them. Then armed with their rolls they can go off and build the character. Equipment is covered mostly in my house rules, with exceptions to those rules being handled on a case-by-case basis. In Kingsdale for instance it would not be hard to find pretty much any personal weapon used in North America......but your not going to find a case of ATL-7s, sorry.

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The rules are not a bludgeon with which to hammer a character into a game. They are a guide to how a group of friends can get together to weave a collective story that entertains everyone involved. We forget that at our peril.

Edmund Burke wrote:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:56 pm
  

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Knight

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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
And that works. I don't think anyone in my group is a scholar of the game as yet, so they're still learning about new classes, races and equipment as we go (even though this is our third holiday season of this game...). They just sit back and enjoy the ride for the most part. From time to time they ask for something silly, if I think it'll work, I give it to them. If I'm apprehensive, I show them a plan that can acquire what they're after, but they go into knowing it might be dangerous.

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:03 am
  

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Hero

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:wink: Depending on players and their gaming history - I know some special power gamers, which I would restricted with available powers, equipment and so on.

A good roleplayer can play a dragon hatchling in a group of "normal" S.D.C. creatures with all the limitations (like metamorphosis time, magical powers, ...) :wink:.

In a power setting the sky is the limit but the players best remember what goes for them goes for the bad guys :twisted: :D

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:40 pm
  

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Champion

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I usually have a power level in-mind and state this. From there I have a budget in my head about what everyone has or otherwise starts with.

I always restrict equipment to a combination of where the character is from and where the campaign takes place.

Unfortunately most of my PCs are not super-familiar with the books, so they just get me to give them equipment, as it's quicker and easier.

As for balance in what people choose to play - I don't really have any restrictions, as long as it falls within the power level.

As an example, my group last consisted of a (human) Necro-Tech, a partial cyborg (human) Merc MOS, a (wolf race I can't remember the name of) Dragon Juicer, and a (human) Crazy. Only the Dragon Juicer could be considered powerful for the most part, but the Merc has most of the skills and equipment for dealing with larger threats, while the Necro-Tech has proven to be a reasonably reliable "faceman" (despite the gruesomeness of the class). The Crazy was pretty new, and I believe the player may make a different character, but I haven't run in a while.

That said, this was on a lower-end level of power; the Dragon Juicer only has 50 MDC armour, but wields a giant vibro-sword (4d6 MD I believe, and I run it that strength stacks), and the Merc is rolling around in GAW APC (albeit, well equipped). The Necro-Tech has a hovercar (hearse) with a trailer (cold-storage unit). They all feel a little vulnerable at times, so that has lead to them feeling the need to really band together.

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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 3:52 am
  

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Alrik Vas wrote:
Rifts can be pretty exciting, but also very stressful for a GM because of the possibilities.


Agreed. The sheer variety of wild options often cause more problems than solutions.


Alrik Vas wrote:
The group is set in Kingsdale. It's independent, it's the hotbed of Crazy, Cyborg and Juicer conversion, it has a Headhunter academy, a powerful Mage Guild, a nearby ley line (nexus not toooooo much further off) and a ruler with an invincible mansion. Wilks, Northern Gun, Wellington and NE all have giant warehouses there as well, it's difficult NOT to find something you want as long as you have the money or can trade the right favor.


Sounds like a good core location for a campaign.


Alrik Vas wrote:
Pick something, show me your creativity. THEN show me what restrictions you'd put on the players at character creation. Do they have to pick geographically regional classes (mostly North American), are races restricted the same way? Or do you let them bring things from the outside?


I focus on limited number of books. I'm not into the kitchen sink insanity. However, if a player really wants to play something from some book, I will look at the character - but its gonna be a race + class that makes sense for what I am running.

My long running, on-off Rifts campaign has been a mash-up of South America, Russia and Atlantis. For whatever reason, the rifts are connecting these three regions suddenly and the PCs are moving about between each to gather allies to find a way to break the connection with Atlantis before the Spluggorth invade in force.

My Phase World campaign was surprisingly even more limited. I use the Phase World books almost exclusively for PC generation. I never had a complaint from my players because PW offers a pile of options as is.

Also, I use a rating system to "balance" PC choices and modify challenges & XP.


Alrik Vas wrote:
If you do...do you allow conversions?


No. Rifts has an overflowing pile of PC options.

In the Mechanoids RPG, I have built some conversions and we use those.


Alrik Vas wrote:
If you limit the PC's, limit yourself? If you don't limit the PC's, open the megaverse wide and cackle from behind your screen?


The PCs and the challenges fit the campaign power level that I envision. I'm not into Demigods vs. Munchkins, and I really don't enjoy the ratcheting up of PCs vs. NPCs just for the sake of mechanical challenge.

Also, I'm focused on how long is this campaign really going to last with this group. Ten sessions? Twice a month for two years maybe? I know my campaigns aren't going to be 8 hours a week for 8 years. Thus, I keep my campaigns locked onto a limited, tight premise.


Alrik Vas wrote:
In Kingsdale, as the example above, you can get just about anything you need.


Why? Rifts is a post-apocalyptic ruin with monsters everywhere. Shortages happen. Shipments vanish. Warehouses get sucked into dimensional portals.
Outside of Atlantis or Phase World, there is nowhere that should have everything the PCs desire...and even there I put strings attached.


Alrik Vas wrote:
So do the PC's buy LRMs for their black market purchased MK VII APC and rain death down upon various parts of the world, invisible until the last minute because of TW enhancements? Do you "punish" them for obliterating the countryside or do you look at the environment of the game and go, "huh...there's really no one out that way who could do much about that..."


I don't punish them. I let the world do that.

So let's say they rain death down on a CS outpost and vanish. And then they do it 3 more times to 3 other outposts.
Isn't the CS going to get suspicious? Aren't they going to investigate? And once they figure it out, won't they strike back insanely hard?
And let's say the PCs just move on, doing it here and there and everywhere? Well, somebody is going to get bored - probably me.


Alrik Vas wrote:
If you're willing to tell me how you sell your players on restrictions, or how you guide them into making the choice you want them to for the game you're running, feel free.


"I am running THIS...it's about XYZ...the character options will be ABC...does this sound fun?"

Also, in my experience, half the players don't have any books so I wind up making their PCs for them anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: How Much Is Enough?
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 3:33 pm
  

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Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
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Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Spinachcat, that's what I wanted to hear. An answer based on what I asked. Consequently, I agree with just about everything you said.

:ok:

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Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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