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Do you tell your players what the monster's weakness is?

 
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ScruffyTheJanitor
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Joined: 29 May 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:20 am    Post subject: Do you tell your players what the monster's weakness is? Reply with quote

A question for other Marshals/GMs: When your posse is facing off against a critter that's invulnerable save for one weakness, how/when do you tell the posse what the weakness is?

I usually call for a knowledge (occult) roll, since that's the only thing I can think of, although only one of my PCs has any points in it. Knowledge (medicine) or Healing could be applicable to others, like castor oil flushing a prarie tick out of someone's system. But even then it kind of feels like I'm just giving them the answer.

Sometimes a weakness can be figured out through trial and error, though in the midst of combat it can be hard to deduce the specifics. Last night, for example, my posse faced off against a nosferatu for the first time. The stubborn PCs would've spent all night (RL time) beating on the damn thing if I hadn't called for a knowledge (Occult) roll to tell them about the heart weakness.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends upon the critter.

Generic monsters (prairie ticks, nose-ferrets, werewolves, etc.) I'll usually let them use Knowledge (Occult) or some fast investigation (Streetwise, RP + Persuasion, Investigation and some kind of library) or even Common Knowledge if the character's background makes it very likely he has heard of this before.

Unique monsters require some serious work to learn. I'm in a Hell On Earth posse that investigated to learn that the jerk we were going after might be a Servitor (and thus Invulnerable). We then went diving into an underwater ruin in the middle of a Deadland to find records that might give us a clue about his weaknesses. We found records, nearly died three times, and thought we had learned his weakness. We were wrong.
Thankfully he didn't know his weakness, so he ate the NPC priest, whom we had brought along to bless him to death, and exploded. It cost us a priest, but we destroyed a Servitor and made the tale-telling roll to lower the fear level form 6 to 5. Cool
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Last edited by ValhallaGH on Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Cutter XXIII
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What ValhallaGH said. Smile
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TheLoremaster
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick-n-dirty idea: apply the monster's Fear modifier as a modifier for Knowledge (Occult) rolls to determine its weakness. Lesser critters are more easily studied, and so their weaknesses are relatively well-known, but nastier monsters cause most researchers to either run the other way or encounter an untimely end, so less is known about them.
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GruffaloCrumble
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually tell my players, as much to keep the game moving as anything else. If I put an enemy in front of them with some sort of weakness that they're not immediately able to identify and exploit, they'll just keep beating on it anyway and moan that they're not doing any damage - rather than retreat and try to work out how to defeat it before wading back into the fray with that knowledge.

I suppose the other side of that coin is that most groups have a finite time in which to play, and if the GM wants to keep the story moving at a cracking pace, he might not want the major boss fight of the evening interrupted by a quick trip to the occult section of the nearest library.

Genre would also effect this decision, if its a light, high-action pulp sort of game (Daring Tales of Adventure?), then let them make a roll during the fight to work out the weakness - but if it's a dark, gritty Realms of Cthulhu sort of game, then leave them work it out for themselves. Or not, and watch them get themselves killed.
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TheLoremaster
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GruffaloCrumble wrote:
Genre would also effect this decision, if its a light, high-action pulp sort of game (Daring Tales of Adventure?), then let them make a roll during the fight to work out the weakness - but if it's a dark, gritty Realms of Cthulhu sort of game, then leave them work it out for themselves. Or not, and watch them get themselves killed.

Agree here. Keeping in mind this is Deadlands, I would think the gritty option would work better, but if you're going to make it more action-y, do something to demonstrate the Weakness.
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Clash957
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am much like ValhallaGH in that it depends on the critter; though I'm a bit more severe. I'll give a simple Knowledge: Occult for werewolves, vampires, and monsters that the players probably already know and tell them they can use player knowledge (outside of what their character knows) against said creatures. This may or may not be completely accurate such as silver working on vampires or wolvesbane for werewolves, but they know the big weaknesses. If they think to look for a second (or third) source (which will always be available in the adventure).

For less common monsters, I'll still allow a Knowledge: Occult roll, but unless the roll is amazing (+12), I'll usually give them vague information and suggest they might want to do a little research via Investigate or look for more clues. This is nearly mandatory for special monsters. A Knowledge: Occult isn't going to give you everything, period. It may only give you a starting point, "You remembering hearing a story something like this monster back in Deadwood. You think it might have been Nat Love that said something about it." There is no simple easy (well easier) win roll. The posse is going to have to figure out how to defeat this varmint by doing some legwork and using their brains.

I do this to get a more Buffy the Vampire Slayer like game if the posse wants to fight supernatural evil. There is plenty of regular evil out there for them if they want to run and gun. I even have a basic setup much like many episodes. My standard format for this kind of adventure is:

* Learn of Mystery/Monster and become involved
* Optional: Encounter monster without knowing the weakness to give a good scare
* Investigate the Monster to learn history and weakness
* Gear up for the fight
* Fight monster with knowledge of how to defeat it

Each step allows the players gives the adventure a good mix of things as the posse will need a Faceman to talk to people to learn about the mystery/find the gear, a researcher to study and figure out the puzzle of how to defeat the monster, Stealthy character for clues or to set the battlefield in the posse's favor, and of course a fighter to give the thing a beat down.

Sometimes, the fight is a technicality after doing the work. The adventure is simple learning how to battle the creature and once done a simple task. One other thing I tend to do with supernatural creatures is make them Wild Cards the first time the posse encounters it. I figure they are still a little unnerved by the thing and make it out to be more powerful than it is.

I have no problem with the Posse giving up a leaving unable to affect the creature. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. I even have no problem with a Posse skipping pass the clues straight the fight, but they will likely lose. If you don't want to do the homework, don't expect to defeat the big bad. First time I ran the Fire & Brimstone adventure, The Mission, the posse headed straight for the big bad, ignoring the clues, and must have put over a hundred rounds into it. I did my best to indicate that its weapons was important. So the posse destroyed it making the big bad unbeatable. The posse left with their hides but they lost (and the place became a Deadland) because they didn't bother with the clues.
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