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[50F] Starts off kinda brutal, don't it? Too brutal?

 
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Wade L
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Joined: 20 Oct 2010
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:21 pm    Post subject: [50F] Starts off kinda brutal, don't it? Too brutal? Reply with quote

GM's eyes only, spoilers, etc.



So, Maiden Voyage almost slaughtered my players. I made the foes make some dumb moves which allowed the players to prevail but, man, it was close.

So then they've got their little boat and start sailing. First encounter on the open seas is with pirates - which I decide take one look at the ragtag skiff and say "Nope, not worth our time" and keep sailing. Because otherwise, four Novice PCs likely would have gotten slaughtered, even if it was only a pirate sloop, never mind any of the bigger ships.

They get to Brigandy Bay, rescue Anne from the tavern there, and now are setting off for Swindon... And I'm looking at the Savage Tales in Swindon - one with the Kehena trying to get folks to rescue Angus from Toranth Ka, and the other is the treasure map where Cap'n Abdullah, a couple other very lethal wild cards, and a bunch of pirates show up in the tavern to mix things up before anything can even really happen. It seems like the players would just get murderized by either of those Tales - at least with the Toranth Ka one, they can think ahead of time what a dumb idea that is and avoiding getting involved, but with the treasure map the fight comes to them right there in Swindon, without much warning, and those Wild Cards look like they'd make short work of my PCs.

It seems most of the Savage Tales are divided up into two categories - free money that just takes a little bit of time or searching to get, and ohmygodeveryoneisgoingtodienowayNovicescouldeverfightit slaughter.

Even the various travel encounters tend to be mostly things that will mulch the party until they are Seasoned and have a bigger ship with a dozen or so crew to fight along side of them.

Now, obviously, I can and will not blindly obey the book and tables and edit things to be more appropriate. But it seems that it is sort of hard to bridge the gap between "just starting out" and "able to handle stuff" in 50 Fathoms.

So I am sort of curious how other groups have handled the "Novices with a skiff" stage in 50 Fathoms before, how it worked out, if you did things differently, and generally just advice for starting off my 50 Fathoms campaign.
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ValhallaGH
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Joined: 25 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of notable points:
1. Novice characters can max out the trait-based part of combat. From the sounds of it, yours have not, but that just means they have to be SMART.
2. It's not your job to solve the problems; it's your job to present the problems with enough information and time that the players might be able to solve them. If the player's go-to plan is "Charge in stabbing everything" then they'll be in a lot of trouble. But most of my noteworthy GM moments have come when I gave them a situation and sat back to let them solve it. Be a little generous with the information and the time to plan and set up, and they could surprise you with a giant pile of amazing.
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Wade L
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Joined: 20 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ValhallaGH wrote:
A couple of notable points:
1. Novice characters can max out the trait-based part of combat. From the sounds of it, yours have not, but that just means they have to be SMART.


Correct. They've got decent combat stats, but aren't really min-maxed (we've got a couple characters who went really high shooting, but neglected both Fighting and Vigor, leading to low Parry and Toughness - fine when you've got a tank to hide behind, but when you don't...). But they are generally a clever crew. I do think that it will be good to remind them early and often they can think their way around problems as much as anything. An encounter with a pirate ship might be far more easily resolved with Persuasion than with combat...

ValhallaGH wrote:
2. It's not your job to solve the problems; it's your job to present the problems with enough information and time that the players might be able to solve them. If the player's go-to plan is "Charge in stabbing everything" then they'll be in a lot of trouble. But most of my noteworthy GM moments have come when I gave them a situation and sat back to let them solve it. Be a little generous with the information and the time to plan and set up, and they could surprise you with a giant pile of amazing.


This is a very good point! I re-read the campaign logs from when I was a player in 50 Fathoms. The group I was in were definitely much more min-maxy - we made very deadly characters right out the gate - but we also got around a lot of stuff by being clever. Like, the survivor from McBride's expedition was one of the first Savage Tales we tackled...but we did it by taking him to Baltimus, and then bluffing our way through to convince Lazenby to fund our rescue expedition by giving us a Frigate, etc, etc. Wink (Granted, we still got our asses handed to us in Toranth Ka, but I'm guessing that Savage Tale ends with retreat in humiliation nine times out of ten for most groups Wink ).
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Tavis
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Joined: 27 Aug 2007
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Location: Macclesfield UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing to note is that just because a particular location has a particular Savage Tale linked to it ... that Savage Tale doesn't have to come to light the first time a crew visits a particular port.

So, if Captain Abdullah and his crew will make mincemeat out of your novice crew and no amount of smart playing is going to change that ... then he's not there yet. Maybe when the crew return to Swindon at a later date, and have some experience under their belts, well, that is when he just happens to be visiting at the same time.

Otherwise every port the characters visit they'll have all the Savage Tales 'available' there thrown at them, then the next time they arrive, unless you're good at winging it as a GM it'll be a case of "uh, everything's just quiet here, nothing special going on"

The last time I ran 50F (a few years ago now) I found that if I really wanted to run a certain Savage Tale and it realistically had to be based in a particular port, then offering a small-volume high-value cargo to be taken somewhere (heck, even mail, for an important-might-be-worth-some-use-as-a-contact-later person) was all it took to get the crew going where I wanted them to.
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catalac
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Joined: 05 Jun 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

don't underestimate your players though. this one time when i was running a really weird home campaign my two pcs. one a time traveling knight of the round table the other was based on leon heart of final fantasy and they found themselves in an alley ambushed by 25 cops with ak47s and a swat sniper with one of those rof 5 laser guns. (don't ask how that particular scene happened even i'm not certain what i was thinking.)
any way i had meant that to be a surrender or die encounter but when they refused to surrender my two pcs chose different tactics leon heart decided to charge straight in and he was able to kill 4 of the cops in one attack but the boss which had dodged him incapacitated him right after that.
meanwhile the knight used smart tactics and killed 11 cops, made 9 others unable to get to the fight and left the boss severely wounded. he was finally taken down by a lone cop sneaking up behind him and then only after several rounds.
and instead of being dead they just ended up unconscious.
now admittedly my players are power gamers and they did this at veteran. i know nothing about 50 fathoms and i ended up here due to bad search fu but i think that this would be a similar case of overwhelming fire power
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Vonether
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Joined: 14 May 2003
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Location: Fort Lauderdale

PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are the players new to SW?

If so, they could be falling into the "I swing, did I hit" habit vs. using Tricks and Gang Up bonuses.
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Timon
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Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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Location: Haarlem in the Netherlands

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As is traditional on these forums I am going to agree with Valhallah Very Happy

I no longer give any thought to how my players survive and yet they do. These days I use Plotpoints as a baseline for the larger arc of the campaign and just riff stuff based on the setting. My players have always surmounted it. If they do dumb stuff they will get seriously injured and killed. I do say this in advance: I am not trying to kill your characters, but I am NOT protecting them either and the world is dangerous.

I use the Apocalypse World MC rules (worth reading the whole book): always, always give them all the information they could reasonably have and tell them consequences
Quote:
They have two more cannons than you. Their crew don't look too strong (extras) but the captain looks battle-hardened and moves like a tiger (WC, high Fighting poss First Strike) and the first mate is massively muscled and stroking a highly polished musket like it was his first love (str d10, shooting d10, Trademark Weapon). Maybe all of you could take the captain and the first mate, but the crew would swarm you/ pick you off with musket fire and their cannons can cripple your ship. What do you do?"

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