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How to deal with PCs who shoot first ask questions later?

 
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ahoapap
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:28 pm    Post subject: How to deal with PCs who shoot first ask questions later? Reply with quote

Murderhobos they are called.

So this contains Coffin Rock spoilers.





My posse was out exploring the foothills around coffin rock in the middle of tr night. They had just encountered a shaken blood man and saw some tracks leading away from town. Following them, they encountered 4 beings in the dark. On a notice+raise, our Indian brave was able to tell that this was not what they had just encountered. In order to "light the way", our Agent threw a Molotov cocktail at one of them. Succeeding and raising in his roll, it landed and lit one of poor Shelly's girls on fire.

Wondering what all the screaming was about, Shelly ran out to see what was going on. After some failed Persuasion rolls and arguments that it was just a "mistake" by our Agent, she pulls a gun and gets a look in her eye. Into initiative.
Our agent goes first and holds his action.
Our brave goes next and sees her look in her eye. Shoots and misses.
Our agent then takes his move. He hits with 3 raises. Then does damage with 3 raises. It was a sight to see.

Anyways, it was my first combat. I forgot to soak damage. I forgot to roll on the incapacitation table for her, and I forgot to allow her 3 wounds and ten another.

So here are my questions.

I've already decided that she is dead. The PCs opened fire on her and saw a home blown in her chest by the Gatling pistol. I want them to feel the pain of the law. But here is the problem. The law on coffin rock is corrupt. In fact, the law will be tickled pink when they hear that Shelly is dead. How do I make this come home against the characters? I can't make then Wanted for killing a known outlaw.

Here are some thoughts I am kicking around

1. Make them fragging heroes and bring home the guilt.
2. Somehow get the Agency involved. The agent was sent out to fight the supernatural. Not melt the faces off innocent women.
3. They left all of Shelly's gang alive. Maybe have them harass the party whenever they go into the foothills?
4. Have the girls turn into Hank Archer which would do twice as much damage to coffin rock during the rampage
5. Bring Shelly back as harrowed for revenge
6. Increase the amount of zombies to hit the town on Shelly's absence of protecting the foothills

Jeez. I only had 2 of those when I started.

Any ideas for me?
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Noshrok Grimskull
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A combination of 5 and 6 sounds like fun.
Shelly comes back Harrowed, with the Manitou in charge. She kills her gang and brings them back as undead minions, then proceeds to harass the town at the head of of the roaming zombies she kept away from town while still alive.
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Wibbs
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd also mix in some of 1. Make sure the players know just how corrupt the law is in town - show it really clearly in whatever way you can. THEN get the law in town to treat them as heroes, celebrating their 'success'. See how warm and cosy that makes them feel inside Twisted Evil

Alternately you could play the long game. I don't have Coffin Rock to hand, so don't recall exactly what effect her being killed would have, but you could play it straight and carry on with whatever else you have in store for the posse. Then, in three maybe four months they hear that Coffin Rock has gotten even worse. Maybe they find out more about the woman they killed somehow to guilt trip them, and this makes them realise that it was their actions that led to the now really really really bad situation at the town.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:36 am    Post subject: Re: How to deal with PCs who shoot first ask questions later Reply with quote

ahoapap wrote:
5. Bring Shelly back as harrowed for revenge


I often see this sort of recommendation for when "My Posse Done Somebody Wrong," but I am wary of it. If you've got a Posse that can't think past "Kill things, get their loot," then if you bring back a slain character as a Harrowed so they have to kill her again, they might just rationalize it primitively: "See? She came back as a monster! We were SUPPOSED to kill her!" Being as she'll likely be dead when they get a chance to sort it out among themselves, she won't be present to offer them a competing interpretation.

On the flip side, you could set a nasty precedent if the players come to expect that every NPC the GM doesn't want them to kill is going to pop back out of the grave for revenge. Who needs heroes, when the dead avenge their own deaths?

...

Anyway, if there are witnesses to the act, and this is an isolated incident, I think a mild response would be that word gets out (Shelly's surviving gang are witnesses, I guess?). The law won't come down on the Agent's head because, well, she was a known outlaw. However, the manner of the deaths (tossing random Molotov cocktails at anything that moves!) and the stories spun out of them might be worrisome to the Agency ... so, "Pending completion of our investigation," the Agent is "relieved of duty."

The Agent player can keep playing, but loses whatever prestige he gets for being an Agent, and has to give up whatever cool Agency-issued gear he has. If, later on, there are no further such incidents, and he distinguishes himself, he could be reinstated -- but if this is just part of a trail of "murder-hobo" incidents, then it's probably for the best that he not be doing this while representing any sort of authority.

...

However, regarding the whole murder-hobo thing: Some players have a dungeon-bash mindset where the only people in the world are the PCs, quest-givers, and monsters. Some can't even manage that many distinctions. The thing is, if the "heroes" are going around shooting anything that moves in the dark, it might be questioned just how they got this far in life without being strung up yet -- let alone getting a position in the Agency.

Thus, rather than contriving ways to "punish" the players in-game, it might be worthwhile to "have a talk," and address things. I.e., "Maybe it's not such a great idea to shoot first and ask questions later, because you're likely to earn lots more in the way of enemies that way." Or, in D&D terms, "If you're going to play a paladin, ACT LIKE ONE. If not, WRITE UP A NEW CHARACTER."

I've run into this bizarre phenomenon in RPGs ever since I started running games. I've seen champions of goodness who went out of their way to torture and murder captured prisoners, superheroes who'd beat up civilian witnesses because they were too scared and cried too much rather than coughing up the information the "hero" wanted, lawmen who were anything but lawful, etc. I would try to "punish" the players for acting out of character (e.g., stripped of your paladin powers and authority, wanted by the law), but it never did any good. I'd get players angry that the GM was "out to get them" -- and, worse, I'd run into "team loyalty" from other players who just DO NOT GET IT.

Sometimes you just have to stop and have a talk with the players. You want to play a rogue? Then play a rogue. I'll let you come up with a new character and carry over all your XP, with a new set of gear. There!

Or, if this is a campaign where I want the players to be HEROES, and some player declares something outrageous ("I shoot him for mouthing off at me!") then I just need to check -- "Do you REALLY mean that? *WHY* do you want to do that? He's UNARMED! There are WITNESSES!" Maybe that's me getting a little too far into things, but sometimes I have people who are pretty good at roleplaying -- yet now and again, suddenly the player gets into a giddy mood and starts barking things out that his PC is going to do just because he thinks it would be FUNNY (at the moment), totally breaking character. When everyone around the table starts laughing about something, that's all too often a precursor to someone doing something really, really wacko. A little GM double-check can save things on occasion -- it really depends upon the group.

...

Anyway, I like Wibbs's suggestions about making the Posse the "heroes" of a corrupt law force (a lot of story potential there). I could also imagine that if the law is really corrupt, and they have reason to suspect that the Posse killed their enemies more by random stupidity than a union of goals ... the "Law" might stab them in the back at the soonest and most advantageous (i.e., unfair) opportunity, if the heroes are dumb enough to just go along with things.

I.e., if the heroes are this powerful and this chaotic, they could just as easily turn against US ... so maybe we should deal with them now that their usefulness has ended.

Otherwise, yeah -- just make sure they can find out that things got worse, and if they can put 2 and 2 together and feel guilty about it, there might yet be hope.
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amerigoV
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:45 am    Post subject: Re: How to deal with PCs who shoot first ask questions later Reply with quote

ahoapap wrote:


I've already decided that she is dead. The PCs opened fire on her and saw a home blown in her chest by the Gatling pistol. I want them to feel the pain of the law. But here is the problem. The law on coffin rock is corrupt. In fact, the law will be tickled pink when they hear that Shelly is dead. How do I make this come home against the characters? I can't make then Wanted for killing a known outlaw.



Just because the law is corrupt does not mean they would not come against the PCs. Plus it gives the corrupt law to act as if it were not corrupt, thus allowing them to maintain power.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:35 pm    Post subject: Re: How to deal with PCs who shoot first ask questions later Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:
ahoapap wrote:
I've already decided that she is dead. The PCs opened fire on her and saw a home blown in her chest by the Gatling pistol. I want them to feel the pain of the law. But here is the problem. The law on coffin rock is corrupt. In fact, the law will be tickled pink when they hear that Shelly is dead. How do I make this come home against the characters? I can't make then Wanted for killing a known outlaw.

Just because the law is corrupt does not mean they would not come against the PCs. Plus it gives the corrupt law to act as if it were not corrupt, thus allowing them to maintain power.

I do like this idea.
"Killed Shelly in the middle of the night? Set one of her girls on fire and shot the boss full of holes? Sounds like murder to me. You folks are under arrest until we can get a judge around for a trial.
"In the mean time, you can do some community service jobs for me. The kind of thing that can help out when your trial happens. Let's start with ...."
If they want to be a force for fear and evil then use that to really f*** up the area, and let the players see the consequences of unbridled evil.


The gang could go one of two directions. Most likely, it is scattered to the winds. Less likely, someone steps up to keep them together and do what Shelly wanted (that someone could be Harrowed Shelly - not all harrowed are automatically evil, and the story is actually better if she's still a folk hero but with a justified grudge towards the PCs); with the addition of getting the PCs that are obviously evil.
Having the good guys fighting the good guys is exactly the sort of fear-inducing self-destruction that manitous love to see.
I prefer the second direction. It's a lot more fun.


Good luck!
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ahoapap
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really love the idea of bad guys celebrating the misdeed and the good guys going against the good guys. I am just unsure of how to get there.

Here is where we are.

Sheriff Bryce is a bad dude.
Shelly's and her gang are outlaws. Murdering an outlaw is lawful, right?
One of the girls (while taking Shelly's body away) answered our martial artists question of "we are sorry. Is there anything we can do to help?" This was on a persuasion roll with a raise. She answered, "take care of Shelly's vengeance against Bryce."
So the PCs already have a reason to hate Bryce.

So to be clear, I don't think my PCs are evil. I think they just need a lesson that you can't shoot everything in the dark. Maybe they already learned the lesson?

All your suggestions are great. I think the route I will take is letting rumors go around town that the posse is dangerous enough to take out Shelly and having Bryce react positively with that an try to convince them to be deputized. I'll leave feeling bad up to them once they uncover the clues that led Shelly to a life of being an outlaw.

Cheers!
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LordTentacle
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since it was night and all, and some shouting in the dark, maybe they killed Shelly, the loud-mouthed sister of "Sheila," who is the real leader of the gang.

Now, the gang is riled up at the posse, and so is the law because "that gang was laying low."

Perhaps the law "deputizes" them, sends them after the gang, and they meet miners who were rescued by the gang, or otherwise learn the true nature of things, and they are on the wrong side!!
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Gardensnake
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:26 pm    Post subject: Re: How to deal with PCs who shoot first ask questions later Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:
ahoapap wrote:


I've already decided that she is dead. The PCs opened fire on her and saw a home blown in her chest by the Gatling pistol. I want them to feel the pain of the law. But here is the problem. The law on coffin rock is corrupt. In fact, the law will be tickled pink when they hear that Shelly is dead. How do I make this come home against the characters? I can't make then Wanted for killing a known outlaw.



Just because the law is corrupt does not mean they would not come against the PCs. Plus it gives the corrupt law to act as if it were not corrupt, thus allowing them to maintain power.


I would apply this as well as her coming back Harrowed and the zombies increasing. Maybe get the Agency involved as well. Really bring the heat down on them and make things tough on them. Give them a rep as ones who shoot first, where even other good guys think they're bad.

William
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PlatinumWarlock
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great opportunity for introducing a new villain down the line, regardless of what you choose later on.

A blackened, charred figure...dripping flaming gobbets from her outstretched arms, as she walks barefoot, slowly towards the PCs...

That said, you've got to hold your PCs accountable for what they've done. Gunning down people in the middle of the night, regardless of what they've done, isn't a lawful thing to do, even if those people are BAD people.

If the town gets word of their actions, the Fear Level should skyrocket and, truth be told, the lynch mob shouldn't be too far behind...
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Nordicnomad
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PlatinumWarlock wrote:
This is a great opportunity for introducing a new villain down the line, regardless of what you choose later on.

A blackened, charred figure...dripping flaming gobbets from her outstretched arms, as she walks barefoot, slowly towards the PCs...

That said, you've got to hold your PCs accountable for what they've done. Gunning down people in the middle of the night, regardless of what they've done, isn't a lawful thing to do, even if those people are BAD people.

If the town gets word of their actions, the Fear Level should skyrocket and, truth be told, the lynch mob shouldn't be too far behind...


Agreed. Peer pressure is far more effective than trying to punish the posse directly. Have a little kid who idolized her challenge them to a duel with tears in her little eyes. Have people glaring at them from inside their homes and shops as they pull the shades down. Random old timers spitting on them. Really lay it on thick and let them know they f'ed up and should feel like crap.

THEN lay on the repercussions.
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PlatinumWarlock
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nordicnomad wrote:

Agreed. Peer pressure is far more effective than trying to punish the posse directly. Have a little kid who idolized her challenge them to a duel with tears in her little eyes. Have people glaring at them from inside their homes and shops as they pull the shades down. Random old timers spitting on them. Really lay it on thick and let them know they f'ed up and should feel like crap.

THEN lay on the repercussions.


I like every word you typed. Very Happy
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ahoapap
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nordicnomad wrote:
Agreed. Peer pressure is far more effective than trying to punish the posse directly. Have a little kid who idolized her challenge them to a duel with tears in her little eyes. Have people glaring at them from inside their homes and shops as they pull the shades down. Random old timers spitting on them. Really lay it on thick and let them know they f'ed up and should feel like crap.

THEN lay on the repercussions.


Wow. I want these people to game with me. Not cry and go home!

fudge that, they should feel bad. Awesome ideas!
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jodokast
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bit late for it since it happened.

I'm for fudging the rolls to not have allowed that situation to happen. They miss and don't catch the girl on fire. Or let Them succeed in not pissing off Shelly. Sometimes you just don't do rolls if it'll make for a better story.
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Darq666
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Put a "good" NPC with improtant ties to other "Good" NPCs and vital information they need to save them a bunch of time and wandering around - directly in their path.

They gun him down, his last words are, "I came to warn ya about....gurgle....spasm.... death...".

Then there is a rustling in the brush as Witness, 1 makes his / her escape! (Nope don't even bother rolling - he got away... No, I am the GM I DON'T have to roll.)

Then for the next five or six game sessions, make it impossible for them to get a room, re-supply, get a drink - their blood money isn't welcome.

Oh and you don't get XP for crappy roleplaying - of their characters act in-appropriately.

This approach should be mitigated by the level of the player's experience with role playing.
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Clint
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is Coffin Rock... <spoilers highlight to read>

Quote:
Remember how the Fear Levels appear in town? Reflections.

Occasionally have the brave make Notice rolls, if successful, he sees someone in the reflection of the glass shooting at him!

Only when he turns around, no one is there. If he gets a raise on the roll, he can recall it looked like a woman.

Then have it happen in a combat. If the brave doesn't react, there really is someone shooting at him and they just got The Drop on him. If he does react, then he's distracted from another foe, who gets The Drop on him.

After that Shelly leaves him alone, after all he wasn't the one who actually killed her, just the one who shot first, distracting her from the guy who shot her... speaking of whom.

The agent begins seeing Shelly in every reflective surface in place of his own reflection! She is just as she died with a gaping hole where he blew out her chest.

He can't look in a mirror, window, or pool of water without seeing her face. He won't be able to shave himself or check his appearance in any way; add that to a dead woman in the reflection and it causes a -1 Charisma for a Minor Habit (gruesome reflection).

All she does is mimick his actions... except she silently repeats the same word if he watches for a moment, "Bryce."

If he ends Bryce, Shelly stops haunting him, appearing one last time as she did in life, smiling before his reflection returns.

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ahoapap
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
This is Coffin Rock... <spoilers highlight to read>

Quote:
Remember how the Fear Levels appear in town? Reflections.

Occasionally have the brave make Notice rolls, if successful, he sees someone in the reflection of the glass shooting at him!

Only when he turns around, no one is there. If he gets a raise on the roll, he can recall it looked like a woman.

Then have it happen in a combat. If the brave doesn't react, there really is someone shooting at him and they just got The Drop on him. If he does react, then he's distracted from another foe, who gets The Drop on him.

After that Shelly leaves him alone, after all he wasn't the one who actually killed her, just the one who shot first, distracting her from the guy who shot her... speaking of whom.

The agent begins seeing Shelly in every reflective surface in place of his own reflection! She is just as she died with a gaping hole where he blew out her chest.

He can't look in a mirror, window, or pool of water without seeing her face. He won't be able to shave himself or check his appearance in any way; add that to a dead woman in the reflection and it causes a -1 Charisma for a Minor Habit (gruesome reflection).

All she does is mimick his actions... except she silently repeats the same word if he watches for a moment, "Bryce."

If he ends Bryce, Shelly stops haunting him, appearing one last time as she did in life, smiling before his reflection returns.


Wow. That is awesome.

Thanks Clint!
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