From A Certain Point of View…

…Or, Don’t Post Angry.

So I did a bad thing the other night. I made the mistake I try to avoid at all costs and I wandered into the horrible wallow of awful that is a gaming forum. I know better. I know how they make me feel and I know that nothing good can come of it. But I did it anyway. I was on the Paizo site and they always have this little box on the sidebar showing recent forum posts and well… I was seduced in. With a title like, “Fall or Not – Opinions on the Actions of a Paladin” I just… well, I couldn’t resist.

And true to form – what I read made left me sad, angry, and despairing. It’s my own fault.

Now seriously, with that title, I really knew better than to expect anything resembling reasonable discussion but I continue to hold on to the hope that at some point I’ll be rewarded for continuing to have faith in my fellow man… The results were fairly predictable but what really stood out to me, more than anything, was how quickly the thread took a turn toward blaming the Game Master. In fact, not just blaming the GM – but ripping the poor GM apart for being an ******.

As I read the initial scenario the GM laid out, I admit that I was working my GM muscles – idly thinking about what I might have done differently, what I might have done the same, putting myself in his shoes and trying to see it happening at my own table. But I stopped really thinking about that as soon as I got to the GM-hating.

This GM may (may) have overestimated the abilities of the PCs a little bit. Maybe. But 7 PCs, 2 NPCs, and them all having really good gear – this encounter seems winnable. Heck, in my games I often have the problem that my PCs will proceed into danger no matter what the cost – but these guys RAN AWAY from a completely workable encounter and left the Paladin alone…

And that last point is where I really went sideways with the responses. One poster basically says that since the others ran away it is now the GM’s responsibility to change the encounter completely – turning the BBEG into just a servant or something – so that the paladin could prevail alone. But the encounter wasn’t for the Paladin – it was for the party. And the party – as a whole – opted out. So the paladin should have gone down gloriously defending the villagers and then that player and the GM should have maybe had a long talk with the rest of the players about their expectations for the game…

But, but, to shame the GM for not completely abandoning all pretense of verisimilitude or consequences and encouraging that behavior by rewarding it… I was “flip a table” mad. If a player came at me with that line at my table – I’d be mortified. I’d talk to them, be reasonable with them, but I’d be completely flabbergasted… why do players think this way? How did this happen? Is it just me?

Now, to be fair… I’m committing the same sin I accuse the other posters of. I’m projecting on the situation when I assume that the GM had some reason to believe his players would attempt to be heroic. Their actions throughout this scenario don’t paint that picture – but I’m still assuming. Just like the posters in question who were hating on the GM were assuming (it seems to me) that he just sprung this encounter on the party out of nowhere with no context or sense of expectation and that the party was totally blindsided by the bad guy… which (also) did not seem to be the case, but again, it’s all assumption.

I write about GMs here more than players. I love being a player but I’m more of a GM at heart. So maybe I’m the crazy one. Maybe. But when I read something like this – where the immediate assumption is that the GM is a ****** and that it’s all the GM’s fault. I despair.

I don’t know… it might be me.

One thing I do know. I’ll try to make it another six months (at least) before I make the mistake of returning to a gaming forum. Seriously, I have no one to blame but myself.

As always, thanks for reading.

PS – also, whenever someone starts talking about “paladin-baiting…” No, I’m just gonna quit while I’m ahead.

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3 responses

  1. Uh… no. If you abandon a pc against impossible odds, he has (at best) one chance to come up with a really creative reason for why he should get away alive somehow. If his opponents are stupid and he has any sort of “Unkillable” advantage, they might leave his body for an Indian to find and nurse back to health a la the 80’s Lone Ranger movie. Or maybe just save versus death and hope for a fail.

    Seriously though… I wouldn’t be inclined to bail out those players. The correct next dramatic scene is that the players need help from the Paladin’s order or some other “good” group– maybe extra henchmen or resurrection on credit or something– at which point… the order turns them down…! (Meanwhile… the Paladin’s fall becomes an epic ballad… while the rest of the party gets “the Brave Sir Robin” minstrels.)

    Another option: you gratuitously left your paladin pal for dead… but (assuming some sort of point balance for encounters) all encounters for the rest of that adventure arc will be “balanced” to assume that the Paladin is with you even though he’s not there– and you will have to fight at least one battle that way “one man down”!!

  2. I appreciate the commentary… and I like your solutions.

  3. Wait… instead of going down fighting, the paladin lets the vampire send innocent people to their deaths one after another? And when the party comes back after the big bad leaves, they set the villagers on fire in front of the paladin…?

    Seriously?!

    Sigh.

    There’s nothing wrong with playing Chaotic Neutral treasure hunting murder hobos, but this is not how you play a paladin. Sorry.

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