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Running Low Stakes Scenes

 
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virgil
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:47 pm    Post subject: Running Low Stakes Scenes Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My players (Pathfinder rules) have a base on a remote tropical island on a Prime world with a portal to Sigil. For the same reasons, there are two other adventuring groups who have already set up their own bases on the island. One of the NPC groups has a member that's a party animal, and it seems like I would be remiss to not have him invite the players to one of his beach parties (along with the neighboring sea elves).

I have little experience with running this kind of scenario, and am looking for advice. Should there be behavioral tricks for running an enjoyable scene of relaxation/party? Should there be punishment, even if just social, if any of them attend fully girded for battle? I feel like it would be encouraging negative lifestyle choices if I have level-appropriate violence occur - and even level-inappropriate violence (ex. jealous level 1 NPC boyfriend) is sure to be met with brutally lethal violence that can only escalate into tears.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Since it is low stakes, keep it low stakes. Someone shows up in full armor, make sure that there is some light teasing, but keep it from escalating. Focus on making it fun (particularly for the people that try to relax) and that's it. It doesn't have to take a long time to play through - it can be a few sentences. The important thing is that you allow it to be 'fun'. The players may be conditioned to expect a trap - if you run several of these encounters and NOTHING EVER HAPPENS, they'll learn to relax and start enjoying them.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You need challenges and rewards, virgil.

Like, any scene can work in an RPG, but there has to be potential problems, and there has to be rewards for overcoming or avoiding them, and there has to be some sort of rules-based solution to determine success and stuff. Preferably with enough rolls so that it feels like things could fail, but then they don't because odds are for success in the long run.

Basically, write up some rewards, and consider why the PCs might not get them, maybe because the locals don't know them very well, or maybe think ill of them somehow.

Maybe rewards of gaining allies, contacts, information, adventure hooks, clues for places to go and people to see, and so on. Money, power, sex, whatever.

And the challenges can be, like, rather than the combat music, those people just get pissed off and leave the party, or ask the PCs to leave, or both, while pointing out that there was totally rewards to be had and now y'all don't get them.

You can even have several scenes set up, so maybe someone gets taken aside for a bit of nookie, that leads to a jealous confrontation, whatever, but the nookie gets you a contact if you accept (and succeed!), so a bit of both, lots of things can happen at parties that are good and lots of things can happen that are bad and then you can mix them!

Most importantly, don't have it be all open-ended talky and shit, set the scene, present the problems therein, ask the players what they're doing about that, and roll some dice. Like a D&D game. If there's not any problems to be had here, ... DON'T PLAY OUT THAT SCENE, just mention that it happened and move on to the one where something like an RPG happens.

The character wearing armour does not get asked to go behind the shed. And has -7 to playing whatever mini-game acts as a problem solver at some point, like they literally play volleyball or something with repeated athletics checks, the characters will remove armour then if the potential for problems and/or rewards is apparent.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The fact that it's an actual beach party makes this advice way less applicable than usual, but in general I find that it if you want to keep things calm in a traditionally violent campaign world it actually helps if you go the other way and make it fashionable to show up to dinner with a sword and your shiniest chain shirt. That way you don't end up with the barbarian stabbing the coat check girl rather than be disarmed.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Using this as a means to develop closer ties with the NPCs makes a lot of sense, being on good terms with one's neighbours never hurts; and if your players develop relationships with NPCs they'll have them as potential resources to call upon between/during adventures.

This also reminds me of a "dwarven wedding party" that was run for all participating players who where attending the Living Greyhawk games at a local convention. It was divided into: party games, a feast, the attenting parties breaking off to go on an after-feast slaying of traditional dwarven enemies (goblins, giants, etc.).

Some of the "games" included:

-dodging attacks (scaled by level; I think if you had 22 AC @ level 1 you'd get a token)
-drinking (Fort saves)
-A lot of others; there was easily 40-50 players at 6-8 different games

I... can't actually remember any of the other games off hand, but I do recall giving my tokens to one of the friends I was with so we could see what the maximum reward was for most tokens (I think they had Greater Heroism cast on them for the next part of the adventure).

Then the PCs broke off into their respective parties and went to go on a very basic monster slaying adventure. Basically a cul-de-sac canyon with a cave entrance that would spawn a group of level appropriate monsters, spawning more only when all currently on the field were killed. For a limited amount of rounds. The party of the bride & groom were somwhere around ECL 10, so they were dropping cones of cold & other mass-kill spells; so they obviously won the last part of the contest (I assume there was some last prize, beyond the XP for maxing-out the adventures encounters).

So you could do something similar. Have a bunch of beach party themed games & contests (limbo (acrobatics, maybe tumble(?)), serving a ball across a volleyball net (attack roll), dance off (perform check), swimming race (obvious check), beach race (constitution check), avoiding getting sliced fruit to hit your skin (several, scaling, level appropriate AC checks), drinking contest (fort saves), coalwalking (reflex saves), arm wrestling (str) &etc.. Giving out tokens to be redeemed at the start of the feast for each successful game played (creatures can only attempt/win most games only once).

Then have the most successful (N)PCs get a buffs based on the amount of tokens they got per win. With the NPCs inviting the PCs to try for a final head-taking contest through a portal that is the result of a rare astronomical alignment atop a henge-ring somewhere on the island. With a level-appropriate prize for the team that gets the most kills (at most have the NPCs roll once per "wave", and compare their success rate vs the actual encounters the PCs overcome; you can probably make these rolls beforehand; and even simplify them down to d20 rolls vs. Target Number 15 for each NPC per potential wave).
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Dogbert
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

First and Foremost: Context.

We're in d&d land, and murderhobos are basically rockstars. You don't ask Slash to check his guitar at the door, and you don't ask a murderhobo to check his prize weapon either.

Having said this, JE already mentioned "mini games," so go for that... perhaps toss in a lesser (but useful nonetheless) magic item as a reward for the winner of the games. State that people not in swimwear are inelligible to compete.

HOWEVER...

If your players are really adamant about parting with their adventuring gear, I must ask: Just how many times have you gone Red Wedding on them? (One Red Wedding is one Red Wedding too many. Trust and virginity and all that). If it's only one player, however (we all have had "that player" whom one too many viking hats gave him the bad touch and now suffers from gaming PTSD), you can use this session as an exercise in trust-building.
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virgil
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't know how adamant the party as a whole is going to be with parting with their gear. I've never gone Red Wedding on them over the years I've been their DM, to my knowledge. Heck, I've never really even had a wedding of any kind thrown at them. I know one won't part with their full gear, because their character is an asocial warforged and it does look like he's suffered from viking hats.
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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dance-off, bro.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If you're a murder-hobo, the consequences of discarding your weapons and equipment could be 'you die'. The benefits of doing so are usually 'nothing'. If there is no consequence to following cultural norms, players won't do it.

The Warforged can have description of how people quickly disengage from him and carefully avoid him - he won't have any new contacts or other 'rewards' from the party. Those that make the effort to appear approachable will.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The most important thing is to rewrite the harlot table to better suit the demographics of the event. You're not realistically going to find any slovenly trulls at a high class ball, or any haughty courtesans at a cheap dive bar.

No one wants to make a wenching roll and somehow end up with a completely implausible harlot. That beggars the suspension of disbelief.


And yes, wenching rolls are imporant, because wenching rolls are how you end up in bed with the Queen of Thurgandia or whatever. Maybe the King.

To be a bit less flippant, what you do at a party is less important than who you meet. You don't go to a party to have fun, especially not in an RPG where you're just simulating having fun and could instead go to an actual beach.

Have important NPCs that they can hobnob with. Hobnobing rolls would be a big part of the game and a big source of rewards.


Last edited by hyzmarca on Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Grek
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Have the sea elves bring weird sea elf food to the party and try to get the players to eat it. Ideas include live crabs (your snack is fleeing, roll initiative), clams (strength check to open) and giant kelp fronds (like two hundred feet long, doubles as rope).

Have the host bring giant seahorses and/or surfboards. No better way to get people out of their armour than by luring them out into open water with the excited 'mooof' of a giant baby seahorse.

Give everyone who attends a hat. Everyone gets a different hat, assigned at random, and is free to trade hats. You get to keep the hat that you leave the party with.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The villain(s)/random monsters show up in swimsuits and want to honestly join the fun too.

Somebody makes a sand dungeon filled with non-lethal traps.

Improvise rules for some kind of beach volleyball where the party can put their combat stats and teamwork to use. Maybe dodgeball.

Magic Fireworks contest!
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Dogbert
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
The villain(s)/random monsters show up in swimsuits and want to honestly join the fun too.

Somebody makes a sand dungeon filled with non-lethal traps.


I'm totally stealing this for my current homebrew playtest. Just letting you know.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
The villain(s)/random monsters show up in swimsuits and want to honestly join the fun too.

Somebody makes a sand dungeon filled with non-lethal traps.

Improvise rules for some kind of beach volleyball where the party can put their combat stats and teamwork to use. Maybe dodgeball.

Magic Fireworks contest!


Through bonding and talking through things the conflict is resolved peacefully and the campaign ends.
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rasmuswagner
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
The most important thing is to rewrite the harlot to better suit the demographics of the event. You're not realistically going to find any slovenly trulls at a high class ball, or any haughty courtesans at a cheap dive bar.

No one wants to make a wenching roll and somehow end up with a completely implausible harlot. That beggars the suspension of disbelief.


this is brilliant.
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Lokey
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's no different than planning any other type of scenario, unless it's much lower/higher level NPC parties, but that's problematic for other reasons.

If the party is a group of brooding loners or some type of murder-hobo, probably not a good idea. I think it's the wrong approach to go into thinking it can't be relevant to your main quests, and if it isn't, just roll d20 to see how much fun you had and move on.

I'd suggest making a list of semi-plot relevant things the party could learn and some misinformation you can feed to them if/when appropriate. Also what the NPC parties could bring to the table as potential allies for the group--but again that depends on the party.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dogbert wrote:
maglag wrote:
The villain(s)/random monsters show up in swimsuits and want to honestly join the fun too.

Somebody makes a sand dungeon filled with non-lethal traps.


I'm totally stealing this for my current homebrew playtest. Just letting you know.


Mindflayer in a thong...
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
maglag wrote:
The villain(s)/random monsters show up in swimsuits and want to honestly join the fun too.


Through bonding and talking through things the conflict is resolved peacefully and the campaign ends.

Game segues into a new campaign about the conflict between CHILLAX and STUCK-UP people.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

nockermensch wrote:
OgreBattle wrote:
maglag wrote:
The villain(s)/random monsters show up in swimsuits and want to honestly join the fun too.


Through bonding and talking through things the conflict is resolved peacefully and the campaign ends.

Game segues into a new campaign about the conflict between CHILLAX and STUCK-UP people.


The underdogs from Chillax camp beats the rich kids stuck-up camp in the [race/big game/battle of the bands], redeeming themselves, and everyone learns a lesson?
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Stahlseele
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So probably not a Vampire game i guess *snickers*
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