Author Topic: Roleplaying with consequences.  (Read 8149 times)

Z

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Roleplaying with consequences.
« on: August 02, 2011, 04:04:41 PM »
I thought this might be a decent point of discussion in addition to helping me solve a problem I've been having, so I decided to post on the internet about it!


I've been running a kind of Cthulhu Light NWoD Hunter game for a couple months now. I say "Cthulhu Light" as the players have shown an almost exaggerated aversion to playing Call of Cthulhu, and would much rather play D&D or World of Darkness, so out of my love for Call of Cthulhu and hatred for them have I created a deconstructivist NWoD campaign that does away with the sophomoric glamorization of inhuman monsters and generally possesses a markedly Harder Edge.

The problem comes from the fact that years of D&D have blinded them to the possible consequences for their actions. Time after time they've had firefights at 4pm, broken innumerable traffic laws, stolen cars, and left several dozen folders worth of evidence in their wake.  One of them continually tries to draw his handgun on fleeing suspects in broad daylight, despite my insistence that it might not be a good idea.

I'm not trying to be an armchair cop and they seem to get the general vibe I'm going for with the more realistic setting, but they can't seem to understand that government organizations aren't staffed entirely by Barney Fifes and Gomer Pyles. They've had numerous run-ins with local law enforcement, and I've made it abundantly clear that they're willing to jam them up for days if they want answers.

The only reason I haven't pulled the trigger on full police intervention yet is because I don't want it to seem unfair. I'm concerned that if they feel like they're doing alright and I drop a federal investigation or raid on them they'll think I'm just being a dickhead.

SOLUTIONS!

- Create and fully stat a dogged McNulty-esque detective that takes up their case and pursues it singlemindedly.

- If I feel like being a real fucker, I could make a full task force that wants them.

- Let them continue to leave a trail of bullet casings and corpses a mile long to keep them happy.

- VAMPIRES?

Joven

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 04:19:11 PM »
Maybe before bringing the law on them, let them know that what they did effects other people in the world.
And by that I mean, have them completely and utterly traumatize some innocent bystanders who witness them.  The next time they fire off a gun randomly, make sure to say something like 'you see/hear a woman scream and yell for someone to call the police'

Or, congratulations on decapitating that guy, oh btw, a 6 year old kid is staring at the body and looks about to break down in tears.  They make a move, the kid bolts, runs to a neighbor to call the police like all the after school specials said he should (and why not, have them make this sound
<a href="" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win"></a>
)

That way they should at least realize, oh...some people may not be happy about this. Or at the very least, when theres actual victims/witnesses, it may not seem like the cops are just coming out of nowhere to squash the PC's having fun.

Also, if it takes place in the south, make sure to have a few NRA tea baggers see the commotion as their destiny or some shit (ie Burt from Tremors)

clockworkjoe

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 04:42:11 PM »
are the PCs cops or agents of some kind?

Dom

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 05:35:10 PM »
I see several ways to bring consequences to the game, but the first you should sit down with your group and talk about what you expect from the campaign versus what they want out of the campaign. Talking things out with your group can help reach agreements as to how the game should go. If you let them know that, hey, maybe they shouldn't be doing murdering people left and right since you want a grittier and more realistic game, they might change their play-styles. Or they could convince you that what they really want is a game where they can relax and play without consequences.

Now, assuming you've talked with your groups and you still want to bring about consequences for their actions, here are several ideas:

Like Joven said, bring innocent people to the mix. Perhaps that man they gunned down had a wife and kids, a family, friends, etc. Next time they read the newspapers or watch a news program on the TV, they see that the guy they killed was not NPC Thug #3, but instead Francis Colhen, a teenage kid who got mixed up in the wrong crowd and ended up shot in a "gang turf war". Or maybe they shoot down the street and accidentally hit an innocent woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or a kid stares in horror as the PCs are shooting people down. All of these could be inserted in a combat scene pretty easily.

The PCs leave behind so many bodies that the mayor hears about the huge spike in violent crimes in the district. Suddenly there is even more patrols in the area, officers start wearing body armor and carrying shotguns, K-9 units are dispatched to track down the PCs, the faces of the PCs get posted in convenience stores and telephone poles, and shooting a gun is likely to bring police officers to the scene in minutes.

Since the police is looking everywhere for the PCs, suddenly their allies start backing away from them. Their contacts think that associating with them could bring them too much heat and stop supporting them. Vigilantes star springing up, hunting down the PCs and their allies. Maybe they enter the house of a contact and find him dead with a note directed at the PCs, swearing to kill them.

Their enemies start grouping together to combat the new threat that the PCs pose against them. Hell, they could even be tipping off the cops as to their actions to hound the PCs.

Suddenly the PCs find that they are the "bad guys", that they are on the wrong side of the law. They should probably get the hint and start being more cautious.

Otherwise, congratulations, you have the most callous players I've ever seen.

Z

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 05:52:41 PM »
Joven: I've brought innocents into the mix before and the players always do well by them. They aren't sociopaths, but they have a problem of massively underestimating the legal ramifications to their actions.

Ross: I tried to have them make Taskforce Valkyrie operatives so they could be reined in, but they demanded it be blue collar because they love Supernatural so much.

Dom: You make a lot of good points, and I really like the idea of their handler backing off because of their recklessness. I've had the talk with them already and they're on board with realism. They just have trouble understanding a World of Darkness game that isn't some silly caricature of the real world, which I suppose is standard procedure in WoD.

clockworkjoe

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 06:02:28 PM »
hell - just have them get swarmed by a SWAT team once. If they don't surrender, they have to fight and then face a manhunt if they aren't killed.

If they do surrender, they have to use LOTS of money and favors to avoid prison OR the police captain is onto them and makes them a deal - do a job for me and you won't go to jail. The catch is that the job is something repugnant to them - help a vampire that happens to be a police informant get out of a jam or better yet - kill another human monster hunter. This hunter killed a cop that was possessed and was careful enough to avoid getting caught by the cops - yet the captain wants revenge. The PCs are the perfect pawns to get this done.

Z

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 09:21:07 PM »
hell - just have them get swarmed by a SWAT team once. If they don't surrender, they have to fight and then face a manhunt if they aren't killed.

If they do surrender, they have to use LOTS of money and favors to avoid prison OR the police captain is onto them and makes them a deal - do a job for me and you won't go to jail. The catch is that the job is something repugnant to them - help a vampire that happens to be a police informant get out of a jam or better yet - kill another human monster hunter. This hunter killed a cop that was possessed and was careful enough to avoid getting caught by the cops - yet the captain wants revenge. The PCs are the perfect pawns to get this done.

I'm starting to think cutting to the quick and having their hideout raided might be for the best. They've left a reasonable enough amount of evidence to lead back to it. Their hideout (vacant bungalow outside city limits) is naturally full of bombs, illegal firearms, destroyed surveillance tapes, laptops full of scanned occult manuscripts, and legal pads full of notes about "The Great Race."

... That might be a little extreme. Compounded by the fact that I don't know what police procedure for a raid is.

Addled GM

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 09:29:26 PM »
    Dump all these ideas together.  Give them an enemy in the justice system that happens to be a cultist that is called in when there are disruptions in "buisness." He or she finds their handler and waves a bunch of money under his or her nose.  This allows you to give the players multiple instances of odd things that will let them know they are wanted men.  Have nondescript black cars follow them to the handler.  Its odd and they can loose them but this tips them off that something is about to happen.  Have the handler acting a bit more fidgety than normal. 
     If they ask why he or she tells them that he's under a lot of stres.  If they beat the shit out of him good.  Have a unending flow of cops run into the meeting place.  If they don't even better.  Have him send them to a place where they are obviously set up.  Have snipers take out their car, swat teams rush them (use tear gas and flash bangs to let them know that not everything has to be lethal to be threatening).  one very short fight later the PCs find themselves being interrogated.  Finally have your cultist NPC show up as they sit in lockup.
     He sends everyone away and then tells them that he needs something and has pulled a lot of strings to bring them there.  Now the PCs know that the cops are not to be messed with and will be a little more cautious.  They also know that they can work with the cops.  Have him send them against someone that they have either worked with or a enemy cult.  Give them the choice given the file cabinet of evidence against them: Do this for me or dangle on the noose or ride the lightning.  The NPC has a new group of people to work for his cult, the PC's plenty to investigate, and the GM atleast a reasoning for the cops not destroying the PC.
     This also gives you the chance to double screw the PCs by having the mission be suicide and drop a time limit to them to add some tension.  If you don't have this done by the end of the month all this makes its way into official police records.  If they don't do the mission they have to find a way to stop NPC cop.  If they do they are pretty much enslaved by NPC.  If they do nothing they are wanted men.  If they break the law while on the mission they have no get out of jail free card.  this makes the tension shoot up by about a thousand.         

Setherick

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011, 09:35:59 PM »
Compounded by the fact that I don't know what police procedure for a raid is.

Here's an interesting place to start: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6476
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Dom

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2011, 09:55:30 PM »
Compounded by the fact that I don't know what police procedure for a raid is.

Here's an interesting place to start: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6476

Slightly related, but not nearly as serious:
<a href="" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win"></a>

clockworkjoe

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2011, 11:56:37 PM »
hell - just have them get swarmed by a SWAT team once. If they don't surrender, they have to fight and then face a manhunt if they aren't killed.

If they do surrender, they have to use LOTS of money and favors to avoid prison OR the police captain is onto them and makes them a deal - do a job for me and you won't go to jail. The catch is that the job is something repugnant to them - help a vampire that happens to be a police informant get out of a jam or better yet - kill another human monster hunter. This hunter killed a cop that was possessed and was careful enough to avoid getting caught by the cops - yet the captain wants revenge. The PCs are the perfect pawns to get this done.

I'm starting to think cutting to the quick and having their hideout raided might be for the best. They've left a reasonable enough amount of evidence to lead back to it. Their hideout (vacant bungalow outside city limits) is naturally full of bombs, illegal firearms, destroyed surveillance tapes, laptops full of scanned occult manuscripts, and legal pads full of notes about "The Great Race."

... That might be a little extreme. Compounded by the fact that I don't know what police procedure for a raid is.

start with 30 armed and armored cops with guns surrounding the place with rifles, SMGs and shotguns. They throw tear gas in, blow the door off the hinges and charge in - led by a cop with a riot shield and a pistol.


Kroack

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2011, 12:22:22 AM »
Helicopters apcs. Throw in a tank for good measure.

Ezechiel357

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Re: Roleplaying with consequences.
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2011, 07:20:59 AM »
I ran many campaigns (lasting at least one year, more than 40 sessions each) where the PCs were living at the fringe of society, with fake idea, good hideout.
They were not crimal, but mages (in modern area), hence with ressources that only government operatives could hope to match. However, I made it clear from the beginning that they were fully responsible for their acts. If they were stealing some rare books, better be sure that they was no evidence left (or not enough at least), if they were killing somebody, even if it was an evil guy, it is still considered as murder by the law and so on.

To emphasize the point, they met once with an operative from the Vatican's Inquisition (super secret nun with big... guns).

So they were fully aware that there was some powerful players who could take interest in them and their actions if they were not careful enough.

Finally, after stepping once too many time on a big-bad corporation's toes (for the good cause, they were 100% morally in their right, but 100% illegal action: bombing of large facility), said corporation send a swat team to bomb their house with them. PCs manage to escape but lost all their precious belongings. I did not do that to "punish" them for being inconsequential, but because it was simply logical. In their last raid against the corp, they left enough evidences to be traced. They were aware of that, but decided that it was more important to stop the corp than to save their covers - a very "lawful good" choice, however, there is no "poetic justice" or divine help to protect them from the consequences.

In your case, I would stay there is various steps (some mentioned by other in this thread):
- First, out of game, make it clear to the players that there is consequence to their action - by repeating this warning, they cannot blame you for being a dick by swarming them and sending them to jail;

- Second, in game, make them have a run with some big guy from the side of the law. It is to make them realise that there are some people around looking for trouble makers like them and it does not matter if they are doing it for the greater good, there is the LAW (think of Judge Dread). No need to make them fight this guy, just met him and realise how tough life could become. And this guy might pretend to be friend with them, but he will always but the law or is organisation first;

- Finally, pull the trigger. Show them that you won't hold your punch, roll dice in front of them, set up an ambush with realistic resources: if they are wanted for several killings, and there is proof that they are often heavily armed, sent SWAT team, helicopter, snippers, gas, everything. If they manage to escape, they will be on the hunt, the bank account frozen, their friends/contacts under surveillance. It can be the beginning of the new chapter of the campaign. Think of the TV show Supernatural.

Now, reading what you wrote, you might have to jump to 3 directly... And you can decide if it is the end of the campaign with these characters and follow this campaign with new characters, in the same settings. The new PCs could have witnessed the arrest of the old PCs, they might interview them in their high security prison to take over were the story was.

Recently, I run a game where one of the player always putting himself in great danger, to be more heroic. I already made the comment once to him, and this time, his character was close of dying. I did not kill him, but I made sure that because of his action several NPCs died, one which was very important, hanging with them since the beginning of the campaign and a trusted, competent ally.
The next game, he told me that yes, he would be more cautious, espscially when he admitted that I could have killed him without "cheating".

By the way, I always roll my dice open, it helps keeping the player honest  ;)