Author Topic: The mind control PC thing  (Read 6561 times)

addicted2aa

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The mind control PC thing
« on: September 17, 2014, 01:39:23 PM »
So, it's probably been stated somewhere, but I can't find it anywhere in about an hour of searching so I figured I'd just register and ask.

Why is it ok to mind control a PC via "magic" but not via words?

Dom

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Re: The mind control PC thing
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2014, 03:37:58 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean when you say that it's okay to mind-control a PC through magic.  :o

trinite

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Re: The mind control PC thing
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2014, 06:02:38 PM »
The idea is that you want to avoid taking away the player's agency through purely narrative contrivance. You're trying to avoid saying, "Your character does THIS, because that's what I want to have happen for the plot."

That's why there's a difference between compelling a PC to do something through mundane persuasive pressure from an NPC, versus compelling a PC to do something through an established in-world mind-controlling power. The former is walking the border of narrative compulsion, whereas the latter is further away from that border.

Another big reason is that a lot of games have a very under-developed and unbalanced method of resolving basic persuasion, so that the target of it doesn't really have a fair way to defend itself. The game simply isn't designed for that to be a vector for the GM to attack the PCs with. For example, in Pathfinder, the only thing that helps against Diplomacy rolls is the target's base Charisma bonus. If I as the GM decided to build high diplomacy monsters to "diplomance" the PCs, they would be at my mercy. They probably couldn't come up with a reliable way to counter it even if they tried. Whereas there are lots of potential ways to defend against mind control spells.

Note, though, that there are some games in which it would be totally acceptable to compel PC actions through "words." For example, Burning Wheel has an elaborate system for verbal combat, called the Duel of Wits. In systems like that, persuasion is built to be a legitimate mechanical form of conflict. If you're playing a game like that, everybody can accept that there's a different social contract in play.

Hope that helps.
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addicted2aa

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Re: The mind control PC thing
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2014, 04:43:45 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean when you say that it's okay to mind-control a PC through magic.  :o

Referring to kerfuffle that happened when Ross refused to let a PC control another PC's action, Ross recently said that it would be ok if they had an actual power. Everyone seemed to agree(though that may be because they are all tired of the argument)

The idea is that you want to avoid taking away the player's agency through purely narrative contrivance. You're trying to avoid saying, "Your character does THIS, because that's what I want to have happen for the plot."

That's why there's a difference between compelling a PC to do something through mundane persuasive pressure from an NPC, versus compelling a PC to do something through an established in-world mind-controlling power. The former is walking the border of narrative compulsion, whereas the latter is further away from that border.

Another big reason is that a lot of games have a very under-developed and unbalanced method of resolving basic persuasion, so that the target of it doesn't really have a fair way to defend itself. The game simply isn't designed for that to be a vector for the GM to attack the PCs with. For example, in Pathfinder, the only thing that helps against Diplomacy rolls is the target's base Charisma bonus. If I as the GM decided to build high diplomacy monsters to "diplomance" the PCs, they would be at my mercy. They probably couldn't come up with a reliable way to counter it even if they tried. Whereas there are lots of potential ways to defend against mind control spells.

Note, though, that there are some games in which it would be totally acceptable to compel PC actions through "words." For example, Burning Wheel has an elaborate system for verbal combat, called the Duel of Wits. In systems like that, persuasion is built to be a legitimate mechanical form of conflict. If you're playing a game like that, everybody can accept that there's a different social contract in play.

Hope that helps.

A bit. I was referring to hot PC on PC action though. I guess I understand in a system that isn't meant for it not having it, but it seems to me that just means you need to fix the system, not prevent the action.

Daegan

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Re: The mind control PC thing
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2014, 05:02:46 PM »
It's Ross' ruling specifically to prevent the following scenario:

PC Evil Bard: "Guy's, we've totally gotta burn down that orphanage."
PC Paladin: "That sounds pretty evil, I don't want to do that."
PC Evil Bard: "I roll persuasion to convince Paladin Bob this is a good idea." *rolls* "Natural 20!
GM: "Sorry Paladin Bob, he rolled a 20, your character is convinced."

Basically it's really boring and lazy.  It's also really weird to imagine that you can convince anyone of anything if only you roll high enough on a single skill.  With a single zinger you can convince someone to abandon cherished beliefs or commit suicide...

Doesn't make any sense at all unless it's a literal superpower and part of the character.  Not just a random skill roll.

Tadanori Oyama

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Re: The mind control PC thing
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2014, 05:26:18 PM »
The difference between PCs and NPCs is that PCs have a player. The player can make choices for the character based on information. They have free will. The removal of that choice, that free will, should not be the domain of another player.

A PC is actually nothing more than free will. Without it they are just an NPC.

If there is an in-game justification for a short term violation of that will (ie literal mind control magic) than that is an excepted element of the system and one that the user (the player attempting the mind control) will answer for at the table and in the game world.

The central statement is basically: "Don't take away another player's free will".

clockworkjoe

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Re: The mind control PC thing
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2014, 06:38:13 PM »
Supernatural mind control of PCs is allowable, because by definition it breaks the laws of nature in real life and is a conceit of the setting. In order to play a game in a particular setting, we have to agree to its conceits. If a wizard can teleport, fly and cast fireballs and mind control some people (NPCs) but not others (PCs) without any rationalization of why that ability doesn't work on PCs, it breaks the setting.

Social skills are stand-ins for real life abilities and talents but there is a dividing line between what the player and the character can do. I can't parkour up a wall or disarm a nuclear bomb, but some people in real life can do those things. Conversely, I may know what monster we're facing, but my character does not. Some people are incredibly charismatic and can change what decisions other people make. Using a social skill (an in-character ability) to change the decision of a player (in real life) breaks that division between player and character.