Helping Players Choose To Roleplay vs. Fighting
Please find below various tips, stories and comments about
's request for remedies to the "shoot first, ask
questions later" player syndrome.
It is important to note that there is no right or wrong
gaming style, as long as everyone has fun. If you enjoy
GMing hack'n'slash or combat intensive games, that's
perfectly OK. If you enjoy quests, traps, puzzles and
combats over social intrigue or political campaigns, that's
The advice below is geared towards GMs who seek more
roleplaying vs. combat in their games. It's all just a
matter of personal preference. :)
The first ideas that came to my mind regarding your request
- As already mentioned in Issue #51, GMs often reward
players unconsciously for combat. In most RPG-Scenarios the
group can be successful if they're tough enough. The idea is
just that the GM has to create a situation that shows the
players something else. He could provide scenarios,
villains, whatever, that obviously cannot be overcome by
- Once the players get the idea, it is important to keep
them on it. In case they're not very used to (because they
always battled their way) being polite or using tricks or
nice words (or whatever the helpless GM wants them to do)
they might behave clumsy. Doesn't matter. They've got to be
rewarded anyway by (see Issue #51 again) positive social
reactions, money, items or whatever. By seeing that their
efforts are successful they will perhaps be astonished, but
in the long run they will change their tactics.
- This is why the reward is so important: No matter how
clumsy they behave while trying the new way, if they don't
succeed they will return to the axe and battle again...
From: Robin P.
The following is what I did to move my players' focus from
combat (or action in general) to roleplaying:
The primary reason for combat to be seen as a handy tool for
solving problems in RPGs, and thus the plot, is that to kill
enemies is the most obvious way to win. To counter that I
have begun to construct plots in a way that encourages
different solutions. Combat is still possible, and the
villains can be defeated and killed - but the players will
always find that dead men tell no tales. None of their
questions can be answered, as there is no-one left to answer
them; and like the hydra evil just grows a new head.
An example: in a current Werewolf: The Apocalypse game of mine,
various Wyrm-tainted factions work against the PCs. Some of those
factions work together, all have additional plans of their own,
some don't know each other - but if one faction is wiped out
without the PCs trying to find out as much as possible the others
get a clear advantage: while the PCs believe they have won the
other factions can continue working in secret until its time to
Or let's say the forces of evil find their way to the world the
PCs inhabit by means of a dimensional rift. The PCs may just kill
the invaders to halt the attack this time; but they must be made
to see that it all can happen again if they did not try to find
out first what caused the rift and what may close it again.
If the players like the roles of completely clueless PCs and do
not care about the why and wherefore of their antagonists' plans
they should always be met with some kind of justice. The
authorities might question their actions and ask for a good
explanations - and 'he was such an evil person' just doesn't
From: Dylan C.
First, let me congratulate you on an excellent newsletter
packed with genuinely useful tips. If only I could fit the
entire archive on the inside of my DM's screen!
I've recently been putting some thought into the way that
combat is presented in many RPGs - as a choreographed, self-
contained event which achieves little in terms of long-term
atmosphere building and is typically neatly wrapped after
the last blow is struck so that the characters can 'get on
with the adventure'. Combat, or general contestation, is a
useful tool for building suspense and giving characters a
sense of accomplishment after emerging victorious. But, to
only use it in the manner described above is wasteful. After
all, combat can really eat up game time; it makes more sense
to get some kind of peripheral benefit out of it than simple
The following are some ideas I had for using combat as a
strong platform for roleplaying and as a reflective process
by which the characters can be exposed to their own
attitudes to violence and the attitudes of those around
- Build the characters' combat confidence. If every NPC the
heroes fight comes at them with a lethal implement or spell,
your players will become used to reacting with similar
levels of force, 'just to be on the safe side'. However, if
it's obvious that (a) their opponent isn't intending to kill
them, and (b) the PCs have a good chance against them without
resorting to lethal force, then the chances that they will
respond at a similar level are higher.
To illustrate: 'normal' people who are provoked into a
street brawl don't attack like berserkers until knocked
unconscious. A few sloppy blows are exchanged, some threats
and insults are yelled, and a few more punches are thrown.
At some point the fighters will decide that this isn't worth
it any more and will withdraw. In 'hit point' terms, the
fight has never been in danger of becoming lethal; and yet,
a confrontation has occurred, and the 'winner' can go on
their way satisfied that, in as much as such terms are
appropriate, they have 'triumphed' or 'been victorious'.
Such tactics will only be employed by players who trust you
not to change the rules halfway into a fight; if they're
slapping, ripping clothes, and cussing when their opponent
suddenly changes tack and pulls a gun, you can bet they will
never do it again. So, the trick is to show the players your
cards, by allowing them to get a feel of the different
levels of danger posed by various common sources of violence
in your campaign world. This gives them a better sense of
their surroundings and what is considered an acceptable
response to different sorts of insult or injury.
- Modify the types of violence appearing in your game. Not
every fight should require the characters to use the maximum
level of force of which they are capable; put another way,
even gunslingers should get into fistfights. Don't just do
this by removing your party from their weapons and
resources, because that doesn't have the same impact;
instead, try to set up situations which prompt them to
resort to other tactics of their own free will. Depending on
the flavor of your game, this might have several payoffs;
the most obvious is that fights can be concluded without
removing a character or NPC from the rest of the adventure
or campaign. Additionally, this technique gives you an
excuse to prolong and intensify climactic combats: your
fireballs are all used up, your defences are gone, and it's
down to you and your arch-enemy wrestling in the mud trying
to drown each other. The number of times this trick is used
in movies is a testament to its ability to get you on the
edge of your seat - most notably in Hong Kong action movies,
where the protagonists seem to spend most of the final fight
using up their heavy weaponry before finally settling the
matter with pistols and even bare fists.
- Stop matching random encounters to your party. This goes
against the natural GM reflex, but it's a great tool. So
often, GMs weigh encounters up so carefully that every
single fight leaves the players feeling the exact same 'That
was tough, but we made it' feeling - which can get pretty
old after a few months. What happened to the 'Aargh! We were
totally outmatched' and 'Boy, we cleaned the floor with
those schmucks' feelings? Sometimes, a puny NPC will take on
a powerful PC without realising the world of pain he or she
is letting themselves in for; by the same token,
occasionally a very dangerous opponent will show up, and
characters who wade in with a 'Well, I -must- be able to
beat this thing, or it wouldn't be in the module' attitude
are going to be crying pretty soon. That's life - there's no
such thing as 'module balance' in the real world, after all.
Using this trick once or twice will encourage your players
to evaluate fights before they happen, which ties into the
previous techniques and will allow you to get more 'oomph'
out of your fight scenes.
- Get inside your NPCs' heads. I once played a Twilight:
2000 game in which we were struck dumb when a Yugoslav
commando surrendered before we could even draw a bead on
him. It wasn't that he was scared of us; he could probably
have dropped us with a well-placed grenade or even run away
before we could get him. But he was taking the long-term
view; we were obviously lost, but had several vehicles and
were trying to get out of the war zone, and he wasn't that
keen on sticking around either. So after tossing his rifle
away and putting his hands up, he explained that he'd guide
us out of the zone if we took him with. Hey presto - he'd
gone from a bunch of numbers to a 'real' person in one
It really brought home to us that the faceless hordes we'd
been gunning down and blowing up for the last five sessions
were sometimes as keen to avoid trouble as we were. And
that, in turn, got us thinking about our own motivations.
The in-character argument that followed really helped define
our characters; the SAS guy wanted to blow him away, the
Swiss doctor wanted to take him with, and the rest of us
were faced with the uncomfortable reality that we didn't
really know. No-one had ever 'told' us the 'rules' - and, of
course, this is one of the major themes of T:2000. In this
way, a single action by a throwaway NPC can be used to
highlight a major theme. Surrender or retreat should always
be at the back of your NPCs' minds. Even if they're brave or
loyal: look at the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who
surrendered who were taken prisoner in World War 2. These
men didn't surrender because they were cowards; they
surrendered because that's what reasonable people do if they
think there's even a tiny chance that it'll stop them from
being killed or badly wounded.
- Think consequences. In too many RPGs, enemies end up
cleanly dead or unconscious, leaving the PCs to wander off
without a second thought as to the violence they have just
perpetrated - except in a personal sense arising from their
own wounds. How about assuming that 25% of all casualties
are just incapacitated or crippled, but still alive? What
are the PCs going to do? 'Put them out of their misery'? If
that's the case, make sure to inflict the same type of
wounding on the next PC or ally that goes down in combat,
and see if they're as quick to suggest euthanasia. Or will
they be forced to use their own healing spells, Trauma Team
cards, etc., to remedy the damage they have just finished
inflicting? Or will they find a middle route? Effective use
of this technique allows characters to really stand out from
To illustrate: everyone knows RipperJane is a heartless so-
and-so, but when she genuinely proposes killing your wounded
bodyguard, it's brought home in an undeniable fashion.
Conversely, Sir Hiram is well-known for being law-abiding;
when he insists on detouring from the adventure for an
afternoon so that the orcs you just mixed it up with can be
delivered to a hospice, a court, and the gallows (in that
order), he isn't just talking the talk any more - he's
really getting a chance to act on his beliefs. You may find
that your characters start thinking of ways to avoiding or
minimising lethal combat rather than simply wading in, which
allows you to make more of the fights they do get into.
- Lead, and they will follow. This ties in with the
previous techniques. Not everyone who cultivates a grudge
hires assassins or fashions a voodoo doll. How about NPCs
who seduce characters' spouses, key their new Mercedes, or
let their livestock loose late at night? Not only is this
often more meaningful to the players (because these are
situations we can all appreciate, whereas few of us know
just how it feels to come under direct mortal threat), but
it will get them responding in kind rather than just
breaking out the firepower.
Two-dimensional violence, of course, is appropriate in some
settings and games; Star Wars and Star Trek come to mind.
Hence, not all these rules apply in these games, but the
general principles are still applicable. Basically, it all
comes down to -using- combat to achieve some other goal
rather than just as an interval between periods of
investigation or interaction, and thereby squeezing more out
of your gaming hours.
From: Matt C.
I have had a number of people in my groups who believe that
rpg's are the perfect place to mow down innumerable bad
guys. They think the biggest guns are always the best. I
generally run them separate from my more role oriented play
group. Recently I had one player want to switch groups from
shoot-um to role oriented. I asked him if he might want to
try it first.
This was for his benefit and mine. He needed to get some
practice at what he was switching to. And I needed to find a
reasonable way to work him into the deep plot of the
campaign. Note: What I really hate is the old have everyone
meet up at the local bar\tavern:)
I ran a short series of solo adventures which all had titles
like a book. I took notes of his actions and the
repercussions thereof. Then before the next adventure I
would recap our story so far. He began seeing the big
picture of a campaign and not just an adventure at a time.
Being able to see this continuity he saw his character and
his part in the bigger picture. This enabled him to really
play his character for the first time. That transition
allowed him and his character to move into the role oriented
campaign easily. My advice is give your shooters time to
come around or have fun with what you've got after all a
little hack-n-slash never hurt anybody :P
From: Rob P.
Hi there. First off, I just stumbled upon
roleplayingtips.com recently, and I am impressed..
Anyhow, our group is running several games on a rotating
basis, and I am GMing a campaign in which one of my players
eventually started shooting from the hip, using his
character's brute force to beat the bad guy, intimidate the
information out of somebody, and so on..
The rest of the party is, as a general rule, happy to back
him up when necessary. My solution was this:
After a particularly nasty encounter, a necromancer-type
withered one of his limbs, inflicting a physical scar, a
useless limb, and some permanent damage (until the arm is
restored). The party is now on a quest to find a
necromancer powerful enough to restore the limb, and they
learned in their first attempt that it's quite easy for an
offended mage to say "Look, I'm tired of you threatening me,
and I'm not going to heal you. If you kill me, that won't
fix your arm either. Find someone else."
He is now somewhat humbled, and the party has learned its
lesson, and the limb will be restored in the next session or
This worked out rather well because everyone has been having
fun, and the quest to heal the powerhouse had been a
catalyst for much character development amongst all of the
From: Atom P.
I was having the same problem, every encounter would end in
a blood bath, especially if the players thought the villain
was more powerful then their characters. Fortunately I've
been able to turn it around, only one small combat in the
last four game sessions.
- NPCs talk first.
- Don't give ultimatums.
- NPCs want to live too.
- Fear makes them more cautious.
- NPCs talk first.
This was my fault as a GM, many encounters started with the
villain confronting the PCs with sword in hand, ready for a
fight. This of course invites combat, an option most PCs
won't pass up. If your villain confronts the PCs leaning on
a cane, carrying a book, or wearing a smile the PCs are much
less likely to react violently. And weapons can always be
- Don't give ultimatums.
One encounter will always live in infamy. The PCs were
trekking through the hills looking for a bandit they had to
talk to in order to uncover a plot point; the bandit, as
bandits are apt to do, ambushed the party and demanded that
the characters hand over all their goods. Even though the
Bandit was unarmed and the characters knew they were badly
outnumbered they fought back, most of them died. Players
don't like to be forced, and given the choice of accepting
the inevitable or acting suicidal they often choose the
- NPCs want to live too.
Most combats in most games feature stupid creatures that
fight to the death. This is almost never the case in real
life and should not be the case in pretend life either. Even
the ugliest bug has a survival instinct, and given the
chance it will probably run away if it's life is threatened.
NPCs are not an exception, especially since it's no fun for
the Barbarian to have to chase every kill; pretty soon he'll
wise up and either start talking or find a way to back them
into a corner before he starts swinging.
- Fear makes them more cautious.
How often do your characters get time to rest and recuperate
between encounters? What if something nasty was following
them, ready to pounce as soon as it saw a weakness? How
often do the characters fight in the streets and walk away
scott-free? What if the guards were right on top of them as
soon as the fight was over? The characters will be a lot
less likely to start a start a fight if they are afraid
something bigger and meaner is out there ready to clean them
up after they have been softened up by something else.
Demons, Beholders, Mindflayers, Bandits, all are just smart
enough and just greedy enough to follow a party around
waiting for just the right moment.
From: Kate M.
How do you encourage roleplaying over combat? Good
question! Of course, sometimes the game system itself
encourages roleplaying over combat, as is the case of
the World of Darkness system.
Remember, though, that as the moderator, you can
establish your own guidelines for how a player gains
experience. In my own Chronicle, for example, I offer
experience points for entertaining roleplaying as well
as completing the 'homework' I email them. So
conceivably, you could offer a 'bonus' amount for good
roleplaying. But if you'd rather not give out a lot
of experience points, then offer the players some
scenarios that discourage combat. For example, say
there's a law in your world against killing talking
green flugelhorns. Have your players encounter one
that is blocking their path and won't let them pass
without answering a series of questions designed to be
answered in character. If they kill it, they're
breaking the law and should be punished accordingly.
If they answer the questions correctly, then they
should be rewarded.
Another suggested is a little more sneaky: have a few
of your NPCs have some pertinent clues to the player's
current adventure. If they kill or ignore the NPC's,
they lose out on this information. If they roleplay,
however, then they might possibly be able to avoid a
nasty trap or save some valuable time looking for an
From: David "Yogi" U.
Hey John! First off, thanks for all the work you do on this
project. The newsletter is wonderful and I keep hard copy of
it usually around my AD&D Planescape campaign. It works
wonderfully for spurring ideas, both for me and my players.
Now, on the subject of encouraging roleplaying, I find one
thing that most people don't use that works very well. I
use magic items to develop characters. Stealing an idea
from Earthdawn, players get connected to their most favorite
items, and sometime find additional powers. The identify
spell doesn't do much in my game, as items must be tested to
be figured out (great fun with potions). I find that the
items, especially multi-use items that evolve with the
character help mold the character, and yet help the player
think about the character evolving. Most of my players grab
onto this, and run with it to levels far beyond
expectations, and discovering their item works with them, or
sometime, opposite of them, makes great opportunities for
From: Patrick R.
I usually encourage my players into role-playing their
characters by giving them special attributes, skills and
items. For an example, if your player is role-playing an
average ranger, he might get bored, BUT, try to give that
ranger something special, like the ability to speak with
specific animals, a magical sword which belonged to someone
close to him (i.e. dead father, old friend etc.) and which
therefore has special sentimental value to the character.
You should also encourage your players into role-playing by
rewarding good role-plaers with experience points. For an
example, if your player can really act like his/her
character would, give his/her character some exp. and he/she
will probably continue doing it, and he/she might encourage
other players into good role-playing, as the easy exps. are
somewhat tempting :)
To respond to your question about how to get players to
roleplay I have a couple of suggestions:
- I have a friend who always sets 15 minutes aside to do
some sort of instantaneous roleplaying, i.e., improv to get
his players in the habit of roleplaying. If you have ever
seen Who's Line is it Anyhow? with Drew Carrey, you'll know
what I mean.
- Also, I've seen players roleplay more if they see others
do it, so I always remind my players that there is a 10% XP
bonus for roleplaying well. Along that line, it is helpful to
talk to your players one at a time before your game begins
to ask them to roleplay and work with you.
- Along the lines of the first one, try sample encounters
that might popup in the upcoming game such as: "A friend you
know well just advised the master of your guild to put a
bounty on your head for a crime you haven't committed, how
does your character handle the situation?"
From: Maxim K.
You requested some tips about converting tactical-combat-
loving-berserkers into good roleplayers :-)
- Rewards...covered in the Roleplaying Tips newsletter (#50
& #51). Do give rewards for talking (most RPG Systems only
give EPs for fighting...).
- Let the players face a situation where fighting is
obviously no solution, if your players are so fanatic that
they would fight even then, make it obvious that the kind of
death their chars will face is not worthy of a hero (i.e.
being eaten by gigantic ants or such).
- Make fights look and feel deadly, modify the rules if
- Do NOT use tabletop equipment/miniatures!!! They distract
players from thinking of combat as something chaotic +
dangerous, but rather as a kind of tactical game they can
plan. Unfortunately, in a game with miniatures the players do
not visualize their actions any more. I can remember all the
fights I had until we started to use miniatures...cause they
all had some special kind of action you imagined in your
mind...I remember even our first session, just because I can
remember the fun we had imagining a giant elk jumping out of
the bushes, everyone dodging, and our brave dwarf saying:
IŽll block his path... He went flying hahaha, he was not
injured a lot, but his pride was so down, he hated all elks
ever since >:-)
- Do NOT give players powerful magic weapons...if you let
them know they are soo powerful they won't bother talking,
they just do not need it. We have been playing for 3 years
in the world of DSA (the BEST german system, and the system
with the most consistent world worldwide...) There ARE
almost no magic artifacts in DSA, only the most powerful
NPCs may have a wimpy "sword +1" or such... Also, there are
no permanent magic items, they all have only some 1 to 10
charges, then they are gone...to slay a big dragon in that
world, you would need an army, so there IS simply no way
other than talking. Just make the players clear that they
will die trying to fight this fight.
The better you describe your actions, the easier they will
become, so roleplay is greatly encouraged. EVEN in combat.
Try it that way: if a player describes beautifully how he
TRIES to attack, give him a bonus on the hit dice or on the
damage, or make the enemies' block more difficult.
- Do NOT always stick to the rules, the people who make the
rules are no superhumans, they are no demigods who exactly
can tell you what would be wrong or right. Adapt the rules
to your style, not your style to the rules. As long as a
rule is the same for all (PCs and NPCs), it is fair. And
even if NOT, it is your right as GM to tweak the game so
everyone has max fun...so do it (you do not need to tell the
players if they do not like such things). Like this you can
discourage players who always seem to know the monsters
Attacks, Blocks, Hitpoints....better than you do. Be chaotic,
but be fair. If your player has a character he really cares
for, a character with history, friends, family, tweaks,
fears, hopes, dreams...do NOT let him die.
BUT if a character always goes out of his role, like a
paladin always killing the enemies the most cruel way
possibly, talk to the player...ask him about the char, ask
him to write a story, to make a kind of blueprint of his
chars personality. If he is not able to do it, if he regards
his character only as a bunch of optimized numbers on a
piece of paper...KILL HIM. It is cruel, but it is the only
way to stop combat-addicted groups. Let them be killed or be
heavily injured in combat. Let them have a trauma, a shock.
Force them to develop fear of dying. No sane hero would
fight till he dies (except the nice guys in AD&D with St
18/99 and Wis 6 Int 5 hahaha)
- To make them fear death (combat with only dice rolling)
make it worth living (roleplay). Let them fall in love, or
get a province they have to care for, let them have pets
like small dogs (pets who cannot FIGHT, so Basilisks or
Dragons don't count ;-) ) When I played a Mage he always had
a small monkey with him, who did tricks for children and the
guys in Bars. He had found him in the jungle, with his
mother dead, so he started to care for her like a mother.
Imagine a powerful mage with a small monkey always asking
for milk in medieval bars hahaha :-) If the mage would die,
who would be left to care for the poor monkey?!
Let the players spend hours on thinking how their character
is going to go on living...make plans, give opportunities.
It's all called incentives...incentives to go on living. We
were playing DSA for 3 years and no one ever died, cause it
just would have been a tragedy. We were spending hours, days
and weeks thinking about what our char was going to do next.
I even knew how many buttons my coat had :-) When combat got
hot it was not unusual for us to run away for a while to
regroup/to rethink the action. We were REALLY afraid for our
chars, cause they consisted of much much more than some
simple numbers on a piece of paper.
- Get a good system...YES, you have heard right :-) In my
opinion it is very difficult, especially for beginners to do
good roleplaying in AD&D, cause it encourages fighting. Get
something like Vampires, and let the atmosphere thrill you.
- Design general descriptions and encounters before the
Usually when GMs prepare for a game they work out the main
plot encounters and so forth which are going to happen, with
a general notion of when they'll happen. This is definitely
a useful thing to do! However, I've also found it very
useful to design some bits of description and minor
encounters which can be inserted anywhere in the game. They
can be used whenever you need time to think, when you need
something to do right now, or just to enhance the imagery of
your game world.
- Work out some generic descriptions of the weather. Make
them as detailed and evocative as possible, and use them to
enhance or contrast the mood of the game. eg. "The rain
pours down onto the darkened cobblestones and drips from the
eaves of the small wooden houses. You see no one but a few
huddled beggars as you make your way to xyz." Try to describe
light sources, smells, sensations and noises, appeal to all
the senses. Insert these whenever you want to make the
gameworld seem more vivid, or to evoke a mood.
- Work out some generic descriptions of the location of the
game world. Devise and note down in point form some basic
imagery for your game world - eg. descriptions of the city
the game is set in, or the mountain range they are passing
through. Include people and animals and minor, mundane
mishaps (broken cart wheels, fallen trees on the road etc.).
Insert these whenever the PCs are moving around in the world
frame. Have them reflect the state of affairs (has there
just been a war? Is there famine? Is the market bursting
with goods? Are their a lot of soldiers around? etc.)
- Devise generic NPCs. Invent a series of normal people of
different ages, genders and social classes. Give them names,
physical descriptions and a couple personality traits. Wheel
them out when the PCs talk to someone you didn't expect them
to, or put them around the place to demonstrate the reality
of the PCs actions (eg. the inhabitants of the house they
break into). Again, have their situations and concerns
reflect the mood/theme/events of the game world. Or for
something different have it contrast.
- Devise minor encounters. For example, the PCs could be
robbed by a common thief, or come across a "domestic
dispute", or a lost child. These events can be inserted to
illustrate all sorts of points about the nature of the
world, or to take up some time when you need to think, or to
break up the more important events of the story. They can be
used to add interest to the unexpected actions of the PCs.
Make sure they are simple and mundane, otherwise you defeat
their purpose of giving you time to think, or of reflecting
the normal events of the game world.
All of these things can be devised without the exact context
in mind, and then inserted in wherever you like. Their
advantage over just making things up on the spot is that
they will fit better with your game world, they will be more
complex and you can use them as a subtle way of controlling
the mood of the game. They will also look pre-planned, which
helps to keep the players from trying to pin point the "real
plot" and then pursuing it to the exclusion of all else.
- The interest in character traits is in the breach.
In most stories the heroes make mistakes, they have fatal
flaws, and they must overcome difficulties. Part of the
interest in stories comes from the development of the main
characters, and their movement from one point to another -
which is usually the result of the characters changing and
learning from mistakes.In gaming many PCs become quite
static, the PCs resist change and the characters start to
seem two dimensional. This is frustrating for both the
player and the GM.
As a GM it can be important to remember that the PCs are
clinging to their concepts for a reason. When players create
concepts they usually have in mind a series of events which
will challenge and highlight their character traits, in my
experience they will cling to these traits until they have
been sufficiently highlighted, and then they will move on.
As far as I can see, one of the best ways to highlight
character traits is to give the PCs the opportunity to be
"forced" to break them. (I use the quotation marks because
they don't necessarily want to be forced into a corner as
players, but they may like to roleplay their characters out
of corners created by the character's personality.)
For example if one of the PCs is always polite, the player
is probably thinking about how freaky they would be when
they finally snap and get angry. They don't want them to be
angry all the time, but they probably would be grateful for
an excuse to have that character's self control waver
briefly - try giving them something to get really pissed at.
Or, perhaps one of the characters is very callous and cold.
The player might be interested in seeing what would happen
if they were presented with something they cared about (eg.
the assassin rescuing the small child).
Remember, the same goes for NPCs. They will seem much more
interesting if they occasionally break established character
traits. For example, Darth Vader was so cool because he
eventually decided that he wasn't evil, and saved Luke.
Additionally, endless action movies have been based on the
idea of the good, kind normal guy who goes nuts and takes
horrible bloody revenge on the people who've pissed him off
(usually by killing his family or something). Both of these
concepts are interesting because they break the pre
established character traits.
Ultimately, some players will reject or fail to see these
chances to express their characters (the polite PC might
never snap, the assassin might kill the child) but many will
jump wholeheartedly on the chance to express that element of
their concept. Some players will make these opportunities
all on their own (wouldn't we all like more of them!) but
most will need these opportunities to be presented, and once
they have expressed this element of their character to their
satisfaction the character will probably become much more
- Set up events before they occur.
This tip sort of relates to the last one. Many stories rely
on a breach of the normal state of affairs - this only works
well when you set up what the normal situation is in the
first place. For example, we see Conan's village before it
is raided by Fulsa Doom (or however you spell it!), all
peaceful and happy. This gives us something to prepare the
coming carnage to. To breach something, you must demonstrate
what it's normally like first.
You also need to set things up to create tension. Give hints
as to coming events so that there is some kind of build up.
I always used to get really annoyed when no one found the
terrible war/sudden death of ruler/other large event
shocking. They just bounced along happily. For something to
have impact you need to build up to it. Use prophesies,
hints, and small clues to allude to the coming large event.
Have NPCs fear it for a while. Wait until the PCs fear it
before having it happen. The Shadow War in Babylon 5 would
have been far less interesting if the story had started with
it, and without all the hints and dire predictions.
Finally, you need to set up the normal way of doing things,
and why it is so incredibly dangerous to do it some other
way. That way when the PCs invariably chose to do it the
dangerous way it will seem cool and challenging. Try showing
what happens to an NPC who does it the dangerous way
(something bad!), or have NPCs talk about what they think
would happen. Try to make it so that the players really
think their characters could get seriously fried doing
something the wrong way. That way when they choose to do it,
it will be more intense and rewarding.
To solve this problem, I chose to not award experience for
(say) killing monsters/npcs and allow their loot/death to be
its own reward. But I do award xp for these kinds of
- Came up with own consequences (Ex: Remembered to limp
after being wounded in the foot.)
- Played a Disadvantage (Ex: I didn't have to remind Tom
that he's colorblind at any point in the session.) [I don't
award xp for taking disadvantages, just playing them.]
- Player contributed a Goal at the end of the game. (Ex:
The next game, Tom decides that he'd like to meet his evil
- An extra Sign is added. (I use Signs like Over the Edge
- Played an NPC well. In those times when the party is
divided, I have an NPC prepared (pregame) for a player to
play. I record the relevant stats and skills just for the
purpose of the encounter, along with a few Signs and other
mannerisms. I usually have to tell the npc-player how
difficult or easy to be and they take it from there.
- Opened subplot for another player. (Ex: Tom shoots his
mouth off about how Rex can shoot even better than William
Tell, and so the local Baron demands that Rex compete in the
upcoming competition against his champion Sir Tell.)
- Opened subplot for Self. (As above, but lesser xp award.)
- Unselfish bonus. (To reward the Good Guys who either
stick to their character's character in spite of evil reward
or who try to stay honorable in spite of the other
I also penalize xp for reusing the same ability over and
over or trying to milk an ability for all it's worth.
From: John B.
With regard to Encouraging Roleplaying over combat I think
one good way to encourage players not to shoot first, ask
later is to allow them to go into a combat situation, slay
the bad guy and then present an unexpected outcome from the
For example, one of the "villains" just killed could have
been an undercover agent for the king and the players
actions instead of being heroic have just put the kingdom on
the brink of war. For this to work properly you do have to
provide the players with some way to figure it out before
they enter combat through roleplaying. If they rush into
combat without thinking they face the consequences of their
I've found that the most effective way to encourage
roleplaying is to ask each player to write a detailed
history for their character before the campaign begins.
Some players will be able to write detailed histories
without any trouble at all. For those that have difficulty,
spend some time outside of your normal gaming sessions
talking to them about the game world and asking them
questions about their character. Throwing around ideas for
an interesting character background can be a lot of fun.
Player: "Maybe he used to be a soldier in some army." GM:
"Yeah good idea, the Kingdom of Arthania is at war with the
Gors at the moment, your character might be a Knight of
Arthania, or a hired mercenary?" Player: "A mercenary yeah
cool! He'd be a hard old guy like Clint Eastwood except
with a soft heart..." etc.
It's a lot of fun and really primes the player, even a new
player, to start roleplaying from day one. Character
histories are great for the GM too, as they usually supply a
whole bunch of NPCs and story ideas ready to work into the
Now, let's see what I've got for this one...
First In-game possibility: Combat Experience 'wears off'. Of
course, in most systems, there's an experience value given
for slaying a certain kind of monster - but it wouldn't be
too realistic to award this amount of points each time the
PC slays one of them as soon as it becomes routine work...
if the brave hero slays his 20th Ancient Giant Multi-Headed
Red Dragon, it's surely not an experience as impressive as
his _first_ one, so I would also only award about 1/20 of
the Dragon's XP value. This forces the players who want to
advance to come along with new ways of surviving such
encounters - the first Ancient Giant Multi-Headed Red Dragon
being _talked_ into submission would be worth as much XP as
the first one - maybe even more, depending on how
brilliantly it was done.
Second In-game possibility: Involve PCs in Non-combat
action. Maybe the Player's favor towards combat comes from
the simple fact that they haven't encountered any other
things that really are fun to them... WHAT exactly you
should do to get your players out of their roleplaying
lethargy depends heavily on players and GM. Maybe you could
get one of the PCs involved in a love affair? Maybe a few
puzzles would do them good? Maybe you could come up with an
enemy the players cannot possibly defeat in combat, but only
through roleplaying? Depending on the solution, it could
even be helpful to confront them with an _extremely_ boring
combat situation short before you come up with The Other
Possibility. Sometimes contrast does a lot.
Last Hope: Talk it out. This is somewhat of an emergency
exit just before you quit the stage. If your players aren't
listening to you, or are plainly ignoring your in-game
attempts to get them roleplaying, tell them. After all,
you're GMing for fun - and if you're not having fun,
something should change. And if you've done all you can to
change the situation without success, it's the player's
turn. Tell them that you don't want to GM anymore if they
don't start roleplaying. Now _they_ should act -either they
help you in creating a good story, or they'll have to find
From: Jones T.
I believe that your points in [Issue #51] speak to the very
heart of a truly enjoyable and exciting campaign.
With regard to your first Point, wherein you speak of
'spending time on each character', I have a method which has
proven to get all players excited about their PC's.
Whenever a player wishes to join one of my campaigns, they
roll up their stats and then are required to provide me with
a background. The background must come first.
From each background, I go over it in fine detail, taking
notes, giving NPCs names and adding bits and pieces to fill
it out. I then provide the player with his "Player
Information". This sheet of paper gives him the names of the
NPCs as well as a few other bits of seemingly trivial
information (of course, my PCs are catching on that these
tidbits are not trivial.)
From here, I develop small, long term campaigns with each
Player's background. My games generally take the form of
several long term campaigns, each one taking the characters
through many levels and, sometimes, many years. In the
backdrop, I provide what I refer to as "mini-campaigns" and
"one-shotters." The "mini-campaign" is a series of 2 to 4
adventures, the 'one-shotters' being one adventure. The
players never know what kind of adventure they are
participating in at any moment.
From the Player's backgrounds, I create long-term 'mini-
campaigns." Perhaps an adventure with the initial hints at
1st level, another one at 4th level, then an adventure that
leads directly into one that relates solely to the PC's
background and so on.
I have rarely seen a player not become very excited about
his player with this method.
For an example, I have a Fighter from Neverwinter in one of
my FR campaigns. At the start, he provided as a reason for
his military skills the fact that he spent much time with a
retired captain in the militia of Neverwinter. I expanded
this background to say that this man actually found the
Fighter as a babe in the Nether Mountains, halfway across
the continent. This Captain was given the babe by a powerful
figure who told him to watch over the babe carefully, for
reasons not mentioned. He brought him back to the family
that he believes to be his own and watched him throughout
his upbringing. I have been playing off this (with more
detail then I can give here) for nearly a year's worth of
real-time gaming and the player is very excited about every
bit of info that happens to drop his way. There have been
times when he missed tips, since he doesn't always think of
the NPCs in his background. This only creates more
enjoyment when he realizes this later on, when it is too
late to explore it.
From: Chris C.
In response to the question posted in the latest issue of
"Roleplaying Tips Weekly" about discouraging or at least
minimizing "shoot first" roleplaying, I have a couple ideas
that have worked for me with my groups (most of my
experience has been with Shadowrun, but these tricks should
work in most any game):
Make it painful to do so: This is not my preferred method,
since if you overdo it you end up simply punishing a player
for their playing style. However, it can sometimes be
useful: making the consequences of shoot-first gaming
obviously unpleasant (being arrested for terrorism, ticking
off the mob, etc.) and apparent to the gamers might
get them to ease back. A slight modification of this method
would be to let the players see the results of the violence-
-assuming the players are adults, be graphic. The aftermath
of a gun battle should be pretty horrific.
Make it difficult to do so: give them a bunch of obstacles
or complications that would dissuade them from kicking in
the door and holding down the trigger. For instance, if the
characters have to kidnap somebody, put a bunch of innocent
civilians in the way. Or, if they need to "liberate" some
artifact, make it extremely delicate.
Sometimes, I've found that it helps to encourage a bit of
conflict between characters so that they end up keeping each
other in check. Often you can end up with a team leader who
the other characters follow pretty much without question--
especially if the team leader is a shooter and the others
are less combat-oriented characters. It might be useful,
however, to get them to ask why the plan is just to kick
down the door. It also might let them show off some of
their unique abilities.
As a last resort, you might straight-out ask the player why
they're doing what they're doing, although it's a big step
out of character. It may reveal that the player is having a
problem, such as not knowing what else to do or being
frustrated with the game.
This is not my tip, but one that a DM used in a game I was
playing in. He gave a percentage of experience bonus for
good roleplaying. The percentage ranged from 0-10%. This
also was a percentage of the total experience points of the
character, not just for that game session. So if you have a
bunch of good roleplaying, then that bonus could easily
exceed the experience for the combat.
From: Dan W.
To answer your call for ideas on how to steer a group away
from hack-n-slash toward RPing: The obvious one is to
penalize the shoot-first-ask-questions-later behavior.
Make the dead NPCs have vital information memorized, they
obviously won't be able to be questioned after being killed.
Maybe the obvious enemy squad leader is not the one with the
passcode into the enemy base because the rebels have a
tendency to shoot the obvious leaders (a la Patriot).
Maybe the NPCs were not the enemy and the PCs just killed
their only potential allies.
Make the enemies are too dangerous to attack and don't
hesitate to grease one or two players or even the entire
party. But never make it seem like you are simply out to
get them. Life is not nicely arranged into dungeons of
various levels (all level 1 monsters to the top!).
Lastly, make the PCs the bad guys for fighting: The king
decides that any fighting within 10 miles of any town is
punishable by 5 years in the salt mines. In modern and Sci-
fi games this is even easier. The police tend not to care who
was at fault when there is gunplay. Everyone gets thrown in
jail and the courts settle it a couple of months/years down
the road, assuming you have an honest justice system. In
jail you are a sitting target for your enemies.
The hard part is keeping the players from thinking you are
out to get them.
From: Stephanie P.
I've been GM'ing for over 17 years, and I've often been
faced with those people who were comfortable in a combat
frame of mind. Before I bring out my tips to lure them into
a role-playing space, I will preface this by saying that if
someone *really* doesn't want to role-play they won't, but
it can be encouraged. So, here are my tips:
- Start with Combat. If the players like combat, this is
where to begin adding roleplaying. This could be as simple
as putting the combats in dramatic situations--like on top of
a moving train or on a rickety bridge. This will probably
have your players come up with more interesting options
that--"I hit the guy."
But, by far, the best way to deal with combat is to do
something that the American media is really bad at--realism
and consequence. This means that perhaps the police will
come after them, or the victim's mother will. People will
be afraid of them. It will be in the news. People will
randomly (actually for revenge) try to kill the PC's. They
will sometimes fight people who are very weak (i.e. average
human) and kill them easily, and then have to deal with the
consequences. There will be lots of innocent bystanders.
Make the combats full of repercussions and people will be a
bit less willing to jump into combat so easily.
- Background Check. So now that you've given a different
spin to combat, how do you bring in role-playing? It starts
at character creation. I have a character bio sheet that I
give all my players (mine is actually 4 pages long!). I
tell them that by the second or third adventure, I want the
bio filled in. The bio is full of all sorts of questions
that leads the players to think a bit more in depth about
their character. The bio includes things like: name,
address, birthday, etc, but also things like-where did you
grow up? How was your relationship to your parents? Talk
about your relatives, your childhood. Where did you go to
school? What are you afraid of? Who is the last person you'd
like to run into and why? How do you feel about your career?
Etc. After people spend an amount of time working on their
bio, they tend to want to incorporate it. Reinforce this by
bringing up things from each character's past every now and
- Plot. Give them plots where they have to keep someone
alive--someone they have to role-play with. Give a
succession of situations where if they just kill people they
don't the info they need to complete the mission. Have the
plots deal with a variety of combat and non-combat issues.
- Supporting Cast. Make interesting NPCs that the players
will want to interact with. I find it most effective to
make them random people. I don't know why, but the PCs I've
encountered will role-play with the plain-looking secretary
who is shy and flirty or the drunk 7-11 guy with a mohawk
for a half hour. Populate the world with interesting
people, who seem to have a story, the players will follow.
As far as the "Shoot first, ask questions later" attitude
goes, I feel that it's usually a pretty simple matter to
trick the players into having their characters attack
someone they shouldn't. The consequences of this can be hard
to enforce, though, depending on the (possibly already
flagging) level of character development. If the players
are into their characters, there could be personal
consequences to the hasty action; the victim could have been
a needed ally, a good friend, or either of the above to an
ally or close friend of the characters. An NPC's NPC. :)
If the players are less motivated by character consequences,
then story or system consequences are a more appropriate
penalty; the victim could have been key to the success of
the adventure, or the GM might want to withhold experience
or other system reward points.
Hi there, Johnn. Once again, congrats on your e-zine.
This time, I wanted to share with everybody some ideas about
the problem of players that always favor combat instead of
roleplaying. As we all know, this is a rather common
thing, so here goes what I found to be of help when a GM is
confronted with this situation.
- First, you should find out WHY the players do this. If this
is their style of play and they just don't seem at all
interested in changing, maybe you should leave them be. For
some people, roleplaying is just plain boring, they'd much
rather roll dice. As we all know, forcing your players
towards a direction they don't want to go is asking for
trouble. If that's the case, just maybe is time to find
- If such is not the case, then maybe the players feel
rewarded only for combat. In AD&D 2e this sometimes can be a
problem: XP for character development is by far fewer than
XP for killing monsters. As the recent editions of the e-zine
have discussed masterfully about rewards, I'll just leave
the warning : watch it, maybe you are the one moving your
game towards hack'n'slash and you don't even realize it.
- Another problem I've seen is the players just don't know
what else to do. They attack just because they don't have a
clue of what else would move the plot forward.Once, this
happened to me. The players were confronted with a demonic
horde led by a female general gone mad. They were unable to
stop the horde, but they knew that there was a dragon that
was the only creature in the world that the general would
obey. For me, this clue was pretty obvious, but the players
wouldn't realize that the dragon was their only hope (the
horde was destroying a city and killing hundreds of innocent
people so it wasn't just the PC's lives at stake). When I
mentioned the dragon, a player immediately said: "That's it!
The dragon! Let's kill the dragon! She loves this dragon,
let's extract revenge on her by slaying this beast!". This
surprised me, as the poor dragon wasn't even involved in the
whole mess and by killing him they would ruin their chances
of saving the innocent people that were at risk.
So I acted as the players' "Common sense". I said to one of
the wisest PCs' player: "You don't see much point in slaying
the dragon. In fact, it seems a rather foolish thing to
do". By acting as their common sense, I was able to show the
players that this wasn't time to do combat, this was time to
ask for help against a n apparently unbeatable foe. So they
did ask the dragon for help and everything was solved.
So what I am trying to say in this rather long example is:
when the players attack because they are clueless, [you
should] act as their clue!In general there are always
brilliant characters in the group (the mage, the cleric,
etc) and you can't expect the players to be so brilliant. So
act as the common sense or consciousness of the PCs and see
if they don't begin roleplaying when they realize it is the
most efficient thing to do.
From: Scott P-M.
Here's what I do to encourage roleplaying among combat-
focussed characters(/players): every once in a while, put
them in situations where they are not the badasses. The
reason players will feel no compunctions about charging
immediately into the fray is because they don't feel like
they are in danger when they raid the goblin caves or
whatnot. Put them in a situation where they are made well
aware that combat is going to result in an untidy demise.
This will frustrate players if used excessively, but it will
encourage players to communicate with their enemies, giving
the GM more room to develop interesting, worthy opponents,
rather than one-off cannon-fodder.
Another option would be to furnish them with a mission where
combat must be done in the right way to gain success.
Infiltrating a band of rebels to gain knowledge of their
plan would be an excellent roleplaying opportunity as well
as potentially providing ample opportunity to brawl.
The whole idea behind running a game for characters/players
who like the rough stuff is to make scrapping interesting,
complicated and character-oriented. Don't just try to
eliminate it by running politician missions or what have
Hope this helps.
From: Logan H.
In answer to your question, there are a couple things that
come to mind:
- Combat itself can be more than dice rolling. If the GM
sets up an interesting area with its own consequences for
actions then this will give roleplaying opportunities. If
one character, for example, starts to fall down the snow
slide (toward something nasty) does another character spend
their round reaching out a hand to attempt to save that
character or let them continue to fall?
- In real life, people who kill people (and perhaps
monsters, etc in a fantasy game) get a different "aura".
They start to look like more of a 'hardened' killer. This
is something that an 'empathy' type skill can pick up on.
How friendly are you to the big scarred guy with the
'thousand yard stare'? Many times, people will become
nervous (subtly or obviously) in the presence of hard core
- Give the players interesting assignments that involve
killing. Rather than "Go kill that guy" how about "Go kill
that guy and make it look like an accident" or "Go kill that
guy and make it look like this other guy did it".
Roleplaying will come into effect when the players sit down
and begin to plan out the execution. If they need
'specialists' (NPCs who possess special skills to allow
them to do the execution that the group doesn't have) then
they are roleplaying with NPCs. By the same merit, where
do they get all of those guns and body armor from? More
opportunities for roleplay as they deal with merchants.
What if one of their vendors gets a swat team breaking in on
them while they are sitting and haggling with the PCs over
some firearms? If the PCs don't save this guy, they will
have to look for a new source - if they do save him then he
will be grateful and perhaps give them a discount, etc.
Last note: In a combat loving party, it is important to
slip in some roleplay subtly. Do you think the love
interest is going to come up, boom!? Not for a long time.
First work on the people that the PCs normally deal with.
Flesh them out. Give them some personalities and the PCs
will have to deal with those personalities, perhaps even
developing some of their own.
If you don't use subtly when doing this it will NOT work.
I think the most effective way to deal with the problem is
to let the PCs deal with the after effects of their actions
for the next few sessions. If they immediately attack that
neutral orc who was going to tell them where to secret
entrance was, fine. Let them try to find it on their own.
Make it obvious that 'someone' they've met was going to
help. Being a good DM can involve some out of character
hints, too. I've found dropping clues during before the game
can really spark some interest in what's happening. Do this
a few times, and they will probably learn to talk more
Ironically, the best I've ever seen this used was while I
was sitting on the PC side of the screen, and a friend
(we'll call him Goose) was DMing. (BYW, he learned most of
his DMing tricks from me, but that's neither here nor there.
Our characters were talking to the mayor of a small town
where we had just eradicated the Thieves Guild. I can't
remember what he said, but it was something that was open to
multiple interpretations and we took it the wrong way. We
politely excused ourselves, but as we were leaving, the
Cleric took a swing at the mayor with her bow, rolling a 20,
followed by a 00 on our homebrewed critical table: Instant
Death. After the chorus of cheers and sombrero dances, me
and the guy playing the cleric looked at each other,
simultaneously coming to the realization that we had just
killed an innocent man. So, instead of asking him what he
meant by that, or trying to find out more through some
other means, our good-aligned characters spent the next 3 or
4 games trying to find a way to resurrect this joker. We
eventually succeeded and, due to some quick thinking on our
part, he was none the wiser. Even so, we ended up guilted
into performing missions for free for a time after that.
What makes Goose's reaction to our bloodthirst so brilliant,
is that, even though we messed up (badly), we still had a
chance to save the campaign, but we did pay dearly for our
mistake. This was almost a year ago, and I still remember
it. I'm pretty sure everyone else in that group does too.
Really there are two elements which define the hack&slash
vs. roleplaying quotient in a campaign: 1) The cues and
motivations provided by the GM, and 2) The preference of the
players. With enough practice, any GM can get the first
part right, but there is really only so much control one can
have over the second. It is entirely possible to have some
players you simply cannot ween from combat happiness. Some
people would suggest that you find another group when faced
with this situation, but I think there are some things you
should try first. These tips are here to help you make
combat more fun for you. Obviously, if you have a complaint
about the level of hack&slash in your campaign, then there's
something about the hack&slash you don't like. If you want
more roleplaying in your game, then maybe you should try
using combat as a vehicle for that by:
- Having your villains talk trash. Far too many GMs
overlook this simple and fun way of spicing up a melee.
Best of all, characters (or players) may feel a need to
answer your obnoxious antagonist in kind, and before you
know it, you're roleplaying! One of my party's favorite
encounters was with an orcish highwayman that I had talk to
them like a pro wrestler; every round of combat, he
delivered a new macho "witticism" that I prepared
beforehand. They had a ball, and so did I.
- Using interesting scenery. What's more interesting?
Having a mass melee on a forest path, or having it on a
rickety rope bridge overlooking a 100 ft. deep chasm? If
nothing else, the latter keeps the players on their toes.
- Injecting a healthy dose of moral ambiguity. Have the
party befriend two NPCs at different times, and then have
the two NPCs meet in front of the party as mortal enemies.
Make sure to encourage your PCs to choose sides --but don't
make them too comfortable with it. If the players become
frustrated or emotional, then you've succeeded in immersing
them in your game world.
- Having a "combat", *wink* *wink*, *nudge* *nudge*.
Certainly not something you should try on a regular basis,
but bring in a character you want to have interact with the
party as a combatant (like a sensai, or sympathetic
villain), and fudge the rolls so a whole lot of nothing
happens. Give the PCs some experience or skill points for
the encounter (especially if they roleplay appropriately),
but let the NPC get away.
- Being horribly dramatic. This is what you're going for,
anyway. Give the dying villains final words; describe
important hits and misses in great detail; create extra
consequences for failure; have the antagonist give an
impassioned speech before drawing his sword -- whatever
floats your boat. Remember, if you think it would be cool,
your players will at the very least find it memorable.
In short, don't make vanilla flavored combat -- make
roleplaying flavored combat. If you still aren't having
much fun, and this isn't helping players see things your
way, then maybe it's time you moved on to a new group.
One way to discourage excessive combat is to tell the
players ahead of time to not make combat oriented
characters. Often times they'll comply with you if you just
ask them to.
However, some players are just going to do whatever they
want to do. In this case, if you want a game oriented
towards story more than combat just make it that way.
Characters who solve their troubles with weapons first
should get themselves into more trouble because of it. Also,
such characters often slight their social and mental
abilities in favor of combat abilities, so gear scenes
towards the social. While they sit there and yawn because
their character doesn't have the necessary abilities, they
get to watch while everyone else gets to develop their
skills. Perhaps this will clue them in on what you mean by
non-combat oriented games.
One bad side-effect of this is those players who comply all
too well. I have had a few games where nobody had any real
combat ability at all. I prefer a more story oriented game
myself, but I like action as well - sometimes the only way
out of a situation is a rock 'em sock 'em fight. Make sure
to let your players know that some combat ability is fine if
you expect some action in the game, just tell them not to
center their character around combat.
Your basic carrot and stick. For the GM that wants to cut
down on the combat and encourage role-playing activity, you
make the latter rewarding and the former detrimental.
Characters that dive in to the Thieves' lair and fight
everything in sight find the McGuffin has been killed, and
they can't get the vital information to stop the plot
against the Duke. They later find out that had they talked
their way in, they could have gotten the information, and up
to the point they attacked, the thieves' guild did not know
them as foes.
Just one example. In modern games, use the law as a
deterrent to fighting. They get done trashing the local
"Cobra" base and find that the "Front" has called the cops.
They have a SWAT team waiting for them and a lot of
questions to answer. Their "special clearance" might get
them off the hook, but the time lost was critical. By
talking to the local police, they could have isolated the
base, rendered it useless, and gotten on with their plans,
all with no additional effort to themselves. However
shooting up a block will get them "Spanked".
I hope you gained some good information from the experience
of these game masters. If you have additional advice,
opinions or comments, send them to: