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Fair or Foul: Death by Fiat
Posted By Walt Ciechanowski On June 9, 2011 @ 12:01 am In GMing Advice | 67 Comments
Have you ever killed a PC through fiat?
A while back I was running a street-level superheroes game. Realism (in as much as any game is “realistic”) was emphasized, to the point that no one wore spandex and vigilante activity would get you arrested if caught. We also started with none of the PCs knowing each other, as relationships were supposed to be forged in game.
In what was going to be our last session, sloppy play on the part of one PC, Ryder, turned him into a fugitive from justice. Sullivan, a PC connected with the FBI, arranged a meeting with Ryder in a roadside diner. Sullivan previously alerted the authorities and while he met Ryder the diner was surrounded by the police and SWAT.
Most of Ryder’s “superpowers” were invested in his motorcycle that sat out front. When Ryder noticed the cops outside, he wanted to make a break for it. I told Ryder’s player that there was simply no way that he’d survive running out the front door and getting to his bike. Ryder’s player insisted on trying.
As he opened the door, I asked Ryder’s player if he just wanted to give me the sheet or have me narrate the epic “blaze of glory” death scene. He still insisted that I make the rolls and I told him that even if I rolled for the two dozen or so cops, which included sharpshooters, he wouldn’t stand a chance anyway. Fiat simply saved session time.
This scene effectively ended the campaign, as Ryder’s player was angry at the PC “betrayal” as well as the fact that I didn’t give him a real chance of escape.
So fair or foul? Is it okay to use fiat in situations where chances of survival are nil?
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