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Fair or Foul: Unexpected GM Fiat

Posted By Walt Ciechanowski On June 18, 2010 @ 12:01 am In GMing Advice | 41 Comments

I was playing in a Shadowrun adventure where one of the other players, Amy, made a “Face” character. I forget the character’s name, but she was a disguise expert/martial artist with a boat load of social skills. Her forte was to use her charms to gain access to “employees only” and other restricted areas.

During one part of the adventure, she attempted to charm her way past a troll bouncer in a nightclub. When asked what the penalty was for trying to seduce a troll, the GM told her not to bother. In his mind, a troll simply wouldn’t find an elf attractive and refused to give her even a minimal chance of success.

Needless to say, play stopped as an argument erupted at the table. Amy protested that the GM just nerfed her skill set 25% of the time (it may have been 50%; I don’t recall the GM’s stance on orks). She asked why he didn’t tell her this when she made the character and the GM responded by asking what made her think that a troll would find an elf attractive? After a few minutes of discussion, we bent to GM prerogative and kept playing.

So, fair or foul? Are there times when unexpected GM fiat is okay or should the GM always let a player know up front where he’s deviating from established game elements (from what I recall, there was nothing in Shadowrun to support the GM’s position)? Or was the player wrong in making an assumption about her character’s effectiveness? Should she be prepared for a nerf every now and then (at least as long as every restricted area isn’t guarded by a troll)?

About  Walt Ciechanowski

Walt’s been a game master ever since he accidentally picked up the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1982. He became a freelance RPG writer in 2005 and is currently the Victoriana Line Developer for Cubicle 7. Walt lives in Springfield, PA with his wife Helena and their three children, Leianna, Stephen, and Zoe.




41 Comments (Open | Close)

41 Comments To "Fair or Foul: Unexpected GM Fiat"

#1 Comment By mbeware On June 18, 2010 @ 12:19 am

Foul. It would be specified in the rules if a penalty should by applied for balance. If the GM decided to create a house rule on this, It should be announced up front and there should be a compensation for the player that get Nerf-ed. In this case, it look as if the GM was bested by a player plan and didn’t see any other solution than change the rules. The player found a way to bypass a combat. Great for her. When there will be a combat, she won’t be so good and the role will be reversed. (you can’t charm a bullet to prevent it from going through your skull…)

#2 Comment By oboreruhito On June 18, 2010 @ 1:43 am

Foul. There’s nothing at all in the Shadowrun universe about trolls being universally, without exception, turned off by elves. A modifier might be relevant if that NPC is personally not hot for pointy ears or even pretends to from social pressure, but that doesn’t mean she can’t overcome it with a good roll – or better yet, good RP.

This sort of crap is the tabletop equivalent of non-functional doors in videogames – a pointless, immersional-shattering way for a lazy GM to give the player the illusion of choice. “Sure, you can be a face! But I’ll arbitrarily disable you when you try to outsmart me, because I say so!”

#3 Comment By Rhamphoryncus On June 18, 2010 @ 1:58 am

Foul. The DM’s interpretation is reasonable, but since it’s not *explicitly* stated by the rules it’s not one the player had in mind when building their character. In essence they’re using two different games. I’d hate to get halfway through a game only to be told my entire approach is wrong.

I’ve had a similar problem with magic item creation in Pathfinder/D&D 3.5; just how is it supposed to interact with wealth-by-level guidelines?

#4 Comment By The_Gun_Nut On June 18, 2010 @ 5:44 am

Foul. For two main reasons.

1) The GM neither informed the face about such racial bias beforehand, nor allowed for a way around it prior to the encounter. While it is within his purview to make such a call, saying so beforehand (during character creation would be optimal) would go a long way to reducing the player’s stress.

2) Based on the setting, there is no reason elves would NOT be considered attractive to a great majority of the population. While the meta races have been around for over 50 years now, long enough for two to three generations of metas to have been born (especially orks), human standards of attraction (and thus the very attractive elves) are still considered the measure for beauty amongst meta-humanity. While an individual might have a strong bias, this should be revealed through role-play and not simply by fiat. Even then, a modifier is preferable to a flat out “no,” even if the modifier is huge.

#5 Comment By theEmrys On June 18, 2010 @ 5:45 am

Foul: I can see if the GM wants to give a significant penalty for trying… but to flat out say no in this circumstance is wrong. At my table I’d assign a penalty, but allow the player to describe how she might be adapting her approach for use on the troll to garner some modifiers.

Now, I’m not a big believer in the “Players are always right” but this kind of situation should always have a chance.

#6 Comment By Ben Scerri On June 18, 2010 @ 5:55 am

Fair: Whilst I agree that it is a little silly to completely disable the chance of attraction, I do not disagree with the racism.

There should never be a solution that always works to avoid anything. There should always be a solution to avoid something, but never always the same one. If this one character can always just charm her way into anywhere, why should the GM bother even putting guards on doors? As the character will just roll, and be through said door.

Perhaps there should have been some other way of getting through. Perhaps the following situation could have occured:

The Elf attempts to seduce the Troll. The Troll scrunches his nose up at her and makes a derogatory remark about Elves. The Troll says something about how he wont be sweet talked, but if they want to get in so badly, he is willing to look the other way if they do X (introduce quick side quest, which could be anything from brining him a dink form the local bar, as he isn’t allowed to leave his post and is REALLY wanting some booze, or maybe going into the building and telling someone something really quickly, etc).

Whilst I do not agree with everything this GM did, I do agree with his choice from the standpoint that it hopefully would make the players think of other solutions other than just Fight or Charm.

#7 Comment By Gregory On June 18, 2010 @ 6:38 am

The racism is very troublesome. Beyond that, I wonder if she gets an automatic success when seducing elves? Give her a huge penalty, sure, but I don’t agree with automatic failure for just about any roll.

Beyond that, unless the troll is revolted by the sight of an elf, he’s got a chance to react favorably to the process of seduction. Someone is being nice to him, being friendly and charming. Even if he doesn’t want to screw her, he’s gonna be swayed. Even trying to seduce a 100% gay guy should have a chance, just because a person being seduced has a chance of being flattered enough at the attempt.

#8 Comment By Ben Scerri On June 18, 2010 @ 6:44 am

Actually you have a fine point there. And I do definately agree to the stance of never disallowing a roll to be made (as I said in my original post).

It is a really tough one in my opinion.

#9 Comment By valadil On June 18, 2010 @ 7:22 am

Undecided.

I think it’s fair to say that this troll finds elves unattractive. Maybe even the majority. All trolls? I dunno.

What if the bouncer had been a gay man or a straight woman? I hope this wasn’t the first time Amy realized her character’s sexy wiles might not work on every NPC in the game.

#10 Comment By JoeTortuga On June 18, 2010 @ 7:51 am

I think that, in general, you should find ways to say “Yes” to your players, and should never try to invalidate their concept of their character. If that means you’ve got to bend the world a little bit to plan for that, then so be it.

Particularly in a PnP game you shouldn’t be forcing things to be resolved in a certain way, nor should you be putting up plot doors to force the narrative to follow what you have planned. The best moments, to me, are when things careen unplanned, and everyone is having fun. It’s more challenging for a GM to do that, but it’s fun as well.

#11 Comment By specter On June 18, 2010 @ 8:16 am

Foul. If the rules do not state elves have a penalty when socially interacting with trolls there is no reason Amy’s character couldn’t seduce a troll. After all the mind is the largest erogenous zone of all and trolls are intelligent creatures in Shadowrun. Not even allowing the attempt was a limit on the roleplay and the fun of the game. If the GM had allowed this there could have been an awesome story that came out of it instead of an out of game fight.

#12 Comment By evil On June 18, 2010 @ 8:20 am

Fair. Some times there aer just places where certain abilities don’t work, or where that ability might backfire on the group. I would have suggested they try a different strategy, instead of flat out shutting her down, but I agree with the rationale. Also, it isn’t as if the GM effectively told her she could no longer use that ability, but in this case, she could not. Without seeing the entire picture, it’s difficult to say how fair or foul the move was.

#13 Comment By drunkenewok On June 18, 2010 @ 8:29 am

Foul – with caveats.

If the specific troll had a huge bias against elves, which would apply enough of a roll modifier to make success impossible, then it’s probably not an issue. Still, if the player wanted to attempt the roll, run the scene, the GM can role-play the extreme racism, and move on.

Likewise – if the specific nightclub in question never allows elves in, then it’s a non-issue. The troll is just doing his job, but again, I’d still let the player make the attempt, and role-play the specific details.

If ALL trolls (and/or orks) have automatic immunity to the players abilities, that’s definitely something that should have been expressed to the player during creation. If half the world was immune to guns (or swords, or whatever) the GM should definitely point that out before a player makes a gun-bunny.

If the GM was just using fiat to railroad his preferred solution to the problem (i.e. he didn’t anticipate the players charming their way in, or wanted a specific set of events to unfold), that’s just plain bad form. Unless the GM had no idea there was a “Face” character in the group, it’s simply lazy to assume they wouldn’t make the attempt.

#14 Comment By Knight of Roses On June 18, 2010 @ 8:42 am

Foul, because it was a universal (and previously unmentioned) “no, this will never work against group X” effect. Imagine you were playing an archer in a campaign and suddenly found that 1 in 10 of the common monsters were just immune to ranged weapons.

Yes, this troll could have been near impossible to sway by an elf. That is entirely acceptable but to have all trolls be immune to ‘social wiles’ of elves is just silly (and not supported by the setting). Players should not always get their way but nor should they find out that their characters are just crippled in situations that could reasonably expect to be competent in.

#15 Comment By Razjah On June 18, 2010 @ 8:44 am

I say foul for two main reasons:

1) This really just seems like a bullshit move on the GM’s part, he most likely didn’t plan for this and over reacted to maintain control. It is very bad practice to simply tell the player no. Allow the check even if you have no intentions of allowing it to succeed. There was an article on gnome stew a while back about one of the gnome’s shadrowrun hacker not being allowed to even try to open a door. This seems like a very similar situation.

2) If trolls find elves unattractive, then many of the races find other races attractive it has already been stated trolls don’t find elves attractive, orks may not as well, then why do the other races find elves, ork, trolls, etc attractive? This decision really does nerf a character because when you draw it out to a logical conclusion- that many races do not find the other races attractive, a seductress character has no place in the world.

Also how experienced is this GM? I would be less openly harsh to a newer GM for trying to keep control, even if he/she did it poorly in my opinion.

#16 Comment By dizman On June 18, 2010 @ 9:20 am

Faul, because i had simular situations. But to fairnes there probaly should have been a suficient roll to bypass this. Since body guard was a random NPC#45 bodyguard gm should have gave a penalty. Trols in my opinion should be racist twords “pretty” human(elf, dwarf…). But generic npcs in this setting and just cold be fond decided by random roll tahat GM should have made secretly to determine is this Troll racist.

But on other hand player with loads of social skills has “more than one way to skin a cat”. By pass it by distracting, bribe…

This problem on this session was actually player trying to challenge gm’s authority and to test GM’s patience, tahts what it sounds to me ;)

#17 Comment By The Stray7 On June 18, 2010 @ 9:43 am

Foul, for many of the reasons already stated here:

1) It comes off as the GM arbitrarily negating a resolution because he disliked what her skill set allowed her to accomplish, and comes across as a pretty massive nerf, given the context of the setting.

2) There’s nothing in the setting itself to support this, as Trolls are just magically altered humans and human standards of attraction aren’t gone. I could see a penalty, especially due to bigotry, but not even allowing the attempt just rubs players the wrong way. As another article on this site mentioned that players build their characters based on what they want to do in game, and flat-out negating that is a fine way to have no players anymore. If he had a problem with her seducing trolls, he should have mentioned that at the start of the campaign (or at least sooner than when it came up in game).

#18 Comment By drow On June 18, 2010 @ 9:45 am

fair to the intent, but foul to the implementation. should’ve let her roll, then describe the troll brushing her off. “don’t flatter yourself, twig. go suck on a twinkie.”

#19 Comment By ChrowX On June 18, 2010 @ 9:50 am

Fair, if the GM had let her take the roll at a penalty or high DC or however Shadowrun plays out. Players should always be allowed to roll, but they need to understand that they are also capable of failing every time they try.

Foul, in reality, since the GM outright stopped the player from doing anything. Saying ‘no’ without even giving her the chance is just bad form. It could have just turned into a humorous situation. She tries to seduce the Troll, makes a fantastic roll, and the Troll just shifts uncomfortably and tells her, “Lady, my **** would split you in half. Neither of us wants that.” and then the player has to figure out a way to bribe their way past him.

On the player’s end, I think she should have been more inventive. It sounds like she had 1 go to skill and got too used to solving every problem with it, which probably frustrated the GM in the first place.

#20 Comment By Sigurd On June 18, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

Fair & Evolutionary.

A DM is not responsible for prestating the ramifications of every encounter for a given skillset. The players must accept some learning on the job.

Despite Star Trek is is reasonable, though perhaps inconvenient in this case, that very different races have different sexual proclivities.

I also have to say that the DM is taking it in the neck for saying openly rather than letting the player roll for appearance sake. Players learn the world and grow to understand. In this world Trolls like other Trolls or monsters not Elves. Elves are Food not Friends. It’s a consistent view and so long as it isn’t capricious its a fair call.

I’ll go so far as to ask, has the character ever encountered hostility from other elves for being ready to abandon her race and jump into bed with anything? Would she be trying this on a demonic mollusk? If her charm is sexually based she has to expect some variation based on race.

If the charm is not sexual but a neutral mind affecting power\glamor she might have a point. It is still possible that races you’ve not discussed have resistance to your skillset. She’s a one trick pony and this is not her trick. Whats her backup skillset?

Sigurd

#21 Comment By Nojo On June 18, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

Foul, for all the reasons stated above.

It’s fair and interesting if she has a low chance of seduction, but there are other ways of charming people, and a “he’s just not that into you” would work fine.

A good face has backup charm/BS strategies, just give a gentle hint and let her have a small chance at the seduction, but a decent chance at some other social skill.

#22 Comment By Havukin On June 19, 2010 @ 1:42 am

Mostly foul, based on pretty much all the reasons already stated in this thread. To me it seems the GM made a bad call during session but stayed with it which is acceptable since it keeps the game moving. However, he should discuss it after the session with the players and rethink the decision, especially since the ruling had so much impact on a PC.

#23 Comment By farfromunique On June 19, 2010 @ 2:59 am

I would call foul, for the reasons listed above (seen those words a lot in these comments…), and suggest a way to fix it.

The foul wasn’t the racism, but the implementation. “Don’t bother” says “I have set the difficulty so high that it is silly to bother” AND “I did so because I don’t like your character”. A better method might have been, “As you walk up to start flirting, the troll snorts disdainfully at you, and mutters something about ‘another elf thinking I’ll be impressed’. You have a feeling this troll might not be interested in elves.”

Alternately, the GM might have just said “the troll isn’t interested; maybe a different approach might help?” or something else to open more doors than he closed.

However, I will admit to having used similar language in the past, especially in RPGA / Living Greyhawk sessions: “You aren’t high enough level to possibly make the roll, so don’t bother.” When I do that, though, I usually try to give a reason: Not high enough level, you aren’t supposed to be here, your princess is in another castle and the mushroom doesn’t want to be your princess, etc.

#24 Comment By robosnake On June 19, 2010 @ 11:44 am

Foul.

Lots of games like Shadowrun depend heavily on the GM, and that means the same GM can break the game. That fiat ruling is no different than telling your Shadowrun gun specialist that Trolls are bulletproof – and no one would expect that.

This is why I think PC social skills need to be discussed before the game begins. If the GM is going to be a douche and nerf everyone’s social abilities, they should at least know ahead of time, so everyone can just take combat skills and get on with it.

#25 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On June 19, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

Need more info. Was the elf’s attempt overtly seductive, or was she just “charming” her way past?

If it was a blatant seduction, then I could see the GM’s point (although “hardly ever” would have been a better way of phrasing it; never discount fetishes). Not every racial interaction needs be in the rules, and I could easily see Trolls generally being uninterested in Elves.

But if it was a case of “I’m going to chat with him a bit and see if I can’t identify his interests, then appeal to them”, then I would call it foul. Something like sports or entertainment can bring together individuals from normally opposing social groups.

#26 Comment By JakeSox On June 19, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

Foul. The player tried to apply a skill to a task/obstacle. There is no need to think too much about why.

#27 Comment By Alnakar On June 20, 2010 @ 1:23 am

At the risk of stepping on a bunch of toes here, I’m going to say that most of the people who jumped in to say “foul” are being at least as hasty as the GM in question.

It seems to me that it’s a case of the GM and the player not being on the same page about the game setting, and the rules of the game (or possibly between the difference between old school gaming and new gaming). If the GM sees this skill as primarily seductive (I think most of us would), and sees trolls as primarily being interested in other trolls (try reversing the roles and thinking about a troll trying to seduce an elf), I don’t see this as particularly foul.

The main question that I have is: was this an ongoing issue, or did the player object in this manner the first time her ability was prevented from working? The reason I ask is that if this were an ongoing issue, it might have made sense for the player to need to get something off her chest in what she felt were a string of unfair rulings, in order to express to the GM that she wasn’t being allowed to play her character the way she’d wanted to. If it was the first time it had come up, though, it seems like a bit of an overreaction on her part. Okay, you can’t seduce everybody on the planet, maybe you should look at some other options before blowing up at the GM.

Not having been there, I don’t want to make any grand claims to have a deep understanding of the situation (more than I already have), but when I was reading this, it sounded a little bit like a power gamer getting upset that their favourite skill didn’t let them win all the time.

Every system has a slightly different style. The player’s view of that style might be that the GM should set up a world, and various situations, and that the players should be able to run amok as long as they make their rolls, and don’t do anything stupid. If the GM’s view is that a plethora of problems requiring different imiginative solutions will be presented to the players, and that they’ll have to use every tool at their disposal to get through it, then you’re going to run into issues.

#28 Comment By The_Gun_Nut On June 20, 2010 @ 8:05 am

@Sigurd

Trolls in Shadowrun aren’t monsters. They are humans who have a gene that is activated by a strong magical field (magic returned to the Earth in 2011). They are part of metahumanity, and are people just like humans.

@Alnakar & Sigurd

The setting is pretty specific about racial bias. While trolls and orks are the “ugly races,” elves are virtually universally considered beautiful. While trolls and orks are finding out what attractive means with their respective races, human biases are still strongly prevalent within each of the races.

While a straight up seduction might not have worked, charming your way past a guard doesn’t have to involve sexual favors or promises of favors. Flat out saying “no” and offering no alternative (which is what was inplied in the text) is a sure way to rip your players out of the mood for the game. And to step all over their sense of fun.

#29 Comment By Kitchen Wolf On June 20, 2010 @ 9:32 am

Foul, for a number of reasons. The first is story based: Shadowrun Elves and Trolls grow up human – think of a Hollywood starlet trying to bat her eyelashes at the bouncer of a biker bar. The second is rules based – social skills can be attempted on any NPC, or else they’re just an excuse to get roleplayers to play in your skirmish campaign. Thirdly, it’s just lazy – the penalty for using sex appeal on a troll should be *success*. It’s hard to be subtle with a seven foot mountain of muscle following you around like a large and overprotective puppy.

#30 Comment By scruffylad On June 20, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

Not knowing Shadowrun all that well, I have a hard time analyzing it in the context of the setting. More generally though, I’d say mostly foul, but with some fair underlying it. (Splitting hairs, I know…)

Fair, in that I think it’s reasonable, in most settings, for the racial disparity to matter in romantic situations. (Just like with humans.)

Foul, in that I think the GM should have just applied a modifier, and let her roll. Maybe this troll had a thing for elves? (Just like with humans. Some have a hankering for someone of a different race.)

Also foul, if the GM’s modifier made it impossible. The scenario isn’t so ridiculous as to justify that. There are a lot of things that players want to do that might justify very high modifiers, but this scenario doesn’t sound like that.

#31 Comment By Bercilac On June 21, 2010 @ 1:54 am

I’m going to vote Foul, because it does seem like a nerf. As for whether it’s “true” in the setting… that’s a boring and stupid question for boring and stupid people (sorry). The setting is what you make of it.

Rather than going into why nerfing is bad, or troll-on-elf action is perfectly reasonable, I’m going to suggest a couple of ways that I think the GM could have said “no” without it being a nerf:

1. Either a straight female or a gay male troll (mentioned above). Of course, if they GM only announced this at the last moment “Um, doesn’t work. He’s, er, gay” it would still feel like a nerf. But as long as not EVERY guard were gay (actually, that’s an interesting setting idea) it really wouldn’t be. Plus it might be an interesting NPC for the future (if PC #2, a total homophobe, doesn’t paste him first). OR a male member of the party could have a go, if that seems to be the ideal strategy.

2. The troll’s manager shows up, or there’s a CCTV, or some other reason that even if seriously turned on the troll wouldn’t succumb to temptation. Unless the setting rules that a troll’s hormones utterly overpower their brains, this makes perfect sense. This leaves the players the opportunity to try and change the situation (i.e. convince the troll that the boss said he could take five or whatnot).

3. The manager’s a total wanker and castrates his employees.

Et cetera. Not that I feel SO bad for a player who can’t think of a second way past an obstacle (though I understand their frustration). But my thinking behind these solutions is that they don’t take away abilities from the characters. Sure, it sounds like a weasily out at the time (designed to be, so yeah), but it developes the scenario.

In regard to the more general issue of how a GM deals with unforseen player solutions, I think it’s fair to knock back some of their attempts. But do it in a way that gives them additional information and offers alternative routes to a solution (gay seduction; other tomfoolery). What I DON’T think is fair is when a GM knocks back every single player trick until they are forced to deal with the problem in the way the GM has notes for.

(The troll is gay, so you have to fight him; the lock is reinforced, so you have to hack it instead of shooting it; the speedboat is shielded against magnetism, so you have to have a chase scene instead of rigging an EMP… sigh).

#32 Comment By Sigurd On June 21, 2010 @ 5:40 am

@Bercilac – “that’s a boring and stupid question for boring and stupid people (sorry)”.

Why do the boring people go first! :)

@Gun_Nut Thanks for the setting info about trolls in shadowrun. That gives less support for the DM but I still hold that this is not necessarily unfair.

The DM was perhaps too transparent and the player didn’t like the rules administration they saw. We have no idea if the other players got some time on stage because of it, or if there was something else going on.

Bercilac would have everything designed for the inclusion of the player. That’s a good theme but without seeing the rest of the world experience its hard to judge by one event. Sometimes a realistic inconvenience is a good thing.

The racial link is enough to say Foul but I’m not necessarily worried about one instance in isolation. We don’t know anything from the other side of the story. I think the universal finger waving is mostly perpetrated by Mushy Boring People with Mushy Boring Thinking. Or just guys with a different opinion.

Sigurd

Perhaps sometimes the troll is gay….

#33 Comment By SaTaN On June 21, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

Both are wrong in some different ways:

The GM:
Social Skills are not only beaty. Diplomacy, ability to coercy, fast-talk, and make someone just plain like you are social abilitys. You can make even a D&d Ogre like you if you know how to act with them. ( May have penalizations but still works )

Even seducing, may be ok if they grow as humans as the others said about Shadowrun (never played)

But if the GM thinks thats not acceptable in his game, its ok to say NO. Just be clear about it.
And avoid creating scenes where the character cannot use his most important skill. And probably the one that the player would like most to play.
It may be useful sometimes, so another player shine in a scene, but it must be rare. The game are about the players not the rules or the world.

Player:
If this happened only once, its not acceptable to feel that way.
You cant beat everything alone. You cant seduce everyone, or talk with everybody. Some people just dont like you, others just are racists, and others are just acting out of pure anger.
You cant stress over anything that makes you fail.

Just try another approach, next time.

#34 Comment By Rafe On June 21, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

So, to clarify: She made a social skills-heavy character. She always tries to use her social skills to resolve situations, thus relying on her PC’s strengths. The GM “nerfs” said attempts 25-50% of the time.

The real question is this: Does the player attempt to use her PC’s own skill set to the exclusion of other PCs’ ideas/abilities; i.e., is she a spotlight hog? If so, FAIR (though the reasons given could have been better, as a lot of people have pointed out). Share the table time.

If she’s not a spotlight hog (or often detracts from others’ attempts at resolving situations), then FOUL. Vincent Baker said it best when he said (paraphrased) “If nothing’s at stake or there’s no conflict, say yes to whatever is happening and move along; give out the info, the guard believes the character’s lies, the castle doesn’t have a moat, etc. If there’s conflict or something’s at stake, roll the dice.” Notice how a GM saying no* isn’t in there?

* remembering that the Don’t Be A Dick Rule is always in effect.

#35 Comment By Necrognomicon On June 21, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

Foul, for many of the reasons listed above.
To me what’s even worse than the flat ‘No’ is that it betrays a distinct lack of familiarity with the game setting on the DM’s behalf and a lack of creative problem-solving. Not a good omen in my mind…

That charm and sexual attraction are being confused is a problem. Case in point: George Burns was a charming old man, but he’s not really my type.

The ‘gay troll’ defense doesn’t work either:
He’s a bouncer.
Their whole job is to let attractive women into clubs. It’s good for business. The troll’s sexual tastes don’t even come into play here. The tastes of the crowd the club intends to attract is only slightly more important. Even if the club catered primarily to gay trolls, there would be at least a few women there.

The DM should have at least used the existing mechanic. The mechanic already decides this based upon the most important factor in this situation, the bouncer’s ability to see through the BS.

Better yet, roleplay. “Sorry lady, I’d love to let you in, but you guys just aren’t dressed right.” Make her tray and suss the club’s style then send them all over Seattle trying to get the look.

Seriously, all the players should be remembering this session for the fun they had instead of an argument.
A fiat most foul.

#36 Comment By Roxysteve On June 21, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

Fair and shenanigans on that female for trying it on then sticking with it. Shame shame shame!

The essence of charm is sexual attraction. How anyone could even think that two races so fundamentally different as elves and trolls would be attracted to one another is beyond the power of my brain to process.

She’s lucky I wasn’t running the game. I’d have given her a 1% chance of chatting-up a troll perv (“Elf lover”!) and a 10% chance of vomiting from her own self revulsion at the prospect of the attempt.

As for the “bouncer’s job” arguments, if elves were welcome in said nightclub she wouldn’t have felt moved to make the attempt to bend the laws of physics and nature.

It’s an elf-player mindset to throw a tantrum any time they run up against an unhelpful rule or ruling.

Wonkhammer 401k Eldar players play their face if they don’t get their own way too.

#37 Comment By recursive.faults On June 22, 2010 @ 10:25 am

I call foul.

Telling a player, “No,” is telling them that they can’t play the game. It doesn’t really matter what the setting, plot, or characters have established. That is the whole point, to have the freedom to be crazy, inventive, and go off the map as it were.

Robbing a player of a roll because of a misunderstanding in the setting is a DM error. Even if there was NO chance of success, the player should have been allowed to roll and used that as the mechanism to educate the player.

Nearly every game and every setting has the same advice of, “If there is a chance of failure, make the player roll.” This isn’t any different. It is the mechanism we use to give players their chance to succeed and our chance to evolve the story.

There are so many possibilities that were denied when the roll was cut off. A really good roll may not have seduced him, but it might have made him blurt out some weird thing that came into play later. A horrible one could have spelled disaster.

If you are only interested in your story and your game, then don’t let them roll. Otherwise, roll with it.

#38 Comment By Wesley Street On June 23, 2010 @ 9:31 am

Foul.

The GM was either:

a) …unfamiliar with the setting. SR is a post-human setting and stating that trolls are unattractive to elves completely disregards that. As well as decades of canon.

b) …caught off-guard by a player’s decision and unwilling to facilitate a fair resolution.

#39 Comment By AntTheLimey On June 23, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

Foul.

Simply because the GM was an idiot in how he handled it, not because he decided it wouldn’t succeed. He broke the golden rule (for me) and removed the player’s ability to FEEL like she had an impact.

The proper way to handle is simply to say “make a roll”, let the player tell you how much they succeeded by, consult some hidden notes, and then inform the player how the NPC reacted.

It is vitally important not to let players know WHEN you Are fudging. It hurts their fun.

Badly handled, not badly decided. A GM can decide anything he wants regardless of the rules, but must NEVER let the player know their fate is pre-ordained. It violates the entire point of storytelling and RPGs.

#40 Pingback By Breaking the 4th Wall | Apathy Games On June 24, 2010 @ 1:00 am

[...] topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginGnome Stew asked an interesting question recently, in Fair or Foul: Unexpected GM Fait. They described a situation that was impossible for players to overcome with a specific skill set. [...]

#41 Comment By Argonnosi On July 8, 2010 @ 2:15 am

Fair. Seduction is a very specific practice with very specific purposes requiring very specific contexts. Does she expect to be able to use seduction on male homosexuals? This isn’t a video game. If she only has one tool in her kit and found herself in a talky situation where that tool doesn’t work then it’s her own fault. Kudos to the GM for putting his foot down.


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