there is SOOOO much talk about Attack Attack Attack going on and i know the pros and cons of doing it. I fight pretty hard conflicts with harsh compromises as a GM but
I don’t have anything to loose. When my weasels die, what do i care. The compromise will most times be harder for the patrol then for the NPCs. Am i wrong with this?
Of course i should play to win the conflict but compromises are often even more fun aren’t they?
Something I like to do is have pet NPCs that are recurring so that when there’s a particularly brutal compromise I do end up feeling it (or at least the patrol can see the effects of it and feel like it mattered). This can be especially interesting to use with Relationships of the PCs.
Another thing that helps is that I’m a huge stickler for narrating during Conflicts–I require each of my PCs to describe exactly what they’re doing when they Attack or Maneuver or whatever. I also do this, and when I’m scripting for an animal–say a snake–I read the description of the animal in the rulebook and note its nature descriptors (and also take whatever I know about an animal from real life) and try to imagine how the animal would approach a fight with a mouse. Sometimes this doesn’t translate into what is necessarily the most effective moves from a mechanical standpoint, but by trying to emulate a snake (mine often open with a maneuver or sometimes a feint if we’re a bit further in the conflict) then PCs can feel like they’re fighting unique enemies that require different strategies–and you can also reward Loremouse players because by knowing the nature descriptors or the temperament of the animal, they can really utilize tactics to take it down based on what the Loremouse “tells” them about snake behavior. It also has the added benefit of every conflict not winding up the same as both sides try to game the system as much as they can.
Why assume you should play to win? Isn’t the goal of roleplaying weasels to be the best weasel you can be? Weasels are people too. Shouldn’t they try to avoid compromises just like the PCs do? Shouldn’t your weasels care if they die?
My thoughts: As the GM you’re not the adversary, you’re the adversity. Characters grow through adversity in stories and games, and that’s the GM’s primary objective, a rousing good time with lots of adversity. If you set your goal as challenging the players, whether you win or lose a particular conflict is much less important than what price the characters pay, what challenges they overcome, what defeats and achievements shape them. If adversity and character growth is your watchword, then you can play for compromises rather than victory, and I think you will find playing your weasels as real people easier.
What I think Praion is talking about, is that the gm naturally isn’t as invested in the npcs as the players are in their characters. And that is as it should be, I think. The game and the story is after all about the characters, they are the heroes.
Yes!!! I want to print that slogan on a t-shirt and wear it at cons, along with my other mantra for GMing, “Consult the fiction.”
Anyway, I agree that the GM isn’t as invested in his NPCs as the PCs are in their characters, and I agree that this is as it should be. Nevertheless, the GM should attempt to play the NPCs as fully as possible. This includes intelligent NPCs, and most animals, not wanting to die!