More d20 -> HQ thoughts

Another thought from the same thread on the Forge, this one having to do with the idea that characters in HQ can fail in maybe one contest ever session and still be cool, and how to voice that to the players:

Anything in particular I could try to ease the group over into a new mindset about success/failure and fun/unfun?

First, have a frank discussion about something. How many times did you fudge the dice in D&D so that they’d win? I’m going to guess that it was a bunch. Or have to retreat in the final scene to heal up and come back later to take a second stab at it. Where’s the story in that? So you over-ride the rules in order to ensure that the story is better. Why? Because you’re one of those conscientious GMs who wants to insure that the “story” part of the game happens. D&D does little to support the creation of drama itself.

Guilty. Oh so very, very guilty. People in that game like to joke that all I want to do is kill off the group and end the game, but ladies and gentlemen, if that were true the game would have been over in November of 02. I’m just sayin’.

Then ask them if they were aware of your fudging. When they say yes, and that it bothered them in some ways, then ask them if they’d like it if you’d never have to fudge again.
When they say yes (yes I’m making a hell of a lot of assumptions here), then ask them if they trust you to make sure that their characters are cool.

See, that is a very good question — do you trust me to respect your character and the coolness therein? If yes, we’re gold. If no, then why the hell are you playing with my untrustworthy self?

Because, after all, this is what the fudging was about in the other system, where only success is cool. If they trust you, then they have to understand that you, as GM in HQ, have the power to assure that, when they fail, they fail with aplomb.
Without altering the system at all.

Yeah, something I’ve been talking about for a year now is how to be cool even when your fail. Hell, looking good while you’re failing. When you lose a fight, is it because he fought badly? No, the ability level of a character does not change in a contest, the only variable is the die roll. The character always does as well as his ability level would indicate – failure is (usually, not always) the result of the randomness of situation that occurs. I fail to seduce the chick not because I’m not cool – the character sheet says I’m good at this – usually, I’m cool. No, it’s because some stupid waiter spilled soup on me at an inorpportune moment – that’s me blowing the roll.

So, if the players trust you to let the dice fall where they may, and to make their character’s look cool when they fail, then what’s next? Here’s an interesting thing. Ask them if they thought it was realistic that all of their opponents were always tailored to their ability level? That is, why is it that they only met orcs when they were first level, and ogres when they were fourth? Why didn’t they meet up with any Ogres at first level?

Man, if I had a buck every time I’ve heard people bitch about this.
Oh, more often, get annoyed when I mention it. No one wants to be reminded that, in the Big Fight, the main fighter needs exactly the same rolls to hit and takes exactly the same percentage of his hit points in damage from the Big Bad, per round, as he did at 1st level.
The only thing that changes is (a) the names (b) the special effects (c) the painful extension to the length of each fight.

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