Mush Campaigns

  • The first game I ever had a character die on was The Greatest Generation (it was the first non-consent game I ever really got into). I had lots of characters die there, just because of the nature of how the combat code worked, and after awhile I kind of got a kick out of it, in a macabre way. My poor bastard soldiers got a reputation for turn-over after awhile, both because I was very active at times (and able to make lots of battle scenes) and because I actually did shit in scenes (and 'doing shit' is either glorious or ruinous in some high-risk situations). I also did a lot of soft RP, so my characters were pretty well-developed by the time they died, and a few deaths seemed to actually impact other PCs and created a lot of ripple RP I loved to read (reading about your dead characters is the best kind of mention porn).

    I was cool with losing my characters on TGG (and most of the players who stuck around for any length of time were), I think, because the headwiz was very, very upfront about the level of risk in combat scenes, and I always felt like things were fair. This is all I ask out of a GM. Be clear about the chance of a character dying, even if it's remote, and I'll happily roll with it. This is one of those things that requires a high level of trust, though, or else it's not fun, and trust is a frustratingly tricky commodity between players and GMs on MU* settings.

    I don't think characters need to die for RP to be worthwhile, or to feel like there's a certain amount of risk in a scene (though I do, always, want stupid, stupid IC actions to have consequences somehow, even if it's just be a mission failing or an injury that the PC has to deal with). And I'm fine with players don't want to go there, as long as what they actually want isn't "I always want to win because winning is the only fun thing." But I do think it can make RP and stories more worthwhile, in the right situations.

  • Pitcrew

    There is not right or wrong way to play these games.
    To me the issue is games not being clear on what they are. To use table top as an imperfect example, in most of my games I states right away in the beginning that death can and will happen, a friend of mine in the same group when he runs is clear that only in the most unusual of circumstances will a PC die. Most players in both sets of games are the same and have fun, the tone of the games is different. His games tend to be more high action action blockbuster explosion-y stuff mind tend to be lower key gritty action more like film noir then summer blockbuster.
    My issue with a lot of games where no death occurs is they are not clear about the expectations, so I play my char as cautious but active, not running from the plot but trying to do things in a smart way to maximize chance of success and end up being the char who never does anything because folks are rewarded for running heedlessly into danger. I have no problem being the action movie hero who laughs at danger but be clear that is the game you are running.

  • Pitcrew

    I too find it wildly frustrating if ICA =/= ICC on a game. But I strongly object to the idea that the only way to establish stakes on a game is to kill people's characters without warning. If the game inflicts no consequences on a character for doing stupid things, that's a big issue, yeah. But that doesn't actually mean that the only right way to tell the story is to have non-consensual character death. That said, if you're on a consent game and a player does something wildly stupid and there's no real other option, I think there's room for the GM to be like "okay you are totally going to die if you do that there's not really any other option" and if the player does it anyways that's pretty much consenting to character death even if they insist they shouldn't die.

  • Admin

    @ThatGuyThere said:

    To me the issue is games not being clear on what they are. To use table top as an imperfect example, in most of my games I states right away in the beginning that death can and will happen, a friend of mine in the same group when he runs is clear that only in the most unusual of circumstances will a PC die.

    The problem is I've never been to a WoD game which didn't claim 'death can and will happen'. :) How people responded to the actual possibility of death though was amusing - on TR I used to rate the risk for my PrPs in advance. I got a page by ... someone, I forget his name now (of course) who was actually one of the big guns in Mage asking me what one star meant. When I explained it meant some danger was present if things went a specific way and there was combat he immediately signed out of the +event.

    Some people don't want to lose their characters. It doesn't matter what you say, what the game's rules are or even if they will be just sad but not cause issues if it happens or if they'd pitch a fit. They don't want it to happen.

    There is one problem here which is systemic though; rewarding only physical danger with tangible rewards (such as XP). In the long run that means if I join every combat plot with my brawlin' Gangrel and kick ass I'll outpace your delicate socialite Daeva, especially since if you come to those scenes your chances of dying are probably significantly than mine.

    Some games, like TR, compound the imbalance by letting STs get a scaling portion of the rewards and thus ensure there will be more combat scenes ran as well.

  • Pitcrew

    There is a world of difference between a game saying that death can and will happen, that is a good start the game as made a statement. Now it comes to the staff on the game to enforce that statement.
    Sadly most of the time this does not happen, not just in the case of death but in any statement, It most cases the staff does not try to enforce any level of lethality so the can and will die statement means as much as me declaring no one can drive past my house today. If it gets noticed at all it is to be politely laughed at before everyone goes along their way.
    Death on WoD games except Dark Metal has always been rare as hen's teeth, mostly because it leads to a metric shit ton of drama., which no one wants to deal with.
    Of course I also see no problem with the example you site. In my mind that is how things are supposed to work. You had a plot to run. Player asked a question about said plot. You answered. He decided plot was not what he was looking for. How is that not everything working the way it should? Yes some people will play a mush to have it be supernatural house.
    The social danger thing is hard to do on a mush, mainly because the main social power is all pcs. Oh noes if in a plot I become an official pariah, guess what besides not rping in a spheres special spot it likely will have no actual consequences Even Bob will no longer rp with me on his Sphere a character, we will just have his sphere B character rp with me and no real difference is made, and most of the time even if someone is ICly ostracized from the sphere people will still rp with them if they enjoy the player. Just like social rewards are mostly meaningless. Bab can become the hero of all things werewolf but if I don't enjoy rping with him. My werewolf would always find an excuse to avoid hanging out with him despite him being a hero. At the absolute best case for Bob would be a quick mail saying my char shows up is polite and friendly while I proceed to not waste my RL time on rp I am not fond of.

  • Admin

    @ThatGuyThere said:

    There is a world of difference between a game saying that death can and will happen, that is a good start the game as made a statement. Now it comes to the staff on the game to enforce that statement.

    How do you enforce a statement which claims something may happen? I just imagined staff paging STs going "hey dude, come how no one's died in your plots in THREE WEEKS, huh?" :)

    Elaborate if you will?

  • Pitcrew

    That one is easy no not be a roadblock when it occurs. I have seen plenty of death retconned by staff sometimes even in plots they were running for the reason of I don't want to deal with the possible drama.
    Another WoD game I was on had the usual can and will happen line but any death had to be in a staff run scene.
    why yes death could happen in either case both are example of how you road block it so the can and will statement is mostly meaningless.

  • I just want to clarify. I wasn't saying that staff should just KILL a PC to make a point or some quota. I was using kill in the sense that when the dice, or health levels, or situation (was warned OOCly to not eat irradiated uranium and did so ICly anyway) warrants it, that staff/GM allow/rule that that character dies. Doing so maintains an important level of causality in the theme of the game and allows for characters to recycle as needed.

    One of my major gripes about MUs is, in some cases, the sheer number of GOD-level characters who have effectively made it to max level with all of the equipment, perks, and power on the game, and they've achieved this mostly through GMing that didn't allow them to die when they repeatedly should have OR by not increasing the risks due to the rewards involved. Sure, all level one players want their own space armada by level two, but let's not allow a single roll to determine that, yes?

    Anyway, I digress. My point is this:

    All too often, the power balance becomes upset on a game and a small handful of stacked-sheet characters usurp control with seemingly no way to challenge, avoid, or disagree with them due to the constant threat of PK, right? But a game who doesn't enforce death and/or using the combat/death rules per the system the game is designed off often neglectfully allows power players to skyrocket to positions of immovable power.

    Avoiding the potential hate-breath of a player upset because you allowed one of his characters to die is simply not healthy for a game, and really is unfair to the characters who are basing their actions on the rules and not their power-gaming ambitions.

  • Politics

    Never forget your tank. Then there is no fear of death...

  • Banned

    I can understand people not wanting to let PC's die to avert shitstorms. I'm contemptuous of players who let themselves get killed just to ruin the game for everyone else, or have extraordinarily stupid characters who eat the entire Thing of cyanide despite multiple warnings and reproaches against doing so. Or they have depressing characters who are quite literally just there to be killed, which is lazy storytelling.

    Take my Mortal character on Ruptured Promises, the Japanese-American woman: she had a functional life outside of being grievously wounded by supernatural beings. She had a relationship with a PC, was working on an architectural project for another PC, and was being heavily flirted on by yet another PC.

    I also loudly broadcast to the Staff my willingness to endure risks with my character. Before we started scenes, Staff would engage me in a conversation of this sort:

    Staff: This will be a combat scene. Your character may die, you know. Are you okay with this?
    Cirno: I'm okay with this.

    The other players seemed aware of the fact that she was going to die, which was very likely why they were mostly very nice to her and accommodating and tried to fit me into as many scenes as possible.

    They were also amused by my character, and in one scene, I recall, a male and female PC started squeezing her breasts at a bar, and I, of course, roleplayed being totally horrified and appalled by this turn of events, while we were all ayy lmao'ing OOCly.

  • Admin

    The only time I can remember being annoyed at potential character death was on HM, years ago. I was completely new to the sphere, like... two weeks in, and barely knew anyone so Fry (I forget his PC's name now) offered to run a PrP for a few people. Happily enough I joined in.

    Well, there were 3 of us, all either non-combat or having barely had any XP spent on anything, and he threw a small army of axe-wielding people at us (no idea why to this day, they were just hanging out in tunnels waiting for someone to chop into bits?). In WoD 1.0, too, where numbers really mattered a lot, so my PC fell into torpor and the rest barely managed to kill the last opponent to survive themselves.

    Like... come on man, scale the threats to your participants at least a little bit. It's not fun to die right out of CGen before your character has had a chance to roleplay or even knows what he's dying for.

  • This has been a fun discussion, one more question:

    How much of the campaign do you foreshadow? I've seen a comment or two about people hating when things get 'weird' or take a drastic turn in a direction they weren't expecting. Has anyone run a game where the end goal was in the open? In BSG, I assume everyone knows they're looking for Earth, but beyond that, do you find it beneficial to keep players in the loop of where a story is going?

  • I run tabletop games and have never run the plotside of a mush, but I can tell you from a GM perspective.

    I don't so much foreshadow as I do create elements in the present that work like carrots on a horse. I'll plan, say, an assault on a facility to free hostages, and inside will be evidence that someone was onsite directing traffic before the assault, which will both launch follow-up adventures and keep players invested in their involvement in the campaign. I like foreshadowing, but I definitely prefer the abovementioned kind of foreshadowing over visions and future viewing, because then I feel trapped by the future, Mua'Dib style.

  • Yeah, I feel fine doing stuff all secret like in Table Top, because I know the players personally and can cater to what they like.

    In a Mush though, it seems like the players become much more invested because of the time spent with a particular character and the hoops they've had to jump through to get there.

    The game I'm considering doing is basically going to be an Infinite worlds/The Mist/Half-Life/Rifts mashup, where players are townies who then get sucked into the end of the world as they know it. Of course, I'd tell people that hey, this is going to be a Rifts mush some time in the future, but right now, you get to play a Yuppie with a lake house while we get the ball rolling on RUINING YOUR CHARACTER'S LIFE!

    Oh, and they might die along the way, but if all goes to plan, Cgen will be a snap.

  • Pitcrew

    @Ghost No player-provided content will make it into the book(s). The setting and a few Staff-created characters will be used, but to the best of my ability, no others will be.

  • @Seraphim73 said:

    @Ghost No player-provided content will make it into the book(s). The setting and a few Staff-created characters will be used, but to the best of my ability, no others will be.

    My suggestion would be to upgrade that to a guarantee that no player-characters or content created by the non-authors of the book are used in an unauthorized manner, and then next time post an open disclaimer and an end-user license agreement.

    I was less than pleased to learn that you opened a mush using a setting you were intending to write a book series in, then when the mush ended, locked everyone out of the wiki. It's a little suspicious.

    It's no big deal, though. I've made sure to retain logs, entries, and whatnot and will keep an eye out. None of us authorized the use of content and a good number of us are aware/monitoring.

  • Pitcrew

    @Ghost I assure you that the locking of the wiki was just to retain the Staff-created setting information. I can also assure you that I will make every attempt to keep anything driven by other players out of anything written.

    Tropes being tropes, and Staff having laid out some details of the family backgrounds, some similarities will undoubtedly remain, but I will definitely be trying to keep anything created by non-Staff PCs out of any finished product.

    On a side-note, I mentioned several times on public channels that I hoped to write a book or books set in the world, although I'll admit that we probably should have put together some agreement or disclaimer on the wiki.

  • Admin

    @SG said:

    How much of the campaign do you foreshadow?

    Foreshadowing is fine, telegraphing everything is not. You can be coy and a certain amount of that can work great to build anticipation, but let it sit for too long and it gets stale. Your players will just want to get to the part where the payoff's at.

    To give an example.

    A while ago I ran a plot in a fantasy game where Warder trainees were being taken around the Borderlands (a hard place next to the Blight where hordes of monsters resided) to show them how people there survived under such a constant threat. So I took them to an old fort, made sure to drop hints - it was under disrepair, it hadn't seen active duty in decades, the only soldiers manning it were old veterans and disfavoured grunts - so it was pretty obvious to the players a siege was coming, it was just a matter of time.

    So allowing the upcoming fight to generate tension is a good thing. But if I let it stay at that over a certain point the same people I'm counting on to be excited and nervous will get complacent and bored - the more time passes without the other shoe dropping the more annoying it gets as they get into conversations about the state of the world (yawn, they can do that outside a plot) and generic tactical chats ('this is how I'd defend that ancient iron gate') when they could be struggling to stay and keep each alive under wave after wave of flesh-eating monsters.

    Then I can (and should) give them time to have those exact conversations between waves, which carries far more value. Now they're bonding in the face of death, not having a bar conversation.

    Foreshadowing is one tool you have as a Storyteller but so is pacing. They both need to be engaged for either to work.

  • Pitcrew

    Big surprise im gonna mention Firan. (mostly because since quitting its the only game Ive played for any decent amount of time) The liberation of Ellish was a massive scale campaign (easily 75-100 players) that had a solid opening middle and close. Many died. Many succeeded. Lots of unique mechanics and such in play. It was really the only time the Firans won against the Shamis from what I heard. It was good tho, not perfect in any way, but good. All down hill from there.