Thursday, February 23, 2012

When You Get The Chance Go For Power!

So, back to the Pathfinder game! The players were given the opportunity to create characters using anything PF legal. This had particular import in relation to character-ready races from bestiaries. There was a mad dash to try and find the biggest, baddest most amped up race available. Which just confirmed my suspicions that players haven't changed much over the years. Given the opportunity they will go for power every time.

I think we ended up with an Ifrit, 2 Orcs, a Drow and an Aasimar. Huh?! I could tell right away my dwarf was not going to be okay with that--mainly the orcs, but the Drow wasn't going to go well either--and it would be three to 1. But it wasn't to be anyway, as we started shorthanded--only four of us, with one down already and in the middle of a fight with a zombie ogre. My dwarf really debated with himself about just turning tail and running as one after another of his companions dropped around him like flies. But he was a Lawful Good Cleric so he hated the evil that raised this monstrosity. Not to mention it was an Ogre, which he hated by dint of being a dwarf. So in the end it was more in line with his personality to charge in and slay the beast. He did have +4 to his AC against giant types after all. So with a 22 AC I felt fairly safe, and rushed headlong into glory.

And the Ogre rolled a 28. Ouch. Suffice it to say I ended up as a dwarf stain against the dungeon wall. Didn't even get to shout my death cry. Oh well. We all died, except for the Barbarian who ran like a sissy girl, but lived to fight another day. That's when the freak parade mentioned above entered the adventure. I give credit to the the student GM for not letting the monster PCs enter the town--they would have nothing to do with them. But they still found the dungeon entrance and sallied onward.

He is also getting peeved by the cheating die rolls of our players. He keeps asking me what to do about it, and I can only sympathize and suggest he require all rolls be witnessed by him. Which is a bit of a pain around a table of 12 players. I really think this GM is doing a good job too. He isn't too tough , but he isn't a pushover either. We got kind of shafted, just because we ended up with 4 PCs fighting the Ogre because of last minute PC pullouts and late arrivals. But what was he supposed to do about that?

Once again however, my feeling is that Players will always look for power when given the opportunity. Not that this is universally the situation as a couple of players like instead to develop detailed PC backgrounds, and don't always jump for the wildest and off the wall PC options for something new and awesome. One of our girl players was more interested in developing a halfling fighter with a knightly code of conduct and how that fit into his life. I really tried to praise her for that and use her as an example for the other players. But it seems to fall on deaf ears.

Interestingly I just started an old school campaign with my kids at home and their young cousin. The ages there are 12, 11, 9 and 6. And it was like a breath of fresh air! There was a huge world of difference in how they played, how cautious they were, how much they thought things through and how they worked together to overcome obstacles. It was inspiring and gratifying--since three of them are my children! And it also let me know that it wasn't me doing something wrong in my GMing. I was GMing the same way in both games. It's just that the combination of players in my own kid's game did sooooo much better than the kids at school. Which has really given me pause to think.

I don't think my own kids are that much smarter than the kids at school for one. Nor are they more experienced--this is their first game. I think our school groups are just too big. 12 is too big for young kids to work together and coordinate. If for no other reason than too much is going on at once. It is also easy to get overwhelmed by monsters. If I do a one for one monster ratio, it's almost like they can't deal strategically with a battle like that. I think it would be much better if there were four or maybe five PCs per group. I also think it works best when friends play together--or at least people who know each other well. Not only so they get along, but so they can work off of each others' strengths, and warn each other when their weaknesses show.

It may still be that the PCs in our school group want power above all else just for the sake of having power and being "cool". But it could also be that they have failed miserably this year at playing the game and are simply looking for extra power or different options to find that winning "combination" of PC development that will allow them to prevail. Either way I think reducing group size is almost a must. And will probably be the next change I implement in my school club.

Oh, and no, I didn't create a new PC. I may still do so, but I was feeling lousy that day physically--getting  a cold--and just didn't feel like jumping back in the game. Magmar is dead--long live Magmar, and the few things I learned while playing in his sturdy dwarven boots.

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