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Player Character Pride


(UmbraSanctum) #1

I was wondering, not only in light of the most recent episodes but also hearkening back to early episodes with the original party, does anyone else that watches Court of Swords wish the players had more pride in their characters? I've noticed it pretty often; many of Adam's npc's tend to react as if they were adventurers and are seldom intimidated or at all surprised by the antics of the players. Around 70% of the time they flat out disrespect them or treat them as less than peers. The player's reactions to these instances I find to be unrealistic at times. One part of their party is a berserker path barbarian even, rage boiling under the surface, and he just shrugs off straight insults like a pacifist priest, or occasionally gives a vague, lukewarm threat. This is not only the barbarian, as we saw in week 24, the paladin became angry enough to use his angelic ability, only to have this random npc chuckle at it. He, as a vengeance paladin, then simply stops and walks away. How is that normal? Even powerful people would gawk at something like that if they're unused to it. How would most people react to that not knowing how strong the paladin was? Does this type of thing bother anyone else? What kind of reactions if any have other audience members felt were lackluster? Does anyone else want to see characters with a bit more self esteem? This kind of playstyle makes me see the players as pretty unimportant, and I'm trying to figure out if that's intended.

(Might be Captain Marvel) #2

Nope. The characters they play are not limited to the predominate emotion the class they are playing evokes it also depends on the situation. In real life a hot head would not always explode in fury, because even they would keep in mind that maybe this situation would not be the time or place for that.

As to the the example listed above - Dan is playing a vengeance Paladin but he also a part angel that follows the fountain. So for me it was perfectly fine for him to leave Golden Fist Princess alone. A person who is faithful and righteous would not smite all people, but would hold back their power in front of a person unworthy of it. So That was how it played out for me Azrail (sp?) left her alone because her words mean nothing and he held back his power because he was the bigger man. its the same as in real like when you ignore the insults of an idiot because they mean nothing, you walk away because they are not worth your time. For me holding back strength makes you more powerful, then using it at every opportunity.

I hope I was able to convey my idea across . :slight_smile:

(UmbraSanctum) #4

Not trying to say that the characters are limited to any emotion, because playing a 1-dimensional character that explodes at anything that gets their goat would be boring. On the other side of that coin, it seems like the way things are now, they nearly never give into anger, or at the least they tend toward the side of restraint. The angel type Azrael is playing isn't a protector, it's a scourge. That in addition to having the ability to use an Oath of Vengeance is a big deal, and should at least reflect a bit more in their characters, in my opinion. Paladins have codes they are to follow by RAW.

For Berg, I don't mean to suggest he ought to be blindly lashing out at people, but it seems he falls into a neutral if not submissive role the majority of the time. Combined with being used as a slave in the past, and the particular path he chose as a character, I feel the hotheadedness should be at least somewhat prevalent when certain scenarios come up.

All I'm suggesting is maybe it would be more realistic, since being prideful doesn't mean being wise enough to walk away, if the characters didn't accept getting treated like trash most of the time.

(UmbraSanctum) #5

I think what could be helpful in understanding the character's motives vs. the player's motives would be background choices. I'd be interested to see which motivations Berg took for instance (alignment choices), when picking his background.

You make a good point about the deadliness of the world reflecting in the roleplaying. I'm wondering how much that has to do with what I mentioned earlier regarding the general opposition being more or less unfazed by players and their abilities.

(iamatwitchuser) #7

Because the players are faced with a unbeatable force in Adam, and are playing in a deadly setting. If they would rise to the challenge any time Adam has a NPC provoke them, the party would wipe. The world Adam is running does not support PCs that do not think safety first. The PCs are constantly set as underdogs.

(iamatwitchuser) #9

Because they did nothing but appease the whole session. Had they stood up to the Devils, they would've all died.

(UmbraSanctum) #10

I agree with this. What I had been wondering is if I was alone in thinking this could be a result of Adam's style causing player influence via learned behavior to get in the way of playing the character as the character. As players, I think they're all playing incredibly smart not to rise to every threat.

(iamatwitchuser) #11

They are roleplaying their characters in a way that fits the setting they are in. Playing them in a more brash manner would not fit the setting, because such characters would have been killed of young in the world Adam is running.

(iamatwitchuser) #13

A fight that they did not initiate. Every time the Devils provoked them, the party appeased.

Is it possible to show replies only as child comments?
(Unfortunatename) #14

When you talk about role playing games the word " realistic " is generally best avoided. When you use it you are often talking about something else like suspension of disbelief or gameplay vs your expectations.

The PC's are not underdogs! It's 5e, Adam is following the rules and the players are supposed to win every fight, the vast majority of Adam's fights are in the hard range not deadly. Hard fights are supposed to expend player resources like health spells and rages etc. As they expend resources they may hit a point where they reach fights they cant win or which carry higher risk.

Having only 3 characters in a party does make a difference to this though, combat becomes more swingy and having someone go down early drastically shifts the action economy so the world has appeared more deadly and it has affected the RP and our view of the world.

(UmbraSanctum) #15

Can't speak for him, but I think that when iamatwitchuser said underdog, I'm not positive he meant in the sense that combat is hard. Since this thread wasn't referring to the difficulty in combat at all, seeing as it's being done perfectly well, I was aiming more for a discussion about the social aspects of the universe in which they're playing. I've no sizable qualms about the combat in the series.

Regarding the realistic aspect, I'm pretty sure I meant how reasonable certain actions would be given a particular character in a certain scenario. Not sure how you might define realism, but I suppose gameplay vs. expectation would fit in terms of what this thread is about. I was trying to focus more toward how the characters hold themselves in their mannerisms and reactions socially, and whether or not that's being influenced by players' innate reactions to the current universe and Adam's playstyle.

(AdamKoebel) #16

something to consider - the world does not care about the pcs. the priesthood is mostly corrupt, the mara are everywhere and even the arrival of a tian shi in the monastery is seen by most as an opportunity to personally excel. this is the story of the Court of Swords, so far - our noble beginnings with the magistrates showed us that the will of heaven, as mandated in the magistracy, is failing and flawed. the courts bite at each other behind closed doors and the great peace of the wheel of being is fraying at the edges.

i do see your meaning though, OP. there is certainly a level of gunshy behaviour, that while wise, is almost certainly a product of the deadliness of the world. people die for nothing, and an insult in the wrong ear, or stepping to someone when one ought not to step can mean life and death (this is why we've seen so many NPCs cut down - plum, azure vortext, etc). if the PCs are going to assert themselves in the world, it won't be through crass heroics or brash action, but through guile and through knowing when to wait and when to strike.

they'll need to be the cobra, not the elephant.

(Kol_Saresk) #17

Yeah, I mean one of the things we should consider is that one of the earliest fights, Zephyra and Baern were incapacitated and Velimir had to run away to avoid a TPK. If it wasn't for the skeletons just dragging their unconscious forms to the body pile, after they passed their death saving throws, that would have been two characters dead in, what, episode 1?

In a lot of ways, Court of Swords draws many parallels to dystopian backgrounds such as, say Warhammer 40K. The "good guys" are a regime that is more interested in serving itself while the actual good guys tend to be small cogs that actually strive for the ideals they preach. Or they just happen to somewhat decent half-orcs who take care of the people who take care of them while brutally slaughtering the kind of people who would see them as bugs being ground under heel.

(iamatwitchuser) #18

As @UmbraSanctum already said, I'm not talking about the fights, but about the setting. The party went from being slaves of Kukrit to servants of Grasping Hands. Adam is constantly putting the PCs in a position where they have to swallow their pride if they want to survive.

(iamatwitchuser) #19

A hard world to survive in as a rage-filled berserker and a angelic paladin.

(Kol_Saresk) #20

But it's a world that is literally no different from the world the same half-orc Bergzerker and angelic vengeance paladin were living in before. Berg and Azriel might have just traded their previous masters for a new one, but it was their choice this time around.

The setting has largely been indifferent since day one and the only two characters we've seen who didn't have some sort of master were Zawaz Wazaz and Persnidgetron Torbisher.

And if what @AdamKoebel has said the Patreon-zines is indicative of what will happen in the long run, the players won't be able to survive in the setting independently until they reach higher levels. Which they may not because the trade off for faster leveling experience is more difficult encounters. That's why they've mostly had Deadly encounters since Day 1, Episode 1, Part 1.

(iamatwitchuser) #22

Who said it was any different? The setting has had the characters as underdogs since the reboot. While they technically chose to serve Grasping Hands, it would have cost the party some 2000 gold pieces and their future armor if they would have chosen not to. And considering Adam chose to have a overlord for them in the Monastery, they might have been faced with another one no matter where they went.

(UmbraSanctum) #23

Those are good points, especially about the foreshadowing the early campaign gave us. Thank you for the confirmation regarding the product by design, I had been curious about that.

Would it be safe then, to assume the majority of npc's that react in the ways I'd mentioned have either experienced more intimidating things than the pc's or otherwise have had prior experiences to dull the nerves? I suppose it would fit with the setting in how deadly the world is, hardening many that the pc's run into. If this is the case, then I would have to say I had been looking at this all wrong in assuming the meek would be the majority of the populace in the setting. This is cool, don't get me wrong, I very likely have just been confused about it. This information has helped alleviate that.

To summarize, you'd say that they're recent experiences would make it so the characters are shaken enough to at times, overshadow their aggression, that in a different setting would be apparent? Maybe I hadn't seen the wary side to the behavior because I wasn't focusing on that.

(Unfortunatename) #24

They don't have to swallow their pride to survive.

They have chosen to swallow their pride. Possibly to make things easier. But they could have chosen not to. Making those choices is the meaningful bit they tells us what the characters are about and what their place in the world is.

Adam has put them in situations which test what the characters are about. It lets the players assert or find out what their characters are.

The whole premise of the game has been tied to authority and dealing with it. Initially the PC's started out with a sort of Dogs in the Vineyard style authority over most folk. They had status & responsibility and they would be listened to & obeyed, they were important.

When they rebooted they flipped it around and made the characters slaves/prisoners under the authority they had once been part of. They had no status, they had to obey someone else and their lives were worth very little. As PC's they are on a timer as their slave masters ability to control them diminishes as they get stronger.

It's still dnd, it may not be long before everyone and their mother is running to hills to escape the PC god monster hobos who solve everything with murder because it's easy and barely anything in the world can go toe-to-toe with them in a fight.

(iamatwitchuser) #25

The directly oppose Kukrit, they die. They directly oppose Grasping Hands, they die. They constantly face provocation from NPCs they could not survive taking head-on.

No PC can ever overpower the DM.