Category Archives: Play Sessions

The Most Embarrassing Player Death…

This is the story of how I (almost) died in session three of the on-going Rogue Trader campaign I’m playing in. It was, at least, a glorious near-death experience. The only reason I wasn’t rolling up a new character there and then, was use of the fate point mechanic and a Teleportarium.

It was meant to be a simple operation. Grav-chute out of shuttle at high altitude to avoid detection, land on the roof of a temple, break in, grab the Armour of Sanguine and get out out. The temple was circular, with a 10 kilometre diameter dome with 8 tunnel-like structures radiating from it. The target area we were aiming for was a two kilometre wide area of stained glass in the centre of the dome. A true masterpiece of pre-Imperium engineering.

Vendigroth and Anastasia (the party’s Astropath and Rogue Trader respectively) both landed successfully, near the edge of the dome. Both myself and Salia (a powerfist and chainsword wielding ball of psychopathic fury), landed with slightly less grace. Salia was headed towards a collection of unpleasantly spiky structures on the dome, until I knocked into her sending us both towards the stained glass in the middle of the dome.

Then things got slightly nasty. After failing two rolls to correct my decent, I hit the dome at speed, taking critical damage. I then rolled down the dome, failing five rolls (one per kilometre plunged). Eventually I passed out, shooting off the edge of the dome and plunging through a multi-storey hovel, much to the surprise of a number of mutants within. On the upside, they are now the proud owners of a bag of Mechanicus equipment, a Boltgun and an optical mechadendrite.

At that point the Teleportarium finally locked on to my bubbling and broken body, transporting me to the ship’s Medicae bay. I played my Servo-Skull familiar for most of the rest of the session.

For those who doubt my lack of luck when it comes to dice rolling, I made 9 rolls (1 initial roll, 1 re-roll, 1 correction roll, 1 re-roll, 5 rolls as I fell). Of those, all but one was more then 90, with at most of them coming within Rogue Trader’s ‘probably fatal’ band between 96 and 99. It was a wonderful and glorious piece of action.

It also demonstrates my favourite part of the fate point mechanic. In addition to the standard rules, which allows fate points to be spent to re-roll a skill check, house rules allow a fate point to be burnt permanently, avoiding certain death by the skin of the teeth. This does allow for quite wonderful, action-movie style events such as this, without cheapening death to the point that it’s an inconvenience rather then a serious consideration (as in some games where a revive spell doesn’t cost much).

RPG Blogger’s Carnival: Going Too Far

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoWhere are the ethical limits in Role-Playing?

There are different challenges in different games. In D&D, Vampires are a creature of evil, nicely clean cut and lined up for your party to slaughter without a second thought. On the other hand, Vampire: The Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade set you up as the vampire, having to take into account the required for frequent doses of fresh, human blood, so even if you’re character is good, you still have to engage in a hunt for humans and a rather horrible act which has been compared to a variety of other morally reprehensible crimes.

Some games, such as the Warhammer roleplaying games even go so far as to encourage what we would regard as immoral behaviour. In WFRP, in the Human Empire, Elves are not allowed to enter buildings and must be chained up outside. Dark Heresy goes one step further, with all Alien races deemed heretical and subject to summery execution.

So given this context, where do you just turn round and say no?

Of course, at the extreme end of the spectrum there are a variety of games that no right-minded gamer would every touch. F.A.T.A.L. and Racial Holy War are two of the more notorious example – both glorifying a very real-world racial hatred against various groups. F.A.T.A.L., of course, takes this right up to 11, with the rules encouraging rape and demonstrating a lack of taste, common-sense and general human decency.

Very far over the acceptable line indeed, but then not at all representative of your average gamer.

So where is the line for the average gamer, to wit, Me?

Well, I’ve done some pretty bad things in character.

One of my favourite gaming stories is the complete and utter carnage that half my Dark Heresy group got caught up in a one-shot story. The plot involved a Death Cult on a graveyard planet and remains the only time I’ve ever seen a Party actively try and kill it’s-self. The short version is, through the use of disguises made from the skin of dead Imperial Guard, we infiltrated the Cult, didn’t realise when we should probably have stopped and opened fire and ended up conducting a Demonic summoning. I ended up killing a pregnant women as a sacrifice.

I’m not terribly proud of that, even though on of my colleagues promptly scarified me in return for immortality or some such. I even rolled a dice to decide to go through with it or not, because while I thought my character would be happy with it, I wasn’t. Would I do it again? Probably not, because I admit that was over my personal line and I didn’t feel comfortable doing it.

The second time that I know I went too far was shooting a Kobold pup. This was during Castles & Crusades, in a world where we were religiously mandated to kill all evil creatures. The Cleric even got bonus XP in an earlier session for a stunning in-character tirade laying out exactly why evil creatures couldn’t be redeemed.

To be clear, several people did say that they weren’t comfortable with the pups being introduced (this was in an ‘official’ module as well, not the product of a particularly sadistic GM’s mind). I also roleplayed a loss of faith after that, although not particularly well.

So, yeah, where do I think the moral lines are in a roleplaying situation?

Killing kids of any type is right out. It’s not smart, it’s not clever, it’s not funny, no matter how annoying the pint-sized MacGuffin the GM’s saddled you with is.

Anything relating to sex is out. I’ve heard of people introducing rape as a plot element, in particular in World of Darkness, but it’s not something I’d be comfortable dealing with.

In-game racism varies from game to game. It can be a good way to generate friction or provide plot. It’s still not something I feel that comfortable with, but backstory and motivation make a world of difference. Any game where I was asked to hate on a specific real world group or a fantasy group without motivation would be out.

Murder, theft, pillaging, unleashing demonic hoards, destroying planets, killing PCs: No problem with any of that. That’s just good old fashioned fun.

This post isn’t really what I was expecting it to be, although it has given me quite a lot of things to think about. I do like to play my own values in some games, which is why my brand new Rogue Trader character is a heretic, an idealist and a renegade. Maybe this is a bad thing, maybe I should be trying to roleplay outside of my moral comfort zone. But then again, if I feel bad after roleplaying a situation I’m not comfortable with, then eventually I’m going to stop wanting to roleplay.