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Blond Gamer Girl

Combat or A Chance to use the little gray cells

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Combat or Creativity

To all GMs out there and answer this honestly: Do you create bad guys or situations where instead of using combat to diffuse the situation a player can realistically use their creativity to diffuse the situation?

If combat is the only solution, is the GM creating the power gamers?

How do you define combat?

PC Definition: A chance to kill some bad guys
GM Definition: A chance to quell the herd

“A chance to use the little gray cells,” Poirot quote.
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  1. micalus's Avatar
    I usually start from the top down. I create a world view, then a nation view, then a city view (where the characters are at) and so on down. If the characters work at street level, then I make my bad guys at the city level. So the PCs will eventually meet up with them but not for a while. On the street level I then place a number of situations for them to deal with. But I never lead the characters around to do some specific task and Especially do not make them solve it a certain way. If the characters rely on any specific way of doing something, it can generally bite them at some point. Word gets around and NPCs are not always dumb.
    90% of the time, I can come up with plan A, B or C and they can come up X, Y or Z that Never occured to me. I guess that is why I like SR. It's more the results that matter most alot of the time and the characters live in a gray area with alot of choice.

    My definition of combat is any fight, whether to the death or not.
  2. russdm's Avatar
    I usually plan out what encounters should be combats and which ones should be solved by means other than combat. Being a combat junkie though, I don't usually have alot of non-combat encounters. Also, I have my DMing style strongly influenced by Dark Sun, so i usually make a bit tougher encounters.

    I try to make a mix, but most non-combat encounters are made to usually very quickly take care of whatever that it was made for so I can get back to the combats. I do like having the characters use their skills, since they went to the effort to put ranks in them or take them trained. The skills rarely used in my games are the craft or profession skills.
  3. Q-man's Avatar
    It depends on the encounter. Some of them are pure combat, these I view as punishing the players for doing something stupid. For example if they are meant to sneak into the villain's lair and instead they kick in the front door, they are going to fight guards; short of running away I don't tend to include alternate solutions. These are definitely the 'quell the herd' encounters.

    The encounters I really enjoy making and sending my players into the combat is secondary, and their real goal is something that combat won't solve. For example there is some ritual going on that the players need to stop, in their way are the guys casting the ritual. The combat is tactical where they are herding the cultists away from their work so that their spell can be dismantled. The idea is that the combat is another difficulty in the larger encounter, killing off all the cultists won't give them victory since the ritual will still be going on; but stopping the ritual without harming a cultist would be a victory.

    I also like to put twists on the combat to make the players seek solutions that don't involve death. Have them need to capture one of the enemies for interrogation, or have one of the good guys possessed by an evil spirit, stuff like that. Killing their opponent will win the encounter, however it will have some negative effects in the larger campaign.

    Realistically its not possible to have these sort of special more-than-combat encounters all the time. They take significantly more time to plan out so there isn't always free time to put them together. Not to mention there are some places in the story where they simply won't fit. So I'll admit that there are times when I might steer my players towards more power gaming.
  4. Sascha's Avatar
    Combat is one means to resolve physically a conflict. When I design a conflict, I don't generally design a solution; it's the players' job. Some conflicts are easier to resolve using one method or another, and I try to be as open as possible - player to player - as to what a given resolution's likely consequences are. Conflict as "punishment" or "thinning the herd" is rather alien to me.

    (Also, the premise sounds like an excluded middle. It reads like 'creativity' simply means 'non-combat,' and thus combat and creativity are mutually exclusive. I'd take issue with that first claim.)