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Thread: Ask a GM [09/02/08]: Magic as an Adventure-Breaker

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    Ask a GM [09/02/08]: Magic as an Adventure-Breaker

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    fmitchell asks, "Magic as an Adventure-breaker"

    In a past attempt at GMing, I've had a party of (GURPS) mages run roughshod over my planned adventures. Here are some ways I've heard or thought of to combat the problem:
    • Realize that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and simply improvise.
    • Become intimately familiar with your PC's character sheets, and plan around powers like Teleportation, Telepathy, Scrying, etc.
    • As a corollary to the above, hammer on the PC's weak spots (e.g. warriors with enough gear to repel magic, or training to surprise a mage before he can get a spell off.)
    • Forbid adventure-breaking powers like Teleportation and Telepathy.
    • Restrict magic generally in a fantasy game (e.g. psychic powers only, ritual magic only, no magic items or spell enhancers)
    • Eliminate magic for PCs and most NPCs, perhaps with a suitable replacement (e.g. cool warrior powers, weapons of legacy). Any remaining "magic" simply provides plot hooks and twists, a la Pendragon.

    Any other suggestions? The last three seem somewhat draconic (Athenian lawgiver, not big fire-breathing pseudo-reptile).
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    Let me address one aspect of your very complicated questions -- How do you run a successful mystery in a game where the PCs have divination magic?

    If you are running an investigative campaign, yes, you have to throw out the spell 'Find Murderer' or any spell/power that allows you to 100% reliably question a witness for guilt or innocence. That spell does not serve the purpose of fun. It makes the game boring. Just as giving the PCs a sword that kills with a single swing takes the challenge out of combat, these spells make investigation a pointless exercise. Establish the rules early and don't waver from them.

    If you are running a campaign where investigation is a sideline then you have more flexibility. Disable the PCs divinatory powers for a session and force them to solve a mystery. In the city-state of Tyburn, magic and psionics not cast by official state wizards (i.e. the PCs) are disabled thanks to a powerful ancient artifact the city is built around. Or the law forbids the use of magic and a local sheriff is with you or more less the whole time. Result -- no magic. For this session.

    Many systems also make the brainy wizards skill mongers. They are chock full of arcane information. To keep the magic-deprived wizards from being useless, make their skills important for a change. "The Banethistle root soaked in whiskey -- why that forms a potent poison!"

    Adding the mystery back to a world with ESP, detect thoughts, and zone of truth can be challenging. But even R.E. Howard in his Conan saga paused the sword and sorcery action for a single story ('The God in the Bowl') to have his steely-eyed Cimmerian solve a murder.

    Gary

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    Without being familiar with the GURPS system, the problem could be as simple as the encounters are not strong enough for the PC's levels and abilities. You may need to strengthen the encounter either with more npc's or just make the ones you have, stronger. Also, usually there are limitations to any given spell or ability. Perhaps they are being used in an over generous way.

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    Perhaps it's bad form to reply to your own question, but ...

    I think there are multiple questions tangled up in this one:

    • How do you keep minmaxers using the GURPS (3rd Edition) default magic system from running roughshod over your adventures? (The least interesting to me, since I probably won't use GURPS Magic again.)
    • How do you keep adventures interesting when your PCs have telepathy, precognition, teleportation, "Detect Evil", or similar abilities?
    • How can you block PC's supernatural powers as the plot demands without making those powers useless? Is that even fair?
    • Will players accept an RPG where they have restricted or no access to magic/psi/superpowers, but other beings in the world do? How do you keep the GM from running roughshod over the PCs?


    BTW, one non-magical way to defeat telepathy is to keep the muscle ignorant of their leaders; they only get orders from a "man in the shadows". "Triad gangs", in which each member knows only two others, would be an excellent natural defense against telepathy, seeing how it was originally designed to guard against a member talking under torture, or an enemy infiltrating the ranks.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    The GM can't out think the players every time, or come up with every possible idea they might have (and resulting counters and solutions) before the players spring them on you at the table.

    This question is a fancy way of asking the tried and tested "My players just went for the blank part of the map after I prepared for six months! What now???"

    If the players use their abilities and skills to totally bypass something you have set up; my advice is to let them. That's the point of being a hero -- finding the solution nobody else could. Reward them for it and move on.

    ...but have the bad guys learn their lessons too! That way it's not repeated time and time again.

    If it's a huge game breaker that totally invalidates the game you are playing, a different tactic is called for. Honesty.

    Just tell them that the actions they are having their characters do pretty much kills the entire campaign and see if they are interested in roleplaying it differently. The actual goal of a game with friends is to have a good time over the course of game play sessions; and the players ending a six month campaign in six minutes because they totally out thought your masterful plots does not serve that goal.

    Just say "Hey, you know what? I never saw that coming, and it pretty much kills the campaign as I have developed it. The way I see it we have two choices here: We can have it happen and I'm going to need a few weeks (months, whatever) to get ready for another campaign; or we can back up time a little bit and have your characters do something else to explore what I was ready for. I know that's not totally graceful, but it's better than no gaming for a few weeks right?"

    Even as I typed it that goes over flat; but it is honest and can't hurt. Have the players role play that their characters wouldn't think it up and it never happened.

    Then, after they go home, retool the ending and path to it so it's a surprise the second time around. ;P
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    Grimwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    If it's a huge game breaker that totally invalidates the game you are playing, a different tactic is called for. Honesty.
    This happened to the GM of a Champions game in college. Said GM introduced pretty much every technology he came across in comics or science fiction, and two of his players figured out a way to stop his interdimensional campaign cold by creating impenetrable barriers between dimensions. (I can't remember the details; it was a long time ago, and I came into the campaign late.) The frustrating bit is that they did this outside a game session; they just called the GM up, and he ruled that it worked automatically. He simply stopped the campaign.

    This, and my own experience, leads me to believe that GM control is a key part of making magic work. The GM has to be clear on what magic, superpowers, or advanced technology can do ... or else he has to build in loopholes: magic is inherently wild, and a sufficiently advanced technology has unknown dangers and limitations.

    Sometimes the players will catch the GM flatfooted, even within the limits of "known actions": in a recent Spirit of the Century game, a player short-circuited a huge battle by sacrificing his character to blow up the villain's lair. But I suspect magic (including quasi-magical powers and sufficiently advanced technology) can give a clever player more weapons to kill fun.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    • How do you keep adventures interesting when your PCs have telepathy, precognition, teleportation, "Detect Evil", or similar abilities?
    • How can you block PC's supernatural powers as the plot demands without making those powers useless? Is that even fair?
    Well maybe the idea is to shift the type of story you're telling there. At first you designed it as a mystery. But if the player figure that part very fast you could move on to the "Cassandra" new development of the story : the PCs are 100% sure who's the criminal mastermind, now how do they convince local authority/population that something is rotten in Danemark ? All these magic spells/psionic abilities are nice, but it's still the PCs words against the bad guys reputation...

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Sometimes the players will catch the GM flatfooted, even within the limits of "known actions": in a recent Spirit of the Century game, a player short-circuited a huge battle by sacrificing his character to blow up the villain's lair.
    If it's not done in a cheap "I don't care about this character anyway" kind of way, I'd love players to think along those lines. What makes of a more heroic story than when a main character sacrifices to save the day ?
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    RE: Magic as an Adventure Breaker

    Lots of great answers you've got there. I'll add my two farthings.

    Now I must qualify that I'm talking about a group of role-players here. Not tactical combat types. I believe that magic is like a weapon. Nobody wants to have one pointed at them or even worse, go off towards them. The law too, normally looks on such acts as criminal. SOOOOO, the PCs are immediately forced to toe the line or lose money, freedom or access. It protects the evil lord's minions as long as they're abiding. The town guard is made up of men who want to get home intact at the end of their shift. They don't much like it when some yahoo pulls a concealed wand and starts waving it around. They get REAL nervous. I treat my non-mages the same way. No heavy plate, all dangerous pets licensed and on a lead, no cross/bows & arrows/bolts, no big swords/mauls/etc in town. Sorta like going thru airport security these days.


    "Realize that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and simply improvise".
    I normally plan an overall arc and then several general encounters that provide direction. I try to keep the players on track thru NPCs, unplanned encounters (if they go too far astray) and goals.

    "Become intimately familiar with your PC's character sheets, and plan around powers like Teleportation, Telepathy, Scrying, etc".
    I rarely do this as I tend to trust my players. I usually set the limits (pnts, lvls, skills, powers, etc) that match my vision of the genre. This is agreed to by everyone before we start so we're all on the same page. I do review and discuss any questionable items/skills/powers and then pass judgement, but it's pretty easy if the genre thing is clear.

    "As a corollary to the above, hammer on the PC's weak spots (e.g. warriors with enough gear to repel magic, or training to surprise a mage before he can get a spell off.)"
    I do this normally. Any big bad guy shouldn't be a push over. To succeed, the PCs must think it through, not just wave their wand of wishes and poof. On the other hand, I don't equip the minions with such gear/training, but I scale up the minions as the PCs close in on the leader.
    I don't like to target my players weak spots, I WANT them to succeed. I just want them to work for it. Magic & psionics are tools. Both sides are aware of them, so the smart folk prepare offensive and defensive uses and expectations. I don't plan my enemy defenses with the PC sheets in my hand, but more against the types of characters expected from the genre.

    Example - I had an very long underground tunnel into my (echoing maniacally laughter) evil lair (a pre-gen'd map sadly)
    . I decided to fill the tunnel with water to about a 3 to 5 foot depth. This would tick off the hobbits & dwarves, slow any party down and force them to make lots of noise. I didn't put in any traps or pits or monsters (well, just the one urban legend albino alligator), added a few packs of normal rats and several medium snakes (poisonous & constrictor) drawn to hunt the rats as well as a few illusions. Please note there was nothing deadly. I exhausted the party casters before they cleared the tunnel. Healing, carrying the short people, lighting, etc. They thought they smelled methane (nice illusion what?) and didn't dare bring in a mundane light source. (I never let my NPCs disbelieve an illusion that matches their expectations. Why would they?) Their presumptions worked against them more than anything I did.

    Forbid adventure-breaking powers like Teleportation and Telepathy"".
    I found my players dumping these kind of powers as soon as the bad guys started using them effectively. Howls of frustration were followed by comments like 'How'd he know we'd be here? How'd he get way over there? I thought you said he was trapped ! He couldn't possibly have known we where we hid the (choose item).'
    Still, if the genre you choose to run with has a strong teleport & telepathy base, you can require tools / equipment to focus the teleport (both ends) and keep the telepathy to physical contact only. I ran mine that way and it does work.

    For the PCs to read the bad guy's mind in my games, they'd have to kidnap them, hide out with them while they did the read and then either kill, imprison or mindwipe the victim. If they can do all that, why shouldn't they get a break with some good info.

    Losing an expensive teleport plate can really set back a party back. My one group used to carry it around to use whenever and it was a clever use of the power, so I allowed it. It worked great until they got into a battle. The plate was shattered by a mace strike, but it saved the guy's life.


    One way I handled 'Detect Evil' was that 'aura reading' was a socially insulting thing to do to someone; likely to get you skewered. How does the NPC know you're not casting some "evil" spell on them. I even gave my NPC saving throws against that kind of thing. The best example was the social blunder. My law abi
    ding PCs would start questioning folk, focus in on the bad guy flunky and just as they were about to prove it, the LAW would show up and bust them or some good samaritan would take up arms against them, fearing they were trying to ensorcel the poor unfortunate. They didn't want to slap the samaritan around, but they wanted to get the bad guy threatening to destroy the samaritan's life. It was probably the most frustrating thing that ever happened to them. Drained their wallets too.


    If you're playing a fantasy genre, most folk expect magic to be available. I've run a Conan saga, which compares to your Pendragon example. It worked really well. Lots of magic items, deadly wizards, yada yada yada. Everyone was on page about not having magic before we went into the game, though I did have one guy trying to get some REAL magic training by the Red Seers over in Cathay. He eventually got there, met up with them and remained; as a mule. Bad karma rolls.

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    I actually quite like the idea behind The Lord Of The Rings magic system - but as a whole the system scares me, so I may be using the following adaptation for D&D (3.5):

    1. Calling for concentration checks DC 15+ spell level or Constitution checks DC 10 + spell level; add +3 to teh DC for every spell cast during an encounter.
    or
    2. Casting spells reduces hit points - 1 per spell level
    or
    3. Casting spells reduces CON -1 per spell cast

    I also completely redid spells to onlt have 8 spells, each spell has a selfless and a selfish aspect. But that is waaay to complicated for this post ..

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    Quote Originally Posted by ignimbrite View Post
    I also completely redid spells to onlt have 8 spells, each spell has a selfless and a selfish aspect. But that is waaay to complicated for this post ..
    Sounds interesting though. Perhaps you should start another thread about it. I'd assume that since these spells take such a heavy toll on their caster, their power level must be higher, or the caster must be compensated in some other way?
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Perhaps it's bad form to reply to your own question, but ...

    I think there are multiple questions tangled up in this one:

    • How do you keep minmaxers using the GURPS (3rd Edition) default magic system from running roughshod over your adventures? (The least interesting to me, since I probably won't use GURPS Magic again.)
    • How do you keep adventures interesting when your PCs have telepathy, precognition, teleportation, "Detect Evil", or similar abilities?
    • How can you block PC's supernatural powers as the plot demands without making those powers useless? Is that even fair?
    • Will players accept an RPG where they have restricted or no access to magic/psi/superpowers, but other beings in the world do? How do you keep the GM from running roughshod over the PCs?


    BTW, one non-magical way to defeat telepathy is to keep the muscle ignorant of their leaders; they only get orders from a "man in the shadows". "Triad gangs", in which each member knows only two others, would be an excellent natural defense against telepathy, seeing how it was originally designed to guard against a member talking under torture, or an enemy infiltrating the ranks.
    Not bad form - it shows that at least one person is willing to respond!

    How do you keep adventures interesting . . . ? The Complete Arcane touches on this. It also ties into our conversations on scaling and high-level encounters. Some simple solutions are to know your players, don't play at character levels you can't handle ("Hey everyone, let's start our characters at level 19!"), and empathize with your villains. Walls, secrets, and traps generally don't challenge high-level characters, so you'll do yourself a favor to get out of the low-level mindset.

    How do you block powers? Don't, you'll piss players off. But do realize that there are supernatural counter-powers, and bad guys who use them.

    How do you keep from running roughshod? Don't make arbitrary rules, and act out the villain roles, not the Evil God role. The villains have a chance to defeat the PCs' efforts; the Evil God is guaranteed to defeat them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    How do you keep minmaxers using the GURPS (3rd Edition) default magic system from running roughshod over your adventures? (The least interesting to me, since I probably won't use GURPS Magic again.)

    1st off talk to your players they can choose not to min/max. If that fails change the mana level to low (-4 to all spell checks, requires magery to cast spells at all) you can still have magic items with their own power source. Also double check those min/max characters, sometimes they forget they need prerequisites. Lower the point level from 100 with 40 disads to 50 with 20 disads. Count negative attribute scores toward the disad total. Disads are the way to really min/max a gurps character. Limit the disads and ads you can take. GURPS is really a way to create a game, you should limit character creation options.

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    How do you keep adventures interesting when your PCs have telepathy, precognition, teleportation, "Detect Evil", or similar abilities?
    precognition is a tough one but you can make them cause the future if they try to change it, which is always fun. "You see the city burning, people dying, etc" but you as a GM don't make up a reason for it, let the PCs blunder around trying to stop it until they do something that could plausibly start it.

    Teleportation just means you don't have to worry about it taking months to get somewhere. Don't forget about GURPS wild magic zones either or no mana zones.

    Telepathy, so you can read minds... what are you going to do with it, especially if the guys mind you read is a shattered raving loon who doesnt know whats real himself.

    Detect Evil is fun especially when you detect so much evil it hurts

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    How can you block PC's supernatural powers as the plot demands without making those powers useless? Is that even fair?
    As long as its reasonable sure. Maybe the big evil mage lives in a no mana zone tower but has some crystals to power his own spells. Then only he can cast spells and if the PCs can destroy or remove the crystals they gain an even playing field

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Will players accept an RPG where they have restricted or no access to magic/psi/superpowers, but other beings in the world do? How do you keep the GM from running roughshod over the PCs?
    Sure, Call of Cthuhlu comes to mind as the defacto standard of big ugly supernaturals vs bob the gas station attendant.
    Last edited by MortonStromgal; 09-04-2008 at 01:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    fmitchell asks, "Magic as an Adventure-breaker"

    In a past attempt at GMing, I've had a party of (GURPS) mages run roughshod over my planned adventures. Here are some ways I've heard or thought of to combat the problem:
    • Realize that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and simply improvise.
    • Become intimately familiar with your PC's character sheets, and plan around powers like Teleportation, Telepathy, Scrying, etc.
    • As a corollary to the above, hammer on the PC's weak spots (e.g. warriors with enough gear to repel magic, or training to surprise a mage before he can get a spell off.)
    • Forbid adventure-breaking powers like Teleportation and Telepathy.
    • Restrict magic generally in a fantasy game (e.g. psychic powers only, ritual magic only, no magic items or spell enhancers)
    • Eliminate magic for PCs and most NPCs, perhaps with a suitable replacement (e.g. cool warrior powers, weapons of legacy). Any remaining "magic" simply provides plot hooks and twists, a la Pendragon.

    Any other suggestions? The last three seem somewhat draconic (Athenian lawgiver, not big fire-breathing pseudo-reptile).

    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Perhaps it's bad form to reply to your own question, but ...

    I think there are multiple questions tangled up in this one:

    • How do you keep minmaxers using the GURPS (3rd Edition) default magic system from running roughshod over your adventures? (The least interesting to me, since I probably won't use GURPS Magic again.)
    • How do you keep adventures interesting when your PCs have telepathy, precognition, teleportation, "Detect Evil", or similar abilities?
    • How can you block PC's supernatural powers as the plot demands without making those powers useless? Is that even fair?
    • Will players accept an RPG where they have restricted or no access to magic/psi/superpowers, but other beings in the world do? How do you keep the GM from running roughshod over the PCs?
    i'll start at the bottom and work my way up.

    no, the majority of players will not accept such an unbalanced situation. nor should they have to, in my opinion. only a gm with an unusually strict and self-analyzing sense of fairness, judgement, and honor would be able to pull off such a situation as outlined above.


    [sidetrack]let us review the standard assumptions in fantasy. one, the pc's are the heroes of the story. two, they ARE going to win, eventually. three, they are more powerful than not only every other average citizen in the entire world, they will be as powerful, collectively, if not more so, than the challenges, too. four, no setback is permanent, nor is any failure final. five, loss of something(s) great or important or valuable is acceptable, if it adds tragic value to the victory and does not cause an ultimate defeat.

    now these assumptions, while likely valid in most applications, are dependent upon everyone being on the same page, and having the same assumptions. as for myself, i'm a really strong proponent of the "Rule of Yes", as mentioned by tesral in another thread. it's kinda the point of the genre to play something fantastic in some way or another. [/sidetrack]


    block? block! why block? take advantage of the powers! clever and creative twistings of the usage of power is what's called for here. you already know how to twist a wish, don't you? well! same thing! high level peoples will develop defenses against what they could do, so that someone else doesn't pull the same stunt against them! for example, as an adventurer i tend to make heavy use of rope tricks and commando hit-and-run tactics. you can be sure that if my characters ever design a fortress, it'll have defenses against unauthorized use of rope trick!

    so they can teleport. big deal. let them describe the location as best they can. in a world where teleport is a known ability, defenses are going to be designed against it. so build 20 rooms that all look exactly the same so that they randomly end up in one of them at the end of the teleport. this will work for d&d, with no modification. for gurps, you'll need to emplace a random redirect effect to make it happen, but still works just as fun!

    so they can read minds. i once defeated a mind reader at their own game with an npc who seemed able to erase knowledge completely of the adventuring party from the characters mind. in actuality they had "added" memories to the character. a complete, if edited, copy of the character memories from birth on were added to the character. the party searched this characters mind from birth to the present and couldn't find anything that had been deleted. so all the efforts to restore memory failed, as nothing had actually been removed.

    in that case they had several solutions possible. they could have searched before birth mentally (the least likely solution)... but the clue for this was a fun one-ask the character age. the character would have replied with an answer that as slightly more than double the actual age. ^^ they could have tried to counter the hypnosis-type command to not think about anything before "birth" (the character had a sudden refusal to think or talk about anything history related-one clue to that solution). any time the character saw their reflection, they got the impression that they were too young, another clue to the added memory thing. and so forth.

    the important idea is to know what can be done, and come up with creative challenges for those abilities.

    precognition and divination is also fun. these require more work. first off, reading the dao da ching is a good idea. it is chock full of little one liner "wise-man-says" that's perfect for prophecies. be vague. sprinkle in obscure symbolic references. reading one of those "find-out-what-your-dreams-mean" books is also a great reference. then you can make them go consult a hard to find sage to get the meaning, rather than just handing it outright over to them. also, make certain that all prophecies are in IF-THEN-ELSE format. the bible does, why not you? another tactic is to describe (again in suitably vague terms) something that needs to happen to defeat the bad guy, only think of obscure ways to describe the objects, actions, and events involved. and then describe what could happen if they succeed or fail.

    a nasty twist is to have the prophecy actually be for the bad guys to succeed, only no one knows that little wrinkle. sure to cause some frantic scrambling right at the end when the pc's almost bring it to pass. or if they do manage to bring it to pass, then the next adventuring party can run into their ghosts centuries later who need to undo the evil to find rest. loads of fun.


    as far as the gurps 3e magic system goes, it states in several places that if you allow more than three or so levels of wizardry that you will find it more and more unbalanced. i have tried this in designing my own characters and found it to be true. the system is only design for a certain range of power. if you want to play a more powerful game, some house rules are required.

    as with all rules-heavy systems, like gurps, knowing the system is the only way to be able to adjust the system and retain fairness, balance, and preserve player options.

    i like to let the players have their options, and reward them for coming up with something new and clever. then i will find a way to use it to my advantage. ^^ nothing curbs player usage of something than having it seem to succeed, but then unexpected consequences turn it into a backfire for the pcs after they've used it four or five times.



    it's been said in other places here, systems do not break adventure/campaigns, players and dm/gm's break adventure/campaigns. i think that the same applies to powers. having said that, certain powers and combinations of abilities do tend to stretch the comfort zone more than others. ^^
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    Realize that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and simply improvise. Become intimately familiar with your PC's character sheets, and plan around powers like Teleportation, Telepathy, Scrying, etc.

    Certainly, you should have a basic idea as to what the characters have access to or might do. Even in a campaign where the player characters themselves might not be able to do such things, if these abilities exist, through contacts, favours or gold, they might have access to somebody else who can. Always remember, whatever the heroes can do, so can the villains (and vice versa).

    As a corollary to the above, hammer on the PC's weak spots (e.g. warriors with enough gear to repel magic, or training to surprise a mage before he can get a spell off.)

    You can do this once in a while, so long as the players get their opportunities to actually use abilities they have invested in.

    Forbid adventure-breaking powers like Teleportation and Telepathy.
    Restrict magic generally in a fantasy game (e.g. psychic powers only, ritual magic only, no magic items or spell enhancers)

    Always a good idea to figure out exactly what magic can do, who can use it, how it works and what is the cost.

    How do you keep adventures interesting when your PCs have telepathy, precognition, teleportation, "Detect Evil", or similar abilities?

    Telepathy - Can generally be resisted in some fashion. Is limited to information that the target actually has and to what they believe to be true. So, the target might have enhanced resistance, holes in their memory, they might be delusional, the person who hired them might have been a shadowy figure, or been impersonating somebody else. Even if accurate information is received, is it legally admissable? Can you prove it in a court of law? And if it is your word against the Duke's? OK, so now you know that the assassin was hired by the Grand Vizier (who just happens to be the person that put you on the case in the first place), I think that you now have more problems than you started with. Or, what if the victim was a notorious crime lord and you just determined that the murderer is your patron, your relative or your ally?

    Precognition - The future is seldom clear. I still prefer to have this ability to be mostly in the form of prophetic dreams invoked by GM rather than player.

    Postcognition or Psychometry - Much of what applies to Telepathy can be used here.

    Teleportation - I've never really considered this a game-breaking ability. Can you tell me what your problem is with this? (Time Travel, I could understand.)

    Detect Evil - Often a very broad power. Evil is not equivalent to guilt. Events such as demonic presence can make the entire area too tainted to read. Cursed murder weapons. In general, give them too much information.

    How can you block PC's supernatural powers as the plot demands without making those powers useless? Is that even fair?

    Despite everything I just said above, I think that the players should be able to do cool stuff, and be heroes. But, if such abilities are commonplace, or if the PCs are the most likely people to be investigating and they have any sort of reputation, the clever villain is going to take some countermeasures. (Not all villains are going to be clever.) Also, as I mentioned above, knowing who committed the crime and achieving justice can be two very distinct activities.

    Will players accept an RPG where they have restricted or no access to magic/psi/superpowers, but other beings in the world do? How do you keep the GM from running roughshod over the PCs?

    There are lots of monster hunter games out there Bureau 13, Hunter, and Call of Cthulhu among others. You mentioned Pendragon yourself. It is common in science fiction games for psionics to be limited by race. All Flesh Must Be Eaten fits this category. So long as the players know what's going to happen up front I've never seen this as a deal-breaker. (Much more important is that all players have the same access to abilities rather than PC vs NPC.)

    Most of these games have their own way of handling any disparity (which can include, "your PC will die, it's just a matter of when and how.")

    Any other suggestions?

    Some players hate mystery. They might intentionally choose these powers to bypass the investigation and get to the fighty-fighty. Discussing what you and the players want to do in the game before it starts is usually time well spent. This way, you don't try to run a mystery for players who don't want to solve one, or players won't create characters that can bypass the mystery that you want to run.

    Also, to reiterate, knowing whodunnit can just as easily be the beginning of a story, rather than the ending.
    Last edited by TAROT; 09-07-2008 at 09:54 PM.

  15. #15
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    excellent advice. =D
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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