Unreasonable Consequences

( ⇪ House Rules )

GM’s Note: This is in the “GM-only” section of Maginomicon’s House Rules. That means that this is an optional behavior that we highly-recommended GM’s follow. I include it because it’s particularly useful in this setting.

A GM should never seriously affect the viability of a player’s character, assets, or relationships in-game if it’s literally impossible to get the consent of the player. What that means primarily is that if the player isn’t able to come to the session and cannot be reached to discuss the full implications of what would happen, don’t touch their stuff. It’s that simple.

A GM generally should not dominate or directly control a player character’s actions or thoughts at any time unless doing so makes sense mechanically (and even then it should be highly suspect and run by-the-book). Instead of saying “Your character wouldn’t do that” (an absolute), a GM should say “Your character feels wrong doing this; are you sure your character would do that?” (an uncertainty). This is functionally similar to the difference between “there’s nothing there” (an absolute) and “you don’t see anything there” (an uncertainty) in response to a failed spot or search check.

This also means a GM should never allow a player to affect the viability of another player’s character, in-game assets, or in-game relationships when it’s impossible to get the second player’s consent. Unlike the above, this includes situations where one player (or more) forces another player’s character to do something that the second character wouldn’t normally do anyway (because then a Will save or some kind of persuasion roll is in order). Player characters generally should never be allowed to coerce, extort, or dominate other player characters.

“The worthy GM never purposely kills players’ PCs, he presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own.”

― Gary Gygax

Translation: If you go to the effort of thinking about what you’re about to do, you will very likely not die.

GM’s Note: The following is a general rule, not a universal law, as PCs should always be wary of dying. This general rule is meant to prevent meaningless and unsatisfying deaths. Even for events that the GM considers unsatisfying, with the consent of the relevant player (such as by asking them “Are you satisfied with this being the end of your character’s story for now?” or “Would this be dramatically appropriate?”), it’s okay to violate this rule.

If the enemy is intelligent, the GM should capture, not kill. If it’s not a combat, the GM should scar the character for life, but not kill. If a character is simply taken out of commission by something other than hit point loss (such as being turned to stone), the character should receive a side-quest entirely within their mind. If something is obviously deadly, subvert its deadliness; gem-encrusted spike pit traps are illusions hiding a sloping tunnel where falling into it deals nonlethal damage (and maybe a little lethal damage if the character can afford it).

If a PC unintentionally enters an impossible situation alone with an unthinking enemy (dark room with ghouls, beasts, etc.), the GM has failed and should give the unthinking enemy a master (necromancer, hermetic druid, etc.) pulling the strings which stops the combat.

Unreasonable Consequences

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