We all have it coming, kid

Thinking a bit more about S2E4 of the Aeon campaign, I can’t help coming back to how badly we biffed it, and still managed to pull it out because of a metagame ability – for which I paid many points – to ret-con a whole series of crap decisions.

There are certain things you can’t take back – +Christopher R. Rice has a policy, and it’s a good one, of “once you roll the dice, there are no take-backs.” Do whatever metagame stuff you want. Invoke Luck. Declare you’re using Foresight. Spend bonus points or character points to influence things. Make complimentary skill rolls.

But once you pick up the dice to roll for your effect, you takes your chances, as the saying goes.

As the player – even as the player whose job it is to pull our fat out of the fire with a retroactively-thorough plan via the virtue of something like 50+ points spend for that ability – I was shaking my head over and over about our path. And when, when all was said and done, we were able to “win,” well, it didn’t feel like a win.

I begin to understand why +Jeffro Johnson likes the TPK so much, or at least seems to. When there’s no plot armor, everyone has the equivalent of 4-8 HP, and wading in to combat or another violent or prone-to-violent confrontation with zero plan and zero preparation will just get everyone killed, thanks, roll 3d6 in order . . . things are approached with what might be called “the proper caution.”

I think part of my frustration is that we’ve been discussing the importance of planning and tactics in the group. The big dust-ups over planning and tactics at the end of Season 1 seemed to cement the value of such, and the last episode was – I thought – a huge vindication of entering into battle forewarned and forearmed.

This was all on us, too. The GM had signaled through action and exposition that our foe was a badass super-genius super-soldier with an amazing mind backed up with metahuman-level enhanced fighting skills. He kicked the unsuited Arc Light across the green like a rag doll.

This last game we were a superhero version of Leeroy Jenkins. And we deserved the same fate.

11 thoughts on “We all have it coming, kid

  1. You're deep in an existential well when it comes to RPGs, Doug. Player ability interacting with Character ability has been a conundrum since the first edition of D&D where they seemed to just embrace that puzzles should be included for the player's benefit, not for the character to figure out.

    Mechanics like these are irrevocably fourth-wall breaking. You're watching the sausage being made from the slaughterhouse forward.

    1. My biggest problem with this particular eventuality was that we really just wandered blindly into a trap we knew this guy was going to set, and we did it over a few players' objections. And then, in the end, we did not reap what we sowed – we won, and shouldn't have. Morally. I did pay for the ability to ret-con things! And this isn't a slap at Christopher, either, who managed our chaos as well as could be expected. I just thought that there was no accountability for our crap actions on this one.

  2. I have to say I think I'd feel similarly. I'm not overly fond of metagame mechanics in general and if I pulled out a win thanks to an ability like that when it should have been a total loss, it wouldn't feel as if it was an actual, in-game win.

    1. I think if we'd discussed the "we'll use Foresight to ensure that we can adapt to the situation" ahead of time, I'd have had ZERO problems with how ti all worked out. I got talked over (it was a chaotic session) when I tried to bring this up, but it was really that we never even got to have the "let's make a plan, but we won't know what the plan was until later" conversation. Subtle distinction, but there it is. 🙂

    2. Sounds like a viable middle way – "The Commander devises a cunning plan, all but guaranteed to take the bad guy by surprise, and to be devised later, on the fly, by way of Foresight" is a much different situation than "well, that went poorly, let me load the last saved game…"

  3. (My keyboard is broken so I'll keep this short.) In general, I love metagame effects because they help you play a character who you may not be in real life. This mission was screwed from the beginning for you guys honestly. I won't go into details because I can theoretically still use Oblivion, but in my opinion you guys didn't use enough metagame traits. This was suppose to be a hard one. It was supposed to put you at the end of your rope with no room to go. If you feel like even though you won you didn't then I did my job. I told y'all from the beginning there would be some missions so hard an difficult that you might fail. This was one of them. The only weakness this guy had at the time was exploited by Arc Light: cause chaos an be emotional. That distraction stopped him from pulling anymore rabbits out of his hat and ultimately made it possible to defeat him. All in all you guys did recently. It could have been so much worse. I do think I'm going to reinstate my "each player gets 5-15 minutes before moving to the next" an then requiring folks to type anything they may want to add. Not being able to tell you guys stuffs really sucked and I won't be letting it happen again. Also, spending 30+ minute on one course of action has but I'm not sure how to solve that yet.

  4. I haven't really been following the campaign. But it seems like you purchased the meta-game ability to retcon and fix things. Then you got through a difficult situation by using the meta-game ability to retcon and fix things. The GM allowed for this, and in fact, sets up situations where you need to do this to succeed.

    I get that it might be dissatisfying, but it does sound like it's the game both you and the GM agreed to play. It seems like the lesson is that next time, you'd probably rather not have those abilities that let you undo your lack of preparation and don't take them.

    1. This isn't quite accurate to describe my dissatisfaction. We never, not once, stopped to plan or discuss "making a plan," and I was trying to get the team to do this. That's actually a prerequisite of using Foresight – which I paid for for the explicit reason to allow this sort of thing.

      But in order to "activate" the power, we need to actually take the time and announce we're planning. There was too much "LOOK! SQUIRREL!" going on to allow this, and even at the actual event, when we could have hung back and tried to make a plan, we didn't.

      Thus, my dissatisfaction wasn't powers-based. It was play-based. We never took the time to allow The Commander's abilities to start fermenting, so to speak, and yet those abilities – despite never taking the time to invoke them – saved us anyway. Since the alternative was the death of 5 million or so people, I shrugged and said "fine." But I was fully expecting Christopher to make us pay for our spastic behavior.

    2. In general, I think that last game was a bit of a fluke. I think everyone was excited you were back and that made it hard to concentrate on the campaign. That said, there needs to be a way so we don't over talk each other. We'll discuss this on Monday before we play.

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