Author Topic: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice  (Read 63638 times)

Offline ways and means

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2011, 07:38:18 AM »
My opinion is that GM's shouldn't compel players out of the game, so if a GM compel someone to break the laws he should be willing to run with a lawbreaker and possibly go as far as to accept fate point debt if they are on 1 refresh.
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Offline Drachasor

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2011, 01:58:43 AM »
That said, of course it's totally fair to call ninja bullshit on a player who's all like, "Woo! 12-shift gravity hammer, eat it!" and then backtracks and goes, "Uh, but I totally pulled it enough not to kill them. Honest." You just have to judge the situation on the ground and use your people skills. No set of rules can substitute for that.

Eh, I don't think that's totally fair at all.  What are you objecting to there?  Is it the 12 shifts?  You seem to have said that's ok.  Is it the fact the PLAYER visibly enjoyed doing a big attack?  Well, that's really kind of a jerk move to say "[haha] you enjoyed that too much, so the guy is dead."  Players are allowed to enjoy doing big moves.  They should also be allowed to make hyperboles about their big move and say things like "I'm gonna kill/slaughter/destroy you/him/whatever" without being forced to actually do it.  Heck, they should be allowed to say something now and then and then say they didn't mean it like that later.

Frankly, in all this, if a player doesn't want to kill someone, you should be working with them to help that happen.  If they do a 12 shift gravity attack, well, it is easy to argue that simply subjecting someone to high g forces can make them pass out (and well within the brute force nature of evocations).  That said, like others have noted, being hit by a car or truck doesn't always mean death.  Even if it is just EXPECTED that the average person would die to a given attack, doesn't in any way mean you should enforce death.

A lot of people have talked about compels.  I'd say if you want to compel an anger aspect to get someone to kill someone they are pissed at, then that's ok.  However, if they have no fate points to resist, then you should accept debt instead to avoid it.  There should always be an out from getting lawbreaker on the player's end of things, unless the player is ok with it being forced on him (most aren't comfortable with this sort of thing in my experience, so this has to be discussed ahead of time).  I'd also not resort to a group vote on this sort of thing, as the only thing worse than a GM forcing a player to kill someone is having the whole group vote and decide that your character does something you don't want him to do* -- ideally, of course this should all be discussed ahead of time.

*Group consensus works for a lot of things, but I think it is heinous when used to force a player's character to do something against the player's wishes.

Offline Tedronai

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2011, 06:37:53 PM »
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Offline Falar

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2011, 06:55:34 PM »
EDIT: Mods, delete this post. I shouldn't be cluttering up this thread with my opinions.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 07:01:33 PM by Falar »
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Offline LordDraqo

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2011, 11:53:54 PM »
However, it also means that you cant (without GM intervention) just say that the weapon 10 evocation you hit the group of mortal gangbangers with left them all miraculously alive. Thats not really within the realm of reason, considering that a weapon 4 attack is a grenade (which granted, people have survived), I cant really think of something that would constitute a weapon 10 attack.

My point is you can "be forced to kill" if survival is not within the realm of reason.

Otherwise I find your post to be very interesting.

Actually, if you are being "forced to kill" by the mechanics of the game, you can figure that an NPC with Average Endurance has 3 boxes of Stress. Plus 2 for  Mild Consequence, plus 4 for a Moderate Consequence, plus 6 for a Severe Consequence, plus 8 for the one (and only) Extreme Consequence means that you have to do a minimum of 23 Shifts of Damage in order to guarantee a Taken Out result which you can assign the value of "Killed." This is established as a difficulty for magically Transforming a character (and it is pointed out that death is a Transformation. So "accidentally" killing another character is not going to happen. However this is just my opinion (based on the mechanics in the book) and I could be wrong.

Offline Wyrdrune

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2011, 07:46:44 AM »
on the other side, when I am GMing I do not assign all NPCs with all consequences. when our thief-character sneaks into a museum and tries to silently overcome nameless_guard01 and puts him to sleep, the guard may possibly have only 3 stress and the mild consequence to keep it cineastic (people in movies whack guards ko all the time) and fast if the fight is not really important to the story.

there is the possibility in my game, that the gang - when it is just meant as an annoyance to the players - that they may only have a mild and a medium consequence.

Online Sanctaphrax

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2011, 08:10:26 PM »
What Wyrdrune said. A weapon 2 pistol has a decent chance of killing someone, unless that someone is important enough to get consequences.

I generally think of consequences as a form of plot armour. Basically, they're the reason that Batman doesn't just get shot and killed as soon as a mook points a gun at him.

Offline mstorer3772

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2011, 04:29:11 PM »
there is the possibility in my game, that the gang - when it is just meant as an annoyance to the players - that they may only have a mild and a medium consequence.

Generic mooks shouldn't get any consequences at all.  And I Quote:

Quote from: YS pg 337
One reason almost all nameless and
supporting NPCs qualify as minor opposition
is because they do not fight to the endóthey
fight until their stress tracks get bypassed and
then either concede or are taken out.


Emphasis added.

That section goes on to say that even main baddies might not go all the way to "Extreme Consequences" to further their ends.  They'll allow themselves to be taken out if they know the PCs won't kill them outright.  Failing that, they'll make a Concession: fell into a "nobody could survive that" situation, only to appear a few sessions later with some pretty new scars, and a Hunger For Revenge.
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Offline arthurfallz

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2011, 05:31:11 PM »
I agree that the system says you don't kill someone unless you intend to. I think, however, there is something missing from that equation. When a character is going to do something, the GM gives feedback on the action, including mentioning his/her interpretation of the outcome of that action. In the most technical of interactions, this is the GM making sure he understands the outcome.

An example;
Harry is lining up to hit a goon who is pumping lead into the air out of a semi-automatic... with his car. He doesn't want to use a spell, and he's behind the wheel, so it just makes sense. Harry's player (that Jim guy?) tells the GM "Harry spins the wheel and bears down on the guy, ducking low to avoid the bullet as he runs him down." The GM nods, and thinks quick. "All right, the Blue Beetle will hit the goon and crush him, maybe killing him." If that isn't what "Jim" intends, he needs to clarify. He could say "I think he would be clipped, spun into the trash and knocked out," and that's fine. Because what Jim intends here is that Harry gets away from the goon, and that's the way he wants Harry's story to go. If he wanted Jim to do the same with magic, casting a Fuego spell at the goon, again, the GM might blink and say "So, he'll be a smoking pair of boots?". If Jim intends Harry to incinerate the goon, he'll say so. But it's not unfair, as a GM, to go to the players for clarification, and to remind the player that, to him or her, the action sounds homicidal.

The game isn't about trapping people into actions and outcomes. The story might be, but the player gets to let his or her character get lead into those events. Where this gets tricky is, indeed, with Compels. And then you have to look at your Aspects. If a player has chosen to take homicidal Aspects, is it wrong for the GM to use them? How is the character really the character is "I Eat Babies For Mana" doesn't get compelled when the lust for power rises? Why did the player make that character anyways if they complain when the Laws of that Universe set them up for the fall?

I don't see the game as a GM vs. Player interaction. I see it as a GM + Player collaboration. And part of that collaboration is that the GM needs to remind the player that reckless, homicidal abandon is... homicidal. Part of that is for the GM to compel those reckless, misanthropic Aspects the Player put on their sheet.

I support the original post. Killing with magic is killing with magic. Having made serious errors in life, they haunt you. Forever.
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Offline DHT

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2012, 04:37:26 PM »
On the other hand, I see the game as a matter of choices and consequences.  This means that a truly accidental killing by magic isn't a violation, since that isn't a choice.  The player may want to change an aspect, but that's up to the player.

It also means that the decision to use excessive and potentially lethal force against a human is a choice, and can have consequences.  Harry is well aware that he has very powerful magic, and worries about what might happen when he uses it.  I don't want the wizards in my campaign throwing full-power spells around casually.

This doesn't mean that a player gets blindsided by a First Law violation.  The player should always get warning of some sort.  In our first session, one wizard hit a thug with a full-power spell, and the thug was slammed against the wall and collapsed to the floor, unconscious and bleeding.  There's no Law against injuring somebody with a spell, but that's a suggestion that excessive magical force might kill.  Nor would I allow a violation without pointing out, before the roll, that that magic might kill somebody.

I'm less concerned with the exact game mechanics here.  By a strict interpretation of the rules, a character could nuke an NPC and declare that the NPC got a bad concussion, or possibly banged up by bouncing around in that refrigerator.  I don't think that makes a good game, though.

Offline Mr. Death

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2012, 05:00:23 PM »
This is going to turn into my catchphrase or something, but compels are a good way to enforce First Law considerations.

But instead of offering a fate point to say, "And you lose your shit and kill the guy with a gravity bomb," maybe offer the wizard a fate point to say, "This guy's just a human grunt. If you hit him with a 4-shift force blast, he's going to die."

If he takes the fate point, then Takes Out said grunt with a 4-shift gravity bomb, then it was the player's choice to face the consequences of that compel: The mook dies and the character accidentally broke the first law. Conversely, if he takes the point and downgrades his spells to, say, 2 shifts of offensive power, then he gets to take them out non-lethally--but at the same time, maybe that 2-shift spell doesn't have the stopping power to take him out right away, giving the mook another round where he might get lucky and nail the wizard instead.

And if he buys out of the compel, then for that scene he gets to keep slamming them with full-powered, but non-lethal, spells because he paid for it.

This way, the compel is only dictating the situation, and the choice of whether to kill or not is still entirely up to the player--they just make that choice by limiting their spell strength to an agreed-upon degree rather than saying, "Yeah, I just hit him dead-on with enough force to punt a Volkeswagon into the next area code, but he's totally fine."

It's like how cops aren't supposed to use their firearms unless they intend to kill--every time a cop has to tackle a lunatic on PCP and risk getting pummeled instead of just shooting them, that cop's taking a Compel similar to what I just described.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 08:21:11 PM by Mr. Death »
Compels solve everything!

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Offline nick012000

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2012, 11:47:09 AM »
So, a bit of thread necromancy, but it's not something I see addressed:

If you use Conjuration to whistle up a sword (perhaps because you have Unseelie Magic, and you're conjuring up an ice sword using thaum w/ evocation speed), and then use it to stab someone to death, is that a violation of the First Law?
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Offline Richard_Chilton

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2012, 06:04:52 PM »
You aren't killing with magic, so no.  Doing that isn't all that different from killing with the Warden's Enchanted Blades.

Of course, that's just my opinion - but there are no "official rules calls" for this game.

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Offline ReaderAt2046

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2013, 12:50:07 AM »
To be honest, the way the First Law is presented in the books doesn't seem to make any kind of sense. Let me run through the situation as I understand it.

1. Magic is the expression of belief. Therefore, you can only do something with magic if you believe it's the right thing to do, and when you use magic to do something, you will believe in the future that the magic was the correct thing to do.

2. Now, the reason we have the First Law is specifically because of the application of Point 1 to murder. In other words, if you commit murder with magic, you are the sort of person who believes murder is justified and will continue to believe so.

So far this makes sense, but then it seems to go too far.

3. It is fairly indisputable that the Council believes there are several circumstances where killing someone, specifically someone human, is not only acceptable but morally required. Why, then, is killing with magic under these circumstances still out. Or to put it another way, if you may chop someone's head off with a sword because he is a warlock, why is blowing his head off with a fireball for exactly the same reason banned? The belief that will be reinforced (that killing is acceptable under certain specific circumstances) is one the Council agrees with, so where is the problem here? As the rules now stand, a player can be punished for doing something that is arguably morally required.

3.5 To be fair, there does seem to be a proviso for using lethal force in self-defense if necessary, but that hardly seems to cover what I'm trying to get at here.

Tl;dr. Why is it wrong to kill with magic when it would be right to kill any other way?

Offline Tedronai

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Re: The First Law of Magic In-Play: Semi-Official Advice
« Reply #29 on: May 14, 2013, 02:21:20 AM »
The White Council does not set the Laws of Magic.  Rather, they take it upon themselves to execute those that do, unless they did so under circumstances the the Council deems 'acceptable'.  The Council's acceptance, however, does not change whether or not an action violated one of the Laws.
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