A CineMORTic Experience?

by Dirk, Resident Antichrist

Me again.

Rather than rant like I usually do, I'm just going to get on with the subject at hand - movies and RPGs.

Just the other day I watched The Big Hit, which, I must say, was damn cool. If you're not the type for choreographed and completely unrealistic fight scenes, don't see it. If, however, you think that John Woo flics are just about the coolest things on the face of this earth, SEE IT.

Speaking of choreographed fight scenes, is it just me, or do most PC-NPC battles come out looking like a scene from a Rambo movie? You know - NPCs charge the PCs en masse, only to be cut down in seconds by a massive barrage of gunfire and grenades or arrows and spells? Is this fun? If you ask the players, yeah, especially if they get away without a single wound. GMs tend to think otherwise.

When I run a game, I like to think of it not as a book without a set ending, but more as a MOVIE without a set ending. I don't know about you, but I would ask for my money back if I went to see a movie in which the main characters won every fight, the bad guys were always wiped out, and the main villian got blown up in a pathetic display of pyrotechnics before he even got off his "plan for world domination" spiel.

For those of you wishing to have a more cinematic feel to your games (such as I), there's really only one way you're going to pull it off, and that's with the help of the players.

Unlike most things in your (referring to the GM, of course) game, you really don't have any say over the actions of the PCs. True, you can always kill them when they do something stupid, but what can you do when they blatantly kill off the NPCs which were destined to be killed anyway? The solution is, of course, to BRIBE THEM (unless they actually want to get hit a little more, fall through more windows, etc. Good luck).

"How is this possible, oh high-and-mighty one?"
Well, kiddies, let me explain...

Let's start with an example from The Big Hit. The main character (can't remember what his name was, as the fact that the actor was Marky Mark kept distracting me) [Ednote: Mel, at least according to the back of the videotape...] is being chased down a flight of stairs by a bunch of mobsters.

Rather than simply turning around and unloading his gun (as any PC would be prone to do), he instead throws himself onto the railing (ankles on one side's railing, head on the other), and proceeds to roll down them, firing up at the goons with every complete revolution (you've probably seen a clip of this on the TV previews).

Now that's what I call DAMN COOL.

In an RPG that actually uses rules (gee, what a thought), this of course would mean that the PC would never hit a target, would probably hurt themselves, and would be lucky to simply make it to the bottom of the stairs without being shot to swiss cheese. UNLESS the GM would, say, let them make some skill rolls, and if successful, give them some neat-o bonuses. If this were my Shadowrun game (for instance), and a player would have come up with this amazing maneuver (without having seen it in a movie, of course), I would probably make them first roll Unarmed Combat/Martial Arts Concentration vs. a 6 (just to be nice, so they may actually pull it off), with the number of successes indicating how many meters they could roll in a turn.

If they didn't screw this up, they could then fire with only a +2 target modifier for their movement (eqv. of running, in this case). I'd also give them a couple Good Karma for pulling off an awesome move, and might even take away the opponent's combat pools to account for the fact that they are standing there, eyes wide and jaws scraping the floor.

In another example, the main guy is up on a chandelier with the main villain, fighting. After some good moves, the bad guy finally gets stabbed through the chest with his own knife. Rather than doing the standard PC-move of finishing the bad guy off instantly, the Marky Mark whoever-his-character-is-named guy [Ednote: Mel, I tell ya, MEL!] lets the baddie say his last words, which turns out to be a distraction so he can arm the bomb hanging off of the main guy's vest.

If A PC were to actually allow an NPC villain get away with even SPEAKING, I would be grateful. If they were to give me the oportunity, through actual role-playing (OHMYGAWD! He didn't spell that "roll!"), I'd definitely give them some XP/Karma/whatever for it, and may even give them some lucky break later on (perhaps by allowing them to survive under a metal movie standee when the bomb finally goes off. For instance). [Ednote: Nope, we don't give spoiler warnings. This is the Antichrist, remember?]

One important thing to note about all this is that, unless you want to flat-out tell your players, "Hey! I want to see more jumping about, broken glass, and missed shots. I'll even give you goodies for doing it," you're going to have to demonstrate it to them. True, they're going to be pissed when you answer their complaint about the NPC surviving the 5 story fall with, "So they made their skill roll and grabbed onto the flagpole rope. I would have let you do it, too." Tough. If you have the NPCs get bonuses for cool stunts enough, the PCs are sure to follow (if for no reason other than to keep up with the proverbial Arms Race). Hopefully they'll even see how much more fun it is to take the hits every once in awhile. This thought probably won't ever occur to them, but hey, it's worth a try.

In any case, the big point here is this - RPGs are GAMES, and not reality. Therefore, they should run by the rules set in popular fiction, and not necessarily by the Facts Of Life. If the players think they can get away with cool stunts, and are actually encouraged to through "brownie points," there's no reason why they won't do 'em...which can definitely make a gaming session much more fun for all involved.

Give it a try.

(And don't talk to me if the PCs don't do a damned thing different than they normally would.
Or if they tie the GM up and throw him into a pool.
All hail our Dark Lord Santa! Oh, wait...)


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j n m ( m n j )
"Yeah. Just think about cheese wiz. It's kinda like M:TG. It must have started off as garage operation. Just a buncha guys meltin' cheese and putting it in jars. Everybody must have thought `Melted cheese in a jar? Why the hell would I eat that?' Then later, everyone suddenly said, `Melted cheese in a jar?! Well just drop me butt-naked in a vat of it and let me eat my way out!'" -- Dirk