Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: Cool Point

Clarifying Oxford

After receiving a couple of questions, I realized that my synopsis left out some key information concerning Oxford and his fate.

In review:  Oxford didn’t get along with any of the other PCs. He didn’t want to go in the same direction as the group, and openly insulted several of them. The conflict came to blows, a gun was drawn, and Oxford left the party, burning his bridges behind him, only to be quickly killed by the environment.

Then all the players voted to award him the extra Cool Point.

Huh?

Some explanation is probably in order.

Yes, Oxford was pretty much designed to butt heads with the other PCs. (Or just about any other group of random individuals, for that matter.) But, all the conflict was PC-on-PC. The players were laughing through the whole thing. It was fun watching Oxford pick fights, it was entertaining to hear his spin on events, and in the end, it was impressive to see the character played according to his disads, all the way to his bitter and inevitable end.

I try to mostly keep the players’ world separate from the characters’ when writing up the play reports. A certain amount of “meta” creeps in – I’ll mention the occasional critical success or when Squeamish kicks in – but for the most part, I try to leave the players out of it. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned anyone by name. The closest I can recall is saying things like “Character X, played by the same person as Former Character Y”, when there’s some interesting aspect of that relationship between the characters. (Like if X “accidentally” avenges Y, or some such.) In this case, though, rest assured:  I didn’t see any signs of player-vs-player friction.

Furthermore, I think all of his “not a team player” traits and tendencies actually ended up working for the team! From the point of view of our merry band of survivors, losing Oxford wasn’t any great loss… but knowing that they might be surrounded by (as Cyprys put it) man-eating space worms, now that’s valuable intelligence!

Admittedly, I can’t say if this was the plan all along, but it might have been. The original idea was for everyone to have three characters on hand, so there could be quick replacements when one character dies. I know there was talk, at one point, about how it might be best to put your favorite character idea second, since the first character was the one most likely to die horribly with a look of confusion on its face. When you bring out the second character, you at least know what killed the last one!

So, I believe the Cool Point was earned for dying in an entertaining and instructive way.

 

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There is no Cool Point. There is no Cool Point. There is no Cool Point.

A weird thing happened, this past session. Nobody won the Cool Point.

What we usually do is, at the end of the session, the players will vote for who deserves the point. It’s usually awarded to the one who pulled off the most impressive stunt, but it’s also been won through unexpectedly good (or bad) rolls and through role-playing everyone into more trouble than they already had.

It’s not a “most valuable” bonus, by any means. Often, I’ve written up the synopsis and realized that one player or another was just on, that day, quietly holding down their end of the challenge with understated competence… only to see the Cool Point go to the character who lit himself on fire, because ninjas can’t grab you if you’re on fire.

I feel like this is what happened, last time around. Everybody did their job, and did it well. When difficulties arose, they closed ranks and covered for each other. What they didn’t do was anything crazy enough to particularly stand out.

For example:  The shield-wall idea worked quite well, for the most part. There was a moment during the last battle, if I remember correctly, where Alric was standing directly behind TKotBO, who was in turn flanked on either side by Dean and Roman. Alric performed some kind of hideous All-Out Attack, laying down the damage at a reach of 2 hexes. The opposition attempted to take advantage of his lack of defenses, using greatswords with their own reach. They then discovered that the three with the shields had all bought the correct perks to be able to block for a comrade, as all three defended the big man. (It took all three, too. Could have used some Luck, there, but whatta ya gonna do, two of ’em are cheap hirelings.)

Hmm. It’s a bit of a shame that the components of the shield-wall are going away, just as the tactic is proving its worth. Ah, well, at least the battles should get more mobile.

At any rate, that’s an effective tactic that required teamwork.  Teamwork, sadly, doesn’t earn the Cool Point.

And I think that same thing happened throughout.  Jed provided the invulnerability and the weakness-exploiting weapons, and so wasn’t able to pull out the usual flashy spells as much. Posy was somewhat hampered by the close confines of the caves, but was still able to keep up harassing fire as the enemy poured in to close combat.

If Needles’ player had been able to stay for maybe two more turns, I suspect he might have tried to earn the point. He was working his way up to it. Had two ice potions in his hands. Was in position to strike any of several different targets. Then the clock ran out, so we’ll never know.

There were quite a few moments of cool.  Alric planting himself in front of Mississippi “I Just Made Three Death Checks” Jed’s unconscious form, volunteering as meat-shield, was a personal favorite. That three-way defense. The “looks” on the “faces” of the flame lords, when they figured out that their usual response to invasion wasn’t going to be effective.

But, yeah, overall, there were more moments of efficiency. They planned and prepared, went as directly as they could to the target area, did the thing, and got out. They showed wisdom in not trying to climb down into the crowd of flame lords, who clearly would have taken the first to try it and thrown them to their doom.

I did question the wisdom of picking that last fight, on the way out, though. I don’t believe they had a clear expectation of treasure, aside from the valuable debris of dead flame lords, and it did end up costing them quite a lot in healing potions. They’re running 50-50 on making “one more room” worth it, it seems. This time, it backfired, but the time before, it payed off.

 

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