Why players kill in games (and why that isn’t always a good thing!) My brother asked me for an article on Kara Tur and tea houses and you know how it is with stream of conscious ideas; I got to thinking what is it that makes Oriental Dungeons & Dragons different from the ordinary game. I’m a big fan of Supers Roleplaying Games, (bear with me, there is a link) but I don’t run them very often because lots of players can’t see the reason why Batman doesn’t just shoot the Joker. Think of all of the lives that one bullet would have saved over the years. In normal Dungeons & Dragons, you kill the monsters and work your way up the chain of command until you can get close enough to kill the boss. Supers shouldn’t work that way but everyone wants to be the Punisher or Wolverine with Logan’s angst.
The Oriental DnD that we ran/played in decades ago (swords of the diamyo ADnD with 3 different groups of players) played more like a Supers game. Family was important and was stressed during character gen and appeared throughout the campaign so characters did or didn’t do things in game because their actions reflected on the honor stat of their family or clan. The 47 Ronin movie is worth watching if black and white movies with subtitles are your thing. In it, the villain belittles the son of a rival family at court with subtle and clever insults within the young man’s hearing but never to his face. Goaded this way, the young man draws his sword to attack his enemy but drawing a sword in the palace, even when not in the emperors presence is a serious crime for which he is forced to commit seppuku and his entire family is disbanded.
In Oriental ADnD, as we played it, sometimes responding with lethal violence to a problem was the worst solution. The same is true of Supers games too but how do you get that across to players in either genre? Players don’t turn up to games to have their characters feel ineffectual so you can’t just bluntly slap down their characters or they aren’t getting to play the character they built. You need to fine some positive way to show them that killing is bad. There is a reason why that has always been a fundamental rule in every civilisation and it can’t just be to protect the bad guys from the justifiable wrath of the good guys! 🙂
Article By C Matthews