Sunday, September 25, 2022

In-Game SOPs

In-Game SOPs
I was watching...something, not the salient point here...and one of the characters basically SOPs the door and it struck me as odd because it wasn't a bunch of military or police "stacking up". I'm not used to seeing this too often out in the wild...

..."too often" because I am a Veteran and in that capacity I am quite used to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs or "sop/sops"), but honestly higher-level established SOPs are usually (at least in my experience) called TTPs, or Tactics Techniques, & Procedures. I have seen unit-level SOPs and I like to think that I had some individualized SOPs....I know I do on my job now, but it took me a few minutes to think about it. I have a little black book I use to keep notes in and that's where I keep a record of my SOPs....

...well, I thought I kept a record of those SOPs. I just took a look at the book and it's filled with notes on how to do certain things for each of my main work tasks, but no actual SOPs, more like remarks on how the big boss likes specific things done...again, more like problem solving than SOPs.

My current home group kind of has some SOPs, but as far as I know they aren't written down and they were established (probably decades) before I joined the group. It's more a short-hand between the party Thief and the GM.

"You going to SOP the door?"

"Yes, but I'll let the junior thief do it and I'll follow up to check their work."

Now to me it makes a lot of sense for Thieves to naturally have a series of SOPs and maybe a party when it comes to certain things:

  • Marching Order
  • Room searching
  • Post-battle recovery
  • Night Watches
Some SOPs are clearly the product of player experience vs. player-character experience, but not necessarily in the realm of using Out Of Character knowledge. Often in pick-up or convention games I'm more than happy to take a backseat, as it were, and be the rear-guard, assuming I have an appropriate PC. When I get to do this, I make sure to tell the GM my main SOP is to regularly be looking up ahead of the group and behind the group, even if that's to my PC's detriment. If everybody ahead of me falls silently into a trap there's a good chance I'll fall in as well if I happen to be shuffling backwards during that moment. 

In my old HackMaster group I recall two specific SOPs, both of which really seemed like OOC, I'll dare say "cheating", but both were established kind of painfully (well, as far as PCs go). I'll be a bit generic in the explanation 'cause there's no need to be bogged down by rules for a game you're not playing....
  1. The first happened after a long zombie campaign. In HackMaster a zombie is no big deal, but put a few together, and you're on the menu. Zombie have an interesting mechanic in that when you get a couple "on you" pretty much every other zombie in reach gets a free bite. Thing is that in HackMaster armor technically makes it easier to be hit, but reduces the amount of damage taken......and these free bites bypass this damage reduction. Armor can also make you fight/swing slower so.......when zombies come around, it's time to remove the armor. One group figure this out in-character after several large zombie battles where they barely survived and this TTP became party lore shared long after the original group's members were no longer around. Also, we kind of got in the habit of decapitating foes as a matter of course........to prevent zombie retaliation (so kind of a zombie twofer).
  2. Speaking of armor, when fighting HUGE foes, like really big humanoids/anything (Bugbears, Ogres, up to & including Giants), ditch the shield. Shields are literally designed to take a hit, and if the foes hits really hard to begin with, sometimes it's better to reduce the number of times you're hit instead of getting your shit kicked in because you put up this piece of wood and metal as an intentional target, backed by your body. We learned this one after having a couple of shields just shattered off of our PC's arms...and of course the PCs took some decent damage as well. 
Now these were two specific SOP examples, but they were actually developed during the course of the game as opposed to players reading the rules and doing the math. Now I'm not saying that players doing player type stuff is bad per se, but I like the idea of SOPs developing as lore that gets passed down from one set of PCs to another over the course of (hopefully) years of in-game adventuring.

Now we just need to establish a SOP of an in-character journal to pass these nuggets down the line....

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