Monday, May 01, 2006

One DM's Deleterious Circumstance

I had my game this past Saturday (Kingdoms of Kalamar 3.5) at Yuba City (Session #12), and I have to say I wasn't too impressed. Oh, the roleplaying was better than usual, but I was victim to the oldest trick in the book: Players who don't take the adventure hook (the bait).
You see, my game opened up with a bang. Last session, our fighter/wizard, Lazarus the Undying... died. A trio of trolls jumped the party while they were camping outside (there were three PC's in the party at the time and the average level was 6th), and though two were able to escape their clutches, Lazarus ended up in a crossfire of four claws, two bites and an evil rend! Sadly, and predictably, he didn't make it. Thus ended that session (#11)...
This latest game, we started the next morning after Lazarus' untimely demise. They picked through the remains to retrieve what possessions had survived the onslaught. They were resolved to journey north back to the city of Inolen, but at that moment a band of five rangers approached the party (one of them was Willie's new character (originally (maybe not so originally) named Lazarus but I forced him to change it. He chose Jules Ingamin, a 4th level fighter/ 1st level wizard). These rangers were after the trolls (as they were their favored enemies) and they were a day behind. After expressing their sorrow to the party for not being here soon enough to confront the trolls before their companion (Lazarus) died, a great shadow swallowed up both parties and WUMP! A gargantuan red dragon LANDED on the ranger party from above. The PC's made their Spot and Listen rolls and so avoided the 15 ton creature's surprise entrance. So did Jules, but the NPC rangers didn't (of course!), the dragon then ran away from the party where a tall githyanki with a silver sword leaped onto the dragon's leg and climbed onto his back while the dragon took off again toward the Elenon mountains to the east.
Needless the say, the party was a little shell-shocked. (Brian doesn't do this in his campaigns!) I have to admit, Willie roleplayed Jules' attitude quite well. He was distraught at the sudden and needless deaths of his childhood friends. After building a stone cairn for the fallen (which Dean's character Ariel (a female half-elf ranger/sorcerer), and Seth's character Nash (a male halfling rogue/warlock) helped him to complete, Jules then made a Knowledge (the planes) roll regarding the githyanki he saw and scored a 26! I told him some basic info on the githyanki plus the fact that Ariel was wearing a githmake bastard sword across her back sans scabbard. Jules knew that the githyanki cared more for their weapons and armor than they did for their own mates, so he confronted Ariel about getting rid of her sword lest it attract more githyanki.

I have to insert an aside here: Willie (Jules' player) is old school. When he thinks githyanki, he's thinking about the cover of the 1st edition Fiend Folio, so he assumed that these githmake weapons were trans-dimensional beacons putting out an APB. I never told him that, but that's what he interpreted. This, of course, started a two-hour long argument. While Ariel was mostly in character during this argument, Jules lapsed in and out of the game talking to Ariel and Dean every other sentence. I finally had to end it and ameliorate both sides as best I could to maintain a viable gaming environment. Eventually, Ariel agreed to find a scabbard for the weapon as soon as they reach a village. This solution seemed to satisfy all involved. The bottom line here was I thought Willie was trying to prove to me that he could play a 'good' aligned character (because he rarely does, and we had a discussion last game because I thought his character (Lazarus) was Neutral Evil even though it said Neutral on his character sheet. Though Willie proved to me that his character had never DONE anything evil, I was more into his intent than his actions, but anyway), coupled with the fact that the whole githmake weapon thing wasn't even a moral issue to begin with, made this event needless and tedious. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if Willie didn't take the argument out of character as often as he did. There -- I'm done with that aside, now.

Since Jules is from the kingdom of Mendarn to the south, where the anti-demihuman racism is a bit less, the party decides to go back to his home city of Ospolen (which is the capital of Mendarn). At this point, I mentioned to Nash that his riding dog was acting up. He seemed to be frightened of the troll cave to the east. This was the same cave the githyanki left to leap on the dragon. Nash and Ariel decided to investigate. Jules stayed behind to wish his friends farewell. Ariel and Nash discovered the slaughtered remains of three trolls. One was very dead, while the other two were down, but regenerating. Ariel ignited her githmake bastard sword (with a Burning Blades spell) and performed coups de grace on both of them. They noticed also the remains of Lazarus and near him a shattered githyanki device (this device was well known to the party. They found it off a low-level githyanki scout. It was a large, glass vessel and if you broke it, a githyanki hero would arrive and plane-shift the scout back to their astral fortress). Near the shattered glass was a shimmering warp in the air in a flat, roundish shape. They knew damn well it was a dimensional portal.

Aside #2: Now we come to it. This was the hook... the bait... the entrance into the two-week slaving of the DM's convoluted imagination. My adventure for tonight! Did it ever occur to the DM that there was NO FUCKING WAY anyone with a modicum of common freakin' sense was going to enter that portal? I dare say not. I mean, this is the DM's basic death trap setup right? Enter portal, make saving throw, begin to die. Right? OR "You enter the shimmering pool of air and arrive on the other side inside a great feast hall where the KING OF ALL GITH is holding a meeting of his top generals and advisors. The portal closes behind you inexplicably. Now fight these twenty-five top-level githyanki all armed with silver swords and pumped so full of psionic goodness that you will be long remembered as THE GUY WHO LEFT AND NEVER CAME BACK!" Now I would never do anything remotely like that, but I guess I have a history...
Here's the conversation that occurred after the game:
Brian (Darth_Tanyan): I can't understand why you guys didn't go into the portal back in the cave?
Dean: You....don't....understand?
Brian: Yeah.
Dean: Brian, the last time I went through one of your portals I ended up in the Elemental Plane of Earth. Thank God it was somewhat muddy so I could reach my rod of passage or Torseti and I would've been dead. Remember that?
Brian: I gave you a clue, dummy. You asked me what color the portal was and I said shit-brown. Now why do you think I used those words?
Seth: Brian told me months later that that was the Quasi-Para-Semi-Elemental Plane of Fecal Matter.
Brian: No, actually it was the Demiplane of Crapola.
Dean: It was what??
Seth: Remember Brian remarked on how smelly you guys were when you came back?
Dean: Mud can be smelly.
Brian: Shit.... brown.
Dean: Screw you, Brian. You suck! Dammit, you had me make Constitution checks for swallowing that shit.
Brian: Yep.
Dean: And you still can't understand why we're a little hesitant to jump through portals?
Brian (looking disconsolate): Oh. I get it.
Seth, Willie and Dean (exultant): Yeah!!
Brian: Wait a minute, that was over five years ago, dude. I've had portals since then. Remember the portal in your castle in Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed?
Seth: You mean the blue one?
Brian: Right.
Willie: Correct me if I'm wrong, junior, but didn't we find out that that gate was looking for a necromancer and it would close if one went through?
Dean: Yeah, it was looking for a necromancer.
Brian: So what?
Dean: Who the hell wants to go through a portal that is LOOKING to snag a necro? What might be lurking on the other side? Hell? The Abyss? Some vengeful angel or paladin of significantly high level?
Brian: You guys used the akashic memory and discovered the name of the sorcerer who made the portal.
Seth: Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson or something?
Willie: It was Jefferson Davis.
Dean (rolling his eyes): Jeezus, gimme a break.
Seth: I've heard that name before....
Dean: He was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Brian: Hey, that was a cool world, man. The Colonies of Columbia versus the Confederacy of Dixie in 1858. Instead of black slaves there were Whitney Golems picking and combing out the cotton. Jefferson Davis was the Grand Wizard of Dixie and he was losing the war and needed to find a necromancer to help animate his dead confederates and have them march to the District of Columbia. Also, Pittsburgh was a nexus to Phyrexia (from Magic: The Gathering) where they would construct strange arcane steamcraft devices, like colossi and defilers and such...
Dean: Omigod, this blows. You actually wanted us to visit this place?
Seth: Sounds cool.
Dean: Shutup suckup!
Willie: Didn't you tell us that their guns were just wands with pistol grips and you had to sprinkle them with pixie dust to get them to ignite or something?
Seth: Are you kidding me? Ha-ha-ha-ha! That's the gayest thing I ever heard!
Brian (slamming books on the floor): Alright! That does it. You assholes wanna come up with something better? You wanna DM? Get your asses into this chair and start rollin' dice! Otherwise grab your stylus and your dice and prepare to be dismayed. I do not have the time nor the inclination to babysit your candy-asses through an adventure when all you had to do was go through the stupid portal!
Willie: Honestly, why are you getting all upset? It's just a game. We're here to have fun, right?
Brian (quieting down): Yes, but not at anyone's expense....and certainly not mine.
Seth: Okay, we're cool. Let's get back to my character...
General silence. (crickets and chirps)
Dean: You know, you could package that Civil War campaign for Wizards of the Coast, Brian. You could call it, Dixie Guns and Pixie Dust!
Willie: Nah! Call it Dixie Chicks and Pixie Sticks!
Willie, Seth, Dean: Guffaw!!!

Suffice to say, getting me pissed off at the D&D games has turned into a spectator sport.

Sooooo, The party looked at the portal in fear and awe and made their way back out of the cave and back to Jules where they decided to journey south to Ospolen. So they travel south, hoping to find the gnoll bandits they were commissioned to find by the Duke Davrosil of Inolen last session. Well, they don't find the gnolls, but they cross the Eldoran/Mendarn border, making it to Ospolen 4 days later.
At this point, I was no longer running a programmed adventure created by yours truly, now I was in 'wing it and sling it' mode. I had the clerics of the Riftmaster charge Ariel (a devout worshipper) to quiet an influx of magic just outside the city in a nearby village. This influx of magic was centered on a rival church devoted to the Lord of Scorn, god of hate and racism. They had captured two halflings and tomorrow, on the first quarter of the moon Diadolai, they intend to sacrifice them to their vicious god. The party's job was to break it up and kill all the priests and anyone who tried to protect them. So after doing some preliminary scout work they decided to attack the temple under cover of the evening fog (this village was near a bay). They all set up their places as the two halflings were about to be lynched outside the temple on the gallows in front of all the village. Over 80 people came out to watch and chant their rage. After the high priest in his golden regalia addressed the crowd with a hate speech he tried to hit the latch that would drop the noosed halfings. But Nash had sneaked in earlier and rigged the latch to stick. It was at that time that the party moved in. Jules shot an arrow into the high priest while Nash cast a darkness spell which enveloped the gallows. Ariel moved in with her flaming bastard sword and attacked an attendant priest. To make a long story short, the fight was going against them as the jackal-helmed, khopesh wielding fighters came out of the temple to defend the priests, the high priest summoned a bearded devil to tangle with the interlopers and it didn't help that Jules fumbled and pulled his shoulder muscle while drawing back his composite Strength longbow. Ariel and Jules absconded the premises while Nash shot a few more eldritch bolts before leaving himself as the bearded devil and some of the fighters began to take an interest in him on top of the first tier of the temple.
Thus ended the evening. I gave out 500 xp in roleplay.

I guess in the future I'll just have a portal open underneath them if I really need them to go somewhere.... oh well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to force the party into the portal! A couple of favorites...stealing valuables from pc's, forcing them to pursue thief into portal. Or, my favorite, the portal being the only escape from something undefeatable (preferebly a demon or dragon). It does make it more exciting ya know?


11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Vine Breaker here. I did not eat shit, nor would I. Brian you suck, and let me tell you why... LOL....

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GD, my character is awesome. He screws brian's game all up. He can kick anyone's ass. Warlock should only be played when coupled with rogue, and vice versa. So back to my character....

1:47 AM  
Blogger Brian Perez said...

Man, this post sure is a favorite for retards.
Last I checked, my name was Brian, but come to think of it, Brain may be a better fit. Thanks!
Oh, btw Seth, your character just caught fire. Make a Fort save...

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nah, whatever would have caught him on fire im sure didn't because he probably successfully made his reflex save quite easily, and took no damage due to evasion. Eldritch blast/sneak attack, move, hide, rinse, repeat. I won D&D.

12:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home