Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One bad roll....

An unfortunate roll on the urban encounters table lead to the party being tricked by a rakshasa and following him around on a merry chase as he impersonated, murdered, and replaced an NPC ally.  I tried to warn them with some dialogue hints (and a brief, pre-murder encounter with the real NPC) but they weren't biting.When he sprang his trap, I thought it was curtains for the party... they had no way to harm him with weapons or magic. Luckily, Georges, our resident spoony bard, had haste prepared, and the party was able to flee from the monster.

Oh, did I mention that old school monks, who cannot be hasted, still have an obscene movement rate? I can see why that feature of the class might cause some concern amongst those I have seen criticize the monk, but I am far from turned off to the class at this point.

My question is this... when you see the imminent doom of the player characters coming, but they clearly do not, how many of you follow through and how many try to throw the players a bone and give them the chance to save themselves? I was actually prepared to let the dice fall where they would, even though I am rather attached to the current locale of the campaign and the events occurring in and around it.

16 comments:

  1. Psionic Index ("Wisdom") check if I'm fairly certain that it is due to poor uptake on the part of the party/leader.
    --Miscommunication (especially in a noisy game store) is always a possibility and I try and make certain that the misstep is based upon informed poor choices rather than uninformed ones.

    ---

    The monk in our BitD 1e game was cool, but not in any way more powerful than the clerics or M-Us, but a bit more flexible than the paladins.

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  2. I like to use sinister/suspicious speech and actions by the NPC as a warning, in the vein of "I'm acting really evil and twisting my mustache while I offer you candy to get in my van."

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  3. @Blair - the only problem with that approach is that the players will start to suspect a double bluff.

    "Hmmm...the DM's trying to frighten us out of going that way. Must mean there's some cool loot down there"

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  4. I'll usually try to throw them a bone, but if they refuse to bite, I let the dice fall where they may.

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  5. Ah, the dreaded double bluff. This is why just letting the dice fall where they may is a good option.

    Still, RPGs are a bit like silent cinema, in that subtlety doesn't convey as well as in other story-telling media. So by all means I'll drop an obvious hint or two, but I don't feel badly if the group goes in the completely opposite direction from what's intended.

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  6. Definitely throw a bone if I think they're just plain missing something. If they seem to have picked up on it and are choosing to ignore, well, rolling new characters doesn't take too long...

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  7. I'm with Kilgore. Throw 'em a bone. Being tricked, humiliated and frustrated can be fun. Getting killed sucks. I'm not one for PC death.

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  8. well, throw a bone I did and they missed it. I thought it was obvious, but clearly I was wrong. After the session I did point it out, and then they had a collective "d'oh" moment.

    I consider it fair play, in that sheer bad luck thrust the rakshasa upon them, but sheer good luck saved them, in that the bard had happened to prepare haste before they walked into the trap.

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  9. ...also, that was the first time I've ever seen that particular spell used to quickly run away, rather than whoop all kinds of slow-mo ass.

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  10. that was originally the idea when I thought I could use it on the monk and that I thought his fist were the equivalent of magic weapons

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  11. Ironic, Josh, that the monk couldn't be affected by the spell, but fortunately was the only one who didn't need it to outrun the rakshasa.

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  12. Re: Throwing Bones

    I'm all for "player skill" rather than "PC skill", but some things that might be totally obvious to a person in the game seeing and hearing what's going on are sometimes tough to communicate from DM to player. Mapping is something that comes immediately to mind.

    If it's something that I feel is getting lost on players due to DM-player communication, I will keep throwing bones. But at some point you've got to let the players play.

    If afterwards there's a "D'oh!" moment (as you mentioned) it means you did what you should have and they just missed it. If you explain what went down and they still don't quite get it, it means that maybe more bones should have been tossed. Of course, by then it's too late.

    And sometimes things are just so tough that one subtle hint may be enough. I believe rakshasas may be in that category. They are freaky scary.

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  13. Is it jsut me or is it strange that a party with a bard high enough level to cast haste doesn't have 1 or 2 magic weapons?

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  14. It is somewhat strange. The party did have a magic weapon before, but it vanished when that player retired the character. The characters then spent several experience levels on an alternate world that that had high-tech weapons but no magic, but the one character who was carrying all the tech weapons swore fealty to a chaos deity and was whisked away along with their entire arsenal.
    I should probably drop a magic weapon in one of the treasure hordes soon, as the Treasure Type tables are a cruel mistress.

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  15. Mentioning the high-tech weapons: Would you rule an energy weapon to be 'magic' for that sort of effect?
    --What about a needler?

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