Dragon Slayers

Dreams and Debts

11/15/09

As Kai walked over to look at it, the body of the “dead girl” stood up and changed shape into a man. He wore black, and had long, straight, black hair. He spoke briefly to the party, insinuating that there was something going on behind the scenes for some time now. He disappeared. After resting, the 3 surviving members of the party (Seh was lost in the last battle) explored the rest of the cave. As the day went on, they experienced a powerful magical event, their entire world roiling about them. Just as they escaped the mountain, they met the mysterious stranger again. He promised to restore their companion to them, and even supply information at opportune times, if they would only accept a small debt to him… The party accepted, and they woke again in the cave, discovering Seh alive and well.

Comments

Ok, so this was one of my favorite sessions so far. I had no idea what was going on, and I thought Kai was going to die. I was pissed throughout the adventure because Drail and Ronin had drained all my lifesongs with their stupid antics and infighting. I was both the healer an caster in a party of wounded individuals, with one man already down. The whole mood was really helped by no-nonsense yet descriptive DMing. Vru didn’t go all spooky-voiced or anything, he just told us about what the characters saw and thought, and we tripped ourselves out. I liked that we listened to each other in general, and when it started dissolving into chaos Vru generally would pull aside one character and give them a new impulse or action to respond to. The overall plot change of being indebted to a powerful (or really opportunistic) stranger who we know nothing about is something to both dread and look forward to in future gameplay. The whole scene was also led up to subtly and incorporated previously inexplicable encounters with odd characters and entities. However, there should definitely be experience given out. Despite the lack of encounters, experience was gained in a very literal sense. There was a lot of problem-solving, teamwork, and negotiation that took place in the dream sequence; it should be reflected in our character exp. I still have a small gripe about internal vs. external dialogue. As a party we all need to be better at reacting in character to what we know, and not reacting to what we don’t know. I have a bad habit of wanting to help Matt choose spells. Especially since he is a Sorc, and doesn’t prepare spells, I should have no clue what he’s about to pull off unless I take the time to do a spellcraft check (which would just slow down game dynamics). For Stefan and Mike, I know you like knowing what’s going on, but your unless your characters ask, you shouldn’t know who has been level drained or what the heck that shiny light just did. I also think we should de-emphasize keeping track of who has the most damage. I’m going to start making fights more about visual cues (I think it’s fine to ask Vru how hurt someone looks) and tactical/personal choices (attacking whoever is closest, or, for a fight with sentient beings, whoever you hate the most). On the upshot, I think we’re all improving with choosing moves beforehand and speeding up gameplay. If we remove the metagaming dialogue about damage (as well as voicing our internal tactics out of turn) battle should speed up a lot more still. I think, taken together, these ideas could build stronger character, faster gameplay, and more realistic encounters, while still allowing for tons of fun.

Dreams and Debts
 

Oh, btw, the pissed part was at characters, not individuals.

Dreams and Debts
 

Thanks for the comment, Kravian. I think today was one of my favorite sessions so far, too.

I agree that your characters learned a lot and showed a tremendous amount of initiative in their attempts to work together, and that you guys did a lot more in-character thought than we’ve had for a while, so XP is very a very reasonable request (not to mention the fact that character death was a possibility the entire time). I’m still working out how much I want to do. Suggestions, anyone?

I agree that a better handle on character-knowledge versus player-knowledge would be nice. I think there are a lot of things to clear up with the whole meta-gaming argument.

First, to be fair, all of you are adventurers, and you have been doing this for some time now. You are aware of each other’s abilities, at least in some abstract manner, and the fighters are DEFINITELY aware of magic. This can be seen in the rest of the world, when a soldier might have a collar that negates a wizard’s power. I think in my campaign, I’m going for a world where magic is quite prevalent, and while a non-user can’t do any magic, he is aware of its potential for damage, and probably even the possibility of scrying spells and such. Some non-users may even have a rudimentary understanding of magic theory, being able to describe the flow of energy or the purpose of a magic circle for enhancing a spell, while still not knowing it well enough in practice to actually perform any magic.

On the other hand, there has been some meta-gaming going on. I would like this campaign to be about having fun, which is why I often let all of you players decide the atmosphere, so if you make it obvious by your play that you would prefer to be more in-character, I think it will swing that way. My preference would be to work towards a goal of more realistic characters and gameplay.

On specifics, I would like it if we could let each player make his own decisions while in combat and while not. Discussion can certainly happen, but to interrupt someone with “No, don’t do that!” doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe you could decide tactics before entering combat? In combat, I don’t want to go to a strict, only-speak-on-your-turn rule, but it might make sense for in-character conversation itself. This does mean that in-combat conversation, like negotiating a surrender, is very stilted. I would appreciate suggestions on that one. Even outside of combat, we have had a few instances in which players assert their intentions and are then interrupted. If someone else says, “I cut off the NPC’s head,” there’s not much your character can do besides react. A good Reflex save or initiative response to the player drawing his sword might mean that you can prevent it, but you don’t normally have time to discuss the political implications between the character forming the idea and trying to implement it. On a similar note, try not to mess with this rule by doing impulsive things that make no sense in character, simply to waste time or make a joke. A good rule of thumb may be that once a player has declared his intentions, you can joke about them out of character, but understand that they are basically immutable.

I also agree with Kravian that the point of the game is not who took/dealt out the most damage. Some characters are designed to be supporting players in combat, and can help a lot by enhancing their teammate’s abilities or flanking, etc. It’s not a competition; the only goal is for all of us to have fun. Visual cues about how damaged someone is are very kosher, just stay away from the ever-tempting, “On a scale from 0 to full HP, how much would I numerically estimate this baddie to be injured?” :P

One quick comment under tactics, and I got this from a well-known DMing website: Just because the players don’t always use optimal tactics doesn’t mean the monsters never can. Most monsters at this point are capable of differentiating between caster and fighter, and the tactical differences are rather obvious. If you see something confusing or seemingly conflicting, don’t question it out of character unless it’s a huge issue. This can lead to an upset Vru, and ret-conning things are usually not that worth-while. After all, each of us has forgotten various parts of damage or defense at many key moments early in a fight, including me. A better response to something weird is usually to question it in-character: either your character makes a new assumption about the way the world works, or realizes that something is going on. This could lead to investigation. Often, you’d be amazed at the things I’ve either planned on purpose or can fix to be interestingly tied together.

Dreams and Debts
 

Sorry about the long post; I just felt this was a worthwhile time to get some feedback going.

Dreams and Debts
 

I summon a Thoqqua, for NO REASON!!!!

Dreams and Debts
VruNix

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.