Monday, 20 October 2014

Session II.16 – Feeblemind me once, shame on you! Feeblemind me twice…

Alas, this poor dungeon master is sad, for the gentle Esra lies dead! :’(
Oh treachery! Oh villainy!
Esra was the only NPC I actually thought somewhat decently developed in the current campaign, since most others tend toward linearity. And now he’s dead. I haven’t had the opportunity so far to make good NPCs in the present story, and Esra was my “champion”. The lawful neutral enchanter always puzzled by all the interesting things around him, extremely polite, and with a sincere respect for his arcane colleague - albeit enemy - Thorkron. My intention was to keep him hidden, only to perform Feeblemind in Thorkron and fade away, thus complicating the escape from the pyramid. At least his dismissal was, storywise, magnificent! Thorkron saved twice against Feeblemind, and then Esra succumbed to Thorkron’s own Feeblemind. He died on his knees, drooling, asking mercy from an all-evil dracopegasus that tore his head apart. And that’s how you kill the PC’s antagonist. ;)
Regarding the rest of the session, I’m rediscovering why I hate playing D&D at higher levels. When an entire party is able to become invisible and roam freely, being able to teleport away if anything goes bad, roleplay is over. Combining those actions simply kills any chances to use any kind of skills, planning, etc. Either the DM has to metagame and have most enemies be ready with “all the spells” that render those actions useless (which is something I don’t enjoy doing), or the rest of the game bogs down to simply not challenging. High level magic in D&D pretty much tears “role” away from “play”. Being able to dominate person and have a mid-level paladin become a by-your-command toy for ELEVEN DAYS is excessive and ridiculous. Also, you can give the orders telepathically, without the need to actually talk to the victim as we were doing. And to make things even more idiotic: Once control is established, the range at which it can be exercised is unlimited, as long as you and the subject are on the same plane. You need not see the subject to control it. So, basically, anyone can stay at home drinking tea and have any target wreak havoc anywhere “just because”… I can’t even begin to understand how the game authors thought this was “fun” for a story-building game.
Just to be clear: I’m not criticizing Emanuel’s playing. He simply used the tools his character had, and I even think this opportunity in particular can be quite interesting for our story. But what exactly stops him from teleporting back to dwarven territory and keep dominating key-NPCs to disrupt everything he wishes, while remaining at Castro Quimera having tea with his dearest friend McGuinness? And what prevents the DM to make the exact same things to counter all the game-changing actions performed by the characters? The description of the spell is so vague that any smart player can make anything happen. “Just sit on that rock and wait for my return”. Ooops, I’m not planning to return, so let’s just see you sitting motionless for 10 days, and watch you die from thirst or starvation. “Hey! I’m not telling the NPC to do anything AGAINST his nature!”
Just out of curiosity, I took the time to see how the spell had been inserted in D&D 5th edition. The difference? It lasts ONE minute. At the highest possible casting level you can control a creature for 8 hours. It’s slightly different from 11 days… I guess WotC learned the lesson.

Session Chronicle: link

1 comment:

  1. Continuing to sit on a rock unmoving while you're dying of thirst is against most creatures' natures, in my opinion. Just because the act wasn't against their nature when they were first told to do it doesn't mean it can't be against their nature when unforseen (by the victim) consequences become apparent.
    Anyway, challenging a high level party just requires some creativity. You need to keep in mind that enemies can use all of the tricks players are using.