Thursday, 29 October 2015

Check for Insanity / Roll for Madness

[Pendants of Tor-Logos]

Pathfinder RPG
Achaerbas, the chaotic wizard, returns do the capital to make a claim for the throne, exhibiting a show of force to support his intent. The PCs drive him away, and go to the imprisoned devil Kyros Vidar to try to discover the location of the captives. Meanwhile, with the death of the Agatarkion V, the kingdom is left without rulership. Can the PCs’ suggestion of a joint theocracy be the solution?

Barion (rogue), Bellerophon (paladin), Thorkron (cleric/wizard/mystic theurge)

When you spend a four hour session roleplaying:
- a chaotic-insane all powerful wizard riding a tsunami, followed by elder water elementals that carry ships on their shoulders;
- a chaotic-insane former PC cleric, devoted to the god of madness, unwilling to commune with his god because "the dice told him so";
- an arrogant commander that hates one of the PCs so much that he refuses to act with minimal logic, because the PC took his favorite toy;
- an imprisoned erinyes hit by a Geas that tries in every way to refuse to speak, twisting, growling, biting his tongue, and so on.

You know two things:
1st: You must schedule an appointment with a  psychiatrist to check your sanity.
2nd: You're having a great time playing D&D!

I'm risking becoming a more efficient kingslayer than Jaime Lannister, since I've already killed two kings in the present campaign (as DM).
The all-mighty-crazy-magician returns to the city riding a tsunami, followed by a mythological gargantuan sea monster (Charybdis), and two elder water elementals carrying ships over their shoulders. He starts speaking to the populace, announcing that he has blood bonds to the former kings. Now try to imagine doing this epic speech with the three PCs trying to hit him while charging on a pegasus, with a magical spear, throwing all sort of spells against him, or trying to backstab him with daggers containing Touch of Idiocy!!!!
If the PCs seem edgy... maybe it's the DM's fault given the amount of EVERYTHING AND THEN SOME MORE that seems to hit them simultaneously. Never a dull day in the kingdom!
Following that encounter we had another one that made us laugh to tears, but at the same time made me hate even more the spell system of D&D (3.5/Pathfinder for reference).
So, a lot of important people have been disappearing, captured by devils, and taken to an unknown place. One of the devils (an erinyes) was captured, and the PCs decided to question him. He proposed a deal: he was willing to share the information if he was freed from captivity and given some land to claim as his own where he would be left in peace. The players wrinkled their noses, twisted in the chair, and grumbled, and for some reason did not embrace this generous offering from the DM (I wonder why...).
That's when high level magic enters play. The mage/cleric/mystic theurge/generic-guy-that-makes-the-DM-curse-every-spell-in-the-game, which is for some reason the most hated man in the kingdom (and beyond it), provokes an intense debate around the possibilities of the Geas spell. While I believe the spell to work only in the way that you can order a specific ACTION to be performed by the target, the bastard twisted the phrasing of the spell defending that "ordering the guy to tell us all that he knows is an action".
Since I am a very generous DM (and the campaign is nearing its end), I decided to give him a free pass.
Nonetheless, I made them fight for every answer, using all possible evasive actions, from speaking Infernal, to mumbling and gabbling, even having the devil rip its tongue so that he couldn't speak. When they presented him with a map and said "point where they are being held", I just couldn't stop laughing and had the devil bite his fingers off!!!!!
Eventually they discovered everything needed to get to the desired location, but I couldn't help but regret that the impact of high level magic is such in the game, that it shuts down roleplay. Why use diplomacy, negotiation, intimidation, or search for info in any "roleplayesque" way, when you can simply use spells that pinpoint the location of what you want to find? Or supply divine answers that solve any doubt?

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Death and Rebirth

[Pendants of Tor-Logos]

Pathfinder RPG
Following the deaths of Bellerophon and Taurus, the combat continues in order to kill Agnes, the succubus, carrying the child of Taurus McKymera whose birth will breach the Planes and allow an army of demons to enter Chimaera Island. After the combat, the Archangel Efialtes brings the paladin back to life. But the heroes of Agatarkion's Kingdom are now faced with the forced exodus from the lands of the Great Druid...

Barion (rogue), Bellerophon (paladin), Thorkron (cleric/wizard/mystic theurge)

The fight with the succubus and Taurus was supposed to be "just a tough fight". The expected outcome would be to have both the succubus and Taurus killed (eventually captured alive, as a courtesy to his cousin, Claudius). But along the way our brave paladin fell, and the succubus was still waiting to be dealt with.
The easy and normal outcome? Kill the succubus.
My players’ outcome? Leave her alive and have her miscarry.
Thorkron’s player called me aside in the middle of the combat and whispered: “Hey, Bestow Curse allows the caster to create his own curse... Can I simply touch the succubus and provoke an immediate abortion?”
I love my players. They always beat me in degrees of evilness.

The campaign is drawing to its conclusion. Will Barion, Bellerophon and Thorkron be able to:
- prevent Queen Hybris' plan to Trap the Soul the 10 most powerful sons of Tyrian Murex;
- guarantee that Thorkron becomes the first mortal to do 8th level arcane magic;
- stop the draconic invasion already underway;
- defeat the powerful dragons Isospora and Ascaris;
- stop the war with the dwarves of Tor-Logos;
- guarantee that the kingdom will have a steady rule after all the recent events;
- define the kingdom's role and relations with all its powerful neighbors;
- survive the gazillion thunderstorms that the DM will still unleash upon them?

Sometimes I wonder if I don't bombard my players with too many plot branches. I have a big phobia to railroading, so I'm continuously opening new paths and possibilities that sprang by each of the PCs' actions
For now, something major has been achieved: the balor Kelsier's intention of entering the realm with a demon army has been stopped. But in doing so, a vengeful succubus has been left on the loose, and who knows what can come out of this...

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Khan’s Report: Tyranny in Phlan – Part 2

Tyranny of Dragons Storyline Season – Expedition 10: Tyranny in Phlan
[Heart of Platinum]
Khan (dwarf cleric), Lanza (elf bard), Sasha (human ranger), Septimus (tiefling warlock)

Previously: The city of Phlan fell victim to a sudden attack from the Cult of the Dragon, led by the impressive green dragon known as Maimed Virulence. Amidst the chaos, the four “not-exactly-heroes” of Phlan ready themselves to storm the Castle, while their brave ally, Lieutenant Aelid, prepares a diversion.

Ecce Deo!
Lieutenant Aelid died a horrible death in front of the gates. Period. And that’s just it. This is how I inform the world of the death of the only non-chaotic-evil NPC in the campaign. The only NPC which I didn’t have an immediate urge to “Hammer to Fall”. Alas! That is life as a D&D player. Everything dies around yourself. Sometimes you die yourself. And then come back to life. And then die again. And then come back to life again. And that is the meaning of life.
IN D&D!!!!! Kids, do not try this at home!!!!
Stonejaw Gate closes behind the heroes. Countless "true" guards are tied in courtyard. Actually, this information in inaccurate, since the DM told us that there were EXACTLY 124 guards in chains. The berserkers from the Cult of the Dragon focused on us. Swords were drawn... And Septimus disappears after one of the guards. Yeah, his player had a last minute problem and couldn't attend the session, so the tiefling started running after the guard, and went M.I.A.
But, I digress. Let me remind you, dear reader, that the characters, at this point, were rather beaten. My brave cleric didn't have a single spell slot available, the quantity of healing potions was quite reduced, and our hit points weren't exactly maximized, and the horned-guy-that-shoots-eldritch-blasts had just ran off-screen.
So... Long story short, Sasha fell to the repeated beating of one of the evil guys' TWO-HANDED-GREATSWORD (thanks a lot, dear beloved DM; may you rot in hell, and the abyss, and so on, and on...), while Lanza used his magic to crowd-control the other evil guys with some fear effect. The problem was a minor detail called cambion. After he mind-controlled Khan, things were looking pretty towards the "it was a good ride, guys, but the campaign comes to an early end".

Septimus! Or possibly the cambion... I'm always confused!

But, apparently, the party didn't have its demise scheduled for this particular moment. Hidden among the captives was Lord Hector Brahms, who jumped after the cambion, forcing him to leave the scene. Simultaneously, Lanza managed somehow to withstand the hits from the last standing guard. Meanwhile, Khan was unconscious, slipping into the long night. At that moment, a booming voice manifested itself in the cleric's mind.
Khan was overwhelmed. His link with Marthammor Duin had been faltering in recent times, and a direct contact from "a god of dragons" was the last thing he was expecting.
Joining forces, the two last remaining heroes manage to clear the board and free the guards. But the cost was too high. Sasha's body lays lifeless on the floor of the courtyard. Khan walks towards the fallen comrade, takes her body in his arms and raises it towards the heavens. "Hear me, oh Bahamut, Lord of Dragons! If you'll accept me as your loyal, unflinching servant, I pledge my life to your cause, vowing to abandon everything behind me. I ask thee only to restitute the Breath of Life to my brave companion!"
The dwarven cleric's right arm points at the sky, and a flash of platinum descends towards it. His hand touches Sasha's forehead, and the ranger comes back to life.
Khan experiences an awakening. He drops his magical warhammer, tears his vest apart, and joins the escaping prisoners.
Wow! How's that for "a stupid game where you only roll dice and kill stuff"? In thy face, haters!
Gathering what remains of the captives we RUUUUUN TOOOOO THE... SEWERS (hmmm, not exactly the same as Iron Maiden), where a rotting, stinking, bitch drow asks us 250 gp to take us safely out of the city, along with the survivors. So, yes, the bastard DM refuses to give us treasure, AND keeps the day emptying our pockets! Where's the Complaint Form Nº 174-A/2580 to send to WotC?
We board a boat, and under the cover of night flee to Mulmaster, across the Moonsea…

The Tyranny of Dragons has arrived. May Bahamut guide our steps, and Tiamat use the DM as a backscratcher.