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

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