Friday, January 30, 2015
Thursday, January 29, 2015
This article focuses on those who are either teetering on the edge of burnout or who are currently struggling with burnout so it's not going to address player needs. The GM is presumed to have expended all the effort they can at this point on Tasks With No End (i.e. adventure planning) so simply improving their technique in order to get a better response from their players isn't a viable option at this stage.
Lack of Work.
This can become a problem in comedic games where the rules are either simple (i.e. World of Darkness dungeon crawl) or the GM is expected to be a largely invisible force who sits back and occasionally administrates actions. It can also be a problem if the players desire a romp through the pages of a bestiary in a simple dungeon while the GM wants to create clues, props and rich locations. In short, the GM's boredom is driving their burn out. My best recommendation here would be GM honesty while appealing to player consciences (and desire for further games) with a request to occasionally run one shot games that are more complicated. Alternatively, the players could always recommend such an occasional adventure and put a lot of effort into taking it seriously even if they normally prefer Beer and Popcorn games. A few sessions a year to the GM's preference can do wonders and the players may even find they look a few elements of a more complicated game - even if they are turned toward comedic effect.
Tasks With No End.
There's a lot of nitty gritty details that must be done by every GM. There are descriptions, locations, pre-reading likely rules, running characters and keeping the players updated on the plot when they forget details between the sessions. It's a good idea for the GM to look at tasks that could be handed off and do so to a player ... or better yet, for a player to offer to help. At the one extreme, players could keep their own notes, level their own characters, track their own experience, manage their own handouts, sharpen their own pencils, and take turns with the dishes rather than relying on the GM's generosity. At the other extreme where the GM simply runs really high effort games, it may be a good idea to either spread out the sessions so you have more time or have a few simpler sessions in between more complicated "Key" adventures. On the plus side, people can be habituated to anything so if you go from a regular session to one with no holds barred, they'll be more likely to notice.
Some GMs also sometimes set themselves up to do massive undertakings - running 30 player LARPs single-handedly, running five campaigns a week which rely on pre-planning, or even doing both simultaneously! If it's an impossible task, acknowledge it. You have a long life to live. Figure out what you want to do and pare down from there. You won't do anyone any good if you cut five campaigns midway through. Of course, if you could take that advice you probably wouldn't need to be reading this so I'll turn to the players instead and recommend that you do everything in your power to make things simpler for them and show your appreciation. Few games require the players to do anything between sessions so it shouldn't be too much to ask that players do what was suggested in the above paragraph and maybe also bake the occasional snacks or offer to fetch the GM a drink when they get their own.
Many GMs take on a player's problems as their own personal responsibility to solve. They convince themselves that they can do what highly paid and trained managers and consultants can't do to their paid employees ... change them to suit the role at hand. A GM is not a trained psychologist and it's unfair on yourself to think that you are somehow a change guru. Also remember that issues your players bring to the table may only be a problem for you, your game or your table. It can be hard but if you are getting burned out by one of your players, you really are best off either politely excusing that player from your table or if that's not possible you could end your game for a few months and then create something different and invite other folks to game with you. If the person in question queries why, you can truthfully state that you didn't think the game would suit their style. As an example, if they are an avid dungeon crawler and you design a primarily political court game then they should understand even if they're not pleased with it. If this would leave you with 2 - 3 players, well, there are plenty of games that suit a lower number.
Sometimes it seems that each and every player wants something different and those differences clash terribly. Trying to integrate a player who adores gritty realism with someone who prefers thematic supremacy with someone who just wants to feel empowered and hit stuff can be difficult at best. Sometimes it just won't work. You can have an open conversation about the clashes but I've found that isn't effective because the players can't change what they want. You could declare each session to focus on one player's desires but that often comes off as artificial. I'd recommend cancelling the game and running a series of one shots that can each focus on a different style or getting a new gaming table. You might be able to slowly get them all to appreciate each other's styles but if you're on the verge of burn out, you just don't have that much time.
Some Game Masters do all the paperwork, note taking, summarising, experience point tracking, damage tracking, rules tips and character sheet updates for their players. This might be because the players don't want to do it or because the GM thought they'd be helpful and took on too much extra work. If you're feeling burnt out, immediately stop these sundry tasks. If your players don't note down exp, they probably don't value them highly and will live with the occasional loss due to forgetting to jot them down. That's fine. They'll live with it. What they won't do is appreciate that the campaign ended and you've sworn off gaming for a year because you kept their exp tracks for them. If you are a player, step up to the plate with this even if you hate keeping records. Your GM will almost always appreciate it.
GM / Player Supremacy
There seems to be two major camps of roleplayers these days. There are the old school folks who see the GM as a competitive God who must abide by certain rules while the players show their desperate appreciation. On the other side you have folks who see the GM as a dutiful and grateful servant who should bow and scrape and be ever so pleased that someone deigned to let them spend a few hours a week preparing to entertain them. Both sides are wrong. GMs and players are people and often friends and that should be the focus of any interaction. Be aware that even if the players understand that neither should be subservient to the others' needs, the Internet might be putting stupid expectations onto the GM (or inflating their ego to dangerous degrees). Since GMs spend more time (generally) reading advice articles than their players, they're more prone to being messed with by these beliefs. Besides all of that there is always an inordinate amount of pressure for the GMs to put on a show and though the pressure is normally invigorating, once burn out starts to set in that pressure becomes poison.
Meaninglessness of Achieved Goals
Once you get cynical, it's hard to find meaning in constantly being expected to freely provide entertainment for other people. There's no promotions, no pay rises, and no method of tracking your progress. Are you getting better or worse? Are your efforts all in vain? Do the players even enjoy the campaign you have slogged over? Regrettably effort doesn't guarantee reward and many a player will doggedly remain at a table even if they loathe the game simply due to a mixture of habit and friendship. To make matters worse, burn out and cynicism makes stated goals of "give your players a fantastic time" seem all the more depressing. What makes the players so special? Why is no one slaving over me to give me a good time? Why is the person putting in the most effort getting the least out of it? These are the circular thoughts that creep up and eat away all good will the GM might feel toward the game and can poison the players' attempts to counteract the burnout with appreciation and congratulations. Your best bet at this stage is to become a player for several months.*
*Many GMs become impatient with the lack of environmental control, lack of creative outlets for game design and lack of constant stimulation which comes with being a player. In other words, for many GMs it can help counteract their jealousy and cynicism by helping them realise that being a player is not necessarily better but different.
This is not always a burn out causing problem but when it rears it's head it can be awfully depressing. It most commonly occurs when your players don't seem to be enjoying the game, when your more exciting ideas frustrate them, or when the players themselves spend much of their time bickering or outright ignoring the game you set up. Such a dysfunctional table can be the fault of mean-spirited or ignorant players or the fault of the GM themselves. Sometimes it's just a clash of personalities at the table. More rarely, the players just like to complain and are perfectly enjoying a campaign that nonetheless makes the GM miserable. The ambiguity here is what responsibility the GM holds for such behaviours, whether they can (or should) attempt to fix it, and what the best route forward truly is. I have no idea how to correct this once it crops up as I have spent a year trying to correct a dysfunctional table and had no success despite repeated entreaties to the players themselves. In the end, it was probably the particular combination of players and expected campaign style that created the problem.
If you have too much to do, you become naturally exhausted by your efforts especially since your efforts at designing a great campaign very rarely translate to success in other areas of your life. Excel at work and you may get a promotion or better job opportunity. Excel at your home life and you get a great house and supportive family to spend your life with. Excel in a campaign and you have a bubble of happiness for a few hours but may lose promotions, damage career options, alienate family and neglect home and garden. Try to remember to keep all things in moderation and if the rest of your life is starting to back slide, it's worth taking a few weeks or months holiday from your hobby so that you can rescue everything else. If you've managed to keep up with all of your responsibilities by sacrificing every scrap of Me Time, well, maybe it's time for you to take a break.
Truly Focused Player Advice
Social Support is one of the *biggest* methods of preventing or reducing burnout. This might mean putting up with the GM complaining about player antics and their lot in life (as problematic as that can be). It also means getting the GM to do non-GM-related things with you and the rest of the gaming group ... heading out to a movie, going to the beach, and hanging out with some pizza can all go towards helping the GM feel supported by their player base and comfortable in their company. You don't want your friend to constantly see you as an effort, do you? Bonus points if you can get the whole team together for this purpose.
Practical Support can also tie into this. This might mean providing the GM with a nice food treat, transport to the game site (if necessary), and purchasing and loaning game books at the table (to show you care and are willing to invest as they do). Considering that many systems live and breathe with their supplements and that players love to use those supplements, purchasing one of said supplements is a really nice thing to do. Bonus points if you literally give that supplement to your GM. Yes, we're all poor but GMs aren't generally more wealthy than anyone else and it can really grate if too much of their own wealth goes into the game. If you can't afford a full book, a module they would like to run or a game aid like an initiative tracking table or critical hit deck can work wonders. Bonus BONUS points if you wrap it in bubble wrap for extra stress relief!
Game Support can target the actual irritants if the GM has real reason to get fed up with the game. This could mean tilting the game towards the GM's preferred genre (i.e. let your character get scared in that odd horror scene the GM loves; roleplay your heart out at the occasional political scene; really embrace the trap mechanics in their dungeon sprawl). Or it could mean that you cut down (or increase) the out-of-character joking and chit-chat, especially in terms of listening to the GM. Whenever your interrupt the GM's game-based descriptions and comments, you sideline half the table and make them repeat themselves. Once or twice isn't so bad, but these things can become a terrible habit. Keeping your own notes and actually reading them rather than relying on GM summaries also shows that you enjoy the game and helps cut back on the amount of GM investment. Obviously, bringing lead pencils and dice and knowing what your sheet can do (or your friend's sheet if they are truly hopeless with the rules) can truly help as well.
Host Support is important because most GMs host the game for logistics purposes - they have all those books and potentially miniatures and hand outs, after all. However that means they not only have the weighty and effortful GM role, but they also need to clean up and pack up as well. While some GMs will look askance at the guests doing the dishes (never hurts to ask, though), you could certainly stack any used dishes, put away the dice, and put any trash in the bin. This is especially wise if the GM isn't one to do housework as parents, spouses and flat mates will all be far more respectful toward your game if you don't leave the place a sty before you leave. This will reduce the amount of flak your GM gets for running the game due to the extra work involved and you can never know when you could benefit from cashing in those brownie points!
HANDY TIP: Non-gamer spouses and parents, especially those responsible for housework, can generally be won over by sweets and treats as well. If you bring over baked goods or crisps, remember to share with the rest of the household if you can. Not only can the good will really help in terms of preventing random game cancellations but it's just a really nice thing to do. Also make sure that you acknowledge said spouse / parents with a smile when you come into their home. While not a common bad habit among players, guests who scuttle around and avoid eye contact tend to make people nervous.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
|"I'm sorry. We already donated at the office."|
(Dragon Age Inquisition - quote mine)
ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears an elaborate wig (Judge's Wig) that grants a +4 bonus to Intimidate and Diplomacy checks as well as being able to scrutinise individuals with Discern Lies so long as they are within 30ft.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: None. They just have to accept his terms. If they negotiate firmly enough, he will drop the 10% rule to only those armies that have 50% Chelish troops.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Genedair is already impressed and eager to assist but he has provided all that he can. If the PCs can arrange for access to a Teleportation Circle, they can speed up their assistance.
Monday, January 26, 2015
|Pharasmins embrace old age as a vital stage of life.|
ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a brightly coloured Mitre of the Hierophant which she uses to commune with Desna to learn further information and gain greater guidance. She also wears a colourful Prophet's Pectoral with graven star-patterns and sacred stones that increases her chance of success with augury, divination and contact other plane by 1d6 and allows her to ask on additional question with commune each time.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Elifteneal is an easy sell on assisting the Worldwound as her deity has told her how dangerous it is for Golarion so all the PCs need do is ask and if she can assist them she will. All you need do is make several consecutive Gather Information and Perception checks to locate her. She is happy to teleport 14 people into Mendev or Drezen per day but will only be here for another ten days (equal to 140 free teleports).
ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a Magician's Hat that allows her to shift her Metamagic feat from one prepared spell to another.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: The church of Nethys would be intrigued only by the potential for powerful forces of magic, such as the Weapon in the Rift and the Purity Forge. So long as they may examine the various relics involved (such as the Weapon in the Rift if you have played through that). The PCs can gain 1d6 level 5 mages eager to investigate the two artefacts.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Why do I have to confront the reality that for the majority of world history my gender has been a second-class citizen, limited not just by the practicalities of birth and child rearing (which would limit soldiering among some women) but by the prejudice of the world itself? Childbirth doesn't prevent women from being brave, being leaders or mages, either, and a world with magic could be a world with contraception and lowered infant mortality rates anyway so it could more easily become a society similar to our own.
But logistics aside, would you feel equally comfortable turning to a black player and saying: "Well, since this fantasy game is in a predominately white setting, you have to play a slave because that's only realistic?"
No, you wouldn't, because the implication there is that the natural place of a black person is as a slave and to countenance any alternative would be a misconception. Yet we quietly happily churn out book after book, tale after tale, RPG after RPG, where we ram that thought down the throats of female consumers:
Thursday, January 22, 2015
|I always imagined that even clerics of Erastil have a kind|
of down-to-earth and homely feel to them.
ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears a Cap of the Free Thinker (looks much like a ranger's cap) to ensure that he always makes decisions free of influence.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: They need to convince him that the trouble in Mendev will affect Absalom and they can't do that until after they have exposed one of the demon's plots within the city. Once they have done that, they will find 1d4 clerics who have no children and 1d8+2 lay members (generally the spouses and parents of the clergy) who will move to Drezen so long as they may stay in a secured location (i.e. barracks or the castle). This will automatically upgrade the existing Erastil shrine (mentioned in Demon's Heresy) into a temple. If the PCs are eager to redeem tieflings and other cultists in the Worldwound, then they will gladly help with this and each pair of worshippers will each adopt a tiefling orphan if such people exist in your game.
On the other hand, Jostlin Ferqyr, human Keeper of the Vault of Abadar, is a level 15 human cleric of Abadar from the Ivy District who is predominately in charge but who is currently finding Absalom's needs rather dull. She works within a tall, soaring building that is a marvel of engineering genius of polished obsidian made of levels slightly skewed from the one below it and then again with the level above that in the opposite direction to give an impression of a precariously perched building.
ITEM OF INTEREST: Jostlin Ferqyr wears +2 ghost touch full plate mithral armour edged with gold and has a rather ceremonial light crossbow and a rather delicate Bracelet of Bargaining half-fused to the armour (+5 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks) and can detect deceit when shaking on a deal.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: While Faldirr Makul will only provide a few lay priests (1d4) and a low ranking cleric to establish a bank / chapel in Drezen (at the expense of Drezen's coffers and only if sorely pressed), Jostlin Ferqyr desires to make her mark on the world and she's willing to take a gamble with her own considerable funds so long as the PCs can provide her with a secure location and some builders to forge a secure temple of Abadar soon as she arrives. She will bring a Lyre of Building which halves construction times in my game. She will arrange for a score of paladins from the Brotherhood of Abadar to accompany her and defend the temple. During the sixth book, this temple will become a sanctuary for a number of nearby builders.
ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears Engineer's Workgloves that grant a +5 to Craft and Knowledge checks that also allows him to touch an object and understand how it works once per day.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Hirkral Karktek, High Priest of Torag, is interested in rumours of a dwarven Sky Citadel Jormurden, thought to be in old Sarkoris, in the Wolfcrags in the northwest of the Worldwound's Frostmire region. He has heard tell that the Pathfinders have found the location, or rumours of it, which is thought to be located almost entirely underground with subterranean chambers filled with still-functioning traps. They could raise quite a lot of gold and troops to re-take such a place and could lend forth an army but only if such an investigation is assured and mounted within 6 months of their arrival. Three 300 person level 2 dwarven fighter armies and one 100 person level 3 dwarven fighters will arrive within 1d6 months to assist Drezen, Kenabres and the surrounding farmland. These individuals can double as builders when not deployed.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
ITEM OF INTEREST: The bare-chested half-orc wears bracers of armour so that she can show off her chest while still protecting himself.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Win three fights with an epic sense of poise against folks such as three different CR 8 individuals (Axe Dancer Monk, Glaive Ranger Barbarian, and Street Artist Bard from NPC Codex) and do an epic speech or other inspiring performance to finish it off. They can net the trio for Drezen if they win with style, panache and honour - especially if it's one against all three. Then put up a Notice of Hire on the Gorumite's Church Board. They will then be approached by mercenary companies happy to travel to the Worldwound for 10,000gp per month per level 3 25 person human fighter army or 25,000gp per month per level 3 50 person cavalier army.
ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a circlet of persuasion upon her head made of gold and onyx wasps chained together.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Dryianna has little interest in the Worldwound but she has lived a rather boring and jaded life over the past few years and is willing to get swept up in the excitement of the situation if someone makes a Diplomacy 25 check. Naturally she will then want to discuss it over dinner and should they manage to remain interesting - with Diplomacy 25 or appropriate Perform checks - she will provide some useful political "rumours" and even mention the Halo of Inner Calms currently being developed by a pauper tiefling, Malifa Sevan, which might be helpful.
POTENTIAL QUEST: Depending on your players comfort levels and your own personal interest, you could rule that the Silken Veil brothel in the Petal District mission draws her attention and agreement. They can ensure that any goods sold in Absalom become so popular and hyped up that the PCs get full market value from them.
ITEM OF INTEREST: Many of their worshippers wear Monk's Robes of various designs.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Beating the champion in the arena (Swift Brawler, NPC Codex or other level 12 Monk) will single-handedly will win a pool of 36,000gp which has been steadily added to over the years as it costs 1000gp simply to compete. One can also put in a gamble on the fight itself - 1 in 16 odds (add 10 per level's difference). The maximum winnings via the gambling method is 108,000gp (so a 3000gp potential loss if they are level 10). The Irori arena specialists can get a vague idea of HD by using an arteact to detect whether you would be affected by a Sleep or a Deep Slumber spell. Actually connecting with the Irori church requires one to not only win one of these bouts but to behave in such a way fitting of a worshipper to draw notice (or simply already knowing who to approach). The church can offer training to monks but little else other than burgeoning respect in the community.
Monday, January 19, 2015
|How I imagine Sarenrae or Shelyn clerics may look |
(Dragon Age Inquisition)
CAYDEN CAILEEN CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE
ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears Daredevil boots that shimmer in vibrant shades of blazing red and burning orange that would allow her a +5 bonus to move through enemy's squares without provoking attacks of opportunity for up to 10 rounds per day and grants her a +1 bonus to strike those whose squares she's passed through - necessary for a pub owner.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: The Brazen Clutch (Dragons Unleashed) are in the Marketplace in the Coins, ready for sale. One has already been sold to a Paracountess Helis Merciel (some advice in this post). Saphira won't expect the PCs to free them but she will idly mention it as an example of how Absalom needs the help of her clerics most of all. If they do free them, she will allow them to make a speech or give a DC 20 performance or diplomatic speech in the mead hall to rouse 1d6 adventurers + 1d6 for every 5 by which they beat the check. Multiple characters can make individual rolls rather than simply aiding another, should they choose.
ITEM OF INTEREST: Simply to aid in her frequent appointments, Elena Woodsong wears Getaway Boots forever attuned to her shrine so that she can head out and then as a full-round action return to her temple as though by teleport.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: Eleena Woodsong has watched a number of performers go missing when they didn't pay their tithes to Alain Always. She wants to know what happens to them. If the PCs choose to take up this quest, they can either bait him by themselves appearing to be an upstart performer or through using spells such as Detect Thoughts while others are talking to him. Alternatively they can simply tail him and watch him make arrangements to have non-tithe-paying performers rounded up on petty charges and held until the next Statue Street run. Such performers are released last so that they are least likely to escape the gorgon. Revealing this crime to Eleena or, better yet, to the general public, will net Eleena's support and she will encourage a multitude of performances about difficulties in Mendev - raising the values made at auction by 10%.
ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a slender silver bracelet worked in an intertwined design of three flowers that can be identified as acacia, apocynum and bilberry that symbolizes concealment, treachery and falsehood. It's a Seducer's Bane bracelet.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: She can be shamed by signs and stories of obvious redemption such as tiefling PCs and would be intrigued enough by the idea of the Purity Forge that she will enlist a small band of Sarenrae's faithful (10 individuals, only 2 clerics) to discover the secrets of the forge so that it can be used elsewhere. For each major NPC the PCs have managed to redeem (or tales of groups of NPCs redeemed), she will throw in a shipment of enough cure light wounds potions to serve a medium sized army (or one army thrice) that will take three months to arrive as she becomes hopeful of what will soon come.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
The fallen have finally gotten into a position of power and prestige when their old boss starts knocking. He was low enough in the good old days that he's able to possess a host but the Fallen will need to select a suitable one and perform and determine the ritual's exacting requirements. Accomplishing this feat will net them further prestige, but are they willing to cause a person's death to do it? And more importantly, will their old boss feel conflicted feelings over his own host's death?
Those who are aware of the fallen are starting to become suicidal. At first it's only hunters or other annoying figures, but after awhile it's loved ones as well, even thralls. The PCs first become aware of it when one person approaches them and says: "You have the power to help us but you won't do it, will you?" before stepping into traffic. Each has a loss or issue they have fixated on which they can see the Fallen powers as being a real solution - Wilds for famine, Realms for lost loved ones, Awakening or Flesh for cancer.
A superior in their faction or ministry wishes to study other supernatural creatures and demands that the PCs first obtain such a specimen, by violence or by guile, and then assist her in her experimentation. The experiments aren't necessarily cruel, but they are callous, and the PCs are as likely to find a kind (or at least reasonable) specimen as a cruel one since supernaturals tend to lose morality and gain power over time and the weaker ones are more easily found and captured. Can they do it? Can they find another way?
A magical society seeks to exploit the demons they summon to drain them of their essence to fuel their rituals. The First Preceptor of the Star Catchers has put out this tome as bait for Fallen - listing details from pre-history that will cause the Fallen to investigate one at a time. The magic on the tome, however, also pulls true name syllables from readers and sends the information to the seven high priests. Eventually the reader will succumb and be summoned to a hidden cell where they will be bound in a circle and drained of their essence until they are dissipated into nothingness.
Friday, January 2, 2015
You could drop these villages into any Pathfinder campaign and though it seems they focus on Pathfinder products, I don't see anything that would prevent them from being used in other settings and systems since they're pretty low on stats and high on ideas. They have Village Backdrops I and Village Backdrops II currently available on rpgnow.com
|Sometimes you just need to see things burn in a game.|
(Dragon Age: Inquisition)
Unfortunately, a small gang of evil tieflings has taken offence to their existence and has killed the five different individuals that she managed to assist so far. If the PCs can take out that gang, she will let them keep the halos (which she figures is likely kept among their stash) as a sympathetic gnome workshop have decided to make replacements free of charge and she doesn't want to risk their motivation by receiving the halos now. So long as they go to tieflings in need, she will be happy.
The statues can often be purchased as a fundraiser for the government or for various charitable endeavours. The statues are worth between 25gp to 250gp depending on the uniqueness, attractiveness and positioning of the statue. A suicidally depressed male aasimar (Vulpinal traits) called Alexis can often be found tending to the statues or even talking to them. He knows many of their stories and can help direct people to the good, the fair and the heroic. Purchasing the statues, of course, is easy but would require a spell to return them to humanity.
There will be another run through Statue Street this very week and the Office of Prisons refuses to release any petty criminals to Mendev when this very important and august occasion is upon them. While none of the good clerics enjoy this day, the Churches of Pharasma and Sarenrae are most disgusted by the loss of so many individuals to a fate that allows no death. If the PCs are willing, either of those churches can arrange for them to be thrown into jail as vagrants and petty thieves, ensuring that they will reach the street. There they can take on the rampaging bull and slay it, ensuring that the festival must end for at least a year while they source and transport a new gorgon.
While this will gain them some political enemies, if the fight is impressive enough the good individuals in the crowd can easily sway the rest to raucous applause. It also isn't illegal for the petty criminals to fight for their lives though they will have no armour, spell component pouches or protective items, though casters might gather up items in the street (sand, spiders, etc.) with a successful Perception check and divine symbols of lawful or good gods may be brought to their final moments. This will increase the CR by 2 or more depending on the party composition - natural attacks and monks will be very useful here though unlikely to be a part of the Wrath of the Righteous Campaign.
GMs who are interested can run a precursor to the City of Locusts by placing a permanent Teleportation Circle to the Yearning House where those with known particular tastes can visit. Elissa the Fair isn't a worshipper but she turns a blind eye to it, reasoning that it is better that evil people have a place to go where real humans are not being hurt, though she also doesn't check if innocents have been dominated or charmed into attending. She made her deals firstly with one of the Mistresses of the Yearning House (pick one) quite some time ago.
If you go down this route, it will make storming the brothel later on more interesting but players must be of the type to understand that combat cannot be countenanced in such a high level area *and* their characters must be given adequate warning. It may be worth having the Calistrian temple approach them with their suspicions and provide them with a temporary loan of valuable equipment that protects against mind control - negative energy drain is not a risk in this case as the succubi will not risk destroying potential spies for Deskari. They can also provide pre-paid tokens that will allow them a full night with one of their best courtesans - though it is up to them to find a way to convince the madam that they would be more receptive to the Yearning House without specifically mentioning that secretive location. Tieflings should get a bonus to any such rolls to be convincing. Naturally those PCs who attend must be willing to go through with the act, else suspicions will be raised.
Once they are successful, their eye witness testimony will be enough to have the place shut down if they approach Lord Gyr Gixx. Due to the popularity of the Silken Court among the more influential officials, nothing less than eye witness testimony will do and only a later surprise raid will effectively gather information on those so taken in.
Just to be cruel, I added an oolidoroo to the Yearning House inhabitants who is used to implant any partaker who is fool enough to fall asleep in a succubi's bed. Hopefully the PCs will be wise enough to visit, fade to black, and then return within an hour or two.
NOTE: Be extra, extra, extra sure that your players understand that this isn't a combat encounter they can win. You might even mention that you are foreshadowing a location from Book 6 and that the NPCs within are Book 6 NPCs. That should put them on their best behaviour. If it wouldn't then this really isn't the right adventure for them.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
|There's some pretty good political scenes in Dragon Age|
Inquisition that you can use for inspiration.
As I wanted to build up to this encounter, Lady Darchana arranges for a meeting with them six days after they first enter Absalom and two days before the auction. Depending on the number of leading NPCs they win over to their cause, depends on the final price she will demand per person. Basically, the system is similar to Fame but the PCs can gain Fame for both winning over NPCs and other prestigious actions (namely public quests or performances). The starting off is 50gp per person (who may bring as many supplies as they can carry). The cost is reduced by 10gp for every 5 points they earn to a minimum of 10gp per person.
Goodmiss Alidane of House Candren who is the manager of Sea King Shipyard and member of the Docks Council will offer to use her connections to get them access to cheap but good quality food as she has recently met a sympathetic supplier - actually Doctor Rolth (resurrected by his allies in my game following the events of Curse of the Crimson Throne). The shipment is due to go out by sea vessel soon but if those passing through were to carry it, they could transport fresh food as well as dry.
Dirakah (actually a Gallu named Fennix who has an amulet that alters itself to look like a blue-haired gnome) is a merchant who has professed great interest in assisting Mendev's efforts, though he is keen to reinforce the fact that it is Mendev's problems. He has gathered a sizable donation (15,000gp) held within coffers that could be used to pay the mercenaries in Nerosyan. Naturally he doesn't mention that it is contaminated with Blood Veil (see Curse of the Crimson Throne AP). Fennix is a servant of Baphomet and holds great respect for the marilith general, Aponavicius, which only makes him more eager to hear of the PC's successes in taking Drezen.
Fennix is also in attendance though his plans are more long-term and he has nothing to do with the succubi's antics. In truth, it would slay them all if it knew for an attack at this auction would be far more likely to rouse the support of Absalom rather than cause them to shun Mendev as trouble magnets because Absalom pride means they can hardly stand idly by when this happens on their own land.
As Nocticula's servants are behind the sloppy strike, it is most assuredly to draw Absalom's ire in a roundabout manner though she would claim only a desire to capture the PCs. She will have recruited any succubi who survived the Sword of Valor's exploits as a secret partnership that would be alleged to please Baphomet - they would be aiming to slay the PCs, after all.