Session Notes / 2017.04.30

Thoughts:

  • I kind of like the slow pace of days passing. More realistic. Adventures aren’t always waiting at our beck and call.
  • The reveals about the prophecy, the world without, the gates and the keys are very exciting.
  • Very happy more intra-party connections are forming.
  • Want to help out Cog with these disappearing Warforged! But no obvious avenues. And no obvious paycheck. Should perhaps investigate scenes of disappearances? Do more in person interviews?

Favourite Bits:

  • Tolles being skeptical of the prophet of the Balance’s sanity (Eladra?) – and Sister Solace’s reaction. (Also his smaller subversions.)
  • Tetra’s nods of understanding during the Tessarch (?) sermon.
  • Verdad’s assistants scoping out Laz’s character sheet!
  • Cog making himself a little blanket. So cute. (And a HUG meeting!)
  • Detective Deckert. Aw yeah. Love how slow this is progressing. So much for Laz to think through!
  • Allllll of Solace’s responses to Laz! (Especially her glaring at Tetra when she unintentionally hurt Laz’s feelings! So good!)

 

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Session Notes / 2017.03.05

Thoughts:
 – Investigation plots are my favourite plots. I love collecting clues. I’m excited about this web of money, politics and loyalties!
– I’m trying not to fall into the rut of “my character’s a fighter so all I do is fight”. I’m happy to have her try other methods and fail at them. I was going to have her intimidate our little gnome friend (Murnig), but she’s not really a mean and bossy sort of person.
– We’ve got two Faces and it was really nice of Matt to pitch some of the talking / information gathering scenes over to James.
– Really love how  like all of our characters’ interests are being woven together for this plot: civil rights unions / terrorists (Cog), police/underworld (Tolles), the Balance’s decrypters (Solace), Wylmar’s machinations (Tetra/Solace), airship companies (Laz). (And of course, Pun-pun has a hand in all things.) Am sure it was lots of work to integrate all of this. Thank you, Rachel!
Favourite Bits:
– Tetra keeping a copy of the book! And always pursuing her studies and knowledge, no matter the cost!
– Verdad’s crunching of fried rat, while hidden. So good.
– Cog letting Laz be of assistance during their artificing.
– Tolles threatening to tell everyone that the gnome was cooperating with us. So devious.
– Solace agonizing over her decision to show the tome to her superior.
– The detective being into Laz! Oh man, I love this. Romance plots (especially unrequited ones) are so much fun for me!

Session Notes / 2017.02.12

Thoughts:
– I really liked the bait-and-switch with the rat and the mushroom creature. Was a fun surprise.

– I also really like that there’s a police force that we can hand things off too! So much more reasonable than the generic D&D setting. Everything is so civilized! We’re so not murder-hobos!

– The mystery of the invisible creatures is solved! But the mystery of why we’re being tested by the diplomat deepens/thickens/somethings…

Favourite Bits:
– Sister Solace fretting (in a calm, serene way) over the motivations of Ambassador Duskwatcher. (And being aghast at Laz’s swearing)
– Cog reading a book in one hand – and then reading a book in their *other* hand.
– Verdad debating whether or not his cohort would be able to eat the mushroom creature.
– Tolles feeling a little queasy once all the Undead-turning started happening.
– Tetra telling the Ambassador that she should see to the training of her observers. We could hear them clearly through the wall.
– Suuuper whiney gnome-guy (Murnig) who was too scared to come down into the library with us.

AP: Rats in the Embassy / 2017.01.14

  •  We established our charter, our fighting styles and how we met. (Basically… in a tavern.) We also found out that Tolles, Solace and Tetra don’t talk a lot about their pasts. And that the three big adventuring companies are far, far, out of town.
  •  We are offered a job (summoned) by the Ambassador of Wylmar and immediately make our way to their Embassy. After being made to wait (and some of us identifying someone standing behind a fake wall, presumably spying on us), we meet with the Ambassador and her chief of security (___). Again, some of us are more perceptive than others and detect that the sword on display in her office is an illusion and that the ambassador is wearing a bit of illusory make-up. Just before being let in, some of us also overhear something about ‘a spy’ and a questioning of our capabilities.
  • We are informed that there is some sort of rat problem in the kitchen. We are experts at rat problems. She offers 100gp per rat – carcasses must be presented. We are shown downstairs and quickly start searching the kitchen. We’re slightly tempted to investigate some mail on the counter, but it’s clear they’re for the cook and we don’t disturb them.
  • It turns out the rats have burrowed under the stove.. and… that they’re invisible. The ensuing fight is more challenging than we expected and takes us into the neighbouring pantry. Laz gets pretty roughed up but Verdad is fortunately there with clerical healing and tumbling hexahedrons (I think that was the shape). Tetra’s raven gets in a few good licks as does her celestial hound – who also takes a pummeling. A fireball and some stabbings later, and we have four dead – now visible – rats.
  • Tolles also discovers some scrape marks. As though large cages – the right size to hold a couple of dire rats had been dragged into the corner.  The invisibility is a very sophisticated spell. This was a very unusual situation. Nevertheless, Verdad is excited to take the bodies back for food for his fellow Pun-pun worshipers – but he can only carry one.
  • We return to report to the ambassador and, after informing her about the invisibility, receive an extra 600gp. She expects she knows who is messing with the embassy. People who want to cause trouble and distract them from their important work.

On Experience, Conflict, and Death

A few general notes about my campaign philosophy:

Experience will be awarded based on accomplishments more than methods.  Kill the dragon to get the important magic item?  Okay.  Knock it out or poison it instead?  Okay.  Sneak past?  Okay.  (No extra XP for sneaking past going both ways, though.)  Distract the dragon while having part of the party sneak past?  Okay.  Bargain with the dragon for the item?  Okay.

Experience will also come from non-combat actions — diplomatic overtures, investigations, assorted stealth tasks, and so on.

But aside from experience, expect consequence to follow logically from your methods in all cases…

I also expect to give a reward for excellent role-playing.

Since I think it’s a nuisance to have players advance at different rates, everyone will gane XP at the same rate.  (In other words, if you get XP for doing something cool, so do your party members.)

As far as conflict goes, many enemies or antagonists you encounter are likely to quit fighting when they realize they’re going to lose.  The ambassador may withdraw if he realizes your arguments are swaying the crowd, and may attempt to regain face by finding a compromise.  The angry wizard may teleport away if he gets hurt too badly.  And so on.  In some cases, a confrontation like this may also end not when the opponent flees (or dies), but when they surrender, or otherwise give up.  Finally, it’s important to remember that D&D 3.5 does have non-lethal damage rules, which can be dealt by both weaponry and assorted specialized spells.  There may be times when it’s useful to knock somebody out without having to worry if they’re going to bleed out.  (Besides which, unnecessary deaths may be a threat to your adventuring company’s official status.)

Speaking of death: I fully expect character death to happen in this campaign.  There will be some very dangerous encounters that could get very hairy.  That being said, this is also a setting where death, while not cheap, is at least not too expensive.  There are many friendly clerics who have a sufficient “in” with their deities to perform a resurrection spell to bring back a lost party member.  Depending on the cleric and the temple, though, they may ask for compensation for their spent resources, or a favor at some later date.  I expect that, in most cases, if your character dies, it will be an opportunity to choose between sticking with the current character, or building a new one if you are so inclined.

If the party is going up against something that’s way too hard, I’ll try to drop some hints that maybe you should consider a different approach.  (Hint: Do not attempt to evangelize the Great Wyrm Mexorek about the Oneness of Pun-Pun.  He’s probably heard it all before.)

Since your main activities lately have been pest control, especially for dire rats, as a group, the party should decide what your typical tactics have been.  Do you just go in, and hack and slash?  Set up baited traps?  Poisoned baited traps?  Knock out the rats, and release them into the wilds where they belong?  Kill them and sell the corpses to the butchers in the kobold quarter?  Or give the live animals to the alchemist down the street who wants them for gods-know-what purpose?

I’ll be putting up a summary of things in Moil and the ground-level operations of an officially chartered Adventuring Party next, including a map of the city, as my next thing, so you have a better sense of what things look like.

On Alignment

A few notes on alignments:

First, I’m likely to allow, at most, one evil PC.  Maaaaybe two, if two people manage to convince me they’ve got solid characters.  And Chaotic Ridiculous is not an allowed alignment.

In general, the PCs should have sufficiently similar interests that they’re able to work together.  (Bickering, of course,   I expect that the first gaming session will include a lot of final character touches and deciding what your recent history together as the Adventuring Company has been like.

In the world itself, alignment is a known concept.  It’s also known that alignment is more about religion, moral philosophy, and motivations, rather than actions.

As a consequences, while clerics and paladins and the like may Detect Evil and the other alignment axes, it’s considered impolite.  Actually revealing someone else’s alignment is considered downright rude in most places.

Governments are generally well aware that Lawful Good people are capable of causing quite a lot of damage on the road of good intentions, while Chaotic Evil people may be are capable of contributing in positive ways to society (even if they may need extra incentives).  Alignment-tests are not considered proof of guilt or innocence in trials; this is enshrined in law in all Five Nations and Life’s Edge.  (It’s widely believed that being unable to accept differences of philosophy was a contributing factor in the Great Wars and the Apocalypse.)  Alignment tests are usually only considered acceptable as tests for entry to religious orders or certain private organizations.  Paladins who go around Smiting Evil without the victim being a clear threat will get in trouble with the local constabulary.

In terms of alignment, most people are True Neutral or Neutral Good.  Lawful and Chaotic are equally popular.  Truly Evil alignments are (a bit) less common than Neutral or Good (at least, among playable races).  It’s also not uncommon for people to own amulets, rings, or other magic items capable of concealing one’s alignment (especially if Evil-aligned, but even the non-Evil may find this convenient given how relatively common the Detect spells are).

Postive/holy and negative/unholy energy, while typically associated with the Good and Evil alignments respectively, are not strictly tied to them.  However, alignment-affiliated magic items and artifacts (such as, say, a +1 Holy Mace of Smiting) still have the expected negative effects on people whose alignment is opposed to theirs.

Most class restrictions are removed, but not all.  If you’d like to play a class as a non-standard alignment, let me know.  Some (such as for warlock and necromancer) are removed entirely, but the circles of druids are still unlikely to permit someone with too Lawful an alignment to join them, and monks are unlikely to be chaotic.  Paladins always have one of the corner alignments, with flavor changes to match.  If you’re unsure, check with me, and I’ll see if we can work something out.

Finally, only dragons, Outsiders (who might only be constructs of summoning spells anyway, depending on who you ask), and some unintelligent magical creatures have rock-solid alignments.  Otherwise, just because somebody’s a vampire or a lich doesn’t mean they’re evil.

*** Addendum: Having reviewed the Detected <Alignment> spells, it’s important to remember that it takes 3 rounds of staring to get an actual read on whether or not someone is evil.  I’ll also add an addendum house rule to this: For people who are not clerics of an evil (or <alignment>) deity, it takes an extra round to determine their alignment.  Further, intelligent undead do not generally appear as evil.  Finally, I will also allow the Detect Undead spell to be a learnable thing.