Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall of the Korozong After-Action-Report, and GM Rambling

So the recent adventures of the players in the BFRPG game I run/ran depending on your time of reading, Sarkomand's Fault, was to unite various disparate factions and stomp a bunch of oppressive mutant cannibal ghoul demon-worshippers and their volcano-demon-god into the dust.

I don't plan on a blow by blow session account because there's already a session log for that and the people most likely to care were already there. But it was a very successful case of the sort of emergent gameplay that OSR style play is about. An epic battle against pure evil is the stuff a great many story based campaigns are supposed to be based around, and a great many story based campaigns crash and burn a few sessions in because either the GM strangles the life out of the players with a crushing grip on their shoulders steering them through the 'plot' or the players derail the campaign in another direction and the GM is forced to walk the plank into an ocean of his own salty tears because he had no interest in running a game and only wanted players so that his novel would have a captive audience.

Another great thing was how a lot of old bits of the campaign resurfaced to relevancy. This wasn't a case of me carefully planning out for the players to just so happen to have key evil defeating elements, oh no. They hired a demonology expert a long time ago to help advise them how to face a succubus without getting brainwashed, and that demonology savant also made mention of greater demons who cause/live in volcanos and are destroyed by sunlight.

But of course, the greater demon in question (A Vega) has access to the Darkness spell, so is sure to block out the sun with a disk of darkness before ever emerging from the lava where it resides.
But one player had a Continual Light-enchanted glowing bell-clapper, which could dispel the darkness. So the thief was able to climb up with that and dispel a hole in the darkness and so destroy the demon as the others kept it in place with heroic last stands (that turned out to be not last-stands at all thanks to multiple natural 20s allowing them to catch themselves on a growing rope of people and actual rope as the Vega hurled them into the volcano one by one)

Also successful- the use of NPCs. The classic bad use of NPC is to have some uberwizard follow the players around holding their hand and showing off his badassedness while the players are made to feel like 3rd wheels.
These NPCs were along for the ride because the players wanted them to be, though. The Riikhite sun paladins, the fallen-from-star-trek-tech-levels King Gondalo, a retired PC turned leader of barbarians and new prophet of the Jackal God... they had history with the PC's, but for the most part it was history the PC's had a choice in making, not tomes of backstory vomited upon them or GMPC's tagging along. And though they were a little higher level than the PCs, they didn't get any special treatment- I was fully prepared for each and every one of the NPCs to die horribly if that's what the dice said. Instead, they served to give support at key moments, had some tense 'are they gonna die' moments that they barely squeaked through, and the players still had the lion's share of cool moments. Which, even in  a merciless meatgrinder OSR campaign, is how it should be.

Speaking of, this was a nice change of tone for the campaign, even if its only temporary. A lot of it has been the players sliding quickly into dark moral grey areas for power, then realizing that there wasn't exactly a super-shiny heroic option to begin with. Or the simple realization that they fucked up, like when they got Castle Gondalo shrunken to 1/1000th scale by ifrit who definitely were more vengeful and less reasonable than initially hoped. Or unleashing the snake-supremacist Reptile King after leading a killsquad of fomorian giant adventurers to a poorly-defended but friendlyish snake encampment in the hopes of killing some sketchy bandits being employed by said snakes.

So! Having a moment where they killed a bunch of of demon-worshipping undead cannibals AND their evil demon-volcano god who had been enslaving the local mutant amazons and leading them against other human settlements for human sacrifices, via leading a diverse collection of people they had helped was nice because they got to be Big Damn Heroes for a change, instead of Jerkass Murderhobos, and their victory wasn't tainted by 'well we sorta won but now unleashed something even worse.' And they worked for it on their own account, with their own money and own schemes and own desire to do this. No GM meddling on my part, they were free to do as they pleased. Good times for everyone. They won against a small army of ghouls and a seriously nasty demon and made the world a better place of entirely their own volition.

(Also the RNG was on-point that night, dramatically speaking. D20 games can be swingy as hell,  and while that's good for tension and unexpected developments, it's pretty shit for 'standard' drama graphs with a build and climax. Which is why you shouldn't try to build in plots that require standard drama graphs. Don't do it! Don't you do it! But I have to admit it's cool when it emerges naturally)

Waxing nostalgic for something that happened 2 days ago (as of this writing) is well and good but I also want to bring something up on the GMing side of things. Actually, no I don't, not in this post.

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