Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chaotic Something

Fifteen Hours To Game Time

We are playing early this week since many of us are going to the porn convention in Vegas next weekend.

It's 10:10 pm.

Game time in fifteen hours.

More than half of which I would like to fill with sleeping. So, really...

Six hours to write an adventure.

That's not so bad.

Hold on, wait here, I'm gonna get a snack...

Mmm...that was good, ok, where was I?

Oh, yeah.

When last we left our heroes, they had just reached the great city of Vornheim, KK had been turned into a werewolf, and it had been discovered that one of the eyes of the ancient god Vorn is being secretly held by the White Elves, a female one of which Mandy has just woken up in bed next to thanks to the Extended Carousing Mishaps Table...

...and now....
I have no idea.

Ordinarily, we might expect things to wend their way toward Mandy (cleric of Vorn) telling the higher-ups in the faith about the fact that some guys have the object of their devotions' 20-foot eyeball squirreled away and then I could just assign some McGuffin-Finding Quest via the local Vorn Pope to make it all cool.

But Mandy is way too much of a cynic, an anarchist, and all-around Moorcockian to trust the official Church hierarchy. Plus there was that one time they all turned into bug demons and she had to fight them. So that's a bit of a wash.

This whole waking-up-in-bed-next-to-a-dead-elfette thing seems a bit more promising...

Ordinarily if I have no idea what to do, I'd just start writing a dungeon, but the party just spent all last session trying to get to the big city, so I figure they deserve a city adventure, right? Right.

Plus it might be a good way to test out the Urbancrawl Rules.

Ok, let's get shit sorted:

- There'll be the first part of the adventure, where Mandy deals with the consequences of her d20-assisted debauchery.

- Then the second part, which I can probably just wing, where everybody just is all "Ok, we're in the big city, whatever shall we do now?"

- And then part three, where I slowly and by stealthyness funnel them toward some kind of fighting of monsters.

That should be more than enough for a day's play, right? Right.

The most obvious problem with part one here is making it so it doesn't involve splitting the party. I am not in a splitting-the-party mood.

Two ways to roll then:

-The ladies all wake up in an inn in various beds it's just that Mandy's happens to have this corpse in it, or...

-The ladies all wake up totally displaced in some alien locale and Mandy's next to a corpse.

Now, I find the second one a little less philosophically acceptable, since the idea of the Extended Carousing Mishaps chart is that a player voluntarily chooses to temporarily relinquish control over their character for a night (through the in-game device of alcohol) in exchange for x.p..

Mandy chose that, the other PCs didn't. I feel like, all other things being equal, I'm gonna let everybody wake up in their bed. Plus I really love the oh my god you wake up and none of you know what's going on beginning and so I don't want to over-use it.

Ok, so everybody wakes up in an ordinary inn.

(Question for DMs: Do PCs in your game have homes? Do you know? Do they? Do they care?)

So now the question is:

Either I let Mandy freak out about this corpse and the authorities and all that and see what she does, or I just have the magistrate or somebody show up immediately.

Considering KK won't be playing tomorrow and so won't be begging for blood at every turn, I'm gonna take advantage of that and let this one go a little role-playey: there's a corpse, whatever shall you do?

So: construct the situation such that hiding this corpse will be difficult.

An inn. A helpful but nosey innkeeper. Well-meaning. If he's too much of a jerk they will probably just off him. So: a nice guy. "Hey ladies, what's all the commotion? Brought you some brownie-root tea! Y'know, when I was a lad..." All that. Ok. He needs a name: Vorkenhauler. Mister Vorkenhauler. Also: various other inn residents all more-or-less friendly with said Vorkenhauler.

(What if it goes all Weekend At Bernie's? "Mister Vorkenhauler, say hi to my cousin, umm...Corpsica! Wave hello Corpsica!". Rad.)

Ok, physical impediments to hiding the corpse:

Inn is in a tower. No windows. No: a window, but the window looks down onto a very public place?

If there's no window, what we have is essentially a dungeon. With a window, we have the potential for access to the city, its scenery, its dangers, and its resources. So: a window. High above a crowded market.

And the tower is surrounded by other towers, also tall, potentially filled with potential witnesses.

Ok. Write out the neighborhood or wing it?

Leave it for now, write it if we feel like it/have energy later tonight.

Now...

(Originally this entry went on and on and for dozens and dozens more paragraphs of Best Laid Planning, but none of that is relevant because, well, see below:)


Fast Forward: Game Time The Next Day

Everybody's sitting round the table. I have a sandwich. There is about to be D&D.

"Zak, we shouldn't pick up where we left off last time, we should run something else."

"Ummm...why might that be, Mandy?"

For various medical reasons Mandy has gotten zero sleep last night and so Mandy (the actual Mandy, the player) is in an extremely bad mood. From the point of view of me, this mood looks roughly equivalent to what the observed mood of a woman during painful childbirth would be like if there were no drugs, no ameliorative system of biomedical bureaucrats and/or pancho-wearing holistic childbirth hippies telling her it was all going to be fine and, of course no prospect of any cute fat little suffering-woman-clone showing up and goo-gooing the pain away.

Nevertheless, the other girls have showed up and are ready to play, and are watching this conversation.

(Don't worry, this story has a happy ending.)

Mandy: "Because I don't want to deal with the stupid dead elf thing right now!"

"Um, and, uh, why might that be?"

"Because I just don't!"

So now begins an excruciating back and forth, where I try gently to figure out what the problem is with the dead elf, figure out if I can re-route around the dead elf, and try to figure out, in general, What The Fuck, while Mandy steadfastly refuses to either explain or budge. It is all very weird and tense and it's like we're 12 years old in here.

On the one hand, I know Mandy's mental health takes precedence over a well-run game of D&D. On the other hand, I have yet to encounter a mental health problem that cannot be cured by a well-run game of D&D.

Then Mandy says:

"Well what if I just summon a monster to eat the corpse?"

"Well then the corpse is eaten and we play from, ok, the body's gone because a monster ate it."

"But I don't even want to deal with the whole corpse thing."

"Ok, but you just did deal with it. You summoned a monster that ate it. It's dealt with."

"But..."

"O-kayyyy, so you all wake up bright and shiny in an inn, feeling refreshed except Mandy, who stumbles out of her room looking a little worse for wear, and Connie whose lost her character sheet and so has had to approximate her character and so we'll just say she's hungover and is not quite herself today..."

"Jeez, girl, I don't know, when you get to drinking it's like you turn into a whole other person."

"Yeah, different hit points, different reflex save, totally..."


Newsflash: Chicks Dig Shopping

"Ok, so anyway so you're in the big city. What do you want to do?"

What they want to do is sell stuff, then use the money to buy new stuff.

Ok, think I, this is ok, I know how to do this, there's a guy, he has a funny voice, he buys things from them, he has some shop somewhere, no problem. I have charts for that. this will keep everyone busy until I figure out what actually to do this afternoon.

Then there's still the problem of Mandy, who says "I'll see you all later, I'm going to the Church of Vorn to hang out with the sisters," and puts her head down on the desk. Rock. Oh, it will be a fun day.

Step one is actually Appraising. Satine has Appraise. Connie might, but who knows? So fuck that. Anyway, thank you 3.5 for the Appraise skill, I appreciated it during today's session even though I'm sure you would've rolled over in your grave had you seen the mechanics I used to execute it.

Inexplicably, Mandy invites everyone to do all this appraising in her room, the room containing the murder scene she is trying to pretend didn't happen, but at the moment, it just smells funny.

Also inexplicably, we have to assume that this means that Mandy didn't actually go to the Temple of Vorn but actually stayed and hung out in the inn, but that's normal--if you're not ok with people saying they're doing stuff and then, seconds later, saying they're doing totally different stuff then you can't DM D&D with porn stars. If nobody lost hit points in the interim, I say fuck it.

So Appraising happens. Then everybody crosses town (completely ignoring a random encounter with a disshevelled damsel being pursued by a goblin with a dinner fork) to the Thriving Marketplace.

Here' some stuff I learned:

-The jewellery guy sounds like a mob hitman. Also, when you give him an item, I have to stick a bottlecap in my eye and pretend like it's a magnifying loop.

-The weapon-selling guy has a magic oil that, if you rub it on a magic weapon, it glows.

-If you tell Connie that she has a magic weapon, then she'll decide to sell it, but if you tell her again, she'll change her mind.

-The weapon-selling guy gets annoyed when you tell him you're going to sell him a weapon and then all of a sudden change your mind and will tell you to get your fickly ass out of his shop.

-The other weapon-selling guy around the corner is fond of women and has a thick French accent and will try to sell you a magic rapier that isn't actually magic. Also, he will sell you a magic ring that is magic.

-The desk clerk at the Bell and Bone Inn is a Jewish lady who sounds exactly like my aunt.

-The armor-selling guy has no personality at all, but will give you a good deal.

-Aside from Frankie, the girls don't necessarily remember how much money they have, but like getting more of it.

-What appears to this DM as a Whole Lotta Improvised Nothin' is, to his players, (including, thankfully, Mandy) an exciting and invigorating afternoon of role-playing and acquiring imaginary stuff.


And Now: Crime.

Toward the tail end of all this, the girls apparently decided their rap sheets were far too short.

So, in addition to Homicide and Improper Disposal of A Corpse, the girls proceded, in the next 45 minutes, to rack up Petty Larceny (stole their money back from Frenchy), Grand Larceny (stealing the book from Death Frost Doom back from the Sister Superior of the Church of Vorn--along with everything else of obvious value in her office), Involuntary Manslaughter (accidentally stabbing a constable while trying to stab a cat--long story) , Assault (drunken pub brawl), Arson (accidentally setting The Dead Dog Pub alight), and Prostitution (providing sexual favors with the owner of the Bell & Bone Inn in exchange for hiding them from the authorities).

150 x.p. The only combat was with the cat. To be fair, it was a magical cat. It was also the only thing in the whole game that was there on purpose.

"I like this city adventure, I think it's my favorite one so far."


The Moral of The Story

Before running a city adventure, make sure you have three funny accents and all your PCs are antisocial psychotics. The rest writes itself.

21 comments:

  1. "-The weapon-selling guy gets annoyed when you tell him you're going to sell him a weapon and then all of a sudden change your mind and will tell you to get your fickly ass out of his shop."

    I'm a big fan of NPCs getting fed up with characters and kicking them out of their shop.

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  3. Before running a city adventure, make sure you have three funny accents and all your PCs are antisocial psychotics. The rest writes itself.

    You know... I have seen a similar thing with my wife having antisocial behavior in fantasy towns. Maybe there's something to research here... :D

    My wife's character has either boozed up the entire town, or marched suffering goblins in broad daylight in bondage/leash to a bar and drank slowly while in amusement at the goblin's discomfort. Oh, and she paraded around a captured bandit - naked, mostly - back to the Keep.

    I just laugh and roll with it. She has such a reputation now... (and I won't go into the animal cruelty in dungeons...)

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  4. Involuntary Manslaughter?

    And what form, exactly, would Voluntary Manslaughter take?

    I'm not suggesting the girls aren't capable of it, I'd just like to know what it looks like.

    Hope Mandy feels better. Get her a puppy. Puppies make everything better. Until they poo on the bed, but nobody's perfect.

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  5. "I have yet to encounter a mental health problem that cannot be cured by a well-run game of D&D."

    LOL!

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  7. Don't ditch the dead elf so quickly because Mandy is feeling like boo boo today, because from a DM's perspective there's to much fun to be had at a moment like this. For instance, maybe when Mandy's PC comes back to her room she finds a horde of rats gnawing away at the corpse-or even weirder-KK's werewolf! Just the idea of some beast showing up at the inn is going to create some major form of calamity.The possibilities of gaming crazyness are endless!

    And no matter what happens to the Dead Elf, It must come back to haunt her character at a later date....

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  8. New rule:

    Never give me DM advice unless I ask for it. I know what I'm doing.

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  9. Having an adventure go all weekend at bernies sounds like a laff riot!

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  10. "Mandy is feeling like boo boo today"? Crow, I'm sure you could have found a way to express that without it coming across as so very condescending. Try harder next time.

    We created some pretty awesome calamity on our own. It was great!

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  11. Wait, so the inn owner allowed a bunch of serious criminals to take shelter from the law just because they promised him a blowjob?

    Did that NPC have an INT and/or WIS of 6 or something?

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  12. @Mandy,

    Sorry if you were offended. But reading about you being sick at the table made me think of that line Megan Fox said in Jennifer's Body.

    @Zak,

    No problem. You make the rules

    @Michael,

    Have some manners.

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  13. Uhhh... To posts ago, I commented on how the high level of discussion on this and other blogs surprised me, I guess I spoke too early...

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  14. Michael--
    I generally run my NPCs on the WWJD policy.

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  15. Or is that the WWJD4ABJ policy?

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  17. Well, there's Pendragon, which has whole subsystems about where the PCs live and what they do with their land, but that's a bit of a special case since it's 50% of what the game is about.

    Years ago, I had a Call of Cthulhu group who bought an old farmhouse in order to conduct their freakish magical experiments, hide bodies, etc. I think that's the closest I've seen; I don't recall homes coming up in any other game I've run or played.

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  18. I think it's a great question: neither I nor my players know if their characters have homes. I guess they live thier lives out of suitcases and bags of holding just like the guys in Foghat.

    I would give xp for any Weekend at Bernies action in my campaign.

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  19. I like Stuart's puppy suggestion. Puppies work like chocolate and happy babies only they don't make you fat. Allergic, yes, but fat, no.

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  20. "What appears to this DM as a Whole Lotta Improvised Nothin' is, to his players, (including, thankfully, Mandy) an exciting and invigorating afternoon of role-playing and acquiring imaginary stuff."

    Your DM-fu is strong. Or at least strong enough...in a good light...with a following wind...and some silly accents ladled in. Which, really, is all that counts. ;)

    ...the girls proceded, in the next 45 minutes, to rack up Petty Larceny (stole their money back from Frenchy), Grand Larceny (stealing the book from Death Frost Doom back from the Sister Superior of the Church of Vorn--along with everything else of obvious value in her office), Involuntary Manslaughter (accidentally stabbing a constable while trying to stab a cat--long story) , Assault (drunken pub brawl), Arson (accidentally setting The Dead Dog Pub alight), and Prostitution (providing sexual favors with the owner of the Bell & Bone Inn in exchange for hiding them from the authorities).

    Nat-u-ral gamers. (after Jay Landmann)

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