Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Drunk and In Love In The Fortress Of The Blue Dragon

Notes on the last D&D session..
-The Jackalmen of the south: Rituals, psuedoEgypt, astrology, the Lottery In Babylon, curses, golden knives, dust, robes, devouring.

-Kimberly's character has fallen in love with one of their priests.
-Kimberly also took this photo of my dice.

-Here is the key GMing issue in the upcoming session: the games are fun--chaotic and fun, but the PCs are in the blue dragon's fortress and the dragon should loom over the action, thematically, dramatically. Ferox the Incinerator has to regularly reappear in the players' minds in order for the tension to build.

-I admit, I've been falling down on that. Largely concerned with keeping the tactical chaos rolling in the last session (-Izzy: "Three different wines and D&D. I love this night! I might be drunk. Thank you swype for fixing ny fucking typos."), and a "welcome to the new location, everything is confusing" situation before that. Keeping a single objective in front of the players without spoiling the mystery of the location isn't easy.

-I think I need to make the dungeon a little more transparent than I'm used to. Just hand a few ideas about how it works over. Something simple, but which can be gamed. When the dragon's here, you can do this, when the dragon's there you can do that, you want this, the dragon wants that. The creatures relate to the dragon this way... etc


wrathofzombie said...

Cool. I'm looking forward to a post game report of how you actually handle the dungeon during play and what you did to make it more transparent for the players.

23 said...

What is that beautiful glass jar you have your dice in?

joe said...

I've found that inspiring dread and fear in your players begins with making their characters uncomfortable. Heat, hunger, sleep deprivation, something to decidedly sour their mood.
Next, you must drop hints that chance is not blame. Perhaps mentally retarded son of a local widow midwife starts shouting oddly specific nonsense that borders on the clairvoyant, but only your players can recognize this.
Maybe there's a specific ritual or other action that all the locals perform but no one talks about. Something they do out of fear.
A super fun thing is to have your players convince themselves that this dragon is something far, far, less dangerous. Make them think that there is a man behind the curtain. Then have the curtain ripped apart to reveal the dragon who then rips them apart.

Wayne Snyder said...

I don't think you are in a position to implement this, but a trick I like to use to put the fear of whatever I have laid out, in the PCs is red shirt NPCs. I often attach a few locals, guards, cops, army dudes, monks, camp followers, what have you to the party and then slaughter them in a wholesale orgy of blood. You know, let the PC's know the fortress is trapped, or the jungle creatures are nasty, or these orks mean business. I do it in the most cinematic way possible and then I can build tension, slowly or quickly depending on how many I kill and when. All without killing off my player's characters and losing players from the session.

Zak Sabbath said...

I think generally NPCs in the party should play by the same rules as everybody else when attached to the party--or at least have some rules and not be "Set dressing" (otherwise the players lose the ability to use NPCs tactically).

That having been said, there were a ton of NPCs attached to the party and they DID get killed by pterodactyls 3 or 4 sessions ago.

All this is beside the point though:

The problem is not just instilling fear. That part's easy. The idea is to highlight the dragon as a thing to think about in general and tie it to the action in the dungeon.

wrathofzombie said...

Maybe the dragons mood shapes the dungeon? Maybe he does shape stone/ice/etc that affects things around them?

Jomo Rising said...

Smaug certainly steals the scene when he talks, Magic Mouth might be an over-used idea but...

Anonymous said...

Kimberly's character is in love? Wow. From everything I have heard about her so far, her style of play seems to be "Wait until it's my turn to hit something."
Looks like she is expanding her style.

Zak Sabbath said...

Anyone familiar with Kimberly's filmography would know that being in love means it's always time to hit something.

Wayne Snyder said...

I guess I missed the point. I always have NPCs who are more than red shirts. I just like to have some bodies around to mulch up and set the stage.

Perhaps you could do the monster build up. It's cheesy, but have the party come into a court yard just as a huge tail is slipping around a gate. Or have them outside on a parapet when the dragon goes out for a flying exercise and it blows right over them or have them find the remains of his last couple meals.I guess I need to know more about this dragon too.

Folmac said...

If the dragon is free to move outside the fortress, some ominous flyovers might be in order. Maybe he could drop something... a warning, a "gift", a taunt. Claw marks and burn scars show the power of his rage, but he's more calculating, like a mafia don playing elaborate head games through minions, preferring to break the players' will and force their submission. He should have a dirty claw in everything that goes on and the players realize this turn by turn, yet know they must confront him even though he anticipates their coming.