Monday, August 5, 2013

Remedying Action Hero Syndrome Part 3. Revelation


In this segment I'm going to talk about how I've been working with the party's Barbarian who takes great pride and pleasure in his continuing and intentional idiocy.  If you've been reading the Campaign Recaps for the Temple of Elemental Evil you may already be familiar with Bronan the Barbarian.  The surly Dwarf frequently gets himself in over his head (no pun intended) and has no expectation of getting himself pulled out of trouble.  It's not a death wish, just someone who wishes for a very comical series of hijinks.  A comedic guy myself I don't mind playing along but sometimes you need to reel them in.  I've accomplished this in two ways, a voice-of-reason scene recaps and in-game mechanics.  Disclaimer: This is and previous installments are not a one size-fits-all approach.  It merely works for me and you are welcome to use some of the philosophy behind this.
Reel em in, but don't pull so hard you break the line



When things get entirely too outrageous I like to a stop for a moment and take in everything that's going on then relay that back to the players.  As an example when first entering the moathouse, Maximilian used his insider knowledge to get them into a secret passage which put them at the back end of the dungeon.  At which point the party encountered the Ogre guard, blew their cover and had to fight the vile beast.

The foe was ordinarily beyond their fighting capacity but they lucked out and managed to topple the Ogre down the long flight of stairs that led into the cavern complex below.  They later left and regrouped but when they returned they were surprised the Ogre had been reanimated and commanded to whack-a-mole anyone that entered through the secret passageway.  They used their tried and true tactic again and this time Bronan hopped aboard and rode the Ogre as a sled down the stairs.  For some reason he was thinking the Ogre would make for a good disguise.  A bizarre plot was hatched where they would use the Ogre Weekend at Bernie's style to sneak past the gnoll encampment.
If you search "ogre sled" will this blog be at the top of the list?

Bronan: I'll hold him up, Drake can move him like a marionette and Max can do the fast talking.
DM: Alright guys, assuming you could even carry this guy you're walking past gnolls, lazy dog-men, who can presumably smell this rotting corpse a mile away. 
Bronan: Well they're lazy dog-men, I'm sure they won't care.
DM: Furthermore, if these creatures are all playing for the same side don't you think they might have heard about the interlopers that dispatched the Ogre guard slash recently raised zombie.  It wouldn't make much sense for it to be wandering through their encampment.  I'm glad you guys are trying to sneak past rather than force your way through but you're going to want to rethink this.
Max: Well we can always just bribe them to look the other way.
DM: That idea definitely has some traction, let's see where that leads us.

The point is to reel in their hare-brained schemes before it goes too far.  Although when the hour gets let and this DM gets sleepy he is much more receptive to silly plots.  If the whole party is enjoying it well then why not?  Just make sure the blind aren't leading the blind.


The other piece I wanted to talk about was an in-game mechanic.  Part of the system I'm testing involves different stats and an absence of ability modifiers.  In addition to standard renaming there has been a bit of merging different stats.  Strength and Constitution fall under Vigor, which also represents someone who is energetic and feisty but not necessarily muscle bound.  Hearty but not necessarily fit.  Knowledge was the combination of Intelligence and Wisdom and unlike the two of them it was not meant to be a substitute for the player's mental faculties.  Instead knowledge is a way to represent how much a character knows about the world and its inner workings which the player obviously would have no way of knowing.  Knowledge however, has recently been renamed to Revelation.  This stat is for puzzling out weird arcane minutia, coming to sudden realizations or dawning insight and also just getting a gauge of a situation whether it be a puzzle filled dungeon room or the inner workings of back door political meetings.  Figuring out who is up to what and how that block might fit into this sliding ice floor puzzle.  Last but not least the revelation stat is a good way for the DM to assess whether the character really is that foolish or whether you should offer them some advice on their current course of action.  As Revelation is a last minute change to the system it is very rough around the edges and needs to be further articulated but I'll save that for another time.