GM Commentary: Banestorm, 3×09

YouTube of the session here.

As is normal, I expected one thing – the fight to be over by 8:30 so I could handle some denouement stuff – and got something else – fight dragged on until around 9:30. I partially have myself to blame as I have a tendency to not declare a fight over, even when its pretty clear that the other side isn’t going to be able to do anything. I’ve already instructed several of the players to shoot me a PM the next time it starts to happen.

The fight ended with two PCs unconscious – technically, one of them went unconscious after the fight was over – and one with a crippled arm. Two of the characters were completely unscratched, though one of them came very, very close to getting clobbered in the skull due to an attack from a rear hex. One of the other PCs did a sacrificial dodge to counter that and, as a result, ended up with a crippled arm.

This fight also saw the first extensive use of the Teamwork perk with three of the PCs and man, they ruined one of my bad guys with two characters Feinting the hell out of that dude – one of the PCs crit succeeded on the Feint with an end result of something like beat by 15 – then transferring the benefits of that to the powerhouse PC – the dude with the ST 19 – who then struck my effectively defenseless bad guy in the skull with a tetsubo. Smoosh.

We’re down Aramis’ player this coming week, which is fine since he’s pretty badly banged up, and I’m planning on this coming session to be mostly fight free … although with Players involved, who knows where we’ll go? The intent is to handle the post-fight stuff that was intended to happen at the end of 3×09, then allow the characters some downtime before the next setpiece location. Most of this is going to take place at the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls and I realized long after the fact that I should have ripped off Planescape and made Zat al-Dawahi a Lady of Pain ripoff, so I’m planning on incorporating elements of that in this coming session.

An interesting comment came up with regards to PCs and lootage above and beyond what they’re going to be able to strip from the corpses of the fallen here; they’re in the middle of a city that’s being sacked … and they’re on the side of the sackers! So those that are conscious and can actually participate in said sacking, the question really came down to “how do you determine how much they can get?” One of the players referred me to the Scavenging rules in GURPS: After the End, and those are okay, I suppose, but will take a little finagling and tweaking. There’s also the Dungeon Fantasy Treasure Tables, which could be useful, especially with this app that I’ve been pointed to … though that’s less visually interesting when using Fantasy Grounds. I briefly toyed with trying to create those tables in FG but that was turning into more work than I expected so I bailed on it. I’m sort of leaning toward a combination of the Scavenging stuff and the Treasure Tables, but I haven’t quite figured out the best way to handle it yet … and I need to get cracking.

With regards to the rest of the plan for the session, I’ve got a couple of things in mind but it mostly expects the players to go their separate ways for a bit:

  • As stated above, Aramis is laid low and recovering from injuries. With Appearance (Handsome) and Sex Appeal-16, I sort of figured that he’s going to find himself being targeted by probably the chancellor/seneschal/vizier babe … and I’m now realizing how much I need to add to the wiki so I could link her to this.
  • Brum is going to have a letter waiting for him from the dwarf he helped escape several sessions back, Thrain Ironfist, because Brum’s Secret kicked in again. My gaming OCD kicked in and I statted Thrain up (even though I didn’t need to). Despite being a ‘merchant,’ Ironfist is (to quote Stick in Netflix’s Defenders) ‘a blithering dumb ass.’ He’s going to try and blackmail Brum … so a brief bit of tactical combat might show up.
  • Haruki is difficult. He’s a Klutz, so there’s that, but I’m probably going to use him to highlight Zat al-Dawahi’s public personality as she’s going to be very Lady of Pain floating through Sigil-like in the city parts of the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls, complete with anyone she casts her shadow upon having their skin magically flayed from their body or anyone receiving a glance from her gaining terrible cuts across their body. She’s even going to have donned a mask that looks like the LoP’s mantle of blades. I also figure that Haruki could get into trouble by having a troupe of orphan kids start following him around.
  • Ismir is also difficult, but he’s got Sense of Duty to his tribe, so I’m probably going to have him encounter some people he recognizes in the streets as Fa’iel who were lost some time back. These are likely people lost in raids or whatnot between Zat al-Dawahi and Atah Keth, the Fa’iel’s former master. Oh … something just occurred to me as I’m typing this: one of those he encounters could be his former wife or fiancee or something … who is now married and has a child or children with a person in town. She was a slave but this dude freed her and married her.
  • Thorn is going to be asked by Zyanra to accompany her to meet with her littermates where she will reveal to them how he could have killed her but instead spared her life, so she sort of has a life-debt to him. Before this, he will also be invited to assist the magical healers which could let him eventually gain Major Healing, which the player mentioned offline to me very briefly, though I think that was more just a random musing on his part and not a declaration of intent. I want to do more with Thorn, but I’m not entirely sure what.

I’ve also got an idea about a pseudo-montage that is per PC where, in this time (which is about a week), something strange or exotic happens to each character in this city run by an immensely powerful djinn. I’m sort of thinking it’d play out like this:

  • GM: In that time, strange and exotic and likely magical things happen to you. PC1, tell me what happened to you during this week that you will no doubt talk about to the end of your days.
  • PC1 tells the story.
  • GM: And in that time, PC2, what bizarre thing happened to you that you desperately want to keep to yourself so no one else knows about it?
  • And so on…

A week or so after the big fight at the City of Ten Thousand Delights, the PCs are once again summoned before Zat al-Dawahi where she advises them that her research is complete and she has a new Task for them: in the center of the ruins of a long forgotten city she calls Iram dhāt al-ʿimād, which was once the City of Ten Thousand Pillars, there is an altar to a false god wrought of precious metals. She requires this altar. This sets up the next setpiece that’s really just going to be a fight … although I am going to blatantly rip off Shadar Logoth from Wheel of Time for this place…

But that’s 3×11, not 3×10 so, in the immortal words of the Critical Drinker, “That’s all I’ve got. Go away now.”