GM Commentary: Banestorm, 3×10, 3×11, and 3×12

Man, I really suck when it comes to keeping this up to speed. Recaps for 3.10, 3.11 and 3.12 at the links. GM thoughts below.

With regards to 3.10, I intentionally wanted to have a session with no fighting and that worked out relatively well. We were down one player – Aramis’ – but that was fine as he was the most critically injured and would need some time to recover. Prior to that session, I realized that I really should have emulated the Lady of Pain from Planescape for Zat al-Dawahi, so I started including those elements. There were a couple of plot elements I added in-game, including one character’s Secret popping up again, and then I let each of the players tell me what strange and exotic thing happened to them in the five days of down-time they had. I’d pre-warned the players about this so they had a week to reflect on that. One player took the opportunity to rejigger his character a tiny bit – he was influenced by that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Picard basically lived out another life and remembered it; two others had some interesting mini-stories, and the fourth … basically tried to get a new magic item out of it. He phrased it as “something unique” so I gave him a Time Lord’s pocketwatch that he will never be able to open.

Episode 3.11 had too much “Wal-Mart: The RPG” in it at the beginning, then I threw a number of travel encounters at them that were intended to fill some time and make the trip slightly more interesting. As they entered the Great Desert where there’s No Mana, I realized that they should have run into the dead magic zone on the very first leg of the trip – to the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls – but ah, well. At the ruins that was their destination, they encountered a spellcasting Ghul who dropped a Gloom spell on them so its fellow ghouls could rush forward and attack. It then went invisible. I fully intended on the Ghul to play an actual role in this fight but honestly, apart from the Gloom spell, it did nothing else…

The ghoul fight finished with 3.12 and, for a couple of moments there, I was really concerned because it legitimately looked like I’d seriously overestimated the capabilities of the PCs versus the ghouls, but then, the three PCs with the Teamwork perk really started to kick ass and the tide shifted. In the span of like two rounds, they dropped four ghouls and the tide of the battle shifted abruptly. I implemented the Morale stuff from Basic, then basically whacked one of the fleeing ghouls with the equivalent of the Mashadar from Wheel of Time. And my caster Ghul, being smart and not Overconfident, saw his guys dropped and changed his mind about attacking, even from invisibility. So, the PCs got the altar, returned to the Citadel, and had a couple more days to tell me what strange thing happened to them. To be honest, I should have just dropped that sequence entirely because we were closing in on quitting time and I was rushing things a bit. In the end, the PCs crossed over to the Otherworld and met up with a visibly older Finn.

So 3.13 is going to be something of an experiment, I fear, as I don’t want to go straight into another tactical fight, but rather want to do what amounts to a mini-siege. Essentially, the PCs have crossed over into the Wheel of Time world, albeit close to 2000 years before the WoT books and at the end of the Trolloc Wars, and their arrival, along with the big magical rod that will serve as an anchor/beacon for Finn to Gate back to Yrth, is going to summon a fist or two of trollocs. The place where Finn and Ammerah have holed up – for a couple of years, actually; they’ve been here for 7 or 8 years instead of the 7, almost 8 weeks that Finn has been gone to the PCs – is essentially a rip of Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy, so slowing down the trolloc advance is feasible with work (am thinking of some sort of skill challenge here) … but the “nightmares” (as Finn knows them, aka the Fades or Myrddraal) can shadow-walk so they could port in and there be a fight. For added difficulty, I’m throwing in a group of Tinkers squatting in this abandoned village as well, so PCs will (hopefully) be interested in defending them since they’re mostly women and children. Even greater complication is the presence of Finn and Ammerah’s two children. Finn is defenseless during this as he’s gathering the energy to craft the Gate back to Yrth … which the Tinkers will accompany to get to safety. So my ideal end point is with everyone going through the Gate and we cut to black…