GM Commentary: Banestorm, 3×13, 3×14, and 3×15

Yeah. I still suck. Recap for 3.13, 3.14 and 3.15 (as soon as it’s up).

3.13 was something of an experiment that didn’t play out quite like I wanted it to. I was able to re-introduce Finn & Ammerah, as well as establish that they’d been here for 7 to 8 years (compared to the 7 to 8 weeks that Finn has been “lost”), I also established (though I’m not sure if the PCs caught it) that Finn never sent the magical SOS to Haruki, introduced Finn & Ammerah’s kids, hinted at their location being the Wheel of Time world, then basically had everyone do what amounted to a skill challenge to “hold the line” against the “beast-men” and “nightmares” (aka the Trollocs and Fades) while Finn did the weave to get them home. As noted above, this didn’t quite play out like I wanted it to – I didn’t want to use tactical combat, but mass combat didn’t work either.

Following that up with 3.14, that was also an experiment that partially worked and partially didn’t. Zat al-Dawahi died in the beginning of this, though she puppeted Ammerah briefly and this set up her placing a tiny slice of herself in Finn’s wife. Ultimately, it was a sort of chase combined with mass combat and skill challenge elements where the PCs were essentially escorting a bunch of non-combatants away from a crazy situation. The PCs needed to cover 8 “zones” so I decided that the “group” of noncombatants would roll against their Dodge of 7 with the margin of failure/success equalling how many they lost (or gained); each PC would make a roll of some sort to assist ala the significant actions in Mass Combat. I declared that, like a skill challenge, they could only use a skill once during this which may have been a mistake due to the number of zones they needed to cover; in retrospect, I should have allowed repeat skill uses, albeit with one or two different uses in between. Afterward, we realized that I should have made the group Dodge roll first so the players knew how many people were going to die if they didn’t assist. Interestingly, I don’t think any PC failed an assist roll here, even when they started using lower level skills. We ended with another much easier Gate by Finn to safety and with most of the PCs discovering that the Fa’iel’s sheikh (also Ammerah’s brother) was being possessed by a djinn who was their former master.

3.15 was a pretty irritating disappointment to me. Once again, I miscalculated how long a tactical fight would last – I expected it to end about 45 minutes before it actually did. Anyway, most of the PCs were several hundred feet away from the one who remained behind to defend Finn, so I threw a couple of evil centaurs at that PC – I sincerely thought he was going to end up in a bad way due to some pretty crappy defense rolls early on, but he pulled it out. The others … had problems. I knew the possessed sheikh was going to be tough but as this was GURPS, I threw in a couple of roadblocks in the form of three Charmed bad guys (plus one PC who was Charmed as well) … and this roadblock nearly derailed everything. In the end, after they won by the Charmed guys, two PCs were nailed with Flesh to Stone spells (which, I note, expended the majority of the possessed sheikh’s available magical energy reserve) so they were permanently petrified. Initially, we figured that Finn could restore them relatively easily, but after the game was over, I did the calculations … and oof. Finn might not be able to do that. Anyway, the possessed sheikh was sent packing when the surviving non-Charmed PC hit him with the rod of wonder equiv he’d been toting since its owner (Finn’s old master) vanished; I treated this like a Great Wish and calculated that up to be effective skill of 7 … and that’s what the player rolled! In retrospect, I should have had the djinn cast out of the sheikh, but said sheikh die soon after in the arms of his sister. Soon after this, Finn Gated everyone to Defiant where he observed the flags of the proper heir and the king of Caithness flying, indicating both are present, a clear setup for the next (and original) GM to have fun with.

So that was my run. I’d originally intended to run for 12 sessions but (as usual) got distracted early on and padded out some stuff that didn’t need to be padded out. If I’d cut out some of the travelling stuff, I think I’d have hit the 12 I wanted. At the end, I sort of lost steam for various reasons, but it ultimately worked out, I think. Next up on the docket for me to focus on it Verge season 2 and the spin up of either “Pirates of Drinax” or “Deepnight Revelation” for the Saturday game. Verge will be continuing with the Mongoose Traveller 2e, while PoD or DNR will be using GURPS. Because GURPS is superior.