Gameday: Gothic Earth 1

Our monthly game went well! I had a lot of reading to do, and we are building up for a module game which will be heavily modified. It is a really hard one to do, but after figuring out some details, I feel more confident that I can run it.

This game actually took longer than what I thought that it would. I wanted to advance the Weathermay story-line, re-introduce two major NPC's, and introduce two new PC's into the mix. We also had to at least get to the module setting, which is an Insane Asylum located in Germany.

On a technical level, the Weathermay House is odd. It is the focal point of the campaign, however the players rarely get to be there. The way I did originally drafted it was insane. We hadn't played D&D for the better part of 10 years, and I talked my wife and a buddy into it. We were rusty as hell, and I had absolutely nothing prepared outside of some ideas about a complex ghost story. I literally drew the house up as the players explored it, all while telling an old fashion murder mystery that didn't go as planned, as the murderer was exposed very quickly, and it turned into a game of cat and mouse as he ran through the houses secret passages, to make a long story short, I took the best notes that I could, as did the other players, and the next day; after the game was over, I sat down and put everything together in a way that structurally makes sense, and then, mapped the house, adding blank rooms to add stuff into later on.

In later adventures in the house, I moved stuff around further, adding things, taking away things and making simple notations on the map which, after a few years of sitting in a binder, are now mysteries to me. To complicate things further, I had mapped the property, and a hidden chamber below the house on a separate sheet of paper, which I apparently lost.

It is hard to keep notes, and the notes for this adventure seem to be scattered. My wife had a bunch in her PC folder, the bulk of it was on a hardrive that had crashed a couple of years back, so that stuff is gone, but that is okay. I had written a record of our adventures on this blog, but I kept many secrets to myself, which are lost as well.

I think that I got my map corrected now, but everytime the players find their way back in, things have changed subtly, which kind of works for the setting, and the theme of this season, being that our sanity and sense of self depends upon our belief in memory, and since memory truly isn't all that reliable, sanity itself is subjective and depends entirely on faith.

Anyhow, while in the house, the Si Fan made two assassination attempts. A few bottles of wine were poisoned, and a cursed magical item was delivered to them under the false pretense that it was from an ally.

I had planed on giving a clue that the wine was poisoned: The grounds keeper had stolen a bottle, he was caught drinking it by a PC, who actually ended up drinking with him. Now, if the wrong PC drank the poison, he or she would be dead, thankfully this character was the strongest one, and even though he failed his saving throw, was able to survive the full effect of the poison. It disabled him for the bulk of the adventure, greatly limiting what he could do, but it quickly exposed the attempt.

The other attempt is still active. The player's know what it is, but their characters don't. A mystical staff turns into a cobra at the command of it's true owner, Fu Manchu, and this led to a very fun scene.

A new character joined the game, and he is surrounded by mystery. He is a Doctor, who doesn't put much faith into the occult, but he is a wizard non-the-less, and he must keep this fact secret from everyone. Of course all of the players know what he is, but the characters don't, which makes it fun. So, my wife's character is sleeping in bed, when she feels a sting on her foot (she makes her saving throw), she throws back the sheets and a cobra spits in her face, blinding her and she screams, jumping out of bed into the corner, waking up everyone in the house, who all run to her room.

Now, seeing this character huddled in the corner, covering her eyes and screaming isn't all that unusual, but then the snake spits at them. The gunfighter, in a bad way a from drinking poison a few days earlier, attacks the snake with a Silver Headed Cane+1, and the Detective, still mentally trying to shake off the effects of an opium overdose is hitting it with an umbrella. The gunfighter hits it a couple of times, until it spits in his face, and also ends up blinding the detective, leaving the mage who suddenly says, screw it, and casts a cantrip which causes a pop that is just enough to dissipate the mystic cobra. This is the first spell that this mage has ever cast in his life, and he did it right in front of everybody, so he thought that he had some explaining to do. The player playing him thought that he had lost that aspect of the game already, and it was still just the first game, until he realized that everybody else was blinded, and the rest of the party saw nothing. He was the great hero who saved the party! And, he got away with it!

In our world, magic is a lot different from the core spells. While in Forgotten Realms, a wizard who casts Cantrip is an every day thing, in this world, a world without visual effects and complex rituals, what he did was a huge deal. He had probably tried to cast spells in some form for years, and maybe part of him thought that they worked? But there was no real proof either way, until just now. He roleplayed this, as well as the jubilation of  maintaining his characters secret to the hilt, and it was great!

We did a lot of roleplaying, probably too much. One of our players had to leave and go to work at ten, and it was my goal to have the game finished by then, we ended up having to continue playing without her, and another buddy really had to get going because his son was exhausted and wanted to go home. Thankfully he stayed with us until we finished the Weathermay House section of the game.

We also got a brand new player to our game, who had never played any role playing game before. We got his character ready, and I wanted him to watch the experienced players do their thing so he wasn't at the house, he would officially join the party once the players got on the ship which would take them to Germany. He is the mate of our player who had to leave at 10pm, and God bless him, he stayed with a bunch of strangers after she took off, and two of my players wanted him to play so they hung around and we just did the journey stage with just the three of them.

He got to do some role-playing, and after we got to the conclusion of our session I did a really quick combat with him just so that he could have a better chance of understanding what was going on when situations like this came up. My dice hate people. I had to switch dice else kill him with a stupid zombie. He ended up hanging around after everybody else went home until around 1am just to talk and have some more fun. It was a great night! Everyone had fun, I got everything done that I had set out to do, and can now focus on prepping the module section.

One of the most important things that I had to do was get weapons to the party, as I had taken away all that they had had. Van Helsing gave them a Silver Headed Cane+1, as well as a bag of antidotes that they can use if they know what they are doing. This stuff was free. If they gave good intel to their shacky allies/enemies, The Six-Fingered Hand (which they did), they got a weapon that I created called Pistol of Hiding which will escape detection if one is frisked and remains hidden unless it is drawn, as well as a belt that hides up to twenty bullets. They also got an iron shank, but they did miss an opportunity to acquire a silver straight razor, but, what are you going to do?

5 comments:

Brooser Bear said...

Sounds like you got quite a game going! Amazing that you can do it in the framework of D&D. Whatever chaotic system of note-keeping you got going must work for you, since you are running a continuous campaign without too much trouble. I think that you are blessed to have players on the same intellectual plane as you.

Ripper X said...

This is the game that my players REALLY want to play. From a DM's perspective, it is very difficult, as I am working within the perimeters of earth, and a historical time period that we are familiar with only through literature and films. All of the content in the game is original, else so heavily modified as to be almost unrecognizable as I had ran a couple of classic modules with the system, and these characters.

As far as my scattered and lost notes are concerned, that isn't how I like to do things, but this game is too important to us to just abandon it. Session Zero was everyone at the table trying to remember what we had done, and agree on a set timeline for events which took place during a complex campaign that we had played for a few years, and after an absence of many years, really want to get back to.

I do think that this setting does allow me to do my best work. The pacing is different than fantasy. These characters have 10 years, that is it. Life is precious to them. I don't want to skip too many days, so we play scenarios at a very different pace than we would for fantasy. Each day is important, and this brings out a very character based game with a focus on role-playing. Each character is complex, and since we are doing things one day at a time, we can explore aspects of a character that normally gets sidelined by action.

As far as DMing, I work with minimal notes. I hate reading things, and I have become very good at making sure that I don't have to. As the DM in this game, I don't want to talk to much. I pulled a trick during play, a character asked me what the room looked like, so I turned it around. What do you see? They described the room to me. If there was an object in that room, then I could place it in the description that they gave to me.

Enough rules are present to keep this game 2e, but with so much stuff altered, they are never sure of how mechanics actually work, thus you have very experienced players "feeling" like they are playing a very different game. The balance is also very attractive to experienced players as well, they don't often see themselves as heroes, but victims of circumstances. The forces of evil are overwhelming, and elusive. The monsters are hidden among us, and to see one is to confront ones darkest nightmares. That seems to be really attractive to people.

Ripper X said...

Another strange thing that I did for this game; right out of the gate I broke one of the most basic rules, we started as a Monty Haul campaign. First level characters who suddenly had everything, money, weapons, powerful magic items, and but the stronger that they got, the more I took away, so it was backwards. Currently, the original characters are sitting at 7th level, I believe, and they have nothing. It's totally backwards, but it works!

David Baymiller said...

Sounds like great fun. Loved the cobra and magic user bit. :D

Ripper X said...

Hey there David! I got you back on my blogroll. My original got purged, so I get to start it all over again. Thanks for commenting!

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I use AD&D that has been modified over the years.


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