Gothic Earth: Session 13 (Ding Dong)

I had gotten some excellent advice from our friend Scott Anderson, I had designed an overly precise flaw to the dungeon, and none of us were really paying attention to the game. So, we had to back up. I asked my players what they wanted to do, and told them what my thoughts were. Most of the last game wasn't a total loss, we did good work! We decided to back things up to just before the party left the elevator, the relic of Sebaldus gave everyone a dire warning of what lay ahead.

CORRECTING THE RULES

I also had to correct some mechanical flaws that have crept into the system. Masque of the Red Death, I don't feel, was designed for higher levels of play. I don't think that the designers ever thought that folks like us would be playing it long term.

If I could go back to the beginning I would have blended the two spellcasting classes into one class, and added psionics as a fourth class. Mystics are just too limited in what they can do, and they are reduced to spell work because if the bad guys are able to close, folks are going to die. To correct the problem I have abandoned the Priest Sphere system and allowed the player to pick spells based off of role-playing rather than the very limited system core to Masque rules. The altered casting times still apply! But the system for acquiring spells doesn't work. To give the player an offensive option I also gave her a psionic wild talent, which play-tested fine.

With combat, I had to drop the Rate Of Fire as it applies to firearms. As it sat, a random encounter of eight 0th level bandits who got the jump on the party, all of them having 6 shots apiece, would TPK even our 8th level party in a couple of rounds, which won't work, so I reverted back to Core rules of 3/2 for fighters and one shot for everyone else. I've got a PC who has a trick shooting proficiency, I let him fire into melee with no penalties.

The AC issue (everyone's base AC is 10) was addressed by reminding them all that AC floats, it improves with taking cover and using your environment. On my end, I had to apply this system to my creatures.

These changes all improved the game. Combat was much swifter and more fair for everyone.

INFORMING THE PARTY OF NEW VICTORY CONDITIONS

This dungeon was my own design, because of events outside of the game which was beyond our control, they were all killed. We went back to the beginning of the 9th dungeon level, and I let everybody know that this was it. No takebacks. The party could not leave this dungeon, and they must finish tonight. If at the end of the night they still haven't slain the Belalp witch, they lost. She escapes and entombs them all in the dungeon and the game is over.

The players had taken over the elevator and made it secure. Two players were unable to attend the game, their characters controlled the elevator and guarded the supplies that they had so the active party was unencumbered.

Play Begins

The players went back up to the main dungeon and systematically cleared it out and found some nice weapons and armor that I had placed up there. I had hidden some Drow Platemail+5 as well as a Drow Longsword+5. Both of these items helped immensely and disappeared as soon as they left the dungeon.

I had wanted to take away their guns, this tomb hasn't been opened for a thousand years, everything except for the witch is dead and cursed, mostly ogre skeletons and zombies, and another section for the huge undead giants. Guns were pretty worthless, but I had old-fashioned arms scattered around to deal with them. The trick was to increase your AC. We had four players show up for this session and the game was well balanced, tons of XP to go around nice treasure, and the player who had put on the Drow armor and was a tank managed to find a huge spider which she rode around the giant section of the dungeon.

One player did end up dying, the victim of a giant banshee, but she was resurrected before she turned into an undead herself. It was a dangerous place and I expected some fatalities. By searching the dungeon before taking on the 9th level they were ready to take on that dangerous stuff.

Right out of the elevator, on the bottom level they had to face an entire unit of lawful monster skeletons who fought like centurions, it was a brutal battle and this time they were more evenly matched. It was still a long encounter, powerful undead fighters who were also very difficult to hit. The party figured out a way to punch a hole into their defense and managed to control the pace of the fight. It wasn't just a dice-fest either, which made things go more smoothly and we all enjoyed it more.

Finally, they fought their way to the Witch and after a long tricky battle she tried begging for mercy and they promply executed her. They had control of the dungeon and it was getting late so we decided to skip the battle with the undead centurions, choosing to quickly summarize it, the skeletons would have done the exact same thing, and offered no challenge.

They fetched the Relic, this time the witch was dead so the Demonic god was weaker and Sebaldus had a chance of defeating it . . . a 25% chance, but since the witch was dead, the party could still escape if Sabaldus lost. I had them roll the dice. They needed a 75 or higher to defeat the devil: they rolled a 76. Sebaldus destroyed the sentient idol, breaking the curse on the land and finally defeating this dungeon.

Sebaldus rewarded those who showed up in different ways. The Cleric was granted the Wild Talent, The Gunslinger was given more strength, the German Spy was granted Dexterity, and the Explorer was given the ability to know Latin.

The fun that we all had from this session more than made up for the last session!

AFTERMATH

This was my most ambitious game design. It incorporated a lot of OD&D principles, and while the initial prep for it was intense, there was virtually no prep once we started playing it. The entire scenario lasted us seven sessions.

It featured two separate dungeons; a mine and a witches lair, both reset themselves in a way that they could always be explored and offer challenges. We didn't finish the mine section, it had one more scenario hidden in it which was never triggered. 

Overall, it offered something for everybody at the table. A very difficult mystery to solve, a living world to interact with, tons of NPCs which were fun to run, and enough XP to bring the regular players up to level so they can take on even more grueling challenges ahead, as I now think that they are ready to get back on the trail of the main campaign villain, Fu Manchu. So! It is off to London, which I will write and maybe play with some Play-By-Post via Facebook. We are skipping the game for the month of October, and opting to have a Halloween Party instead.

 

2 comments:

Scott Anderson said...

You did an amazing job recovering from the last session. You and your players showed a lot of maturity and clearly benefitted from it. I'm flattered you called me out - we all thought through it together and you executed it. Really great job, a real relief and a real triumph.

Thanks for the writeup!

David Baymiller said...

Very nice.

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