Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Death in the Gatehouse - Campaign Rules Regarding Death

Death in the Gatehouse:

Session IV was a disaster for the party, a near Total Party Kill prevent only by some lucky interaction rolls, and by Lemon's timely use of oil.  The encounter was just bad luck frankly, the wandering encounter roll indicated that the adventurers were going to run up against the nastiest (and arguably toughest monster) in the Gatehouse without understanding the nature of the place.  I have no desire to kill characters, but they live in a nasty world, with pretty unforgiving rules, and so this was bound to happen.  I am glad it wasn't a TPK, because the party keeps taking on character and everyone dying might have driven my new players off despite my warnings. Death is pretty permanent in Denethix, divine healing is extraordinarily expensive and it's doubtful there's any cleric above 5th level anywhere nearby the city. I suppose untrustworthy super-science also exists, but it's hard to guess where they'd find it, except by accident.  The characters lost a couple of friends, worse for them perhaps, they also got nothing for their troubles.

Treasures: Grimgrim has an ancient coffee mug, but no one can tell it's ancient. It's worth 1 sp to a motivated buyer. It was not a good night for the party. 

Player Reactions: Both P and B had become attached to Mukuls and Hump – B even having worked out that elaborate history described at the start of the prior Session-log and repeated in Grimgrim's eulogy. (supposedly written in Dwarven in a small book recovered from his corpse). P was the more upset, this being her first character and disturbed at how quickly the well armored 8hp fighter had gone down to a lucky roll. She wanted him to come back and briefly toyed with playing his brother 'Beg Mukuls' come south to find Mukuls.

Both replacement characters rolled very well, this 4D6 this is too generous I think. P rolled and 18, 17 and two 13's while B rolled an 18, two 14's and a 13 (which is still pretty spectacular, even for best 3 out of 4D6). Neither of them rolled any stats with penalties attached. I let them pick what sort of characters they wanted to play and arrange stats accordingly, again being too nice. 

The Death Penalty: One rule to make death a penalty, soften it somewhat, and keep the party roughly equal in power is that I've decided to let new characters have ½ the XP of the dead character they replace. Not sure yet how to handle new players - perhaps they start as henchman or something.

Huxley McTeeth's Old Job? - Poster for Valley of Gwangi - 1969

New Characters:  The idea of Big Mukuls seemed too trite and liable to make us forget about the brave lunk that Mukul's was. When B started talking about his fighter's background as a dinosaur gaucho P got excited. Actually B said he wanted to play a human fighter who was “older”, “grizzled” and a “real veteran”. I suggested that he might be a retired Fist guard, a deserter form some wizard's horde, a dinosaur gaucho, or human renegade guard from an annihilated forest community (Like the doomed forest town in “Iron Council” - only in the Feasting Trees.) B jumped at dinosaur gaucho [who wouldn't!] and P decided she wanted something with a Western/dinosaurs flavor as well. When the party returns to Denethix and seeks replacements they will met two hardened high plains drifters: First, the older broken-nosed vaquero, mercenary, strike-breaker and outlaw “Huxley McTeeth” a fighter wearing banded mail made of tooled, steel backed dinosaur hide and a steel-lined stetson. Second, an extremely mean looking woman with a facial scar wearing some sort of corseted saloon garb with a cavalry saber (similar to Hux's) slung at her hip. She goes by Nell and moves with unnatural speed and precision.

Nell is an assassin, run out of the Certopsian because she has a short temper and a history of murders that earned her the evocative nick-name “Eyestabs Nell”. The dark blue leather of her corset is steel boned and the 8 weighted hair pins that provide the architecture to her ridiculous powered wasteland up-do are throwing knives with a gummy covering of baked on scorp-o-man poison. Her face was slashed in her youth in a fight with another plains' girl over a handsome gaucho. She later murdered her slasher and drifted into the underworld, working primarily as covert muscle at a joyhouse in a large stocktown near the plain's edge. Nell grew tired of plucking out the eyes of uncooperative patrons and reluctant staff so she murdered and robbed the madam and a few of the richer patrons before fleeing West to the big city. It's been harder going than she thought and there is a $1,500.00 GP bounty on her head (She could buy it off for $3,000.00 to the right thief takers).

Huxley is not especially nice either, and is fleeing after playing both sides of a range war, he led a gang of greenhorns into a per-arranged ambush and then led the ambushers straight into the path of an old moktar chief, known as Goremane, who Hux once sold a load of rotgut to. Unfortunately for Hux he had to flee because before he could collect his money from both sides, as a dying boy made it back to the bunkhouse and spilled Hux's plan to lead the Goremane's band in raids of both decimated ranches. Huxley is not happy about the loss of a fortune in stock and gold, or having had to sell his horse for rent money in Denethix where he and Nell are keeping a low profile. The ranchers have joined forces and want to kill Huxley slowly to avenge their dead, while Goremane just feels put out and needs to eat Huxley's heart in order to regain some honor or some other moktar nonsense. Hux can speak moktar (a bit) with his higher than average intelligence, though moktars have trouble understanding him as he can't roar loudly enough for many words.

Nell and him don't actually like each other much, but they share the plainlanders' mindset, boorish drawl and mostly each needs someone to watch the their back as they try to find a new, possibly reformed, life away from the plains. 

These are the new characters - more thought out than the old, but pushing the party further in the direction of being outright criminals - we now have a would-be cannibal, a rustler, a murderess, the priest of a  heavy metal entity, and a sorcerer with an evil tattoo.

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