GM Brian’s Campaign Analysis, Part IV

The party spent the night at the Dead Demon Inn in Oregent, in central Andoran. By morning, the party Druid was pretty uneasy about being in the large town, especially one where the Lumber Consortium headquarters. The party met with a bard from Tian Xia for breakfast, and tried to have a friendly, normal conversation, but the Druid was on everyone’s case about getting out of town asap. This part of the session was incredibly awkward, because they truly were struggling with their freedom. The players at my table now numbered 6, which is pretty much my absolute limit, and they all wanted to do different things. I refrained from prompting them as much as possible, though there was a veritable hurricane of activity going on “behind the scenes.”

See, the highly corrupt Lumber Consortium (LC) head of the town they just fled sent out messenger pigeons with an urgent notice about the adventurers, calling them terrorists and charging them with various crimes, including murder of an LC employee and attempted murder of others. The notice recommended that “specialists” be hired to “neutralize the threat” they posed to the LC. And then the players unwittingly fled to the town in which the LC headquarters. In the night, LC executives hired assassins and concocted a plan to use a sort of block party to distract, poison, kidnap, and execute the party.

The players finally heard about the party that was to be held later that night, and found it odd that the town guards were handing out flyers to local businesses about it. The Druid reached near-hysterical levels of demanding that the party leave, but the party told him to shut his hippy mouth and relax. He spent most of his day mapping out the neighborhood and committing escape routes to memory. As the party left to go pull some shenanigans in the marketplace, the druid assaulted a wealthy merchant he found whipping a street urchin, and the druid was subsequently arrested.

This was a critical moment in the session. There is an ongoing struggle between Andoran’s government (standing for Liberty, Justice, and Freedom) and the Lumber Consortium (which essentially props up Andoran’s economy, although it is extremely corrupt.) This encounter with the town guards was meant to show the contrast between the two entities: the Druid was treated very fairly, advised of his rights, etc etc. Unfortunately, this somehow convinced the Druid that all guards are in the pocket of the LC, and his arrest was just a sneaky way of getting him “in the system.” (This guy’s roleplaying was fantastic, despite his vastly incorrect conclusions!)

He later met up with the party and explained what happened, and said he was incredibly angry with the wealthy merchant who reported him to the guards for assault. So, in the name of sweet, sweet vengeance (never fuck with murderhobos, silly NPCs!) the Rogue broke into the merchant’s house, a stole a coinpurse and a tin of what was basically opium. The Druid was unimpressed. The rest of the party lost their patience with the “sweet sweet vengeance” and meandered back to the Dead Demon Inn. While all this had happened, the party Gunslinger got absolutely wasted in a whiskey-drinkin’ contest with a dwarf jeweler, and was escorted back to his room at the Dead Demon Inn by the town guards. Once there, the LC’s hired assassins quickly took advantage of the Gunslinger’s condition and dragged him off. The rest of the party didn’t get back to the inn until nightfall, and didn’t really know where the Gunslinger was.

At nightfall, the Druid morphed into hybrid werewolf form, lit himself on fire (because every plan needs fire) and burst through the door of the wealthy merchant’s home, ran straight into the dining room, and tackled the merchant. After mauling and severely burning the merchant, he ranted about how angry he was, threatened the family, and jumped out a window and ran off. The family sent the servant to run for help (screaming about a demon hell hound.) And for those of you following along at home, yes, the Druid was angry about being arrested for assault, and decided that the proper response to this was MORE ASSAULT. Finally satisfied, he rejoined the others at the party, back in human form.

At the party, an assassin was quietly trying to poison their characters, but only partly succeeded in poisoning the bard, who concealed her illness and shrugged it off, choosing to believe it was due to exhaustion rather than poison. The Druid reached new levels of hysteria when he realized the Gunslinger was missing, and tracked his scent to a seedy-looking tavern at the corner of the neighborhood called The Juicy Mermaid (owned by the LC, naturally.)

The assassins were using the gunslinger as bait for the rest of the party, and it worked. The combat was incredibly intense, as it wound up being a roiling melee on a flight of stairs from the kitchen to the cellar. Necks were broken, throats were ripped out, faces were pierced, kidneys were slashed… the Druid’s companion wolf was cut to ribbons and saved from the brink of death by the Paladin. The normally pacifist monk was driven to lethal violence. And as they emerged from the fray, finally victorious, the met Phase 3 of the LC’s plan:

During the party, the LC distributed additional memos to the town guards, explaining that the party were murderous terrorists who are planning on killing LC employees and destroying LC property in town, namely The Juicy Mermaid. The building was surrounded and the guards demanded surrender. And I apologize here for the long wall of text, but this was my favorite part of the night.

The guards, as official agents of the Andoren government, have a deep mistrust of the LC. However, they have a duty to uphold the law, and here are the suspects as described, emerging from the property specified in the memo, drenched in blood with weapons drawn. The guards explained that their court case will be expedited due to the nature of their charges, and that if the party is truly innocent, they’ll be acquitted. The party immediately began talking amongst themselves in Dwarvish (none of them are Dwarves, yet they can all speak the language), discussing what to do.

The Rogue wanted to make a run for it. The Gunslinger wanted his shit back (it was left in his room at the inn during his kidnapping, and nobody thought to pick it up when they went looking for him.) The Bard passed out from exhaustion. The Monk wanted to negotiate with the guards’ sergeant on the spot. The Paladin wanted everyone to cooperate with the guards and have their day in court. And the Druid wanted to attack the guards, as he believed they were just LC agents with shiny badges. And the guards really sympathized with and believed the party.

But the discussion was too much for the high-strung Druid to handle. He morphed into werewolf form for the third time that day, and charged the guards. Out of character, at the table, another player was upset about this, because of the Druid’s backstory: He had made himself a pariah and an exile after going werewolf in his home village and accidentally hurting a bunch of people, and therefore promised to himself that he would never go werewolf in a town again due to the dangers it posed to others and himself. And this was the third time today he was going werewolf. He argued that his character had been on edge all day (true), believed the guards were more LC assassins (false) and that this was the only way for the party to survive (false), and on top of all that he was emotionally unstable due to the near-death of his dear wolf companion (true). But on the nature of breaking character: My opinion is that characters are fluid. Just like my campaign adapts and reacts to the characters, the characters must adapt and react to the world around them. The Druid’s goal in life was to make reparations for the people he had infected with his curse many years ago, and that defined who he was. But based on the party’s experiences, he was changing into the hyper-vigilant “guard dog” of the party, and I thought that was extremely cool character progression.

What the party doesn’t know is that one of the assassins STILL HAS THE MEMO FROM THE LUMBER CONSORTIUM ADVISING THAT ASSASSINS BE HIRED, tucked in his pocket. Not only would their trial be a breeze, but they could actually help take down the corrupt LC head back in the other town that issued the memo!

And one last thing, as I told the group I was ending the session on that cliffhanger. As the Druid charged the guards — willfully committing a felony, by the way — the Monk moaned “The one and only thing the Pathfinders don’t accept is a criminal… now we can’t be Pathfinders…”

My players have become emotionally invested in the game. They’ve made clear enemies of the Lumber Consortium, and are now felons in one of the most just and fair countries in the world. And their goal of becoming Pathfinders is rapidly becoming a pipe dream.

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