Thursday, March 7, 2019

I think I might have broken my AD&D party Part I

I mean we’ve all been there, right?

You have a grand plan for a new plot hook, and it takes a left hand turn in an unexpected direction. Normally, these are the moments you live for in D&D, the unexpected. You do not generally expect it to break the entire game. I play a lot of different RPGs, and for most of the 4e years, I dropped Fantasy RPGs all together and focused on Indie/Story games. I learned several story troupes and tricks, the main one being, form triangles when creating relationships. My game has been running since the beginning of the school year (About 7 months), we play weekly for about 4 hours, and the occasional Saturday for 7 hours, so we have some time invested. I have a current group of six players using AD&D 2e, and I wanted to run a plot where they were at cross purposes and see how they resolve it. I assumed loyalty would win out, and personal ambition would be put aside for the greater good. I was wrong. This is how I broke my game.
I have one character, Hex, who murdered a guild wizard and was cursed for his crime. He was no longer able to use beneficial wizard magic or items, he also lost his ring finger in the process. Over the course of the game his character has become bitter, and his alignment has basically been all over the place. He is very hard to predict, one minute he is crying he wants redemption, the next he is attacking a small boy with a large sword. He constantly saying at the table, “I want my magic back…” I never bothered with it, because a) he did it to himself, b) he rolled AMAZING stats, like nothing below a 15 with multiple 18s, his character was already better than everyone, the lack of items was not hurting him.
Next, Nico comes into the equation, he is a decent character with good ideas, and very bad luck. The party constantly gives him crap, but his plans are solid, but his dice are cold. I decided to tempt him with more power, luring him into an Asmodeus cult, with the slightest boost in power. It was not too difficult to lure him, the cult just treated him with respect, and gave him the praise that he wanted. Asmodeus being who he is decided to have his agent, Nico, make an offer to Johnny. Asmodeus would suspend the curse and allow him to use magic again, but he had to join the cult, and had to retrieve a sacred necklace and get it to his agent. Did I mention he regrew his finger, but it is now a devil’s finger? I mean, how could this go wrong?

I mean who wouldn't love this guy?

The part had recently stumbled upon, and rescued a group of NPC adventurers. They decided to escort them to the next major city, and from there would part ways. One NPC Lyrissa, a Harper, had stolen a sacred necklace from the Zhentarim and fled with her party. Most of her party died when bounty hunters caught up, and that is when the PC party rescued them from imprisonment. She decided to seduce two members of the party, Remus and Thorne, to form a bond with them, hoping they would help her get the necklace to safety. Remus and Thorne are best friends in the game, and do not have a clue that they are both in a relationship with the same woman, I had to add that little touch of drama. This group actually has the necklace, and wants to keep it from evil.
Lastly, there is Wolfen and Torin who are also looking to get the necklace as well. Torin was in a relationship with an NPC named Safia, and she was kidnapped by the Sultan of the City of Brass for an old debt that has not been repaid. Torin agreed that she would get the necklace and return it to the Sultan to repay the debt, but in the meantime Safia remains locked in the dungeons of the Sultan’s palace. Wolfen is a kind hearted cleric that just wants to help Torin rescue Safia, who is a well-liked NPC by the whole party. I thought this would be a strong motivating factor for the group, but again I was wrong.

Doesn't look all that bad?

Here is how I thought it was going to play out. Each would be vying for the necklace, and they would have to make some hard choices. Their long track record together and general friendships would keep the characters from coming to blows. Eventually they would realize that a beloved NPC was trapped in an extra-dimensional prison, and would agree to help. I would lay some guilt on each of the parties about the decision they are making and off they’d go to rescue their companion, the group stronger in the end for going through this trial. Asmodeus would be angry, and thus they would have made a new enemy for me to use in the future. Once again, this is what I thought would happen.

What I got was the cultist literally wounding their friends, and telling them, “If you don’t give me the necklace, I’ll fucking kill you.” Keep in mind that character has been a cultist for under 2 days in game time and 2 hours in real time, converts are the most extreme in all religions! The party with the necklace fleeing for their lives and on the run from PC and NPC groups looking for the McGuffin. The last group pleading with both sides that their friend, companion, and lover is trapped in an inferno laden prison and that they all needed to sit down and talk. They are all at each other’s throats, and I put them there, expecting they would do the heroic thing in the end, but Satanist be doing Satan things. The actual PC holding the necklace, Remus, is now being referred to at the table as Frodo.
This is where we left the session and I think I played with my toy to the point that I broke it.  Each group has told me that they have a secret “plan” and that they want to talk with me in private. As long as this remains a game, and the players do not start fighting outside the game, I am willing to watch it burn down. Maybe at some point they will get their act together, and come back together. I did tell them this campaign would end no matter what in about 2 months, at the end of the school year. I was hoping to bring it to a grand finale, but such is life.

Actual Picture of my Campaign

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