Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Session Report (a First for me)

Last night I played the third game of my new campaign over skype with my girlfriend, D, and her roommate, Q. She's not primarily a gamer; he is. I skyped with my tablet (a Nexus 7), but something was wrong with the sound, so I had to call her up on the phone as well. With headphones, this wasn't so bad.

They had encountered Lilanni, a young woman who, by birthright, should have been the high priestess of the main Temple in town; there had been an attempt on her life as an infant, and so she had been spirited away, returning now just before her 21st birthday to claim her rightful place. The current high priest, her half-brother, knows he is not the true heir, because the ordaining ritual is designed to kill impostors; one must place themselves bodily in the arms of the statue of the God, and if the arms magically embrace them, they are proclaimed the High Priest/Priestess. Pretenders, however, will be crushed.

They approached the Temple in disguise; Lilanni was polymorphed into an old man, so nobody would suspect her. The Temple had ceased to function as a holy place since the false priest was instated three years ago (on the death of their father), but if the true heir set foot in the premises, it would be cleansed immediately, which it was. This alerted the magician in service to the Pretender, but the entryway to the Temple is a place of public business so there was a crowd to hide in.

Long story short, they got into the restricted areas of the Temple, charmed a guard and disguised D's thief as an acolyte, and discovered that there was a faction (as per Alex Schroeder's recommendation) who knew the High Priest was an impostor and was waiting for the True Heir to be revealed. But the folks who wanted the Impostor in power included the Emperor, and so a coterie of city guards just happened to be at the Temple that day...

The interesting thing about this session was, it was almost entirely role-play. By that, I mean there was no combat, and little skill use except for one successful pickpocketing roll by D's Thief character. I attempted to use the process outlined at Hackslashmaster and later fleshed out with his (overpriced, IMHO) supplement, On the Non Player Character. I quickly found out two things: one, the method Campbell describes to create an NPC is fairly slow if you try to create a personality type ahead of time; two, and as a consequence of this, it's easier and relatively painless to decide on-the-fly if, say, bargaining will fail or succeed automatically, or what the NPC will do once he/she arrives at their final disposition.

Since none of the NPCs died in the course of this interaction, I can use the experience later to flesh them out, if they survive the combat that is all but certain to erupt next session. I'm going to give my players a handful of NPCs to command (more or less, depending on morale rolls), and play against a numerically superior force. We'll see if there's any tricks up their sleeves.


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