Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why the NPCs No Longer Fish in the River

I know that DMs telling about their sessions are the second most tedious species alive (better only than players telling about their characters) but please do forgive me this indulgence.

The Place: Fantasy version of Russia, winter.
The PCs want to cross a river to get to town, but the local rusalka won't let them. She's been wronged by men her all life and now won't let any man cross the river in which she drowned. The PCs, being travelers from a distant land, are eager to prove to her that not all people suck and ask her for a quest to prove their worth. She tells them that she was kicked out of her home in winter along with her baby daughter and wants nothing more than to be reunited with her child - something that can only be accomplished if the PCs get her the bones of the dead child.

Are you positive this is your villain?

The PCs go to the death site and find a gnoll camp there. The leader of the gnolls is a fierce werewolf wielding a flail that can fell trees. They charge screaming bloody mayhem. There is a bloody battle and the PCs eventually defeat the gnolls and their werewolf leader and start looking for the old bones that will reconcile the rusalka. Meanwhile, the dead werewolf returns to its human form - a young woman remarkably similar to the rusalka.

Gnolls eating dinner, an activity deserving termination with extreme prejudice

Questioning a wounded gnoll, the PCs discover that the gnolls found a dead woman and a living baby. Believing the baby had killed its mother, a great honor in their culture, they adopted it and raised it to be the scourge of their canine deity, who in turn blessed the child with the gift of lycanthropy. At this point, the truth downs on the PCs.
Not even a bit crestfallen, and lacking any semblance of tact, they come to the rusalka and tell her "eh, we found your daughter, but we had to kill her, because she was a werewolf... sorry about that." They then dump the corpse of the daughter into the river, thus technically completing their quest.
At this point the rusalka wails about how incredibly cruel they are; to give her hope, just to dash it. Frothing and raging, she swears that she won't let anyone ever cross the river again.


  1. This is a time when the long-lost art of parley would've come in handy.

  2. I can't decide whether i would want to play one of your adult game or whether i would not want to. (leaning towards would like to, to hear the plottwists being revealed. not quite the same in a later description.)
    I guess it would be easier to avoid any "oops"-moments by always and forever talking first.
    But based on the games you've told about (and i've read about, i.e. maybe not all you've told about) it makes me wonder, was there a "good ending"? or do you have more then one scenario planned and chose based on what they do to keep it interesting?

  3. It wanted the child's body... they had a chance to give her just that. What's the problem?
    They could say they misunderstood the quest objective.

  4. They could... if they weren't heartless, tactless bastards.

    1. Ahem.
      'He who lives in a glass house shouldn't throw stones'.
      Unless, of course, you wish to tell your readers about your own character in that same campaign?

    2. You were given to DM that campaign once.

    3. You are, of course, correct. I am giving the Gods of Gaming, their due. Amen20.

    4. Back to the subject.
      Presenting us as heartless, tactless bastards, while keeping yourself from the flame, is highly unfair and unobjective.
      Again, just tell the readers of your own character in that campaign, for the sake of balance.

      I'd hate to tell them myself of your character's harassment of women/children/animals in order to convert them to your faith, especially when you have another cleric in the group with which you had not a single debate concerning faith.

  5. Erik - come to our game, it's great melancholy mixed with great mirth. Or in short - great! :)

    And yes, there is a good ending - you just have to work really hard to earn it! :)

  6. I would (they do sound interesting) but it sounds like there would be some travel involved, which i am unfortunately not in a position to do.
    Not to mention i probably should try to learn the system first and possibly make a character. Never really gotten there and the only time i got involved in a game that wasn't a munchkin-rpg i spent 30+ minutes designing my character.

    (Do you have the players make characters ahead of time when switching campaigns? if so do you have them tell you the characters ahead of time?)

  7. I'll for sure steal that idea the next occasion it fits in.

  8. ...Why did gnolls, who are supposedly related to spotted hyenas (In which, spotted hyenas are of the Hyaenidae family, which is more closer to the Felidae than the Canidae.), have a canine deity? I'm not trying to criticize if I am, I'm only curious.

    1. Do I look like a freaking gnoll to you? Go ask them.