Telengard session 18

Quite a while back the party found a treasure map among the scrolls and potions they got from the Alabaster Tower. I relied a lot, especially at the beginning of the campaign, on One Page Dungeons and similar brief encounter/adventure seed things I found online. My selection process was basically: 1) does it require little or no back story to fit into my milieu; 2) does it basically involve a dungeon that could exist as part of a mine complex, or within a city, or in a cave; and 3) is it slightly weird, breaking with the standard “humanoid lair” that so many modules feel compelled to repeat in infinite variations?

So one of the OPDs I decided I liked enough to try out was “The singing cave,” because it included an interesting mix of monsters, it is a cave, and because it had some generous magic treasures, making it feel right for a “treasure map”. The party took their usual careful and methodical approach to delving the dungeon, going so far as to stop after exploring a few chambers and send the thief back, with the pack ape, to resupply (they needed a barrel for some magical honey). They defeated almost all of the monsters and found most of the treasures, and my memory of the specifics is kind of sketchy since I took so long to write anything down.

One of the highlights that does stand out was a long argument about a Ring of Water Walking, and who should get it. When one of the fighters finally tried it out, it turned out to be a Ring of Delusion (I ignored the write-up in the DMG), which very funny results. It was especially nice to see Matt coming out of his a shell a bit, as he had been pretty uncomfortable with “role playing” in other sessions but took to playing his character’s delusion with gusto. (This is not the ring in the OPD, which the party did not find!)

An artists rendition of John, Tom, & Richard dividing loot in the early sessions

Another thing that does stand out about the session is the long debate at the start about the division of treasure.

Last time, Ross mentioned that he assumed Tom, the de facto party leader, was distributing magic items from the party loot and that no one else really had any say in the matter (although he also thought the distribution had been very fair, so it was not a complaint, just an observation). Tom decided to draw up a “charter” that would resolve how loot would be divided and how NPCs, hirelings, and intelligent “monsters” should be treated by the party (a sort of limited Declaration of Creature Rights!) This created a bit of a shitstorm as Richard thought the whole thing was devised to enforce Tom’s will and possibly screw his thief (there were clear provisions penalizing anyone for stealing from the party or hiding loot…). The rest of the players were noncommital. Tom & Richard are very good friends and have a kind of contentious relationship, so they argued fiercely for a good 10 or 15 minutes. At one point Matt asked to have his character talk to his own guild about some things while Tom & Richard carried on. Eventually there was going to be a secret ballot to vote on whether or not to vote on the charter…

N.C. Wyeth illustration from the Wikipedia Commons

I think it actually makes a ton of sense of adventurers to draw up a contract, like pirates used to do back in the golden age of piracy.
I’m actually a little surprised this never really came up in a game before in my experience, apart from pirates games. We referred to the (rather complicated) suggestions in the AD&D Player’s Handbook, but it did not really bring about a consensus. Richard didn’t want his thief signing on to a document that threatened him with having a hand chopped off or worse should he steal loot (which he’s done at almost every opportunity to date) and no one else felt strongly enough about the need for the charter for it to get endorsed. On the one hand it seems like we waste 15-20 minutes of time every session with arguments like this but on the other hand these are often very interesting interactions and provide an opportunity of role playing we don’t always get in my “all dungeoneering all the time” DM style.

Also, just to be clear, although my players argue among themselves a bit I should point out that I’m incredibly lucky to have a group of players who rarely, if ever, argue with me as DM. Looking back on my own behavior as a player I think I’ve been guilty of arguing excessively (at least when my brother DMs, which is largely because of our own occasionally contentious relationship). But anyway I’m really glad that they’ve suffered my occasional bad rulings and everything else with barely a complaint. Tom even noted that although I kill an inordinate number of PCs and hirelings, no one has suggested I’m a “killer DM” or unfair or that things are too hard. The only grumbling I can recall hearing at the table is that I don’t reduce the number of monsters when fewer players are present and that although I’ve told the players that there are other NPC adventuring parties, and that the dungeons might restock/reset themselves, neither had really been a factor until very recently. So, in effect, some griping that things are too hard and too easy? I can accept that. There was also some complaining about the feast-or-famine rewards for various dungeons, but that is the nature of the beast, I guess.

(In the end, Richard’s thief swiped several items from the main treasure hoard in the harpies’ nest. I am not sure if anyone actually signed on to the charter or not.)

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why do thief characters always want to steal from everyone indiscriminately? You can be selfish, morally ambiguous, greedy, or whatever, and still realize that your party is actually your best defense against other marks you’ve robbed.

    As far as player criticisms, mine keep talking about my “kind of dungeons.” I think what they mean is that they are dangerous and unpredictable in some ways, but I also think they (at least some of the players) are used to getting rewards (gp/xp/magic items) at the end of every session of newer games. My dungeons usually have a big score that they find all at once.

  2. […] it’s already a big step up socially from where most groups are today, because many pirates drew up constitutions to maintain peace and order among themselves, because they knew their categories between hunter and […]

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