I took a break from RPG things and worked on some other stuff for a while, and the group also had issues getting a real session going, so we'll skip ahead with a short look back and then move on with our lives. But first, some news from the development front! (imagine a 30s newscaster voice, please).
Right, so Digitalocean, what owns Nanobox, decided that that's not a platform they want to keep any longer and are shutting the service down. Worth mentioning is that DO bought Nanobox because they were taking market shares from DO and other bigger places, and offering a really good product (basically an abstraction layer for Docker and I don't know why I'm giving ya'll these details you don't give a shit). DO bought them, and a year later they're shutting it down and telling people to "use our NEW platform instead!" to which I say fi on that, I'm taking my business elsewhere.
What does that mean for me, the customer?
Seeing as how I was the only one that actually used my Generator generator, nothing. Nobody is affected. A few of my posts should probably be updated because they have iframes making requests to nowhere, but I'll get there ... some day.
So no generators?
Actually, I'm working on a new thing... it's not ready for unveiling right now, but I'll get to that later. It's gonna be awesome, though. All my tools are awesome, ya'll know that.
Right, with this done, let's get down to business!
(spoilers for TotSK and ASE, and some Shadowbrook Mansion; beware!)
What's up with the party?
I don't remember where I left off, but the group gave up on Tomb of the Serpent Kings after they (well, one player really) figured it was too dangerous to go on. They discovered perhaps half the map? Ish? Before running into a locked door (TotSK spoiler I guess, but the key hangs from the chain on the basilisk's neck), and a Basilisk, and a goblin that wanted to make a player into their king (the player, incidentally, who didn't want to become king because "they might eat their kings").
Anyway, they (or the leader, really) gave up on TotSK, and then the group shopped around for some other dungeon to explore. Worth mentioning is that the group's not seen all of Hole in the Oak either, again opting out of delving further because it's "too dangerous."
The group decides to make a visit to Shadowbrook Manor; as mentioned in an earlier post they had the option of going there first but didn't care to make enemies with an NPC adventuring group and so went to TotSK instead. Except, the group that went to Shadowbrook Manor left the Skeleton Closet open. There's been a steady supply of skeletons growing in that house, eventually spilling out into the grounds, ever since that group left. One skeleton every other second or so. And it's been at least a month since they left. That's 1,314,000,000 skeletons. I've been seeding the group's travels with random skeletons. Now they finally found the source; a giant WAVE of skeletons growing on the horizon. (I've decided that the skeletons are just milling about until something humanoid shows up, at which point they charge, which is why they've not gotten any further.)
The group decides that no, let's not go to the haunted mansion. Let's go to this place in the mountains where you need a magic sick rock to get in (I might have seeded ASE too).
They take off, after eventually buying winter clothes (mountains are cold) and rations (3 weeks of rations; it should take them about 10 days to get there, they figure it's fine). They also hire a guide, an old hunter/trapper named... something, I can't remember, to help them find their way.
Mother nature says it's not fine. They get caught in thunderstorms and blizzards and strange Spirit Clouds. They have to trek out of the way of a goblin raiding party. They're losing time. They find an abandoned (haunted) tower. The guide says that it's bad news and that if they insist on going there he'll return to town instead. They insist; he leaves and they head to the tower without him. Inside they get a few rooms before getting spooked by ghouls and legging it (current treasure: 9 golden rat teeth).
They make it to the mountain and to the Gatehouse (I think it's called?), and make their way inside. They find the reactor, get attacked by radioactive stirges, find some chrysoberyls (600 gp!), and then get chased by robots, at which point we need to take a break.
After the session, I tell them that I've noticed they're being super careful because it's so far from civilization and that it'll take too long to bring a new PC into the group, and that they shouldn't worry about that because I'll weave a new PC into the game at a fitting place instead.
The "leader" player is offended by this and claims I'm calling him, specifically, out and leaves the group. He also says that it feels like they're never allowed to "win." Let's talk a bit about that because I disagree.
Leaning into the game.
OSR games tend to be very lethal. I've lowered the lethality of my game, but instead crippled characters (a few have lost legs or arms). I've given no mechanical maluses for having a prosthetic leg/arm (except ya can't run) and requiring a period of convalescence. I think that's fair, right?
The group, or rather the player that left because he definitely had the "leader" role in the group, didn't care for downtime. I said, "this guy needs to rest, he just lost his leg, it'll take 6 weeks before he's on his... leg, again." And the group just "decided" that they couldn't afford to wait that long (it costs 1 gp per day at the inn).
Another character lost their arm, this time belonging to the "leader" player. He was retired immediately because again they couldn't afford to wait.
A third character lost their leg; I specifically told the group that there were no maluses (except the running) and that they'd be able to adventure as well as anyone else once they were healed up. Since the character belonged to the same player, the character was retired.
The group has, so far, scratched the surface of three dungeons. For various reasons (traps, fighting when they should be fleeing) they've retired three characters (one belonging to another player) + another character retired when the guy was told I wouldn't let him play stupid because of a low intelligence score.
The cleric has leveled; that's at least 1500gp for him alone. Given that they split the gold equally, that means they've gotten at least 1500 x 4 = 6,000 gp. Sure, they bleed money (the cleric bought a silver Warhammer, and then had to sell it to pay for a new suit of armor (lol)), but they're clearly doing fine.
So why does he feel like they're not "winning"? I dislike the "win" mentality to begin with; RPGs aren't about winning or losing, they're about telling a story together. So when I say "hey, it's fine if that guy lost an arm, he can still adventure" I'm really saying "let's keep the story going for this guy." Because I want the story to grow.
Sure, there'll be losses along the way. PCs have died, but the group's story lives. The world's story lives. I think that's where the disconnect is. Perhaps the character's story is more important to him, and if so then yes, OSE might not be the medium for him.
But at the same time, if the character's story is important to him then there's no reason to retire them. So perhaps getting a lot of gold is more important to him? In that case, he needs to lean into the fiction. Yes, the logical thing to do is to not delve into dungeons. If it's all about making money there are better ways to achieve that than going into horrorplaces that mankind was never meant to know, right? But, given the fiction (you play someone that goes into dungeons to make money), perhaps you need to lean into that instead. Delve deeper, instead. Yes, it'll be dangerous and yes, someone will die. Death is first of all NOT final (as the cleric found out), and even if it is, if you had fun while playing isn't that the biggest win?
Returning to business as usual
So that player dropped out. Luckily, I found another player that wanted to join. The group's deep in the Gatehouse (near the Simulation, for those of you who know) when he joins. Hidden behind a crystal statue is a weird sarcophagus-looking thing:
And with a big red button on it, Buffalo-Frans decides that red is a good colour because it's colourful (?) and so he pushes it.
Out steps Mangle-Manfred, a relative! But why? And how? These questions will have to wait because August-Wilhelm (the cleric) decides to open the very tempting chest, at which point the statues come alive and attack!
A brief fight later, and the group is rewarded with a gold bar (600 gp). Now they just gotta find their way out. Because the player that left held the map. They do find their way out and make their way toward civilization. On their way, they trade with two goblins (who was on their way to an orc camp to bribe the orcs with food). They buy 7 days of rations (x 6, because there are 2 henches, too) for a total of... 5 rat teeth and a lead-clad chest on a cart. The group played the encounter so well ( *whispering* "No, don't sell them the golden teeth of might, we need those!" etc) that I just went with it. Also, killing the group at this point because they starve to death on a mountainside is not ... good storytelling.
The group eventually arrived at the swamp about two days from Utböle (base camp/hometown), where they met a trader telling them that a skeleton army is laying siege to the town. "Wait, nobody told anybody about that!" one of the players asked. So it's a wrench thrown into the works, but they seem to enjoy it.
There are 2,628,000,000 skeletons across the countryside. A new skeleton joins every other second or so. I'm going to leave figuring this out to the players, lol.
The death of a clergyman
The cleric actually died in TotSK, he spent too long staring at cracks in the ceiling, and the trap came down on top of him. The player seemed okay with it, but the group haggled with the Church of Kedarr (Kedaj), a Cat of Death, and sold the cleric's soul to her in order to resurrect him (the cleric, that is). So the Cleric of Helm is now the Cleric of Helm-Kedarr, and has gotten a bunch of new clerical vows to deal with (have to push things off of surfaces, have to bury their slain enemies). A side-effect of the resurrection is that flames flicker (or outright die out) whenever the cleric is nearby; torchlight doesn't reach as far in the dungeon, either.
Definitely one for the highlights reel.