Author Topic: Christmas session experiment  (Read 80 times)

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Offline Drul Morbok

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Christmas session experiment
« on: December 22, 2018, 08:27:44 AM »
Hi, I just wanted to share an idea for an adventure I might be running these days - it mainly consists of two aspects:

First of all, the session starts with the characters knowing nothing about themselves - from what they can tell during the first hour or so, they just got magically resurrected from death, in a facility where such tasks are performed quite often. They will be told that loss of memory, or illusionary memories, are a common condition after resurrection, but that they will soon be remembering it all, I.e. them being three out of eight generals of The Mercenary Fortress, the worldwide center of power and authority.
Top elite stuff, but without memory and with reduced access to abilities. And they died on a failed mission.

The second aspect is dividing the playing day into "system phases" of at most one hour, where players will be sitting around a table and mostly roll dice according to the D&D system, and "free phases" where everyone can either do out-of-game stuff like shopping, going for a walk, cooking, doing online stuff - or or engage in free roleplaying not tied to any system.

The second component is important, as the "amnesia twist" leads to lots of doubt, intrigue and so on:
For example the question will rise if they really got resurrected, or if they got brainwashed and tricked into believing this. Also the eight generals are constantly scheming against each other and following their own agenda. So the players will have to decide whom they trust (or mistrust least) - there is no "right" decision within the setting.

In short, here is what I hope to gain from such a setting:
- Eliminating the impact of the real world of the players: If the characters talk about atoms and molecules, or about feminism, or about burgers and tacos...well, it's just their "memories from afterlife" and it doesn't matter if such things do exist or are plausible within the game world.
- Similarly, eliminating "knowledge spoilers"... If players find a dead body with a hole in the empty head, and ask things like "does my character know of mind flayers?", I could even give them the monster manual and say " If you want to, that's what you think you remember, but it might be false memories ".
- Steering character knowledge by having them "remember" something, eliminating the "wouldn't the character have known this from the beginning?" question.
- Moral issues. The Mercenary Fortress is definitively no "good-aligned" organization, and the generals the characters are playing where rather unscrupulous and callous in their "former lives". Will the characters at some point question their orders, or will they cast aside all moral quarrels as temporary side effect of resurrection amnesia?
...

Maybe it would be helpful to give an example of how the adventure might run:
The game start at the resurrection site, which is not within the Mercenary Fortress. After being told what they need to now, they are sent back to the fortress on their own on a dangerous path, leading to some d&d combat scenes. They will also be ambushed by an other general, but after defending well enough, the general will casually stop attacking and jovially state that this time, they sure got back strong. He will claim that it is quite normal and even accepted to attack the newly resurrected - should they be killed, it is only because the resurrection left them weak, so it will be like better luck next time. In fact, generals are fighting each other regularly and they are all about manipulating, blackmailing and tricking, but the stability of the system relies on them not actually killing each other - well at least that's what the attacking general is claiming.

At the Mercenary Fortress, they will learn that the Mercenary Fortress is led by a commander and the eight generals are directly subordinates to him, and that he is calling them together for a mission briefing.
It will turn out that the commander is a priest of Tiamat, and is wielding an extremely powerful black scythe, an artefact of his Deity... or a least used to, as he will open the meeting by stating that Tiamat is testing him by taking away the power of the scythe, and having him prove his worth as commander on his own.
So he is openly asking "now answer me: Who is your commander?".
After some talk, one general claims that he is not willing to follow a weakened leader and charges the commander - who still seems able to slay him easily by grappling him.with one outstretched hand and make the attacker's body pulsate with his heartbeat that gets more and more intense, until with a final beat fountains of blood are squirting from his nose, eyes, ears and so on, instantly killing him.
Another general will claim that such cheap blood magic will not work on him (he might be a lich), and will also attack, but be hit by some arrow that first liquifies and than evaporates his body. Behind the commander, there is a black cloak of vaguely human shape, and without turning, the commander smiles a funless smile and states "oh well, I never thought I might be thankful for knowing an assassin behind me".
The cloak speaks in a deep voice "Nothing is too dead to be killed by an assassin. As to your question, I wanted to mention that I hereby renew my vow of loyalty, oh my commander. Who is against you, is against us".

The commander will conclude that he considers his question fully answers, and if no one else is still doubting (he is looking around, but everyone seems to agree), he will now be telling them the mission.

After that here would be the " free phase ".
The commander's mission is open about how to achieve it. The players can walk through the Fortress, search for equipment, allies, intrigue, and so on.
They can try to form an alliance against the commander and the assassin, or they can defend them against others who might. They might like the commander but fear that right now he is owing the assassin a favor, thereby endangering the balance of power among the generals.
Or they might just care about their mission...about which I might soon be writing more, but right now all that matters is that the mission will include lots of d&d dice rolling again. It will also be influenced by some decision the players can make in the free phase.

I hope my intension is clear - otherwise feel free to ask.
I think I will be writing more on it soon.

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Christmas session experiment
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2018, 05:26:09 PM »
Sounds like a fun adventure. I like the premise. I like your description of the Mercenary Fortress, the commander and the general setup. Having them doubt their own memories and knowledge is a nice twist. I think your players will have a great time.

I have also toyed with the idea of an adventure that starts out with the players waking up with no memories or knowledge of who they are. Of course, in my adventure, they are immediately thrown into a dangerous situation and are unsure of their own abilities and so forth and are forced to work together to survive.

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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Christmas session experiment
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2018, 07:05:32 AM »
Yeah, I do remember you mentioning the idea of the characters waking up naked in a cocoon on an alien spaceship or something alike, the players having empty character sheets. I liked the idea very much and wanted to do something similar.

Another inspiration was the computer game "Planescape Torment", especially the idea of the protagonist being immortal and waking up in the mortuary initially and after each player "death", the latter one being another aspect I could use when I play a campaign in my setting.

I hope I won't be too lazy for a summary afterwards...anyway I came up with another twist I want to play for long - ingame time lapse.
The commander will decide that from now on, 4 generals will be enough, so the 3 players and the remaining NPC generals will have to fight until 4 remain. I might have to fine-tune the numbers and think about whether the assassin will remain a general or become a puppet master in the background.
In any case, it will become some kind of macabre game of rats in a barrel, that either starve to death or feast upon each other (I imagine that the lich general, who was killed by the assassin, is responsible for the resurrection process, so for now, dead means dead).
And the " free phases" might be used to "fast-forward the story 5 years". Quite obviously, the reduction in number of generals will create a power vacuum in the game world, and the players can imagine how their characters will fill it over the years.