Am I being too tough on my players?




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  1. #1
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    I Defended The Walls!

    Ignore MaxKaladin

    Am I being too tough on my players?

    If you play in SPQT, don't read.

    Setup:

    My players are currently playing 'special' assistants to a Senator in a Roman like empire. He's also wizard and many of their missions involve recovering various books or items of power.

    Situation:

    The players are currently on a remote island populated mostly by monsters investigating a tomb rumored to have the accumulated knowledge of an archmage. They have wiped out a 40 hobgoblin garrison set there to claim the tomb by a hobgoblin king on the island and will enter the tomb next session. They figure they're fine since they just plan to grab the books and treasure and be gone long before any reinforcements arrive. The hobgoblins will take at least a week to march there once they decide something is wrong and this kingdom is big enough to send LOTS of hobgoblins. In addition, there are two other parties trying to get to the tomb but each is at least a week behind the party.

    The catch: The archmage was paranoid. He was preparing for lichdom and did not want his books to decay or get stolen. That's why he engraved anthing important in tone in long stone corridors in his tomb. They're not portable. At least not without more tools and carrying capacity than the players have or without copying or making rubbings of them.

    This puts the PCs on the defensive with several fairly powerful forces headed straight for them. I'm wondering if I've overdone it and set them up to be killed or fail.

    The party is a Rgr 6, Clr 6, F4/T1, T6, W5.
    Max Kaladin

 

  • #2
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    Ignore WillieW
    I think the idea of having to take rubbings is intriguing. Of course, the rubbings would only garner enough information to require LOTS of reseach by their boss when they get them back to him. Naturally, they're unlikely to have come prepared with enough raw materials. Fuel for "Return to the Tomb of Big Bad".

    Have the Hobgobbo king send double the garrison to see what';s up at the tomb, then reconsider when they're half way there and add another hefty amount... Just enough for the PCs to meet/avoid on the way home.

    No need to kill em off, but plenty of scope for being besieged, hunted, etc.

  • #3
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    Greetings!

    Well, Max, unless they have access to some kind of unusual magic that allows them to make a clay or parchment "copy" of everything that is written on the walls, then there is no real way for the party to escape with such in hand. It then requires an extensive archeological operation to recover such ancient lore.

    Now, that alternative sounds fine I suppose, but the fly in the ointment is the deadly enemies that will shortly be breathing down the party's neck!

    Now, the party could choose to leave without the ancient knowledge, whicha may or may not be satisfying for *you*--It won't be terribly joyful for the party, but hey, sometimes the party loses, right?

    The other likely outcome is that the party remains and fights. Being ruthless and realistic, they fight heroically, but in the end, they are slaughtered by the forces of Darkness, and killed, utterly defeated. Time to roll up new characters!

    This option of course wouldn't be too fun for the party at all, and may in fact, certainly at this point in the campaign, with the party not having done anything especially obnoxious or stupid, not be terribly satisfying for you, either.

    Thus, I might suggest that you have some allies--perhaps a ship full of elves makes landfall, or a cave-tunnel bursts through with a tribe of friendly, dark blue Lizardmen? Allow the new friends to be allied with the party, and depend on friendships made, and careful diplomatic sessions with the players. This time here can be an important non-combat scenario for players to succeed in something other than combat. If they succeed, they gain allies who can fight with them against their enemies, struggling for the ancient caves. If they fail, and make idiots of themselves, then you have more justification to let the soon-to-arrive forces of Darkness crush them!

    The party might also be needed to help organize the friends in a carefully orchestrated defense of the area, you know? This could even develop once the forces of Darkness arrive into a series of scenarios that you develop over several sessions, with each side lurking in the forest or the jungle, having desperate struggles for dominance of the island, and for the wizard's cave-complex!

    Once the forces of Darkness are defeated--*IF*--then the party must still consider helping their newfound friends; They must organize an archeological expedition to recover the cave inscriptions, and retrieve it back to the empire. This can be as long a process as you desire, but depending on travel, should be a project of at leats three-six months, with more dangers potentially threatening the party. Still, when it is all successfully completed, the party can not only be proud of their success in battle, and the retrieval of the ancient knowledge, but the party can also present to their patron Senator, and for the glory of the empire, a new island, and a new race or tribe that is allied to the glorious empire. This island might then be safe for the empire to trade with, or travel by without worries of pirates. Either way, the empire should be quite pleased with this important diplomatic, military, and potentially economic, accomplishment!

    Does this help?

    Semper Fidelis,

    SHARK
    http://www.enworld.org/forum/blogs/shark/ and http://sharkempire.blogspot.com

  • #4
    How big and how numerous are these groups of reinforcements? Two or three groups of 50 hobgoblins if ambushed one by one could be easily wiped out by the party.

  • #5
    F4/T1, T6....
    huh?

  • #6
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    Ignore Infinite Monkey
    How about this :

    They have a week to prepare. Find a way for them to find out that all those reinforcements and other parties are going to arrive. Design the tomb in such a way that it can easily be defended from the INSIDE by a small number of people, with things like lots of traps that can be viewed/activated from one central area and the like.

    Also have a way for them to transcribe the wall writings for transport. Perhaps they find a stock of magically ageless books that will scribe what they are shown onto their own pages or something, but it takes time for the books to scribe themselves.

    Time it so that it is going to take at least 2-3 days more time than they have to scribe all the information. They then have to spend time figuring out how they are going to defend the tomb from their enemies.

    I think it would be great fun for the players to get to 'play' the tomb against the invaders. Effectively a roll-reversal, with you playing the people that want to get in the tomb and the players trying to stop you.

  • #7
    The only way to answer your question is to ask yourself:

    Do the players have a feasible way to complete their mission?

    If you think they do, then yes, otherwise no.

    Some ways they could complete their mission..

    *Players encounter an NPC with absolute photographic memory and good drawing ability. They just have to show him the tomb writings, and get him to their master alive.

    *Players find the remains of the wizard and realize they can simply speak with dead with the guy for the answers

    *A powerful magical creature offers to carry the stone blocks to their master in exchange for X (where X = next adventure hook)

    *Ninjas

  • #8
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    Ignore Kamikaze Midget
    You've solved your own problem.

    Have the PC's find some item or spell or something that will transcribe the writings onto parchment.You could have it sufficiently trapped and guarded by monsters that the Lich would feel secure, but, because of the time, many of the traps and beasts have spent far too long down here, resulting in wierd mutants and traps that might not work right, but work right when the party DOESN'T need them to

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  • #9
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    Ignore Black Omega
    And you being too tough? No, not at all. You are giving the PC's a very tough choice. Now, if your players are used to overcoming every enemy they go up against this could turn into a problem. But if they know not every enemy has to fought straight up, it'll be interesting to see how they decide.

    One thing, if the PC's retreat I don't exactly see that as a loss. It's not like the hobgoblins or the other parties will make off with the records in stone either. They'll be able to return later.

    Unless you already have people there to hook up with the PC's I'm not sure I'd add that. It's a bit of a duex ex machina(sp), and it seems more interesting to let the PC's make the tough choices and then tryu to make it work.
    Black Omega
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  • #10
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    I Defended The Walls!

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    Re: F4/T1, T6, W5 Sorry, dropped into earlier edition abbreviations. That's Fighter 4/Thief (Rogue) 1, Thief 6, Wizard 5.

    I suspect I'll go through with it, though I need to provide a better way to transcribe the inscriptions. Also, they have encountered portals/gates in magical structures of a similar age (it's one of the things their master is researching). I think I may put one in to act as a bolthole so they can eventually get away even if they can't get out, but only at the cost of having a fixed destination somewhere they may not want to go. Now, I need to figure out what that destination might be.\\
    Max Kaladin

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