Sunday, February 1, 2015

Breaking Death

One in the morning and I've just finished my session.

I've broken a rule about my world I've never broken before.  But that's what rules are for.

Back in October, I killed the party's mage, Demifee.  And then I wrote a post about how important it was to be able to kill characters, how the chance of death had to be real, how hard it was for the player to handle the death and so on.

I need to make clear that what happened with the last session (which I will quickly recount) and tonight had absolutely nothing to do with the player requesting anything for their dead character.  I simply realized an adventure hook that could work and would build up a good sequence of events.

I had mentioned in the link above that the party was retrieving five idols.  Those idols were in the shape of religious symbols - a cross, a David's star, the symbol of the Tao, an ankh and a Zoroastrian medallion.  Without waxing on about it, the mage's death occurred in the midst of retrieving these items, making their restoration (to wherever they belonged) possible.  The party knew about the cross.  It was the cross they had gone to get.  They did not know about the other idols until they got there.

Now they have four idols and they don't know where they go (or didn't).  They spoke to a priest and the priest suggested speaking to the dead Demifee, with the chance that perhaps some information was given to her upon her death, regarding why she died and what she died for.  The party made arrangements to do this and had to wait 29 days before a cleric with the spell would cast it for them.

They spoke to Demifee in the last running.  She explained that, in the afterlife, she had been settled on the banks of the river Acheron.  There she was waiting with many others who had died in a circumstance of uncertain balance.  These were people who had died performing a great service for the gods but whom did not believe in those gods.  As such, I described an unwillingness on the part of the gods to condemn these people, but it was equally impossible to save and elevate them.  So there they would wait, without judgement, for eternity.  Unless persons on Earth 'changed the balance' of the scales.

In other words, return the idols, finish the job that Demifee had taken a part in starting, changing her fate.  She gave them a name, Hyklion, and a place, Amisos.  Thus they set out.  Amisos was not too distant, so tonight they reached it.

Hyklion turned out to be a group of telepathic somewhat supernatural monks, who were waiting for the party when they arrived.  And here is where I broke all the rules.

They agreed to return Demifee, the mage, to the semblance of life; she would not truly BE alive, but she would act and seem alive for all intents and purposes - for one year.  If, by that time, the party was able to return the four idols, the monks believed her life would be restored.  If she and the party failed, she would return to death and be condemned.  The party agreed to this quest, the monks communed with the powers of the universe and when the sun set, it was done.

So the mage is back with the party.

Cheating?  Absolutely.  The feeling of the players?  Overjoyed.  Not only the mage, but ALL the players.  Is the quest a railroad?  The party argued vigorously with me that it is not.  They argued that any time you want something, you have to take certain actions to make that thing happen.  These actions were acceptable.  They did not feel bound by the situation.

And what of allowing the return of a character that had failed resurrection?  I discussed that too, emphasizing that I did not wish for people to view this as a gateway to getting back any character that died.  This party has had characters die already; it does happen.  They were quite willing to accept that death in the future was expected to be final, that this was an intriguing one-off.

So, there we are.  Cheating for the sake of running an adventure that goes right off the usual fare.  I'm sorry I can't tell you details about the four idols or where they go - the party reads this blog.  The party did learn that "Jethro's Star," the Jewish symbol, belonged in Edessa.  For the moment, that is where they are bound.

6 comments:

Doug said...

I think this meets the definition of the "Rule of Cool."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Is it cool? That's cool.

Oddbit said...

With only one year to do it, I hope they have plans to save time... just in case.

Splitting the party? Using henchmen to do research? Magical assistance like teleportation or communication spells?

Will they make it in time? Only time will tell. Let's just hope the character doesn't die a second time mid way...

JB said...

Now THIS is very reminiscent of the way we used to play AD&D back in the day. I miss this kind of thing.

Alexis Smolensk said...

As the DM, it IS up to me what sort of game we play. I take it the above isn't too simulationist for you, JB.

JB said...

"Breaking the rules" doesn't mean your game doesn't facilitate a "simulationist" creative agenda. As you said, this isn't railroading the party into some sort of DM-created story line, nor a challenge that the players are required to answer. There is still, presumably, "cause and effect" to your game world...given the same circumstances, would the same outcome be possible in your campaign (forget about the fact that it breaks any specific rules, house or otherwise).

The simulationist agenda is about the "right to dream;" keeping submerged in a world that operates on principles separate and apart from any metagame schemes. This "twist" to your game doesn't (to me) appear to be a betrayal of the players' trust in the simulation, something that would break their suspension of disbelief.

[I don't really think of "too simulationist" as a derogatory thing, by the way...it's just a lot more work than I usually feel up to doing]