Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
The Favorites of Selune - Skin Deep - Session 10

In the previous session the Favorites of Selune had vanquished both the alchemist who had created the powder that had transformed them into svirfneblin and the assassin who had first applied that powder, and then tried to kill them. They also had found an incriminating letter in a female handwriting, which the commander of the guard, Prince Ular, identified as being that of his sister, Princess Taidra.

This session started with the good news that the players now had accumulated enough experience points to reach level 11. In D&D 4E that is kind of a big thing, as you go from the "heroic tier" to the "paragon tier". You select a kind of sub-class which gives you new powers and abilities, and your stats go up. While it isn't in the rules anywhere how exactly that happens, I ruled that the players would need 1 month of training for this, but all the trainers they needed could be easily found in the town they were in (or outside, in the case of the druid).

First of all the group concluded the negotiations they had been sent out as ambassadors for by the svirfneblin king. They already had done two successful rounds of negotiations on peace guarantees and trade terms, and just had the miscellaneous demands left. I left them to decide what they wanted to ask for, they drew up a list, and then their chief negotiator managed to roll a natural 20 on his diplomacy roll and got all of his demands approved.

At the start of the adventure the Favorites of Selune had just been passing through this town on their way to Moonstairs, where they wanted to find a portal to the Feywild. Now they heard that there was trouble with trolls around Moonstairs, and that the prince would soon go there with a squadron of soldiers to sort the problem out. But as they had to stay for a month to train for their new level, they still had plenty of time to investigate who was behind the murder and their transformation, with Princess Taidra being the most likely suspect.

They managed to get another document in her handwriting to compare with the incriminating letter and found that it was in fact the same handwriting. But they had no absolute proof that the letter wasn't forged, and the sorceress of the group wasn't convinced that this wasn't all some sort of setup. Different players proposed different approaches of how to proceed, but they couldn't agree on anything. So the adventure ended in a damp squib, with the group finally deciding to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. :( They left town and decided to do their training with the svirfneblin.

Unlike computer games where not resolving a story can totally block you from advancing to the next chapter, in a tabletop RPG doing nothing is always an option. Forcing a resolution by the DM risks to be perceived as railroading, which I am trying to avoid. But of course resolving the story of an adventure tends to give rewards, in addition to being a reward of its own. And as a DM I'm sure not to give out rewards for deliberate inactivity. So ultimately the evil princess got away with her crimes, defeating the players by the simple device of not confronting them head-on like many fantasy villains tend to do. Kind of disappointing, but giving freedom to the players also means giving them the freedom to do disappointing stuff.

A game month later the players returned to town, to take a boat to Moonstairs. They met Belina, the prince's secret lover, who asked them to look for Prince Ular in Moonstairs. He had gone there with his soldiers weeks ago, and after a first letter had failed to give any further news, so Belina was worried. She also told them that she had sent Beatrice, the guard of the seamstresses's guild, with the prince to watch over him.

The players found a river boat that was leaving for Moonstairs the next morning and was willing to take them. The trip was three days, and on the third day, just hours away from Moonstairs, the boat hit a hidden underwater chain that somebody had spanned from one river bank to the other. At the same time magical tentacles sprung up from the mud of the closest river bank and started to attack the boat. With this cliffhanger we ended the session.

I guess Evil Princess can reworked to be powered up and throw a wrench (possibly inadvertently) in the future. Maybe she has a "weapons" tax or something. I dunno. :P
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