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[Paladin 40K] #2: Nurgle (why did I feel bad?)

Started by Christoph Boeckle, September 08, 2005, 05:54:55 PM

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Christoph Boeckle

Following on this AP-report, here comes the second mission.

We left combat behind and delved into some more "political" complications.

Three things I really need to get straight:
1) The use of the rules. I keep forgetting the Code. I could probably also use some more dice rolling (I mean, rules are supposed to add to the game if they're well designed).
2) My Bang-fu. Still don't know if I could come up with better bangs or if it's just the players that kind of do what I thought they would (then again, I know these guys since over 8 years...)
3) Why I felt bad at the end of the game.

One new player joined (PC: Divicos). One player was out (PC: Sinistralis).
Divicos is oriented towards psi-powers. He seeks to further his power over all things.
Soft spot: he will go as far as to use the power of chaos against chaos itself (which is a huge blasphemy).
Kicker: a superior contacts him, concerning the use of chaos-relics for the combat against the demons.

#2: Nurgle, the cleansing of Berenice

Begining situation (dealings with the order)
Basically, this is an introduction to two new NPCs (superiors).
One is blatantly eager about using tainted relics to fight demons, and scolds the PCs for the destruction of the Ogronov IV relic. The other one understands that the PCs did their best.
Frater Nis sides with the "nice" guy later on (who speaks of a possible advancement for Nis...), whereas Frater Divicos seems intent on working a bit with the "dark" one.
Frater Solfatis is called to the defense of his two comrades that are accused of Heresy (manipulation of a tainted relic). All he can do is to talk about them in a positive way. The one accusing those is our dark superior, Pater Aurelis-Fidelis. (How can he accuse someone of something the PCs know he desperetaly tries to do? And this is also the guy who contacted Divicos...)

The mission
The PCs are to investigate a mysterious epidemy of pest in the part of the slums of a huge city named Berenice. It is especially lethal, and nothing can be done against it. Except that some people said to be chaos cultists seem to resist.

When the PCs arrive it is quite obvious that nothing is done by the Imperium to help the poor. The local priest locked himself up in his church, so as to keep out the pest.
They investigate a bit, see that little demons are spreading the pest and then meet with some locals who chase those demons.

These locals are heavily infected, but still they act as healthy people would. They are suprised at the sight of the massive Grey Knights, but they soon understand that they both fight for the Emperor. The players at this point are a bit uneasy. Are they really the cultists they have to execute? They're helping their community after all, and in the name of the Emperor!

They decide to follow them to their leader, who turns out to be another priest who took to the underground to better fight off the demons, who he says not only corrupt people physically, but also in their hearts (the survivors on the surface all scavenging for themselves instead of fighting the demons together, etc.)
This priest has heard the Emperor himself in his dreams, and learned a blessing from him to resist the illness. This blessing is bestowed once in a ritual, to which the PCs are invited.
This guy might be nice, but he definetly is a heretic, according to the players. It all looks like he is manipulated by the forces of Nurgle (disease, decay, etc.)

They ask him to gather all his disciples, so that they may organise a plan all toghether (at this point, it is almost clear that they will execute them at that point). Here I asked for a Social vs Social check, so as to bluff the priest. One Faith point was spent and they succeeded well.

In the meantime, Solfatis and Divicos go back to the surface, to check if the heretic really was a priest. They stumble upon a little girl, free from disease, who asks them if they had seen her dad.
The players go like "Ahh, cute". Divicos says he can't help her, but she follows and tries to grab his hand. He takes it! The player just couldn't break her heart :) (And this is where I should have used the Code, but forgot...)

After that, the PCs are back in the underground. They know they deal with a genuine priest, so they're not quite sure what to do. They're ready to let a hail of fire loose as soon as they get confirmation that the priest is corrupted. And yes of course, he is tainted, the ceremony of the blessing clearly shows it.
So they burn down the place, but not before the priest got to yell something like: "Your old ways will never save humanity!"
Frater Nis mocks him and beheads him.
The player get 7 Faith points each. All of them are disgusted to be rewarded in this way, just for doing what they where told.

Finally, they take off, and bombard the whole area to make sure the demons are vanquished.
A sad little girl watching the sky as the sound of falling bombs gets louder and louder ends this session...
(None of the players where especially proud at this point, one going as far as jokingly saying "Come on, you can't do that!".)

After that, I felt bad. I pushed the players to atrocity, and they did it. Maybe I should take care next time I prepare a campaign, so that the stakes aren't as high.
Or maybe, and I hope that's the answer, I'm just not used at being moved by ingame events!

The players thought it was a great session, so I'm quite proud (a big thanks to the Forge for my succesful reorientation in roleplaying!)
I haven't had the chance to talk with all of them, but those with which of them didn't feel bad. They say I take the game too seriously.

I didn't clearly outline the bangs in my report, but I think one can see quite a few situations which are really ambiguous. There was quite little downtime (we played about 3.5 hours).
What I'm afraid of is that the whole setup of the game makes the players just react to these situations as their characters are expected to do in the order. But maybe it's their choice. After all, I keep repeating that if they want to break away from the order there is no problem at all for me to continue the campaign.

And then there's the fact that we hardly used the rules, but I don't really know if I'm missing on anything (any advice from Paladin veterans?)

I'm not sure if this AP has all the necessary information. I tried to cut down in size, as the previous one was quite long. If anybody needs more info, I'd be glad to blabber on.
If anyone goes "Hey, typical of someone not used to Nar kind of games", please speak up :)


QuoteAfter that, I felt bad. I pushed the players to atrocity, and they did it. Maybe I should take care next time I prepare a campaign, so that the stakes aren't as high.
Or maybe, and I hope that's the answer, I'm just not used at being moved by ingame events!

So, let's delve into this a bit.  What exactly did you feel bad about?  Did you feel like you failed your players somehow?  Or were you unhappy about how game events played out?  Was it the feeling that you get at the end of a sad movie, where you're thinking, "That's horrible"?  Or was it something else?

This is important.  If you're feeling like the fate of the town was terrible, then congratulations!  You've been moved by events in play.  That means that you care about what's happening.  Apparently your players do, too.  After all, why would one of them feebly object?  Now, I'm assuming that he wasn't objecting to being railroaded, but that he acknowleged the logical outcomes of the actions of the characters but didn't like it.  If that's so, then that's good!

Now, it might be a good time to have a chat with your players to see if they are still interested in going this route.  But if they are happy with how the game is going, then I wouldn't have any complaints.  As human beings you should feel bad that you slaughtered a village and killed a little girl.  It's the Knights who are messed up...or are they?  Can't evil wear a pleasant guise?

Remember to keep the moral issues up front, but be careful not to mistake "moral" for "emotionally manipulative".  A little girl in the middle of the carnage works in small doses, but if there's always a little girl/cute puppy/fuzzy kitten, then the cheese-o-meter will begin to flutter.  Instead, you might want to consider an encounter with Chaos Marines next, which could be Anti-Paladins.  However, allow them to be more human than is normally allowed for.  Think about it like this.  These are beings who were once human but strayed from the Code.  Why?  "Just because they're eeeevil" isn't a good enough reason.  What if Warmaster Horus saw what the Emperor was doing to humanity and truly believed that Chaos was necessary to keep humanity free?  (Think of the Shadows of Babylon 5, for instance.)  What if the Traitor Marines started down the path to darkness because of love?  What sorts of deviation from the Code are acceptable?  Is there another way?  These are the questions that you need to raise with your Bangs.

A movie that you might find helpful for further inspiration is "Equilibrium".  In a lot of ways, the Grammaton Clerics of the movie are similar to the Grey Knights; they could be Paladins in their own right.

It sounds like you are on the right track here.  I'm looking forward to hearing further play reports.
Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown

Christoph Boeckle

Yeah, I guess it was the same kind of feeling like after a sad movie (but I'm quite bad at identifiying my feelings). Nevertheless, I'd love to see the players wreck up the order and do something they like, instead of resting on the basis of a fictious setting. Their direct superiors have in the meanwhile been established as more or less subtle heretics, so we'll see what comes of it.

Right now, the big issues are "immersion" and player freedom (what can one do in the name of playing one's character without disrupting the game).

If I find the movie you mentioned, I'll definetly take a close look on those Gramaton Clerics.

We already played mission 3, which will be posted soon.

Thanks for the ideas and reply (even the points I didn't specifically respond to where welcome)!