Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

I Need To Work On My Opening Scenes.

Started by Jeph, September 30, 2003, 06:05:48 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


So, I started a D&D3e game on Sunday with a new group; three of which I'd never played with before and two of which were new to role-playing. The session lasted around 41/2 hours yet included only one combat (even though I planned on more!), and everyone, especially one of the "newbies," claimed to be looking forwards to the next session. I'm using a custom world, and going for a William Blake/Jack Vance/Dante/JRR Tolkien feel.

If such a thing is possible. ;^)

The PCs.
A'Tuin: Human Ranger 8, played by Peter K (one of the newbies). A'Tuin is a tribesman from the southern deserts whose band and family was slaughtered by a gigantic tiger demon when he was 15 years old. He has been tracking it for over a decade, and this is what's braught him up north. Favored enemies of Demons +2, Devils +1, ungodly Listen and Spot, and really connected and into the setting. Peter's loving it. We talked about his character on AIM a few nights before the game, and I tsatted him up before the actual session. Peter comes from a background of WH40K and historical wargaming.
Anderian Atomagaii: Human Wizard (Conjurer) 5/Summoner 3, played by Peter C. (Guy I Learned To Play With). Anderian lives in a not-quite-a-manse just outside of the city and is the local source of everything you ever needed to know. Has every Knowledge skill but Geography. I would have liked if Peter (having two peters is ANNOYING) had come up with more material goals for Anderian, but his local connections have sufficed to keep him interested.
Zhang He: Half-Fey Rogue 7/Ninja Spy 1, played by Wade (first time playing with him but he's got a lot of roleplaying experience, albeit with horrid GMs, oh god I let him play a ninja...with a Katana). Zhang He is a powergamed munchkin with very few connections anywhere, most likely because Wade has never played under a GM that's not a hack-n-slasher with a Me Against The Players attitude. I've decided to base Fey culture around him completely, in an attempt to get him to look at other aspects of the game. He thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace, even though we only had a single relatively easy combat encounter. I think he'll forge more connections in actual play.
Goudrealt: Human Samurai 8, played by Adrien (the other newbie and Wade's step brother). Goudrealt isn't actually a samurai, far from it--merely the champion of the provincial duchess. He specializes in the rapier and the extra skill points from the Samurai class make him quite well rounded and useful. He lives in the duchess's manor and has connections with much of the local aristocracy. Adrien claimed to enjoy the session but seemed disinterested when the spotlight wasn't on him. I also statted up his character, based on his input on strengths, weaknesses, etc. He wasn't as enthusiastic as Peter, but is eager to play again. Adrien comes from a background of LotR card play.

The NPCs
Murdok: Half umbral, half fiend rogue 2/sorcerer 6. Eeevil. Posing as an acolyte at the local church as an informant to a demon prince known as the Serapth of Two Darkened Faces, and awaiting further orders.
Duchess Daria Sophus: aristocrat 5/cleric 3. The lady of the land with a religious upbringing.
Inspector-General Jeremiah of the Sanctified Chapel: Paladin 8. Retired general now the Imperial representative at provincial court.
Father Dorus: Cleric 5. Local head of church. Bitter, bitter man.


First scene, everyone wakes from a troubled sleep at midnight, and sees a glowing sign rotating above the cathedral's steeple. Anderiann places it as a divine symbol meaning misfortune to come, and the characters first meet each other among the milling mass at the church's base. After getting permission to climb the stairway up to the steeple and with the help of a Fly spell, they investigate the symbol, and decide that it makes reference to a prohesy due to come true in 111 days about the divine compact keeping demons out of the material plane dissolving.

Peter C, having played under me and knowing my style, wants to start investigation. Peter K agrees, wondering if there's a chance it could lead to his target demon. Adrien shruggs, and Wade looks for my plot. They decide to go to the duchess's manor.

On the way they run into an acolyte of the local church also going to the manor. They ask him why, he claims for a game of chess with the Imperial representative in court. Suspicious as to why a lowly clerical trainee would be playing chess with a high official at midnight, they subject him to a number of spells, and determine that he's telling the truth. However, Anderiann's psuedodragon familiar spots a gigantic feline with wings and eyes of flame lurking on the Etherial plane near the acolyte, and A'Tuin recognizes it as his nemisis. Able to do nothing about it, they continue to the manor.

Goudrealt uses his clout to get an audience with the duchess ASAP, where they report their findings. The duchess is not convinced of the importance of the omen, and tells them to keep in touch if anything pressing happens. meanwhile, Anderiann's familiar (who has been sent to spy on the acolyte) reports that the fellow was indeed playing chess with the Inspector-General, but went to the privy and cast a spell while there. Peter C fails his roll to identify it, so they assume it's some standard Cleric spell. Goudrealt identifies the acolyte as a prized student by the name of Murdok with a Knowledge (Local) check.

They all depart for their respective homes. Goudrealt stays to chat with the Inspector-General for a while since he lives at the manor, and Anderiann catches up with the Acolyte again as he's heading to his house. He hangs back a bit and busts out a Dispell Magic, shattering the Alter Self dwoemer that the acolyte had had up and revealing him to be a half-fiend. He then slaps a Geas on Murdok with a mission of "keep me informed", tells the man to meet him at his mini-mans tomorrow, and retires.

Day two. Murdok doesn't show, Aderiann dispatches messages to the others and goes to the cathedral to see what's keeping him. There, Father Dorus tells him that Murdok has locked himself in his room for a day of fasting and prayer. The others arrive. Anderiann and Goudrealt keep the Father occupied while A'Tuin and Zang He find Murdok's cell and see what's up. What they see is unsettling: Murdok is using a scroll to Gate in a Retriever demon. He then Plane Shifts away. When he gets there, Aderiann recognizes the destination of the shift as the Plane of Shadow. His familiar informs him that the tiger is still nearby on the Etherial. They find an excavated hollow under Murdok's room and clear out a few minor demons. At this point in the session Peter K has to leave for prior arrangements.

They go back to Aderiann's place to mull it over. While there messenger comes for Goudrealt, saying that his services are required. The others decide to tag along. They are let into the duchal manor by a back gate and lead onto a wall, beneath which is a prince from a northern Barbarian tribe and three fearsome warriors. They parley a bit, learning it's safe to invite the men in as they are fleeing, not invading. The session ends when they learn that a Marilith demon has used a puppet leader to unite the northern tribes and plans are being made to invade the empire in about a third of a year.

Wow. That was a WAY longer post than I expected, so I'll finish up in a Part II.
Jeffrey S. Schecter: Pagoda / Other


Part II.

After-Game Comments
Peter C: Pretty Fun. (he's usually even less descriptive when asked for feedback, but meh.)
Wade: Fuck, what have I been doing all these years? You rock! (...NOT what I expected, especially since he didn't take a very active roll. Hmm. I must be doing something right. I'll try to keep doing it.)
Adrien: Cool. More combat might be fun. Looking forword to the next game. (Glad he had fun. He caught onto the system really well. I think statting up the characters for him and Peter K. was a lifesaver.)
Peter K. I Had to catch up with him via after the session. He didn't mind the low combat despite his wargaming background, and said he really enjoyed it. (yay!) He thinks that investigating up north next session would be fun. (something to think about...)

My Comments:

I need to put more personality into Father Dorus and the Duchess. The duchess just came across as flat, and I didn't do that great a job of playing up Dorus' adversarial stance and sourness.

So far, the themes of angelic and demonic conflict have been conveyed pretty well. Also a part I left out above about Anderiann doing some nifty scry-counterscry things with other Mages of the empire and trading for some needed Big Magic were cool scenes.

Need to work on an opening scene. It felt stiff and contrived; I've never been that great at openers. For next session, I want something that immediately plays to something important for each character and presents a variety of hooks and leads. Something to do with Murdok and the Retriever coming back from the Prime, and the barbarians heading out again to do something about the Tribes, and maybe the mage that Anderiann contacted teleporting in with a message about activity in the bordering Southern nations which are known to be demonically alligned and have a necromancial fascination...I'm thinking a series of cut scenes between the various characters.

For reference, I use a very simple, non-standard for D&D prep system in three steps:
I. Come up with important NPCs and relate them to each other and the characters.
II. Stat out said NPCs.
III. Come up with an opening scene, and maybe a set piece or two.

I've done steps I and II, but can always add on more. What I am asking about is help with step III: I need ideas to tie in all the factors in a snatching, wakethehellup opener.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Comments?

Jeffrey S. Schecter: Pagoda / Other