Wednesday, December 19, 2012

GM Commentary: Last Rest Episode 5:...And Through the Woods...

Same caveats as always... go read the summary of Last Rest Episode 5:...And Through the Woods...

I left a lot out of the summary and went for a NPC perspective on the outcome of the last session again, mostly because I was writing it so far after the game again (Bad GM) that my memory was not as clear as I wanted to do a straight-forward summary.  But here are some things that I do remember...

  • Once again, keeping my strategies for running DREAD in mind (minimal plot prep, heavy prep on NPCs and locations instead of events, letting player action drive the story instead of NPC action) let this episode feel looser and more fun.
  • First the PCs completed their journey to the mountain stronghold of Jarl Tryggvi Stangbern, where Hinrik bargained with the Jarl and agreed to pay one of the Jarl's debts in exchange for Tryggvi taking Carson on as a fostern.
  • While at the mountain stronghold, the PCs attended a feast where Corrie put her performance and rumor-mongering skills to work while Mercutio, having seen Trent get black out drunk less than a week before, watched over Trent but did not attempt to stop him from drinking.
  • With the players aware of Trent's problem, but never really knowing how to step up and stop him, we had a couple of fun scenes where Trent fell in with a band of young mountain warrior yahoos who wanted to prove their mettle.  So Trent, unable to really control himself, ended up holding onto scalding sauna rocks and then going into the woods to join a warrior band with some ritual branding by heating their swords red-hot in a bonfire.  Which gave @ironsolo, Trent's player, a chance to purchase some bad-ass followers, but also left him with some wounds that would not heal before the later combat.
  • After their time with the mountain folk feast finished, the PCs headed down to the woods of the Wyld Desert (desert as in ye olde timey deserted sense), where they were to pay Jarl Stangbern's debt to the master of said woods, an elf named Bearach.  As a side note, I love Behind The Name, for coming up with RPG names, but man o man am I never choosing a name again without pronouncing it to myself aloud...
  • In the Wyld Desert we had some requisite creepy elf business before the party ventured into the depths of the Woods to battle the ogre.  Once again, they quickly split into Sneaky/Non-sneaky sections and quickly rushed in without too much planning.  Unluckily for them, the Ogre got a kind of freakish 3x10 (3 dice that rolled 10 in Reign speak) on his Hear Roll eliminating for them any kind of surprise.  The other problem they quickly ran into was that the Ogre was heavily armored from the waist down, meaning that his most tender and vulnerable bits were out of their reach.  The other thing they discovered was that the Wyld in Wyld Desert also meant that their magic use and use of magical items causes random effects, making it much riskier for Hardwick, their Wind Sorcerer, to just unload a ton of lightning bolts at the ogre.
  • The fight went well, the PCs quickly regrouped and made some good strategic decisions after the lost the advantage of surprise.  They used the greek fire Bearach gave them to their advantage and Hinrik and Trent used their mass of followers to push the ogre over.  I was expecting the group would have its two sailors, Corrie and Sorina, use their sailing knot skills to make a rope trip-line or otherwise tie up the ogre.  The combat went quickly and much to my satisfaction always felt like a challenge, it never felt like either the PCs or the Ogre were ineffective.  The only disappointment was not getting to reveal one of the PCs weapons as magic as it was never used, but that will just have to wait for another episode.  On the plus side, the party is now pretty wounded, meaning I get to steal Thomas' dastardly "in search of healing" subplot.
Goals for the Next Episode:
  • Have loose plot threads come home to roost for the PCs.
  • Introduce, effectively, the city of Tribute and more of the feel of the Ashen Kingdom now that the PCs are in the Ashen Kingdom.
  • Play up Company Rolls by having half the session be time lapse and montage and having the PCs run the company over the course of several months.

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