Session Thirteen

A strange mystery
sacrifice of a small girl,
who would have done this?

Find the murder,
what's this, Elimen, oh no!
The demons are us!

So this session begins with the attack on the Bullywug Soldiers of Rexxor the Maul. The battle contained a few surprises - the land entrances were warded, paralyzing several members of the party. When the party crossed into the lake, they discovered pet Alligators. And on the second round of combat they Bullwugs unleashed a captured Hydra on the party. Although there were several close calls, there were only a few deaths. Several of their Lizard Man allies were killed and Petrus died.

I italicized and underlined the name, because since his creation Petrus the gnome-titan fighter has been in a strange limbo. He is both a player character and and a non-player character (but not a monster) because he was rolled up a a potential player character. A potential player character is a rolled up henchmen to help mitigate the death of a main PC, to assist "getting back into the game" instead of having to start at level one. His death was strange also - one of the henchmen (Smoke Soames, a party favorite) received a critical hit to the top of his head. Not wanting him to die, one of the players pulled out a coupon, that allowed him to accomplish an outlandish task, and inserted his shield between the blow. The maul (because what other weapon do members of a tribe named Rexxor the Maul use?) Slid off and caused the same critical to the head of Petrus. And so he met his death.

They examined the camp after the battle and learned that indeed Bullywugs are repugnant. I gave lurid descriptions of the horrors that they found. Initially I gave little thought to the fact that I was going to mention the rape and other enormities that they committed, but I was reading this thread over on the pathfinder boards about DM horror stories, and a surprising number of them were about DM's inserting lurid material in a game. So before the game started I asked if anyone wanted me to turn on a filter for the descriptions of such horrors. The group however seemed ok with it.

I'm finally starting to feel after a year of gaming with these people and thirteen games into this campaign that I know them a little. As in I'm starting to understand who they really are, as opposed to who I perceived them to be.

After the battle, they looted and destroyed the camp finding fourteen human corpses, dozens of dead Lizard Men and Gnoll corpses, and  only a single living human prisoner, an old old woman who they could not understand when she spoke. They then followed the Lizard Men, back to their home camp. The journey was somewhat uneventful, with a bit of sightseeing on the side.

Two wildly divergent bullet points here:
  • I must be running in the only campaign in the world ever in the history of gaming, where when the party gets a hint that somewhere is "Dangerous" they resolutely vow to never venture there. I mean, we're playing Dungeons & Dragons, right? They are supposed to be adventurers. I just don't know what gives.
  • I discussed tonight that "I talk to much". Every player AFAIK has been greatly enjoying almost every session. But the other week I mentioned that getting run out of town wasn't a bad thing because it wasn't that long until circumstances would have conspired to force them to remain mobile anyway. Several of my players mentioned that this gave them extremely negative feelings, and it was in some substantive way 'less fun' if that was 'taken away from them'. I totally listen to my players and their thoughts and feelings, but this was about an event that hasn't happened yet.
    I run a game powered to the extreme by player agency. If I give them five options, and they pick option six, then it is definitively different then the other options. They are in control of their destiny, and their choices matter. I also never fudge. However I'm finding that when I let them in on certain behind the scenes decision making processes even though 5 out of 7 of the players are highly experienced Dungeon Masters it is destroying their ability to suspend disbelief. I can't talk to them as my peers when I am running a game they are in, because when I am running a game, I am not their peer. I'm their Dungeon Master. A responsibility of facilitation and adjudication that I do love, but in so doing, separates me during the game. I cannot fulfill my duty or responsibility to them at the same time as I'm their buddy.
    I've always had a huge problem with authority, and this is a very very very difficult thing for me to cope with. It's why I have such a hard time being quiet - I am simply not comfortable with the detached aspect of running a game. So I'm going to work on it. I told them I'm putting the screen up from now on.
  • I mention this 'talking too much' point because I avoided mentioning that there was only one person left alive because of how long it took them to find the Bullywug camp. At the start all of those folks were alive, and as time passed they slowly died, one by one. The list of missing people was the very first thing they saw when they got off the boat.
While at the Lizard Man camp, they talked with the chief, A'haz'vit and he welcomed them, boasting of the glory of the Hightide Fen Clan, and thanking them for their help in fighting the Bullywugs. He offered them shelter and (free!!) training. Everyone took advantage of the offer. The most important thing is that everyone took advantage of the training to learn Ophidian, the language of reptiles, snakes, and amphibians. Being a very common language here in these parts it greatly increased their ability to communicate.

Further discussion with A'haz'vid and one of his expedition leaders named Qui'pid informed them that they no longer needed to attack the Bullywugs any more because they had "won". And if they ever "lost" by having the Bullywugs attack again, they would strike back and "win" again. They laughed that strange lizard laugh at the suggestion that they attack them again - they've already won! They also discovered they were "stupid" for building their city on the coast. Everyone knows that the coastal cities are all destroyed by "Sea Demons". They asked if these "Sea Demons" were "Fish People" and they were laughed at. Fish aren't people, silly humans.

At this, with a base found, and information gained, we called it a night.

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