On Which Wish?

I've been reviewing Rythlondar, which makes for fascinating reading.

The documentation of this classic campaign is unsurprisingly structured like a classic campaign. There is a veritable year of adventuring, in various sites of various depths. A slow but steady accumulation of treasure. The loss of many members of the expedition, and finally a sojourn into the wilderness to find a nymph.

They find that the nymph has the power of infinite wishes but that she was fickle. I find the final comment fascinating. I will let the text speak for itself.

"The robed man seemed pleased, and became quite talkative (though wary) and stated that the nymph lay just a few miles north of the valley, and that he was one of her friends guarding the approaches to her pool. He said she had the power of infinite wishes, but that she was fickle. Half the time the wish would be granted, the other half of the time she would utterly and irrevocably destroy the person making the wish. The highest members of the party realized that the risk was too great for them to chance, but it was decided to continue for the benefit of the lowest members of the group. Besides, the toll for passage had already been paid.

The Nymph was reached the following day, and she greeted them and offered to let anyone make a Wish. Only five members of the group elected to try a wish. First to try was Zonker, who wished for a rod of lordly might. The nymph went into her trance, blinked once, and Zonker disappeared. Unintimidated, Solstice next wished that his ancestor Equinox were alive again, and Solstice also vanished. Next Questor wished to be a patriarch, and found that his wish was partially granted and that he was now a priest. Balderol then wished for 10 points to apply to his abilities, and was dismayed to learn it would require another wish to apply the points to specific abilities. Balderol tried to apply the points and vanished. Finally Noto succumbed to temptation, being grieved of heart that he had progressed to the limits of a dwarf, and Wished that there would be no limit to how high he could go. Speculation on the possible results of the wish's wording proved moot as poor Noto disappeared with a last wave to his companions of many long adventures. Lastly, Questor, having tasted the only success thus far, could not resist another wish, and asked that the bag of holding be filled with gems. Questor's luck ran out, though, and he too vanished. By now the score was 5 persons wishing and five persons gone, with no net wishes granted, so the remaining members decided to leave. As they left, the nymph muttered that the odds were too good, and that she thought that one wish in three would be more reasonable. (!)"

Just what exactly happened there? The DM thought killing 5 (out of 5) characters was too generous, I suppose.

6 comments:

  1. Wow. The campaign sounds great, but that doesn't sound like a very fun session. Even the wishes that turned out OK were only partially granted.

    The nymph muttering at the end is the most bizarre. Is that the DM being cheeky? Are we misunderstanding? Maybe the nymph meant to change to three different outcomes: 1=Wish, 2=Death, 3=Nothing?

    I wonder how the 50% results were determined. I'm imagining a coin being flipped while the players call out heads or tails, but it could have been anything. Was it some strange exotic method, or a simple die roll that sealed the fate of those five characters?

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  2. "Half the time the wish would be granted, the other half of the time she would utterly and irrevocably destroy the person making the wish."

    It was a sucker's bet right there; everyone making a wish got what they deserved.

    The DM is certainly being cheeky in the end as was the nymph, I'm surprised the nymph wasn't slaughtered in revenge.

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  3. 'The campaign sounds great, but that doesn't sound like a very fun session.'

    OD&D is fun for people who grew up on AD&D and who are like addicts, always seeking a stronger dose of stimulus.

    I grew up on AD&D but I moved away from it; I don't think OD&D sounds fun. But destroying a bunch of characters is pretty much how OD&D is supposed to go. It's not my notion of fun.

    It sounds to me that the DM had already figured out that he would just pretend to roll the dice and then kill the troublesome characters regardless of what the dice said.

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  4. Destroying a bunch of characters is *not* how it is supposed to go.

    Playing where there is a real risk of loss is.

    @postgygaxian, if you just want to play in some game where you get a wish, why not just write a story, or sit around and tell each other how cool whatever you just came up with was?

    The DM explicitly gave the characters the chances that it would be successful. Anyone who would risk their character on that is taking a suckers bet - but it's meaningless unless there's a real cost.

    The idea that someone would fudge results, or pretend to roll dice is anathema to an OD&D or old school game - that's something that comes from the set where nothing bad can every happen in the service of the story.

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  5. I didn't have a chance to read the source material, but is it possible that the Nymph's muttering is an allusion to the possibility that the wishing characters actually recieved what they wished for? Zonker was teleported to a Rod of Lordly Might? Solstice taken back in time to when his ancestor lived? Noto transcended his earthly dwarven form?

    Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I learned as a player to always be careful what I wished for, and as a DM to always give the players exactly what they wished for, no more and no less.

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