Thursday, August 31, 2017

Final Rat Quest

As the last GM in our Evil Rat cycle, I tried to tie as many plot lines together as possible. The best part was telling the players "Yeah? It gets worse" every time they recognized something and groaned.

Set Up: giant, oompa-loomp-like rabbits stole a magic water gem from an army of fish people and a magic air gem from somebody else, and have used these gems to secretly fly their 400-ft stone tower into foreign lands. They're enchanting the wellwater in towns near Rosebush to turn the townsfolk into giant vegetables for their larder. Nobody on the ground knows what's going on. The fish people have sent scouts to recover the water gem, but they don't know what's going on either, and mistake one group of furry mammal-people for the other.

Villages are empty, which makes a red herring of the psi-rat from last quest, while the weird unknown monsters and magically giant vegetables suggest treachery from Nim. I had stuff ready for anywhere the players could choose to go, progressing from garbled rumors to physical evidence to direct encounters.

How It Played: the PCs' political rival took off for the monastery the psion was in, so the PCs teleported there ahead of him. Which is fine, I expected that. Then one of the players began talking with the NPCs there as though he had existing backstory with them--he was improvising, but since I didn't know how much was improv and how much was pre-established, I was off-balance. Something I need to get better at.

This being our last quest with these characters and campaign area, I probably should've asked up front if anybody had loose ends they wanted to tie up. Nicodemus, for instance, was arranging with the monks to have his rival assassinated.

I don't think the players felt lost like they did in my city quest, but it's hard to tell. They leaned pretty heavily on Survival (tracking) rolls and I'm not sure if they considered any other way forward.

The 'boss fight' was good and bad. Bad, in that I again underestimated the PCs capabilities; it was trivially easy to stealth around picking the mob of rabbits off one by one, which means the rabbits never summoned the psychedelic dragons which would've been the real boss fight. Good, in that other members of the party were also bypassing the boss fight with fast talk and sabotage.

I knew the quest would most likely end with the PCs sabotaging the tower--they stranded it in the Elemental Plane of Air, and it can't do planar hops on its own--which I ran by the seat of my pants and it played fine. It very much felt seat-of-the-pants to me, though, and I wish I'd worked the mechanisms out more firmly ahead of time.

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