Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A PC is Killed and I Find it Refreshing

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. - Thomas Jefferson

The PC's had chosen their fate. Three paths of adventure I layed before them and they argued, debated and settled on a course of action. I had lightly prepped each course of action ahead of time so I would have baked-in player agency. Mostly being; if I am using one cool idea on this track, and different ideas on the other the player's choice actually makes a difference. It forces me to stretch my imagination to come up with different themes, locations and adversaries. One way to overcome the face-melting monster is not encounter the face-melting monster. It is also fun to come up with choices which have subtle and not-so-subtle possibilities and opportunities. The game is Clockwork & Cthulhu so the choices are not as easy as deciding which will net the greatest haul of treasure. The PC's have cultivated relations within the campaign and I like to think their choices are being made upon in-game motivation originally instigated by themselves. I only have to serve up grim opportunities of death and terror, the PC's take care of the rest.

It also makes the death of a Player Character "easier" on myself. I want my players to enjoy themselves and I want the "good" guys to win, but I don't want it easy and I want misfortune to befall them because the trail is hard and the dice impartial. By gosh if a PC is laid low, takes that last earthly breath choking on a confluence of their own blood I want the blame to be laid at the feet of the adventure, not a rail-roady GM gloating over getting one over on their players.

PC's built on the Renaissance system look pretty robust on paper. This is tempered actually by the fact the NPC's end up just as tough. I'm using one of the optional NPC rules to give the PC's better chance surviving combat damage than their adversaries. Basically if they damage an NPC who is in negative Hits it is a kill. If they cause a Major Wound which takes an NPC into negative Hits I roll a Grave Wound instead of Severe. 

In this last episode which resulted in a character death the party had survived their encounters with the big bads and through their judicious use of guts and wit achieved their goal and were set to move on to the next horrible situation complete with concerns and loose ends. The group was worse for wear, and feeling the pinch of time pressure lets just say getting stuck on a boat for three weeks, even if financed by a satanic sorcerer, seemed like a welcome break. But they got into a fight. This was going to happen. Maybe if they pushed on through the night, no I would have had the encounter. Sometimes you just need to have a guy with a gun come in the room. Granted this "guy" stepped into a bear trap the PC's had laid out so there was one NPC buggered from the start. Pistols, axes and clubs, Cut-throats and oaths! It was four on three, the enemy had numbers as well as higher Close Combat skill than any of their opponents they have crossed yet. The NPC's gun combat was kind of shitty, but the dice are cruel. One of the NPC's did miss with hand to hand attacks, three 99's in a row, but still a PC went down with a knife to the heart.

What is refreshing is the game turns on the play of the PC's and now relationships and dynamics are in flux. I like to think a PC has meaning in the game when their special light can be snuffed out at the turn of a die. From my end of the table I see players going from ah shit I need to make a new character to cool I can try something else. Then comes the work of slotting the FNG into the existing group, the current band of brothers, which have soldiered together for years. Doesn't matter they all have been playing together for years, their new PC is still the FNG. 

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