Handcrafted Heroes 2: The Death of Bonda

Last week, I rambled and ranted about making Bonda K’dock, my barbarian in a world of super heroes. Well, after all that effort of the post, and a week of rebuilding him from scratch, I regret to inform you, my reading public, that Bonda is DEAD.

Well, okay, not dead. That’s a bit of an overstatement. But, as if he were dead, he’s not going to be played for a while he’s dead to the campaign, and might be dead to the group, I don’t know yet.

So I spent some thought cycles this week rebuilding our meat wall. I changed his class, altered a few of his powers, and, in general, made him very, very, scary. In melee, at least. I think I’m the only person in the party really speced for DPR. There’s a gun guy who might be, but I’ve yet to see him put out anything other than a 2d6. His turns are a bit frazzled, though.

So, previously in game, the party went to the BBEG and had a showdown with him. For some reason. And Bonda almost died there. Repeatedly. It was really bad, as the baddie was prepared and we were not. If it wasn’t for our pacifist healer, the fight would have ended way earlier.

There is a sentence in that paragraph that is really key to how this group has been doing its superheroing. “For some reason.” I had thought it was just, well, laziness, on the party’s part when my first character was brought in. I assumed that everyone had a grasp on the plot and they just didn’t want to explain it. It was fine, I had already spent 2 hours of my D&D time making a character, I just wanted to play and not worry about things like plot and stuff.

It turns out, that wasn’t what it was. Maybe it’s the group. Maybe it’s the DM using this Mythic generation tables, so its hard to really see the plot as a straight line. I don’t know. I vaguely recall our group in ND being like this when I first got there, passively taking whatever plot the DM was serving. It took a while to liven that group up. Like years. Although a good part of that was being dormant and growing as a player until I realized there was a problem.

So during the first combat that I saw in this system, a PC got trapped by a mob and died. I think a vague revenge was what I had worked my character around to for the fight with the BBEG.

So there I was (or rather, Bonda was), repeatedly paralyzed and really, being the only one doing damage (probably an exaggeration). And I was in trouble, as 3ish has Stat damage, which I had thought of as “a system I would probably hate”. Turns out, I was right. So each time I was hit, it was easier to hit me. and I was spending progressively less turns actually fighting and more just lying there. We were losing and it was time to cut and run. (interestingly enough, like our ranged support had already been doing. Huh.)

I was satisfied. This was a good death. It was a sub optimal death, as my vanguard for the afterlife was only some slime zombies, not desirable if you want to rule in Death, but I was in combat and holding the line for a retreat is a good enough death. There is honor there.

And, from a meta perspective, I was fine with it. My character didn’t fit well, was rough around the edges, and you know, all that stuff from last week’s article. So if this character died, I would be cool. I had a replacement character at the table already, and since Bonda’s powers were all tied into his sword, I had a story seed of a young kid finding the King’s blade and being able to have a character with power beyond his years. Also, a modern day barbarian. Would be neat.

But, as much as I was for it, another player refused to let me die. And, reflecting back on it, the annoying part is not that the character wouldn’t let me die, it’s that the player wouldn’t let me die. Important distinction.

One of the Comps the game has is called “Mercy.” I concede that it does have solid roots in comics, where people don’t kill. I counter that with the fact that very few people have extended that same courtesy to us. In fact, I contend that the only reason people in my party have it is it looks like a good chunk of change in exchange for a minor penalty. (And I think Minor is the right term. I know if I was running a game and someone had such a drawback, I would rip them over the coals. Honestly, I did that once even when I wasn’t DM. Keith will still shake his head and mutter “You bastards” whenever he hears the name “Maria.” That’s how you do it…)

I can’t remember how subtly I voiced my thoughts on Bonda’s death. Maybe I was super obvious, like I thought I was. Maybe I wasn’t conveying my thoughts at all. I dunno. That’s an outside my head thing. But I do know the result: my character was trying to make a final hold-the-bridge stand, and other characters weren’t letting him.

One of the things that turns me off in a work of fiction, be it TV, books, or our favorite collaborative fiction hobby, is when a character make a choice that has consequences, but then the consequences do not occur through what is obviously “DM fiat” (or writer fiat, as the case may be).

This DM fiat of removing consequence for choice  made me stop watching Dr. Who. I had enjoyed the show, but there was a season where every choice the companion made did not matter. And it really frustrated me as they were hard choices for the character to make. When a character chooses to sacrifice themselves for others, let that happen! Make it a glorious moment.

One of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars expanded universe was had a choose your death moment. There is a war on and the good guys are retreating and a jedi named Ganner decided to by them time, picks his spot, and does a holding action that not only buys the time needed, but the enemy respects his valiant and insurmountable effort that he ends up being worshiped as a god.

That’s the kind of holding action I would love to do. I have NEVER played a game of D&D where that was able to happen. I’m not sure if it’s the splitting the party phobia, or just how the game is designed. I will say that if any of my players looks at the board and wants to sacrifice himself for the other characters to get away? I will 102% allow that. And, I will defend that player if people try to dissuade him. (And I will TOTALLY kill that character in a cut scene. Maybe a roll to see effectiveness, but even on a 1, I’d let him buy some time.)

So, there I was, unconscious on the floor as the party negotiated our surrender. I would have protested, but I was unconscious. And so, our tails between our legs, we swore an oath of “Let’s not meet again” and they dragged me away as the doctor kept my sword. I was not happy, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

Two weeks passed. Upkeeping 2 characters in this system is a lot of work, especially when they are as involved as mine. So as we had just leveled, I focused on my 2nd character and left Bonda to chill for a week. Which brings us back up to the top of this article.

Bonda was back and looked scarier than ever, even without his super-sword. Due to my other character being captured, we were planning a heist on a museum to grab an artifact to use in trade.

Heists are tricky in D&D. You need the right party, the right DM, and the right ‘job’. I think we were rocking maybe .3 Oceans, even after a new character was brought in specifically for the heist. Even. After.

Planning was gruesome. This is where the DM can shine, but also the party. Both sides need to be flexible. Players need to come up with crazy ideas to flesh out into plans. DMs need to be quick supplying useful facts, and adjusting their location and bad guys to accommodate the plan. (NOTE: they should not be countering everything. the players try. This should also not be a cakewalk. Walking that thin line is what makes the DM good.)

I am a very narrative player. I’m in it for the story and the story beast. Rolling randomly to determine if a thing exists for EVERYTHING does not scratch that itch. Being a party of convenience does not scratch that itch. I really want my itch scratched in this world.

So the heist is going down, more or less okay. I’m on the roof, looking in, as people with skill checks are doing things. (Okay, the party would not have said things were going okay. I thought we were doing great tho.) Unfortunately, we’re starting to work our way into the slog that is 3ish combat. Since my turns were ” I continue standing on the roof,” I was waiting like 20 minutes for a 20 second turn. Rather aggravating.

Here’s something that pissed me off. We tossed a guard off the roof and IMMEDIATELY the player with the healer with that stupid Mercy feat had him come flying in from nowhere, IMMEDIATELY spots the downed guard on the roof of a museum that is having a shootout on the ground floor, as well as inside. Museum roofs tend to be complicated, Gothic affairs, but that’s just me. He should not have been there, he should not have been able to see the guy.

If I was reading a comic and a villain was thrown off the roof and a hero came out of nowhere and saved the guy for the SOLE REASON of maintaining the comic’s PG rating, I would stop reading. That is not a reason to do things. It doesn’t make sense. And in a hero RPG, it makes even less. If your character is no where near the fight, it doesn’t just get to show up. We had one guy in the fight who was supposed to be set up at a convenient roof for sniper fire. Turned out he was 1k feet away, too far for him to snipe. So he had to run/bike for 4 turns to show up, and this flying guy is just suddenly there. So annoying.

Look, I’m not going to give a blow by blow on all that happened. In a different party, I would have done more. But, I realized at the end that the only action my team had taken that my character had approved of was the Nazi guy we had to work with slit some guards throat. That was it. One murder was all I approved of. I think I was supposed to react or stop it or something. But no, I thought it was a prudent move that hadn’t happened enough.

So Bonda K’Dock is leaving the party. He’s fun to play, but not with this party.  He’ll still be around, maybe, but he won’t one of my core characters.

Wow, Matt, it sound’s like you really hate this Mythic thing.

Actually, I’m really excited by it. In fact, I’ve started using the basic concept in my D&D games and it is really nice to have as an option.

That being said, I think its wrong to try and shuffle all of the GM role to interpreting a table. Its a great tool to have, but random numbers can’t string together foreshadowing like a DM can. Or tie in character backstory smoothly.

But I am planning to get a copy of the book the tables come from and see if it’s worth inclusion in my arsenal.

Wow, Matt, it sounds like you really hate this table!

Not really. It’s all about how to play with a group and my character did not play well with some of the other characters. Maybe if our characters talked about it. Maybe if the players talked about. Maybe if there was some group structure, a reason to work together, this would have been able to function. But none of that did.

Wow, Matt. A group that lets you have 2 characters? That’s cool.

Yeah, that part is nice. I wish we had some organization and roleplay for it, but its fun to be bringing in different characters whenever. If I have the time, I’ll try to whip up 2-3 different builds to be able to run more than just the one I have now. They’re rough in my head and I’m not sure if I’ll have time before the next game, but we’ll see.

So: TLDR My barbarian didn’t fit, I had him surgically removed.

Cheers.

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