I used to be a lot better at getting these out every week. Maybe my non-family games were more intense, maybe I was less of a lazy bum. Maybe I’ve just learned enough about DMing that I don’t have anything interesting to report.
BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Yeah, I don’t believe that either!So, I have two weeks to cover. And, honestly, I’d rather be writing about Planet Mercenary right now, but I know this is more important. Mainly because if I don’t write this today, I’ll have to write this up for THREE weeks instead.
Besides, its good to debrief. My favorite part of D&D is taking about what happened afterwards and I just don’t get that anymore. So let’s type words to replicate catharsis!
1. How do you tell that party they bought a fake? A few sessions ago, the party encountered, randomly encountered an NPC named Oswald the Arcane, who I found in the Limitless Adventures: Encounters book. (Side plug, this is an awesome book. I should do a proper review of it, but while you’re waiitng for that, just take my work that it’s an amazing DM resource, and go check out their Kickstarter for printing their 2nd book with 100 NPCs. I dropped my cash in Day 1 and am much excited for the thing.)
Oswald is a con artist and has a few dodgy items for sell. In the party’s price range, there were some potions, described by the NPC as “healing” potions, while actually being, well, not. The party bought a handful of them and moved on without checking. Or using them that game.
Now that put me in a bit of a quandary. There are players who keep careful track of what they have, where they got it from, etc. People who like tracking ammunition, who treat D&D as an inventory simulation. And that’s not a bad things, but most people aren’t like that. After a few weeks, unless it’s a specific, memorable oddity, we lose track of where things come from. Video games may be a bit to blame, when you can walk into a shop and purchase whatever with no limitations. Why should you care then?
My players fall a bit into the second category. I knew if I let it go too long, then they wouldn’t remember these might be different than other potions. Why would they? To the party, they weren’t. And if enough time passed, I could also forget.
Now, I could be clever and make item cards with the potions in it, adding an extra bit to conceal what the actually are. It sounds like a clever idea, actually, and I might have to do that some time. And make cards for the potions they know about. It might be a good thing, if I trained my players to do it, as well as did the required prep. But I haven’t.
So, without giving the game away, how do you tell the party the potions are fake? Without giving the game away is an important bit. I’ve seen it be done super obvious, with the DM making evil fingers, making the con artist as obvious as possible, reffering to them as “potions” while making air quotes. And I think that ruins the effect of having a con artist. They would never act like they were obviously con artists. They would act as solid as possible, as much like a real merchant as they could. There’d be no point in the encounter, making it obvious like that, as fun as it could be. (Okay, if you had the right party, they may very well be into knowing the potions are fake and trying to use them anyway, but it’s less fun if the combats are life and death, like D&D tends to be. Still, with the right group… I dunno. Your milelage may very.)
So, for the third time, how do you tell the party they bought a fake? I chose to put in some effort, and made up some wanted posters.
I made 3, as having just one poster felt like it wasn’t immersive and would be a bit too much like the DM saying “You should go after this guy.” I didn’t care if they went after the guy. I just wanted them to know about the potions.
They worked beyond my wildest dreams.
The posters with the rewards were noticed first. “Reward” is a word that makes the PC heart warm and tingly. But then they asked the important question “Do we recognize any of these people?” As a matter of fact, they had. >:D
The party argued a bit, but finally, my dad decided he wanted his 30 gold back. So they turned back out of town, had a few incidental adventures, found the guy and turned him in for a pretty penny. A whole evening was spent chasing this guy down and it was pretty fun for everyone involved.
Good times. Well worth it. 7/9, would make posters again. Later. After they deal with Brokentooth, maybe. Or at least, get to Triboar.
2. Start already. I’m finding my biggest issue is the starting moment. In plot based games, you can sum up where the party had left off from their cliff hanger or whatever, but for this wandering, they tend to start either in a town or on the road, the start moving on said road. And it just doesn’t work great. I’m still expirementing with off camera transtions and travel. Might have to watch some of the Pokemon Anime. I know it did that a lot.
I’m going to have to stop there. This weeks game will literally start once I head down stairs, so I had better get going. Sorry this feature is late and short. I’ll have a lot to talk about next time, not just things I cut out here.