We in Australia would call that “Knocking it for six” but as most of my readers are American let us stick with the home run analogy. What I am talking about is the Pathfinder game I have been running now for three weeks (plus a character generation session). I actually feel that I am forging some games that will stay with me for the long term and while there are areas that could be improved, it is being well received.
Last night saw a rather divisive split in the party. The week before several of them had discovered that there was someone in town seeking adventurers to collect some crystal rats. Crystal rats are rats made of a crystalline structure that live deep in the darkest caves and feed on stone. There were those that wanted to hunt them down and collect the lucrative 20 GP per live rat or 5 GP per dead rat that was on offer from the morbidly obese Curan Oatcake who was too large to go caving and catch them himself. I did a lot of development of the caves and created the crystal rats ready for this, thinking most would make the journey to the caves.
On the other hand I needed to instill some more plot hooks into the story for the next couple of games before “the event that changes the game” happens. I had a few ideas but had recently been reminded of a tool that I had written for this blog and rarely ever used. It was the random urban encounter tool and I rolled up some encounters. I used this as a jumping off point and in short order had a couple of well rounded encounters that really fit the situation. The first of which I had Nym, the reclusive ranger from the first game, bring to the attention of the bard in the party. I am not sure exactly what happened BUT the hook was too delicious for him to pass up on and so he and two others decided to pursue the encounter immediately and avoid the journeying into the caves.
The plot hook too good to ignore
In essence the party was neatly split in two. Normally I would have been horrified but I felt there was enough of a story in both sides to keep those players that were inactive amused and interested to continue. It worked to a degree. The bard investigating a mysterious burned out house that Seyton Scroop (the guard captain) kept disappearing into with supplies and returning with nothing. This encounter was pretty much pure story and a delight to run. The players reacting as if around every corner they would find a demon or vampire only to discover the truth.
Privet has a “Blossoming” where every year a mysterious creature comes to town killing any on the streets and hanging others by the neck on a tree. As a result the people of Privet are seriously insular and afraid of anything or anyone that is different. Therefore, those that have children that are half breeds or unusually aspected will leave the babies on the street so that the creature will kill them rather than live through the shame. Seyton Scroop has secretly been doing a round of the town every blossoming and collecting any babies left out in this way, secreting them away to a house and raising them. Over the past fifteen years he has only come across three children that this applied to – an Ifrit and two others that the players did not meet last night.
The players discovered this in the basement of the burnt out building and the reaction was priceless. Character development and setting building. Everyone around the table got something from that moment. The players involved are now dedicated to creating some kind of smuggling operation to get them out of Privet and to better homes where they will be cared for and welcomed in the community. They are ready to talk to Seyton about it but this was pushed to the next session so that the players chasing the crystal rats could have their time in the spotlight.
Capturing the crystal rat
The crystal rat session was a lot more of a straightforward styled adventure with the difference being the prey. The crystal rat is a super weird creature that really drives home the unusual that will soon become commonplace. I have the Advanced Bestiary by Green Ronin Publishing which is a book of templates. You simply take a creature and apply a template and it gives you something weird and wonderful. It makes old monsters new again and gives experienced players pause for thought with their meta-gaming. The crystal rat was simply an amalgamation of the base Pathfinder rat and the crystal creature template from the Advanced Bestiary. The resulting creature is priceless.
The group delved into the depths of a cave, came across a hibernating dire badger that they woke and caught a bunch of the crystal rats. It was at times like a keystone cops movie and other times like a David Attenborough special. Regardless, it gave rise to some action that again built some interesting personalities around the characters. Also, amusingly, the druid still has yet to have a peacable encounter with an animal. The dire badger knocking him down very quickly despite his attempt to charm the creature. I think the score is currently Druid: 0 Animals: 2!
The second half of the game perhaps went a little longer than it should have as the players tried to micro manage the entire capture of each individual rat. When they finally had a workable plan though I allowed them to quickly wind up the rats and in the end they bagged a total of seven live rats – a good haul.
They travelled back to town and as they started to head down the mountainside they saw something shocking! The tower at the gate on Yurl side was ablaze. Smoke billowed upward and they could see many people running around attempting to put out the flames. Of course that is an adventure for next week! It did leave an impression though. The players that discovered the Ifrit wonder if it is connected to that discovery and there was a good deal of interest in the event for next Tuesday!