Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bert's Speech

Towards midnight, the party has been forced to build a fire to keep the wounded members from risking illness (their teeth are chattering).  The stars are out, the waning moon has not yet risen ... and though the party is tired, what with the combat today, the treasure and their adrenaline, they can't sleep.  Even Lukas is awake, though he's too tired to get on his feet just now.

Bert has been napping, spontaneously turning invisible and visible as he does, but now he's awake and listening to the party talking.  He rises and stands up on Maximillian's pack to address the others, rising to his full 18 inch height.  "Now listen," he says, "You know you shouldn't go back to that lair.  Even if you can take those minotaurs, don't forget that father and son that were killed at the entrance.  These minotaurs know how to set traps!  When they find you've killed the two top, and their bull too, what do you think they'll do? Flee?  No!  They'll expect you back.  And they'll have arranged something unexpected for you!

"Now, the four of you impress me," says Bert.  "The way you rushed in - you showed no fear of those beasts.  I was terrified myself, I don't mind saying so.  I'm all for a day of adventure, but anything five times taller than me scares me.  You, I know you're not frightened.  I know you're not talking big.  But you're not ready for whatever they'll plan while you're gone.  Already, I'll wager, they've begun setting a welcome for you.  If you were going to go down that stair, the time was then, not days hence.

"Put the plan aside," he begs.  "Andrej, you have business elsewhere.  Ahmet, Andrej needs you alive. Maximillian, ask yourself, do you really belong underground?"  Bert shakes his head.  "There's only one of you with nothing to lose going back, that I see, and that's Lukas - and he's not tough enough for this work."

Bert shakes his head.  "Move on, my friends.  Move on."  He hesitates, then adds, "I felt I had to say it, is all."


Andrej said...

I was certain that the next post would go something like this. Alexis, your desire to move along was made plain in the last post and intimated while we still decided upon the stair. Of course Bert's arguments are logical ones and it doesn't really matter whether the DM is saving the party from the reasonable conclusion of a 3rd foray into the dungeon or is simply sick of dungeon work and wants to move along... we obviously can't go choose to go back now and yet the stairway you put there is calling us... as is the tunnel down in both the ankheg lair and the "feeding room"... so many unplumbed possibilities!

So, if you will allow me to push the curtain aside for a moment...

What was the point of the elaborate stairway from an adventure design standpoint?

How much of what we would encounter over the course of the last several posts was determined by you when we fist met the Unterns or when you first made their map?

What would we have found if we took the stairs right then and there and at what point did you determine that?

I won't be upset if you refuse to answer, I understand that a DM must have his secrets... but I think the discussion would be beneficial instruction.

Ahmet said...

I'd like to ask what was the story with the ankheg with the medallion stuck around it.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Please don't misconstrue my speaking through Bert as a method for me telling the party I want this or that. I don't want to "move along" in the adventure. My earlier 'rushing' was because the party declared that things were not happening or were taking too long, so I made some shortcuts to get things a bit more active. That wasn't me, that was player-service.

I'm happy to run the stair; it's actually better for me, in that it is LESS WORK than picking up events in Cumana. But Bert is good-natured, concerned, and in fact more intelligent than Lukas, and as an NPC he has to speak in the manner he would. He's not going back with you. That's something you should know.

Your dilemma is your own. I am fine either way, really. The "point" of the elaborate stairway is that it was there. As far as how much was created when you met the Unterns ...

The minotaurs; the ankhkeg; the lower room Bert explained; the stairwell; the religious suggestions scattered around; what is below the stairwell; the need for a clue to be discovered on the ankhkeg - I didn't know it would be a medallion until the last moment. All the window dressing besides was made up on the spot. Oh, and I also know what the minotaurs down below are guarding against.

You have to know the stairs were there, because I included the key on the map.

Don't you trust me?)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I suppose I can also add the excerpt I produced from the book on the main blog today. Making the party choose between equally mouth-watering options is a means of creating an EMOTION I want in my campaign ... the sense that there's never enough time to do everything, that there is always SOMETHING that has to be abandoned, leaving the party with a sense of both regret and determination to do the things they must do regardless of distraction. I feel this makes for better character growth; you feel both gain and loss, even though you're alive and more powerful. The loss is always going to be there, however, as you can't have everything.

Like I say. Function)

Andrej said...

I do trust you, and part of that is trusting that you'll engage in these sorts of discussions as they are initiated, it is very much appreciated. Trusting that there are answers encourages one to ask the questions.

Having mostly DM'd myself, playing with you these past few years gives me new perspective on the game. Not just from watching another DM run a good game, though that's a huge part of it, but also simply sitting in the player's chair.

You have definitely created in me the desired emotion. When I said upon the stair that it pained me to leave, I meant it. I was really having angst because something told me, perhaps intuition that we were never coming back and I so wanted to know what was down there.

I accept that the choice is ours and now that I have read your response above accept that you'd be fine with us going back. Unless we could mitigate the risk of a more prepared, angrier and tougher set of minotaurs upon our return, though, we'd be foolish to do so given all the information we have.

So there's that desired longing.

Just another thing right... out... of... reach.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Well, the conversation sent me back to this talk again. It's always good to listen to it once in awhile.

Lukas said...

(OOC: Sounds like we need to increase our staying power Andrej. Or at least our brain power so we don't take 6d6 damage before opening the stairs.

As a side note: One more haul like that and I level. Here's to the next big adventure!)

Lukas sighs, "You make a fair point. We probably will not have the ability to deal with the traps they set for us. Perhaps some day we may be able to investigate this further. I'm sure the stairs will still exist, perhaps the owners will change. Most likely the contents plundered, but until then we shall never know. Assuming we find this spot again."

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC, Sorry Guys, I've been trying to get a moment to chime in, but it looks like it's not going to happen today.

Andrej described the desire to delve that dungeon better than I would have anyway.

I don't necessarily believe that we couldn't make our way through whatever ambush with care, but without a thief, that will be very difficult. It's too bad, I wanted to continue, but had to admit doing so was a sure death before.

Whichever way you decide to go, I'll be fine with. It will be good to make some progress towards the mission as well.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Shall we move forward to the village?

Lukas said...


Andrej said...


If its morning Andrej casts Aid upon Lukas and CLW upon Max. Given another day, Ahmet and Andrej will be next.

Lukas: 14 hit points
Max: 7 hit points

Ahmet said...

To the village!

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.