The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Adding Role Playing to Melee

Consider the following scenario where the party opens the door into a room full of armed men performing some sort of initiation. The paragraphs following provide two different approaches to the melee.

Standard Melee

Fighter number three swings at the character with his sword.

Role Playing Melee

Mathcoel steps forward his iridescent blue eyes focused on the infidel that dared to defile the sacred initiation rite. As he swings his sword he screams, “Your ears will make my collection twenty-five!”

Lunsle, the fighter next to Mathcoel, grunts, “Mat, you can’t count number twelve because he died from being on fire.”

Mathcoel makes another swing and says, “Tell the dead I can’t count them.”

Combat is Personal

In a swords and sorcery game combat is personal. The combatants are usually only a few feet apart at most. You can see the eyes of your opponent. You can smell the perspiration in the air. A swing blunted by shield or armor produces the ringing sound of metal on metal. A blade cutting through flesh produces a muffled sound often followed by the groans from the victim.

A game master should name each and every intelligent opponent. The non-player characters should talk between themselves.

Mathcoel says, “Fighting is thirty work. I am going to enjoy drinking wine out of the cup made from this one’s head.”

Lunsle says, “That won’t make much of a cup after I split that skull with my axe.”

Melee Provides Opportunities to Advance the Plot

Chatter between the combatants provides the opportunity to introduce new non-player characters, weapons, equipment, and monsters.

Bompide shouts, “Ethy break off. Run back and tell the Croaker we need his help some of us are hurt. Tell Girey to bring the Optile.”

Ethy backs out of combat, gulps and asks, “The Optile?”

Bompide says, “Yes, the Optile. I think we need it to finish off these defilers.”

The party know if Ethy gets away in a few rounds something nasty is going to come to the aid of the non-player characters. Chatter provides opportunity to slip in clues to major plot points. For example, introducing the party to behind-the-scenes character they have not yet heard of.

Lunsle says, “I am going to gouge the eyes out of this one then skull-fuck him as an offering to the Blind Seer.”

Standard Melee is Boring

With a complex gaming system like D&D 4E combat takes a long time. The adventure should keep all the player alert and involved.

Bompide says, “Lunsle use your bow and put an arrow through both eyes of the big one in the back, he is casting spells.”

In almost every case, the non-player characters know the location better than the player characters. Use that knowledge.

Bompide says, “Ethy tell Girey they came in the back door of the initiation room. Send a squad to come in from behind. Make sure Girey takes out their healers and spell casters first.”

Let the Party Know the Score

Most of the time the party should win. Otherwise no one will want to play the game. Most of the time there is a point where it is obvious who will win of the melee.

Mathcoel clutches at the wound in his side and says, “Lunsle, tell Maura and Vara I loved them.”

Lunsle says, “The next time I fuck them I will tell them you were thinking of them when you died.”

Mathcoel gurgles blood and as he dies says, “Lunsle you’re a bastard!”

As Lunsle crumples to the floor he replies, “That is what my father always said.”

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sale of the Captives

Sale of the Captives

Thapent asks, "Where did these come from?"

Bompide says, "They barged into an initiation and killed one of my men."

Thapent looks over the tiefling and dwarf and says, "She lost her tail. Hmm, didn'’t we hear the Marazzer had a reward for a tiefling without a tail?"

Bompide replied, "It was something like a thousand gold."

Thapent thinks for a minute and says, "You can always buy other subjects. Sell them to the Marazzer."

Bompide asks, "She might not make the trip."

Thapent says, "Well heal them first. Convince the Marazzer to pay you for the cost of bringing them in all healed."

Bompide asks, "What about her tail?"

Thapent says, "If the Marazzer don’t kill her it will eventually grow back. But don’t heal her tail. That is how they will recognize her."

Bompide asks, "Put the dead bodies in the barrels?"

Thapent says, "Of course, we need to replace the barrel they stole."

Peloponnesian War as a Pattern

Peloponnesian War as a Pattern

I patterned the war between Marazzer and Greth on the Peloponnesian War. At the very start of the campaign all the young men and women in Greth answered the call to duty to fight the invading forces of Marazzer. This is similar to the massive expeditionary force Athens sent to attack Syracuse in 415 BC with similar results. The Spartan army completely destroyed the Athenian force in 413 BC. In the World of Tiglath, I sped up the process by having the Marazzer use blitzkrieg tactics by employing their Tronlth.

The campaign emphasizes the social impacts on the world. One of my courses in collage studied the play Lysistrata (in the original Greek) by Aristophanes. The backdrop of the play is most of the young men in Athens died in the disastrous Sicilian Expedition. According to Wikipedia, approximately 14% of the population of the Soviet Union died in World War II. The defeat of Athens in the Sicilian Expedition disaster was smaller in number but much larger in percentage. In the World of Tiglath, there are few survivors from the forces of Greth. The forces of Marazzer took very few prisoners. I patterned Marazzer after the ancient Assyrians who flayed their captives and nailed their skins to the wall of the city. Marazzer flayed the few soldiers of Greth that surrendered.

What does this all mean for the players in the campaign?

All the characters are young. The only non-player characters the same age are from Marazzer or deserters. The party cannot blend in. They stand out because of their age. A common question from non-player characters is, “Were you at the battle on the Plains of Lethe?” The Plains of Lethe is the site of a major battle on the Peninsula of Pinge. The plains of Lethe are about one hundred miles North-East of Hosiger. The follow up question is always, “Did you know my son (or daughter)? Is he (she) still alive?”

This means all the non-player characters have built in prejudice about the players. Initially they want to know if the player characters have any news about members of their family. Then they wonder how are the player characters alive and their loved-ones dead or missing. The only other people the same age as the player characters are the soldiers of Marazzer. The average merchant is going to be wary because he thinks the characters are either deserters or informants from Marazzer or something worse.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Theogony of Tiglath

The Theogony of Tiglath

Thepeh the God of the Void sprang into being from nothingness.

Origin of the Elemental Gods

Thepeh being both male and female mated with itself and brought forth the five elemental gods.
  • Tabon the goddess of Air
  • Dokic the goddess of Fire
  • Runan the goddess of Earth
  • Honici the goddess of Water
  • Cutal the god of Aether

Tabon the goddess of Air

Since the wind blows in all directions, Tabon is associated with all the cardinal directions. Her temples are always cylindrical to reduce the air resistance. She is a well-endowed female with emerald green eyes and long, flowing blue hair. Her worshipers gather the blowing leaves of autumn as a sacrifice. During the spring and winter worshipers rip the heads and wings off of small birds as a sacrifice. Tabon is represented by the Queen piece in Teneth.

Dokic the goddess of Fire

Dokic is the goddess of fire and smithing. Her name means "She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land". She is a squat, red-skinned woman with purple eyes and short gray hair. She wears crystalline armor made of ruby. Her worshipers strive for a fine reputation for quality, craftsmanship, and functionality. Worshipers sacrifice sheep, goats, and cattle. The worshippers keep that meat for themselves and burn the bones wrapped in fat as an offering. Dokic is represented by the Bishop piece in Teneth.

Runan the goddess of Earth

Runan is the supernatural force of Earth. She is associated with dragons, cattle, magic, musicians, and trickery. She is a dark-skinned woman with yellow eyes. She wears a set of armor made of gold. Runan punishes oath-breakers. She feasts on the buried. Runan is represented by the Rook piece in Teneth.

Honici the goddess of Water

She is the goddess of water, rivers, seas, streams, storms, baptism, and midwifes. Her name means literally means "she of the jade colored skirt". She appears as a blue skinned woman with dark blue hair and eyes wearing an ornate green or jade colored skirt. She always carries a trident. After cutting the umbilical cord, the midwife would wash the new baby with customary greeting to the goddess Honici. Four days after the birth, the child was given a second bath and a name. She is known for her carefree nature and generosity. Worshippers generously give to all beggars. Honici is represented by the Knight piece in Teneth.

Cutal the god of Aether

He is the life-spark of all creatures and is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. Aether is responsible for all terrestrial creatures. Cutal masturbated and from his seed sprang humans, elves, dwarves, and all the other races. He always wears a blue toga and a blue pointy hat. He carries an ivory staff. Cutal is represented by the King piece in Teneth.

Destruction of the Void

The five elemental gods were appalled at the ugliness of their parent. The five conspired to destroy Thepeh rather than allow the birth of any more gods. While Thepeh was busy in a masturbatory self-impregnation the elemental gods used their power to rip their parent apart. Each of the elemental gods then consumed a portion of their father/mother. In the frenzy the elemental gods overlooked three pieces of their mother/father. From those pieces grew the gods of Death, Hate, and Vermin.

The Hidden Gods

Prior to birthing the five elemental gods, Thepeh gave birth to at least two offspring. For unknown reasons, Thepeh banished the first generation of gods. Cymag, one of the first generation gods, managed to escape from banishment after the destruction of Thepeh. No one knows the fate of the other first generation gods.

Cymag the god of Chaos

The evil emotions of every living being sustains Cymag. He is monomaniacal and completely single-minded in seeking the destruction of the elemental gods. Cymag has the body of a cobra with a leach like head. Surrounding his mouth are long tentacles.

The Spawned Gods

The elemental gods, Tabon, Dokic, Runan, Honici, and Cutal, ripped their parent Thepeh apart and devoured it. The fragments of Thepeh grew into the gods of Death, Hate, and Vermin.

Sytizi the god of Death

Sytizi is responsible for sickness in the world. He requires sacrifices of skulls. He catches dead bodies and takes them away to this lower world and then makes them his slaves. Any person who has ill-treated their parents, ascetics, holy persons, or elders appears before Sytizi for judgment. Sytizi makes drinking cups from the skulls of the unworthy which he uses to drink their blood. He appears as a skeleton in bone armor wielding two swords.

Lamuwa the goddess of Hate

She is hate, strife, and discord personified. Lamuwa stands on the center of beached vessels or battlefields and screams! The screams harden the hearts of the soldiers removing any thought of mercy. They no longer remember their fathers or their wives and children with the screams of Lamuwa ringing in their ears. Some describe her as “Strife insatiable.” Her anger is never satisfied. Lamuwa looks like a large humanoid bird.

Hysex the goddess of Vermin

Hysex controls the vermin in the world, rodents, insects, snakes, and creeping things. She has a grey reptilian body with goat like legs and the face of an insect. She carries a huge sword.