Monday, January 17, 2011

Quick Quiz

Just want to make sure I wasn't being a completely vague and confusing Referee tonight.

The situation:

You are hired to act as a guard for a diplomat on a diplomatic mission to deliver a diplomatic pouch to An Important Guy.

You know that previous attempts at this mission have failed and the diplomat and his guards assassinated.

The diplomat meets the PCs at the appointed time; he has a wagon that's already quite packed and he has a cover story for everyone and everything. He is careful, at most times, to stay with the wagon and make sure nobody starts rifling through it (including the PCs who are traveling in the wagon).

Every night, one of the PCs is visited in the night by a mysterious man - including a couple times when the guy's standing immediately outside a second story window - whispering to them "Don't search the wagon. Don't search the wagon." As the days pass when he appears (always disappearing into the fog after saying his piece), he says things like, "Don't search the wagon. Time is running out, don't search it..."

There are a few times where the diplomat is unavoidably busy and forced to be away from the wagon for a period of time. You're guarding it.

What do you do?

40 comments:

  1. I would search the wagon. I'd bet good money that at least three-quarters of the rest of my group would not.

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  2. RPGs allow me to *NOT* do what "they" tell me to far more often than I can in real life.

    You search the motherfucking wagon!

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  3. Set up something to capture the annoying whisper man. See who he is and why he doesn't want us to search the wagon.

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  4. Depends on the type of character I'm playing. I usually play a paladin-type guy, so personally I would likely avoid searching if it was against the wishes of the guy I've been tasked with protecting.

    but I'd say it's pretty much guaranteed that SOMEONE in the party would be compelled to search it (thief-type). Then we would get in a fight about it afterwards, depending on the consequences.

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  5. I'd want to search the wagon, although knowing my players they would probably set the wagon on fire in case of vampires.

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  6. Confront the diplomat, tell him what has been appearing, and demand answers about the risk the party is in. That's step one, move on from there.

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  7. Stake the mysterious man, kill the diplomat for being a "Renfield", and then burn the wagon.

    Then salt the earth just to be safe.

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  8. Depends on the type of character I'm playing.

    same.

    with some characters i would search it alone, with others i would converse with the party about it. some might inform the diplomat.

    personally i would obviously want to search the wagon, as there's obviously some kind of plot hidden inside. ;)

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  9. Well, the GM is clearly signaling here "the game is in the wagon", but I can also see players who are into "my guy" thinking totally *NOT* searching the wagon under these circumstances.

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  10. Knowing the type of character I like to play and the way other people play, I start guarding the wagon in off hours to make sure no one else has a chance to search it. Because you have to know something horrific is in there.

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  11. I think you're all wrong:

    It REALLY depends on whether anything else you've tried gets you anywhere or whether anything else is going on in the adventure.

    If nothing, then of course search the wagon, out of boredom if nothing else.

    If there;'s also 43 kaiju megabeetles with electric telekinesis and flame claws to fight and sorcerers with faces like jigsaw puzzles and a princess throwing a masked ball for the troll king, then maybe searching the wagon's not a priority.

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  12. Addendum:

    This is the crux of the issue with the whole Alexis Vs. Death Frost Doom thing.

    Players in the middle of a campaign have lots of other things to do besides go into the Mountain Where There Only Is Death. Those of us who hear "Ok, we're running this one-shot, here's Zeke" don't.

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  13. Alright, Raggi, I'll be the one that bites...

    "Just want to make sure I wasn't being a completely vague and confusing Referee tonight."

    Wherein this post lies the vaguery and confusion? Are your players befuddled by such an obvious lead?

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  14. It depends on whether I'm a lawful good sort who is really invested in accomplishing my stated mission (in which case I don't search the wagon, but probably tell the diplomat about the weird dude), or if I'm a more chaotic "adventure above all" type, in which case I tie up the diplomat and search the wagon in front of him.

    Of course if I want to mess with my DM, I don't even think about searching the wagon. Of course if I'm the DM, I try and raise the stakes and give them a self-interested reason to search the wagon (like having their most valuable gear go missing).

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  15. 1) Assume that we're the decoy.
    2) Assume we're being scryed on/that the wagon is trapped.

    Then, if nothing interesting happens (ambiguous plot hook spectre? *yawn*), root through the wagon anyway. ;)

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  16. I'd search the friggin wagon because, as a DM, I'd know all to well that it would be friggin irritating to give them that clue and have them NOT search the wagon.

    But I know plenty of players without that mentality who would just not do anything as it would be pretty obvious that the DM is setting up a trap.

    - Ark

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  17. I SEARCH THE WAGON.

    I don't take grief from NPC's.

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  18. I set bear traps around us so that that foggy bastard is caught. Then I find out why he doesn't want us searching the wagon. If the bear traps don't work then I try soaking the circle of ground around us with oil and setting it on fire. If that doesn't work surround I surround the wagon with holy symbols carved from silver infused garlic, just to be on the safe side.

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  19. Playing my usual, suspicious character: search the wagon after assessing honesty of everyone else and finding them lacking...

    Playing a more mercenary character: don't search. That's why they pay me the big bucks - to not ask questions...

    As a GM: if I'm having an NPC say not to do something, I'm trying to compel the average player (as seen in the comments above) to search the wagon and force a plot point. Not searching creates a different set of plot points, but still left to the players to decide which they choose. Still a simple set of decision trees that can wind up back in the same story spine (not that anyone knows that as they play).

    Good stuff to think on as I work on games for convention season...

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  20. Augury, Augury, Detect Magic, Augury, Detect Evil, ESP, and some more Augury to be sure. If I or the party had the resources, of course.

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  21. As Melan said above, and than I would manipulate another PC, or ideally some schmuck NPC into searching the wagon.

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  22. I would NEVER search the wagon, especially in a game refereed by a hardcore oldschool fan.

    I can imagine the grin on the referee's face as a horde of fiends or, let's assume, a cloud of posioned gas emerges the wagon the PCs searched. When the players are scrapping their character sheets, he says "I told you so many times that you shouldn't search the wagon and you did it all the same, YOU FOOLS!"

    That's the fun, isn't it?

    As a player, I would grill the mysterious guy a little, possibly the diplomat too. They are far too fishy. The option with ESP and aurgy seems to be good, too.

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  23. Search the wagon, even though I know I'm probably going to die. Why?

    To spite you, that's why.

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  24. Well. The referee is pointing towards the wagon, so obviously the contents of the wagon are important plot-wise. Wether or not to outright search the wagon or go a roundabout way towards it is another matter, and up to the individual characters and players. As Zak said, is there anything else worthwhile to do? Are there other courses of action which would lead to something interesting happening? If not, perhaps something should be done about the whisperer, the wagon, or the diplomat? Preferably something the referee is not (not) telling you to do.

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  25. This is easy, first thought (and I would follow through on it)

    Set fire to the wagon. If there is ashes to sift through, bury them undisturbed by piling dirt and sod over top of it.

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  26. Let another PC search the wagon first.

    When I was a kid, I played this game on the NES called "Uninvited," where you explore a haunted mansion and die in a variety or horrible ways. There's one room where you find a dark hole. If you try to enter the hole, the game warns you that you can see a giant spider down there. If you look again, the game warns you that the spider looks really big and nasty. If you try to enter a third time, you do, and are killed by the giant spider.

    I'm drawing a parallel.

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  27. I think I'm like: "Well, ordinarily I'd search the wagon, but my DM is James Edward Raggi IV, so, really, the only sane thing to do is run as far away as fast as I can, change my name, live in disguise, and never ever ever ever allow a wagon to come withing 500 yards of me."

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  28. I have to say, so many responses calling for burning the wagon to ashes warms the cockles of my heart.

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  29. Assuming I couldn't get anywhere trying to capture this mysterious dude or "interrogating" the diplomat about what's in the wagon, then yeah, one of my retainers would search the wagon.

    But seriously, where did this wagon come from? I was hired to guard a diplomat and a diplomatic pouch, not a diplomatic wagon. This job is bullshit!

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  30. I would park the wagon somewhere along a well traveled road. Then I would tie up the diplomat and hide out of sight where I can see the wagon clearly from some distance. Keeping all the horses with us.

    Wait for someone else to search the wagon.

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  31. As a player I would focus entirely on trying to interact with the apparition, letting it know it has no power to affect our actions one way or the other. If it was communicating one way only and not listening I would report what it said to the diplomat and have him enlighten us as he will but judge by his reaction if there was anything worth investigating in the wagon when he wasn't around.

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  32. @Greg Christopher: That's a wonderful "What would Cugel do?" approach. :D

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  33. In-character monologue: "The job we were hired to do is to protect the Diplomat, his pouch and get him to his destination. What is the diplomat doing away from the wagon without us, except taking a dump? Why would I act on something that's obviously a manipulation by some trasparently magical and evil being? Why aren't we talking to our employer about this? Why aren't we investigating, casting spells etc to figure out what's really going on? Why are we doing some stupid job we know nothing about?"
    --
    It's also a matter of playstyle, frankly, I wouldn't like you to give me a mission, only to find the mission itself is a red herring for some clever reverse psychology plot twist. If you're the Referee, you referee, not worry about whether your plot hooks are confusing. Didn't you write about this a short while back? Give the players a situation, lift your hands, don't hand me clues.
    --
    But basically I'm with Zak. This depends so much on the context.

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  34. The previous session, the players had requested a mission.

    This seemed a good a mission as any.

    Some of you guys have figured out what's up with the guy whispering to them just off of a brief description.

    The players didn't pick up on what the mysterious stranger was. They either weren't paying attention or didn't know what I was talking about when I told them that the diplomatic packet was to be delivered to the Voivode of Wallachia.

    The packet was supposed to be some sort of trade agreement to supply arms for the Voivode's war effort.

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  35. The Voivode of Wallachia bit would cause me to channel "Fiends of the Eastern Front" and to prepare a bunch of Molotov cocktails for anti-vehicular use. Greg Christopher's scheme, however, has a certain elegance to it that I must admire.

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  36. Also, obviously, depends on what time of day it is.

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  37. Or:

    Vox-cast to the Thunderhammer in orbit and get it to turn its macrolaser batteries on the wagon.

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  38. Just because nobody else said it so far, sabotage the wagon so that a wheel or an axle breaks the next time it runs over a pothole. I'm not searching it as such, but it can only be fixed if it's fully unloaded first, and that should give us a good idea of its contents.

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