Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pulped Justice

A couple sessions back I ran the Ruined Monastery adventure (James Maliszewski's contribution to Fight On! #1). In my version, Melchert was a half-goblin cleric, and the purpose of the Monastery and this level was to seal off and guard the lower crypts, which were of ancient and evil origin.

Anyway, they capture Melchert alive. They charm him and question him. And when they have their information... they pass judgement. One of the clerics, armed with a maul, takes a full swing at their bound prisoner to finish him off, execution style. It did so much damage I ruled that it completely crushed his head, sending skull bits, brains, and teeth all over the room.

And considering what he was and what he worshipped, this was considered a righteous act by most, if not all, of the people in the room.

This past session, the PCs were deep in the crypts and cut off from escape by THOUSANDS of undead that awoke behind them. To find a way out, they searched several VIP crypts... and found a vampire. (Mind you, the party was all 1st level save for one 2nd level character). The vampire made them a simple deal: He'll tell them how to get out but they have to transport his coffin to an agreed-on location two days' journey north. Or, he can just kill them.

The fun part is one of the other party members was in another room... and found the way out on his own.

So the vampire's deal changed. "Transport me or die."

So now two party members, including a cleric (not the same one that executed Melchert), are oathbound to transport this vampire's coffin, and protect him from harm.

The complications to throw at them are rather obvious, wouldn't you say?

And the taint of the evil cult's temple and crypts below the Monastery, previously guarded by Saint Gagyx the Grey, has seeped into the world.

Reader Participation

For players:

  1. What would you have done when the righteous cleric, a member of your party for purposes of this question, declares she's going to execute the helpless worshipper of evil?
  2. What would you do realizing two members of your party, undoubtedly good people, are transporting an evil creature, basically to freedom, and are oathbound to do so and make sure no harm comes to it?

For referees:

  1. How would you handle the execution as a referee? (We're using BFRPG, so there are no official alignments, although I still keep track of basic Good/Evil stuff "unofficially." But your game may use alignments, and this cleric had acted roughly NG through previous play... and my players pretty much thought of the execution as a Lawful act, if not a Good one.)
  2. What difficulties would you throw at the characters transporting the vampire?


  1. As a DM:

    1 - I wouldn't have prevented or sanctioned the execution. But I would have noted that the cleric had done something none-good. Eventually if this became a behaviour pattern I might enforce an alignment change. (I don't believe executions in cold blood without some sort of a trial are 'good' acts; I also don't think that Neutral Good means 'happily kills anything evil, even when defenceless'. A major part of being good is having honour, no matter whether it's Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic.)

    2 - First, coffins are fucking heavy. Have them carry it up stairs, ramps and mountains and over all kinds of obstacles, making plenty of strength and constitution checks.

    Give them obstacles that more or less have to be climbed over, and see if they can figure out ways around or over those obstacles with the burden. Preferably while being chased by hordes of shrieking goblins.

  2. I should add that I don't generally penalise people for enforced alignment changes. But those who can detect alignment will notice a difference.

  3. as a player:

    1- Is executing criminals part of the cleric's religious practices? This is a roleplaying issue more than an alignment one.

    2- When the oathbound players go to sleep [perhaps under the influence of a spell...], I and the rest of the PCs would stake the vamp in open sunshine! When they wake up, they'll be none the wiser until they open the coffin.

  4. I and the rest of the PCs would stake the vamp in open sunshine!

    I normally run vampires exactly out of the book, but there's no way in hell I'd trust a GM to always do so.

    As a player I probably wouldn't object to the execution, but I would try not to let my guy ever be in a position where the cleric could slit his throat. Who knows when he'll judge me to be evil? That assumes random Joe player behind the cleric. I've been in games where the PCs rolled like the Mob: you can do anything to anyone as long as you don't mess with your own.

    As a ref my only consideration would be whether the cleric violated any established precepts of his deity and whether any henchmen or hirelings witnessed the execution.

    Also, somebody needs to get it in their head that the coffin is full of gold and chase the PCs around hoping to take the "loot" away.