Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Actions and reactions

My favorite thing about playing tabletop RPGs over video games is the amount of freedom available. When one plays a video game, the only options are those that the programmers built into the system. Because a tabletop RPG is run by a Game Master rather than a program, it can adapt to new, unexpected situations.

My Planescape game is going well, having finished my third session and our first big adventure traveling through the Dwarven Mountains. I didn't expect it to take so long, as BF's character Dim was really trying to get past the mountains to the town on the other side, but one thing led to another. First he wanted to help a citizen in Dwarferton whose lackluster inn was about to go out of business. As he coaxed a local acolyte into joining the inn as a cook (with 10% of the proceeds going to the acolyte's church) and hired bards to concoct catchy tunes, Dim ran into a situation with the inn-owner's ooze mephit, an awful little fellow named Agronal. Agronal stank, his touch stained clothes permanently, he was a complete sycophant, his body began to melt or drip whenever possible, and he had garbage and stray coins stuck to his mucus wings. He begged Dim for a "loan", and I expected BF to brush away such a gross little creature. Instead BF took an interest, discovering that Agronal wanted the money so that he could pay a wizard to transform him into anything else.

Which led us on a quest to find a charitable magic user and give Agronal a form he deserved. They battled demonic creatures, rescued a missing apprentice, braved bureaucracy, and won the favor of the High Priest for the god of exploration, all culminating in BF rolling on a chart (with generous bonuses) to see Agronal transform into... a red dragon!

I didn't plan for any of this, but it went great. BF was thrilled and now he wants to focus on learning to ride a dragon. It'll cause a splash wherever he journeys in the Outlands, I'm sure.

On the one hand, I'm somewhat worried, because I think I might have bumped his power level beyond what I had anticipated. I mean, a red dragon! Even a small one that doesn't fully understand its own capabilities really shakes up where I had thought this game would go. On the other hand, maybe this is a good thing. It allows me to really ham up the adventures from here on out (because really, subtlety and quiet contemplation go out the window once your player becomes a dragon rider.)

So, I'll just have to roll with the punches, so to speak. He's excited to have an awesome mount and to have really turned the life around of a poor NPC, and I'm excited to get to try running more non-traditional adventures. It's funny how games can really run off in unanticipated directions.

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