Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Which The Warlock Pushes Player Possibilities...

As I mentioned a few posts ago, my players are somewhat up to their eyeballs in plot hooks in our Friday night Deadlands game.  But, as my players are slowly finding out, it seems that those plot hooks really seem to be playing into their weaknesses.

You see, in amongst the major plot points of The Flood, there are two major background events:  an attempted invasion of California from Mexico--which I've hinted at and foreshadowed, but not really pushed as a major point--and a coming conflict between the rival Chinese triads around Shan Fan.  After becoming involved with Big Ears Tam so early on in the campaign, my players have become well and truly embroiled in the conflict, particularly ChaoticFrederick's scrapper, Mary-Ellen Hardigan, who's best known as Tam's "delicate little lotus blossom".

The results of the PCs'
actions on Dragon Breath Mesa.
However, when Tam asked Mary-Ellen and the group to investigate a potential alliance between Kang, the ruthless railroad baron of Iron Dragon Railways, and Warlord Kwan of Kwan Province.  Unfortunately for our posse, a few botched stealth rolls totally eliminated any chance of escaping unscathed.  While the party was able to escape the citadel with the information they needed--mainly due to the Byzantine decorum of the Chinese mob--their ride home out of the maze exploded before their very eyes!  And worse, the explosion awoke a nearby Maze Dragon on an adjacent mesa!  Eep!

While the posse managed to drive off the dragon--not before Chris II's hexslinger, Angus Cole, picked up a few more scars to go with his already-marred face--the real danger was returning to Big Ears Tam with the news that the mission had been compromised...

...something Tam already knew, after his ironclad failed to return...and after Kwan's ancestral daisho went missing.

Needless to say, Tam was infuriated.  While FridayNightWill was astute enough to hide the stolen daisho, Tam not-so-subtly indicated that the insult required vengeance...

...they done messed up good!
And this leaves our players in a bit of a bind.  You see, the majority of my players have focused on only a small set of skills.  Fighting, Shooting, Notice, etc. are all common, but nearly every party member in the posse seems to have some kind of social faux-pas.  And few, if any, have invested in the social skills--Persuasion, Intimidate, Streetwise, and the like. 

So, my party has found themselves in a bit of a predicament.  How do you settle the highly-delicate social balance between Chinese warlords, when you can't really talk your way out of a paper bag?

This portion really pushes the challenge level up on two fronts:  as characters, but also as players.  You see, as characters, the posse simply isn't equipped for the situation.  Their funds are running low--primiarly because they've had to keep their steam wagon fueled up and ready to go--and they simply don't have the social acumen to run "in the big leagues". 

As players, however, the challenge intensifies.  Players have to invest more bennies and the like into succeeding at tasks that a more-socially apt character might find easy.  But, just as they do this, the players have to find ways to adapt the situation to one more suitable to their own, whether through a convoluted plan or through some other means.  Needless to say, that's hard! 

So, going into next week's session, my posse is faced with some tough choices to make.  They're slowly coming up with a plan, involving implicating the enigmatic Ramirez in the theft of the daisho and peeling apart the alliance between Kang and Kwan, based on the actions of so-called "Emperor" Norton.  Time will only tell if they can succeed...and if they can get back to what really matters:  taking down Reverend Grimme!


  1. My only observation would be that, having taken all the shooty fun skills, is that not the game they wanted to be playing, and not the gang rivalry one? Granted, throwing them a curveball every now and again keeps them on their toes, but when you make a party full of courtiers and throw them in a battlezone, or a party full of a warriors and put them in a palace, are you running the game you want to play, or the game they wanted?

  2. Didn't want you to think I ignored your comment, cherie.

    In fact, you got a whole blog entry out of me! Take a look: