Screw You Guys, I have a Party to Plan

Enjoyed a bit of inter-party meltdown during the last gaming session. That happens from time to time especially when you have players with radically differing styles of play trying to accomplish something in a group struggling to maintain a sense of cohesion. But that isn’t this group  at all. This group has been on the same page for virtually the entire run of the campaign. No matter what the scenario there would be one voice of reason, sometimes a rogue or the ranger, but just as likely the paladin, that would set the tone for how the group would deal with finding a solution. Less frequently the calm rational whisper of common sense would emanate from the bard. This is not something bards are known for. Anyone that has adventured with a bard knows they provide comic relief, trivia mastery, and a touch of whimsy. They rarely provide a solid idea from which the rest of the group can build a firm solution to a problem being presented.

This was illustrated perfectly last game session. The players were trying to decide what to do about seeking out the aid of a necromancer to help restore the recently deceased druid back to life. Necromancy is a tricky thing, you see. It is almost never a good thing to delve into this area of magic and of course the group’s paladin was immediately sticking his fingers in his ears and doing the whole “LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” thing to separate himself from the ponderings. To complicate matters there is a powerful lich in the game that has crossed paths with the players more than once and keeps coming back to mess with them; the Viceroy. This skeletal nightmare is himself a powerful necromancer, easily the most powerful such practitioner of the dark arts in the player’s sphere of influence. He appears to have a direct link to several of the players (a vexation in and of itself) so contacting him and asking for help is not a difficult matter. Another option was to seek out a new non-player character that might be able to lend assistance without the overtly evil overtones. Options were provided. But there was a time issue because the bard was planning to have a grand opening for her inn and tavern and she didn’t want anything to interfere with that.

You can guess where this is headed. The rest of the group had decided to try anything other than asking the Viceroy for help. However horrible the options might be the one thing the bulk of the group could agree on was that doing anything that might increase the Viceroy’s hold over the players, their country, even the world should be avoided at all costs. But the bard had this party coming up, you see, and to her the most relevant aspect of this problem was in getting the druid back up and alive without having to traipse about the countryside for days or weeks looking for some other creepy necromancer to do the job. So, even as the rest of the group debated how best to seek out the help they needed the bard went straight ahead and flat-out asked the Viceroy to do what had to be done.

This is precisely what the Viceroy did, too. The rest of the players were stricken betwixt rage and incomprehension at what the bard had just done. Up to this point the druid had been immune to the manipulations of the Viceroy and now she was unmistakably in just as much hot water as they were (only two party members remain immune to the same degree as the druid had been previous to this development; the other four are well and truly in over their heads). Incredulous as the players were to this turn in events it was remarkable that nobody straight up shanked the bard. At least one of them is giving it serious thought, though while the rest are going to at the very least be a little slow coming to the bard’s rescue in future struggles.

My favorite part though was in the bard trying to explain her rationalization to the rest of the group. You honestly do not get this kind of comedy in other games. Telling her friends that she involved them even deeper in the machinations of the Viceroy because it was faster and easier than doing anything else because of the party coming up. I laughed so hard I might have ruptured something. I had to literally give extra experience to players for not killing the bard.

In most games a cruel and sadistic Game Master would use this to cause the death or destruction of the players either in a group or one by one as the lich goes on a rampage and the bard is blamed for bringing it all down on their heads. But that is a cheap, stupid thing to do. First of all, liches do not ever need to rush anything. They have all of the time in the world plus a few hundred years to see their plans fulfilled. Secondly it isn’t the job of the Game Master to kill any of the players. If their choices lead to their demise then the GM has to make sure they have a grand time along the way. And this leads to the third and most important aspect of D&D: folks are here to have fun. There should be more laughter than anything else. However goofy or ridiculous things get, even when things seem to be getting really bad, the story is designed to entertain and be enjoyable. Yes, the bard acted impulsively and for some of the most ridiculous reasons. But she also felt very strongly about getting the druid back whatever the cost. There wasn’t any reason this had to be done before the grand opening party, but what are you going to do. What’s done is done. Instead of meeting a new and potentially engaging NPC the players now have to find a way to cope with having made one of their on again off again enemies just a little more powerful. The bard has passion for getting things done.

This is exactly the kind of go-getter the Viceroy needs on his team.