Tricky times

So last night my players encountered their toughest challenge yet.

They’d dispensed with some nasty Duergar opponents in a grand hall and were scouting for loot. They came across 3 slaves who the Duergar had been ab/using for 6 months. They’d been forced to work in the kitchens and had had their families killed in front of them to keep them compliant. The implication was that worse had probably happened behind the scenes.

The freed slaves were suitably grateful and looked to the heroes for the next move. The players all clammed up. They then suggested the slaves wait there while they went onwards. The slaves didn’t fancy that, alone, afraid, with no weapons. They even offered to strike out alone to the seven pillared hall, but needed some kind of weapons to do that. Again, the players looked uncomfortable. I had one of the slave lads try to cosy up to Steves big burly fighter. Hero worship y’know. Nothing much came back. Eventually the slaves split after grabbing some stuff from the armoury. Players breathed a sigh of relief.

Given that the major quest was to free the slaves, I was kind of wrong footed with the players response. Its not a trick encounter, its just a spot of old fashioned roleplay between encounters really. So why the reticence to get involved?

Maybe the scenarios we’ve played have conditioned us all into only using powers. Perhaps the players just didn’t care for this scene? I dunno. I don’t want to force the amateur dramatics, but I was surprised at how uncomfortable everyone looked. Maybe its because the party doesn’t have a leader (with a small l) and the players don’t have an alpha roleplayer either. Or maybe they just didn’t know what to do. Anyway, no-one stood up to be the hero.

The next encounter was a straight up fight and everythings back to normal. Weird.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Tricky times

  1. That is the type of thing I prefer in my games rather than the fighting and attacking of foes.

    As far as I am concerned nothing beats a good dilemma.

    • I have played 4e twice now and it’s a kinda fun skirmish game. 1-2 fights and I’m done.

      Now.. is it my DM that just doesn’t have any rolepplaying in his 4e scenarios or is it 4e?

      [BTW I think he ran a Living Greyhawk 4e scenario, but that doesn’t actually mean that much.]

      • Anonymous

        Erm… Isn’t it the player who roleplays their character?
        The GM obviously does a bit of role playing too, and the system can help more than it can hinder. In the end if there’s not enough RP in your game you perhaps need to look a little closer to home.

      • Ok. Let me rephrase it:

        There are no roleplaying *opportunities*; simply “you enter the skirmish area, here are the map tiles, roll for initiative”.

        Now the DM is a good roleplayer himself, and a friend whose played a lot of 4e said that their games went the same way, so is it 4e that is making skirmish wargamers of all these roleplayers?

        Me? I can roleplay with a paper bag and a comb..

      • Why can’t there be roleplay during combat? If there can’t then I’d suggest 99.9% of RPGs have a high proportion of non roleplay time at the table. Never mind the amount of the rulebooks taken up by combat rules.

        Wargame skirmish? Maybe. So what? Good gaming is good gaming. (Never mind the fact that in my 30 years in the hobby, I’ve never played a single-model skirmish game).

        Maps and minis? It helps some players get into the scene. It hinders others. In my opinion, there’s nothing noble about playing out a firefight with scrap paper and jellybeans.

        4e doesn’t make anyone anything they don’t enjoy being.

      • Maybe that is just it. I also like a high degree of action and combat in my games, but I also like a good level of interactive, non combat gaming. I wonder if 4e, with a very well developed set of combat rules.. after all the character sheet reads very much as a combat focused one, diminishes the attraction of relaxed interaction and ups the drive to the next combat mat?

        Don’t get me wrong, if you like repeated combats then that’s cool, as I said my games are probably 50% action, but I am puzzled by why I’ve not seen any 4e (in my limited experience with a single ref) where people roleplay in non combat/tactical situations.

        Maps and minis.. love em. Can’t paint for toffee but that’s what cardboard and e4m and D&D minis are for!

        Now, off to write a dungeon for Talislanta.. see.. I am really not that different!

        Tom

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