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.