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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Stunning Beauty Cronicles, part 5 (WHoOG)

That's going to be a brief recapitulation of more than one session.

The last time that I reported we'd killed a few guys and captured the rest. We left them up high in the trees, and went to fetch the sword of Da Su Su's father.
 They weren't there on the way back. My wife doubled up on the "I told you we should have killed them" nagging.
Then she went up and started strolling in the trees, carrying the sword. I was walking down on the road.
So when we met some guy with a sword, I assumed she had run away to bring the sword to the mad bitch and went with them. Turned out, I was right.
It also turned out that I had met the Red Claw gang, some "honourable knights of the big road". We had some...mutton, I think. It was greasy, well-toasted by one of my former opponents (who turned out to be twins working for that man) and we made a deal:
I'd make sure my wife never speaks about having passed through their territory unmolested and unharmed. They never bother anyone who's with us, but we try not to pass too often. And we help them with some smuggling and fencing stolen goods.
Then they let me go. As I put it when they hesitated, "you don't know where my wife is, and she didn't want to leave them alive as it was - you sure you want to meet her again?"

Then we got to the part where Da Su Su showed her grattitude (thanks Heavens, not in that way). Instead, she gave us orders to track down the last killer we needed. She didn't even ask about the gold we'd found (and since not all of it has been stolen from her sect, we went back to retreive it and got even richer).
Then we organized an auction to sell the first contact of our employee, as I mentioned we had planned (we hired an inn/whorehouse in Huisheng for that). Let's just say we created lots of work for our colleagues in a nearby city (the losers of the auction got a prize, too...the price of the tickets to actually participate in the auction covered the expenses), and our employee got a stellar start of her career...
Oh, and we were filthy rich at this point:D.
During that time, we were also scouring the networks of very well-informed people to find the last murderer of Da Su Su's father, of course.

Soon after, however, we got to meet Her Of The Many Husbands, our employer - Da Su Su herself! And she mentioned she'd be willing to waive the money we were owing her, if we could help her gain leverage on a Kung-Fu master.
Namely, some Qinwen guy, also known as The Master of The Seven Talysmans. A master who had maybe been a friend of Sunan and Bao (the two creators of the martial arts in the setting). Someone who helped create one of the oldest, most powerful orthodox sects.
"I need leverage, because I'd given him a promise, but I don't want to do my part...", she explained. "I'm kinda in a hurry, and if you can make it in a few months, I'd triple your payment. If you can make it in a year, I'd merely double it".
She was, however, leery on explaining what it was she had promised to do, but she mentioned having received a powerful weapon. I tried to explain how if we don't know the stakes, we can't decide how to best influence him...
And then my IC wife looked at her angrily and said.
"Listen, we're obviously going to deal with it, but what had gotten into you to promise him your firstborn and what do you think he's planning to do with him?"
I looked at her. Da Su Su also looked at her, but also asked "How did you know?"
I was just going to add "that's just an example", but then I closed my mouth and tried to assimilate the new information.
Da Su Su, meanwhile, said that she knows that respectable elder was in a league with demons (likes know likes...), and she really doubted he needed the yet-to-be-born kid for anything good.
In fact, she suspected that he wanted to use it to help the Demon Emperor - the one Sunan and Bao had sealed away - get back into the mortal realm. That would be nothing short of an apocalypse, if it happened!

Gritty Romantic vs Self-Righteous Shiny Knights

I've been reading a blog dedicated to romantic fantasy in OSR games (among other stuff).
Now, I've never considered myself a "romantic" GM...but a lot of what the author recommends holds true for my campaigns as well. To enumerate some principles:

  • Talk before fighting, because fighting is ugly and brutal.
  • Almost nobody is hopelessly evil, to the point that you can't persuade them to change.
  • The PCs can change the world.

Sounds familiar? Sure sounds familiar to me. I just call it "decent worldbuilding" (and the systems I run make fighting ugly and brutal, too).

But ruminating over this, I suddenly was able to realize why I don't like the opposite style. You know which style I mean - Orcs (or other races) are born Evil, so you can slaughter them with ethical impunity. The world is black and white, maybe with a touch of grey. Characters are assured of being righteous. People that oppose them are obviously unrighteus, so there's not much point in talking with them. Combat usually remains clinical, often only saying the damage numbers, because who wants to see the shiny knight's armour to lose its polish due to pedestrian issues like arterial spray? (I do, for the record).

I don't like that, because in history, people who believe(d) in their own righteousness and their enemies' lack of virtues, have been causing untold suffering. In fact, it still happens (hint: check the current news from the Middle East).

Now, don't get me wrong: I realize that in life, there are situations where everything is black and white. I'm just not all that interested in playing (most of) them out.