Tuesday, April 28, 2015

More notes on Cold Fens 3

Here a few more notes from our last game session, Cold Fens 3.

Oops. The PCs finished off the bandits, and then killed off the wounded. Right after that, they realized they had no way to identify a) the missing Count's men sent to rescue the kidnapped townspeople or b) the missing townspeople. By the time they searched their enemies and realized the swordsmen had matching weapons, matching armor, matching tabards (albeit worn a bit), and matching symbols on their clothes . . . they'd already murdered the wounded.

They'd find out later, when they brought back the swordsman's leader's sword, that the wielder was Sir Balzar, a knight in the employ of the count. His family payed full price for the sword, and the PCs probably didn't mention how they found it.


Double Oops. The PCs finished off the wounded before they realized we needed to finish the game session and they needed to get the heck out of the dungeon . . . but didn't have time to find food. But they needed some.

Nice GM time. I told them I could assume they questioned one of the fatally wounded and got him to cough up the location of the food stores.

So, naturally, they had all sorts of additional questions for the guy. Nope. One benefit per freebie. Had they remembered first, and didn't get this as an "it's late and you clearly forgot" gimme, they could have done whatever they wanted.

Bandit Survivors? There is probably about a half-dozen left. Two spearmen escaped, it's possible at least four archers escaped, and there is at least one wizard. What will happen with them? Hard to say.

Insect Swarms. Just to make my life easier, I've abstracted nuisance encounters. Biting flies and mosquitoes, rats that gnaw at your feet in the dark, spiders that bite, etc. - they show up on the wandering monster table as a big chunk of it (in fact, only 2 in 6 of the rolls are for remotely dangerous encounters.) When they show, it's either 1d-2 or 1d-3 of FP damage. That's it. You can't recover those FP without food and rest, representing a toll of alertness draining and blood loss and misery and tiredness. Most of the time this doesn't do anything, but the group always has people down a few FP and you never know when that'll come bite you.

Plus it conveys the feeling of how much it sucks to get through a swamp, over and above actual lethality. Deep down, I've always thought the Wandering Damage Table was actually at its core a good idea, and implemented it in this manner for nuisance encounters.


  1. Oops indeed. Bjorn is not the thinker of the group--he's a doer. Then again, he was probably unconscious, or just recovering, when all the killing of the wounded took place. Except for the guy he decapitated, of course, who kinda asked for it. Well, at this point, perhaps the group will take prisoners. Also: they could have surrendered! ;)

    1. Re: Asking for it. Remember the old practicable breach principle? Once close combat starts, you are under no obligation to accept surrender. Of course, laws of war are a shared societal consensus, and have no foundation when not shared between the combatant societies. That said, a practical thing like that seems probably the case in the alien society of this DF world. On the gripping hand mind control makes things interesting. Look at those two crippled guys, that incident and other things tells me that the mind control stopped surrenders.

    2. Murder is a pretty strong word. Did they have the food and boats to take the wounded back? If not, one could argue they couldn't hold the prisoners and hence were not obligated to take them.

      In hindsight, the failure mode is pretty obvious. The first two expeditions were such narrow escapes that the players were focused on survival and not success. Furthermore, at the end of the session they were tired to the point of impairment, which has interesting parallels with the PCs perhaps having impaired judgement from the stresses of combat.

      (Bringing the bodies back would have had some advantages also. Yes, dragging some rotting corpses for days past predators and scavengers wouldn't have been healthy. But then they couldn't be animated).

      I have doubts about classifying it as murder, even if they were supposed to rescue those poor souls, and were supposed to have prepared for it. And they cost themselves some nice potential hirelings.

      Now, if next time they decide to kill off the rest, so that no word can get back about how bad they screwed up this time, that would be murder. Potentially also a problem for Asher and El.

    3. I'll stick with murder, and cite the Grey Mouser for a supporting opinion. It has the niceness of not being a rationalization wrapped in a euphemism.

      Whether or not there are in-game consequences for any particular killings or not is a different thing, though. The world they play in is a harsh world.


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