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Navior's Serpent's Skull

Game Master Navior


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She told Lorenz that she would tell Sasha about what happened when she was alone and why she wanted to leave the city. And then Sasha went off with Douena immediately afterward. And then apparently Lorenz never asked Sasha about what Douena said. Perhaps it's because of what happened when Douena went off alone that she said no one else should? Douena has pointedly not gone anywhere alone since.

She didn't "refuse" to tell anyone about it. No one ever asked her what happened, not when we weren't with outside people, anyway. Lorenz had many ways to inquire about what happened then, either from Sasha or from Douena when she specifically sought him out to clear the air back at the inn or from Mahjik who went with them, but instead chose to just believe the worst of Douena rather than talking to her or anyone about it. Which is my point about the level of trust within the party now. If Lorenz doesn't trust her not to let the others know that they might be in danger because of something she did, then he doesn't trust her enough to travel with her on a dangerous journey. If he doesn't even want to talk to her, they have no business traveling together in the same group, either.

And it's become patently obvious that everyone knows about Saventh-Yhi, despite the fact that none of us have mentioned it, from the government to the Aspis Consortium to strangers on the street. Acting like there's any sort of secret left to keep is an utter joke. Despite none of us ever mentioning it to anyone, it's apparently front-page news in Eleder. :P And, yes, Douena does blame the Pathfinders for the leak, since they're the only ones who were given the information.

Douena doesn't want to be "important." She doesn't want the expedition named after her; she doesn't want a badge; she doesn't want to issue orders. She just wants the people she spent weeks fighting and risking her life alongside in constant danger to admit that she does have above-average Wisdom and Intelligence and isn't just the court jester and comic relief. She wants to be treated like an equal partner, like all the other PCs get treated. No, she doesn't act like a human would. She's not a human; she's a gnome. If she stops being exuberant and seeking out new experiences, she literally dies.

EDIT: So, yes, by Makoa's definition, she wants to be "important." Didn't know one had to be "important" not to have one's ideas dismissed out of hand; I thought that was a basic courtesy from one sentient being to another. :P


Male Human Traveler / 8

Well, I guess at this point the real question is, what can we do in character to make it work for Douena? I'd been making a real effort to avoid irritating her but I'm not really sure it's working. I still believe that the reason that Douena's treated differently is because she acts so different but that doesn't really mean anything in terms of a solution.

The thing is, as annoying as she is from Lorenz's perspective, I enjoy having her in the party and definitely enjoy your (Joana) part in the group and I want to keep from having her (or you) drop from the campaign. I just don't know how to go about doing that without making it worse. Lorenz would ask Douena if she thinks she can find a way in except that she already seems determined not to try. At this point, I'm just aiming for an aid other check on diplomacy.

I'm reasonably certain it's not just Lorenz who has to change his attitude toward her, so any ideas for ways to fix the situation would likely be useful for everyone.


As far as sneaking in goes, he's looking right at us, so we can't use Stealth. We've been told it's not just one guy but a group, so if we break in and they sound the alarm, Jask dies. He's in coup-de-grace position. I presume this is a flat roof if people are standing on it, so there's no concealment to use Stealth even if we could somehow climb up there without him noticing. We don't have invisibility or fly or spider-climb. If Lorenz draws his bow, Jask dies. If one of us makes a move and fails his skill check, Jask dies. I was hoping we could talk out way out of it, but the guy doesn't have any reasonable demands. I have no idea how to get to him without Jask dying. I could try command to have him walk off the roof, but that hinges on him failing a DC 13 Will save which is a very slim chance at this level, and if he doesn't fail, Jask dies. I don't see a way out of this one.

I suppose if she rolled a good enough Bluff that he believed we were going to comply with his demands by morning, we could try to sneak back after dark, but I don't know how long we have. And now I've already posted otherwise in the game thread. We'll have to wait for that to play out before we can try anything else. :P

EDIT: Go, Mahjik, with your mighty -1 Diplomacy! This guy doesn't seem to be in a listening mood, but maybe we can get the crowd on our side anyway.


-1 Diplomacy; but Mahjik's got +3 to perform (mime) - just waiting for the right setup and time...! ;)

Mahjik really just butted in to keep the ball rolling. In terms of a hostage situation - as long as the perpetrator keeps talking things have not gone pear shaped yet.

We could try and suggest some form of challenge or ritual that will prove our innocence?


Male Human Traveler / 8

Well someone else could easily go around to another side of the building and try to get in. We're in a square filled with people, he can't keep track of us all. Nor does he seem all that interested in doing so. He's more involved with spouting his creed.

It's too bad that pretty much everyone has spoken up at this point; it'd be easier if some of the others had stayed quiet and blended in with the crowd. Still, if someone keeps talking the others should be able to sneak off without that much difficulty, and there's at least two other sides to the building that can be investigated.

But you're right, Joana, there's no reasoning with him. The guy's nuts. We're going to have to get to the top of that roof somehow, and hope we can get some healing in Jask before he dies. Maybe we won't be able to save him but we can't just give up either.


There's no "healing" if he fails his save vs. coup-de-grace. It's instant death, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And we can't change tacks now until Navior's come back to respond to our attempts to talk.

Assuming we've made no progress, Douena can attempt a Bluff to buy us some time, have him give us a deadline, and try to sneak back, hopefully after dark when we've got a chance at some concealment. If we just walk away to melt into the crowd without some sort of prior agreement, he's likely to go ahead and kill Jask to punish us for not responding to his demands.

Grand Lodge

Made my post before reading this. I hope that Urza's position, and to an extent, my position has been stated. Urza (and I) like Douena (and Joana) and would hope that both stay and continue to be a great part of what makes this game fun and exciting.


Male Human Traveler / 8
Joana wrote:

There's no "healing" if he fails his save vs. coup-de-grace. It's instant death, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And we can't change tacks now until Navior's come back to respond to our attempts to talk.

I know how a coup de grace works. But if the guy can't be talked down then either Jask is automatically dead no matter what we do, or a coup de grace isn't what he's going to do. Either way, I'd rather do something than just give up.

We're in a crowd. There's no way that the guy can keep track of all of us with that many people around, particularly if we're keeping him distracted from others. If Makoa or Pezock or Urza (or even all three) would just stop talking and go, he'll either shout at them to stop or he'll ignore them. It seems pretty obvious to me that he's less interested in what we're doing than in making his pronouncements to the crowd.


Male Human Traveler / 8

One other thing we can consider (in and out of character): If the crazy cloaked dude kills Jask, it's over for him. He's got a lot more reasons not to kill him than not to. Because Jask is the only thing holding us and the crowd back. If he draws that knife across Jask's neck, Lorenz will have his bow out and an arrow flying in the next heartbeat.

I do think the guy's crazy so he can't necessarily be considered that rational but I doubt he's going to do it at just any old provocation. That'd be just plain stupid. Killing Jask isn't going to stop us from going in to get him.


My impression was that the crowd is at least partially on his side. They're certainly not on ours, with the stone-throwing and curses, and he keeps appealing to them to consider us their oppressors. Which is why Douena is trying to counter-sway the crowd before we're caught in the midst of an angry mob.


Male Human Traveler / 8

Makes sense. Looks like we're having some success with that, at least!


Trying to sort my thoughts about Douena and the group. Somewhat disjointed (and long):

This used to be my favorite thread of all time, but ever since we left the island, I've really been struggling to maintain enthusiasm, for various reasons.

For one, Douena really, honestly doesn't care about finding Saventh-Yhi. It was kind of mildly interesting to her until we got to Eleder and everyone started fighting over it. While I can envision other PCs who would really get into manipulating the politics of it all, Douena just wants everyone to get along and have fun. She doesn't care about fame and fortune at all. At this point, she's just sick to death of all the bickering and posturing over it and wishes we'd never found the inscription in the first place.

So then why would she agree to go? To be with her friends and help them out. Except now her "friends" are alternately scolding, ignoring, or patronizing her, to the extent that she has given some spot-on advice which no one has even taken seriously and which would have been taken seriously if someone else had advanced it. If she's just along to provide healing and trapfinding, you guys can pay an NPC to do that who is guaranteed not to get his feelings hurt if you don't care about his opinions; he'll just roll dice for you.

Ooc, part of the issue is the way this adventure is set up. There's the aforementioned issue with the politics. Every time I start to get back in the groove of excitement and things moving forward, like when Douena got to make a new friend in Shokambe and get more enthusiastic, it feels like the adventure throws out another speedbump to keep us from getting anywhere: one more group making an offer, one more obstacle, one more hoop to jump through.

Worse is the feeling that no matter what we do, things are going to play out a certain way. Even if the group had agreed that it wasn't safe for anyone to go anywhere alone, someone was going to get kidnapped somehow. Even though we were careful never to tell anyone about Saventh-Yhi, all interested parties somehow find out about it within a day of our arrival in Eleder. (I have the Serpent's Skull subforum closed to avoid spoilers, but the complaints about this particular aspect are widespread enough to have bled out into the fora in general.) No matter what we actually do, we're doomed to fail because the module says so.

A lot of the fun bled out of the game when the Pathfinders stepped in and took over. It might have been a little better if we'd actually had some choice in the matter, but for some reason -- and I don't know why -- I don't like my PC working for someone else.* Maybe it goes back to my early D&D days, when I had a control-freak DM who would never let us succeed without going to his NPCs and asking them to intervene on our behalf; that was the end-game of every campaign: find the high-level NPC, be obsequious enough, and then sit back and watch him fight the battle for us. Imo, if the PCs don't have the resources to complete the task on their own, it shouldn't be given to them. I'm sure that having the various factions compete in a bidding war for the PCs' services is meant to allay that somewhat and give them a sense of power -- but we never even got the chance to sit back and entertain offers because we had already been delivered to the Pathfinders before anyone else got involved. So all I get is a sense of powerlessness: we're already obligated to the Pathfinders and are just sitting back impotently collecting enemies because of it now. And I realize that this point is just my personal issue, and lots of people are thrilled to work for the Pathfinders or some other faction, including everyone in organized play.

So, long story short, I don't know what to do. If the party doesn't trust Douena's judgment, they shouldn't put their lives in her hands by inviting her along, and we shouldn't make believe that they do just to keep her in. If Jask or anyone else dies over all this political ridiculousness, she's out; the whole circus makes her sick. It's one thing to go down fighting for your life alongside your friends like Aerys; it's another to be coup-de-graced by a deluded terrorist. I know it's 'only an NPC' to a lot of groups, but our NPCs aren't any less real than the PCs are to me, and that's no way for a hero to die. When I loved this game, it's because we were all working together, PCs and NPCs alike, us against the island, but now I feel like someone else is calling the shots and Douena's just tagging along.

As for the Tiny bears, you may know there's no such thing because you've seen the bestiaries, but in a world of owlbears and chimeras and griffons and giant spiders and giant frogs and giant centipedes, I don't see why a Tiny bear is any more ridiculous than any of the above.

The whole concept of Douena is that she's quirky as all get-out but a genuinely good and loyal friend who's legitimately good at what she does. It seems all I'm getting across is quirky for quirky's sake, for whatever reason. Maybe part of it's the general slow-down since the holidays; she hasn't had a chance to do much of anything since we've been in Eleder, and what she has done has been hidden behind spoilers from at least some of you. But I don't think there's any call based on her previous history to assume that she's acting maliciously. Heck, Lorenz knows that she was the one who mended Gelik's hat on the island and refused to take credit for it.

* (extremely minor spoilers for Shattered Star):
I already lost any enthusiasm I had about the Shattered Star AP when I found out that the PCs are assumed to be working for the Pathfinders or some other wealthy faction throughout the whole thing. I just don't like not being a free agent.


Perhaps it's natural and inevitable that the group fracture apart again once we're back in civilization and no longer having to rely only on each other for all of our lives. Now we have the option to spend time with others and want to take advantage of it. But I miss the camaraderie.

I never watched "Lost," but does that make me that Locke guy? :)


Male Human Traveler / 8

Well I'm glad we're talking about all this. It's good to air these things out rather than to just let the room get all stale, particularly if some people/ players aren't even aware that it's getting stale.

The funny thing for me is that I kind of thought we were skipping a lot of the politics of the book. I've got the books at home and I'd once been planning to running the campaign myself, but when I got immersed into the game here I decided not to so I could keep enjoying it from a first timer perspective. I've beenrunning a homebrew campaign for the last year instead and never read any of the books. Some of my old friends have played through the whole thing, however, and I occasionally get spoilers from them. Usually it's the stuff that didn't work that I end up hearing about.

Anyway, I could be wrong but I've been expecting that once we finally get out of Eleder, a lot of the "political stuff" would end and we'd be pretty much on our own again. Then the sort of hijinks that came with Smuggler's Shiv could resume and perhaps we'd be knitted more closely together again.

I'll admit that Lorenz doesn't trust Douena's judgement, but then he didn't on Smuggler's Shiv either. His perspective is that she'll probably get them all into trouble from time to time but not in an overly deadly manner. But he's not really trusting anyone; everyone in the party seems relatively crazy to one degree or another and that's part of why he feels he fits in. When you say that we'd take anyone else's arguments that we can't travel alone more seriously than Douena it makes me laugh a little because in my case, at least, that's not true at all.

After all, Makoa flat out told Lorenz that he considers Civilization to be an unbearable evil and that it's his goal to end it. Mahjik is always going on with his 'wise' sayings that never make any sense to Lorenz at all, and goofing around (i.e. miming) at irregular intervals. Pezock's a sociopath and Urza alternates from brutal to charming with little more than a breath between.

Even Sasha is pretty questionable in that she chose hapless, dumb Lorenz of all people to sleep with. We're like the party of misfits who somehow manage to survive in spite of ourselves. All in all, I think Douena fits in pretty well, even in Eleder.

She is good at what she does, but I haven't really been aware of her getting more or less recognition for it than anyone else. Makoa regularly chews stuff up and spits them out but I hadn't noticed anyone applauding him for it and no one ever applauded Lorenz for his part in actually removing the curse on Smuggler's Shiv (destroying the altar). Nor did/do I expect them to. It's just taken for granted that we all do what we do and we have our crazy little quirks and somehow we survive against all odds.

Since reaching Eleder it does seems like Douena's quirks are more present than anything else but as you mention, there hasn't really been an opportunity for her to do anything else. But that's true for all of us, really. It's been ages since Makoa bit anyone and even though we negotiated an agreement with the Pathfinders, it's not like that's the kind of thing we do.

As a player, I don't even like the Pathfinders. I'd never have been interested in joining them if it hadn't been for Lorenz liking Gelik. I don't have any interest in working with them, but it never occurred to me that we would. I just figured they were investors in our project that we can use (or not) as we wish. Maybe I'm wrong about that...I've honestly not given it a lot of thought.

Anyway, I get your point about not putting the PC's lives in Douena's hands if they don't trust her, but I don't think that's really the kind of dynamic that forms this particular party. We're not together because we trust each other, but because we have a shared history. We put up with each other in spite of the quirks, as much because no one else will as anything else. At least, that's the way I see it. If we can just get past this Jask situation and out into the wilds again, I really think the bonding will begin again and then maybe it'll be more than just the party of misfits.

For what it's worth, I really plan to try and make sure that Lorenz sees past Douena's quirky behavior and appreciate her more for the other things she brings to the group. She IS loyal and she's definitely a contributing member of the party, even if we don't acknowledge it as much as we perhaps should. If there's something else I/we can do to improve the situation, let me/ us know.

I've never watched Lost either, so I can't comment on the Locke connection. :)


I've been avoiding commenting on this, hoping it would play out and everything would get back to the way it was, but I should probably say something.

I would be heartbroken if this group collapses due to intraparty conflict. I really hate when that happens to groups and this was the last group I would have ever expected to have that happen to. There really was great camaraderie until you got off the island. I think there can be great camaraderie again, but things have been moving slowly and so there hasn't been time to resolve the issues that have been festering (and in pbp, they can seem to fester for a lot longer than they really are).

I have to take a great deal of the responsibility for the slowdown, and I've been really worried for a while that it would cause a decline in the enthusiasm for the game, and it hurts a little to know my fears were right (but I'm also very glad you said as much Joana, so don't take that comment as any sort of anger directed at you). My posting actually slowed down around November (which people who were following my blog might have noticed was the last time I updated it). My wife's been dealing with some health issues (I don't want to go into any more detail than that, but don't worry, it's nothing life threatening), and that has kept me away from the computer, so I haven't been able to post as much. (It's made me partially regret starting the Jade Regent game, as it's meant what available time I have has needed to be split between both, making both suffer even more.) Things are one the mend, however, so you may have noticed a slight increase in my postings in the last week (although weekends continue to remain very slow).

Regarding the adventure itself, Wander, you're absolutely right that the actual adventure has even more political stuff. I have made a number of changes to the way it starts out. In the adventure text itself, all the Shiv NPCs are supposed to do what Gelik did, each one going to a separate faction. When I first read it, I was quite aghast, and it's the main source of why I commented really early on that I didn't like the way the second adventure handled the NPCs. Admittedly, the adventure has no way of knowing how the relationship between the PCs and NPCs would play out, but considering a major part of the first adventure involves developing relationships with these characters, I found it very odd that the second adventure would open with them all essentially betraying the party.

Gelik was the only one it really made sense for (at least given how he's played out in this game), and I should point out that Gelik really doesn't see it as "betraying" the party. He really thought he was doing something good for them. However, the others were just bizarre.

Ishirou supposedly goes straight to the Aspis Consortium with the news, despite the fact that a major part of his backstory is all about his attempt to get away from them. The adventure even acknowledges this and then says, "the Consortium bring him back into the fold, returning him to active duty." Considering it just stated that he paid his way clear of them, how they bring him back into the fold and why he doesn't protest, I have no idea. The adventure doesn't say.

I can see how Jask might go to the Sargavan government if the party never made friends with him, but since they did, it just doesn't fit his character.

Aerys is revealed to be a member of the Free Pirates (something that there is no hint of in her backstory in Smuggler's Shiv), and she goes directly to her captain to tell the news. Admittedly, Smuggler's Shiv doesn't directly say she doesn't serve under a pirate captain, but it does give a very strong implication that she has never managed to serve under anyone for a particularly long period of time as she's always had to deal with discrimination and her anger issues meant she didn't deal well with them. Now, she's apparently been a long-serving first mate of a pirate captain. I promptly removed the whole pirate thing from her and if she had survived, there would never have been a mention of it.

At least with Sasha, the Red Mantis is supposed to secretly kidnap her and intimidate her into working for them, which is believable, I suppose, but I also threw that out. :)

The only real acknowledgement towards any friendships formed is that the NPCs are then supposed to try to get the party to work for his or her own faction. The adventure is set up so that you could theoretically be working for any of the factions (and in some ways, it's weaker for it, as some of the "encounters" are then with generic agents from a rival faction who have no real background because the adventure doesn't know what group they work for or what their motives are). Admittedly, my changes have had the side effect of making it seem a little like you've been forced into working for the Pathfinders, and I assure you that was not intentional on my part. Joana, you can rest assured I am not like your DM from your early gaming years. I will never force the characters to be dependent on any NPC. I love playing and developing large casts of NPCs, but you'll never be required to hang around with any of them if you don't want to, and I'll never throw you into a situation where you have to rely on the super DMPC to show up and save the day.

I considered not doing this section with the Freeman's Brotherhood since I knew how much the group wanted to get out of the city. I decided in the end to run it mainly to provide you with a bit more XP before the journey began, since I've already cut another entire section of the opening, so you're already going to be setting out lacking the XP from that.

Once you're on the road again, you'll be free of political stuff. For awhile at least. Once you reach Saventh-Yhi, the AP intends for the political stuff to rear its head even more, but it will also be easier for you to avoid it if you want to, as you can just continue exploring and let the politics play out in the background. Ironically, one of the complaints frequently brought against Serpent's Skull is that many groups end up wanting to stay in Eleder to fight the Chelaxian oppressors and liberate the people, and the adventure doesn't give them that option. :)

At any rate, I really hope all this intraparty conflict can be resolved, and I'm seeing real efforts to resolve, so I remain confident that it will. Then you can go back out and adventure some more. :)

Edit: Oh, I've never watched Lost, either, so no comment there. :)


Navior first:

Sorry to hear about your family issues but not taken by surprise; as a sadder but wiser PbP girl, I have gotten quite familiar with the tell-tale signs of a DM who is dealing with real-life problems. I hope your wife continues to improve.

Apart from the general sense of increased real-life business since the holidays, which seems to have hit Wander and LoreKeeper as well as you, I have no complaints about the way you've been running the game. It's been absolutely masterful. From the updated maps on every initiative pulse of every round to the way you've made the NPCs as real and alive to all of us as any of our own characters, you are the most painstaking and dedicated DM I've seen on the boards, and I say that as a player in other games with truly excellent DMs. Pezock alone is an absolute masterpiece. I see other Serpent's Skull games where the NPCs are..., well..., NPCs and not equal partners with the PCs as you've managed to make them and am reminded of how very fortunate we all were to get picked up as second-chance characters from AK's recruitment thread. You put in more time and imagination than any player has a right to expect, and if you quit the game today, I would sincerely thank you for having been allowed along for the ride. So please don't read any of my issues as criticisms of your gamemastering.


Male Humanly Awesome 'n Totally Rockin' Paladin of Greatness

Okay, now I feel bad.

Navior, if you need to drop Jade Regent, then please, please just say so. Please don't feel obligated to keep it running just because you think you ought to.

There's really no need in me saying family comes first. We all know it does. And if it's beneficial for you to have to let it go, then by all means.

I echo what Joana said to the tee. Because I couldn't have said it any better. (No really, I couldn't have) And I hate for you to be sitting there and thinking, "I kinda wish I wouldn't have started Jade."

I know you can roll with one pbp just fine, (that being a lot of work within itself) but with your detail to GM'ing, it HAS GOT to be a lot of work running two.

There would be ZERO hard feelings, I promise you. It's all good.

Just wanted you to know that, bro.


Well, I don't really want to drop Jade Regent. The regret I'm feeling is only because I've been worried I'm not giving as much to both games as I could be, not due to any dissatisfaction with Jade Regent. However, as I said, things are improving, and will hopefully continue to do so, and I'll be able to give both games the full attention they deserve. As such, I'm definitely going to continue with Jade Regent for now. It's a lot of work, yes, but it's work I enjoy. :)


Male Human Traveler / 8

I really enjoy both pbp's and would hate for either one of them to come to an end. That'd be a major bummer all around.

I can't believe they had those actions written up for the NPCs. That's just crazy. What's the point of developing them and making them matter to the group if they're eventually just going to go spill all the beans to the other factions? Bizarre, man.

At least those are changes that are pretty easy to make, though it is kind of weird that so many people seem to know about Saventh-Yhi.

Grand Lodge

Wander Wier wrote:
Urza alternates from brutal to charming with little more than a breath between.

That's rather what I was going for with him.

I am so ready to quit Eledar and it's factions. This kidnapping is so heavy handed that if he thought the others would do it, Urza would have just left right then. Now he's worried that after this, the Sargavan government will want to detain them.


Now, Wander:

Wander Weir wrote:
I've been expecting that once we finally get out of Eleder, a lot of the "political stuff" would end and we'd be pretty much on our own again. Then the sort of hijinks that came with Smuggler's Shiv could resume and perhaps we'd be knitted more closely together again.

As have I, and Navior backs that expectation up as well. Which is why Douena has been pushing so hard to get out of town, even if we were just camping outside the city and waiting for word from the Pathfinders. Which would have been the smart thing to do from an in-character standpoint but messes with the game on a meta level by avoiding the encounters that our characters would give anything to avoid but which reward us as players with needed XPs. *headache from going in circles* The problem arises when the extended delay in town ends up souring the PCs on going on the adventure when they eventually get the chance. If we'd gotten into town, stuck together, geared up, and left again, Douena wouldn't have even questioned going along with the group, but the longer we sit around, the more time she has to reflect on why she should go and not come up with a satisfactory answer. (I'll try to work on Douena's motivations in a separate post.)

Wander Weir wrote:
She is good at what she does, but I haven't really been aware of her getting more or less recognition for it than anyone else. Makoa regularly chews stuff up and spits them out but I hadn't noticed anyone applauding him for it and no one ever applauded Lorenz for his part in actually removing the curse on Smuggler's Shiv (destroying the altar). Nor did/do I expect them to. It's just taken for granted that we all do what we do and we have our crazy little quirks and somehow we survive against all odds.

I'm obviously not expressing myself well because this isn't the first time someone's gotten this impression. Douena is not looking for plaudits and recognition. She only wants to receive the same respect the other party members do, and the only way I can express that is by pointing out that she contributes to the group and isn't just dead weight, because sometimes it seems like that's how the party treats her.'Douena talks a lot but doesn't accomplish anything.' 'I'd like to take Douena seriously but just can't manage it.' She has a 14 Wisdom, but sometimes it seems like everyone treats her as if she had a 6. I have a cleric in another game with a 17 Wisdom and was in a situation where my PC had to give advice to someone else. I prefaced it by saying, "I'm trying to live up to my Wisdom score, but if I don't manage it, pretend like I gave you something to think about." In this instance, since Douena has in fact been right about several things (although not everything), she ought to have earned a fair hearing instead of rolling eyes.

Wander Weir wrote:
I don't have any interest in working with them, but it never occurred to me that we would. I just figured they were investors in our project that we can use (or not) as we wish. Maybe I'm wrong about that...I've honestly not given it a lot of thought.

It might be worth Navior spelling out what exactly we agreed to in their contract. Both Urza and Mahjik are on record as believing we've agreed to work with them exclusively, and I've assumed that's what we put our signatures to, as well. If not, it's hard to imagine what they're getting out of the deal. The other groups actually need the information about what the inscription said, but the Pathfinders had already gotten that from Gelik. The way Gelik described it was as a done deal that the Pathfinders were being gracious enough to allow us in on, due to his relationship with us. That is, they're not investing in our expedition but hiring us to work on their already-existing expedition. If we haven't, in fact, made promises of exclusivity..., that changes things.

As far as improving party relations, I don't think Lorenz avoiding Douena is helping things. It just contributes to the distance between them without actually dealing with the underlying issues. If he thinks she's acting hypocritically, the group dynamic's better off if he challenges her on it and she has a chance to defend her actions than if he just assumes she's in the wrong. Maybe she could even change his opinion of her as selish and unreliable if he gave her a chance -- or convince Sasha that she is selfish and unreliable by exposing her secret machinations. Either way does more for his relationship with Sasha, by getting them both on the same side of the Douena issue, than avoiding and thinking ill of her friend.

Shadow Lodge

We could have Urza color spray you both so you are easier to put in a room until you work things out.


Male Human Traveler / 8

I'm responding to this comment first because in my eyes (though I could well be wrong) this outlines a large part of the problem.

Dragonborn3 wrote:
We could have Urza color spray you both so you are easier to put in a room until you work things out.

The thing is, for all that Lorenz and Douena have had their disagreements, I don't think the problem exists exclusively between the two of them. The lack of respect that Joana is alluding to encompasses the entire party. I agree with that perspective, personally. It often seems (to me at least) that both Makoa and Mahjik treat Douena as a mix between a cute little pet they can pat on the head whenever she amuses them, and a plaything they can poke and prod (the frequent references to toys like little bears and sea monkeys, for example) to make them laugh.

She's clearly a comic figure but the reaction of the party as a whole tends to be to laugh at her, rather than with her. Though Lorenz doesn't find it particularly funny as much as obnoxious and it's becoming clear that Urza isn't exactly amused either.

The lack of respect definitely seems to exist on all sides when it comes to Douena and OOC I certainly understand where Joana's coming from. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that my viewpoint is really valid, particularly since Douena is by and large the most popular PC (OOC) in the group which makes for a really interesting contrast.


I realized I don't need to do a whole in-depth analysis of Douena's motivations because they're really very simple. Douena just wants to have fun. That's really all there is to her. And ever since we left the island, Douena hasn't had any fun. Eleder has just been a succession of disappointments and frustrations and scoldings and restrictions and being told 'you sit and wait while other people do important but tedious things behind the scenes.'

What Wander says is true, and I appreciate him pointing it out: There's a very real sense that Douena is treated as the team mascot rather than a member in her own right. But Makoa and Mahjik treated her the same way on the island without it becoming a serious irritation either to her or to me. So I think it just comes back to the fact that we've had nothing to do this whole time but sit and pick at each other while we wait for the adventure to open the automatic doors and let us go forward. Small annoyances become big ones when there's nothing to distract from them.

Basically, it comes down to my dislike for the turn the adventure-as-written has taken. Ever since we left the Shiv, it feels like we've been stuck in a giant video-game cut-scene, where we can't actually affect anything that's happening but are just being dragged along by the undertow. (And I'm personally disturbed by the 'hostage threatened with having his throat cut in a show trial by terrorists' twist. That's just a bit too real-world for my fantasy.)

As evinced by the game thread, I think I just need to take a step back for a while. Douena is bored and frustrated, and being Douena is making me bored and frustrated. Then my bad mood just feeds on itself, and everything snowballs. Let Lorenz and Urza take point; assume Douena's along for the ride. She'll follow along and roll her dice when she's told. I don't want to quit the game; I like all you guys too much for that. I just need a break, see if the spark comes back.


Hopefully, that spark will return soon, Joana. Indeed, I'm pretty confident that it will since there was a hint of it during the bit with Shokambe, indicating that it's not completely gone, just hiding. You'll be out of Eleder soon (if I hadn't had the slowdown in my posting, you would have been out of Eleder ages ago). Until then, we'll just take Douena "along for the ride" as you say. :)


Lorenz Aeryson wrote:
I never said that Urza had to slaughter the guy. What about Color Spray?
Urza Sha'rahad wrote:
I don't have Color Spray any more. I gave it up for Burning Hands

See, I knew there was a reason color spray didn't occur to me. I looked at Urza's spells and didn't see anything quick and nonlethal. His spell list is moving away from "Disable first, ask questions later," in favor of "Die, scum, die!" :)

@Navior, yeah, talking to Shokambe, I suddenly got back into the vibe, enthusiasm renewed, all systems go ... and then we walk into another damned rake, er, complication.

Shadow Lodge

I think it was because Shokambe didn't give off the same vibe as the rest of the city.


See, Urza's just as much a loose cannon as Douena! It's just that no one has a problem with scolding a Small female gnome when she's upset, but they back down from an angry half-orc.


Male Human Traveler / 8

Did it look like Lorenz was backing down? I didn't think he was objecting to Urza any less than he objects to Douena's flightiness. He certainly protested!


Just pointing out that 'Urza taking action' isn't necessarily a better option in the group's judgment than 'Douena talking loudly.' ;)


Male Human Traveler / 8

Oh yeah, that's certainly clear. :)

By the way, Navior and all: I'm running my homebrew campaign tomorrow so I'll probably not be able to post again until Monday morning.


Wander Weir wrote:
By the way, Navior and all: I'm running my homebrew campaign tomorrow so I'll probably not be able to post again until Monday morning.

No worries! It's the weekend and my own posting will be pretty sporadic until Monday, too.


Douena actually can't carry a wayfinder, as she doesn't have a spare pound under medium encumbrance. She's already had to throw away her sling bullets. Nor can she sell it, as she can't carry the extra gold either. Anyone have any ideas what should she do with it?

If she really wanted to insult Gelik, she could just leave it behind in the warehouse. :)


Male Human Traveler / 8

Lorenzo could carry the wayfinder for her if she likes. He doesn't see anything wrong with having two of them. :)


Male Humanly Awesome 'n Totally Rockin' Paladin of Greatness

Muleback cords. Check into 'em. ;)

You can call 'em... rainbow cords or some crap like that just so she'll like them. :)


Male Humanly Awesome 'n Totally Rockin' Paladin of Greatness

Or this

Scroll to the bottom, it's a bag of holding, minor.

Out of Classic Treasures Revisited.

Still 1000g but could be handy.

Grand Lodge

Waitaminute. We're counting coing weight?


Javell DeLeon wrote:

Muleback cords. Check into 'em. ;)

You can call 'em... rainbow cords or some crap like that just so she'll like them. :)

The image of Douena with colourful cords that make it look like she has bulging muscles is both hilarious and disturbing.


Just imagine the Bluff checks she'll pull off with that


Navior wrote:
I considered not doing this section with the Freeman's Brotherhood since I knew how much the group wanted to get out of the city. I decided in the end to run it mainly to provide you with a bit more XP before the journey began, since I've already cut another entire section of the opening, so you're already going to be setting out lacking the XP from that.

I know you, Navior, have different take on this - but the above is an example of why I favor story-based XP progression. If you "need to be this tall to take this ride", then you'll be that tall when I GM.

Particularly in pbps where I find that "filler" encounters to make an XP-tally really detract from the story/game at hand. Pbps are not a race, sure, but I find that they work best if played to their strengths without making their weakness (i.e. slow progress) too pronounced. So I tend to have the odd "random" encounter - to keep the game "realistic" - but I tend to focus on going from major scene to major scene interspersed with story scenes.

In real-life play a lot more ground is covered in a given session, so the need is not as pronounced; but in pbp I think it benefits the game to not follow the strict letter of the law.


Dax Thura wrote:
Waitaminute. We're counting coing weight?

HeroLab does.

And maybe Douena might come close to being able to afford something to help her carry stuff if the Pathfinders would just give her the cash instead of the item which encumbers her in exchange for a bonus to a skill she never uses, a magical effect she can already cast at will, and a holder for a magical item she never intends to own. :P

Grand Lodge

I'm sorry. I just figured no one counted coin weight. Coins can easily be the most heavy item you carry. It makes the game impossible. Either you're heavily encumbered with coins or you're a poor starving adventurer.


LoreKeeper wrote:
Navior wrote:
I considered not doing this section with the Freeman's Brotherhood since I knew how much the group wanted to get out of the city. I decided in the end to run it mainly to provide you with a bit more XP before the journey began, since I've already cut another entire section of the opening, so you're already going to be setting out lacking the XP from that.

I know you, Navior, have different take on this - but the above is an example of why I favor story-based XP progression. If you "need to be this tall to take this ride", then you'll be that tall when I GM.

Particularly in pbps where I find that "filler" encounters to make an XP-tally really detract from the story/game at hand. Pbps are not a race, sure, but I find that they work best if played to their strengths without making their weakness (i.e. slow progress) too pronounced. So I tend to have the odd "random" encounter - to keep the game "realistic" - but I tend to focus on going from major scene to major scene interspersed with story scenes.

In real-life play a lot more ground is covered in a given session, so the need is not as pronounced; but in pbp I think it benefits the game to not follow the strict letter of the law.

Alas, you're in an adventure which is almost entirely "filler". Indeed, the Freeman's Brotherhood encounter is one of the few with even a semblance of relevance to the overall plot. Most of the adventure is travel from point A to point B and have lots of unrelated mini-adventures along the way.

That said, I think you're under a misunderstanding. I most certainly do award story-based XP. I award it along with standard XP virtually every time I hand out XP. What I don't do is individual XP awards. I've been in far too many games where so-called individual role-playing awards have not really been awards for role-playing at all; they've been awards for being flashy, which isn't necessarily the same thing. They become a competition between players trying to be more and more outrageous and over-the-top. Meanwhile, other players who happen to be playing slightly quieter and less overt characters (and often doing it better than the flashy ones) never get a single reward simply because the DM doesn't notice or pay attention to them.

But that is very different from story-based in my mind. Story-based XP is for accomplishing goals (not necessarily adventure goals, but character goals as well) and general role-play of the whole group. And I give story-based XP to everyone equally.

If an adventure requires you to be "this tall to take the ride" and you're not that tall, then I'll just override the adventure and decrease the difficulty of the encounter, whilst making sure you get some additional XP somewhere else along the way.

At any rate, I realize my comment about why I included the Freeman's Brotherhood encounter was a bit misleading. I definitely wanted to net you some XP, so I chose the encounter that actually has a bit of relevance and follow-up later on. Meanwhile I dropped the absolutely ridiculous section with Nkechi (Shokambe is 100% my own creation) where he sends the party on several side quests to prove that they're worthy of having him be their guide. :)

Shadow Lodge

Look, we found one halfway decent thing about Pathfinder's Vow of Poverty! No encumbrance due to coins! :/


Dax Thura wrote:
I'm sorry. I just figured no one counted coin weight. Coins can easily be the most heavy item you carry. It makes the game impossible. Either you're heavily encumbered with coins or you're a poor starving adventurer.

Or you convert your coins to a more portable form by spending them or changing them to gems. :)

Honestly, I'm not a curmudgeon about tracking weight exactly. It really can get cumbersome (no pun intended) and annoying having to recalculate every time you add something new to your character or take something away. So I will allow you to fudge things a bit when it comes to coins and other small items--but only so far. So for example, if your coin weight pushes you 1 pound over your limit, then I really don't have a problem with ignoring the extra pound (especially since those coins will likely be spent in the not-too-distant future, lowering your weight again). However, if you're 50 pounds over the limit, then it definitely counts. :)

This reminds me of a funny story.

Years ago, I was playing in a fairly large group that had just gotten back to town after acquiring a nice sizable treasure. The DM didn't want to go through the hassle of dealing with everyone's purchases separately so just told us we could buy any standard equipment in the Player's Handbook (this was second edition at the time), trusting us to be truthful with costs and so on.

Fast forward a little. In a battle with a rust monster, one of the party's fighters had his nice shiny new plate mail armour turned to dust. There was some light-hearted grumbling about having only just bought it when one of the other players piped up, "It's okay. I've got an extra suit you can have." I should add that this particular player was well-known for not being very bright.

There was a moment of silence and the DM said, "You have an extra suit of plate mail?"

The player answered, "Yeah, I have three suits of plate mail and five suits of chain mail. I bought them with our money in town." (I may be a little off on the exact numbers, but they were in that range.)

"Where are you carrying these suits of armour?" the DM asked.

"In my backpack."

This was followed by the DM explaining to the player about not just weight, but volume as well.

:)


Dax Thura wrote:
I'm sorry. I just figured no one counted coin weight. Coins can easily be the most heavy item you carry. It makes the game impossible. Either you're heavily encumbered with coins or you're a poor starving adventurer.

Well, if you're mostly adventuring in an area where you have a home base, it's no big deal to "bank" your coins somewhere you can trust until you need them or exchange them for a voucher accepted for use among the merchants in your town/city. Journey adventures are much more problematic and require an extradimensional space of some kind.

I was just in too many adventures when I first started playing where encumbrance wasn't tracked at all, and it eventually broke my suspension of disbelief. When I started DMing, I put my foot down and said, "No, you are not actually carrying 2 tower shields, 3 full sets of armor, 6 different magical weapons, a footlocker, and 40,000 gold coins in your backpack." Then again, virtually all of my homebrew campaigns were based on the PCs having a home base where they can leave stuff without fear they're going to lose it, and several plot points have turned on the fact that they can't just pocket piles of gold but have to make plans to excavate it or hard choices about what they're going to leave behind.

EDIT: And Navior just ninja'd me with a similar horror story. And no, my above example of what one PC said he was carrying in his backpack is actually not exaggerated.

Grand Lodge

I recently got herolab and until now, hadn't considered putting my pbp characters in it. I'll see what Urza looks like hero lab'ed.


It's a godsend for tracking multiple conditions, at least for someone like me who's easily confused with math. I have a barbarian in another game who was raging, hasted, bull's strengthed, blessed, and using Power Attack while two-weapon fighting. Just go in and check off all those conditions, and it gives you your updated AC and hit and damage bonuses. Stop raging and become fatigued? Unclick rage and click fatigued. Squeezing, on higher ground, sickened, entangled, grappled? Click the box, and you'll never forget another +1 or -2. :)

Shadow Lodge

That barbarian remins me of my inquisitor. Wrath, Divine Favor, Bane, and several Judgements, Bless, Haste, Prayer, and Power Attack. I critted Lolth's avatar and she was not happy.


Well, seeing as she's a halfling barbarian and not optimized, even with all that active, she's still about fourth in the party in damage output, only beating the mage and the healy cleric. The optimized monk, gnoll barbarian, and inquisitor put her to shame. :P

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