|Olaf the Stout|
Well last night we ran the Demonskar Ball in my campaign. Many thanks go out to delvesdeep for his work in coming up with all the events of the ball. It was a really fun session. I enjoyed it and I think my players did as well.
I was able to get them to interact with a few more of the NPC in Cauldron, give them some information about the history of Cauldron and the surrounding areas and also build up the animosity between them and the Stormblades. There was also an interesting (and unexpected) development between one PC and Cora.
In the opening dance the party's halfling rogue, Beau, was paired up with Cora. Beau had the bone demon costume which made him normal human height, rather than halfling height. Cora attempted to step on his costume but Beau saw it coming and moved of the way. Beau rolled really well in response to that and decided to teach her a lesson by giving her a bit of a feel up.
I was a little surprised by that (we're not really that immature, honestly! :-) ) but I decided that Cora would be slightly offended, but mainly shocked and intrigued by his bold move. Based on what I knew about Cora I figured it was an appropriate response for her. She comes across as the wild, unpredictable, "living on the edge" one in the Stormblades. If he had tried the same thing on Annah he definitely would have got a different (i.e. bad) response!
This tension between the two of them continued throughout the evening. The Stormblades and the PC's clashed with words on a few occasions but Cora was a little more reserved than normal, throwing a wink and sly smile the halfling's way.
Beau and Cora were again paired up with each other for the final Demonskar dance. They both won a few of the dance checks and they did a little bit to embarrass each other. However, it was a lot less competitive compared to what the other PC/Stormblade match-ups were like. Both Cora and Beau chose not to do anything bad to the other when they had the opportunity to do so on a couple of occasions.
The way things ended I think there is definitely the opportunity for the situation between the to of them to get very interesting. I certainly didn't expect anything like that to happen, especially given how much animosity there has been between the PC's and the Stormblades.
The rest of the night ran well. Lord Vhalantru spoke to the PC's about being worried about how the Lord Mayor was spending the money and how Tereson was pushing to increase the town guard numbers. They seem to like and trust Vhalantru (which will make for an even better reveal moment when it happens) so they definitely took in what he was saying. However, I think they also trust Tereson (and they told Vhalantru that).
They also got to speak more with Celeste (I had her sit at the PC's table in addition to those suggested by delvesdeep). This was good as it won't be so jarring when I get her to send the PC's off to find Zenith next session. They also learnt that Annah's father, Anakin, doesn't think much of the group and appears to be "leaning" on the Lord Mayor to get the PC's to move on to another town.
The Zachary and Margaret Aslaxin did like the PC's (the group made a very good impression on them when they first greeted them). I say did as the final part of the evening definitely changed everything.
The PC selected to be Nabathtoron (sp?) was Dagnal Ironshield, the Dwarven Fighter in the group. Zachary Jr picked him as he seemed like the soft target in the group. Dagnal has Charisma 6 and isn't the lightest on his feet either. Being extremely nervous about being selected (but knowing that he couldn't refuse the honour), he made sure to take plently of dance and etiquette lessons to prepare for the ball.
The problem though is that this particular player has the special "ability" to roll really, really badly. He's got quite the reputation for it in our group. And true to form, when the dance checks came up for the final dance he managed to only pass the first one. Out of the other 4 rolls, two of them were 1's and the other two weren't very high either.
The crowd was a bit disappointed with his performance and gave him a half-hearted clap. After he was "revealed" and introduced to the audience he just lost it, accusing Zachary (the father, not the son in the Stormblades) in a very loud voice of setting him up for this, knowing that he would fail. The crowd (and Zachary) was speechless at this point as Dagnal stormed out of the room.
It ruined any relationship that the party had built up with the Aslaxin family! The player in question just got frustrated at his poor rolling, especially after all the preparation he put in to give himself the best chance at succeeding (I think he spend about 1,000gp in dance and etiquette lessons). It was definitely in line with his character though and was a very "Dagnal" moment.
The player was a little worried that his outburst might have ruined the campaign a bit but I don't think it has. It has definitely put the PC's in one camp so to speak. The Aslaxin's will be going out of their way to make life hard for the party now. At the same time, there will be others, including other nobles, who don't like the Aslaxin's either and will think of the PC's more favourably now as a result.
Either way, it has spiced up the campaign some more and I am interested in seeing where it will lead.
Olaf the Stout
I too used the Demonskar Ball, and it remains one of the highlights of that campaign in the minds of the players who participated. Thanks!
Olaf, thanks for the write-up about the Ball. Very interesting development with Cora there. Also a very interesting end to it all with your dwarf - if nothing else it should make for a great story as time goes by.
I'll be running the Ball myself in about 3 hours from now, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've been sitting on it for over a year, as my group doesn't get to play very often, so I can't believe we're finally going to get to do it.
I've also thought about adding Celeste to the PC's table so they can get to know her a bit. As of this moment I'm still thinking about it. One other change I'm making to the table is that I'm replacing Geneth Taliwar with a diguised Jil (from the Last Laugh). She will be Gillian, and will do her best to seduce the group's ranger in order to get whatever information she can. It also keeps the Last Laugh more involved, as they are conspicuously absent from this part of the adventure path.
Anyway, I'm hoping for a memorable evening, and I'll let you know how it goes!
|Olaf the Stout|
I hope it went well Findas. Retrospectively, adding Jil onto the table would have been a good idea. I wish I did that.
You can also get the Last Laugh into it a bit more by adding in the encounter from Delvesdeep's Foreshadowing article. One of the PC's gets captured by Jil from the Last Laugh and then tortured by another LL member to get as much information out of them as possible. Once they've got all they want out of his Orbius makes a reappearance and turns the character to stone. The other PC's then rescue the petrified PC after receiving a tip-off from Artus Shemwick.
This short side trek worked really well in my campaign. It introduced Jil and the Last Laugh back onto the scene. Orbius got to make another appearance and the PC's had fun trashing some LL guild members (and getting further on their bad side).
Olaf the Stout
The Demonskar Ball was a definite success. The players really enjoyed it, and very much got into the spirit of the whole affair. The elf bard especially – a male lothario (being played by a female player) decided to go all out for the camp aspect: the player pulled out a picture to show us how her bard was dressed for the evening, and we found ourselves staring at a photo of Frank-n-furter (I’m assuming everyone is familiar with the name – if not, just Google it).
I had copied pictures of many of the nobles and others who were in attendance, and tacked them up on a board with their names written below for easy reference. Some were already known to the group, while others were new. I also had to get creative and come up with a few pics for those that aren’t included in the book. But it was very helpful to put the names and faces together, and it really added a lot to the night.
Events pretty well followed Delvesdeep’s script, mixed in with some interesting conversations with those in attendance. The bard, despite his outfit, still tried to hit on every good-looking female noble he could meet – it didn’t hurt that he had boosted his Charisma well into the 20’s for the night. His player even came up with several off-the-cuff short poems that he kept sending as notes to one of the nobles during dinner. He still ended the night going home alone, but not before getting up on the balcony looking over the street to give everyone a final song-and-dance.
Meanwhile Jil from the Last Laugh, disguised as Gillian the art dealer, was at our young ranger’s side all night. The player was true to character and played the ranger as the impressionable 19-year-old young man that he is. Gillian was completely successful in charming him with her wiles, and the night ended with a satisfying fade-to-black moment as the bedroom door closed. I’m honestly feeling a bit sorry for the poor guy now, but also savoring the moment when Gillian reveals herself after the ranger is lured to a Last Laugh safe house, and says to him “my friend here is going to ask you a few questions. Don’t resist too much honey, I don’t want to see you hurt” before she gives him a kiss, smiles, and steps into the shadows…
As far as the Demonskar Points went, I did keep careful track, but in the end I fudged the numbers quite a bit. I found in general that the DCs for most things were quite high, and the PCs often had trouble reaching them. They got completely dominated by the Stormblades during the Clash of Armies dance at the end, but that was just as well, as it only adds to the rivalry. But despite the bonuses from many dance and etiquette lessons, and some solid performances in places (the bard just beat out Annah in the Song of Heaven contest, and Nabthataron made 3 of 5 dance checks), they still came up woefully short of points in the end. I still awarded them the Star of Valor, because I think it’s worth more in RPing potential overall to have them roundly acknowledged for the evening – it made for a much better end to the affair, and have the Stormblades scowling at them in disgust as they horned-in on the noble’s limelight one last time certainly didn’t hurt.
Also regarding the Demonskar Points, the characters missed out on a few for sound reasons. The idea of going outside to lift bags of garbage in a strength contest seemed absurd to them – they’re at a high-class ball trying to impress nobles and diplomats, not an inebriated half-orc. Likewise they needed a little prodding to even come close to something resembling a boast for the boasting contest. These are just observations mind you, not criticisms.
Overall I would count it a fun, enjoyable role-playing session, and in the end that’s what counts. Once again I would like to sincerely thank Delvesdeep for putting it all together and offering it up for all of us to use. It was a great addition and a welcome respite after some heavy combat sessions.
Thanks Findas. My party were reluctant to go outside too until they received prompting from the rest of the table including the pompous nobles! The activities and competitions are geared towards a range of character abilities and playing styles so what was the highlight for one group would have been avoided by others.
Glad you enjoyed the night and I happy to still see it being used.
I just ran this for my group last session and it was highly entertaining. Thanks again Delves! I've incorporated probably 90% of your ideas (converted to 4E). The only snag I ran into was that there is no Perform (dance) or Perform (sing) in 4E, but I just whipped up a simple makeshift skill system for that.
The party all rented specific demon costumes at Rhiavadi's Fine Silks that they custom designed (I made them all demon invites, to parallel the all-founder Stormblades.) They then pretended to be a servant of the Taskerhills and picked up the Stormblades costumes and sabotaged them, so the Stormblades had to show up to the Ball with average costumes, hurting their influence during the event.
One of the party members commissioned a demonic giant hot dog costume. Did I mention my group can be rather immature? It was really funny and everyone loved it though, so I didn't penalize him for having such an absurd outfit.
They all signed up for dancing and etiquette lessons except the barbarian who pointedly wanted NOT to be good at such things. He did sign up for the singing lessons though...go figure.
The players, who are all male and play male characters, all came dateless except for the gnome sorcerer, who courted and then asked Skie from Skie's Treasury. During the Liduton dance, the cleric danced with Shensen, the barbarian danced with Ophela, the avenger (who has an ongoing flirting/rivalry with Cora) stole her away from Todd and danced with her, and the bard who has made a point of being a follower of Pelor danced with Embril(!).
Lady Rhiavadi also introduced herself to the party and commented to the Nabthatoran character that she personally designed all the costumes, including the Nabthatoran one. She was accompanied by a "hulking, brutish man who seemed uneasy in his fine clothes" - Zarn Kyass, polymorphed. The party found a note signed with a "Z" on the mercenaries in Chapter 2, and are highly suspicious of Zenith (the only person they had heard of with a Z, and is "mysteriously" missing). They didn't seem to react when Rhiavadi mentioned Zarn's name though. So we'll see what happens there.
Finally when they got to their table I replaced Bolar with Tygot, as I wanted to personalize Tygot a bit now instead of Bolar, since Tygot returns a few chapters later. I still kept the friendship with Keygan and his questions the same.
I also picked up Findas' idea about replacing Geneth (the dwarven guildmaster) with a disguised Jil. I said she was a junior apprentice in Geneth's merchant/gemcutting guild and is a last-minute replacement for Geneth who just didn't want to come (in reality the Last Laugh murdered him.) We stopped here, but she'll play the same role during the Ball, and hopefully seduce one of the party members so I can play up the Last Laugh's status in the campaign. So far it's working like a charm, since just like the party, she seems out of place and awkward and a little bored and mischievous. The cleric (the Nabthatoran character) was bummed we had to end before the finale, as he has been looking forward for months (in real-life) at taking part in a dance-fight with Surabar.
All in all, AWESOME conversion! It will definitely be one of the more memorable events in the campaign.
Continuing my previous post, we just finished up the Ball, and it was great. Some more highlights:
During the strength contest with Dalam, the disguised Jil whispered to the party's wizard that they should convince Dalam to put more garbage on the cart so it would spill on him because it would be funny. Sure enough, he did, and he rolled bad, so he ended up covered in garbage, and the mage and Jil laughed together and flirted the rest of the night. The party felt bad for Dalam when he wasn't allowed back in because of the stench, so they ran him over to Orak's Bathhouse (who gives them free baths/scents because they recovered his decanter of endless water from the Ebon Triad).
Anna Taskerhill and the party's bard are becoming fast rivals. Both characters are quick-tempered and a bit arrogant, and our bard bested Anna in both the Song of Heaven contest AND the Demonskar Dance, which she specifically challenged him to, in hopes of humiliating him.
The big showdown between the Nabthatoran PC (who took great pleasure in describing how fearsome and scary he looked, which was accompanied by magic fog and dazzling lights from the party's wizard and sorcerer) and Zachary/Surabar was great.
The party's Avenger and Cora from the Stormblades were absent from the final dance, as the avenger had finally managed to woo Cora and the two of them snuck away from the Ball together.
The party's gnome sorcerer, who had asked Skie to the Ball, had treated her great all night and behaved like a perfect gentleman, so they left together and now they are seeing each other (he wants to marry her.)
On the flip side, the party's wizard, who burned his coach to the ground when he arrived for a flashy entrance(!) danced more with the disguised Jil and flirted with her. She offered him a ride home in her coach since he had destroyed his, and they also left together. Of course, they went straight to a Last Laugh safehouse and he's since been captured/betrayed, which the party will discover next session.