Character Development: Tips & Tricks – Conceptualising a Character

Jan 14

Character Development: Tips & Tricks – Conceptualising a Character

Whether it’s your first character or your five hundredth character, the first step to character creation is brainstorming the concepts of the character, conceptualising who and what that character is going to be. Sometimes, this is a long process, and sometimes, the character just flows through your mind, building itself as though it was always there. Whether it’s an easy flow of thought, or something you need to sort out, this is still the first part of the process of having a character, so it’s something we need to discuss.

I want to start off by having a little discussion specifically for newer role players, though it likely will strike a chord with veteran role players as well. Some people are going to disagree with me, and you’re welcome to post your perspectives in the comments, however I ask that you please keep things civil and constructive.

Newer role players often end up being intimidated by the entire concept of playing a character that has a personality that is not familiar to them, and they may have been told to not play a character that is too close to their own personality.

Frankly, when you’re starting to role play, it often is easier to play a character that has personality traits and mannerisms that are similar to your own, and it makes it easier to learn about the other processes involved with role playing when this is done; don’t be afraid to base your first few characters off of yourself, or the ideal person you would like to be in the setting you’re playing in. Just keep in mind that the character is not you, that you are not actually a part of the world you are playing in, and you cannot achieve the things your character is in the game through the same methods – this is called In-Character/Out-of-Character Separation, and it’s very important.

I have considered the pros and cons of playing a character that is heavily based off of the individual playing the character, and ultimately I came to the conclusion after twenty three years of role playing in formal settings that this isn’t a bad method of introducing people to role playing. As I mentioned above, it seems to let them concentrate more on learning various things like the mechanics of the game system, the lore of the world they’re playing in, and the general processes of role playing and character development instead of worrying about whether or not they are portraying their character accurately. Granted, the storytellers do still have to watch for signs of IC/OOC separation issues, but overall, I’ve found that this is not as heavy of a problem as most people claim it is, as long as people are willing to explain role playing and IC/OOC separation clearly from the get go to the new role player.

That being said, if you feel confident in playing a character that isn’t very much like you even though you’re new to role playing, that’s perfectly fine as well. I just wanted to voice that it was okay to play characters that were based on your own person, as a lot of people either gloss over this option or speak against it; really, it is up to the person making the character, and always should be.

With it being established that it’s okay to have a character be as near or as far from being like yourself, let’s discuss some of the ways people brainstorm their character concepts when they’re approaching a new game. These tend to work regardless of whether the game is a traditional table top RPG, a live action RPG, a forum RPG, or an MMO and one method will work for one person while it won’t work for another. Experiment with your conceptualisation process, and find what works best for you.

Image Dump

One method people use in their conceptualisation is often called an “image dump”, where they scour the web for images that visually “call out” to them with various traits their character has. Sometimes these end up being official and fan art images of one character they’re using as a sort of template for their character, sometimes these images end up being scattered across various characters that are serving as muses for different aspects of their character.

These image dumps may be a personal thing, locked away in a folder on a person’s computer or in their cloud storage where just they can view them, while others will share their image dumps and ask for opinions or ask for people to add to the collection, expanding their muses and giving them more ideas to play with. The internet and social media have made the image dump methodology very popular, as images are far more accessible than they used to be, and advice is just a mouse-click away.

Artists may finish an image dump by sketching out the character in some form, even before actually creating the character in whatever format they’re going to play in. They may create full artworks of the character to get a better feel of the character, but most of the time the art is just very loose and sketchy.

 

Scenario Building

Another method people use, usually when a character concept is just flowing like water, is scenario building. This method involves imagining the character in different scenarios, and how they would react, creating a sort of head canon-type movie set. This process allows the person to get a general feel of how the character reacts in different situations, and lets the player easily “retcon” something they don’t like about the character’s reactions.

When bringing a character into settings that have iconic characters, many people put the character into scenarios that involve meeting these iconic characters, and try to figure out how they would react to them; often times, these iconic characters represent their archetype in the game, just a sort of larger than life version of such, so it gives them a good opportunity to tune the character to the setting.

Again, this method largely only works for characters that are flowing through your brain.

 

Concept Generators

Sometimes, when a person is really stuck with character creation, they turn to a character generator. There are a many different types of generators online, from game specific generators, to broader generators that make characters that can be trimmed to fit any game. These generators include concepts and personalities, and some that are game specific will also build the character sheet and mechanics specific things for you as well.

Using a concept/character generator can be fun if you’re drawing a blank for a character, or if you’re interested in something new and want to try something outside your normal range, or for games like Paranoia where you’re going through characters rapidly. For storytellers, this can also work great as a tool to make NPCs, but that’s for another column!

Even if you have the beginnings of a character in mind, a concept/character generator could be a useful tool, as it may have some concepts and personalities you haven’t considered or thought of yet. Some of the more advanced ones get fancy and let you input some information while it generates the rest, so you can take your current concept, and see what else it adds. They’re fun to play with, so looking up a generator or two isn’t a bad idea.

 

Once you have a general concept in mind, it’s time to move on to the heavier process of actually creating the character, which we’ll cover in our next instalment. I personally am a fan of Ash’s Guide to RPG Personality & Background process for character creation, as it covers a lot of things even veteran role players sometimes forget. We’ll be going over all of that soon, so stay tuned!

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Wednesday Night D&D Recap: Murder in Baldur’s Gate Session VI

Oct 31

The sixth session was run on October 9th, and was again a lot of role play. Making sure the characters level up in a timely manner has been interesting during these strictly role play focused sessions, however we ultimately worked that out this week by throwing extra enemies into the mix on top of giving some flat EXP rates for role play situations.

While the party was aware of the fact that there’s something going on in the city involving a man who was posing as a member of Felogyr’s Fireworks’ apprentices, and that it may well involve smokepowder, however they have little in the way of leads so far. Before they really have more of a chance to investigate, another degree from the Council of Four – that only has three members – was issued and many couriers were rushing about the city making sure everyone knew what this was about.

From now on, the Upper City would be closing to non-residents after three bells, which is the middle of the afternoon. This decree meant that merchants from the Lower City and Outer City who sell out of the Wide would have to close extremely early, and likely lose a lot of money in the process. There was rumour that people could obtain passports that would allow them to be in the Upper City, however it was likely that they were going to be hard to get.

Not only did it affect the merchants, it affected the docks quayside. There were two reasons for this. The first is due to the fact that they cannot deliver to the stalls and shops in the Wide after the gates close, while the second is that as the days pass, and merchants lose more and more money, they won’t be able to pay for those goods to be moved. This is going to make the pier and ferry docks a hazard zone, and leave them as the potential prowling ground for thieves.

Ravengard and the Flaming Fist are left with very few options, as they can get a few passports, but even these passports are limited. He suggested to the party that they approach the patriars who now owed them favours, convince them to sponsor the group for less restrictive passports, then approach the Grand Duke for their passports – Portyr dislikes confrontation, and even if the party isn’t direct with threats, logical demands often cause Portyr to cave.

And so the party paid a visit to House Oberon, seeking to gain his support as a sponsor for these passports. Unfortunately, Lord Oberon’s mood was rather sour, as it was announced by the Harbormaster that the tariffs on fine goods were being raised; things like incense, spices, wines, magical supplies, and artworks were the focus of this tariff raise. These were all things that were common for a patriar to have, moderately affects several families, but heavily affects the Oberons and House Oathoon, whom they were attempting to create an alliance with.

Despite owning the drydocks, despite assisting various merchants and patriars with the repairs of their ships, and despite having a rather good relationship with the Harbormaster, there was little that Oberon could do. Between these new stressors and the continued confinement of his son in the Seatower, the patriarch of the Oberon household was quite distressed.

William shifted their tactics, offering to see about having his son moved to one of the better cells in the Seatower, although he admitted that there may not be much he can do to change the boy’s situation. This helped ease Oberon, citing that any attempt would be considered a gesture of friendship to the household. The party also agreed to investigate the situation down at the docks, and see about getting the tariffs overturned – while there was only a small chance that there was anything they could do, they would at least try.

This placated Oberon, and he gave them each a writ of sponsorship to take to the Grand Duke, also advising they attempt to work through him and not Silvershield. The party thanked him, and made their way to Portyr’s estate, writs in hand.

Portyr is an elderly man, who wears a wig to hide his greying hair, who is rather portly in figure. He spends most of his time at his estate, unless a session of Parliament or the Council is in session, enjoying creature comforts in his elder years. While he was friendly and approachable, he quickly caved to the party once they gave him their writs, and explained why they needed access to the Upper City; they were investigating a number of situations in relation to the recent vandalisms, and not being able to reach any point in the city at all hours might impede that investigation. Portyr issued the passports, and the party returned to the Flaming Fist.

On their way back to the Rock, a lamp lass stops them. She has six envelopes, and gives one to each member of the party, explaining that the sender wishes for them to read the letters as soon as they receive them. The party did so, and discovered invitations to a private soiree in Bloomridge, hosted by the famed citizen-adventurer Coran; although a bit suspicious, the group decides they will attend after checking in with the Fist.

Upon returning to Wyrm’s Rock, the party discovered that Ravengard convinced the Harbormaster to raise the tariffs after overhearing the complaints of his officers and the rank and file about the outrageous sumptuary laws, as well as the general attitude of the people within the Lower City. The Fist has a great many supporters in the Lower City, many of whom were affected by the sumptuary law being reinstated, and so he created this counter to deprive the patriars of some of their luxuries. It was doubtful that Ravengard was going to change his stance on the situation, so the party prepared to attend this private party of Coran’s.

There was a lot that was going to go down with the party and subsequent findings the party might make, so we ended there for that session. While many things have occurred that are unpleasant, the worst is yet to come…

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Wednesday Night D&D Recap: Murder in Baldur’s Gate Session V

Oct 30

FR_Sundering001

This article comes later than I planned; on Monday, I was put on antibiotics, and one of the unfortunate side effects is extreme amounts of sleep. Session V will be published now, Session VI will be posted Wednesday, and Session VII will be posted on Thursday because of this.

Session V started off on a bit of a weird moment. It had been a couple of days since the capture of the Patriars who vandalised the Beloved Ranger. The party had repaired the statue with a Mend spell or two, which was well received by the citizens of Baldur’s Gate, and it appeared that things were finally settling down in the city.

Of course, being that it is Baldur’s Gate…they weren’t.

Although it took those few days for it to become noticeable, the Upper and Lower Cities were experiencing quite an ugly problem. Usually, trash was collected by the goldflow carriers while the various sewage drains and systems were cared for by the nightsoil carriers, however it appeared that neither had done their jobs in several days. Trash piles were growing quite large, covering their drop points and expanding into the streets, while the drains clogged with sewage that no one cleared; soon the Lower City’s streets were awash with a film of sewage and the smells of rubbish filled the air. While there seemed to be a decrease in hauling in the Outer City, the smells blend in with the already existing unpleasant smells of the tanneries, butcheries, and stables.

While the party wasn’t thrilled about the situation, they had other things to attend to. When they woke in the morning, they were summoned by Ravengard. The Marshal wished to speak with them to discuss things he would rather not have milling about the Rock’s rumours, and asked the party to join him at the Hissing Stones, which is a Seatower bathhouse; it was rumoured that Abdel Adrian once used the bathhouse not only for relaxation, but to conduct meetings he did not want uninvited parties overhearing – given the nature of bath houses, it’s very difficult for people to hide things like weapons and magic items.

The party agreed to do so, however they got a little sidetracked while making their way to the Seatower to investigate the Stones before the meeting.

While travelling through Bloomridge, the party noticed something odd glistening in one of the trash heaps. Upon closer inspection, they found an incredibly well made alchemical bowl that was stained with residue that smelled like sulphur and smoke – smells that were a bit uncommon, even in trash heaps. They managed to get the ceramic bowl out of the trash, discovering that it was discarded due to being cracked; they also discovered that the letters F E L O G Y R / B G were scratched into the underside of the bowl, likely before it was even fired in a kiln.

One of the places of note in Baldur’s Gate was Felogyr’s Fireworks, one of the few places allowed to make Smokepowder, and the only place in Baldur’s Gate that was permitted to manufacture the compound. The shop wasn’t even in Bloomridge, so the characters were a little concerned about the fact a bowl used for smokepowder was so far from its home. The party set off for the Steeps, intent on questioning the shop about the broken bowl.

Felogyr’s Fireworks had not been rung by Felogyr in many years, was open for business, and a few busy apprentices worked behind the counter as our adventurer’s arrived. They quickly got the attention of the proprietor, Afery Sonshal, who was just as confused about the discarded bowl as they were.

Sonshal had his apprentices bring out all the mixing bowls, and verified that all the bowls the shop had currently, and had for the past several months, were present and accounted for. When all of them were there, he checked to make sure any bowls from before that time had been disposed of properly, and each one was accounted for there as well. All of the apprentices were questioned, and none of them had taken any bowls or ordered any new ones without Sonshal’s request.

He explained that the bowls used in his shop were all made by a Rivington potter named Tacy Sands, to exact specifications, right down to the inscription of Sonshal’s ancestor’s name and the initials of the city where the shop was; alchemists do get together from time to time to trade secrets, and almost all of them have the same sort of branding on their equipment in case they end up in another alchemist’s packs afterwards. It had been some time since he’d been to one of these meetings, and the bowl was a bit too new to have been lost at one – nevermind the fact that he hadn’t left any behind before.

All of this lead to Sonshal recalling that a gentleman had been in the shop about a month ago. The man, who despite Sonshal’s detailed description was about as average as you could get, had asked about the bowls, expressing interest in their quality. It wasn’t the first time someone asked about who made all the ceramics the shop used, so Sonshal told him about Sands’ shop; it was, however, the first time anyone had given him money for the information. The man had claimed it was a “thank you” and “finder’s fee”, and left the shop.

Although this made the party curious, they needed to meet Ravengard at the Hissing Stones. They thanked Sonshal for his cooperation, and promised that the Flaming Fist would keep an eye on the shop in case the gentlemen in question returned or sought to harm Sonshal for giving information to the Fist. The party left the Steeps, and headed towards Seatower and the bathhouse.

The characters stripped down and then wrapped themselves in towels, as Ravengard was waiting for them in one of the private saunas. He offered little in pleasantries, and got straight to the matter at hand once the group was settled on the benches.

Adrian’s death left a vacancy on the Council of Four, and traditionally that seat is held by someone who has strong ties to the Lower City and the Flaming Fist. While Ravengard has already assumed control of the Flaming Fist without any argument, he cannot grant himself the title of Duke – that title is granted by the Parliament of Peers via an election, and rumours were circulating that claimed the peers wanted to stack the council with a fourth patriar – specifically to keep the Fist out of the Council.

Ravengard claimed that he was concerned not because he desired to become a Duke, but because he was concerned that without the Fist to protect them, the middle and lower classes of the city would suffer greater abuses at the hands of the patriars and the Watch. It could also force the company to resort back to their origin, taking on mercenary contracts to keep Wyrm’s Rock afloat, which would slowly degrade their standing within the city.

There’s only one patriar with enough support in the Lower City for the Parliament’s plans to work, the alchemist and lumber baron, Wyllyck Caldwell. While he doesn’t hate Caldwell – Ravengard actually likes the man due to his anti-Guild views – he can’t let the man get in the way of the Fist being a part of the Council. The long and the short of it is that he wants the party to pressure Caldwell into turning down the nomination, which likely would come from Silvershield himself.

The caveat was that it could not be tied back to Ravengard or the Fist in any way, or their bid for the Council position was lost before it began.

Ravengard mentioned that there was an alchemist named Yssra Brackrel who was rather displeased with the patriars. She never liked them in the first place, and now had a reason to dislike Silvershield in particular; recently, she was jailed for several days on the word and order of Silvershield, and had just been released earlier in the day. He was certain that she’d help them foil any plan of Silvershield’s, although they would need to work out the details of it themselves – the less he knew, the better it was for the Fist.

Of course, the party agreed to do it. They immediately left for Brackrel’s shop, as it was getting late in the day, and Fie ended up using a disguise to speak to the woman. Ravengard was very correct – she was furious with Silvershield, and when she heard that the Duke was hoping to elevate another patriar to the council, she agreed to help the party stop that from happening. The party had forged a letter from a “concerned citizen” who claimed to have problems with the lumber he purchased from Caldwell, and Brackrel signed off on it. She even went as far as to claim the alchemical mixture used on that particular batch of lumber had the opposite effects from what Caldwell was known for, causing it to burn more easily and weaken faster than it ever should.

Yssra then was left to deliver the blackmail to Caldwell – however the party hasn’t ever looked back in on her to find out what exactly happened.

In the morning, the group went to ask Tacy Sands of Rivington about the bowl they found. Unfortunately, while Tacy was able to tell them that the same incredibly non-descriptive man had visited him, claiming to be one of Sonshal’s apprentices. He placed an order for more bowls, stating that a newer apprentice had broken several already, paying in advance and stating he’d pick them up several days later. He thought nothing of it, made the bowls, and allowed the man to take them once they were finished.

Lacking much more information, the party decided that they were sick of the stench that permeated the city, and headed off to find out why the trash collectors and sewage tenders weren’t doing their jobs. William had the brilliant idea of checking out the city’s dump, which was quite removed from the city proper.

They found several workers just lazing around the area, all of whom were rather tight lipped about things. The party hauled them all into the foreman’s office, only to discover that the foreman was allowing the behaviour. A gentleman with “the best interests of the Outer City at heart” had approached both the goldflow and nightsoil carriers, offering them almost eighty silver per day, per worker to stop hauling anything out of the Upper and Lower Cities, and to cut down on how often they cleared the Outer City so it didn’t look suspicious. The Foreman claimed it had nothing to do with the Guild when the party suggested such, although he wasn’t sure if the gentleman making the offers was a part of them.

William threatened to take them in for their treacheries, but the Foreman seemed completely unconcerned about the situation; he claimed their benefactor would keep them from being thrown in the Seatower, and basically implied there was little the party could do to harm them by turning them into the Fist.

To make a point, on the way across the bridge, William threatened the foreman with physical violence, shoving him into the waters below. The man merely began to swim away, at which point Lily was asked to start shooting him; he was hit several times, and although he didn’t die, Yhoma had to haul him out of the waters and bandage the Foreman up before they could actually take them in. His point made, the other men said nothing about being saved by their benefactor, and they were taken in to Wyrm’s Crossing.

The party made a report to the Fist, informing them of the fact that all the workers were being paid off. While the Fist worked on rounding the workers up to try and convince them to start working again, William contacted his group of urchins and asked them to start spreading the word that honest work was available for a price he thought the Guild wouldn’t try to counter.

And thus ended our fifth session, with the party waiting to hear if the urchins could find workers, and with a bit of a mystery on their hands. There was plenty of wild speculation, however as mentioned before, they don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle due to the nature of how this module is constructed. It will be interesting to see where their assumptions lead them!

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The Prince’s Primer: An OOC Note About the LARP

Oct 27

This particular column has been on hiatus for longer than planned. Usually, the City of Nod LARP does not have any games during June, July, and August due to the university having limited availability; that availability was even more slimmed down as they were re-modelling the building our game is usually held in. The Storyteller has us send downtime for the three months, and most people use the time to have their characters do things out of town, or advance disciplines that take longer amounts of time to learn while the Storyteller gets to have a break and create more content for the coming year.

We actually haven’t had a game since May. Over the summer, the Storyteller got a job, and the place has not worked with him for time off at all – even when he puts requests for time off well in advance. Because we have to book either of our options for game at least three to four weeks in advance, we have not been able to have sessions in September or October as usual. The Storyteller works many hours, and doesn’t get much time off, so we’re still all working on summer downtime that’s just growing since we have to cover September and October as well. This doesn’t give me much to write with until that downtime is worked out.

Hopefully, game can start in November or December again, and this column can continue. As soon as the downtime stuff for the summer gets sorted out, there will be an in character article covering June, July, and August. Depending upon how the Storyteller wants to handle the additional two months of downtime, there may be a second downtime article or it may be wrapped into the November or December edition.

I just wanted to update about this, since the downtime has continued to run longer than planned. I can say that with the first month’s worth of downtime scenes and resulting situations, things will be pretty interesting when the articles do start again! No one does drama quite the way vampires do drama, after all.

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Wednesday Night D&D Recap: Murder in Baldur’s Gate Sessions IV

Oct 27

FR_Sundering001

It’s been a few weeks since the Recap has been published. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, I caught the Plague that was going around and it transformed into a severe sinus infection that’s been awfully damn stubborn; I’m still sick, to the point where last week’s session was cancelled – my fiancé wasn’t able to cover DMing because the store he managed opened earlier in the week, but most of the table works there anyway, so it was probably a good thing it was cancelled. Opening week for any business is very hectic, no matter how much planning and set up have been done.

When I get super sick, I have a really hard time doing anything creative. This has made coming up with interesting filler for the current D&D campaign difficult, as well as making writing about the sessions difficult; I also have had trouble role playing in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as well. However, since we did have a lull in the game sessions, now is the best time to get everything caught up over the next few days.

The fourth session took place on September 25th, and we essentially restarted the scene at House Oberon’s estate; because we had cut things short so suddenly due to that fire – which thankfully they never lost control of, thanks to most of the surrounding counties’ fire departments coming to help – it was really hard for everyone to get back into it. Going over what Lord Oberon himself had said was fairly short, however the party’s questioning of the eldest Oberon’s page took a bit longer.

They found out that it was pretty common for the Oberon heir to sneak out at night, and that much of his time on the sly was spent visiting someone named “Lindy” in the Lower City. As far as they could figure out from the lad’s rather disjointed explanations, this “Lindy” was a barmaid at one of the taverns in the Lower City, however the page was rather unfamiliar with the majority of Baldur’s Gate as of yet, so he couldn’t really give them much of an idea of where the tavern was.

After promising to return the family heirloom once it was no longer needed for the investigation, the party proceeded into the Lower City and began asking around for this mysterious “Lindy”. It quickly became clear that the young page didn’t actually know the name of the woman his Lord was seeing, however the party found out there were three tavern maids with parts of that name – Lena, Lydia, and Wendy. The group went to question the three maidens, and discovered there was more to the story than the poor page boy ever knew.

Lena was actually waiting for the young Lord Oberon to stop by; they had a date scheduled, and she was going to tell him some wonderful news, however he had yet to arrive. She was very concerned because he’s usually quite punctual, and if he does have to cancel his plans with her, he normally sends a courier with a letter stating such. She hadn’t seen him in a few days, and wasn’t very much help to the party in their search, although she provided plenty of blackmail material – she revealed that she was pregnant, and since she only carried on such affairs with Oberon, it clearly was his.

From there, the party moved on to speak to Lydia. Unlike Lena, Lydia had already discovered that the young Lord Oberon wasn’t as faithful as she had thought he was, and she informed the party that while she hadn’t seen him in a few days, her brother was hunting him down for the dishonour he’d brought to their family. Lydia may not be a patriar’s daughter, but her family is still quite proud. The party revealed that one of Oberon’s other tavern maidens was pregnant, which made Lydia quite a bit more upset – it was clear that if they didn’t find the young man quickly, they may end up finding him dead.

While Lydia wasn’t exactly helpful to their actual investigation, the party filed away the information as they moved on to the last tavern where the Half-Elven barmaid Wendy worked. She was incredibly naive as well as a bit of a ditz, and clearly had very little information about the whereabouts of the young Lord Oberon. The party informed Wendy of the young man’s other women, leaving her rather heartbroken as they continued their search for the missing patriar.

One thing that the three maidens’ stories did agree upon is that the young Oberon was often accompanied by the eldest son of Lord Ravenshade and the eldest son of Lord Durinbold, and that there was some sort of rivalry between the young patriar and the eldest son of Lord Rillyn – a dangerous situation, given the reputation House Rillyn has for hiring thugs to silence their enemies. The party decided to pay a visit to Ravenshade before checking in with both the Flaming Fist and the Watch to see if any more information had turned up.

Their discussions with Ravenshade revealed the cause of the conflict between the young Oberon and the young Rillyn – their families were attempting to court the eldest daughter of Lord Oathoon, working to arrange a marriage that would expand their influence. It seemed that neither young patriar had actual feelings for the Oathoon maid, and as such, conducted private affairs with other women; Ravenshade was quite sure his own son was seeing a Lower City woman, however since they were not yet negotiating marriage, he wasn’t all that concerned about it. He was, however, concerned that his son was missing, and that a family heirloom had been found near the ravaged statue in the Wide.

Again, the party gained more information on the young Oberon himself, yet they still had no leads on the location of the young patriars, although it was possible that either Rillyn thugs were involved, or Lydia’s brother had already found the patriar and extracted their revenge. With this information in hand, the party headed to the Watch while sending a runner to Wyrm’s Crossing.

While they were checking in with the Watch, they discovered that the last area any Watch patrol saw the three young patriars was Heap Gate. The guards who had been on watch there were rather elusive about whether they went through the gate initially, but finally admitted to letting the youths pass; it wasn’t uncommon for the young men to head down into the Lower City at that hour, and so they thought nothing of it. As the Watch mobilised, the party made their way to the Heap Gate to try and pick up the trail.

The Watch concentrated on trying to figure out whether the young men had passed back through the Heap Gate later in the evening. They were questioning those who lived and worked near the gate. Amid all the patrols, the party noticed a particular lamp lad that seemed to be avoiding the patrols as much as possible, and so they decided to question him before the Watch could.

After he was assured that they weren’t with the Watch, and that he wouldn’t get in trouble for having helped the young patriars, the lamp lad revealed that the boys had paid him quite a bit to take them to Brampton via less travelled roads. He was also paid to keep quiet about the situation, however he wasn’t feeling very good about the situation, so he revealed everything to the party – they were with the Flaming Fist, after all, and likely better than the Watch, as far as he was concerned.

Once they were lead to the ferry docks by the lamp lad, the party began questioning various dock workers. Eventually, they found the ferry operator who had taken the young patriars over to Twin Songs near dawn; the man suspected the boys were heading to Wyrm’s Crossing to report some wrong doing they witnessed, so he thought nothing of their request. He too was also paid quite a bit of gold to ferry them and keep his mouth shut, but he’d rather not cross the Flaming Fist.

The party was ferried over to the Twin Songs, where they began to question the locals about the trio of young patriars; a message was sent to Wyrm’s Crossing, informing Ravengard of what they had learned so far. Before the rest of the Flaming Fist had really gotten started on their patrols for questioning, the party ran across a merchant on the south side of the bridge that had seen the three young men enter Horgold Hadru’s pottery shop, and gave the party directions to the shop itself.

At this point, it was fairly well into evening, so the party elected to check out the place before knocking on the front door. Three of them went around to the back side of the building, where they figured out that there were people in the basement, while the other two investigated the front windows. Carefully, the first group snuck into the basement and made their way towards the room where they heard people talking, taking a moment to actually listen before charging in.

Hadru was pretty against some idea that the young patriars had, and refused to take part in their schemes. While they listened to the four argue, the party who’d made it inside already noticed the Beloved Ranger’s hands sitting on one of the potter’s tables; after hearing the young men try to convince the potter to either export the hands out of town or break them down, the party revealed themselves. Upon hearing the commotion inside, the others forced open the front door, and made their way to the top of the stairs that lead down into the basement. It wasn’t long before the party had all four gentlemen in hand, however they allowed Hadru to stay in his shop after he explained that he owed a favour to the Durinbold family, but he had no idea that allowing the young patriar to collect on it would result in this situation.

The party then took the young patriars to the Flaming Fist. Ravengard arranged for a very swift, very public announcement of their capture, their confessions, and their sentences to the Seatower; the three Houses were unable to stop Ravengard, due to the swell in negative opinion towards the patriars in general. It was also made clear to all three families that the Seatower may be the safest place for the young men, given that many citizens were planning to mob the culprits and kill them, on top of Lydia’s brother’s plans to kill the young Oberon. Due to these three things, the families decided not to intervene, but quietly began attempting to have their children moved to more comfortable parts of the Seatower.

Our group found this to be a good place to stop, and it does work out well as it was the end of one phase of the Murder in Baldur’s Gate story module, and the beginning of the next phase would take more time than we had left that session. There’s still a lot going on that the characters are only vaguely aware of, and things are beginning to slowly escalate as each phase moves forward. Their choices have more cause and effect than they have in earlier Wednesday Night D&D modules, and there is definitely a LOT more role play and investigation than there has been in the past – we really went the entire session without any combat, much to their dismay since everyone was in the habit of making combat-focused characters!

The happenings of session five and six will be posted on Tuesday, while the details of session seven will be posted on Wednesday; I figure that breaking them up into individual posts would be much more digestible than one massive wall of text!

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Wednesday Night D&D Recap: Murder in Baldur’s Gate Session III

Sep 21

FR_Sundering001

This week’s Recap is going to be fairly short, compared to the last two sessions, as the session itself was abruptly cut short: about half way through the game, we found out a five alarm fire broke out at the plastic container company that is on the next street over from my home. While they weren’t having too much trouble containing it, we have pets and valuables we didn’t want to lose if something did happen, but everyone was understanding of the situation, and a few people from my table ended up coming over to hang out, just in case we did have to GTFO.

Since everyone levelled up at the end of last session, and several people wanted to purchase items with their coin, I decided that there was an entire day of nothing happening between the events of the prior session and the start of this session. However, the party was awakened bright and early by an overly eager Fist (the Flaming Fist rank that is equivalent to Private in our military) that came flailing through Wyrm’s Crossing, waking everyone up.

When they realised the party was going to go investigate, the Fist assigned a Human Psion named Arum to assist; we have a new player playing, and he needed introducing, so…convenient assignment was convenient.

It turns out that five of the major statues in the city had been vandalised during the night, their hands removed. While all of them were within the city proper, the Fist was rallying to assist the Watch in tracking down the thieves. After learning what was going on, the party decided to investigate for themselves, and made some interesting discoveries.

The party quickly determined that the hands were not removed through magical or psionic means. With a bit more investigation and close inspection, they figured out that the hands were removed using professional tools and great skill, likely by someone who was a decent sculptor, or under the instruction of one. While William and Yhoma headed to the Watch, the rest of the party began asking questions of the residents around the areas that the statues were in.

William and Yhoma found that the Watch had been waiting for a Fist representative to show up, to help coordinate the search as it expanded into the Outer City, and so William took advantage of the situation. Primarily, the pair tried to get as much information about the situation from the Watch as possible, while giving them as little information as possible. They did learn that the Watch was already questioning artisans in the city proper, so they were of the same mind as the party – someone who knew what they were doing was involved.

The questioning of the local residents didn’t go quite as well for the rest of the group. Most people near the docks and Seatower are used to odd noises during the evening, due to the fact that the docks tend to have a lot of grunt work done around the clock, as well as local repairs that require blocking the roads and traffic along them. Even in the more pretentious Upper City, people just assumed their neighbours were having repairs of such nature done, and thought nothing of the noise beyond being a bit irritated that they weren’t given warning; when the group headed up to the Upper City, Arum stayed behind to being questioning the beggars and other such individuals.

After speaking with people in the Lower City and Upper City, the group stopped by the Port Authority to see if any weird shipments had been made over the evening, only to discover everything that was brought in or shipped out was on their dockets. However, on their way out of the building, they overheard a group of rowdy dockhands congratulating one another on a job well done whilst making jokes about having their hands in everything. Disturbed, the party decided to begin their typical aggressive negotiations.

Three of the smaller dockhands died in the battle, while the two tougher workers survived. Before waking them for questioning, the party tied them up with heavy objects tethered to the ropes, and hung their heads over the side of the dock. It didn’t take long for the party to learn that the group had been joking around, and none of them were involved with the thefts.

Having drawn a crowd, the group left the dockhands tied up on the pier for the Watch before heading to meet up with everyone.

Meanwhile, Arum managed to find a couple of leads, although it took him some time to find the beggars; within the city proper, most of them took on a low key attitude, sitting quietly at the front of alleyways with tin cups beside them. One near the Counting House informed Arum that he didn’t see anyone take the hands from the statues there – they were already missing when he came to try and catch a nap behind the wind-stopping walls of the Counting House – but he had seen a group of people that were a bit odd. He said they were dressed a bit different, in darker shades rather than the dusty and muddy shades that quickly became the norm after the sumptery laws were put back into affect, and he didn’t get a good feeling about them. They all had traveller’s packs, so he wasn’t sure if they had the hands from the statues or not, since traveller’s packs are a bit common for people to carry, even if they live somewhere in Balder’s Gate.

The beggar at the Counting House did suggest speaking with another beggar that was stuck in the city proper, and Arum tipped him for his help; the man was rather content with the silver piece, as it was the last of what he needed to pay the toll to get back out of the city. Arum made his way towards the Seatower’s area while the begger headed back to the Outer City, and eventually managed to find the other man that first had spoken of.

Changing his tactics, Arum bought a plate of food from a tavern on the way, and presented it to the Seatower beggar. After letting the man eat ravenously, they began discussing the events of the evening, and this beggar talked about seeing men dressed in the manner the first one had, however it seemed they were two different groups, given the directions the beggars said they left in. This beggar had theories, however.

He used to live near Little Calimshan, prior to finding himself without the coin for the toll, and he’d noticed some people who dressed as these ones did quite frequently. He pointed out they were all over the Outer City, but he’d often seen them heading over the walls of Little Calimshan near the same place, and he suspected they belonged to the Guild. He did point out that he had no proof the people he saw during the night were one and the same, and he didn’t actually see them take the hands from the statues, but he had a feeling that’s what was going on.

Arum thanked the man, and as he left the alleyway, he put his Flaming Fist tabard back on, much to the beggar’s distress. He then headed over to the Watch to meet up with the rest of the group.

The party exchanged information, and due to the fact the search was continuing, the group stayed overnight in the Watch’s headquarters. Sometime just after dawn, a breathless Shield (the equivalent of a Fist) came rushing into the building, crying out that the Beloved had been violated; he eventually managed to explain that now the Beloved Ranger was missing its hands – which included Boo!

While Baldur’s Gate did not take well to the other statues being vandalised, they really did not take the statue of Minsc being vandalised well. By the time the group managed to get to the Wide, people were already out – some even still in their night clothes – questioning the situation, and demanding the criminals be publicly hanged; suddenly, the city was on the verge of rioting.

It was quickly determined that this theft was also not done through magical or psionic means, however the party also figured out that it was likely not done by the same group, as it appeared that makeshift tools were used and the people who took the hands were not skilled artisans, nor under the instructions of such. Eventually, in a side alleyway, the party found a brooch baring the crest of House Ravenshade and a dagger bearing the mark of House Oberon on it; William allowed the Vigiliar of the Watch to see the items before taking them, and the party, up into the Upper City to question the families.

Unfortunately, we had just barely begun the questioning of House Oberon when we had to end the session. We will be picking up from the beginning of that scene this coming week, since we weren’t all that far into it. Again, not as much as I would have liked to get done in the session, but there really wasn’t much to be done once we found out about the fire.

Stay tuned next week for a continuation of the investigation!

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Wednesday Night D&D Recap: Murder in Baldur’s Gate Session II

Sep 15

FR_Sundering001

Last Wednesday we ran the second session of Murder in Baldur’s Gate. It was a bit rocky, due to having two different people running the module; my fiancé didn’t know about half the things going on in the background, as he shouldn’t since normally he’s playing the game and not running it. It got smoothed out, and things got underway.

This week there were again three scenarios that were occurring, however they were not as avoidable and disjointed as they were the prior week. Some of these events were completely unstoppable, while others allowed the players to interact with them in more impacting ways. The first event triggered when the characters went out into the city, as they found the following public notice decorating the city.

By decree of the Council and with concurrence of Parliament:

To preserve the decency of citizens and promote the general weal, all citizens of Baldur’s Gate must attire themselves in a manner befitting their station. Furs, silks, damask, velvet, samite, and satin are forbidden to all but those numbered among the patriars, as is jewellery incorporating inlaid gems or magical properties. Those who violate these terms are subject to fines and imprisonment.

Naturally, at least one member of the group chose to spit on this by acquiring a silk shirt, and wearing it as they wandered about the city proper. William, and the rest of the group, was stopped by a patrol of Watch guards, and ordered to remove the silk shirt or face arrest – or worse if he resisted. Rather than completely acquiesce to their demands, the Pixie did take off the shirt…the proceeded to piss on it as it fell toward the Watch guard.

After some heated words, the Watch attempted to arrest William, and the group jumped in to stop them. The fight was a fairly intense one, with both sides taking some pretty heavy damage, before the party managed to subdue all the Watch. Once the fight concluded, the group stripped the guard down, and left them wrapped up in silk clothing before managing to sneak away; or at least, as far as they know, sneak away.

The party witnessed events like this throughout the day. If people did not comply with the guards, the clothing in question was cut until it was either unusable or fell off. The effects of the enactment of the old sumptuary laws were quite noticeable as the day wore on; the patriars of the Upper City stood out once more in their colourful clothing and vibrant jewellery, while those of the Lower City became background characters in the scene, and the unfortunate souls in the Outer City were forced to leave their heavy fur cloaks at home, revealing drab clothing and leaving them shivering.

As the party moved from the city proper to the Outer City, they noticed other incidents as well. Here in the slums, angry citizens were ripping down the decrees and decorating fences, buildings, and the walls that enclosed the city proper with slogans voicing their displeasure. The group pressed ahead quickly, making their way to Wyrm’s Rock to find out how the Flaming Fist was dealing with things.

Upon arriving at Wyrm’s Rock, the party was informed that Ravengard was unavailable. One of the clerks filled them in on the situations the Fist was currently dealing with: A tax collector was robbed during the evening, while others were robbed this morning, and Ravengard suspects the foreign dock workers who live in the Outer City to be behind this as well as the current vandalism taking place. Fist patrols had been dispatched to Brampton and Eastway docks where these foreigners work to investigate, while others were attempting to stop the vandalisms.

Rather than investigating what was being done in Brampton or Eastway, the characters made their way back to Little Calimshan, however it was a long time getting there due to the sudden escalation in violence. Where before the angry thugs were just scrawling their slogans along any surface they could, they were now smashing windows, breaking streetlights, setting trash afire, and more.

Before encountering any violence, the party was stopped by a group of sailors who were soliciting donations for the Water Queen’s House. While William distracted them with a very moving song in dedication, Lily went around and picked their pockets…to discover they carried scant bits of silver and copper themselves. Lily decided to donate the copper pieces, and the party discovered all the silver and gold was within the coffer; try as she might, Lily could not find a decent opening to try and take the coffer’s contents, and the party moved on.

As the party passed an alleyway, they noticed a pack of thugs up to no good. The thugs were scrawling their angry messages on the wall, for the more part, but one was gathering up everything in the alley. William attempted to talk the pack of thugs down, and managed to succeed for the more part, when one of the thugs turned violent and attacked the Pixie; upon seeing one of their own attack, the rest of the thugs shook themselves out of the placid place Will’s diplomacy had lured them into. It was another rather intense fight, however the thugs took the majority of the damage right away, and soon all but the one that had lashed out at Will were dead; he left that one trussed up for the Fist or the Watch to find.

The party continued making their long trek through the Outer City to Little Calimshan. Given how compact our time is, how much space they had to cover to get from where they were to Little Calimshan, and how likely it was that they would run into other groups of thugs, I rolled a die and announced that another several sets of fights would take place between there and their destination. They were agreeable to this, as it resulted in reaching level two, which would be very helpful to them, given how hard the fights had been lately.

Upon reaching Little Calimshan, Fie broke of from the group and disguised herself. She then made her way to Rael’s shop, trying to make contact with the Guild leadership once more. Unfortunately, all she could find were some thieves that worked for the Guild, but she learned that Rael was unavailable because she was coordinating the chaos within the Outer City.

Fie took this information back to her companions, after another quick change of appearance, and the group decided to head back to Wyrm’s Rock for the night. They would be confronting Ravengard in the morning, to inform him that he was following the wrong trail when it came to the vandalism taking place in the Outer City. Even though it was a bit earlier than normal, we ended there, as it was a good stopping place.

With that, we’re caught up!

As mentioned in the beginning, there’s a lot going on in the background, directly affected by the characters’ actions and decisions, however imparting these things at this time would spoil the game. It will be interesting to see how Wizards collates all of this data, and what ultimately makes it into canon and what gets tossed by the wayside.

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