The DM, Plot Building and Forced Conflict
Last night we got back to our campaign that I do not GM (for a change). Our group has three campaigns going on, and we take turns over weeks running the main table. I DM my game for an 8-12 hour session, three times, every other week, then we rest from my campaign and return to one of my best friend's campaign for another three games played every other week.
Every odd sunday is reseved for our giant games and we get alot of players ready to sell thier entire day for a good romping adventure. And, since most players get to enjoy being a player in both games, I think I enjoy this campaign more then any, cus I can't be a PC in my own game...so I have waited to return to this realm for 8 weeks now (6 weeks it took to run my game's course, and then 2 more weeks cus the GM was outta town.
Yesterday we sat down and we were all ready. My PC is named Elfabah Wicked, or Wicked Red (her theiving name). She is a 16 year old human with spunk and whimsey, her hair is a died green mohawk and she has a rock-star tattoo (lightining bolt) over her left eye. She wears bright red and sees herself as a robin hood type with a trucker's mouth (she swears more then a prison guard in a riot). I'm fith level and pretty damn boyish...Back to my point.
The GM spent the past 8 weeks giving us mental previews about how the game was going to be great, how the plot was set to roll, how everything was gunna get going real fast once we entered the town of Mokibo...Well it didn't.
After ariving at the city/town of Mokibo, I fewlt instantly at home...being a city girl and a lover of good times...We were told the city is a good city that has balance and I had made much attempts at learning about the law here months prior to us embarking on even coming here. The city is not huge but well known to locals and travelers who come south looking for trade. I know alot of traders (and traitors...but thats another story), and I spent games trying to get all the info I could on how the city was governed. I am a good alighned person who is often mistaken for evil cus I enjoy wealth and have the speach of a venom spitting cobra on a bad day...(I punched a cleric female who I thought was making fun of my small boobs and dirty hands....so I wacked her in the nose to show I wasnt no punk...like I said, I'm a tomboy punk)...
We were told tha city was balaneced, the people were good, the law was fair, the Queen was respected, yadda yadda. So we went there in hopes to find a necklace that was missing and possibly went north with a theif named Kennith the Wise.
Now I must tell you, My PC (Wicked from now on)was never seen with the party, never really made a public display with the group, and the party that I DID travel with was dead...They all died and I left them buried in a rocky valley with tears of saddness, I even left there treasur with the bodies...hows that for caring?
Anyway, the party I now traveled with was innocent of any crime the other party had on them...I was never pegged as an escort to that party as well (all my levels were achieved in the darkest part of a evil forest where no one saw me befriend and help them). Anyway...the second we enter the city, a bunch og guards point us out and scream "theres the Elf! (we travel with the only elf to allow humans to see him in over 4000 years) and hes with WICKED RED!).
Ummmm...I'm known here? uh..ok...thats cool....since I love attention and it makes me feel important...we run. The GM wants us caught, I can tell...but being smart and quick, me and the elf run, but the rest of the party gets captured. I run into the first home that sports an unlocked door, an old lady freeks out, I pull out a handful of small gems ranging in value from 10-gld to 100-gold a peice. I say
"My name is Wicked Red, I'm a good girl who is in trouble. I wish to remove your poverty forever if you would simply show us a safe way outta here"
The lady takes us to a window leading to roof-ways that we take with speed. We get away, the rest of the party allow the guard to arrest them (for what reason?). Fine, they are all lawful and don't want to be fugetives in a city that is "lawful"...we spent enough time asking about the mighty city, we know of its good queen, so allowing the good queen's soilders to capture them wasn't that stupid...was it?
Anyway, they get pulled in and questioned by the police of Mokibo. They don't hurt them or anything....me and the Elf are watching OOG while they play out there instalment to the story (seperated party). The guards accuse them of trying to assasinate the Queen....WHAT!? (thats cus a super powerful Litch told us to do it games ago, and we were like...no). Anyway, they tell the police of the litch and they wave it away as poppy-cock (ok, understandable I guess, but it is a high magic world and they do know the litch is alive and well...well, not alive, but...yknow). The guards announce that all triles of crime are delt with in the arena...that battle is the answer for all forms of crime, other then murder (thats death, no trile)...WHAT!? Lawful Mokiboien people get in a fight over land disputing or farming tax, and they end up inb a battle ring fighting to the death for the lawful outcome of the problem? WHAT?! Ok. perhaps all the people who told us the city was lawful and balaenced have a screwed up idea of what lawful means.
So they fight a giant lizard and win...they are free to go...WHAT!? You think that a bunch of killers have been sent to kil your queen, sent by a litch, and since they fight a fricken beast, they are now free to go!? WHAT KINDA SAFTY DOES THIS QUEEN HAVE? anyway...screw it...I judge the city to be god-awful and evil now...and make a huge stink about it after watching them fight the case out in the arena.
During my wait for that battle, I found out by snooping around that the law of this city had just placed a huge fortune on my head (one hundred and fity thousand gold to be on the dot). Now Wicked's face grows into a huge smile at this point, this bounty means I'm famous! It means I'm the most wanted Thief in the entire world as far as I'm concerned! The elf thinks I'm crazy...He may be right...whatever, wheres HIS bounty huh!? Jealous Fey thing...
Anyway, Insted of running from the law, running from a queen that I had all intentions of warning about the litch, I decided to turn myself in. But I was sure to do it in plain view of the public, so no back-ally exicution takes place...
So after the rest of our boys finish killing the lizard in plain view of the public, I jump into the arena and scream "ITS ME!!! WICKED RED! I COME TO SAVE THE QUEEN!"...I wince and wait for the arrows...no arrows...so I go on.
I tell the people that a powerful undead monster wishes to harm the queen, that I know where its lair is, that I have a map to it, that I am willing to lead soilders to the thing and help destroy it...blah blah blah.
The queen retorts...
"You are a lier and criminal intent on killing me! You must fight in the arena!"
WHAT!? So my good aligned thief begins to cry a little girl's tears as she begs mercy and understanding from the good people of Mokibo...no good...they want me to fight some stupid dude with the ability to shoot 4 arrows a round, with a +6/+6 modifier due to magic bow and trained skill...whatever...screw that! I traveled all this way to warn a queen, do the good thing, and then this happens? Fine, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I wont let this ruin my game. I refuse the fight...the queen bugs out...the elf offers to fight for me...she allows it. WHAT!?
by that law...lemmie recap. By that law, if I robbed the crown of all its jewels and then planned to slit the princes throat but was caught before the slice...Id end up here, fighting who or whatever. And if I was friends with a 11th level fighter sword-master, I could have him fight my battle and the crime would be dropped forever? WHAT!?
The GM sees my loss of interest in this plot's twisting turns by now...I ask questions such as "how did they know me?" and "how do they even know what I look like" (cus the GM said prior to this that every thief was looking for me...and knew my face)...I can understand the all-point look-out for a chick with a zig-zagging red tattoo on her face...but to have every thief notice me from any distance, no matter what sized hood I had to cover my face, whatever...thats weird...we don't have TV or photos, but every ork seems to know my face and voice like we grew up together...whatever.
anyway...so the elf wins the fight...and I am allowed to go free...ummmm ok...uh ok. But still, I am a force of GOOD and I will NOT allow a queen to be killed by a demon-looking dead guy who plots to destroy the city...so I beg her attention and tell her everything I know....The GM says she dont trust me and thinks its all lies...I point out the the queen is a powerful Mage and has access to detect lie...he says "she dont have that spell"...shes like 15th level dude! whatever....so ok....I begin to cry (my pc, not me) and beg her to pay attention, she warns me that I can go to the arena and work things out with a bad guy...I say forget it...never mind that I have 12 hitpoints, a strength of 7 (-1 to hit prob) and I have yet to kill a living thing cus I don't get into that kinda stuff...The fight that the elf had fought for me was agfaisnt a 8th level fighter, with magic arrows, over 50 hitpoints and a +6 to everything...dude, I tell the GM that thats impossible for me to fight...now heres the main point of the whole post (wow, like your still here reading by now)
The GM gave me this quick speach about how this was all part of the adventure, it would all soon make sence, and that I shoulda thought about my choices better , then I wouldnt have had to fight such a powerful foe in the arena.
So nowe I almost lose it...I'm trying to share the fustration of a PC when he/she can't do anything right cus the GM has it out to punish or trick the players at any cost. I then point out that I doubt there is any way a lawful city would use such a way of law, and that no one leaving this city would say this place was lawful good by definition. I then point out that if she knows the litch is real, and thinks that I was sent by him, then why wont she listen to me more about the subject, or kill me on the spot?
anyway...the game went on and on...and none of these questions fouind suitable answers. The party didn't seem to find any of this foul-ballish or wrong, and I am aware that since I spend hours and hours a week detailing entire worlds to allow my players free-move around the entire campaign setting, that this guy isnt as well=prepaired for his game as I am (cus my game is over 20 years old and has a line of about 50 notebooks worth of maps n notes for every thing from the goblin's underdark to the Whemic society of the Morgewoods...
This guy's campaign is new, and yes It should be taken softer then my game since he is just trying to paint a new world for new eyes. But seriously...Should I just allow a GM to paint a plot like this without showing concern? I mean, the queen is a high level mage, she can pull god from her butt for all I care...I dont understand magics, I am a theif, if she pooped platmail Id just chalk it up as magics. But when every crude ork, oger, kobold and goblin in the area knows me by name, sight, smell and voice, I start to wonder....did the GM have a game planned in the first place?
Or did he just have a long loooong arena fight planned, at the exspence of our trust in the info we searched for for many games? I don't like when a GM takes librity with our trust, or changes info often enough to question the integrity of his note-style.
At the end of the game we all chatted for some time (as always). The GM pointed out that I am a handful to have at a table...Now I don't think I am. I trhink if the GM took time in thinking about the mechanics of a city, the importance of law, the meaning of lawful-good in manner of government, that this all could have been avoided. Or perhaps when I asked around about Mokibo in the other games, people coulda said "dude, that place is f&cked up! they put you in a arena no matter your side in the crime to fight to the death!"...then I wouldnt have a problem with this twisted queen.
anyway...there was alot of other little things that erked me, and I will disscuss them with the GM next time...
I guess what I am saying is this...If you are a GM, do not look for every chance to throw an attack at your party of playuers, or try to trick them with everything you say and do...cus it will ALWAYS appear that there is nothing you can trust in this fake relaity, it will seem stilted, on the fly and sloppy. If you cant trust a couple dozen travelrs from the north to correctly discribe or remeber the city they greww up in, but your NPCs can smell or notice a non-important PC who is hiding her face, how the hell am I to judge the balance here?
As a DM its your job to entertain and keep your info correct. to trick me into thinking I am in Mokibo, not my living room. But I feel abused by a GM when he never connects his information correctly or takes the time to think things through. Dont put a hook line into a plot that has no other out-come but a fight in an area, take into account that the realm is 3 dimensional (or more) and that players drive the story not you. If you wrote a whole 20 page note on a big battle in a city 20 days to the north, that would take place as soon as they entered tha gates, don't force it...dont lead them there with no choice in the hands of the PCs...we just might not want to go to your dumb city in the first place...we have choices, fancey and thoughts of our own. So don't battle up hill to control our direction, simply do everything you can before game to make as many notes on all reachable areas inb the realm, note who is there, whats going on with-or-without-pc-interaction, and then allow us to go there if we so wish. Then jump us...dont write an entire adventure with a linear practice that allows the GM to push our direction.
An apple on a stick can lead a horse anywhere....stupid horse.
Beating a horse with a stick, till its knocked out, and then dragging him there is wrong....stupid GM.
sorry for the length...just wanted to type.