View Full Version : Would this upset you?

Gnomish Wanderer
2013-02-27, 09:09 PM
I posted this initially in the troll thread, but with discussions I've had about it I got two main reactions. One was 'Ha, that's hilarious' and the other was 'OMG, that's horrible'.

Firstly, if you have a pink monk in your game, or if you have a dragonborn named 'Bronius', do not read further.

Two stories of two different parties set on two different continents of the same campaign world happening during the same time frame. Both have a pretty headstrong paladin at the head of the group. Important to note?

Story OneHere's a bit of backstory for my 4e game:
The party knows of the Big Bad's plan to use people tainted by mushrooms under his control to gather an army to steal the Holy MacGuffin from different avatars of godly powers. I wanted to show the effects of the mushroom and give them some foresight, so I decided to have the goddess play quantum leap with the party.

Basically they were transported into the bodies of a different adventuring group amidst cooking mushroom soup. They quickly discovered that they weren't in their own bodies by using their reflections, and decided to eat the soup while they figured out why they had been transported. This is when they find a journal and realize they're actually a few weeks in the future just south of a town a few weeks distance from where the party's real bodies are.

Heh. To be fair, I did mention how starved they were and I didn't flat out mention that the soup was made of mushrooms, but still. The party then decides to possibly check what is was they were making that tasted so good and then finds the remnants of cut mushrooms. Here comes the panic.

They find where the mushrooms were picked, growing from strange white stones, only to realize that the 'stones' were a decayed corpse of a mushroom person.

The party doesn't start feeling ill right away or anything, but they are under the impression these future people are now certain to die. Lucky for them, that's when they spotted the forefront of the mushroom people army moving through the forest. They attack a bunch, but even with the low ac and hp the army is outnumbering them and the party is being tinked to death.

So they decide to cut their losses and run to the village, hoping to warn them rather than dying just to make a dent in the army in this forest. Good plan, save they left the horses thy had just discovered behind and ran on foot x.x

Here's where I get a bit troll-y. As they start running away, I began to describe how the forest itself was darkening, the trees looking more malicious. The party even started to notice the skin discoloration common of the mushroom poisoning in their party members' reflections.

Well, when they got to the town, they were kinda freaked out by the forest and monsters and sure they were dying, and that's when they noticed the 'thing' climbing down from the guard tower. It was wearing guard armor, but its eyes were bloated and red, and its mouth looked blended and raw while a long tongue slipped out of the hamburger meat-like opening. It raised one hand with fingers stripped to bones, a sound like a scream coming from what you would call its mouth.

The party freaked and attacked it as it slowly got closer. It screamed out as they finished it off in under a round, but as they did they looked up to see a bunch of the doors opening to the small village and more of the beasts shambling out. After a moment of the creatures screaming, a couple more in guard armor attacked the party.

They made short work of the creatures, noting that other ones shambled back into their homes and attacked the few that were still in the street against the walls of the building. One ripped off its own foot and threw it at the party as they killed the monsters on the street. Another one was eating a child like a snake would a live mouse, so they killed the monster and then mercifully executed the dying child within.

After that they made it to a holy temple at the end of town, broke inside, and saved the goddess from losing her mask (her seat of power) at the cost of her life, but died from attacks from the BBEG and were sent back to their real bodies.

So back in real time the party is trying to make it in the town before the army to warn the goddess, ironically enough. The problem is, what they're going to see is going to be a very different story then what they experienced.

First, they are going to use some magic to get there early and will notice a single mushroom-person scout. They will kill him, of that I'm sure, and I'm reasonably certain they will leave the body behind to be the white stones that the future selves collect the mushroom from, seeing as they'll be chasing down a second mushroom person.

Regardless, once the future selves get to the town, the 'real' party will see the future selves attacking guards at random, killing innocents, seeing one girl desperately throw a shoe in panic pressed against the wall, see the future selves kill a mother trying to shield her daughter and then kill the child, see townfolk desperately holding doors closed to keep the future party outside, and perhaps see the wild mushroom-tainted eyes of the future selves that they may not even try to stop for risk of interrupting the future party from actually saving the Goddess.

Yeah, it's going to be epicStory TwoThis is a little more straight, seeing as I didn't 'cheat' with illusions to make the party commit genocide but used in-game lies instead. To note, this 3.5 game could also be aptly called 'D&D CSI' considering how often they have tried to solve murders so far

Yo see, the BBEG is taking over the main frontier town the players started in/most of them grew up in. He's doing it systematically by eliminating the bigger businesses and filling the holes he leaves. For reasons bigger than the party knows, that's his plan.

Anyway, a tribe of orcs recently moved into the forest nearby. They're actually more true neutral than evil as a band and left to find a better life in the thick forests of the elves rather than live with the chaotic and generally evil orcs of the mountains they hail from. Still, orcs are seen as bad news, especially bad for business as it makes the town seem more risky to send traders through.

So the BBEG has a plan to eliminate the orcs, but doesn't have much in the way of soldiers besides this one merc group, but can't use them because they're otherwise preoccupied. So he decides to hire the adventurers from town, hopefully to gain a bargaining chip from the good party's evil deed as well. But the only way to convince the party to attack them is to implicate them in something evil. And he already has someone else living in town that he wants to get rid of.

So he kills the girl and carves orcish symbols in her body, dumping her outside of town. The players examined the body and the dig site, and luckily they were under the impression that the body was planted to implicate the orcs, which is the truth.

However, the girl wasn't the only way the BBEG decided to ensure the orcs were destroyed. He wanted the orcs to have evidence on their person of evil, so he had his personal bodyguards kidnap an orcish woman and 'accidentally' leave a human woman magically unconscious and nearby, with her skirt ripped up to make her look raped.

The orcs decide to use the woman to trade her back for their woman, hoping to make a peaceful argument in the morning. However, they decide to wear armor and bring weapons, given that they don't know why these humans randomly captured one of their settler outpost's women and they're orcs, albeit more peaceful ones.

Cue the party walks in on a bunch of orcs, preparing for battle, while an unconscious human woman tied and bound in the middle of their camp that looks raped.

They immediately killed the cleric with 'speak with tongues' and then offered the rest of the orcs a chance to surrender. The orcs didn't speak common but didn't attack seeing as the party's paladin was trying to communicate with them. The surrender almost worked.


The rest of the party got restless and opened fire. The party massacred a group of orcs whose only crime was being manipulated by the BBEG. Go Team!
Would you be upset by either of these scenarios? Do you think the party would be mad at me personally for bringing these situations about? I honestly thought both sets of players would enjoy it, so to speak, so finding out it could be upsetting sorta shocked me.

2013-02-27, 09:22 PM
Yes by the first one, I think. It reminds me a bit of one mission in Oblivion that pissed me off.

Not by the second one. Well, I'd be upset when I found out what really happened, but at myself and the other members of the party that "got restless", not at the DM.

Gnomish Wanderer
2013-02-27, 09:43 PM
Do you think it's because the first is arguably railroading while the second I let the players come to their own conclusions? Or is there some other reason to be upset at the DM that I'm not seeing?

2013-02-27, 09:44 PM
One maybe, two no. Two sounds like a great bit of plotting, actually.

Howler Dagger
2013-02-27, 09:50 PM
Honestly, I found the first one to be pretty cool. I would be completely okay with it. The second one was the one I found annoying because you tricked the party into doing something evil and helping the big-bad, which would fell frustrating if I were a player.

Gnomish Wanderer
2013-02-27, 09:56 PM
One maybe, two no. Two sounds like a great bit of plotting, actually.Thank you? :smalltongue:

Honestly, I found the first one to be pretty cool. I would be completely okay with it. The second one was the one I found annoying because you tricked the party into doing something evil and helping the big-bad, which would fell frustrating if I were a player.I thought the first one was cool too.

Well, technically it was the BBEG tricking them. I'm really hoping in the second one the players will channel their outrage into hatred towards the BBEG instead of me as the DM.

In the second situation, the paladin did ask several people about the ability to speak orcish, but the town hadn't had any experience with orcs besides stories so I basically flat-out told him no. And the party just thought the first orc they killed was the spellcaster rather than knowing it was a cleric. I just don't want this to be seen as railroading the party into working against the monsters.

2013-02-27, 10:09 PM
I'm fine with both. I agree with dps that if the players just get restless and attack, my ire (when all is revealed) would be with them.

My brother once ran a scenario almost like this, where the party was aware that the BBEG was gathering armies of kobolds (among others) together. So when they came across a camp of kobolds, they ambushed them, and proceeded to slaughter them wholesale. Only when they were done did they find in the captain's tent a letter he had composed, leveraging his significant position in the greater kobold community to call for other clans to reject the BBEG's offers, because he doubted his motives. Later, the BBEG used the tragedy to incite nearly all kobolds to hunt the party down for revenge. That was way more smoke-and-mirrors, as you're giving pretty reasonable hints.

The first party should be keenly aware that the monsters in guard armor are acting just like the guards would, and that, combined with their knowledge of their drugged condition, should be enough to tip them off to the possibility that they're in a Scarecrow's-fear-gas sort of hallucination. If that's the case try to ramp up the feeling they have of imminent danger, see if you can spook the players into reacting solely on the strength of your description. With that, I suppose you could give them some saving throws against the effects, so that some would be disgusted but not terrified, while you lay on the scary with those who fail.

The second party should just curb their bloodlust, if they claim to be good at all. Frankly, if they make the wrong call, it's not going to have long-term repercussions, it doesn't sound like, so it'll just be enough to make them hate the BBEG for setting them up to fail. If the party is split, alignment-wise, then it could create excellent drama, if your players are into that.

2013-02-27, 11:37 PM
They ate a soup made of tainted mushrooms and they didn't immediately think "hallucinations" when everything went squirrely?

I'd be more ticked off with myself for not seeing such a painfully obvious bit of foreshadowing. The monsterous "thing" just happens to be wearing a town guard's uniform while standing in the watch tower? C'mon.

The second one is beautifully done. Wouldn't change a thing.

2013-02-27, 11:44 PM
Also, the first scenario is railroady if the party isn't allowed a Will Save against the illusion, (they can think it is a save to stave off the lethal effects of the poison, they don't have to know.) And it is railroady if the party can't prevent the situation they caused. For example, not allowing the mushroom person corpse to become the soup.

2013-02-27, 11:45 PM
The second is standard player stupidity.

The first is just... awesome. I really like it. If I were in that situation I'd first be shocked, and I'd probably be a little upset. After all, I want to play a hero. But it would be upset in a good way that would easily lead to all sorts of fun RP opportunities.

Both are fully within the realm of DMing. That said, I could see how some players who want to play a really heroic game where the heroes are always right would get angry at one or both of the situations.

2013-02-27, 11:53 PM
No to both, But I am odd, so results with me may be skewred. :smallamused:
I am totally stealing the first idea...thank you! :smalltongue:

The Fury
2013-02-28, 12:02 AM
One has some genuine bits of decent horror so I actually kind of like it.

Two... yeah, that kind of would bother me. Not just for being manipulated into doing the villain's dirty work for him and killing a group of orcs apparently guilty of nothing but that's bothersome too. Rape is always an uncomfortable subject for me, killing of children too.

2013-02-28, 12:14 AM
It seems that most people are disagreeing with me about the first scenario, and in thinking about it, the players did have clues that could have let them figure out what was happening. If I hadn't had played Oblivion, I probably wouldn't have had the same objection to it.

Without going into detail about it, there is a mission in Oblivion that sets up a similar situation. The thing was, even the first time I played it, I as a player figured out what was going on, but the game didn't allow me to do anything in-character with that knowledge. This is different, because if any of the players had figured it out, they could have done something different in-character.

2013-02-28, 12:19 AM
Story One is fine up until you say that the PCs must not stop the nutballs from trying to save the Goddess. If they attack their mushroom-addled former future selves and win, they should still have a shot at saving the Goddess the HEROIC way, rather than everything just falling apart because you prefer horror. I don't even mind the lack of a resistance roll -- it'd be my assumption that they all fail a roll eventually, thus starting to hallucinate at some point before they get back to town.

I'm with pretty much everyone on Story Two. Stoopid PC is stoopid.

2013-02-28, 12:32 AM
I'd only be upset in the way that a confused person would be upset. I saw where you were going with the first scenario, but I had a kind of "what the hell? :smallconfused:" feeling about it. Kind of like Alice in Wonderland, but a little less Carol Lewis and a little more Stanley Kubrick.

Second episode sounds like any number of episodes from any of a number of police/crime dramas. Which I happen to like. PCs starting their own bloodbath because they got bored, not so much.

2013-02-28, 12:43 AM
Yeah, my only weirdness with the first story is wondering why I couldn't just stab my alter insane future selves. Then go save the Goddess in a way that didn't involve killing her. I don't know if that was an option or if the players just decided "Eh... first time around we got a marginal victory result... we can only make it worse if we do something."

Second one would only bother me to the extent that a plot/scene was ruined because someone else in my party couldn't keep their weapon holstered (so to speak).

2013-02-28, 12:48 AM
I'd be upset about the first one because of the quantum leap, and probably annoyed with the time travel aspect if you hadn't already stated rules for it. The actual village-slaughter trick is cool, especially given that you made it so that it was other people who did it rather than the adventurers themselves.

The second is fine.

2013-02-28, 12:48 AM
Do you think it's because the first is arguably railroading while the second I let the players come to their own conclusions? Or is there some other reason to be upset at the DM that I'm not seeing?

I don't see the railroading - did they try to do something else and you forced them on? Did you tell them "okay now you do this" ? Having your PC's perceptions messed with isn't railroading, it's completely legit. An enemy using an illusion to fool a PC into doing something that's a bad idea is an age-old tactic.

Anyway, scenario #1 is a great horror scenario. It definitely has the potential to piss players off, but frankly, I'm amazed they didn't see it coming (especially given that, yes, pretty much this exact thing happens in Oblivion, and it was obvious what was going to happen even then).

Scenario #2 is fine, too.

The subject matter itself in these scenarios can be upsetting to sensitive people, though. I wouldn't mind, and I know none of my players would, but others might. I think you executed them decently, too, FWIW.

their mushroom-addled former future selves


2013-02-28, 01:55 AM
I am seriously shocked they didn't see through the first scenario. If you get to the reveal and at least one person isn't grinning and saying, "I knew it!" I'd be surprised. Still, highly evocative scenario. The fact that they weren't 'themselves' at the time and that they were on drugs provides a layer of protection from making it seem like it was directly their fault while at the same time letting them know... their foes are not evil, just frightened and seeing things.

The second is a little bit Xanatos Roulettish. The guy knows that when he hires the party that they won't just kill orcs because someone paid them, so he kills a person to frame them, but also knows that won't work and so also orchestrates a prisoner exchange, knowing that none of the orcs speak common, none of the adventurers speak orcish, precisely one cleric knows Speak Language and he is going to be the one killed when the party preemptively opens fire, which he knows the party will do because the orcs will come wearing armor and weapons (which he knows they will do) and the party will somehow think this is not simply typical behavior for Orcs... after all, THEY came to the prisoner exchange with weapons or else they couldn't have opened fire!

I seriously feel like it'd make more sense for that scenario to not have been the guy's plan at ALL and just have been a happy accident for him. Saying he meant that all to happen makes him not just a mastermind, but oracular.

2013-02-28, 01:56 AM
I don't know how much the party already knew about the mushrooms in the first scenario, but I'm kind of surprised they didn't see that coming.

Kol Korran
2013-02-28, 04:24 AM
I quite liked the first, as n interesting twist. The second one is fine plotting! I would D's probably be upset for a few minutes at being tricked, but at the began. To the small I would give kudos for a play well done!

2013-02-28, 07:41 AM
Oh, also, haven't I read basically that first scenario on 4chan's /tg/ ? PCs get drugged, think a village is full of evil cultists, kill everyone including some cripple girl... there was some extra fun with hallucinations in a swamp, etc., and I think it was generally more disturbing, but the point is it's common enough (and, after all those hints, obvious enough) that it's amazing the players didn't know what was going on.

2013-02-28, 08:10 AM
The first one I have to admit, I might be annoyed with... but, to be fair, if I were a player in that campaign I probably ought to have seen it coming what with the mushrooms.

Second is fine.

2013-02-28, 09:28 AM
Both fine and very clever plotting.

The first, I'm would be a little annoyed if there was no way I could do anything to stop what happend, but through frustration rather than anger at the GM if there was a good reason.

The second, no problem at all.

2013-03-01, 04:53 AM
The second is indubitably fine from a GMing perspective, although I'll confess that there would have been Words (yes, with a capital W) with the players responsible.

The first is fine too, at least in my opinion. I don't think I would have fallen for it, myself, but then I've seen that twist elsewhere (an obscure roguelike about killing orcs). Allowing a save would perhaps have been advisable.

2013-03-01, 08:09 AM
In the first scenario, I'd probably be a little annoyed if we never got saving throws against the mushrooms, but not too much. Although I'd like to think I would recognize the rather obvious hints and not even attack the town in the first place. However, I am curious about what might happen if they do not kill the other mushroom man as they are supposed to. Or even more interestingly, if they wise up and burn the corpse or something.

In the second, I'd be very upset at the idiots that got impatient and started attacking; as a paladin, if I ever discover the truth about the orcs, I would be inclined to force the other party members into some kind of very, very serious penance, at best, for having interrupted my attempts to communicate peacefully, or leave the party altogether if they refuse.

2013-03-01, 11:28 AM
That sort of ultimatum approach of course being why a lot of groups don't like Paladins. It's also perfectly reasonable if I was playing a paladin that I'd recognize that we were effectively played. Wouldn't hold it against my team. Would hold it against myself for my own arrogance and failure to go "DETECT EVIL!" and get a negative ping on them. And do some personal penance.

After all, I'm a Paladin, I hold myself to a higher standard than others. But I don't fault others for failing to live up to my standards. I just hope they can see my example and choose to follow my path of their own will. Goodness through threats and decrees is not Goodness at all.

2013-03-01, 12:42 PM
After all, I'm a Paladin, I hold myself to a higher standard than others. But I don't fault others for failing to live up to my standards. I just hope they can see my example and choose to follow my path of their own will. Goodness through threats and decrees is not Goodness at all.

Seriously this. Paladins hold themselves to a higher standard, not others. (Their higher standard just generally involves not consorting with outrightly evil people, which being deceived into killing some usually "acceptable targets" doesn't make you.)

Gnomish Wanderer
2013-03-01, 12:52 PM
Thanks for the responses, everyone, it's good to know that the 'upset' seems to be the exception rather than the rule, generally. I'll let you know what my players think, since I've gotten both groups to commit the atrocities and I am roughly 1 session away in both groups from the reveal.

I think the main reason I feared I may have been railroading is that this is practically the first time I've made a detailed plan of what I thought was going to happen and then had it come true without any PC snag-ups. In the first, the quantum leap thing was activated by an orb that sucked them to the other bodies as soon as they touched it. The paladin in that game didn't ant to touch it, thinking it was evil, but did once the other two party members had. I still felt like I was sorta taking away the option to refuse the orb.

In regards to a fort/will save versus the mushroom, I purposely didn't give them one as they weren't in their real bodies and I really wanted to show the actual effects of the mushrooms on the minds of the enemy. If all three had made it (which is weirdly likely, they are a lucky group) it would have ruined the point of tricking them into eating the mushrooms as it was, ad I was already scared I was going to ruin that.

I think the reason they attacked the creatures so readily is that I didn't give them a save and then described the creatures in as much detail as I could. That way, since I give out saves too much, it sorta made the players assume these things were legit. They've even asked other NPC's since coming out of the quantum leap situation if there was some kind of disease that would cause the village to go like what they saw, so I think they fell for it hard.

As Rhynn said, the first scenario was inspired by a game I saw written online, so I cannot take the credit for the idea. I am just hyper-impressed I managed to pull it off, and not just as a sidequest but within the confines of the story I already had going on that furthers the story itself.

In regards to the actions that I'd like to have happen but haven't happened yet (IE the party kills the mushroom person and leaves it to become the soup later and the party watches the future selves kill the villagers offering no assistance), I strongly believe I can pull the first one off, but the second I doubt (though it would be fun for me at least).

The second, I don't believe was that Xanatos Gambit-y. The villain just set up two separate acts of evil (one to kill a competitor he already wanted dead and the other to ensure the orcs would look guilty of something), correctly guessed that the orcs would hold the human hostage to trade, and then got super lucky the party decided to take out the 'wizard' orc to show off their power before offering parlay. To be fair, he even tried to hire the orcs to just kill her first but they refused.

I still sorta feel bad that I didn't allow the pladin some way of communicating with the orcs. I mean, I know that the only people in town who spoke orcish were in the pocket of the BBEG, but I always try to validate character plans somehow, give them even the tiniest bit of help. Like maybe learn the orcish word for hello or something, or maybe just some orcish curse words. While funny and not very useful, it would have made me feel better as a GM. Le sigh.

And the other thing is that the orcs didn't actually put down their weapons in the second scenario. It was more the paladin had stepped up, pointed his sword and shouted something they didn't understand, so they all didn't attack and shouted back hoping to figure out what he wanted because they didn't want to just kill someone randomly. He didn't really have time to pantomime anything before the rest of the party started firing their weapons though.

On the bright side, the paladin has been more... motherly? in that second game in that he'll give dirty 'you-should-feel-bad' looks and refuses to participate in evil actions, but hasn't actually gone all 'this is how you do things' on the rest of the party. Yet.

But yes, thank you again for the friendly words!
@v You are picturing the town correctly ^.^

2013-03-01, 01:32 PM
Ah, I see. I thought the orcs we actually clearly starting to surrender, rather than it being ambiguous as to whether they were willing to do so or not. In that case, while I can see the paladin getting a bit miffed, I'd have no reason to seriously chastise my party.

My response the first time was based on the idea of the party actually attacking enemies that were surrendering because of impatience, something that doesn't seem reasonable to tolerate. While I agree with ArcturusV and Rhynn that a paladin can't hold the party to her personal standards, I feel like killing enemies clearly surrendering crosses a line, if anyone in the group was the one to offer a surrender in the first place.

Of course, if my character did leave a group because of a similar situation, as a player I would roll up another character with lower standards of behavior, and not hold it against them as players; I just wouldn't feel comfortable having a paladin accept a group that would kill people that are surrendering, with no time to make a reasonable judgement on them. My paladin may execute captured prisoners, if she determines them guilty of something that deserves death, but even the most hard nosed avenger of justice type that I might play would feel obligated to accept a surrender, if it was offered by the group, then determine the prisoner's guilt fairly and with time to consider their potential defense.

As far as the party not having a way to communicate with the orcs, that's their own fault if no one in the group can speak orcish and nobody has comprehend languages or tongues. If they had looked, I might recommend having had them find an orcish phrase book, if the town has a library, but even that might be too advanced an institution for a town like I'm picturing.

2013-03-01, 01:40 PM
Well... one thing I feel like I should mention as a situational thing for the Players in the Orc situation is, if the DM is willing and they are creative they could use the "Pass secret information" style use of Bluff to still communicate with the Orcs. While the example they listed is language dependent, the skill itself is not language dependent. Instead of it being talking in euphemism and abstractions to hide their meaning, it could be reworked as "signing" and trying to communicate simple concepts to pass information between them.

It carries misunderstanding chances. But the DC is low enough if you got someone with moderate skill in Bluff taking 10 it shouldn't be so hard to figure out.

I seem to recall in some of the older DnD editions this was an explicit ability that was granted to some non-weapon proficiencies and such, to be able to "Sign" at people and such.

Fiery Diamond
2013-03-01, 09:13 PM
One has some genuine bits of decent horror so I actually kind of like it.

Two... yeah, that kind of would bother me. Not just for being manipulated into doing the villain's dirty work for him and killing a group of orcs apparently guilty of nothing but that's bothersome too. Rape is always an uncomfortable subject for me, killing of children too.

Precisely what this person said. Those are the reasons I don't like #2.

As far as the first goes: I'm surprised they didn't see it coming. Also, you better allow them to prevent most of the massacre by their alter selves if they try rather than making them incapable. Being unable to save the girl or mother and child would make me SERIOUSLY angry at you if I were one of the players - realizing that my alter-character was doing the murdering if I could prevent it would not upset me at all, I'd think it was a cool twist.