View Full Version : Tossing My Players A Behelit: God, I Hope One Isn't Playing An Emo.

2008-12-13, 07:06 PM
Anyway, anyone who has read or watched the excellent but mature manga/anime Berserk will know what I'm talking about when I say "Behelit". For those of you that don't, a Behelit is an evil egg-like artifact created by the diabolical God Hand, four, now five, powerful demons who exist to spread misery across the world. The Behelits help them to do that by manipulating casuality to fall into the hands of a mortal, which they then manipulate into a situation that is, for lack of a better term, "absolute bottom", where things cannot possibly get worse and aren't going to get better anytime soon. At that point, they call the God Hand, who attempt to trick the unfortunate person into making a deal with them, transforming them into an ultra-powerful Apostle at the cost of (A) their humanity, and (B) the thing-or person-closest to them. Of course, they balance the deal so that the Apostle will find out that that same thing was the only thing that gave their life any meaning. They don't even have to say yes-if they keep the Behelit, the God Hand keep an eye on their thoughts, so that the instant they doubt their decison, the Hand intentionally misinterpets that thought as saying yes, and they turn him or her into an Apostle-and collect their fee-anyway.

Since I like this idea, I decided on a plot hook where the players find a Behelit discarded by the BBEG-beacuse he isn't evil enough to use one when he knows what it is-at which part it starts working it's black magic on them. Soon, if they don't know what it is-say, by reading this thread-it starts viciously deconstructing them, with even the most innocuous of actions backfire spectacularly on them.

After every weakness of theirs is pursued and beaten to the ground-with the egg seemingly the only thing that's able to help them, of course-and the reach the magic mark, the God Hand is called and tempts them into becoming their newest set of Apostles. As usual, they leave before the PCs can answer, which turns out to be a big mistake, as they encounter an Apostle who's quickly discovering that godlike power at the cost of everyone you ever loved isn't what it's cracked up to be. Hopefully the PCs will then put 2 and 2 together and dispose of the Behelit, which makes them a new enemy in the God Hand, but the moral sticks-power at the cost of your friends is not power at all.

If they know what the Behelit is, then an important NPC gets it, and well, he doesn't learn his lesson quickly enough, and the PCs have to kill him.

If they go "Screw the world, we're getting the shiny new Apostle powers", that's OK, since I also have this nice little "redemption" arc planned out for them-and they'll probably wish they hadn't gone the munchkin route.

So, what do you think?

2008-12-13, 07:10 PM
Make sure you have the "Screw the world, we're getting the shiny new Apostle powers" route planned out thoroughly. And make sure you can either a) make redemption seem really good or b) cope if they decide to take over the world instead of being redeemed. Because you cannot trust your players.
Other than that, this is workable. How clear do you want to make it that the Behelit is harmful and/or can save them? How clearly do you want to define its powers?

2008-12-13, 07:14 PM
You do know that the most likely people they're going to sacrifice are the guys standing next to them, right? And one behelit, one apostle.

2008-12-13, 07:19 PM
Oh yeah...

Well, creative license (COP OUT).

2008-12-14, 02:33 AM
What happens if they try to sell the Behelit? And what if they cast, say, analyze dweomer on it?

2008-12-14, 05:56 AM
As a player, I would be annoyed by something that interpreted doubt as affirmation. A player expressing doubt is exploring the dilemmas of his character and turning that into a yes is taking away the decision that belongs to the player. If this Behelit wants to use doubt as a flimsy excuse, why doesn't it just do it anyway? If it's constrained by a law, using doubt as affirmation wouldn't stand up to scrutiny.

Now, if the egg gave out freebies that prevented total catastrophe and read thoughts to suggest how it could really help the PC, that would be good. Check the PC though. Two of my characters would be more likely to destroy it as soon as they realised what it did.

2008-12-14, 06:22 AM
What's the mechanical loss to losing one's humanity? Losing empathy? Turning irrevocably evil or something?

What's to stop the players from taking the deal (in one form or another), and using the power to safeguard humanity/striking back at the God-Hand? There's a number of stories about superheros and such turning seemingly faustian pacts against the source of thier power/against the purpose they were given the power for.

2008-12-14, 07:22 AM
That would be a good point...

Either you'd have to make it an NPC (which completely removes the element of choice), or require they roleplay it. Or perhaps have suggestion spells being regularly implanted in their minds.

2008-12-14, 07:59 AM
I'm pretty sure that your PCs would destroy the plot, because they'd probably do something totally unexpected (throw it away, destroy it etc). From my time as a DM and from other DM's experience, PCs always do unexpected stuff. And you just can't rely that your plot which doesn't offer too much freedom of choice will go as planned.

2008-12-14, 05:58 PM
I'm pretty sure that your PCs would destroy the plot, because they'd probably do something totally unexpected (throw it away, destroy it etc).

I prepared for that. Didn't read the part about the "important NPC"?

From my time as a DM and from other DM's experience, PCs always do unexpected stuff. And you just can't rely that your plot which doesn't offer too much freedom of choice will go as planned.

Don't worry, I know.

2008-12-14, 06:03 PM
I'm pretty sure that your PCs would destroy the plot, because they'd probably do something totally unexpected (throw it away, destroy it etc). From my time as a DM and from other DM's experience, PCs always do unexpected stuff. And you just can't rely that your plot which doesn't offer too much freedom of choice will go as planned.
Yep. The only thing reliable about P.C.s is that they're unreliable. Or something like that. :smallsmile:

2008-12-14, 06:44 PM
I mean, to be fair, most PCs act as inhuman monsters on a regular basis anyway. So the difference would be hard for them to notice unless you hit them over the head with it (and I don't mean the brutal murder of someone important to them, which would mainly just make the wizards angry for having lost their familiars), especially the non-human PCs, since they never had any humanity to begin with.

There's got to be some kind of domination mechanism in there, as otherwise all the God Hand would be doing would be creating enemies for itself via the mechanism it uses to empower people.

2008-12-14, 07:10 PM
I would recommend against introducing a Behiliwhatever, at least in the form described. There are a number of issues that would only serve to make a game un-fun.

1. You must be aware of what a PC is thinking in order to trump their refusal. This means you must either read into a character's actions the thoughts and intentions behind the acts. Alternately, you must have players describe what their characters are thinking as they act. In either case, a PC screwed over by the evil flobbotum will justifiably think you're being a luddite.

2. PCs may opt to make a deal with the devil. Do they completely overshadow other PCs with their newly found power? If so, the game changes focus from whatever pursuit the PCs had up until that point to racing around trying to get ultimate power for everyone. One or two might get the idea that eliminating the PC with the power could benefit them. The game quickly self-destructs from there. If the power isn't overwhelming, or the PC gets utterly screwed, see #1.

3. The best possible option is to use this effect on NPCs. PCs effectively end up in a LotR Bring-the-Ring-to-Mount-Doom scenario. Undeniably a classic theme, but not what you're looking at given the initial post.

#1 and #2 might be avoided with mature players that you trust. The theme looks likely to get old fast, with anyone carrying the evil widgets getting a lot of the limelight and generally derailing what the other PCs are attempting to accomplish. On the balance, I'd suggest against doing this; or, alternately, focusing the PCs' efforts on stopping these items and their creator. Doing otherwise is likely to get you bitter complaints from your players and a short end to the game.

2008-12-15, 11:37 AM
I suspect the PCs will figure out the item is cursed and want to get rid of it before it actually makes an offer. If I'm reading it correctly, it sounds like that is the correct an inevitable choice but I'm thinking it might occur in a less drawn out fashion than you might ordinarily suppose. That being said, a world in which an egg is out to get them and there are evil superhumans isn't really a bad setup for the rest of the game.

I'm not exactly sure how the anime covers it (I'm sure it operate how it is narratively convenient), but the "doubt" system seems a little bit stupid. Let's consider three systems of doubt.
1)To consider the alternative: As soon as the person hears the proposal they cognitively process it which means that they consider it as a viable enough option to weigh in their mind and they lose the game.
2)To decide to accept the deal, but not yet do it: In this case, the players is about to accept the deal anyway, so the idea of them getting redeemed in the meantime was kind of scant anyway.
3)To become more likely to accept the deal: Assuming you get past the first part in which this mighty be an inherent part of the weighing process, than you'd have a relatively fixed idea of how good the deal might be and why you aren't taking it. You could become more likely to take the deal either because a) you have a change of heart or b) events in your life change such that the deal might rationally seem more advantageous. In the case of the latter, this sort of event would be beyond your control since it may be there is no circumstance in which you'd accept the deal even if somethings might sweeten it. In the case of the former, I can't help but feel that it really falls into one of the situations already mentioned, but were apparently be what the authors are after.
That being said, intentionality and PCs just doesn't end up working with any happy solutions. You mention that the PCs will be fortunately saved from this concern by observing an NPC be corrupted, but since you will have to handwave that effect anyway, I suggest not incorporating it at all.

2008-12-15, 12:31 PM
Leliel, I'd report my personal experience, hoping can be useful...

I had more or less the same idea as you*, for my last campaign. The mai difference were that

1) no God Hand. Behelit were "managed" by fiends, mainly Baatezu (who's better than a baatezu?)

2)there were a lot of them (666 - player discovered the number later, and more later that theyr creation was an incident...and other things)

I managed pacts and similar things to be VEEEEERY powerful but VEEEEEERY perilous. Losing of sanity (a sorcerer used it as a plot device to became EVIL Vile Darkness style, acolyte of skin, then host of a deon prince...) losing of purity (half celestial became a mere human) and so on. What I noticed

-Need of veery mature players. Party conflict very easy.
-Need of narrativist style ("railroading" device).
-Need of not focusing so much on game balance
- Need of great improvisation ability from the DM

Why I said all of this? Because I realized later that most of these things were lacking in my gaming group at the moment. And mainly because PLAYERS WILL SURPRISE YOU. If you make things in a way they must deal with the behelit, or in a way they should refuse.

This is a pleasant things for a DM IMO, but consider this when you introduce such items. In the campaings, things went smoother after a while because players realized that was better destroy behelits. Maybe NOW I would stand against other options*, but I realize I was lucky for that time :smallsmile:

*I'm a great Berserk fan. I LOVE it.


2008-12-15, 02:12 PM
Oh yeah...

Well, creative license (COP OUT).

You rang?

any way you can get rid of the "they might throw it away/sell it " problem by making it a Clingy McGuffin . That is, when the throw it away the get a few hours peace but then it turns up again. Example;
Players: we throw it away
You : Oh, ok
-----few hours later -----
Players: Ok, so we killed the hobgoblin and loot it's corps what do we find
You: The Behelit
Players: didn't we throw that away?
You: yes, but these Hobgoblins stole it from a vagabond who found it on the side of the road . Amazing coincidence , isn't it

Edit: the point is that the cant escape it no mater what they do the harder they try the more convoluted the path it takes back to them