Saturday, June 25, 2011

How to Weasel Cool Stuff Out of Me as a DM

So after a month of real time hiatus from our weekly Scales of War campaign, we started up our epic tier campaign and the team is off for the Shadowfell and generic quest that they get asked to take on. Since we had such a long break I had decided to have a month pass in game and I wanted my players to tell me what their characters did in that time off. Each of my players wrote up a little something to explain what happened and since most of their characters split up and had little side adventures it worked really well. I love little bonuses like this that add depth to who they are as people and it really helped them develop the characters the way that they wanted.

My dragonborn cleric used his hard earned gold to collect artifacts and trinkets from old Arkhosia and his previous heritage (and bought a house to put them in) and also hired on an old NPC the party encountered as a servant. This was especially cool because one of his friends from old Arkhosia has become the exarch of Tiamat that the party is now seeking so we'll see how far the rabbit hole goes on this one. The half-elf paladin embraced her conversion to the Raven Queen and took on a quest to stop someone cheating death. She found a healer woman and basically destroyed her magical trinket extending her life and forced her to train someone else to replace her, embracing the natural flow of life. The gnome artificer and drow rogue had adventures in town fighting their companion creatures in a pokemon style combat arena (SO PROUD) and they have more information to hand off to me next week. The dwarf barbarian spent time drinking for half the month off, but then spent the rest of the month in a library reading books and trying to learn new things (the player behind this barbarian is much smarter than his character and I appreciated him trying to level the discrepancy between player and character behavior).

The one that really impressed me was the human wizard. Her idea was definitely inspired by the Order of the Stick Origin of the Heroes book I lent her before she was off on a real life vacation, but that made it even sweeter. Essentially, she competed in a wizard's competition at her old arcane academy. As part of the competition she had to create a new attack spell and for her entry (which she didn't win in her own story!) she created a spell she called Slow Time. The effect she described is simliar to a Time Stop spell only it is an effect where she targets a particular area and all the creatures within are frozen in time allowing the party to make attacks with impunity. She told me she didn't win because the judges thought the spell would take a long time to get approved by some "dungeon master." She didn't understand the reference, but accepted her defeat. I was floored. So now I'm writing up and tweaking an ability to make it work based on the False Reality spell at level 29 for her to learn and use. Coming up with something like that and just out of the blue was a pleasure to come across as a DM and I desperately want to honor her creativity and reward that with something special. The sure fire way to get something cool out of me is to provide a great narrative that supports why it should happen and then just sit back while I work it in. The story wins, the player wins, and I win because my players are invested and enjoying themselves. What a night!

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