But there's another part to being epic heroes of legend: struggle. And not just struggle against harder and harder monsters.
Great heroes don't just fly forward and destroy evil. If they did, they would be no different than Gods. Pure, uncorrupted beings without flaws and humanity, who exist solely to save the world.
Great heroes need a way to connect to the common people, to be their champions. Being a hero isn't just killing evil things, it's inspiring others by action and word. And nothing is more inspiring (and relatable) than a flawed hero.
|Adorable flap kitty|
Now, if you are starting out a campaign, it's fairly easy to set up these sort of flaws and weaknesses. Backstory is a great way to establish the humanity of a character, and a new character can take on personality flaws easily.
But what about existing characters?
|Adorable hat kitty|
Before we really dig into this, however, I want to emphasize something: this isn't about knocking your players down a peg, or getting even with them for hurting your story. If you want to transition into a more story-centric game with flawed characters, you ABSOLUTELY MUST discuss it with your players first. Some people like to drop in to RPGs, see their friends, kill some goblins, and call it a day. If your group isn't fully on-board, then you're going to have a lot of trouble down the line. Personally, I'd recommend starting a second group for the alternate playstyle. That might not always be possible, but anything less will not turn out well.
So, back to business. For this method, you'll need someone who wants information out of the PCs. This would be a great way to introduce a secondary evil faction, who is looking for the information the PCs have been unearthing on the main storyline. Alternately, your main villain could be looking for a better idea of what the PCs know.
|Adorable spoopy kitty|
First come up with 7-10 questions that you can ask the heroes. Both times I've used this method, I've asked each player individually, but you can ask the whole group, choosing one person at random as well.
If the players answer a question honestly, no check is required. If they lie, do a deception check vs the interrogator's insight DC. I usually make this 15-20.
If they fail the deception check, or if they refuse to answer, then roll on the table below.
|Adorable bubbly kitty|
- Slap: ouch. Take 1 damage.
- Punch to the gut: ouch. Take 3 damage
- Punch to the face: ouch. Take 5 damage
- Fingernail removal: on your next crit fail, you drop your weapon/spellcasting focus. You must spend an action picking it up
- Toenail removal: on your next crit fail, you fall prone
- Hand Skewering: For the rest of the session, when you crit fail, you drop your weapon/spellcasting focus. You must spend an action picking it up
- Foot Skewering: For the rest of the session, when you crit fail, you fall prone
- Tooth removal: 7 damage but you are permanently disfigured
- Ear Removal: 10 damage and you are permanently disfigured
- Finger removal: From now on, when you crit fail, you drop your weapon/spellcasting focus. You must spend an action picking it up
- Toe removal: From now on, when you crit fail, you fall prone
- Face branding: You are hideously disfigured. Permanent disadvantage on persuasion checks and advantage on intimidation checks
- Knee Reversal*: For this session, speed reduced by 5 ft. After dashing, make a Dexterity saving throw DC 10 or fall prone.
- Hand Break: For this session, cannot hold two handed objects, or more than one object at once.
- Face Break: For this session, disadvantage on Perception rolls made to see, and ranged attack rolls
- Whipping: For this session, speed halved. Fall prone after dash actions, disadvantage on Dexterity checks made to balance
- Kneecapping: Speed reduced by 5 ft. After dashing, make a Dexterity saving throw DC 10 or fall prone.
- Hand removal: Cannot hold two handed objects, or more than one object at once.
- Eye removal: Disadvantage on Perception rolls made to see, and ranged attack rolls
- Foot removal: Speed halved, must use cane/crutch/peg leg. Fall prone after dash actions, disadvantage on Dexterity checks made to balance
How it played out in my session
|Adorable ball kitty|
The worst torture I ended up inflicting was a tooth removal. The players were very hesitant to get all the way up to the d20, so if I did it again I'd add more questions to get more information out of them.
Also, I think I would keep the players together for the torture session. It was fun getting some one-on-one time while the others planned their escape and discussed the different torture techniques, but I think I could generate a better aura of tension if I was there in the room with all of them.
As far as making the characters more invested in the story, I think it helped. I was able to use my questions to foreshadow future plots, and I definitely felt that going through that shared struggle brought the group together more.
In the end, I'd use it again! Maybe even to start a campaign. That could be fun - and immediately set up some group that the PCs could love to hate.
|It's my blog, I can put adorable kitties in hats instead of pictures of torture|