Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Recap: Mutual Distrust
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
In my ongoing quest to find new ways to create challenge and action resolution in D&D, I've often looked to other games or movies for inspiration. This week, I am looking at one of the longstanding party staple games of my college years: Mafia. You might also know the game as Werewolf.

The idea behind the game is that among your group, there is a traitor hidden in plain sight: a member of the mafia! Over the course of the game, the mafia eliminates certain people, and the group must collectively accuse someone each round. If the mafia survives to the end, they win, otherwise the "townsfolk" win.

Obviously the idea of "rounds" and "eliminating" players mid-game don't really translate to D&D. However, I thought it would be cool to play a game that took the idea of a known traitor and turned it on its head.

Let's dig in....

Monday Recap: Mutual Distrust

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Uriel, Protector Aasimar Champion Fighter, a veteran of the War of Fools who doesn't take any crap
Will: Cena-Dur Suundruuvik, Human Grave Cleric of the Raven Queen, grew up in a dark magic family and wants to get away
Makayla: (Middle C), Kenku Bard of Whispers, she sings to make the world a more beautiful place
John: Gin Gau, Human Monk of Shadows, on a quest to understand and cleanse a spirit troubling his monastery

The adventure began with the group wading through knee-deep water in the sewers of Garton. They were on a mission from Captain Floris of the City Watch to locate a magical item: the Pact Seeker, a book that would transcribe the name and likeness of any warlock within 60 feet of it.

Since the War of Fools, associating with Demons and Devils has been outlawed in Garton, particularly in relation to Warlocks. A City Watch patrol had been hunting down an evil Warlock named Lumien Ratheart when they had died in the sewers, leaving the Pact Seeker lost under the city. Captain Floris is worried that without this item, a Warlock might have already infiltrated the City Watch, and hired this group of mercenaries to retrieve it. He sent a small contingent of guards along with them.

(The players knew that there was at least one Warlock among them, but I had specially made their character sheets so they wouldn't know who was the Warlocks. Whereas those working for the City Watch wanted to protect the Pact Seeker, the Warlocks were tasked to destroy it. I hoped that this could at least keep the group together until they found the book.)

They hadn't gone far in the sewers before they were surrounded by the skittering and chittering of Lumien's signature rats. The vermin came at them in droves, pouring from the water like waves. Cena-Dur unleashed his God's searing radiance to hold them back, but the party was soon surrounded.
And his name was...
Uriel and Gin Gau drew their swords and began hacking away at the rats biting at their ankles, and Middle C unleashed a deafening shatter among the swarms. The guards that accompanied them fought back as well, stabbing at their tiny foes with spears.

Eventually, the swarms subsided. The group took stock of their injuries, which were minimal. Cena-Dur called upon his healing magic, and they pressed forward.

They came upon a large cistern chamber with two massive, empty pools in the floor. There was a door on the wall of the deeper pool, and the walls were too slick to scale. Edging their way around the lip of the pools, they found a pump control room which could fill, empty, or transfer water between the tanks.

After thinking it over for a bit, Middle C and Cena Dur worked out a method to get the water exactly level with the door before the pumps in the control room burst. They carefully pulled the levers and adjusted the flow of the water, before lowering themselves onto a floating bridge and passing through the door.

They found themselves in the lair of Lumien Ratheart, or at least it seemed to be by the decorations of rat bones and sigils everywhere. Also, the bodies of the guards who they had been looking for. Also, the two wererats brandishing blades at them.

The group leapt into action. Fortunately, the mercenary heroes had silvered weapons, meaning they could fight the wererat brothers while the guards held off the swarms of rats that continued attacking them.

With their enhanced weaponry and strong teamwork, the mercs made quick work of the wererat brothers, despite the lycanthrope's cries of pain at watching their beloved siblings die. The heroes searched through the bodies of the fallen guards, finding proof that this was the squad they were looking for.
Don't mess with the half-angel
Brutally ignoring the tragic story of two wererat brothers (who didn't choose this life, but there is little respite for the cursed and downtrodden) who died with only love in their hearts for each other, the group finished off the remaining rat swarms and approached the strange door that these monsters (but who were the monsters, really?) were guarding.

At this point, some of the heroes had been acting strangely, and one of the guards who accompanied them started calling them out. The fear of a warlock infiltrating the party had taken hold of a couple of the guards, and an argument broke out. Eventually a temporary truce was reached, but it was clear the group had to be more cautious.

The door before them featured three heads: a dog, a cat, and a rat. Upon it was written the following riddle:
We guard our master faithfully/But do not open easily/One honest creature on this door/One liar, and one fool, tis sure/If you can guess with questions three/We'll surely open up for thee/If you fail, we'll change our place/And spit our venom in your face

After a bit of debate, Cena-Dur asked each head what animal was to its right. The Dog told the truth, the Cat lied, and the Rat told the truth. Realizing that either the Dog or Rat must be the head that answered randomly, they took the 50/50 guess and answered that the Rat was the honest creature. Satisfied, the door opened.

(For the record, there is a logical solution to this puzzle that only requires 3 questions to verify the location of each head. However, they used the story (since Lumien Ratheart loves rats) to figure out the puzzle, and I'm not the kind of DM who will change the answer to a problem just because the PCs didn't solve it my way. However, this puzzle and the previous combat definitely took less time than I expected, leading to a fairly short game. In retrospect, I should have had the Dog lie.)

They entered another large chamber, this one piled up with rat bones and offal. At the back was a robed man standing at a rat-skull altar, accompanied by two giant rat pets and a massive hound with a snake-like neck and a human face. Middle C was able to identify it as a Yeth Hound, a creature of the Feywild that served evil masters. The robed man was holding the Pact Seeker, and wearing robes adorned with rat sigils. It was Lumien Ratheart!
Oooda-lolly Oooda-lolly golly what a day
Middle C unleashed a powerful Shatter spell directly where Lumien and his pet rats were standing. It caused the Warlock to stagger back a bit, but his rats took a serious blow. His precious pets exploded at his feet, and Lumien attacked in a rage.

Uriel and Cena-Dur attacked the Yeth hound, realizing that it too was only affected by their silvered weapons. Meanwhile, Gin and Middle C took on Lumien himself. The guards mostly joined in the fight, but two of them began attacking the heroes they suspected were warlocks!

Infighting (within the actual fighting) broke out as some of the guards attacked the others, some of the guards attacked the mercs, and some actually tried to kill Lumien. Despite the confusion, the mercenaries kept their focus on the task at hand.

Gin grabbed Lumien and held him in place, giving Middle C an opening. She stabbed him through the chest with her rapier, and he collapsed, dropping the Pact Seeker.

Gin grabbed the book and took off, using his monk speed to dash away. Middle C dropped to her knees, shaking and looking at her sword in odd expectation. Uriel and Cena-Dur kept fighting the Yeth Hound, and the guards continued bickering. Some of them ran after Gin, however.

Gin ran through the pump room and smashed the controls, causing the area the others were in to begin to flood. The guards turned back, and together with the remaining mercenaries, began to look for a way out. They finally found one under the rat altar.

Gin made off with the book, destroying it and revealing himself to be the Warlock. Middle C had also shown some suspicious behavior during the mission, but Uriel and Cena-Dur stood up for her. Some of the guards had died, but overall the party was safe.

The book had been destroyed. The warlock Gin Gau had won. Times would be harder in Garton for the City Watch, now.
Bad guys get the coolest art
Like I said before, this was a short session. Also, Gin wasn't the only Warlock - in fact, they were all warlocks! I wanted to try and see if I could make warlocks that "looked like" other classes. For the most part, it was a success.

Also, I couldn't really have just one or two warlocks. D&D is about the players working together, after all. They each knew they were a warlock, and that they weren't alone, but until Gin's "betrayal", I'm pretty sure they assumed there were two Warlocks. Which I went out of my way to never directly confirm.

Anyway, for the purposes of my experiment, incorporating Mafia mechanics into a D&D game didn't work that well. I had to have the guards create drama. It might be better to just use the themes of mafia (betrayal, secrets, and murder) than the mechanics.

But the experiment of creating Warlocks in Disguise worked great. You know what that means: secret Warlock Society in Garton!

Thanks for reading!

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