How to waste a party's time

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Lord Karick
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How to waste a party's time

#1 Postby Lord Karick » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:54 am

Ok, sounds mean, but I'm sending them on a time quest and I'm stuck for ideas of how to distract them in non-dangerous ways. Or at least I have the kernel of an idea, but it's presently getting me nowhere.
In our low-fantasy, pseudo-medieval world, elves are more to be feared than anything else: Otherworldly creatures of the edges of reality rather than Tolkienesque superheroes. I'm trying to come up with a scenario where the elf/elves lull them into wasting time to prevent them from completing the time quest in good time (they will have a month to find items to cure someone of lycanthropy). It should have a distracting feel to it - something that feels good but which should ultimately prevent them from completing their quest. I actually want them to succeed, but don't want to make it easy!

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#2 Postby ValhallaGH » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:33 am

Parties, feasts, wenches, glorious hunts, good booze (with a lengthy hangover), illusory chasms (that require a long circling around), witch trials, "endless forests" where minor illusions keep making them ride in circles, minor injuries to mounts that require them to rest and heal, and one-eye one-horned flying purple people-eaters (Because).

Have fun and good luck.

P.S. Various Arthurian tales, especially the exploits of his knights, are loaded with medieval distractions. Steal liberally. :lol:
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#3 Postby Zadmar » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:55 am

Castle Anthrax with its Grail-shaped beacon!

You could also have the party encounter other people on an urgent quest of their own - for example they might rescue a traveler from bandits, only for him to reveal that he's chasing slavers who have captured his wife. It's clear he's outmatched on his own, and will very likely die, but he refuses to be deterred. You could have the man tell some horrible tales about the sick and evil things the slavers have done, the burnt homes they've left behind, the butchered corpses of those they felt weren't worth selling, etc. Should the players eventually succeed in catching the slavers, they'd then have a load of weak and sickly people who needed to be escorted somewhere safe.

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#4 Postby Lord Stone » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:44 am

First thing you will have to realize is that your players will not so easily be fooled as the characters should be. That is, after all, what mental traits are for, namely Smarts and Spirit. The characters do not experience things the same way as the characters would, they are not, after all, in the middle of an elven banquet themselves. They can be way more objective about the situation than a person directly confronted with such a situation could be. Especially when mind tricks come into play, the player can very easily ignore them.

So the clue is, trick them (characters and players both), then have them use their mental Traits to represent how good or badly the characters deal with the trick.

Here are two rather direct ideas:

1. The heroes meet a woman who apparently knows something about the ingredients they are looking for. It is almost evening and there is a big party in the village where she lives, so she promises the heroes she'll tell them tomorrow morning. She invites them to partake in the party in the meanwhile (good for some rest, it's late already anyways). Once the players join in for *just one evening*, have them roll Spirit. On a failure, the character doesn't notice anything and will party for a week. With a success, the character notices two days earlier what is going on. With a raise another two days, with two raises he notices it after the first day. Here is the important thing to have the matter be even more alarming; they do not know exactly how much time has passed.

To make matters more interesting, if *one* of the heroes botches, kindly tell the player that his character will not easily be convinced by his allies that this is going on. (If you have good players, this will make for some interesting roleplay, but the extra time it costs to haul the character along won't deter from the group's total success so it's all good and fun).

With more than two raises, give them an idea of how long they have been there and/or the fact that they have recognized some elven glamour going on.

Now... getting away from the party could be an extra interesting challenge to play with... because of course the elves are not simply going to let them walk away. At first they will try convincing the players to stay a little longer... (if they are stupid enough to agree, rinse and repeat)... but things may get more forceful after one or two failed attempts.

2. The heroes find some information about where to go to find these ingredients, but instead their trail leads into infinity. They can keep walking and walking but they do not reach their destination. This time have the players make a Smarts roll, and use the same intervals as in the previous case. In this scenario the players can recognize they have been going in circles for quite some time already.

Now... how to get out of this infinite forest of walking in circles... that is another matter. If you have smart players, you don't even have to think of a solution; just go with the best idea the players come up with and have it work (perhaps with a roll or two if appropriate).

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#5 Postby ogbendog » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:58 am

Sounds like an opportunity bring up Hindrances, particularly ones which haven't come up yet.

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#6 Postby Lord Karick » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:16 pm

Some great stuff here. Thanks

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#7 Postby SavageGamerGirl » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:36 pm

If you're giving your elves and faeries a more folkloric bent, then keep in mind that time sometimes flows a bit strangely where the grey neighbors are concerned. You could have the characters waste time without them even knowing it.

For example... they wander into a foggy patch in the forest. The terrain might possibly have brambles in abundance, or standing stones, or jumbled burial mounds of ancient kings.

Without immediately knowing it, they pass into the Other World. Time passes more slowly there, so as they take a nice few minutes' hike through a lovely, twilit sylvan glen, hours or even days pass in the Mortal World. After some time, you might want to give someone with Knowledge (Arcana) a roll to see if he notices something amiss. On a success, he realizes what's happened, and the party has to backtrack to find the gate they came through in order to get back into the Mortal World.
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#8 Postby Mike Zebrowski » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:35 pm

Two words: Fake Cure

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#9 Postby catalac » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:43 am

i like the simplicity of that last one. it ones like that that always seem to work.

lot of examples of it have come up but its good to remember that the fair ones greatest weapon against lowly humans is their sheer force of personality and other worldly grace. with magic in their blood they can often force their emotions and such on the weaker soul. wild dances through the woods in the throws of ecstasy can be a exhilarating high and and at their lows their wrath can be quite dark and menacing. after all some of the stories of the wild hunt are about them. people who dance or are hunted by them are lost forever more, their souls forfeit to the other world.
... now if that actually happened it wouldn't be vary fun for the players.
but it does bring up the point is that they mess with your perception of that around you and are there for illusionists. a good tactic to try while they are in the land of the fae is when you describe whats happening to your players you don't change the way you do it pretend its really happening but the truth that they don't know is slightly different or if they fall in with the most dangerous of the fae it can be vastly different.
for example with the dancing elves should they be evil or maybe benevolent just ignorant of human frailties the party seem to be spending a night dancing and lose track of time looking at the glorious stars but if they see past the fae glamor and look down instead of up they will see the bones of those who died of old age from dancing with the immortal and untiring fae.
just saying though if i tried pulling an illusion on my group like that they'd probably kill me. so make sure your group is good role player and of good temper if you try this stall them technique.

edit note: ouch i think i messed up with the grammar there pretty badly :( i'll try to edit it sometime tomorrow.

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#10 Postby Lord Karick » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:57 am

catalac wrote:just saying though if i tried pulling an illusion on my group like that they'd probably kill me. so make sure your group is good role player and of good temper if you try this stall them technique.

edit note: ouch i think i messed up with the grammar there pretty badly :( i'll try to edit it sometime tomorrow.

This is exactly the feeling I was going for. I'll stew it over and try to cobble something together.
And the fake cure will rear it's head in another way. :cool:

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#11 Postby VonDan » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:23 am


The party is invited by seven "Dwarvs" to partake in a game of nine pins and ale and wake up 50 years later

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