Wow was that an interesting session last night.
I'm playing in my friend's Shackled City Pathfinder game. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I've gone from being an avid Pathfinder player to being at least a bit disappointed overall. I won't go back through all of the arguments, but I will freely admit that at least some of this is due to changing gaming tastes after being exposed to a wider range of systems.
My character in the game was an Oracle of Life that I imagined as a cross between Alan Moore and John the Baptist. He's an Oracle that worships Ilmater, but he's really bad at properly expressing doctrine, so it comes out all garbled, and on top of that, he tends to be a little intense. As such, despite his high charisma, he's only got ranks in intimidate.
Disclaimer: I'm playing in this game because there are a lot of guys in the game that I have played with before. I'm also playing because I don't get a chance to play with the GM, whose been a long time friend of mine. Because a lot of us wanted to get the chance to play together, our campaign has grown a bit. Fighter, paladin, druid (x2), bard, gunslinger, ranger, and oracle is our current lineup.
General observation, and I apologize to the whole group if this doesn't ring true, but I have to say I think our Thursday game tends to "table talk" a bit too much. It makes it harder for the GM to present information, it makes it harder to remember what we are doing, and it complicates the other player's ability to process information and make decisions.
It's probably a bit of a natural issue with having eight players, and I want to stress that I'm just as guilty as anyone, and if and when the my buddy the GM reads this, I want to stress that I'm sorry and I've been trying to curtail my own excessive table talk. I really should know better, from the other side of the screen.
The other issues we have at the moment is that because some of us have come and gone since the original inception of the campaign, and the needs of the party have changed a bit, there are only a few "charter members" of the adventuring company, and the ties to the setting and each other have gotten a bit strained. Again, I'm just as guilty as anyone, since I've left and come back and switched characters to boot. Since some of us left and came back due to circumstances we couldn't really control, it's not so much a matter of "fault" as it is circumstance.
Now, after reading the above, you might think that issues dominated the night, but we actually had a lot of fun. In town we found out that the nobles have hired questionable enforcers and massively raised taxes, and the masses are holding rallies to protest how the "man" is keeping them down. Hm. That sounds familiar.
Anyway, the rally unfortunately switched from "down with the man" to "kill half-orcs" because most of the noble hired mercenaries are half-orcs. Stopping the race riot, our bard (who looks pretty half-orcish himself) cast calm emotions on the crowds to stop the bad things from happening. Then an air elemental attacked the guy that was the original speaker at the rally, and we sprung into action to save him.
So far so good.
After the speaker slunk off in gaseous form, the air elemental was banished, and the people started to disperse, a troop of half-orc mercenary guards arrived. They tell us that there are fires, but I kind of lost that thread of the conversation at first. Our druid didn't, and took off for the part of town that was on fire, where the orphanage was. Let me point this out again . . . most of us missed or ignored that there was potentially an orphanage on fire. Whoops.
The paladin notes that the duly appointed guards that are threatening to arrest us are evil. The bard attempts to charm the leader. I attempt to intimidate him to leaving us alone. The paladin goes full defensive in case they attack and doesn't draw his weapon. The lizard folk gets in the guards faces, and they attack him. Crap.
There was kind of a blur all around the train wreck. The whole she bang of half-orcs get entangled and held in place. The archer fires on them. They keep trying to shoot at us and spear us with long spears. The bard remembers that he has a cloudkill scroll. The cloudkill spell starts spreading so one of the druids conjures an air elemental to hold the clouldkill spell over the guards . . .
Point the first: we stopped a group of people from rioting to kill half-orc guards, then proceed to kill a huge chunk of them ourselves.
Point the second: I'm an oracle of life. I'm new to the city and relatively new to the adventuring party. I just see thirty people die horribly. My character is teetering on the edge of sanity.
So the bard convinces the mayors forces that the air elemental we were fighting were responsible for killing the guards, which was more believable because apparently fire elementals were causing the fires in the other part of town. Where the other druid was. By himself.
So he died.
Plus the orphans died.
And then there was the whole mass slaughter we just went through. My oracle of life decided, after we took care of the fire elementals and saved what was left of that part of town, that he was going to "retire," and by "retire" I mean, "live on the street like a homeless guy and mumble to himself for the rest of his life."
Honestly, I didn't want to retire another character, but I seriously didn't see any other reaction for an already slightly touched oracle in the situation.
I really think the guard situation could have been avoided, and I think several events kind of dovetailed to take us further down the line. We all spent way too much time pondering why it happened, and either justifying it or trying to figure out if there was something else we could have done, but I think what it boils down to is that, while none of us were really horrible alone, with a lot of us acting as loose canons and not "reading" each other well, we just really misfired.
Hopefully we didn't break our GM too much. We're brainstorming some things to reset and get back on track, and I sincerely hope the whole group enjoys the campaign moving forward and we figure out a good way to move on, since the group is a really good group of guys.