Author Topic: I thought that we'd never see an end to it all [post-game thread]  (Read 1657 times)

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Offline El Cideon

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And that, as they say, is that.

Except for the stuff we didn't have time for, or we forgot about, or people didn't think to ask about in the first place. So that's what this thread is for! I'm just going to ramble out whatever half-finished post-game thoughts I've got at the moment; feel free to ask about anything at this point if I don't mention it first.

I know Cor asked about Alice? She was from a kingdom that got eaten by the plane of Shadow. She was the only one that got out with will intact (though obviously not physically intact) and it kept trying to pull her back in for completeness or something. The original idea was that eventually the party could go back there and kill the HEART OF DARKNESS or something, but it became obvious very early in the game that there wouldn't be time for that diversion. I thought Alice herself was still a cool idea, though, so I tossed her in anyway. In retrospect, it probably shouldn't require too much imagination to see how her cards related to Nisbet in response to Fran's questions.

If more time had been spent at home, Thela would've asked Rosey to get the church to sponsor herself for citizenship. She didn't like pretending to be someone else. Thela was a LE drow rogue, which I have to assume is a singular construction. She survived at home by making herself sufficiently useful to her siblings, but a stubborn insistence on keeping her word would've killed her if she'd stuck around. It's why she didn't need much convincing to leave Earth. Still obviously maintained a pretty terrible method of sustaining herself in luxury, but it was supposed to seem like at least there was somewhere you could apply a crowbar and nudge her in a better direction.

I'd had it in mind for Rosey to do something similar regarding her transformation and publicly announcing/accepting it, but see endgame desire to be done + crunch for time. The transformation itself was not planned from the beginning, it just developed out of circumstances. She would've insisted Fran turn the efreeti bottle's wishes elsewhere first if there was anyone else needing miracles (the stone dragon would've wound up her pet if freed, sort of the anti-Thing).

Leah would've shared news about Calloran killing himself if the party had spent any more time back home after that meeting.

Similarly, Grey and Fran's dryad would've been seen to become really really good friends if they'd been around more. There's a lot of stuff like this, that might've got more detail if Amaranth had been more of a focus, but it just wasn't that kind of game. There was too much to do elsewhere and only one session a week. If I run anything else, I would like to evoke more of a sense of community than we really had time for here.

Adelie (ghost girl) was killed by her parents as the least useful member of the household during a time of extreme famine. This would have become apparent during her psychotic breakdown if fought, as she would've spent a lot of that time screaming at the party as though they were someone else.

Grinda never appeared again despite Stephanie's wishes because I just couldn't think of an appropriate place for her to show up and get wasted. Baator wasn't right since she prefers to hang out with demons. I thought maybe she could've joined the Furies, but that couldn't work either since her previous employer tried to lay waste to their hometown. She would've been hunting unicorns in the Beastlands if it had been one of the earlier planes the party visited, but by the time we actually got there I was rushing to the conclusion as fast as possible.

D&D Mental Health Edition really isn't a joke, it was pretty much the idea from day one. I knew I wanted to make a game focused on planes-hopping, but I didn't have any interest in doing the sort of grand Good vs Evil conflicts D&D is really built for. I was more interested in what happens to people afterward, which doesn't seem to be addressed very often, maybe because one of those things that could happen is PTSD. Polaris was always meant to come across as deranged, with that kind of controlled quasi-sanity that only the truly nuts can weld together from conflicting parts. She'd spent her entire adult life in combat and didn't know how to adjust to anything else, so she found her own way to continue the fight: she took something from each of her defeated foes and fused it all into one horrible plan for universal salvation. I think it was a misstep on my part to have Jacono out front to relate her whole scheme--he really should've been in the same room as her so, you know, the main antagonist could explain herself. But I suppose there's something to be said for letting her army of brainwashed war orphans stand up and be proud to be dupes. As for the rest of her old gang (and I guess by extension the Queen), I figure it's enough that steps were taken toward recovery without needing to see the outcome in every case.

Re: Nisbet, the dreams were timed based on where you went, not what you did plotwise. She mentioned at the end following your exploits, and she did do this, as she would've admitted if pressed for more detail IC. Anytime some NPC casually mentioned working for a Lady [Something or Other] who wasn't in town much because she had business ventures on other worlds, they were referring to Nisbet, although generally they didn't know this. Specifically: Mercedes, the guy who sent you after Aria in Azure, and the half-orc* knight leading the group in Pandemonium all reported back to her. They didn't have any specific orders to spy on you, they were just telling their boss what was happening in their neighborhood. It's why your dreams arrived when they did--she sent them out whenever she got updates on your progress.

(*Nisbet's off-world correspondents were all crossbreeds of some variety.)

I don't even remember why I first thought to write them. It wasn't part of the plan from day one. But I think it worked out pretty well in representing the perspective of someone too behind-the-scenes to actively contribute. Which is good because it was Aria that was actively meant to be Galina's antithesis and I never felt like she left the right impression.

Nisbet didn't actually know what exactly Polaris was doing, which she wouldn't have been happy to admit and probably influenced the indirect means of setting you on her trail (although the idea always was that just because a demon wants to do the right thing doesn't mean she can be straightforward about it). But she had a pretty good grasp of what kind of person she was dealing with and could conjecture accurately based on that what, ideologically, Polaris wished to accomplish*. She knew specifically who was responsible for the disappearance of several personal friends because she decided to cultivate and spread the fame of an up-and-coming hotshot sorcerer precisely to see who eventually came to take him away. This admission was not made because it likely wouldn't have endeared her to the party.

(*Adroitly judging someone's character was her job for centuries; if pressed, she would describe her personal attitude towards mortals as one of studied psychological interest after growing bored with schemes of corruption, and a lot of what she would have had to say about her own kind would have closely echoed Krae.)

Krae himself could've turned out differently. Everything he said before the fight might have come up earlier if his interviews with Steph and Fran had followed a different course. The marilith in the Abyss was operating on similar lines, although this thread got dropped in the wake of Rosey-related emergencies. After centuries of failing politically and getting shunted to a dreary backwater layer, she tried to summon back her mortal memories to figure out where she first went wrong. This didn't entirely work, which is why they were floating around town tormenting everyone else instead (the saint mentioned was her mom in life, although I never did work out this backstory in intricate detail, but probably murder was involved somewhere). This was initially an act of desperation, not sincere moral questioning, although it was meant to lead to the latter. If this sub-plot had been pursued by the party, the eventual conclusion would've been a request for upper planes contacts to defect.

I knew from the start that someone somewhere had to convert just for the story to work and for Polaris to be more completely wrong. I've always tended to regard a fixation with orthodoxy as the adversary of human decency, so there had to be exceptions on either side. I wasn't expecting Shandria of all people to be the one the party took an interest in, but I suppose it worked out in the end and that's what matters, right?

Whether Polaris's plan could actually have worked is a two-part question. Was she operating based a technically accurate understanding of how planes function? Yes. Could her followers have actually maintained the necessary commitment over the generations needed to carry out her project to completion? It's been my observation that organizations founded on high ideals all too easily come to concern themselves more with the perpetuation of their organization than with said ideals once the guiding hand of their founder is lost. And as the party capably pointed out, going about salvation the way she did demonstrates a powerful discordance between methods and stated goals that Polaris herself was no longer in any frame of mind to recognize. She could have been, with considerable tact and enough technical reasons why her plan wouldn't work (not moral ones, since she obviously considered herself to occupy the moral high ground and wouldn't want to recognize anything that might jeopardize that self image), talked down. But you would have had to flatter her ego a lot and avoid any degree of criticism for demanding sacrifices from other people which she wouldn't make herself, which would've sent her right around the bend (she would've maintained that she'd already sacrificed her life through devotion).

~

I'm pretty happy with the way this game turned out. I can point to things I did wrong and I definitely got tired of dealing with D&D mechanics and setting by the end, but it's definitely satisfying to see so much go according to plan for once right from the beginning. There was a non-zero chance of the game ending day one, but I thought I could rely on you guys not to ask the right questions or beat up stray maids to get answers (Nisbet and Cavilla switched places for that first meeting, just in case you did get violent, but she didn't really expect anyone representing Pelor to behave that way).
« Last Edit: June 20, 2015, 11:11:19 am by El Cideon »

Offline El Cideon

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Re: I thought that we'd never see an end to it all [post-game thread]
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2015, 09:05:50 am »
Looks like that's that.

Official request for game board to be archived goes here.