October 1, 2010
Too Much of a Good Thing
I like to do slow buildups of anxiety and tension. I use a lot of foreshadowing, a lot of “showing how the monster works” by having the bad guys use their abilities and powers on someone other than the player characters. I do this to show my players the threat they are facing, to add some fear. I have been trying to make the players feel isolated within the campaign world to add to the feeling of overwhelming odds and to get them to bond together better.
However, I may have done my job too well. At last night’s game we started with the knowledge that one of the character’s mothers (she may have been an adoptive mother) is going to be burned at the stake at noon the next day. I prepared for a sneak mission into the keep where she is being held; I was happy I was finally able to use my MageKnight castle walls. I prepared for a daring midday rescue as she was being moved from the keep to the city square. I was not prepared for the characters decision to let her die and walk, no run, in fear from the city, but that is what they did.
Did I instill too much fear and anxiety into the players? Have I turned them into fearful store clerks? They have had some debate amongst themselves about whether or not they should find a hiding spot in some far away corner of the world and stay there. Only the fear of being discovered has put that idea to the side, since they feel they are being hunted until the end of their days.
I guess I have to retool and show them they can buck the odds and prevail as heroes. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too good at what you are trying to do.