11 December 2010

Forgotten Songs Retrospective -- "Displacer Beast" (Part 1)

The diary entry that inspired this commentary track can be found here, at Risus Monkey.

One of the great things about Katja's diary is that it's written, well, like a diary.  There are gaps, just as there would be for an adventuring woman who is laid up for a few days recovering, or on the road travelling from place to place.  I love it.  It's also challenging to give commentary for, at times, because of those gaps.

I've wracked my brain for days to remember how the Harcomb boy died and what (if anything) the party had to do with his death.  I simply can't recall how poor Fergus met his end, but it clearly involved the party somehow.  Now I had a sad party, an angry and sad town, and two half-orcs who were still afraid to come into town.  I'll admit to playing to this fear a bit.  I am not sure how or why I inherited the idea that the half-orcs stat benefits should entail a social cost.  I am not even sure that's a fair assessment.  But I do know that's exactly what I had been doing in the game up until this point.  I viewed it as realism, especially given that Boaz and Kreed had been described as more orcish than human.  But it constantly split the party, making this more difficult to manage and it frustrated the players.  Thus one of the goals that had developed by this time was to find an in-game reason for the half-orcs to be welcome in town.  Maybe saving Fergus was supposed to make that happen, but that obviously didn't work out so well.  I then came up with the idea of doing a favor for the local lord.  What better way to gain acceptance than by noble fiat? ;)

This was the party's opportunity to begin getting involved with the politics, such as it was, of Harcomb.   There was Father Caparzo, who had been sent to this out of the way church of Pelor because he was something of a eccentric, theologically speaking.  He claimed to have visions and held somewhat unorthodox views, thus he was semi-exiled to this backwoods parish.  Caparzo was to have three functions.  First, he was a contact, albeit a marginal one, for the Pelorian church.  When or if the Oghma temple was reopened, you can bet the continent-spanning church of Pelor would take interest.  The party's relationship with Caparzo would then help determine their relationship with other church authorities, should they come into play.  Second, Caparzo was the highest level cleric for miles around, so he would be the guy the party would turn to if they needed healing.  Third, he was just a good guy.  Though a bit kooky, he was guileless, willing to help anyone in need.

Lord Richard, on the other hand, was not guileless.  His background, as I remember, was that he had the blood claim to the land around Harcomb, but little way to set himself up as a meaningful ruler.  Thus, he married a former adventurer who, with her chests of looted gold, provided him with the funds he needed to restore his title and family claim to the land.  He certainly wasn't a bad guy, but he did have an agenda.  That agenda mainly included peace and stability for Harcomb, so he was a bit concerned with the idea of exploring the temple and stirring up trouble.  Still, a reopened temple could be good for the town, so he cautiously began dealing with the party to feel them out and use them to assist in the good of Harcomb.  The fact that he got the group to investigate the goings on at the Inn of the Western Way for a  relatively small sum aptly illustrated his general way of doing things -- do what's best for the town in as cautiously a manner as possible.

Richard's wife had her own agenda, but we'll get to that later ;)

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