D&D Campaign – What Should I Do?

A few people have requested some posts on the weekly D&D campaign I play in, and since there’s an issue in the story I’m not sure how to handle, I thought this was as good a time as any.

First, some background (and this is gonna take a few paragraphs to give you context, so bear with me.): we’re playing in a homebrew campaign setting, we use the NWoD White Wolf character system, and the (nearly exclusive) point of the game is world and character building and social interaction. There’s very little combat, and when there is, it is nasty and brutal and, in spite of being as tough as we are, the party usually comes away quite banged up. The world itself is a basic fantasy world with lots of personal twists thrown in by our (epically fantastic) GM.

Although there are no real classes in White Wolf, I’m essentially playing a nearly prototypical half-elven ranged ranger type character. (Her name is Piter. If you’ve been following my Skyrim LP, you’ll know why I created the Skyrim character the way I did now.)

We’ve been playing the game for almost a year and a half now, so I’m not going to give you a full summary; that would be ridiculous. Instead, here’s what you need to know to have context for the issue I’m discussing: with a few exceptions (which don’t merit an explanation here at the moment), our characters started out as low ranking soldiers in the army of a human kingdom that, twenty years ago, suffered a huge, nearly apocalyptic war with a now-defunct Empire. (None of us are old enough/were in the country then to have served in that conflict). Now the only reason this human kingdom survived and defeated the Empire was with the help of a coven of necromancers (well they weren’t ALL necromancers, but that’s neither here nor there) who had, to that point, been killing lots of innocent people (for good reason as they saw it; our GM’s villains are very well rounded and sympathetic, but that doesn’t mean everyone ELSE approved of their slaughter). In spite of how revolting it was to them, the kingdom allied with these necromancers, who used this army of their undead people and comrades to help defend the country’s capital. Shortly after the battle was over, the humans (and elves who had allied with them) decided that maybe having a bunch of powerful black magic users around wasn’t so good after all (especially since they were continuing to raise the dead), and magically banished them in spite of their promise of safe haven if the coven helped with the war.

Now over the course of this game so far, we have gone from low ranking soldiers to being the avatars of various gods. (Piter, being a ranger, is the avatar of the god of nature, cunning and chaos.) That’s a long and unrelated story I can tell later if you like, but it’s important to note that we’re not exactly mere mortals anymore–though none of us really understand just what being an avatar means for us yet.

In the early parts of the game, it turned out that several members of the coven had found their way back to the capital city. Far from being the boogeymen we had heard about, though, they were quite reasonable (if very, very scary) people. And far from trying to destroy the city, or us, they have aided us quite a lot–we even fought alongside them to destroy an evil, ancient lich that had been sending a horrible necrotic plague through the kingdom.

One of the other PCs is a character named John. He’s our tank–a huge, 7’3 giant of a man who is 18 years old and was a private when we started the game. (He’s what I would call our “central” character at the moment, as he’s the avatar of the god of balance–he’s trying to play all of the different factions of the game–and the other PCs, as we represent our gods–against each other in such a way that, in his eyes, the world is in balance.) Our relationship is a very tight one; Piter is much older than he is and was in fact his sergeant at one point. He was eventually promoted over her–long story, but it made perfect sense and wasn’t a fuck you to me–but he immediately made Piter his Executive Officer, knowing that he doesn’t have the field or command experience to really know what he’s doing yet. They’ve been very close that way, with John acting as the party’s leader and front man while Piter stays in the backround, offering advice and moral support when asked (and a lot of times, when not asked too.)

She clearly feels this young man and his safety–and in some regards, his choices–are her responsibility. For all the ways they’ve changed in the course of the game, she’s never lost that NCO/junior soldier feeling for him, not even when he was her commander. (He’s not anymore–none of us are in the military any longer. Again, another story.) As he’s grown in power as the avatar of his god, however (and after some seriously freaky events that I’m aware of out of character, but have only vaguely had described to me in character) he’s started growing apart from her, and making decisions that Piter would describe as rash–even stupid. As she sees it, he’s a very confused young man who’s been handed a shit ton of power and responsibility and, while he’s been handling it as well as can be expected, NO child can be told the fate of the world rests on his shoulders, and NOT go a little crazy. It hasn’t been as much of an issue to now, because she feels like–even when he makes decisions she doesn’t agree with–he at least listens to her and honors her opinion. Lately, she feels that’s not been happening.

All that, to explain this: in the fight with the lich and in a separate fight with some demons they also helped us with, the necromantic coven lost a few members. The coven member we deal with the most is a beautiful elven druid/necromancer (I know–best combo ever right?) named Lorelei. Not only does she use her beauty to get what she wants out of men (and women–she doesn’t seem to be picky), she has this effect where, if your skin makes contact with hers, you start to feel really, really good. And she uses that, a lot.

Piter, as you might imagine, hates her guts. Not just because of the whole killing innocents/necromancer thing (which is bad enough), but she manipulates people. And manipulates them using the idea of sex, and by making them feel good. Piter finds this abhorrent and repulsive. John, of course, really, really likes her (though he’s always stopped short of actually sleeping with her–Piter’s proud of him for that.) But now…oh boy. Now that he’s the avatar of a god, Lorelei has flat out asked him to become a member of the coven itself. (If they can get seven members, you see, they become far, far more powerful.)(Incidentally, it’s not JUST him, since we’re all avatars at this point, but everyone else in the party turned her down. Except Piter, because the witch didn’t bother to ask her–she knows very well how my little ranger feels about her and her methods.) Now surprisingly, she hasn’t been using her…gifts…on John, not really; but he likes and trusts Lorelei far more than Piter thinks he should, and he’s actually considering joining them.

Piter is not a happy elf right now.

The question is, what do I do about it. There is literally no way in hell I could kill her, even if I wanted to, but Piter is not quite sure that’s the solution anyway. I’m thinking what’s going to happen is that Piter is going to confront her. Lorelei won’t hurt her–she’s powerful enough that Piter’s dislike of her is more cute and amusing to her than anything. And Piter’s not dumb enough to pick a fight unless there was NO other way–she knows that’s tantamount to suicide. But a discussion might be in order. I just don’t even know what she can SAY at this point. Inquire about Lorelei’s goals, I guess? Ask her not to harm John (which out of character I’m almost certain she won’t do, but Piter’s not nearly as sure as I am)? I don’t know. I’m at a loss. Piter needs to hash out SOMETHING with her, but she’s at such a power disadvantage that I have no idea what to say, or how to make anything I say matter in the slightest, beyond giving Lorelei a reason to smirk at me.

So anyway. That’s where I’m at. Thanks for letting me vent my in and out of character frustration. And if you have any thoughts, or things I haven’t considered, feel free to bring them up. Anything that helps me think outside the box at this point would be most welcome.

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7 responses to “D&D Campaign – What Should I Do?

  1. Sounds like quite the dilemma, though it’s awesome that an issue as complex as this has come up in the campaign. There’s a lot of options your character could choose, but I’m not sure how many of them would be at all in character.

    It seems like the most obvious and in-character solution would be to try to shout some sense into John, as sergeants generally do when a junior soldier is acting stupid. Of course, that could easily backfire and drive him more towards the coven. Confronting Lorelei directly sounds like it would be fruitless, since she seems to be both more powerful and more manipulative than your character. Perhaps you could try either approach with the support of other members of the party, which might be more convincing/intimidating?

    Maybe Piter could approach the other members of this coven? Even though it sounds like it’s in all of their interests for John to join them, perhaps some of them might be wary of how much influence Lorelei apparently has over him, or find the methods she uses distasteful? Some of them might even be worried they’ll be replaced by other members of your group, unless they already know that they turned down the offer.

    A much more dangerous and morally questionable course of action would be to turn John against Lorelei and the coven through outright lies and manipulation. Plant evidence that suggests they plan to sacrifice him to gain power or will attack the rest of your group once they have him on their side. Not sure if Piter would be willing to go that far, though, or how the various parties involved would react to that sort of thing.

    • Damn. I never even CONSIDERED planting *false* evidence. That’s a very good solution to this problem actually, though I’m not sure Piter would think of it (and she’s not desperate enough to do that, yet.) Planting would be the ONLY way to go; talking him against them won’t work–she’s tried shouting sense into him, but as I’ve mentioned, he’s moved more and more away from taking her opinions to heart. IN the past he’s listened even if he’s gone against her advice; lately he’s almost entirely dismissive of her. He’s got the 18 year old “I’m the avatar of a god, I’ll do what I want, and damn the consequences and what anyone else thinks” thing going on. It’s why she’s so *desperately* afraid of him joining right now. If she thought he was thinking straight, she might–MIGHT–be able to accept it. MAYBE. Probably she’d still hate it, but she wouldn’t be as scared as she is now. (He IS the avatar of the god of balance–his decisions hold a lot of weight in her eyes, even if they seem to be nuts sometimes.) But he’s acting to rashly and dismissively that she’s terrified he’ll bind himself to them without thinking it through, or for the wrong reasons, and regret it terribly later–and be unable to do anything about it. (Bound to them is bound until death.)

      Turning the other members against it would be brilliant too, but sadly the nature of this coven is that it’s absolutely to their advantage to have seven–and all the members don’t like each other anyway. They work together for convenience, not in friendship. It’s also been established that part of the binding ritual is that, if a member of the coven kills another, they are instantly struck dead. (That’s the only way you get a group of super ancient, powerful beings who distrust each other to work towards a common goal lol.) So that threat would be moot both to the coven and to John.

      You really hit the nail on the head of the issue though…Piter’s neither powerful enough nor manipulative enough to stand up to Lorelei at all. HOWEVER…hm. GIven John’s trust of Lorelei…given how much Piter respects his opinion…and maybe even given how much Piter understands she’s prejudiced against the damn witch…maybe a NON confrontive conversation with Lorelei is the answer. I doubt it will solve the ACTUAL issue–she’s not going to be talked out of taking her talons out of John in any way and knows I can’t do shit about it–but maybe going to her and seeking to understand her, rather than glaring and letting her know how much I hate her, would result in some kind of good. Perhaps information–which is the most powerful weapon in this game, bar none–if nothing else.

      And yes, this game rules. EVERY situation we find ourselves in is like this. So awesome. 😀

      • I was wondering if the members of this coven had some sort of safeguard against the whole backstabbing problem that’s so common in that sort of organization. However, it seems like you could just get an non-member – like, say, one or more members of an adventuring party – to deliver the final blow. Not sure what would happen if Piter happened to pass along that possibility to them. They could just decide to kill everyone in the party, just to be safe.

        The problem with just talking with Lorelei is that it sounds like she’d be at an advantage in any conversation. Could you trust anything she says? Does Piter have anything she could bargain with? Right now it seems like Lorelei holds all the cards.

        Can the whole “avatar of the god of balance” thing be used at all? It doesn’t seem like joining a necromancy coven is all that balanced, but I don’t know how involved these gods get with the lives of their avatars, or what “balance” means in this setting. Perhaps telling John that he has to remain separate from all these groups as part of his role as an avatar would strike a chord?

        • Yes. The whole avatar of balance thing CAN be used, very much so.

          Now, I have no idea about this *IN* character yet, but Lorelei explained to John (alone) that the coven’s goal is to destroy the gods entirely. She believes that beings who don’t live on this world have no business interfering in the lives of humans/elves/dwarves/etc who do, and have no right to dictate or demand anything from them. The coven believes that by destroying the gods, they will ‘free the world from their tyrany.’ She’s already pushed the idea to him that it is completely unbalanced and unfair for the gods to have such influence over people. Now, the guy who plays John is playing his characters emotions very close to his vest at the moment and, as I said, he’s been unwilling to discuss anything like that with Piter.

          From an OOC standpoint, I am rather hoping that, if I tried to converse with Lorelei in a civil way, she might explain some of this to me (and she might not, but I’d be no worse off.) There’s even the smallest ghost of a chance that Lorelei might successfully sell her case to Piter. (I very much doubt it, if only because Piter is very much devoted to her god. If she wasn’t an avatar, there’d be a much greater chance of that happening. She wasn’t very religious til the god of nature gave her no choice but to believe. …Which is part of Lorelei’s point, really.) At least she’d be able to have a conversation with John about it if she found out. In character, it’s really the only thing Piter can think to do. She’s not used to feeling utterly impotent and incompetent, and talking to the person who seems to have so much sway over her friend is the only real step she can think of, since John won’t talk to her.

          And yeah…although Piter would be at a huge disadvantage trying to talk to her, she’s pretty sure Lorelei wouldn’t outright lie. If only because she has no reason to. She hasn’t lied to them yet (that they know of), and Piter represents no kind of threat to anything she might plan in any way.

  2. Pingback: D&D Campaign – Well That Was Unexpected (part 1) | The Hawk Nest

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