Our heroes, escorting the caravan towards the Oracle of Spellgard meet up with Wallice Wighthawk, an old acquaintance. At the same time, they all are whisked away to the "Reality Show Realm" where they are forced to entertain a large audience.
For this session, I asked my good friend Phil ( the ChattyDM ) to don the mantle of DM while I tried out the new bard class.
We agreed upon running his version of Blood Bowl a.k.a. the "Dungeon Reality Show". I gave him carte blanche with my scenario - mess it up if you like. I'd pick up from there on my next session.
For those unfamiliar with the scenario - the players are whisked away to an enormous stadium where they must entertain the crowd as the "half-time show" of a weird ball game. The ball players - a team of zombies versus a team of skeletons - are not even aware that they are in break and are still playing.
Only prep ChattyDM asked of me was to prepare "sponsored" weapons for the event. Once the players were in the realm, they were given a sponsored weapon - at any time during the match they could look at the "camera" and plug away the weapon to get a free action point.
The setup was chaotic - and the real-life setup was too. The game was set up for my birthday (never too old to geek out with buddies), during day time. This meant that the children (a 2 year old, a 1 year old and a 6 month old) were about with the chaos they entail. We were ready for it - my group is a group that never has any trouble when comes the time to goof off :P
True to form, Phil doesn't loose too much time in setting up the scenario and coaxing the players to follow a plot line - in a short exposé, we learn (and agree) that at one point in our lives, we unwittingly signed a contract forcing us to serve as entertainers in another realm.
Lets Play Ball
We all were introduced to the contract through Wallice (my PC) and now our number was up and we had to serve. We were automatically whisked away from the caravan and smack into the middle of the court yard where teams of undead where mindlessly fighting for a kruthik youngling serving as a ball.
I'm a pretty analytical person and the last time Chatty was DM for us, I got stuck in "analytical mode" - not allowing myself to be immersed in the game, but more examining the workings of Chatty's craft.
Sadly, "meta gaming" mode really impedes my ability to role play and be creative the way I like to be as a player.
Nevertheless, I had a few cool tricks up my sleeve with the bard (great new class, by the way!) and I couldn't wait to try them out.
Turns out the dice were against me this day. I've been taught that a DM's dice don't roll well for a PC.
It all started with initiative - we rolled it and were made to run for the center of the stage where we had to do some "crowd pleasing" actions. Think of it as a free-form "skill challenge". Nobody had a clue what to do, really...
I fumbled the initiative.
Looks like the bard won't get to the stage first :)
Rolen, the ranger, is always that fastest on his feet and went first, running through the field, dodging the undead and getting on the center stage. Wanting to show off his bowmanship, he looked at the sky.
What do you want to see there?, asked Chatty.
Pretty awesome question, if you ask me. I've rambled about "sharing narrative control" in previous posts, unknowingly thinking more about "sharing story control". This is a prime example of a way to do this.
Rolen was looking for something cool to shoot at - he didn't know precisely what. The DM gave him a bunch of fiery lanterns way up high to shoot. Good enough for Rolen.
Kudos to Chatty's imagination (and Rolen's good aim, of course) - the arrows hit the lantern and it exploded, splashing fiery liquid all over a few spectators who caught on fire.
The crowd went wild for this.
The rest of the group went in - Arkanys and Dali wowing the crowd with teleportation, Marisol breathing fire... I don't remember exactly what Iris did, but I think Benerra took out a blimp with a single dagger.
Wallice eventually got to the stage, feeling his music would have a hard time to complete with the others' magics and physical prowess - it would have been a better opening act.
Still, he did hold a sponsored signing blade and thought out a nifty way of bringing it in.
So Wallice ran towards the center of the stage, dragging his blade on the stone to get it vibrating (think of a tuning fork) once on the stage, he stopped over some glowing glyphs and raised his magic sword. (
By the power of Grayskull! )
The glyph went aglow and basked the bard in glowing purple lights while he started playing "air signing sword", adding some signing of his own. Felt like a pretty cool intro to me. I don't remember what skills we chose to represent this - I remember I had a pretty cool bonus to add to my die roll from the bard's stats alone!
Making this the first "loss" for the skill challenge.
A Bard's Curse
Second round starts and the players do some more mayhem as the undead felt our presence and started climbing on the stage. Good opportunity to use the bard's power to buff the other players in a show-offy way!
Of course, the round passed by and there were basically no more undead left within reach to warrant the use of the bard's powers. This is where I managed to let go of my "meta mode" and tried channeling "the bard".
The show must go on - the bard let loose the sponsored blade and sang a song narrating the exploits of my fellow adventurers. (Which I actually sang). The effort gave me a nifty extra bonus (+4) from the DM. So I rolled.
Marking this the second "loss".
Role playing the wounded artist (easy task), the bard started blaming the crowd, the stage... and eventually cursed at the sponsored equipment.
This is where time stopped and the show's producers argued with Wallice. Looks like they don't like their sponsored products to be treated this way. Wallice had them check the "batteries" on the sword. Something must be wrong!
I got a free reroll out of that hilarious segment (kudos to Chatty's imagination, again!)
An Instigator's Guide to Mayhem
The bard was trying to make an impression on the crowd (I switched for Rock to Country - maybe the genre is failing?), when Arkanys, after having been warned that harming the ball would bring out the Zomboni... slew the ball.
Everything went silent in the stadium. The scene vanished (causing the people still on the stage to fall down!).
The Zomboni appeared and started gunning for us.
The monstrous beast can roll over players, chew them to bits and spit them out - not a pleasant way to spend an evening.
It managed to hurt most of us and threatened to roll over three paralyzed PCs - probably killing them right there.
Marisol managed to call upon her holy powers to strike the beast from a distance, causing it to slow down. This seemed to be just enough of a delay for the paralyzed to shake it off and counter attack.
It was a close call, but the Zomboni got defeated and the crowd cheered on.
At the end, we were offered our sponsored weapons as gifts as well as a contract to remain as paid entertainers.
A few players jumped at the opportunity to roll new PCs (it had been in the air) and the rest were sent back to the caravan.
I loved seeing Phil handle my players.
I love how he coached and supported the ones less familiar with their characters, how he allowed everyone's creativity to affect the story - even the instigator among us.
While its a hard task with our group, I really like how he tried to handle the dead air and stimulate the players towards action - proposing to delay action instead of waiting for imagination to strike.
All in all a pretty entertaining and insightful session. And a pretty cool geek-man birthday party.
Thank bunches Phil!