Saturday, October 9, 2010

PBEM Update

My Greyhawk PBEM Castles and Crusades game is still alive, but barely...

The game is approximately 18 months old, which is ancient for PBEM, and most of my players are around 3rd level. I was taking them into The Dark Chateau module by Rob Kuntz. The action started out great with the players adopting the usual paranoia associated with entering a "funhouse" style wizards haunt.

They met up with some goblins/orcs who were hanging near a couple of external sheds. The PC's were surprised and after taking on heavy arrow fire they pulled back into the woods and then proceeded to fight fire with fire. The elven ranger of the group has a +6 bonus to hit with his arrows (no magic involved) so he mostly sniped the orcs and goblins from afar while the wizard of the party laid the smack down with magic missiles. The fight was over quickly.

The players did a sweep of the outside of the Chateau, finding their encounter with some strange giant frogs to be intimidating. They decided not to mess with these frogs who glided about in the pool gazing at them with alien stares of disinterest. They entered the Chateau and swept through the first floor fighting some giant rats and claiming a magical Cleaver. However, at this point they hit a slow spot. The players are having real life conflicts/disasters and a general paralysis of decision has affected the group. Presented with a variety of traps and tricks, they are hitting a wall.

So over the last 5-6 weeks things have stalled completely. There were only 3 posts in the last week. I started to lose interest in the game and contemplated several times about giving up on it. However, the fact that we have had almost a year and a half of really good times in this game is stopping me. So I decided instead to throw a curve ball at the players.

I decided since they have killed several groups of goblins & orcs around the area during their 3 day (game time) stay near the Chateau, that the goblins and orcs have decided to get some reinforcements and attack in force. The goblins bribed a couple of hill giants and also rallied several loosely affiliated bands together to make a war party over 100 goblins&orcs strong.

The party had left the ranger of the group outside the Chateau (since the player of this character is in the military and would be unavailable for the next 6 months or so) - so I decided to have him run by the Chateau and warn the party. Here is the post:

Esmeralda begins to prepare her trap for the centipedes, pushing smelly rat meat
into a large sack with a grimace. The rest of the party flexes, prepares, and
tenses for battle. Just then a cry is heard from the outside of the Chateau.

"An army of goblins are coming, and they brought a giant!!!!" Comes a cry from

Turning quickly, Leinen leaps quickly to the window and catches a glimpse of
Lo'Stranner running past the Chateau from the north side and heading toward the
south. He leaps into the underbrush of the forest just as a group of barbed
arrows slam down into the soft earth of the Chateau's lawns.

This army must be at his heels.. which means you only have moments to decide how
to react!!!

Well, I have dropped the gauntlet. I'm going to force some action out of my players or force a TPK and move on to a new game. The evil GM in me prefers this to a slow wasting death of the game. I definitely feel at least partly responsible for the way things are turning and I'm hoping I can breath some life back into this game or just dump it. I can't keep it going the way that it has fallen apart.

Either outcome, I have definitely realized that PBEM games of this sort do not handle dungeon based adventures well - unless you have a group of very interactive posters. Wilderness encounters are much better since things are much more fluid and the players have an easier time figuring things out.

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