V_V
 member, 629 posts
 You can call me V, just V
 Life; a journey made once
Mon 16 Oct 2017
at 20:58
[Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
So I recently started a scene (though it was introduced months ago) with a team of fiendkillers on a magical flying ship. The ship has consequently become a burden. It requires rolls to pilot (which I have since eschewed) and isn't as fast as some of the party can go. It has precious cargo of souls the group is trying to liberate. The souls can't just be planeshifted, but they can be teleported (it is Baator [Hell] though). They can't be put in an extradimensional space, but they can be put in other barriers.

The goal is twofold, but ultimately the goal presented it to free the souls by killing the fiend that holds their spiritual claim to Baator (then they can be whisked away to another plane).

The ship is vessel that the souls were held on, the group now controls the vessel but is having headache with sailing it. No one wants to, but a few are willing to. It's not fun for anyone. Still, they don't seem to have batter place to put the souls. I've given offer both in and out of game to have a multitude of celestial creatures guard the souls, and man the ship, but the group has divided trust in that.

I see myself as limiting the epicness of the group because the souls are on the ship. If the souls weren't there, the group would probably fly about and teleport freely. It was, in hindsight, a bad introduction.

Still, the souls are mostly why they're there, in hell. If the souls could be planeshifted or gated, there would be little motivation for the NPCs to have the group go there. I could do that, it's only one rung in the ladder of the group climbing to godhood. I could say "the souls are free" and they could put them anywhere safe and then kill the fiend at their leisure. That doesn't seem very dramatic, but this doesn't either. Right now someare limited to baby-sitting and manning the controls. Not by my making them, but them feeling unsecure not to.

The ship can just float unmanned, like ship that's anchored. It doesn't require someone to pilot it to stay afloat. The party it worried that other fiends will take over the ship, which I've admitted is both possible and within their means to stop in other ways. They could have single archon stay on the ship and pop between the group and the ship keeping them updated. If the ship comes under attack, the group can teleport in and fight the "hell pirates". Then go back to what they were doing.

The group has successfully made the ship go much faster by having an air elemental push it, which I allowed. Still, the group can go much faster in an hour.

Right now, the ship is a mobile home for the souls. That's all it's supposed to be. Teleporting twelve people is doable, teleporting forty, or the hundred souls on board, is very taxing. I understand that.

I've posed the question to the players and none of them can really give a solution they agree on, which makes me think I made an unsolvable problem. Many of them have grumbled (in character( about the ship being a burden. Out of character no one has been upset about it, but it's not fun.

It is of importance to note that the party has conflicting agenda. So they're not all easily cooperating, just functioning as best they can. There's magic in place to deter attacking each other, but varying ethos and codes make tension high as it is. Hence why the paladin is manning the ship instead of the archons. The evil witch doesn't trust the archons, or the paladins. The paladin believes the archons are best to fight the hordes of hell to provide distraction and support for when the party fights the lord of this layer of hell.

I'm not in love with my story. In fact I think it's sort of shallow, a motivation to just see some cool fights with iconic monsters and characters. That's really the idea. I like roleplaying, but the story it not the important part. It's just there to give the players some reason to be where they are and engage in conflict with these iconic creatures.

So I can change anything I have to. I can equip the ship with teleportation drive, have a god aid them (directly) and free the souls, have an archon decide to take charge of the ship (seeing the group struggle) or just have the bloody thing slowly lose altitude and force them to abandon what they didn't want. I can also just leave it be. Let the frustration be there, so that when it's not, the players will know they worked through a hard test on their own, and feel relieved it's done with.
engine
 member, 467 posts
Mon 16 Oct 2017
at 21:30
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
V_V:
I've given offer both in and out of game to have a multitude of celestial creatures guard the souls, and man the ship, but the group has divided trust in that.

The players have divided trust? Of whom? Each other? If it's of you, can you assure them that you won't abuse that trust?

V_V:
Right now someare limited to baby-sitting and manning the controls. Not by my making them, but them feeling unsecure not to.

Insecure in what way?

V_V:
The ship can just float unmanned, like ship that's anchored. It doesn't require someone to pilot it to stay afloat. The party it worried that other fiends will take over the ship, which I've admitted is both possible and within their means to stop in other ways.

What are those other ways?

V_V:
I've posed the question to the players and none of them can really give a solution they agree on, which makes me think I made an unsolvable problem. Many of them have grumbled (in character( about the ship being a burden. Out of character no one has been upset about it, but it's not fun.

What exactly have you asked? What ideas have they presented? If they can't agree on one idea, can they collaborate on one? Is there something limiting their thinking, such as fear that an idea will fail or be used against them?

V_V:
So I can change anything I have to. I can equip the ship with teleportation drive, have a god aid them (directly) and free the souls, have an archon decide to take charge of the ship (seeing the group struggle) or just have the bloody thing slowly lose altitude and force them to abandon what they didn't want. I can also just leave it be. Let the frustration be there, so that when it's not, the players will know they worked through a hard test on their own, and feel relieved it's done with.

I don't know your group, so it's likely that they'll like my ideas even less than their own but:

Offer a loophole that can get the souls out of danger. This could be a rare portal inside the hells that manifests briefly in various areas. The party could work out the location and fly to them, offload a certain number of souls and then work out the next time and location of the portal.

They could come across a region of the Hells that is relatively quiet and out of the way. There's an opportunity to move the ship there unseen. It will appear to have simply vanished, but it will be secure for a certain amount of time.

Some of the souls, realizing that their saviors are having a difficult time, could volunteer to pilot and guard the ship. If they're not in shape for that, then it's time for a quest that will somehow empower them enough to become crew, instead of merely passengers.

Move up the timetable for them to fight the fiend holding the souls. Give them some deadline. If they can't meet it in time, then they fail and the souls are taken back permanently locked away, but as that situation unfolds there's an opportunity to lock the fiend away as well, or otherwise punish him. Or some other, single powerful soul can be released.

As usual, a paladin is causing problems. Consider asking that player to play a different character while you NPC the paladin.

I'm sure there are reasons why these won't work, so there's no need to tell me. For each of those reasons, look at what you're preserving that's keeping this annoying situation in place. I can't tell you to stop protecting that thing, but you should know what it is that is blocking you so you can figure out what can be removed and remove it.
Rothos1
 member, 485 posts
Mon 16 Oct 2017
at 22:00
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
Of course, you could give temporary safe harbor in something like a pocket of Styx. Then have them go after an artifact that will open a gate to Sigil or even a pocket demiplane. Then they can kill the fiend.
V_V
 member, 630 posts
 You can call me V, just V
 Life; a journey made once
Mon 16 Oct 2017
at 23:17
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
engine:
V_V:
I've given offer both in and out of game to have a multitude of celestial creatures guard the souls, and man the ship, but the group has divided trust in that.

The players have divided trust? Of whom? Each other? If it's of you, can you assure them that you won't abuse that trust?


Each other's characters. They get along just fine with me and each other in OOC. AS mentioned later, there is a witch that doesn't get along with celestials, she's apparently evil.

engine:
V_V:
Right now someare limited to baby-sitting and manning the controls. Not by my making them, but them feeling unsecure not to.

Insecure in what way?

Insecure, in that they feel if they leave the ship just floating, fiends will seize it (they want the souls for their lord).

engine:
V_V:
The ship can just float unmanned, like ship that's anchored. It doesn't require someone to pilot it to stay afloat. The party it worried that other fiends will take over the ship, which I've admitted is both possible and within their means to stop in other ways.

What are those other ways?


More than I will list, but here are a few. They could cast a forbiddance, call a planar ally, set a few glyphs, cast a symbol, ask an archon to guard the souls. These are just a few. The fiends that were originally there were CR 16 at most. I've also led them beleive most of the denizens of hell are below this CR, though even the higher CRs, like Cornugons and Pit Fiends, are not a severe threat, just a significant one.

engine:
V_V:
I've posed the question to the players and none of them can really give a solution they agree on, which makes me think I made an unsolvable problem. Many of them have grumbled (in character( about the ship being a burden. Out of character no one has been upset about it, but it's not fun.

What exactly have you asked?

Simply; "What do you all want me to do about the ship?". I didn't pry or ask contrived questions. I am and the GM, and it's my responsibility to decide the minutiae, and I understand that, but I wanted general input, the more the better.

engine:
What ideas have they presented?

Not really much. A drow offered they just leave the ship, and teleport on. No one really teplied, but just went on discussing matters on the note of handling the ship. Later, the apaldin said "If we can do that, maybe we should" in response to a later offer to releport from the drow. There was no follow through.
</quote>

engine:
If they can't agree on one idea, can they collaborate on one? Is there something limiting their thinking, such as fear that an idea will fail or be used against them?


I think they are both unexperienced with epic level play (including non-epic high level magics) as well as absorbed with the notion hell is unassailable. The idea of hell being overwhelming evil holds true for most parties. I have, however, tried to convince them this was the epic challenge and that most of the "hordes of hell" can't threaten them.

I think they think I want to make a very difficult experience of hell. I could, I suppose, and while I don't think they want that, I don't think they realize neither do I. I've presented some on par challenges that they decimated, thinking "it had to be something less" when it was just below their average party level CR. So while it was a rather easy fight it was an epic CR. Most fiends there won't be.

I have said this a few times, so I don't know. THIS was supposed to be the warm up mission, somewhat of a social introduction to hunting archfiends.

As to "can they not agree?", and if not, "Can they collaborate?"; if they can, they've all been very gingerly about it so as to not cause strife. In game they ebb and flow with many GREAT ideas, but no follow through. Then out of character there isn't really a leading voice. So no one has cohesion.

engine:
V_V:
So I can change anything I have to. I can equip the ship with teleportation drive, have a god aid them (directly) and free the souls, have an archon decide to take charge of the ship (seeing the group struggle) or just have the bloody thing slowly lose altitude and force them to abandon what they didn't want. I can also just leave it be. Let the frustration be there, so that when it's not, the players will know they worked through a hard test on their own, and feel relieved it's done with.

I don't know your group, so it's likely that they'll like my ideas even less than their own but:

Offer a loophole that can get the souls out of danger. This could be a rare portal inside the hells that manifests briefly in various areas. The party could work out the location and fly to them, offload a certain number of souls and then work out the next time and location of the portal.


This is probably something I can offer them. It's at least not a solution that I'd have to force, just an option for them to solve the tedium. I like it, thank you.


engine:
They could come across a region of the Hells that is relatively quiet and out of the way. There's an opportunity to move the ship there unseen. It will appear to have simply vanished, but it will be secure for a certain amount of time.


This would require some godly intervention, as they're near a central hub, but it's not out of character for the current situation. I think I'll allude to this by a godly message, and then offer a divine block of senses and such for them. Another good idea, but i like the other one more.

engine:
Some of the souls, realizing that their saviors are having a difficult time, could volunteer to pilot and guard the ship. If they're not in shape for that, then it's time for a quest that will somehow empower them enough to become crew, instead of merely passengers.


I like this idea too! Yeah, I could do that too. I don't want the PCs to feel matched in power (since the PCs are the extraordinary), but confident the souls could at least muster some strength of their own.


engine:
Move up the timetable for them to fight the fiend holding the souls. Give them some deadline. If they can't meet it in time, then they fail and the souls are taken back permanently locked away, but as that situation unfolds there's an opportunity to lock the fiend away as well, or otherwise punish him. Or some other, single powerful soul can be released.


This was always the last ditch effort I've been holding. Bring the fight to them and have the Lord seize the souls (at least until they go after him). If all hope seems lost to move forward, this is exactly what I've planned to do. It robs the PCs of much choice, but is at least a very imperative goal then.

engine:
As usual, a paladin is causing problems. Consider asking that player to play a different character while you NPC the paladin.


No, actually the paladin is fine. There's complicated moral tension. He's been cooperative if somewhat quiet in game. He's actually my Co-GM (with rules quoting and general mechanical questions, nothing else). So I don't think he's a big problem, just small one, and not because he's paladin, but because he's not helping coordinate the group. If anything, he's congenial. He's certain far from abrasive.

engine:
I'm sure there are reasons why these won't work, so there's no need to tell me. For each of those reasons, look at what you're preserving that's keeping this annoying situation in place. I can't tell you to stop protecting that thing, but you should know what it is that is blocking you so you can figure out what can be removed and remove it.

Actually most of those suggestions would help.

If I knew what I was doing to hold it up, I would fix that, or stop doing that. I think the fact the ship can't go 240 feet per round is the only realism I'm keeping. It's certainly not something I cling to, I just think it doesn't make sense. If that's what would solve the situation I would have a magical consumable, like a fire rod, that would power the ship that fast.

I made a mistake of having the group make balance checks when the air elemental rammed the ship forward. That was also something I won't do again,it created unencessarey pause.

End point, I want to see the PCs kick some butt and kill some evil baddies. It's supposed to be rather shallow idea of leveling quickly (to see the character at different levels, and ACTUALLY level on RPOL). It's not pure dice rolling, far from it, but in the end I'm trying to give plausibility of having them fight these creatures and be able to use all the tricks in their character's bag. I just don't like to do hard resets or drastic alterations that break the immersion. I have no qualms about changing anything I need to that will make; a) the game more fun and engaging for players and b) easier the complications (not creating soap-opera level drama and chaos).



Rothos, I think that's a good idea too. I'll certainly present that as an option for the players too.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1209 posts
Tue 17 Oct 2017
at 01:02
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
I'd point out that most games make flying things way to slow. A ship in water of the old age ov sail variety can hit 17+ miles per hour. But note how water is a major drag. Stick a ship in the air and traveling 3-4 times that fast easily, just from natural wind power. Any kind of magical empowerment could reasonably allow a ship to easily hit 100-200 mph, or 1000-2000 ft per round, approximately.

You can also allow them to make or find a hidden but well stocked extra-dimensuonal room that makes the ship work as a mobile base. Give the ship advantages that make it a desirable thing tk have in spite of the downsides.
engine
 member, 468 posts
Tue 17 Oct 2017
at 17:46
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
V_V:
Insecure, in that they feel if they leave the ship just floating, fiends will seize it (they want the souls for their lord).

Okay, though if the fiends can seize it, the PCs can seize it back for the same reasons: it's slow and clunky.

The souls are a hassle to deal with, a weight around the party's neck, and the party is trying to help them. That same bunch of souls is going to be a hassle for a group of fiends too. The fiends would know that and would bide their time until they figured out a way to transport the souls quickly and easily. Which, once it has been figured out by the fiends, the PCs can take from them.

V_V:
Simply; "What do you all want me to do about the ship?". I didn't pry or ask contrived questions. I am and the GM, and it's my responsibility to decide the minutiae, and I understand that, but I wanted general input, the more the better.

You won't hear me say that that's the GM's responsibility. The players have imaginations too, and leaving that resource untapped is just making one's own job harder.

More on this below.

V_V:
Not really much. A drow offered they just leave the ship, and teleport on. No one really teplied, but just went on discussing matters on the note of handling the ship. Later, the apaldin said "If we can do that, maybe we should" in response to a later offer to releport from the drow. There was no follow through.

You say "offered" and the paladin said "maybe." I see this a lot in groups: players merely suggest things, no one wanting to take any decisive action. It's unfortunate, but somewhat understandable, especially with a party that seems to be predicated on interparty strife.

V_V:
I think they are both unexperienced with epic level play (including non-epic high level magics) as well as absorbed with the notion hell is unassailable. The idea of hell being overwhelming evil holds true for most parties. I have, however, tried to convince them this was the epic challenge and that most of the "hordes of hell" can't threaten them.

How have you tried to convince them? Many GMs have a dual role, with conflicting goals: on one hand, they want to keep things unknown and tense, but on the other hand they want to guide the players. One goal requires suspicion, the other requires trust. Players are commonly very suspicious, wary of being tricked and made to look stupid. Could that mindset be at work here?

V_V:
I think they think I want to make a very difficult experience of hell. I could, I suppose, and while I don't think they want that, I don't think they realize neither do I.

Have you told them that? All in all, it seems like an open, out-of-game discussion about what everyone wants would, if possible, help a lot.

V_V:
As to "can they not agree?", and if not, "Can they collaborate?"; if they can, they've all been very gingerly about it so as to not cause strife. In game they ebb and flow with many GREAT ideas, but no follow through. Then out of character there isn't really a leading voice. So no one has cohesion.

That's pretty standard, unfortunately.

Any kind of apparent leader or commander makes players feel like they don't get to do what they want: the commander has to "maintain discipline" and the others have to "follow orders." The game degenerates further as it becomes about the leader pushing their plans through, or punishing insubordination.

This party clearly does get stuff done, so they're not completely paralyzed. What sorts of things do they collaborate on? What sorts of adventures or missions do they actually go on?

Players are often worried that anything they decide will give the GM a way to get at them, or use it against them. Many GMs foster this feeling of risk and uncertainty. In my experience, this tends to make players feel like anything they try is going to make things worse for them, which leads to either actual reckless decisions, a lack of confidence in any decision, over analysis of every idea, or complete paralysis. Could something along those lines be going on here?

V_V:
This is probably something I can offer them. It's at least not a solution that I'd have to force, just an option for them to solve the tedium. I like it, thank you.

I hope it helps undo the block.

V_V:
engine:
They could come across a region of the Hells that is relatively quiet and out of the way. There's an opportunity to move the ship there unseen. It will appear to have simply vanished, but it will be secure for a certain amount of time.

This would require some godly intervention, as they're near a central hub, but it's not out of character for the current situation. I think I'll allude to this by a godly message, and then offer a divine block of senses and such for them. Another good idea, but i like the other one more.

I don't think it requires anything but some reconnaissance. Even a "central hub" is going to have hidden places. Consider how criminal or resistance cells can exist in cities, or maybe how rats can infest even packed modern metropolises. Every city/country has hidden, rarely-traveled areas. The "as-above-so-below" approach common to D&D planes: a hellish city will have bad neighborhoods or areas with recalcitrant populations who might turn a blind eye, or just not ask too many questions (especially of a powerful adventuring group).

All it really involves is expanding on the idea of the hells as a vast place that not even the fiends have a full grasp of.

V_V:
This was always the last ditch effort I've been holding. Bring the fight to them and have the Lord seize the souls (at least until they go after him). If all hope seems lost to move forward, this is exactly what I've planned to do. It robs the PCs of much choice, but is at least a very imperative goal then.

It's not clear what they're doing with the choice they have now.

V_V:
No, actually the paladin is fine. There's complicated moral tension.

Okay, I'm glad I was wrong about this, and I apologize for my assumption.

V_V:
If I knew what I was doing to hold it up, I would fix that, or stop doing that. I think the fact the ship can't go 240 feet per round is the only realism I'm keeping. It's certainly not something I cling to, I just think it doesn't make sense. If that's what would solve the situation I would have a magical consumable, like a fire rod, that would power the ship that fast.

I meant to ask about why this is an issue of "verisimilitude vs. ease of play." Given the nature of this game, there are really no limits. Look at Star Trek: Voyager: they state at the outset that they are facing a lengthy journey home, and it would wreck everything if next week they found a quick, easy way back. But, every other episode, they encountered someone who could give them a way to shave a year or two off their time. In this game, you're not even restricted to keeping the same ship. The PCs can learn about another vessel, abandoned for some reason, but still worthy. Maybe there's a secret band of angelic pirates roaming the area. They won't help the PCs, because it would slow them down, but the PCs could take one of their faster ships (or earn one somehow) and transfer them.

V_V:
I made a mistake of having the group make balance checks when the air elemental rammed the ship forward. That was also something I won't do again,it created unencessarey pause.

Right, that's the kind of thing that makes players wonder why they try things, because the GM has the power to make them wish they hadn't. You are to be commended for being aware of that impulse and resisting it.

V_V:
It's not pure dice rolling, far from it, but in the end I'm trying to give plausibility of having them fight these creatures and be able to use all the tricks in their character's bag. I just don't like to do hard resets or drastic alterations that break the immersion. I have no qualms about changing anything I need to that will make; a) the game more fun and engaging for players and b) easier the complications (not creating soap-opera level drama and chaos).

The neat thing about immersion is that verisimilitude is really only part of it. Another part (I would argue that it's the larger part) is enjoying what's going on. We've all had conversations with people who absolutely love a particular story or show and who either ignore or have explanations for every single error that we point out to them. Those errors break our "immersion" with that show, but not theirs. At the same time, every show we ourselves love also has holes or errors in it, because no fiction is perfect, and we still love those shows so much that we can push the errors to the back of our minds.

So, part of having a believable game, is having a game that is enjoyable for more than just its objective believability, and for more than just the suspense derived from players not knowing something. It can be worth giving up objective realism and suspense to gain more engagement (which in turn bolsters the remaining realism and suspense).

Above you mention asking "What do you all want me to do about the ship?" That is a good question, but it's very open-ended. You could instead ask something like "You learn of a location where you can stash the ship indefinitely. What is that location? How do you learn about it? What steps have to be taken to keep it secret?" Those questions are still open ended, but they're focused around a fixed nugget of reality: they do learn of the location, and they location will serve their purposes.

Continuing that example, say a player says "Maybe we meet a damned soul who tells us the secret." Pounce on that, or whatever else they offer, before anyone says no. Whether anyone else in the world would find that realistic this player does. As soon as you say something like "Yes, you do, and he hands you a fragment of a map that will lead you toward this location," then you have bolstered its plausibility. You could question that suggestion, or stay quiet, but instead, you help solidify it.

Other players might raise objections: "How do we know we can trust him?" "The fiends would know about this location!" etc. Focus your further questioning around making the original suggestion work: "What sort of thing would lead you to trust a damned soul?" "You think that the fiends very likely don't know about this location. Why might that be?" If your players are creative at all, and most players are, my bet would be that they would give you interesting answers that you either never would have thought of yourself, or would never have believed that they would accept.

Maybe some questions don't have answers. Try to leave those aside for now. Shows and stories don't always tell us immediately why things are the way they are, and often that's because the authors themselves don't know yet. The key is to accept that there is an answer, even if it's not related aloud.

Not all players like this kind of approach. That's fine. This can just be an interesting conversation between friends about the game world and various hypotheticals. It doesn't have to be applied to the game unless the players want it to be.
V_V
 member, 631 posts
 You can call me V, just V
 Life; a journey made once
Wed 18 Oct 2017
at 00:26
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
In reply to engine (msg # 6):

Thank you for the in depth reply. Ithink between all the suggestions here that I have enough to lubricate the tension revolved around the ship. Worst case scenario is I set a timeline for the lord to attack. He is slippery fiend, but you're right, realism be damned.

I loved Guardians of the Galaxy (that's about the only Marvel movie I gev more than 3 stars) but I always laughed that the villain, with the powerhe had, didn't just use it against the guardians. Instead he punches them, when he could blow the entire area and them to dust.

The lord of the particular level is supposed to be evasive, but so what? If the game doesn't move that's much worse than breaking consistency.

I have OCD, so I need reality check every now and then to see where I'm being "bad" and where other GMs lie on the spectrum of conflict and complication.

Hopefully the other options; the hidden portal, the artifact to free them, the cove of protection, the better ship, etc... will give the players more freedom and therefore lead to more action, and less apprehension.

Anyway, like I said, I think I have enough advice for now. It's time to spend my RPOL time on implementing this.

Thanks!
engine
 member, 469 posts
Wed 18 Oct 2017
at 03:16
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
V_V:
I loved Guardians of the Galaxy (that's about the only Marvel movie I gev more than 3 stars) but I always laughed that the villain, with the powerhe had, didn't just use it against the guardians. Instead he punches them, when he could blow the entire area and them to dust.

A good example of the issues with immersion. Most fantasy or sci-fi or action movies don't really make significantly more sense than what makes you laugh about that scene. Yet people, even people who get what doesn't make sense about them, still enjoy them.
AxiomBlack
 member, 26 posts
Sun 22 Oct 2017
at 00:53
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
A lot has already been said on the whole issue of the ship and immersion but just wanted to offer my quick ten cents.

You're the DM and at this power level of play you have access to the full array of celestial and infernal creatures and everything in between.

If the ship is an achor to your play, because the characters are all grumble grumble about it, have a Neutral deity turn up and offer to take the souls off their hands in exchange for whatever power they were going to get. The neutral deity can agree to judge the souls fairly (good souls go to good place, bad souls to bad place) and the PCs get whatever power boost they needed in the first place.

A new deal. Or something like it. Because it sounds like your good characters don't want bad things to happen to good people/souls and your evil characters do not trust good characters/celestials not to screw them.


That or just have a helpful (not necessarily good or evil) god turn up and upgrade the ship. Give it whatever powers needed to make it useful. An impenetrable force cage that can only be unlocked by the players. Or improve the ship's speed since they're already faster than it so that's no group bonus. Whatever it takes. Whatever will feel right story wise to either remove the ship or make it less of a burden.


V_V makes a great point too. Creatures/villains sometimes act in ways contrary to the best tactical move because of character reasons. In this case my assumption is Ego (in Guardians 2) is so convinced of his superiority (and probably bored of not having foes his equal) that he's sort of toying with and abusing the Guardians. Then he gets put to sleep. Then he goes hard against the awoken Quill and then too little too late he realizes the bomb and he's (we'll say) too drained to stop it himself.

Point is, not all actions have to be the most reasonable as long as they're not totally inexplicable and unreasonable. If players ask "Why would Neutralos god of Neutrality help us out" you can literally say "Neutralos' motivations have long been inscrutable and often his plans prove to be long reaching and slow to bear fruit. He could have any number of motivations here." and that can work for any number of gods (more yes than no I'd think since time is so different for a god).
engine
 member, 471 posts
Mon 23 Oct 2017
at 15:11
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
AxiomBlack:
Point is, not all actions have to be the most reasonable as long as they're not totally inexplicable and unreasonable. If players ask "Why would Neutralos god of Neutrality help us out" you can literally say "Neutralos' motivations have long been inscrutable and often his plans prove to be long reaching and slow to bear fruit. He could have any number of motivations here." and that can work for any number of gods (more yes than no I'd think since time is so different for a god).

I like this because it seems like a common move in stories: a great deal appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and helps move the story along.

What might jam up this idea is the other thing that often happens in stories: what seemed like a good deal turns out to have consequences down the road. Players tend to hate things like that, precisely because they feel like characters in stories are always getting themselves into trouble this way. So, one would have to expect player and character skepticism that this isn't just going to make things worse.
AxiomBlack
 member, 27 posts
Mon 23 Oct 2017
at 23:03
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
I think you need to approach your players out of character and just say 'look, I (personally) am finding the story bogged down by the ship and the albatross it hangs around the group's neck. So I'm going to do a few things to resolve that situation and I'd appreciate if you guys could jump on board. In return, I'm going to promise you this is in no way some sort of bs trick that'll screw you or your characters later'.

And again, just ram home the idea that whoever or whatever it is that intervenes is on the level. Like, word of god, on the level. "Neutralos is known to ALWAYS keep is word both in letter and spirit and is regularly trusted to broker deals between disagreeing parties for that which he passes into law he enforces without fail" and you get the jist of it.

I appreciate the way a character might be suspicious, but if you assuage the players and are honest with them and then move forward in a way that makes sense in character you protect both the Ease of Play and the Verisimilitude.

Then you simply say to the players: "Do you guys want to RP this encounter with Neutralos (which could be super cool) or would you prefer to hand wave it and move forward?"

Ultimately the whole deal is a plot device rather than a plot point. So tailor it to your needs :)
Justisaur
 member, 57 posts
 Dungeon Master since 1979
Wed 25 Oct 2017
at 16:13
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
Let them find out about something that takes over the boring parts.  McGuffin golem ship-helmsman, or a whirlpool that gets them out quick or whatever.  Or just skip over the boring bits.

If you are tired of the ship, but want them on the plane, give them another reason to be there.  Some of the souls have other souls that need rescue, or they want the PCs to put an end to the soul taking by working to take out the demon-lord, or his access to wherever he's getting the souls.
V_V
 member, 633 posts
 You can call me V, just V
 Life; a journey made once
Sat 28 Oct 2017
at 13:05
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
I ado appreciate the advice, but it's at this point somewhat moot. I've put forward some plans to make the ship a treasure for investment or barter good for removal. I have four ways the party can be assured the main objective is preserved, that is mobility and safety of the souls.

For continuity problems and the nature of the campaign, gods can't intervene directly. So that's not an option. Even neutral gods in this vision of the world have alliances outside their own alignment. So a truly neutral god, like Fharlaghn, has ties to Oliddammarra and abhors slavery. He's not going to set the evil witch at ease. they've also had three offers for the souls by three different gods. One of which was in the form of archons.

In any case, the ship has both an ability to be upgraded, if someone feels the attachment to the idea, or it can be 'traded' in a few different ways. It's just a matter of the posting to get that far. I think if option a, b, and c don't work, then I might need option d, but right now the group is just beginning to encounter option a. So I'm leaving the ball in their court and giving small advances to get the party moving.

Right now they're not worried about the ship so much as a minor nuisance that was scrying on them (from quite awhile ago in real time).

As far telling them "Hey, this is not working, I'm going to be moving things along" I've said something to that effect.

Anyway, if anyone has more advice, that's great, just know I may not check this board for awhile. I do appreciate the feedback though.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 365 posts
Sun 29 Oct 2017
at 14:19
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play
 Ok got a few thoughts.

 First just because they are Epic level does not mean Hell can't hurt them. Gods have a hard time walking into Hell. Hordes of gelguons or armies of barbed devils can kill. Don't believe me stick any four players of say 22nd level against a true orc horde where there is any space around them. The mage dies first maybe second depending on how cocky he is. The cleric goes in the opposite spot. Thief next and fighter last. Point is don't overestimate the whole Epic tag.

   Second you gave them an objective at some point they are going to make themselves known to any half way awake Lord of Hell pretty quick. And that spells trouble. While they are not all knowing Lords of Hell are not stupid. A canon abyssal lord held a god captive for nearly a decade. Anything an abyssal lord can do a hell lord could and probably do it with greater ease do to the lawful aspect of hell.

Third and most impprtantly if it isn't working for you and the group pitch it out the window.
V_V
 member, 634 posts
Mon 30 Oct 2017
at 05:04
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play

This message was deleted by the user at 05:40, Mon 30 Oct.

V_V
 member, 635 posts
Mon 30 Oct 2017
at 08:58
Re: [Advice] D&D 3.5 Epic "?" Verisimilitude  vs. Ease of play

This message was deleted by the user at 10:13, Mon 30 Oct.