Page 1310 - Kirin's Empire, Part 2

10th Dec 2019, 5:00 AM in Intermission 13
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Kirin's Empire, Part 2
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 10th Dec 2019, 5:00 AM edit delete
Author: SanneNC

Guest Author's Note: "Credit to my friend Andrew for coming up with the sock puppet joke during the first session of our campaign.
Granted, his version of the joke didn't involve getting rid of the emperor first - he was just planning to roll bluff while the emperor was still in the room in order to convince the guards that the sock puppet he was holding was the true emperor, not the guy sitting on the throne. Thankfully he made it as an OOC joke and didn't go through with it, because I have no idea what I would have done if he did."

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



ANW 10th Dec 2019, 5:18 AM edit delete reply
"This is your first choice, and you're already slashing my notes.
And it was a very good quest as well."
Digo 10th Dec 2019, 6:44 AM edit delete reply
The comment by the purple one about the emperor possibly being a 20th level wizard who wouldn't need low-level adventurers? Yeah I've joked about that too, but I think the reality is that those who live long enough to reach that kind of level stop caring to do any low-level tasks themselves, even if it were easy for them.

Or what if the 20th level wizard isn't, and they only want you to think that?? XD
SanneNC 10th Dec 2019, 7:03 AM edit delete reply
Fun fact: The emperor actually does have class levels in my campaign! I don't remember his exact level without looking at his character sheet but I think he's a level 7 bard? So not a 20th level sorcerer, but still capable of holding his own against some adventurers.
Digo 10th Dec 2019, 11:22 AM edit delete reply
Or at least convincing the party that he can. ;)
T 14th Dec 2019, 10:48 AM edit delete reply
Now I’m imagining an emperor solving his problems through seduction.
Greenhornet 10th Dec 2019, 5:24 PM edit delete reply
In game, the explanation could be that whatever or whoever the party goes against KNOWS all of the high-level wizard's tricks and they have been going spell/counter spell for years. So the level 20 brings in some low-level schnooks to provide fresh ideas and skills.
Solitary Performance 11th Dec 2019, 11:48 AM edit delete reply
I've had some lv20+ characters as prominent NPCs floating about in the base town I usually transplant in whatever I'm doing. The head of town? Usually is a LG Sorc/DD who thinks giving the small stuff to fresh adventurers a) is good for character building (pun intended), and b) helps with leaving his higher-skilled talents where they belong. The bar people all cliché meet up in? Ran by a retired Pally/Monk who hit epic as a paladin before he even took up monk (like, usually 25+ pally, 5ish monk) and all-and-all retired badass who can non-lethally take down just about anyone who causes a fight in his bar.
Godzfirefly 12th Dec 2019, 4:33 AM edit delete reply
Sometimes, the answer is just that the 20th level wizard emperor is super busy with actually ruling the empire, and doesn't have time to wander the lands in search of the missing mcguffin...
Kedamono 10th Dec 2019, 8:19 AM edit delete reply
I think the best protection for such an NPC is to let the players know that if they want to become Emperor and rule the Empire, they will have to roll up new characters. Becoming the rulers of a large empire means giving up your freedom: Freedom to adventure, rescue fair maidens, etc.

Everyone one of their actions would be a political one, and there are those who would take advantage of any misstep. And besides, do you really want to play Emperor and Subjects?
Digo 10th Dec 2019, 11:28 AM edit delete reply
Some players do like the "kingmaker" angle, plus, if you're making the rules, who says you lose your freedom? Sure, you got a lot of work to do running a country, but you also can deligate (an important skill when you're a leader). Even Celestia and Luna got out once in a rare while to do some adventuring.
Story Time 10th Dec 2019, 9:17 AM edit delete reply
Trying again with something similar to the one before... This time, can anyone share a story about making it hard for the new GM?
SanneNC 10th Dec 2019, 5:20 PM edit delete reply
I was the new GM in this case. And I do mean new - it was only my second time running a campaign, and my first time running one that hadn't been premade.

Now, I love my group, they're great guys and I'm friends with all of them. But they... can get caught up in the rules, to put it politely. It's not even rules lawyering, just them wanting to know how specific rules will interact even if I repeatedly tell them that I can just houserule something to save us from 20 mins of looking up a wildly specific rules interaction.

And that's not even getting into all the munchkinry. Like I said, great guys, but the learning curve for GMing for them has been STEEP.
Jannard 10th Dec 2019, 11:18 AM edit delete reply
Ah, yes, the weird relationship between players and social skills. Many see a reasonable bluff used against them as an affront and a cheat, but many also want to pull off literally impossible lies just because they have high bluff.

Of course, some would humbly suggest actually good bluffs as a joke, not realizing it was actually reasonable in the context, but that's neither here not there, since it's just a misjudgement, not hubris.

As for the willingness of some to go out of their way to kill an emperor just because it's probably "low level" is... Too gamey for me. Emperors send others to do the dirty work or many reasons, from "I need experts in THIS specific thing" to "plausible deniability" and a host of other things; it's also a judgement only a player -as opposed to a character- could make, and it only makes sense if one assumes the game mechanics define the fiction (as capable as a hero may be, they probably know they can't just barge into a throne room and eliminate the army of the most powerful empire, nor would any easonable person even seriously consider it, even if it seems kinda possible mechanically). It all makes for hilarious anecdotes... And awkward table moments xD
Winged Cat 10th Dec 2019, 12:07 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
"You sense an anti-magic shield. Your fireballs would fizzle in your hand."

"As you draw your bow, you suddenly feel the faintest of breezes, and your arrows are over by the door. That may just be an illusion, if you want to roll to disbelieve, but your arrows are definitely not on your person."

"You try to charge, sword drawn, but your feet are stuck to the floor. If you want to roll a Strength check feel free; a natural 20 will get half a hoof free, and their reaction will re-stick that half hoof."

"I'd ask for an Insight or Perception check, but you'd automatically pass. You realize that, even if he is a mortal, he is effectively a Legendary creature. Between him and, more importantly, his staff - uncountable ninja, you know you aren't seeing most of them - there is no initiative to be rolled. His staff's initiative is not +5, not +50, not even +9001, but infinite - they go first unless countered with similarly infinite initiative, which you don't have. If you were to attack him enough that he noticed it as an attack, you would be dead - no roll, no save, no in-combat actions on your part, just death from overwhelming damage before you could take a turn. Fortunately he has not even noticed your petty efforts yet. If you wish to continue, we can save time and you can skip to rolling up the next set of adventurers he summons."

It doesn't happen too often, but sometimes railroading is justifiable.
Randomfan 10th Dec 2019, 6:57 PM edit delete reply
I wouldn't slam down on them that hard, but i would emphasize "Before you commit to this, I want to make sure you understand the situation. This guy has better folks than you on his payroll, since this is your first quest- they might not be in the room, but they're not going to take your side in this matter. They're probably off doing stuff to protect the kingdom, but one might be in this very city in case of attack... or even more than one.

On top of that, you have to realize there are powerful folks who don't care about the emperor, but would care about you killing him and want you dead. If you change the rules to "power wins", you need to realize, you're not strong enough to win that game.

On top of that, the only reason you might have a chance at pulling off the kill itself is if he underestimated you *and* doesn't have significant personal power. If you want to take him down, come back in a few levels, and be prepared for trouble. If you try to kill him now, it'll either be a TPK or a mess that will rapidly tilt towards a TPK, and I'll be balancing it to the setting, not to the actual power levels. This is what would happen if a NPC pulled this at this power level. Are you sure you want to do this?"
Newbiespud 10th Dec 2019, 1:07 PM edit delete reply
I knew this was gonna be good when I first saw that smug look from DM-pone.
SanneNC 10th Dec 2019, 4:21 PM edit delete reply
The Emperor was probably the hardest character for me to ponify because it's such a challenge to balance his signature blend of "aloof, haughty severity" with "actually reasonable and competent at his job" all while keeping him constrained to a semi-cartoony art-style, so I'm very glad to hear you had a good first reaction to him!
Freelance 10th Dec 2019, 1:28 PM edit delete reply
A shame that such a roll wouldn't necessarily convince the guards that the sock was the real emperor, just that the pony was insane. "I believe that you believe," as it were.
That said, that bit reminded me of the game Alundra 2, where there was a *literal* puppet king on the throne, and the princess has tasked our hero to assist her in the rescue of her father.
Achtungnight 10th Dec 2019, 10:48 PM edit delete reply
“The King’s First Knight asks that you bow to honor his liege lord.”
“I waste him with my crossbow!”
“El Ravager bows to no man!”
“Here we go again!”
“2 fireballs coming online here, GM.”
Dragonflight 11th Dec 2019, 9:38 AM edit delete reply
Reminds me of a Cyberpunk game I was in a long time ago.

The GM starts off with "It is the year 2045."

Before he could go *any* farther, one of the players just looks up from where he's resting on a couch nearby and asks, "Why?"

The GM just blinks in confusion for about a minute while players start to snicker. The offbeat non-sequitur completely caught him off-balance, and left him floundering for a while after that.

These days, every time we start a campaign, there's at least a 50/50 chance if you begin by announcing the date, someone will ask "Why?"