Monday, March 22, 2010

Best Game Ever?

So we played D&D on Sunday. Nothing strange there, we do it every other week. What was strange was whilst the players walked away from the game we were in some state of utter shock. Was that one of the best sessions of the game we have played? Yes. Was it the best game I have ever played in? Quite possibly.

So, what brought this around? Lets see.

The story revolved around the heroes - God-killing Demigods now, set on a path to end this reality and shape the new one in their image, we were leading our massed armies against a corrupt risen Primordial with fatal intentions. We had to cross a desert, battle with our forces, breach a trans-dimensional oasis and twat the Lord of Life and Sun into so much celestial pulp. That was the quick version. Now it gets interesting.

The first thing that made the game awesome was that we had a choice to make. Kill or Banish. Kill and there would be consequences - we would be killing one of the fundamental forces of reality. We've already done for the Primordial of Dream and now no-one dreams. Banish and he would be back again and that was really not part of the plan. However, we also had the chance to redeem his corrupt soul, but that might sunder the oasis. It was very complicated and involved some proper thought. It was good.

Then consider the battles - a skill challenge, but a truly epic one, in two parts. The stabilisers are off in this part of the campaign and it shows. My fighter was hurling rocks down the throats of draconic monsters to save stranded dwarf Battle Golems from a deadly swamp etc. Really great imagery. We aced both skill challenges (six successes, no fails). Our house rule is that if we ace a skill challenge, we can establish a campaign truth. These are AWESOME editing tools. We had two. This was always going to be good.

The first one we used to allow Artemis, the God Hunting Ranger, to be able to 'become one' with the Oasis, overruling the GMs previous statement that we would lose it when we killed the Primordial. The PC could step in and take his place. Instant awesome and bless Andrew for agreeing. We used the second to dictate that when he did that, the roots of the World Tree (Which was based in the Oasis) showed the way to the other 'safe havens' that we knew existed - these are essentially our secret weapons in our battle and now we have them in our sights. Its big, high risk stuff. However, the GM added that the Oasis was now a God Free Zone and those of is with Avatar or DemiGod epic destinies were banished. Poignant.

And still we aren't at the awesome.

Two years ago I wrote the Sun/Moon myth of the world based around my old god, The Unfettered God. Hidden Moon was tricked by Th Unfettered God to always be chasing her love, Blazing Sun. Since then we have discovered that TFG was a false god, a demon and all his oaths were false and worthless. Morn (my character) was his paladin and a couple of sessions ago I utterly destroyed him.

Hidden Moon appears before the battle and asks Artemis (the ranger) to save her husband, Blazing Sun, the son of the Primordial from the upcoming slaughter. This came out of the blue and Andrew had to remind me what I wrote. After that it just became a rollercoaster. In the midst of the battle, Morn reveals that she is no longer bound by the tricked oath and she can be together with her husband. We defeat the tainted Blazing Sun and instead of killing him, I release him too from his oath and he ascends to the heavens and for one day only, the Sun and the Moon appear in the sky together, reunited in their love.

Awesome enough for you? You ain't seen nothing yet!

So we continue on, kill the primordial (in a very fruity three phase battle), take the Oasis and generally bask in our awesome. Andrew then drops the bombshell. As the Sun Lord has passed, the world wakes up to perpetual twilight. The sun is diminished and its light no longer touches the world - only the moonlight. And then we realise the impact of this. We had just reunited these aeons-parted lovers for one moment, only to tear them apart eternally due to our actions. We had reflected earlier that everything we touch seems to end in pain and destruction and wow, this one really was.

To cap this off, I think we all just clicked when it came to at the table play. This was big stakes stuff and it really did feel right. After reflecting a little about how things played out, two things struck me.

Firstly, this was so nearly a game of Fate. We were, effectively, playing a game of Aspects and Compels but in D&D. If we could make something more complicated, or awkward, or awesome, we were and in many ways we dialed it up to 11.

Secondly, and this might be a totally wide of the mark call, I believe Andrew, the GM, may have been playing a very good game of 'sit back, listen to the players as they randomly spout idea after idea and then reflect their awesome back into the game'. If he was, he played it superbly.

I remain quite detached from the story at the table when I play. I am not the sort of person that gets 'scared' in a horror game etc. but for the first time EVER I was emotionally moved by this session. Highs, lows, love, betrayal - it had it all. Next session, we deal with the Dragonborn Emperor which should be an equally difficult session - the words 'God Emperor' were mentioned with regard to our Dragonborn PC. Be afraid.


ps. Yeah, this was D&D 4e, the game you cannot roleplay in. /facepalm

1 comment:

AndrewW said...

So, no pressure then.