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3:46 AM
Zyera has unfrozen this room.
 
By the powers invested in me, I unfreeze thee, O Spoiled Room!
 
thx :)
ah, cool
so yeah, as to my dungeon...the basic premise is that you arrive at a village and are sent after a missing tax collector who's been out to collect taxes from "groves and covens", something that is rather new (nobody's ever shown up to do that before)
 
As in, the tax collector from the village went to the groves, and is now missing? Or a tax collector from the PCs' faction went to a groves village?
 
@MikeQ closer to the former, although the tax collector is basically a Fed not a local :P (he's also a new guy, sent to sub in for the regular who usually shows up and does it)
 
Okay. It's a missing person mystery. Please continue.
 
3:55 AM
so they arrive at this coven-headquarters, and find the collector there -- he's been basically staging a sit-in over a legal argument, more or less. he's in good shape, if a bit tired of arguing in circles with the coven's leader and treasurer over some rather messed up statute and documentation
your job is to at least bring word of the collector's status to the villlage, as the letter he sent to the capital is lodged in the postal system...somewhere? :P
the stretch goals are to get the collector back to the village in one piece
and perhaps convince the coven to let you go and seek counsel for them and their case
but the 2nd and 3rd are made harder by bandits that ambush the party on their return from the place
 
So the main emphasis is... locating a letter?
 
@MikeQ locating a person. the letter being lodged in the post is more a backstory-piece :)
the thing is that you're dealing with things that you'd assume to be monsters, but actually aren't ;)
 
Ah okay. I misread that. So other than dealing with bandits, what is the challenge?
 
the challenge is trying to figure out the argument between the tax collector and the coven)
 
No, that's the quest goal. I meant, what is the challenging part?
 
4:05 AM
ah. at-level, the encounter with the bandits is challenging, but out of combat, it's understanding what's going on. it'd be very easy for a party to make false assumptions one way or another at first glance
 
Yes, but what does "understanding what's going on" involve that makes it challenging? Do they have to convince the coven/collector to give them information that would otherwise be withheld? Is some research or knowledge application involved? Do they have to intervene to help settle the dispute?
 
@MikeQ they do have to intervene to help settle the dispute, yes
 
Okay, then yes that seems like an interesting challenge. I don't think that "See if the PCs refrain from attacking a scary-looking NPC" by itself constitutes much of a challenge for the PCs. Where do the "dungeon" aspects come into play?
 
@MikeQ the dungeon aspects are the coven's HQ
it's a very dungeonesque setting, complete with the arachnaur for a coven-leader sitting in her giant funnel-web at the bottom (complete with hammock-seating woven into it ;)
 
Hmmm... I have concerns..
 
4:15 AM
oh?
 
Suppose I'm one of your players. The quest that's given to me, someone has gone missing and they're in a spooky spider monster den. I go in and try to kill everything in site, then "rescue" the tax collector. I've managed to ignore all of the interesting diplomacy that you the GM prepared. What stops me from doing this?
 
@MikeQ I usually am having 1st level parties run the dungeon -- but even for 5th or 6th levels I reckon, it'd still be quite hard to splatter everyone, never mind that the tax collector himself would probably strongly object to the party going murderhobo on a coven leader that has consistently been polite and respectful to him despite their dispute
(also, said coven leader is an oh, 11th level Tome pact Feylock)
 
Right. So I your player went through this dungeon, suffered through some insanely hard encounters, and now the guy I'm rescuing tells me that I messed up. I would be annoyed, and you would be annoyed that I ruined all your intrigue.
 
@MikeQ it'd be a big opening "lesson learned" although 1) I haven't run into a party that murderhobo when running this dungeon (I have run it several times with folks from around RPG.SE, and once at a convention) and 2) one of my "Session 0" notes for it (and this is a common thing for my dungeons) is "things are not what they appear to be"
 
So I would make two suggestions to avoid this
Suggestion 1: Put up clues that hint that the tax collector's disappearance didn't involve foul play. Maybe his horse/carriage is safely anchored outside. Maybe they find footprints, but no blood or signs of a fight.
 
4:23 AM
@MikeQ yeah there are some clues in that regard I could work in, come to think of it
 
Suggestion 2: Put some other challenge(s) in the dungeon. Things simple as "navigate the web-filled hallways" or "safely climb down a deep pit" are valid challenges. Possibly even a boobytrap. Otherwise, in the absence of environmental hazards, the players will assume that you're building up to a combat encounter.
 
@MikeQ well, there are actually some traps-that-aren't-traps there, and a few unusual hazards
(such as accidentally setting the place's fire alarm off, as the convention party found out the hard way ;)
 
Ah okay! You should have mentioned that earlier!
 
sorry. I do like to (ab)use trap mechanics for automation, disguise, etal :)
also, I'm working on a campaign that will use that dungeon as its "opening" if you will
 
I've had GMs complain to me multiple times about their "murderhobo" players. The general scenario is, the GM puts them in a faction's dungeon, the PCs go through some faction enemies, and at the end, they were somehow expected to negotiate instead of fight. And the GM will tell me, "I even had the NPC tell them not to attack and that he wanted to negotiate, but the PCs wouldn't listen. What's their problem?" because the GM failed to understand how player mindset works.
 
4:30 AM
interestingly enough, I've never really run into them as a DM
 
In short, the moral is "If you try to trick your players by establishing a false premise, don't be disappointed when they fall for it, because they're just acting rationally on that premise."
 
I think a lot of it is that I'm able to make it very clear who is interested in parlaying all along because they aren't going to open threateningly in the first place
or more shortly -- I consistently create the expectation that target recognition is driven off of behavior not identity
 
Good. Just be sure that's very clear to the players.
 
5:43 AM
Anyway, taking off my "critic hat", I think this could be a good start at level 1. Some environmental hazards and then a diplomacy encounter, that seems reasonable.
 

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