What Orny Was Thinking

So… sorry it got shitty, gang. I tend to think of my characters as excuses to paint miniatures, but I guess I bummed Mike and others out tonight giving him a new excuse. I just want to write down quick what I was thinking. Forgive me if it rambles. It’s 1AM.

Game Side

So, those characters have been batting each other around for a while, which has been fun (maybe just for me). I was fine with it escalating, but there was some game-related stuff that I figured meant the battles Orny picked would be increasingly unfair to Uun.

Part of that was the colossal disparity in hitpoints, but the other part was just how witches work. They suck at doing damage and they make things vulnerable and need other people or mechanisms to do their dirty work.

I was fine that characters hated each other and I figured that sooner or later somebody had to say uncle or win. I didn’t see any reason for Orny to say uncle as long as Uun was charging into fights when Orny could surreptitiously make that fight harder for him. Maybe nobody noticed, but I don’t remember the last time Orny healed Uun when he wasn’t the last possible meat between Orny and something sharp. That’s been going on for many sessions, and it hadn’t killed the guy that Orny wanted gone, so this thing where there’s water and chaos and a mission already accomplished seemed like an opportunity Orny would seize on.

Double Crosses Within Double Crosses

Beyond that, there’s the conspiracy that Orny was trying to get going. He wants to be able to shift everybody’s allegiance from the Pathfinders to the Aspis Consortium later once we’ve gotten what we can from the Pathfinders, and Uun’s not in on that. I suppose we could have shared that plot with him to see what he would have said, but honestly it never came up. Orny kept a secret, and when he had a chance to be rid of a complicating factor  rather than integrate that factor into his plan he took the chance to be rid of it.

Evil Is As Evil Does

We discussed whether what Orny did was pretty (perhaps “pretty goddamn”) evil. I’m kind of comfortable with that. Between his glass jaw and the kicking he took from Uun in the lighthouse I’m sort of okay with my TN character’s needle moving toward E, and I think it’s happening in a sensible way

Dude gets on boat to seek fortune -> Joins gang after shipwreck -> Sees path to success -> Member of gang is dick to dude -> dude eliminates dick ASAP

I don’t know that it’s straightforwardly evil, but I’m comfortable with the alignment of that character changing through that arch.

Sorry, Mike.

Beyond all that character stuff, I just want to say I really didn’t want to bum anybody out and didn’t think I would. I really did just have a story about their relationship in my head and I thought Orny would take the chance to get rid of a troublesome guy whose approach to life was incompatible with his own, and he needed sharks to do it.

If that kind of cowardice makes him evil I’m definitely cool with that since I feel like he got more evil because he stayed so glass-jawed. And if other characters string him up for murder I’m fine with that too. The decision still makes sense to me, but I’m fine dealing with the consequences. Actually, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the consequences.

I guess what I want to make clear is that I wasn’t trying to just sleep-style exclude Mike from playing. There was a history there that made sense to me and after I did what I did I learned it was only me.

I really am sorry if that wasn’t fun for everybody. I thought it would be.

12 Comments on “What Orny Was Thinking

  1. I show up one day a week to hang out with friends, have fun, be part of a team, and drink as much beer as I can and still drive home. I’m not in this for interpersonal politics or even in-game politics. Maybe me playing a barbarian this time doesn’t convey that enough. I also get attached to my characters, maybe unreasonably so.

    A bunch of your characters have not liked my characters (Donny and Dagfinn for example, now orny and oon) and after a while it starts to feel personal. Seriously, when I said I wanted the name Oon, you chose a name that starts with the letter O. Two folks in this game group have killed my characters and that puts me up above *everybody* 2 to nil. If you are going to choose to hate every character that I play what the fuck am I showing up for? If we can’t all play flawed but lovable dicks what’s the point?

    Regarding the earlier fight, all Oon ever wanted was to stay awake and he told Orny as much.

    I went through a period of multiple months about two years ago during rise of the rune lords where I wasn’t enjoying Thursday gaming, and right now it feels like I’m fucking starting that all over again. Maybe I need a break, I don’t know. If it’s going to be like this I don’t need it.

    • I guess all I can do is tell you it’s nothing personal. I think we have ways of playing the game that put us in opposition, and the scheming around that is fun for me. That’s only one of many reasons why I’d prefer it if you didn’t take a break.

      I feel like we can all play flawed but lovable dicks and drink as much beer as we can while we do it. Fucking with each other is part of the fun for me, but I feel bad if I took it further than is okay with you and I feel worse if you feel picked on.

  2. Yeah, it sounds like there’s two radically different versions of what makes this game fun going on. While I think everyone should be able to play the game the way they want, that assumes that we’ll all play it together.

    There should be room in the game for reprehensible acts, even ones our characters can justify to themselves as not being reprehensible. But like most dangerfun, that’s only a good time if it is consensual.

    Let’s get our boundaries and safe words figured out by next Thursday so that we can get on with dick jokes/beer/Chinese food/game.

  3. I have to say one of the most intriguing things about role-playing is the way it blurs the line between who the player and who the character is. I can definitely speak to Overbo’s frustration last night. I remember how frustrated I felt when Albedon got toasted. I remember how crestfallen Rolland looked when Corwyn got vaporized. Of course, we didn’t get mad at David, because, you know, that’s how the game works.

    With the case of Orny and Oon, we have a betrayal the kind of which hasn’t occurred in our time with Pathfinder. I think we can all agree that Jim did it because he thought it was something Orny would do to Oon, not something that Jim would do to Mike. And getting past how crushing it can be to lose a character to such treachery, I have to say it makes for some compelling role playing. Now this isn’t G.R.R. Martin’s Dungeons and Dragons, and if this kind of backstabbing became common place our gaming wouldn’t be nearly as fun. But damn, if Orny didn’t pick a cinematic time to deliver his reckoning. Coup de graced by a shark is probably the most metal fucking death our Pathfinder group has ever seen.

    I hope that Mike, you can see that this was Jim role playing a character and this was not some kind of slight against you. After all, death in D&D is about as permanent as it is in comic books and this kind of experience (in reasonable doses) makes for some compelling role playing. After all, what’s next for our party? With Malicia convinced of Orny’s treachery we are going to see something you don’t see everyday- putting a character on trial. Not to give any spoilers, but Percy has ways of getting people to tell the truth. So then it comes down to what kind of justice our characters, as characters, decide to dole out.

    I know Jim didn’t mean to upset anyone. And I doubt we’ll see anyone betray another character like this again, simply because of that blurred line between who the player and who the character is. So I say let’s try to have fun with this, and to remember that we all have had years of playing nicely with one and other. And maybe, next week, we get to burn a witch for reals.

  4. Jim, it seems that you have an entirely different narrative of this than me. You put my character to sleep, once an adventure or more, pretty much whenever you are sick of hearing my voice. That is a dick move, it’s like saying “this game is better if you are not playing it right now”. One time my character beat your character up — all nonlethal damage — and asked for that to end, and we all know it didn’t. I figured that I basically had to just let it go. and I’m the dick in your narrative.

    You said you’re fine dealing with the consequences. What about the consequences that you can’t deal with? Under our house rules I’m going to have to take a level and a half Xp penalty for this just to come back to the table, or the cost to raise and additional two permanent negative levels (for a total of 3). Bringing Oon back is like a 7000gp bill, and that’s if you can find the cleric for greater restoration to give you a deal. the best thing i can do for the group is to die. Characters die, that’s always been part of the game. I’ve had a bunch of characters die, some brought back, most permanently, not a problem. Characters weave their own plots, also not a problem. They do reprehensible things, not a problem. I have fond memories of convincing better people to kill others with a woodchipper personally.

    Matt, I hope you have fun with the trial. Oon wouldn’t be present for it, it doesn’t make any sense for him to be brought back. whatever justice “our characters, as characters” decide to dole out, my new character wouldn’t be invested in it anyway.

    Seriously though, I don’t care what we do. Here’s what I care about: where we get into the territory where we’re saying “my character hates your character”, and that goes on for weeks, months, or years, and that’s the way that we act towards each other in the only setting that we actually hang out, I have a problem with that and want nothing to do with it. There’s a word for that, it’s called work.

    • I see two dicks in my narrative (CLICK HERE), and I wasn’t trying to make a case that the biggest dick was anybody other than the guy that committed traitorous murder with malice of forethought. I was making Orny a murderer and an underhanded motherfucker, so believe me that costs associated with raising Oon being prohibitive were part of the decision calculus. There’s no point feeding a barbarian to sharks if you think you’ll have to defend your decision to him afterwards.

      One thing we should talk about is just retconning the whole last ten seconds of that fight. Your feelings were hurt and I think everybody at the table besides Matt and I seemed authentically mortified by what I had Orny do, so maybe we chalk this up to Jim learning what the game can handle and just wind things back a little bit. I can think of other ways to facilitate Orny’s heel turn if we’re taking interparty intentional homicide out off the table.

  5. i think the idea of retconning is a bad one — let the group react.

    if intra party murder is on the table, I think that next week we should talk about our character death house rules. we could modify the house rules so it’s not a race to the bottom. I was thinking that new characters replacing murdered characters come back at their prior level. that way they may lose some weeks of xp, but not some months of xp. more importantly, it also means that when we have a night of the long knives and one faction is eliminated entirely, we haven’t castrated our collective ability to complete the campaign. The scenario i’m foreseeing here is one faction eliminating the other faction while it sleeps, etc. it also ensures that factions wouldn’t gain disparate power over each other within the party by performing the act wholesale — i.e. murder a faction, take their magic items, sell for gold, watch them come back as lower level lackeys, lather rinse repeat. we can call it the chad orson rule.

    maybe this means that i’m truly the asshole, but i still don’t see where oon was a dick to orny. if i’ve been an asshole with oon, let me know what I did so i can change my behavior. Being a dick wasn’t my goal with this character — i was going for “relatively easygoing and charismatic for a cg barbarian.” if it’s something i’m doing, tell me.

    • With Oon I don’t think it was that much that he was a dick specifically to Orny, but every time he got put to sleep it was to keep him from doing something Orny thought was stupid or too aggressive. The times I can recall putting him to sleep just because I was tired of hearing your voice were pretty rare. It was more often about keeping him from saying something dumb to someone we were negotiating with or charging into the teeth of an opposing army.

      Not about dickishness so much as having an approach incompatible with Orny’s continued success and survival (referenced above)… until the knocking-out happened, then becoming the instrument that executed a TPK kind of pushed it over the edge. Oon was dangerous to have around.

  6. Unless we have another trailing character, like Torgor, it’s never going to be months of XP lost when a character dies. It is only a few sessions at most because the XP rewards for 5th level encounters are disproportionately large for 4th level characters. The Tallens have been gone for long stretches at a time, but the XP difference between their characters and the star attendees isn’t particularly great.

    As far as party PVP goes, we’ll have to figure out amongst ourselves what level of PVP each player is comfortable with. Is it okay to steal from other party members? Withhold magic items from the party kitty? Refuse heals/buffs when someone is acting against the party interest? Fisticuffs? Lethal damage? Can the party fine its members? Murder? What about Evil alignment at all? Obviously nobody WANTS any of these things to happen to them, to varying degrees. But they’re on the table and we’ll have to be super careful if we want to start taking things off the table. Mostly because Malicia will have to give a bunch of money back.

    The current adventure path in particular throws a bunch of random people together in a cannibal island blender and spits you out an adventuring party. So there’s no initial “You are a bunch of people who grew up together/bff4evar” step of character creation like there sure as fuck is going to be in the next thing I run. You’re all going to play one Siamese Septuplet.

    My initial suggestion to kick around is that only evil characters can take the step of physically harming their fellow party members and that the Evil flag has to drop way before they actually commit the harm. Like sessions before. Orny’s act – while Orny feels justified because he thought (if I’m reading this correctly) Uun was a liability and a threat to his future plot – was to take everything away from one person so that very few people (the three conspirators) would directly benefit. I think I’ve talked about scope and magnitude and the evil alignment before. Looking back on it, Orny’s Evil flag should have dropped the moment he decided he’d look for a way to get rid of Uun, not only after the act itself. That’s something I should have brought up with Jim, but I didn’t and now I regret that, because I’m a shitty DM.

    CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM that you asked for, Mike: I didn’t really get the vibe that Uun was easygoing, because you as a player often let your enthusiasm and ideas run away with you sometimes. You aren’t being a dick, but not realizing that’s what you’re doing leads to you butting in to other people’s turns or getting into the situations that someone else’s character is best suited to i.e. they’re looking forward to playing. I wouldn’t change your enthusiasm for a minute (no-one likes a Barbarian with ennui: What is best in life? /shrug) but putting your character front and center so often ends up making him seem pushy, selfish and self-aggrandizing. There is definitely room for pushy, self-aggrandizing characters, I’ve played a few, but it sounds like that isn’t what you are going for. Take your foot off the gas a bit and I think your character concepts – which are always solid – will come through a bit clearer and add quite a bit of depth to the party. That’s my two cents and I hope it helps.

    Anyway, if anyone is interested in kicking around ideas for a PVP flag/limit let’s flesh that out.

    HOWEVER: let’s get this dick and asshole business out of our system before Thursday. Thursday nights at my house are going to be mutual fun with friends, dice, beer and dick jokes or they’re not going to be at all.

  7. Thanks David, that’s helpful. I can dial it back.