Fifteenth Session (10 page pdf), “Terror in Riddleport” – The PCs get led into a deathtrap, the serpent temple is back in business, Avery Slyeg gets assassinated, the PCs get framed for it, the Gold Goblin is attacked, and Sindawe beats up Bojask for kicks! It’s an action packed session where death lurks around every corner.
My mashing up of the classic Freeport Trilogy and the first chapters of the Second Darkness Adventure Path hits full stride in this session. I was somewhat surprised, but my old gaming group in Memphis cited the deathtrap in Terror in Freeport (the second Freeport adventure) as one of their most vivid memories. I had been tempted to ax it, as I’m not a big trap guy, but I ran it pretty much as written instead, and had the assassination they happen upon afterwards be crimelord Avery Slyeg’s. Jesswin (the assassin who tried to kill Saul, and then got tortured by Tommy) is both the lure to the trap and the hitter, and the Splithog Pauper in there too!
Then, both in Terror and in Shadow in the Sky (the first adventure in Second Darkness), the next part is defending a friendly building against a large scale assault – in this case the Gold Goblin. A whole load more of previously-encountered NPCs show up for the fight – Braddikar Faje, Angvar, and Thuvalia. Probably the most entertaining part of the assault was the hard fight against the raging orc barbarian, who got greased and reduced and otherwise tampered with for a long time before he went down. Anyway, they give them all a good killing.
Warning – Sensitive Topic! Don’t proceed if you’re not comfortable with the topic of rape in a RPG.
Then as “party HR manager,” Sindawe throws Bojask a beating for raping Gold Goblin croupier/captive Lixy Parmenter; he had boasted about it to him last session. The quote:
On the way out of Saul’s office Sindawe has a short conversation with Bojask where he makes a number of crude comments that indicate that while he is watching Lixy Parmenter and making sure she doesn’t leave the Gold Goblin he is sexually abusing her as well. Sindawe makes no comment in reply.
After some subsequent investigation, though, the complexity of the situation came out a little more – it wasn’t a total “overpower the woman with violence” kind of situation, it was more “Hey, that Sindawe guy totally has it out for you, but I can protect you.” Lixy didn’t want to but as he pushed her down she was too scared to cry out, for fear that he or Sindawe or someone else would do something even worse to her. Bojask was actually surprised that Sindawe cared about this; he’s an all around bad guy and figured his fellow drug lords/killers are bad guys too, and if Sindawe had wanted her he would have taken her once he and the gang had basically kidnapped her back to the Gold Goblin to keep her from leaving.
So why include this? Not for prurient interest. In a game where people play “bad guys,” I like to make them confront their badness and its implications. When Lixy was going to leave the Gold Goblin, they went and killed a bunch of guys and brought her back by main force. They’re working for a crime lord, going on pirate raids, manufacturing drugs… They’ve built a reputation on violence. They’ve taken many a stripped captive down to the animal pits below the Gold Goblin. Heck, Tommy viciously tortured the assassin Jesswin down there. The PCs were surprised when they brought Lixy back to the Goblin that she was gibbering in fear and terrified they’d take her down there and do the same to her. “We’re not monsters,” they said. But so where’s the line?
Bojask was confused by that too. They do all these other bad things and they’re not prudes; heck, Sindawe and a pirate had group sex with prostitute (and Tommy’s girlfriend) Lavender Lil last session. So when he boasted he was “getting a piece” from Lixy, he expected camaraderie and not condemnation from Sindawe.
In fact, I thought it was interesting that Sindawe didn’t react at the time. Even he (and his player) had to think about that; he didn’t get around to beating Bojask up for it till way later.
Once they become pirates, what will they do? Rape or not rape? What if the crew they’re on does? If they become in charge, will they disallow it and face the repercussions of a frustrated crew? What if it’s another PC?
I think it’s an interesting topic that RPGs ignore as they basically promote mass murder. If your PCs are hired killers (and drug dealers, and torturers, and robbers, and…) then where do they draw the line? And why?
Making people think – the ability to do that is what really separates RPGs from board games, CRPGs, etc. I don’t believe in “evil campaigns” that are just an excuse for indulging in demented fantasies – they’re an opportunity to engage in moral questions, often at a deeper level than in a campaign where everyone plays thoughtlessly goody two-shoes. (Though in a game like that, I similarly try to show people’s reactions to their behavior – the actions RPG characters define as “good” are still a lot like “crazed homicide” to bystanders.)