Tabletop Tales: Losing for Victory

During our last Pathfinder session we wrapped up one of the party rogue’s dangling plot threads. In a nutshell: he had agreed to retrieve an artifact for a crime boss named Barnabas. He didn’t, and went missing for a while. Barnabas figured he took the money and ran, so he put out a hit on the rogue. The rogue, clearly having chosen Wisdom as a dump stat, decided to confront the kingpin in his lair. Barnabas ran a brewery as a front organization, so that’s where we went.

The rogue had a 100 gold bounty on his head. As it turned out, Brithangel had the exact item that Barnabas was searching for. We still didn’t know what it did, and I was curious about the crime boss’s interest in the thing. I made him an offer: 250 gold, you take the bounty off the rogue’s head, and you tell me what’s so great about this thing you’re looking for.

Deal!

Oh, wait…

Long story short, the rogue convinces Barnabas to give him three more days. So I keep my money. Almost immediately after leaving the brewery, he discusses how they need to get all the criminal elements of the city together and revolt against Barnabas. A little over the top, I feel, but it’s his plot line so cool.

Thing is, there were a number of times the entire thing could have gone south. There were several occasions I found myself wanting it to fail. Complications make things interesting, and the straight path to victory is not always the best one.

A particular moment came when one of the NPCs said, “You know, some of us are questioning if you’re doing this because you really want things back the way they were before Barnabus came to power, or if you’re just trying to save your own skin.” Part of me screamed YES! This is when we get ambushed by our former allies! Alas, despite the brief tension, nothing came from this incident. Even after we killed Baranabus and I bribed his hired tengu assassin to leave us alone, one of the leaders of the short rebellion had us alone for a few minutes and could have made any number of demands. Sadly, it was merely a happy ending.

None of this is to say that victory is a bad thing, per se. Yet in an ongoing campaign, stories need to fuel future adventures. Things like unexpected betrayal certainly add further motivations. It is enjoyable to wrap up a story in a tidy fashion like we did here, but it is still early in the campaign and I couldn’t help feeling there was so much more that could be done. Perhaps complications will arise in future sessions. We have a good GM, and it is easy to sit here after the sessions and say there was a lot that could have been done without being behind the screen. I know in my own games there are plenty of things I wish I would have done differently for my players. Nonetheless, it is good advice to follow: complicate things.

Next time, Brith makes out with a mind flayer.

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