I said I’d post about this; it’s an example of how to have PC actions be cool. My PCs just saved Daine’s life, which was what I was hoping would happen. Otherwise there would have had to be a Divine Intervention, which would have been entirely possible, but not thematic to the PCs, and a bit of a let-down.
For those who don’t know, this is spoilery, but also interesting. The original Borderlands has an arc in which the Duke’s trusted man and best friend dies, betrayed by a thief called Tarnak. He’s alive in my GM’s game, and the game that I run is set in a flashback. So, Daine (or someone by that name) should really survive. If the players themselves were to decide to kill him, I’d let that stand, but I don’t want him killed by the plot. I also don’t want the players to just be sitting inside the carriage as I take them on a ride, though. So, they get to be part of it in a way that makes things awesome. And wow, they did.
After working out that Tarnak, ‘the Mayor’, had argued with Daine over something, the group was put on guard over the dragon’s cave to be sure it did not come back unexpectedly. It came back, they gave the required warnings – and Tarnak and Daine didn’t leave the cave. Then the hunter found Tarnak’s trail, and followed it to where a bundle of reeds, not even a boat, had been pushed into the river. There was no reason at all that Daine would not have told them Tarnak was going somewhere – so they knew there was a problem.
They volunteered to go into somewhere with a dragon, to check on and maybe rescue a wounded Rune Lord, or even recover his body. And when the dragon chased them out, the Vingan went in again, cloaked in Dark Walk, found Daine, healed him, and handed him her sword. It’s that last little bit that really affected him. He’d had his stolen, along with the armour that Tarnak could take easily, and she just offered hers up, in a cave, in the near darkness, because he was better with it.
It turns out that an updated Rune Lord of Humakt can defeat a dragon pretty easily, because Sever Spirit is a terrifying spell, and if you are not worried about the tactical problems of having a dead dragon discovered by your enemy’s scouts, and are in a bad temper, that dragon really should consider other options.
If they had not rescued him, he would have been able to get away with Divine Intervention, but I’d have had him get away to Tourney Altar, badly wounded, and he’d have been honour-bound to recover his sword and armour before returning, thus making the Duke’s next few seasons exceedingly awkward. Although they don’t know this, the PCs have made the Five Eyes Temple clear-out possible, not just because they cleared the way to the secret passage, but because they kept Daine in the area.
They’re also about to be given a genuine milk run, going in as late-stage back-up to the newtling scouts, and helping to secure the area behind the Temple, where most of the food stores are. Daine isn’t going to invade the main temple until he’s ready, and he’s not going to risk these valuable people who came into the cave when there was no binding oath on them. After that is another easy task, accompanying him to see Tarnak. Daine’s a Humakti. He’s not going to abandon his sword. There will be questions.
So, what they won was persuading Daine and Raus to trust them and rely on them, keeping the Temple as part of Raus’ domain, and whatever rewards Raus chooses to give them. It’s not going to be small – as far as the Duke is concerned they saved his life. As far as the GM is concerned, they went far beyond what I expected, caring about someone who had always worked them hard, but never ever betrayed them. I really thought they would end up deciding they could not go in a second time, and then, like the Varmandi that she is, the Vingan just wouldn’t stop fighting. She converted a plot point into a rescue which took cunning and bravery, and changed the outcome of the temple rebellion.