View Full Version : Any Epiphany Moments in Gaming?

07-28-2011, 09:52 PM
I recall a session with a relatively new group (long time gamers - new to ME), where the group was assaulting an orcish complex and found a large door (probably to a chapel/temple/shrine from the outside markings) that was barred on the inside. A couple of quick spells and the group saw several orcish females and a couple of old/feeble males guarding a group of young orcs.

One of the females said something horrid and the rest of the adults fell on the young, stabbing and slicing throats. The encounter ended with all but one character falling on the adult orcs and killing them and beginning to pick through the bodies for loot.

The one party member that didn't participate was the ONLY member that could understand orcish - and slowly told the party what the female orc said. "You will NEVER get your vile hands on our sainted young! They will be protected by Gruumsh!!"

The PLAYERS got quiet and suddenly realized that THEY were the ones that were being seen as the "bad guys". It was all very, "I am Legend" (alternate ending) - and it disturbed all of them.

Has anyone else had a similar situation?

07-28-2011, 11:52 PM
Excellent. I try to make it a fairly common theme in my games. Which grew out my experiences of playing AD&D games that were nothing but hack and slash. The humanoid "monsters" are just trying to get by, sure some are evil or have fallen in with powerful evil types, but not all of them have to be evil. We even played an entire campaign centered around the characters being "anti-adventurers". The group was composed of two orcs, a goblin and an ogre. They had all be orphaned by a group of adventurers and had banded together initially for survival. Later they came across a goblin village that had just been raided by adventurers and the group was hired to go after them. It was a really good campaign, and we delved into the structure of goblin, orc and ogre culture.

One of my more recent experiences involved a campaign that was based around treasure hunting in a vast region of the world that had collapsed into the underdark because of some unknown but catastrophic event. There were still places that had survived the devastation, ancient dwarven citadels buried under tons of rock. This later gave rise to a "salvage" industry, geared toward finding ancient Dwarven treasures. The group spent most of it's time exploring the newly populated above ground environment, but eventually they found an entrance into the old dwarven tunnels and eventually a Dwarven fortress. Due to the many wars with the Drow, the the gate to the city was a sturdy, stone and iron door 5ft thick. It took quite a while for players to figure out how to get it open. When they finally did get it open, the bones of the Dwarves who once inhabited the city poured out and nearly burying them. The character had to wade through the bones to get through the entrance. They eventually discovered that the Dwarves had been trapped, but safe, at first. Later the city was invaded by Drow who slaughtered them and threw the corpses in a huge pile in front of the gate. The wading through part, disturbed a good number of my players (and especially the Dwarven Paladin) as did them later hauling off the good silverware and china from peoples empty homes.

Anyway, the epiphany was that they were playing grave robbers and they found that a bit disturbing.

07-30-2011, 01:25 PM
No great realizations in a long time... well beyond those points. My own character liked to hold a mirror up constantly to the rest of the group when I was a young gamer.. especially the characters that think we are "good". Me: "We break into people's homes, kill them, and take their stuff! Lets face it, we're not winning any contests for good behavior." Paladin: "It is for the greater good that we do this, to spare the blood of innocents." Me: "When was the last time you even looked for an alternate approach? Have you tried getting a real job and letting diplomacy work? Who appointed you speaker for the people?" Paladin: "uhhhhhh" Half-Ork: "But they're evil!" Me: "So's half of you!" Then i get punched. The party i'm in now is a lot more up front about what they do and have no delusions about good and evil... we fight for the Earl and our country - whatever the enemies are. Sometimes we make deals, sometimes we kill. I think the realizations now come more in just how tough it is for real soldiers to make these sort of decisions with real lives hanging in the balance (not to even compare the two worlds... but one at least casts light on the other). Putting down riots, sacking a city, wiping out enemies without quarter... no small things really if the GM is a good story teller.

08-01-2011, 12:05 PM
My shadowrun games usually end with the PCs having 3 choices
1. They can take the moral high ground loosing their paycheck and possibly their lives
2. They can take the money, doing something awful and possibly loosing their lives
3. They can live doing something awful and walking away from the money

I often get my players going "You SOB!" as there is no winning scenario but they love it and come back for more.

08-08-2011, 11:51 PM
That would be the day I died.

It had started out as a meaningful, if uneventful trip. That being taking some new found friends home to show off to one of my adopted families. A few months journey, I said. A short sail, a small desert trek, some feasting, song and dance, and back we go, I said.

I had not quite expected to be given the particular coming-of-age quest that I was. Nor was I aware that my tribe had known more of my past than what I had already learned. Which perhaps accounts for being quite blindsided by it all. I was imagining I would be assigned ankeg-hunting, a task I was renowned for disliking among my tribe. Crafty, crafty elders. For all that I have outlived five generations of "Elders" of my tribe, they still manage to surprise me.

Nor was I expecting the barbarians encamped about the haunted oasis where I was found. Even less that their high priest knew part of the tale that my tribe did not, having had the story from his grandfather, whom had actually been there, and was late in discovering me by a few days, at best.

At last of all, that my mother's body was still there, preserved by the unusual conditions of the cave. So well preserved, in fact, that we were able to speak with the dead.

Imagine the disquiet of the high-priest when my mother not only knew of their most sacred and secret holy place, but had been trying to find it, chasing rumors of power.

The bulk of the tale is recorded elsewhere in my journal, easily found. Epiphany. Yes. The day I died. The traitorous loremaster stole from the holy place some things which he planned on framing us for. I made three mistakes that day. We searched our belongings and our persons, but failed to search our tent. I did not request a night of rest before the duel. I did not fight intelligently.

Because of those three mistakes, I died. I lost the duel. I had not believed that I could. After all, does not good always triumph in the end? We were innocent of the crime, had followed every stricture, every rule, every request laid upon us in order to gain permission to view the holy site. So I should not have been able to lose.... All these thoughts crossed my mind as my vision darkened, and the distant thump of my dying body striking the ground reverberated through my fading consciousness.

I guess even the powers of truth, justice, and good are not enough to overcome stupidity, sometimes.

08-10-2011, 01:33 AM
An epiphany you say? Most people want to hear how I crossed the Hells, but the tale you ask I consider more interesting, and far more important. First you must understand that many years ago I was a brute. I took what I wanted by force if necessary, and my size and Draconic blood allowed me to get away with that. Kirt first and always.

In this case I was nearly a guide. A party of Paladins and Rangers, good men all, they wanted me for my strength, and incidentally for my having been down the road they traveled before. For my own part I was curious. I had taken the test of the Rider and passed it. I let another take the prize. A prize I had no wish to own. I still had no desire for the prize, but these wanted it. I wanted to see them when they learned that there was but one prize a party.

They didn't get that far. While traveling in the demiplane that was this part of the test they came on a cashe of books. Evil foul books of death magic. I had seen them before. I ignored those books as I did the first time. Such magic is a fool trap. They let them alone also, but I sensed something in them, an unease.

Shortly thereafter they fell to squabbling. I took to the wing and outpaced them. I knew the order of the trials, and they were of little concern. I would waggle the prize under their noses and return it to the priests. As I said, I did not want it, and they were not worthy.

When I found them again they were near to blows over those foul books. They had gone back and dug them out, and were arguing over who got which. Paladins and rangers, good men. I felt that day a pain in my soul. I saw in these men myself. My petty grubbing for every copper, my callus treatment of other's concerns. They mirrored my own self and I hated the thing I saw.

I fell on them in wrath saying not a word I struck with all the powers at my command. Powers they did not inquire about before the trip began. At that moment I did not care if I lived, only that they died. They died, and died quickly. The casters I hit first, they withered before my breath and weapons. The fighters did me little harm, and I slew them. The last two begged my mercy. I allowed them to crawl away.

Epiphany...yes, I went to the patron that had promised me magic and begged instead to be taught the way of the priest that I might learn humility. That day I left my greed and selfish desires soaking into the ground with the blood of fallen paladins.

08-10-2011, 02:56 AM
An epiphany moment, I remember a game I ran where the whole group had such a moment when their greed got the better of them. There were seven party members and they were on a long dungeon crawl, underground. Their levels ranged from 7th to 9th. Well they found a torn map that said "There be dragons...." in an unexplored area. So they decided to set off and investigate the area - dreams filled with gold and magic loot.

As they get to the first large cavern and begin to investigate - they encounter a Behir. Well it surprised them and instead of attacking, it opened a dialogue. As they parleyed with the Behir it offers them a a deal - safe haven and some of his treasure if the party would go and deal with an upstart dragon in the next cavern. Well the dragon hoard never came up and so the party thought they could kill the dragon take it's hoard and get extra loot from the Behir, as well as a safe place to rest. Unfortunately no one thought of trying a sense motive check. So a deal was struck. As the party rested they asked what color the dragon was. The Behir told them black and retired to the back of the cavern. So they prepared their spells and began the trek to the next cavern.

Soon they entered a large cavern - much larger than the Behir's. As they began to search they could find nothing of the dragon. Finally when they were at the very back of the cavern all their light sources went out.

"Wait I have an ever burning torch!"

"I know - it goes out."

"I pull a rock out of my pocket and cast light."

"What about my darkvision?"

"Nothing happens, and you cannot see either," I must confess I had a small grin on my face.

Well the party turtles up and decided to wait to see what happened - since they had all their buffs up. So I am looking at the map and muttered, "Ok, this is a cone -"

"But black dragons breath in a line."

"I know, but this is a cone."

He repeated again, "black dragons breath in a line," but I ignored him. They made listen checks and a few heard leathery flapping wings but that was it. I found the right placement and the dragon breathed it's breath weapon. I told them the target number and waited until they were all done. More than once they said I have protection from this, or resistance to that. But I told them to wait so we can sort this all out at once. Well as it turned out they ALL failed their reflex save.....even the rogue. So once I had their attention I told them the damage, "Everyone loses 5 levels!" :eek:

I should have had a camera as they all stared at me in a state of shock, as I sat down at the end of the table! As it was the dragon was a Shadow Dragon - not a black dragon, although he is black. :lol:

Then it was initiative and they took off. As soon as they left the area of darkness their lights came on and they could see. However they stayed in a group. So then the dragon goes and launches a fireball at them. Then they split up in small groups. The mage yelled, "Hold on," and pulled a scroll from her robes and casts dimensional door - targeting the Behir's cave. I asked if she was sure and she said yes (luckily for here it was a very high level scroll of dimensional door). So two characters (a fighter and cleric) grabs her and they get out of the chamber. So the other four were stuck there. The rogue decides to be slick and goes and hides by himself. The other three ran together, but one was a monk and was easily outdistancing them. So the dragon webs the remaining two. In the process of killing the dwarf ranger (one of the webbed characters) the other breaks free and runs again. The dragon launched a magic missile at this character (a sorcerer) and kills him. Then he doubled back and dispatched the gnome. By this time the monk escaped the cavern.

As for the characters that D-Door to the Behir's cavern, they took a beating (the spell did not really reach the Behir's lair, so they were forcibly shunted out of the stone, we had it as sub-dual damage). But they were conscious and the mage sighed and looked at me - at least we lived. I smiled and said - no you just initiated a second combat! :lol:

"What?!" They cried, as the Behir came charging out of the darkness. The Behir immediately targeted the healer and successfully hit, grappled and swallowed him. The wizard pulls another scroll out and casts mass invisibility on herself and the fighter. It was funny as the fighter's turn came and I asked, "what are you doing?" He replied, "nothing."

So the Behir goes again and I rolled randomly for who he is attacking. They both freak out saying - we are invisible!

"I know, but you both are carrying light sources and you are in a pitch dark, underground cavern. It is not hard to figure out when there are moving orbs of light." So they scattered and began to run for it too. Well the wizard was able to get away as the fighter was encumbered in heavy armor, and although he had invisibility and had concealment from the Behir - he ultimately died at the hands of the Behir.

So I almost wiped out an entire party from their greed - only the monk and wizard lived. I decided to end the campaign there as even these two did not have the resources, food or strength to survive the underground trek to get back to the surface.

08-10-2011, 01:43 PM
Do we have to talk to this Lynx? The last thing we talked to ate half the party. -- Cartoon from the AD&D player manual.

Mustard Tiger
08-17-2011, 10:24 PM
I ran a campaign in which my party was tracking down and picking off the members of a secretive order of necromancers who were apparently trying to raise an army of undead for seemingly nefarious purposes.

Turns out that the necromancers were raising an undead army to stop an infernal invasion, the far greater of the two evils. The players never bothered to listen to the necromancers' insane ravings.

Party ended up using the necromancers' knowledge and working with them to "raise" an army to help defeat the invaders, but not before over half the continent was overrun.

08-18-2011, 07:30 AM
I LOVE the battles of pragmatism. This is the ultimate example of Chaotic Good - supporting evil to allow it to defeat evil! Great job!!

08-18-2011, 11:12 AM
WE had a series of those. The Undying Wars where the Lord of Hell sided with the mortals against the Undying King. The Undying King wished to disrupt the order of the universe. This upset said Lord of Hell. Add the fact that the World attacked was is birth world and his Father was the chief opposition to the Undying King and yes, he signed up.

The City of Hellsgate is the permanent result. Just south of the Forbidden Zone, still a dangerous place to go and deep in the Weirdling Lands. An open city were devils run shoulders with mortals, and anything can be bought and sold. Yes, there is an open gate to Hell in the middle of the city. No one guards it on the city side (It has heavy guards on the Hell side. Anyone foolish enough to go through that gate, well, its their eternal soul.

08-19-2011, 07:30 AM
I just finished a campaign where devils used the party to help fight demons. The party eventually found out that the Powers of the Abyss were planning an invasion/take-over of the Prime Material Plane, and The Hells/Devils wanted to stop them. The party eventually began actively supporting their "partners," but they didn't like the taste it left in their mouths. The PLAYERS loved it, the PC's, not so much.

Especially the Cleric.

But, I used the Cleric's backstory to help get him involved (When he was young, dad got a HUGE promotion on the same day his mom and two siblings went missing. Seems dad made a deal with a demon for their souls.) The Cleric eventually got his chance to pay The Ferryman to take him across the Styx so he could rescue his family. It worked out very well.

In the end, BOTH sides parted ways, saying, "And don't you EVER try to 'help' us again!!"

Good times were had by all!