Saturday, September 2, 2017

Is my DM Playing Gotcha?

Basilisks, Black Puddings, Brain Moles, Catoblepas, Dragonne, Floating Eye, Ghosts, Ghasts, Ghouls, Grey Ooze, Green Slime, Groaning Spirits, Harpies, Lamias, Lycanthropes, Medusae, Morkoths, Mummies, Night Hags, Ochre Jellies, Otyughs, Neo-Otyughs, Giant Portuguese Man-o-War, Purple Worms, Rhemoraz, Rot Grubs, Rust Monsters, Spiders, Ticks, Poisonous Toads, Trappers, Troll, Umber Hulk, Vampire, Giant Wasps, Wights, Will-o-Wisps, Wraiths, Type D & E poisons, and Death Traps.

What do all these things have in common?

Give Up? Probably not. You probably already know. Each of these critters has an exceptionally nasty ability or two that makes most players very, very nervous. Petrification, Paralysis, Death Poison, and more. All designed to make you a helpless sitting duck while these critters devour you at their leisure or will kill you dead on the spot. You usually do get a save. One save. Sometimes at with a bonus, sometimes without. But that once chance stands between you and almost certain, or sometimes very certain, D-E-A-T-H.

So today's question is, when these things come up is your DM playing the gotcha game? I absolutely do not think so. Well, I mean he might be, but by now if you have a DM being dirckly like that you probably already knew that before these beasties or obstacles came up. If all the kobolds in your DM's world are running around with type E poison, something is wrong. But generally no, the appearance of these monsters or traps or poisons in the world are not your DM being an execrable ass, they are simply the world of AD&D.

If you haven't yet noticed all of the above monsters are drawn from the 1e Monster Manual alone. 225 monsters by my count are in the Monster Manual and 38 of them listed above (maybe minus a few others), about 17%, are notoriously sinister in their ability to put you down quickly. I don;t think that's an awfully lot, and granted some of those are rarely used in most adventure settings. But they do exist. They are a part of the game.

But, some people have a really hard time with such obstacles being placed before their characters. In fact they have a hard time with these kinds of monsters even being a part of the game. Personally I like them, and the risk they represent.

The last time I played a character we ran upon an investigation of some lycanthropes. We actually
didn't know it was at first, because the adventure set it up to almost appear like a murderous psychopath was loose around the countryside. But turns out we got caught unawares in a community where the Lycans were running things. They lured us into the townhall for a celebration at night to be trapped inside when they closed and locked the windows and doors.My thief managed to vault over a table out a window before a window was completely closed, but got caught at the last minute. Long story short we were ambushed. But we still didn't know they were lycans or why we woke the next morning unconscious in the wood side with only but wounds on us, and not any other damage or lost items. We should have wised up between the DM stressing a full moon the night of the party and the "bite" wounds, but oh well.

As soon as we found out the we were suffering from lycanthropy--it didn't take too long after we blacked out or woke up in the woods covered in blood--I was seriously concerned. Why? Isn't it cool to be a Lycan? No!! Not in AD&D! If full lycanthropy hits you, you eventually go mad and have to surrender your PC to the DM. You're as good as dead within a month or so. So, I obsessively looked for a way out of the disease. Turns out the DM didn't expect this--he didn't even know that was a rule--but he went with it and we found a way to a cure.

The point is I understood that this was a part of the AD&D world, and accepted it. I went with it
based on the magical biology I understood to be at work within the world. I also had to accordingly accept the fact that I might fail and that it meant the end for my character. I see save or die poison, petrification, level drain, ability drain and other extreme dangers a part of the AD&D world as well. I mean, sure a DM can write them out of his or her world, but just because they choose not to, doesn't mean that your DM is trying to screw you over. The world is a dangerous place, and you may be a hero, or at least trying to become one, but you are not invincible.