The Heart of the Matter – Winds of Change Session 9

Go here, get the audio. Seriously. You want to hear this one.

I said it in my last update on this campaign, but it bears repeating: this is the best gaming session that I have ever GMed. It is also quite possibly the best session that I have ever been involved in, period.

This session started with things falling apart for the group. They had just gotten back from killing the first two cultists of Haagenti and were discussing how to approach the next two when Hal, the thief who hides in the attic of their house, overheard them. When he got the names of the people the party had killed and the names of those they had yet to kill, he basically flipped out. Hal used to be a member of the Syndicate, the thieve’s guild run by a halfling named Finn. Two of the people on the death list were placed relatively high up in the Syndicate.

Long story short, Hal informs the group in no uncertain terms that the Syndicate would be investigating the house, as the group has made no efforts to disguise where they were staying. What followed was some of the best role-playing that I have ever seen. The party decided, all in character, to leave the house and burn it down to fake their own deaths. Additionally, they called Gorum over to help with disguises. his is where things went from really good to amazing.

Gorum and Gufasova have fallen in love and, with the party gearing up to leave town for the grippli caverns, Gorum had a choice to make. He’s a highly-respected tailor in town and it relatively wealthy. As the scene progressed, Gorum took some time away from the conversation to think things over. Some time later, as the party was packing up all of their goods, Gorum came to Gufasova and told Gufasova of his decision to leave everything he knew behind and go with the party.

You guys, my sister teared up during the conversation. She plays Gufasova and the emotions were real enough to affect her. Looking back on that moment, I can hardly believe it happened. It was nothing I strove for, to make a player be so affected by the decisions of a fictional NPC, but to see it happen was just amazing.

Now, if that had been the end of the session, it would have been a great session, still. However, it did not end there.

The party was determined to keep hunting the cultists and decided to go after the alchemist next. Combat scenarios take far too long to describe, so I’ll strongly suggest that you listen to it. It was the best combat I’ve ever run. I had a hideout planned out for the alchemist and it took all of the skills and abilities the party had at its disposal to defeat this entrenched alchemist. I buffed him to high hell, had him nearly wipe them with a toss of a full Necklace of Fireballs and still they persevered. They showed maturity as players and really used everything they had at their disposal. It was a very satisfying end to the session.

The most important thing that I can take away from this session is that if I want to come close to the experiences I had, I cannot, in any way, plan to do so. Setup for the combat aside, I planned little of the role playing that took place and I certainly could not have planned to have the emotions run as deeply as they did. That kind of reaction can only happen organically. If it were a movie, sure, you can script something like that. But in a role playing game, you’re dealing with the unplanned reactions of your players and their characters. Additionally, you can’t predict how your NPCs will react beyond a certain point. If you do try to plan out all of those interactions, the whole things just becomes forced.

I have no idea if I will ever have a session this good ever again. All I can do is plan stuff I think my players will enjoy and stuff that will advance the plot; beyond that, anything good that happens is a rare form of alchemy that takes the ingredients the players and GM provide and turns them into magic.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, Pathfinder, Actual Play, Winds of Change[/tags]

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