I like this one. As a concept: a race of tall humoniod beings that treats us human as live stock is old school satire. There are numerous examples of this through out literature, and many of them lacked specific details because they were more focused on ramming a lot messages down your throat. I think though the message, about what is life and intelligence will inevitably forces a bit a self-assessment even if presented in an absurd of humorous fashion. In the case of the Yohats, the fact that they are humanoid and their society resembles human society with the bankers and craftsmen makes the "inhumanity" of their actions all the more striking. Because this seems like satire I don't think it is important to iron out the economic details of these cultures. I think that the goal of this piece is to draw out a response in the readers/gamers by forcing them to a) witness human suffering b) view a society which parallels their own but is also offensive to the human's values. The crass disgusting nature of this one, where they keep women in pits and milk them just add to the striking and "provocative" nature of the piece. I don't think this idea needs to deal with all the details: how much milk do they drink and so on. In "The Time Machine" the Morlock's economy struck me as really unsustainable. Yet audiences were able to accept the concept enough that the Morlocks made it into two movies and a musical (three movies if you count Ransom). The twilight zone episode that dealt with this exact same subject one was really just dark comedy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne5eP0OAsTs ). The message and purpose of this piece is clear and it is effective. It strikes me as banal to harp on whether Yohat society would be sustainable.
One thing that nags me about this is the lack of perspective in the write up. Who is writing this, if it is a GM writing for other GMs you should share with us some of you thought processes. You chose a society that was small and isolated why? If the write up is done from the game world perspective you should drop the comparison's to the olympics and other Earth bound facts. If you are going to take third person perspective, than you should make it a description of things and not series of statements. Example
"Yothats will never fight a battle inside a village. If they did, then all the tribes would gang together against the perpetrating tribe."
If they never done it, how do we know it will happen? We know it because you are the writer and you say it will happen. We may be able to intuit your meaning or extrapolate information about the society form these statements, but you have cut out of a lot of the process by just giving us statements. A statement is not something another writer or a GM could access as easily.
You could try something,
"Combat among Yohat's is dictated by strong mores and taboos. Combat never occurs within the villages or one worked land. Yohats that have suggested a course of action that could cause collateral damage or disrupt day to day life have been quickly corrected or shunned."
In this way your discussion become more about values that result in the behavior and not the behavior itself. By describing the values or the pieces that help build the conclusion you have reached, I believe, gives the reader more to work with
Because I don't feel like making two replies to both echo's and scras's comments, I'll just do it here.
First, echo: I originally wrote this as a piece about a society that raises humans for milk like we do cows. Everything else I added with little thought towards to whole. So, yes, they pr obably wouldn't have bankers and such, and just farmers and basic craftsmen. Just the jobs that self-sufficiency requires. As for the breeding out intelligence, what I meant by that was more breeding out free-will. The Yothats did not develop with smart humans. The smart humans came across the geographical boundaries to meet them. At that point, culture and might just added the new humans to the flock. They have never witnessed a human culture, or society, and it never occurred to them that humans could create such a thing. And for war, the Yothats are big, strong, and organized. Think giants with military training. Assuming that a tribe of 50 would have 25 males, and thus 25 soldiers, they could fend off quite a lot. It would probably take upwards of 5 soldiers of mid level to one down. 25 soldiers could defeat an army of 125 mid level soldiers, or (probably) 200 low levels. And if the humans defeated two or three solitary tribes, then they might call a war meeting, or discuss it at the next Culmination, and send all the soldiers to crush the pests
Scras: The Yothats do not need milk. They only need to eat once a week, and they have Freats and large mammals to do the job. Instead, milk is a luxury. Yothats love the taste of it, which is why they raise humans. They drink it. Go to Comment
If you guys are going to spew out facts you should reference things.
But I think an article like this which describes DMing techinques and give direction which would be more influential and carry more weight if it was laced with some vignettes regarding how this stuff worked in game play. How the players responded to specific details and so on. More importantly describe what didn't work. As I see it you giving Martha Stewartesque advice here, how to be good GM. M.S. often give specific examples of parties and events which has either hosted or which her friends have hosted.
If you want to discuss torture and execution as a stand alone topic perhaps you could discuss what those excution said about the values of the people carrying them out.
But overall 10 historically gruesome forms of execution isn't a bad list. Go to Comment
well, thank you for pointing this out. As for the other stuff- I know that Vlad didn't like the Turks too much (though he wasn't so much a defender of Christianity as he was the Orthodox sect. His views on Catholics was that the only thing they were good for was military aid). But they did crucification x's too? You actually do learn something new every day. Go to Comment
HAS Endeavor Society/ Organizations (Criminal/Espionage)
As a general concept, it's ok. The name and air around it are catchy. One thing that is buggin the heck out of me are the guards funds. All that poker playing, but no one has any money? A bit of copper and a couple silvers is believable, but no cash at all? My orcs don't play "Friendly" games, maybe if they were wagering services, like duty shifts, latrine cleaning, I could understand.
Room2 Issues: Wizard high enough to block fireballs + competent and well supplied catapult crew = pain. There are just too many good spells to not make that encounter more dangerous. Invisible boulders alone are terrifying enough.
The traps on the way out slowing the orcs down is a real nagging point with me too. Their traps, their home, and they suffer? What kind of trap could that be? Pit traps would only slow the orcs down if they are less agile than the PCs and don't have a second way around. Also, where are the orcs at the docks? They apparently have expendable impoverish poker playing guards a plenty, no one thought to protect thier ride? Go to Comment
As a five room dungeon, this works reasonably well. I love the Walk, as it represents a nice combination of combat and environmental hazards. I would probably try to get my players to run this one as a heist, however -- this would make a great setting for a high-security prison.
That said, there are a few points that could use improving. One, the orcs have a wizard on staff, yet the escape boat is guarded by illusions? If the orcs have been there for any time at all, they should have found that by now. Two, you said that the tunnel deown to the little boat has traps that will slow the orcs down more than the PCs. That can only be the case if the orcs have not discovered the tunnel already. Otherwise, they would have mapped the whole thing out or replaced the traps with some of their own making. Three, orcs aren't usually the type to wait quietly in the shadows on guard duty, while within their own stronghold. If you want to leave the shadowy guards, why not make them wizardly constructs, goblin slaves or at least orcish youth?
If I were going to use this dungeon layout, I would personally replace the orcs with something a bit more organized -- perhaps Naga or a religious cult -- and change the escape route slightly. Barrels worked in the Hobbit, after all. Why not something similar here? Go to Comment
Ah, so the orcs know about the boat and the back way out. If they are intelligent and organized, why would they let the PCs escape down a known exit route?
To clarify the barrels comment: In the Hobbit, the party is captured and detained in an underground facility. The only apparent way out is the Front Gate, which is heavily guarded. However, the hero finds that the elves keep a wine cellar that opens to an underground river, and that the elves occasionally send empty barrels back down-river. In other words, the party finds a service entrance/exit and exploits it to make their escape in secret.
If the boat is a known factor, and is used for mundane stuff like resupplying, then BAM -- you have your "barrels" exit. Other possibilities would be a garbage barge, or perhaps leaving under the guise of workers from outside. This is assuming, of course, that the PCs opted for the covert option. Go to Comment
Your first point, that of the orc wizard and the illusions- the wizard made those illusions to hide the dock. The escape boat was the orcs (they need something to go raid people and get food, supplies, etc). The traps were set by the orcs, and were to stop people coming from the dock to the library. I was thinking things in the nature of pit traps. They would slow the orcs down more than the PCs because the PCs would be to busy running than checking on traps, and would (probably) evade any traps they set off. As to the third thing, in my world orcs are smart and organized. If they aren't in yours, feel free making the monsters something a bit more organized.
And- Barrels? I know of The Hobbit, but I have never read it. What do barrels have to do with anything? Go to Comment
They don't let the PCs escape down a known escape route. They pursued them, didn't they? The tunnel leading to the boats is presumed to be opposite the ladder down to the ladder. The PCs would either be in the middle of the library, or by the tunnel (or maybe in some place nobody but a player could possibly think worth investigating), so the orcs couldn't possibly get between the PCs and the exit.
And yes, if the PCs want to be covert, then let them use the boat. But nobody knows about the boat, because of the illusion hiding the dock (and they leave at night), so they would have to reconnoiter the area at night to even have a chance of finding it. Go to Comment