Thursday, September 24, 2009

Epithalamium IV

Here's what I've got so far: The Great Ziggurat of Epithalamium dedicated to Mah-Kuss the Ever-Wedded is off limits to all but the priests of He Who Takes All Brides, except, every ten years during the Festival of Fecundity. That festival is occuring now and for several days couples and their families will be streaming through the temples antechamber seeking the Connubial One's blessing.

The players, for various reasons, will be tempted to sneak deeper into the temple than allowed, to investigate, pillage, and desecrate-- depending on their inividual goals.

I had sort of an inkling that giving motivations to each player would be helpful to get a one-off game rolling, but The Rusty Battle Axe's comments were helpful in pushing me further. I start getting a little worried giving players lists of prioritized goals because it seems so different than any D&D I ever played and it seems so boardgamish. And yet, I also have the feeling that this is one of those counterintuitive things that will make the game much more fun (especially in the circumstances of this session). I'm not quite sure why. I think it may be because I am asking for a little story from the players-- not just expecting it to emerge from 4 hours of play-- but I'm putting it into the players hands (no kidnappings or roof collpsings or . . . railroading). So with that in mind here are some more ideas for player goals:
  • find a bride (or groom) -- obvious eh? Didn't occur to me for a while. I think this should be possible even in the framework of a dungeon crawl because there will be captives and priestesses sprinkled throughout the temple, and marriage during this festival is very propitious!
  • Find out what happened to your mother /sister -- again could be any one of the women encountered, maybe I'll just assign a percentage chance that each woman encountered is the one.
  • Desecrate the temple because of a poor marriage -- Mah-Kuss is a sham, you say! Perhaps the characters parents' marriage was ill-starred or the character's own, either way the temple must be dishonored!
  • Honor the temple -- carry some special token of tribute deep into the temple
  • Steal -- you owe money and need some of the ol' eternal groom's trinkets, he won't miss em.
On Adult Content
Americans are generally puritanical. It bugs me that television can show death by beating but a boob flash is considered morally corrosive. So, while I don't want this to devolve into a big bawdy joke, I do want this to include sexuality. I was thinking of the temples in Japan devoted to phalluses and the Blarney stone and thought what if I combine them? I think my players would probably squirm a little to have to kiss a giant stone phallus to obtain deeper access into the temple.

I envision the temple to be one of fertility and fecundity as well as marrige, so maybe there's a big room with newly wedded couples having intercourse. I don't want it to turn into titillation, I'm actually thinking of scenes that will make my players awkward and stand out if they are trying to sneak into the temple: "So, apparently this is the part of the tour everyone gets busy. You all are the only ones left standing, what do you do now?"

Some more ideas in general:
  • An obese women representing a Venus-figure tended by 6 men, a key needed to pass to the next chamber is hidden under one of her massive breasts
  • wicker women-- these effigies attack, weapons include a few bows
  • the groom is a poet in real life-- so I was thinking it would be fun to have a religious text of Mah-Kuss that has 665 metaphors for marriage and that these are callsigns or passwords to move through the temple-- only the priests can't remember all 665 metaphors so anything plausible presented by the players will work
  • A gargantuan egg-- no powers, no threat, just an oddity
  • The groom and I both spent some time in Poland in real life-- so I was thinking of working some in-jokes in Polish into the adventure, maybe have the local village or some of the hirelings be named Polish curse words.
Today is actually super busy for work, but I couldn't sleep with all these ideas rolling around in my head. I'd like to look up quotes/riddles/limericks online about marriage, maybe sprinkle them throughout the temple as inscriptions etc.

Friday I'll have some time to think of how to lay this all out spatially so that the players have choices. Right now my idea of a chaperoned visit of couples into and out of the temple's antechamber seems pretty linear but I'm imagining once they sneak deeper it becomes wide open from there.


  1. You can always blame me if it doesn't work. I did this one time for a group of people who didn't know each other and weren't going to play again (back in 1981, I think). I was amazed at how much fun it turned out to be, but I think it only works in certain situations and it did have a bit of a gamist feel to it. I don't usually like my RPGs that way, but it was groovy for a "party game RPG." I like the elements you are weaving into it.

  2. No worries, I think it is a perfect approach to this gaming situation.

    But, I think it might be fun in the run of the mill Saturday night game too. The assumption most people might make is that good players don't need motivations/goals; they'll come up with them on their own. But I think boundaries help us create and if you give me a goal I can still think of the funniest, most clever way to try and bring it about.

    And heck, just help generating motivations might be fun too, some kind of Roll All The Dice mini-game.