Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Blood Nebula and The Devil's Armpit

 Ran my first session of a new Spelljammer campaign tonight.  (5e Spelljammer gets a lot of bad press, and I only agree with some of that. I'll probably save that critique for another post some other time.)

The PCs are Pirates, and/or friends-of-pirates. The PCs are also delightfully weird. 

  • Captain Kiera Glitternoodle is a Fairy Bard Pirate. She has a damaged wing (so that her full Flying Speed won't unlock for a few level-ups, because level one PCs with flight gets kinda crazy). Her hated rival is a Bullywug who is the Captain of a ship called The Pennywort. 
  • Rrrprr Mrrdrrmnn is a Thri-Kreen Artificer Noble. Everyone calls her Ripper Murderman, because those are the words that the clicking buzzing thri-kreen name sounds closest to. She's a princess, her mother is the great Empress Mrrrdrrdrrdrr, whom Ripper is sort of rebelling against. 
  • Dawg Grippe Tumbuckler is a Water Genasi Druid Wild Spacer. A skilled hand aboard spelljammers their whole life. They had a harrowing run-in with the Necromancer/Vampirate who is the Captain of a rival ship known as The Cenotaph.
  • Grimsbee is a Firbolg Fighter Sage (Astronomer) who is traveling the spheres because of a prophecy (we're still working out the details of the prophecy, as this character was made about a day before our first session).
  • Lia Galanodel is a blue-skinned Moon Elf Warlock Archaeologist. She's equal parts Indiana Jones and Liara T'soni (from Mass Effect). Her Warlock Patron is The Celestial, an Empyrean named Var. 
  • Oldarin Blue is a Mind Flayer Wizard Astral Drifter. He had a run-in with Corellon Larethian that changed him forever, and he no longer eats brains. We cobbled together a Mind Flayer PC write up from a few we'd found online. The psionic blast power is being modeled as a modified version of the Sapping Sting Cantrip from the Explorer's Guide to Wildemont. Short range low damage attack spell that knocks the target Prone if they fail their Intelligence Save. Instead of doing extra damage at higher levels it will affect multiple targets (extra targets added at the same progression as Eldritch Blast, but can only do one instance of damage per target) and eventually upgrade to single-turn Stuns. It's possible that it will be broken as sin when we get to Level 11 where Prone turns to Stun, but I'm happy to risk that chance if we end up playing long enough for it to matter. 

The characters are a lot of fun, and the players really got to ham it up in the first session. When the most "normal" character in your campaign is "blue-skinned Indiana Jones", you know the game is going to be memorable.

Their port of call is in The Blood Nebula, a huge cloud of red mist in which are hidden several asteroids and the calcified body of a dead god. Several pirate vessels have signed a Compact declaring the God's Body neutral ground. Pirates are agreed to not murder each other within sight of the God's Body. So it works like Port Royal of Black Sails, or Tortuga of the Pirates of the Carribean. A port where you can fence your stolen goods, take on crew, and have drinks with rival pirates that you'd definitely try to murder if you ran into them on the open sea. Every pirate captain knows a half dozen safe routes through the nebula, and you sneak in and out while trying to avoid nastier rivals in the mist. This will let me handle the first few sessions as sort of stealthy Wrath of Khan / submarine warfare motif, with enemy ships stumbling upon each other at short range. As we level up, I'll probably gradually fold in the Star Wars -ish dogfight system from this video and pdf: 


In one part of The Blood Nebula, there's a single giant arm of a dead god that's called The Devil's Armpit. It's a long curved armlike asteroid that bends around a natural bay. There's a current in the nebula that causes derelict ships adrift in the mist to crash on the banks of this arm of land. For several years, a particular pirate crew camped on that arm, and grew fat on the salvage of ships that drifted in. But one day a few years back, a ship crashed on their shores that held some Prince's personal zoo. Now The Devil's Armpit is infested with Cockatrice, Rust Monsters, and other less savory things. Not the sort of place you visit frivolously.

At the start of the campaign, Kiera (not yet a captain) was high in the crow's nest of a ship that she hated, working for a captain and crew she detested, when she spotted a derelict ship in the mists adrift and headed toward the Devil's Armpit. Rather than reporting the sighting, she waited till her ship got to port, then went AWOL. She gathered up a few trusted souls, former co-workers that she didn't hate, and old drinking buddies from the local tavern, and they rowed out on a Jolly Boat to find this derelict ship. 

The derelict was once a Living Ship: it had a Treant for a mast once upon a time, but several decades back some Gith marauders shot the ship full of holes, chopped down the Treant and ripped its roots out of the Spelljamming Helm, and left it all drifting uncontrolled in The Blood. As the PCs explored the ship, they discovered the Treant wasn't actually dead, but was now more of a viney shrubbery growing over the aft castle. (This allows us to use the fun concept of a Living Ship without the combat strength of a CR 9 Treant overshadowing the PCs.) The Treant's name is Fraxinus. Botany nerds will recognize that's the genus of tree that has those "helicopter" seeds. I do my best Treebeard impression when he talks, but we'll see how long anyone has the patience for that pace of conversation.

The ship is badly damaged, and Fraxinus has been starved of light and water across decades drifting in the nebula. So the hope is that if they can sail out for a while, Fraxinus' health and abilities will improve. (Slowly growing into full Treant stats as the PCs level up.)  

Also aboard the ship was a feral, broken, seemingly drunken lizardfolk sailor. He had been marooned here, and was taking shelter aboard this derelict. At first they couldn't figure out how he'd gotten so terribly drunk, with no empty bottles about, but by the end of the first session it was clear: Somewhere down in the bilge is some sort of monster whose magical aura makes you terribly drunk. Oldarin and Grimsbee failed DC12 Constitution checks and became instantly bumbling drunkards. For one hour, they will have the Poisoned Condition, and an extra clause that if they move more than 1/2 pace they fall prone. (The monster as written in the rulebook I stole it from is brokenly good. It requires you to make this save every turn if you're within 20 feet of it. That's nonsense, so I dialed it back by adding a clause of "if you make the save, you're immune to the effects for 12 hours".)

We ended the first session with the party tracking down the critter deep in the bilge, with initiative to be rolled at the top of the second session (in two weeks). If they can kill or chase off the Rum Gremlin, and then get Fraxinus some water and sunlight, they have their very own ship.

The session was a lot of fun. Mostly goofy roleplay shenanigans, with some exploration. They also found part of a map in the captain's quarters, so we've got a hook into a larger adventure. Not bad for a first session.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Dworkin the Barimen, and my Tinfoil Unicorn Hat

 Weird Amber DRPG thing, well, actually a weird Amber novel thing, that I figured out today, and have never seen posted anywhere. 

**SPOILERS for some novels from the 1970s**

**Also: WARNING if you're a "young earth creationist", something I'm going to say below might offend you.**

 I have a theory on why the character of Dworkin in the Amber novels is at one point given the name "Dworkin Barimen", without any explanation.  It's weird that Dworkin has this random last name, given that all the other major characters he's related to don't have last names at all. Nowhere in Zelazny's novels or short stories have I seen anything that explains this, or even points it out, but it's something that has often bounced through my head as being weird. 

But first, other theories/explanations I've seen for this name:

1. House Barimen is sometimes trotted out by fans and GMs as a Great House of the Courts of Chaos. But that's not in the books anywhere. I just did a search on the text of all 10 novels, and "Barimen" appears exactly once, and in that paragraph we are told that Dworkin Barimen was an artist, priest, wizard or psychiatrist that Oberon hired from some Shadow, not Chaos.  That paragraph is obviously intentionally misleading, but when the character eventually shows up in the plot, we're never told by Zelazny there's a House Barimen. Corwin and most of his siblings seem to be pretty ignorant that the Great Houses of Chaos are even a thing.

2. The other obvious explanation that does get thrown around  is that "Barimen" is an Anagram of "In Amber". Roger Zelazny liked wordplay and clever nods, so maybe it's intended as an Easter Egg. If so, I'd say this egg is really more of a Red Herring. I mean, Dworkin's not from or in Amber, so much as Amber is in him. We eventually learn his origin lies in Chaos, not Amber (even if there's no evidence for a Great House by that name). Where this falls short is that it doesn't explain why the name is not used by anyone else in the series. If it means roughly "of Amber", why doesn't Oberon, King of Amber, use it? Why don't most of Corwin's generation act like that's a family name, nor do they know Dworkin's relation to their lineage? It's weird. (Also, just as a sidenote: I suspect concealing a revealing anagram in your name is not the sort of thing that will work out so well when the people you're hiding your mysteries from have lifespans measured in millenia.)

3. There's also apparently a magic artifact in a Philip Jose Farmer series called "the Horn of Shambarimen" but I've never read those Farmer books, so I don't know if it's an intentional reference, or even which came first and which might be referencing the other. 

Speaking of which came first, I was watching a youtube video today that debunked some horrible "young earth creationist" ideas. One of those ideas was for something called a "Baramin".  Coined by blending the hebrew words for "created" ("bara") and "kind" ("min"), a baramin is a term they use to denote the groupings of creatures that God bid Noah to put in his ark.  As in: the ark didn't need to have 2 lions, and 2 tigers, and 2 cheetahs, and 2 pumas, and 2 leopards, and 2 lynxes, and 2 housecats etc, because obviously there's no way to fit 2 of every species on earth in a boat that's only 300 cubits long. So instead the kind in "2 of every kind" has to mean something other than species, if you're a biblical-literalist who doesn't accept the scientific consensus on evolution, but are still aware that there are many millions of species on earth today and that a cubit is not very big.

The neat little trick of interpretation of the words "2 of each kind" means the ark could instead just have 2 of the ur-example of cats, and somehow, magically* without evolution existing, those two cats were the archetype (now called a "baramin") from whose pairing all the extant species are produced, again somehow magically without evolution*. The video really tore the concept up and pointed out how silly and scientifically useless the Baramin concept was, and how all the scientific data supports speciation by way of evolution over time. I agree. Really not my area of expertise, being just a guy who watched one rather critical video on the topic of baramins, but I'm sure someone will stumble across this post and try to fight me over it in the comments section. Have fun with that.

*: I will grant you that what I'm presenting is almost certainly a straw-man of what actual biblical literalists and creationists believe. I do that because I'm not here to argue politics or religion, I'm here to acknowledge that an obscure term relating to Noah's Ark and religious philosophy is absolutely the sort of thing that Zelazny would love to allude to when writing the Amber books. 

Roger Zelazny loved mythological references. There's a ton of them in the Amber novels. There's a magical king named Oberon. A murderous brother named Caine. A magic tree named Yig and a thoughtful crow named Hugi. Those are obvious, but sometimes Roger's a good bit subtler. Here's an example: in his ride to the apocalypse, Corwin is visited by a jackal and two birds (one made of blood and screeching like a bird of prey as it approaches, and the other the aforementioned talking crow). These 3 animals following him are a loose but definitely intentional riff on the "beasts of battle" trope from Old Norse and Old English poetry (Beowulf, etc). In such works, soldiers headed to war would be followed by a wolf, an eagle, and a raven: three animals that feed upon the bodies of the dead strewn about a battlefield, thereby foretelling the grim scene these men are headed into. If you see 3 such animals in close succession, that's Ye Olde Narrator warning you that things are about to get real. (Or, at least that's my understanding: I am not nearly as well-read as Zelazny was.)

But despite all that Mythological riffing, there's really no Flood Myth to be found in the Amber books. There's storms that seem apocalyptic, sure, but no flooding, no boat-building, and they don't deluge for prophetically-long times. Which is kind of weird, given how much hay mythologists and conspiracy theorists alike make about the commonality of Flood Myths in nearly every culture. That motif should be Zelazny's bread and butter.

Not only are obscure religious and mythological references scattered all though out the Amber books, but the dialogues of Corwin's hellride to the end of the universe are packed full of Freshman Philosophy topics. The core concept of Amber casting Shadows is a cheeky riff on Plato's cave. 

So the idea that he might have chosen to slide in a subtle Easter Egg nod to a controversial stance on scientific and philosophical issues, which comes with a built-in connection to Noah's Ark, well, let's just say it just seems very Roger to me.

Which is why I think it's possible that Dworkin Barimen might be an intentional nod to the baramin concept in young earth creationism. Zelazny, being well-read and quite thinky, may have stumbled across the term -- it was coined in a creationist book from the 1940s, so the timeline works. If so "Barimen" is not only an anagram of "In Amber", it's also a homophone for a word that refers to creationist concepts. Zelazny did like his word play. 

Dworkin created the universe, and is the ancestor of every character in the books -- except the Unicorn, which according to jewish folklore (and Shel Silverstein) didn't get onto Noah's Ark. (Why didn't the Unicorn get on the Ark? Because it ran off with a fellow Ur-example, the First Man. I started typing that as a joke, but on reflection, that may well be the crazy idea that inspired Roger Z in the first place, for all I know.)

All of which means Dworkin Barimen may well be a title, something akin to "Dworkin the Progenitor" or "Dworkin the Archetype", rather than a family name. In which case, this title only belongs to Dworkin, not his descendants. 

At least, that's the crazy nonsense I'll be going with the next time I start up a new Amber DRPG campaign.

Side note: Wow, I went nearly a year without posting on this blog. 2023 was hella busy, and sometimes kinda awful. More on that some other post, perhaps? 

Monday, January 16, 2023

The Return of Dungeon 23

 My computer has been replaced, so I'll be able to type up my scribbled notes about the rooms in my Dungeon 23 sometime in the next few days. Until then, here's the current state of the ground floor of my map: 

EDIT: And then, as soon as my computer was replaced, I fractured a rib, and as dumb/lame/pathetic as that sounds, found it too painful to sit in a chair and type. For several weeks. So that was the end of Dungeon 23 for me. What a bummer.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Days without computers

 My computer died.while it's in the shop, I'm continuing to work on the Dungeon23 challenge, but won't be posting much as it's really a pain in the keyboard trying to post to blogger from my phone.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Dungeon23, Bridge 1.4

Room 1.4: This is a 70 foot long stone bridge connecting the north barbican gatehouse to the Northwest Gate of the Castle. The stone handrail is mostly intact, the surface is heavily scratched and mostly free of moss. 

Two sculptural elements adorn the bridge, one of which is considerably more broken than the handrails. Both stone sculptures appear to be creatures with humanoid torsos and serpentine lower bodies. The more complete of the two is along the railing, it's tail weaving between the railposts, and it reaches towards the castle. The other is inconveniently placed in the middle of the bridge, and its upper half is broken off the snake body, and rests in several pieces. The shattered one is in poor condition generally, but the one weaving through the railing is not only in great shape but also an incredibly detailed carving with lifelike (though inhuman) features and little signs of weathering. 

In reality, these are of course the petrified features of Yuan Ti who died upon the bridge earlier this year. Players will likely grok to this quickly, and the GM should make no effort to conceal it from them if they inquire along those lines. They'll probably draw the wrong conclusion anyway, assuming it to be foreshadowing of a Medusa much later in the module, rather than a basilisk showing up in the next couple of rooms. 

Speaking of which: While most of the time this bridge is empty (other than stone cold snakemen statues), there are two fairly regular exceptions when the creatures from Room 1.XX show up. On cold days, the basilisk comes to sun itself on the bridge for an hour or two in the middle of the day to warm up. At sunset, it's owner takes it out for a 15-minute walk and a frequent snack, often plucking a tasty bat out of the air when the swarms release from 1.1A. At either time, both creatures from 1.XX arrive together.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Dungeon 23, Room 1.3

Room 1.3: This is inside the base of the Northern Barbican Gatehouse. When the barbican was originally built, this base was a solid rock foundation, in-filled with stone debris and aggregate. It was still intact when the castle was defeated by sorcery and treachery, but in the years since, it has been consumed by the acidic roots of several semi-intelligent plant monsters. Their digestion has weakened the tower, causing the floors above to partially collapse, and leaving a hollow that has of late become a nest for a large colony of bats.

The locations marked A and B in this room are holes leading further below, opening onto the sublevel areas 2.XX. The holes appear to be ringed with snarls of thorny roots. These are two Stone Creepers (2x CR 1 medium plants from the Tome of Beasts 2).

In addition to the two Stone Creepers, a total of 7 Swarms of Bats nest here. (7x CR 1/4, Monster Manual)  During daylight hours, assume 1 swarm adjacent to each of Creepers A and B, and the remaining 5 Swarms in the larger cave marked 1.3C.  At sunset, the bats alight and fly out of the tower. They return 1 Swarm at a time over the hours before dawn. 

Lastly, the dark cave here is also appealing to snakes, of which there are many in the vicinity of the castle. At any given time there are 1d4-2 Poisonous Snakes (CR 1/8, Monster Manual) here, either hunting bats, or curled up in the roots of a Stone Creeper.


A Potential Disaster: Nothing that lives in this hole will seek to cause trouble for the PCs, but incautious PCs who plunge into the depths, make shocking loud noises, or unleash open flames will create a chaotic and perilous situation. 

Stone Creepers are not generally aggressive to other organic life, but they will get panicked if the PCs try to uproot them, or if Medium size or larger PCs try to push through or past them to get to the area on floor 2, below, and will use their acid-exuding thorns to defend themselves in such circumstances. If the PCs bring open flame down in to this area, the Stone Creeper's panicked reaction will be even worse. 

The wall marked 1.3D has been weakened over the years, and the creature will rip its way through to escape. This will cause the entire west tower of the north barbican gatehouse to collapse. Damage to any PCs in or within 10 feet of the tower (and any Sword Wraiths in 1.2, above) is as described for the Stone Creeper's Weaken Stone ability. If the Bat Swarms and/or Poisonous Snakes survive they will become agitated and violent. 

In the wake of the collapse, a large pit will be left open directly into area 2.XX. This collapse will obviously raise a great commotion, and the sudden unexplained transformation of the tower will put all the denizens of the ruins on edge. If this happens, raise all Alert Levels by 1.


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Dungeon23, Day 2

(I'm jumping the gun a little, getting ahead on this because I don't anticipate having time tomorrow night. Don't want to fail the challenge on day 2.)

 Room 1.2: The upper floor of the gatehouse. The eastern section has a Scorpion (treat as a Ballista, per the DMG) that can be pivoted to aim out any of three firing ports. Additional slightly smaller arrow slits allow for crossbow shots along other avenues of approach. 

The western section has a collapsed floor leading into area 1.1A, and the Scorpion that should be on this end is missing. 

Between the two sides is a middle section overlooking the bridge. It has two raised portcullises in this upper space, and the floor section between them has numerous murder slits for raining bolts downward. Note that the gears and winches for the portcullises also collapsed when the floor in the western section gave way. The grates are held in place by locks and wedges. If they were to be released, they would slam downward into place, and given the broken and missing winch system, there's no easy way to lift them back up.  (Lifting the now-jammed gates by hand in the middle of a battle is a Difficulty 25 Athletics check. Doing so with a group of people outside of combat is automatic, but takes several minutes of focused labor.)

This room is guarded by two Sword Wraith Warriors

(2x CR 3, per Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes) 

In life, these warriors were tasked with guarding the bridge, but when the castle was defeated by treachery and sorcery instead of by force of arms, they were trapped within the barbican and starved to death. They now wait eternally for the attack they were sworn to repel. 

If any of the PCs (or their allies) come from a distinguished family line with a famous coat of arms or long history, it's possible that these warriors will recognize their heraldry and seek to block their passage on the bridge. The same holds true if a PC returns to the surface with the magic shield emblazoned with the three black crowns on a red field (see room X.XX, below). In such a case, the portcullises come crashing down forever and the Sword Wraiths will sally out for combat, or fire bows or scorpion as necessary. 

Note as well that the Sword Wraith's special Martial Fury ability has great synergy with fighting on the staircase from 1.1B: they get the extra attack, and the Advantage it would give the PCs is canceled by the Disadvantage of fighting up the stairs. That would be part of these Warrior's trained tactics from their mortal posting to this tower, so it's definitely a tactic they would attempt to utilize from beyond the grave. 

Treasure: Scorpion (if you can disassemble it), 20 large bolts for the same, 14 electrum pieces dating to the era the castle was built in, and the weapons and armor on the Sword Wraiths.

(The missing scorpion and winches from the western section can be found in room 1.3, below.)

Dungeon 23: Day 1.

I've decided to try the "Dungeon 23" Challenge. The goal is to make a 365-room, 12-level Mega-Dungeon, one room at a time, one room per day for a year.  I'm sketching out the map in my RocketBook, so that I can snap regular photos of it and post them here. Probably won't take pictures every day, as it's one thing to find a few minutes to draw a room and think about what might go in it, but it would be a whole additional hurdle to have to find time to post that here every day. 

Here's today's initial sliver of my map (...and part of my thumb, because of how I was holding the RocketBook).  It's actually sort of two rooms, and a bit of a bridge, but none of these have monsters or anything, so I'm just counting it as my one room for the day. The idea I'm working from is that my dungeon is a castle ruin. So this part is a gatehouse or barbican at the far end of a bridge or causeway leading in to the castle. There will probably be a few other above-ground features, so my first official Dungeon Level may actually be split between two floors. 

I plan to label the rooms in MM.DD format (Month/Day).
Room 1.1: Two towers sit on either side of bridge or causeway, their upper levels connected to house a gate. Both look intact (though very weathered) from the Northern approach towards the ruin, and the portculis is raised.

1.1A: The western section of the gate house is in rough shape. The door is missing, just a few old shards of wood dangling from a mangled hinge. Within, a large section of the floor is broken away, leaving a gaping hole nearly 15 feet wide. A central support column holds what's left of the floor in place. Darkness below. 

1.1B: The eastern section of the gate house is completely intact. The closed door to this tower is greyed and swollen wood.  PCs who try to force this open via foot or shoulder should roll a DC15 Athletics check. If they fail, they still get it open, but take 1d3 damage in the process. Characters with axes or mauls can smash it down automatically, but doing so will alert the undead sentries in area 1.2, above.
An inner wall and a central support column divide room 1.1B in half, and on the other side, a narrow staircase winds up the wall. The stairs are tight to the wall so that anyone (such as the PCs) fighting their way up them in melee will have a hard time swinging with their right arm, putting them at Disadvantage for any attacks made using their right arm (or both arms, if using a two-handed weapon).

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Music for the Hellride

Amber Campaign continues to truck along, for 55 sessions thus far. The playlist I frequently listen to while doing my Amber prep is mostly Classic Rock, Prog and Metal. For the most part they are songs about fantasy themes. Proper music for a hellride. Blue Öyster Cult, Cream, Deep Purple, Dream Theatre, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Hawkwind, Heart, Horslips, Iron Maiden, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Manilla Road, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Queen, Queensrÿche, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, etc. 

Sprinkled amidst this are also a bunch of one-offs on the play list that don't really fit those genres, but have something in their lyrics that makes me think of Amber, its characters, or its themes. So there'll be these unexpected pivots where the rocking suddenly gives way to Al Stewart, Brian Ritchie, the Gear Daddies, Thought Gang, Timber Timbre, or Tom Waits. I set the playlist up like this because even when Amber's narrative was rushing headlong towards a particular plotline's violent conclusion, Zelazny was always prepared to just suddenly slow down, meander a bit, and drop in a reference to some deep cut from a source you weren't expecting. I try to remember to do the same.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Target Swap

 Had a session of Feng Shui tonight with a fight that went twice as long as I thought it was going to.  It was one of those situations where each villain had a specific weakness that corresponded to a different hero, and the PCs noticed, but chose to fight different foes anyway, at least until the fight was nearly over.

 One NPC had a Defense of 12 vs Ranged Attacks, but a really strong Defense 15 vs Melee. So the team's biggest Melee hitter went after him, and kept missing by 1 or 2 every attack, while the team's shooters chose other targets entirely. And since he kept just barely missing, no one came to his rescue, as the shooty characters all assumed he'd wrap it up with one lucky roll.

 Meanwhile, one of the other PCs has a special power that lets them change their damage to be +1 higher than the damage rating of the foe they are attacking. He ended up dueling with the lowest damage rated foe all fight long, so they just nibbled each other towards death very slowly. 

 It was interesting, in that everyone was having fun and things were lively, but like I said the fight was at least 50% more challenging than intended, and ran nearly double the length I expected it to. If 2 or 3 of the PCs had traded targets, it would have been a much shorter fight.

  The timely application of the "Flying Guillotines" Schtick by the main villain meant everyone was excited and involved at all times, even if a lot of attacks failed to hit big. There's something pretty engaging about an enemy that can zap you with a weapon that's an all-but-guaranteed kill unless a nearby hero helps you escape from it. A lot of "somebody help!" and "I'll save you!" moments, so it kept things tense. At one point a PC with a Flying Guillotine wrapped around their neck had to jump out a window to reach to the only person that could possibly save them before the scissoring blades would have decapitated them. If that dynamic hadn't been in play, it might have been a boring match up (and I might have had to have the other NPCs try swapping targets to pick up the pace).