NEW DESPAIR REPORT
*PC's on edge... rebelling against despair
*Caught in a trap between Fortuna and Kinxys... Developing...
*Forced by Mummy to gobble own vomit... Cleric demands bribe to "Remove Curse"...
*Sphinx tells "mammal" to shut up... relations between Sphinx and Monkeys debated...
MORE OR LESS WE'RE ON THE EDGE OF GIVING UP THE GHOST. THE GAME IS TOO HARD. THE PCS DIE TO EVERYTHING. These players r feelin' the more-or-less correct vibe that OSR techniques to win are "more or less" relegated to: run away or cheat. That is, they are following that OSR flowchart:
Am I safe?-->If no, run away. If yes, be aware that YOU ARE NOT SAFE as monsters are hunting you down. WDYD??
MORE OR LESS, THESE 4th LEVEL PC's aren't up to the challenge of SACKING AND ROBBING THE MAZE. The more I play this the more it becomes clear that THE MAZE IS PRETTY GOOD AT NOT BEING ROBBED. Everyone who lives here gobbles adventurers and I DON'T EXACTLY REFEREE WITH A SOFT GRIP.
To summarize, the PC's are more or less trapped in that little segment of the maze between Xanthoceras's closet and the Reptile Archives. Boxed in on one end by Fortuna, who they keep triggering violent manipulation/rage outta, and Kinxiys Ziteki, the Reptile King, who is reluctant to let Mammals into The Archive. At one point there's even a fight between the Sphinx and The King which the King wins, leaving the Sphinx vulnerable to attack by the PC's (the PC's don't realize this). The Sphinx then tries to get the PC's to find this alternate entrance to The Archive for her but that doesn't work out. Session ends with PC's sprinting past Kinixys (he kills their mule) and then having shenanigans with one of the mummys who makes them eat their own vomit. At the end everyone is pretty demoralized and I have a discussion about whether or not LOTFP/MOTBM is really the right thing to do.
WE END UP DECIDING that next session (monday) we're gonna run 8th? level clerics thru the maze, as a last ditch death-cult kinda thing. I fully expect these ppl to die. But maybe not???
One new technique which I really liked was that Fortuna at one point just took the painting from the pc's, so their escape hatch got stolen. Good source of tension/development although my players are too hopeless to think "oh shit, we gotta do something to survive" and are more like "we're gonna die, there's no hope". Really at this point there's this thing called Learned Helplessness that psychologically has been shown that animals etc. can feel where they just learn to accept pain instead of finding ways to overcome it.
IS THE LOTFP EXPERIMENT BROKEN? IS IT NOT MEANT TO SIMULATE DEEP DUNGEON EXPERIENCE/GROWTH PATTERNS? IS EVERYONE DOOMED, LIKE THE SOURCE MATERIAL SUGGESTS? IS THIS THE END OF LAMENTATIONS OF THE FLAME PRINCESS???
Tbqh I think I have succeeded in simulating that "confederacy of fools" environment which I think is pervasive of a real-life violence. That is, human life isn't sacred, isn't splashpage-y like those Dungeons & Dragons 5e character portraits are. Trauma makes people small and scared.
More to the point, several players are hoping that their non-canon 1st level one-shot-characters-that-killed-the-medusa are still around the environment, gonna knock holes in the walls, although I have already decided at this point that Chronia has swallowed Some of Her Own Tears and Undone the death of the Medusa. So this is another nasty shock coming their way; the canon that they thought was canon (the medusa's death) is still Canon but due to Time Travel has been undone. It's an interesting narrative technique that's gonna be frustrating and confusing for the people I hang out with on a weekly basis. At this point I do not feel guilty.