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[Fantasy] How to Stage a "Red Wedding"-Type Encounter?

Derrick Kapchinsky

Registered User
Validated User
Have you ever considered just telling your players what you want to do and see how they feel about it? A lot of people have rightly pointed out that many players would come out of this encounter unwilling to extend their trust to future NPCs. If that's something you would rather avoid, the best way I can think of is to just talk to them about it. It's possible that they might think it'll be a fun challenge and will buy into the whole scenario. And if they balk, then it's likely that they would have had a very bad time if it were sprung on them and you can avoid a whole lot of negative consequences for the game.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
Have you ever considered just telling your players what you want to do and see how they feel about it? A lot of people have rightly pointed out that many players would come out of this encounter unwilling to extend their trust to future NPCs. If that's something you would rather avoid, the best way I can think of is to just talk to them about it. It's possible that they might think it'll be a fun challenge and will buy into the whole scenario. And if they balk, then it's likely that they would have had a very bad time if it were sprung on them and you can avoid a whole lot of negative consequences for the game.
This post officially gets my approval. Talking to your players in order to prevent likely problems is awesome.
 

Ilya

No creativity for titles
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Note, at least in the book the Red Wedding was heavily foreshadowed and the Frey were NOT trusted allies.
This. They placed their trust in the situation, not their hosts.

Foreshadowing it and making it not come from a trusted ally might work, maybe even feel empowering to the players for guessing correctly what was to come.
 

Jack

Wave Man
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As many have said? I wouldn't do it. The Red Wedding actually involves no or virtually no "PCs" from a gaming perspective. That wasn't accidental I don't think.
 

Rainfall

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This. They placed their trust in the situation, not their hosts.

Foreshadowing it and making it not come from a trusted ally might work, maybe even feel empowering to the players for guessing correctly what was to come.
Note, that's kinda sorta what happens in the novel. We see the scene from Cat's point of view and she was aware that things weren't going right. Powerless to stop it, but she knew her group was being screwed.

As many have said? I wouldn't do it. The Red Wedding actually involves no or virtually no "PCs" from a gaming perspective. That wasn't accidental I don't think.
Or do it the usual way and have it be the beginning of the campaign. What we call the Red Wedding Conan would call "prologue". :p

"OK guys: your lord is dead, the band are reloading their crossbows and your weapons are in the next room. You see man at arms and thugs slaughtering your companions, and a few are turning to you. What do you do?"
 

Ilya

No creativity for titles
Validated User
Note, that's kinda sorta what happens in the novel. We see the scene from Cat's point of view and she was aware that things weren't going right. Powerless to stop it, but she knew her group was being screwed.
Yeah, but unlike in the wedding I wouldn't take away the characters agency.

To further elaborate, the two issues I see with this scenario is the loss of agency by taking away their weapons/armor and loss of trust by springing a Diabolus Ex Machima on them if you use trusted NPCs to betray them without warning. It doesn't need to be that way. Doing a scenario like this in the beginning of a campaign is a nice idea indeed, since in this case a gentle railroading is expected.

And in an ongoing campaign, foreshadowing and giving the characters means to fight out of the situation is another way it can work. The trick is finding the exact balance in which this situation is challenging yet not hopeless. It can be done by not putting much effort in keeping the characters from bringing weapons to the feast, letting them sneak daggers and other discreet useful items in; Giving them some tactical advantage by seating them in a protected corner from which they can see the attackers move right before they do that; Letting them catch a glimpse of the place where a couple of careless guards previously left their weapons, this sort of thing. Give them means to fight out of the situation, succeeding at something even if they don't win the battle itself.

Juts make sure to fine tune the difficulty and the max possible level of success to your players' preferences. If your group dig this sort of thing, getting out of a challenging scenario alive can feel like an achievement already; but not everyone feels that way.
 

Valmond

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Validated User
Well, the situation you want to use as the stage of the event is still vague and the devil is always in the details. Still, let's see... Surprise attacks are hardly a taboo un RPGs, and this is just a variation on a surprise attack. If done right, this can be a nice way to put PCs in a situation where they need to improvise and find ways to act without their usual gear. And yes, it is supposed to be at least a little unfair, but there's a middle ground. Okay, here's how I would probably do it based on what you said : I'm guessing it's some sort of dinner in a castle and the minimum goal is to get the PCs in the middle of the traitor's area of influence (in this case, the castle) before they can start suspecting something. This is easy enough, just don't give them reasons to be wary. Once they're there, though, once they're in a vulnerable spot, and preferably when they've put their weapons and armors somewhere else for comfort (like a ball ? people don't dance in battle gear and with their two handed swords), give them the opportunity to get some hints. Like, make spot checks to notice armed soldiers run, as if to get in position, behind a door left ajar, or a crossbowmen upstairs, ready to jump from cover, or just their host acting weirdly and glancing in various directions (to check if the plan is coming together nicely). Do this for individual PCs so they can each notice stuff that's off and then find a way to warn their comrades, give them some time before you trigger the trap. If the PCs are getting wise, then give them some time to see if they can formulate a quick plan to react to whatever's coming. Maybe one of them will want to sneak back to where their weapons are (which may or may not be possible) or maybe they can decided to jump a guard to have some weapons at the first sign that shit is going down. Then, once you figure they've had enough time already, or if the traitor notices that they're up to him, start the hostilities.

As for not making the PCs overly suspicious of everything from that point on... well, for one, they can't just not talk to anyone ever again, that would just be silly. That said, some people would call being wary of everyone in a game common sense. Finally, and for a more practical advice, make the PCs aware of why they were betrayed, make it make sense. They weren't betrayed for the lulz, but because people had something to gain from it, and unless other NPCs have credible aspirations that might make them follow a similar course of action, then, they might be easier to trust.

Also, what do you want your players to do when thrown in this situation, how do they "win" ? Fight back and defeat all their enemies ? Flee the scene ? De-escalate and negotiate to find an agreement ? Because they might attempt any of those three unless you make it perfectly clear that one or more of those options is impossible (respectively, a bunch of heavily armored elite guards bust out from a door and the characters have no accessible weapons, exits are barricaded and there are no windows to break through or chandeliers to swing from to get to the balcony, the traitor isn't there himself or has no interest in even listening to the PCs). Note that this isn't a question you absolutely need to answer. Maybe it's not so much how you want the scene to play out but how they'll respond to it that will establish what comes next.
 

Beastttt

Registered User
Validated User
have them late to the party
lock them in the room where they where to disarm and dress for the reception
start the killing and have it be a loud thing the players can hear
have them be about 1/2 undressed in a room above the dining hall(maybe 2 or 3 floors above)
heavy armor types out of outer armor can enter the fray with leather equivalant under padding and what they can either hold or wear like a baldric
light armor/no armor types are dressed for the wedding and can grab as above

there are tapestries over openings that can be looked out of and maybe a dagger ride down to the killzone
most of the important people are already dead(save a mother to be is a hostage)
the minions will stop killing when the heroes arrive
the minions are no match for the heroes(even in their state of undress) but will slow them down trying to get to the big bad with the mother to be
before the heroes can get to the villain he/she slits the mother's throat and plunges a dagger in to the mother to be's belly and shoves her to make his/her exit(healers need to work fast 1 heal(max possible by any healer) to save the baby/ies?
Mother will need 2 of the next highest possible heals or die
Healers have 2 rounds so 1 healer can only save either the mother or the baby

the villain has an escape route and minions to spare to make his/her getaway
 

R-90-2

Can it be SNEK TIEM?
Validated User
As for not making the PCs overly suspicious of everything from that point on... well, for one, they can't just not talk to anyone ever again, that would just be silly. That said, some people would call being wary of everyone in a game common sense. Finally, and for a more practical advice, make the PCs aware of why they were betrayed, make it make sense. They weren't betrayed for the lulz, but because people had something to gain from it, and unless other NPCs have credible aspirations that might make them follow a similar course of action, then, they might be easier to trust.
Of course, in a game medium where all story elements and character motivations are under the complete control of a single person at the table, there's no telling when other seemingly friendly NPCs might suddenly "acquire" such aspirations. And it can be hard to give the benefit of the doubt to a GM who contrived to railroad the party into a deadly ambush using a formerly trusted NPC.
 
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