Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Enemy Of My Enemy

Berserk 32 picks up with Zodd, an old 'friend' of Guts, literally crashing into him as he's recovering on a dock ward after being knocked out of the sky by the Kushan Emperor.
Guts needs Zodd's wings. Zodd needs Guts sword. Together, they fight crime! Well, not quite but you get the picture. By acting together, the two are able to do what one alone could not and disperse the Emperor's astral being.
In thanks, Zodd allows Guts to walk away from the situation so that he can take care of Casca. This is part of Zodd's personality at times. The willingness to let others recover so that he can face them at full strength. So that the blood thirst he has can be meet at full. This has been shown before, such as when the Skull Knight first dragged Guts out of the Eclipse.
Mind you, this is far different than a healthy opponent fighting Zodd and being injured. Zodd doesn't stop once it gets going.
By having a rich campaign world with multiple elements in it, the Game Master can sometimes put the players in the unenviable position of having to ally with something that they may normally want to attack, in order to overcome something even worse. For example, orcs are probably better to have around than undead. The undead on the other hand, may be better to have around then say demons.
This volume also showcases the benefits of high level characters fighting against minons. While possible for the minions to deal some damage, the higher level characters will often have numerous ways of recovering from minor damage quickly. This is another reason why high level wizards, no, not even wizards, spellcasters in previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons (pre 4e), were a force to be feared. A fireball isn't all that impressive against a large enough force. Control Weather, Earthquake, and other spells being cast that a normal enemy can't really fight against?
It's one of the reasons why pseudo Middle Ages armies tend to be on the low end of the steak against anything 'weird' in the Dungeons and Dragons game. An army versus a dragon for example, probably isn't going to go to well for the army, especially if the dragon has some immunity to non-magical weapons or some innate regeneration. Then yo uget into the whole make up of the army. Are there spellcasters? Are there clerics? Are they psions? When you start peeling back the layers of a fantasy campaign's army, be careful how far you peel. Too far and it's not longer psuedo history.
The volume ends with a show case of Griffith's long term planning coming to a head. After Griffith's Band of the Hawk overcomes a force that was essentially surrounding the city and preparing to destroy it, Griffith plays down his cards.
1. He's a hero of the common people.
2. He's the one who rescued the blood Princess.
3. He's the one with the divine revelation of being the Hawk of Light and is honored as such by the highest of the holy, the pontiff.
Some of these elements have been set up volumes ago and come to fruition here. If the party smartly plans out their actions well in advance and has the proper allies and methodology, the Game Master should give them the fruits of their labor. Nothing is more frustrating then dotting all of your is and crossing all of your ts only to be told that it doesn't work and there's no good reason why it doesn't work.
Allow the players the benefits of their planning. Allow them to reap as they sow. Allow the players to make alliances with those they need to in order to get the job done. Everything should not be smooth as silk, but everything should be possible.