Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Spirit of the City

Berserk 31 starts off with the group still trying to get that boat. Surrounded by an invading monstrous force there to lay siege to the various knightly orders of the Holy See brought in from numerous countries.
Guts manages to hold the curse of the Berserk armor off of him for much of the initial fight, giving his witch time to summon up a spirit of the city. Initially, Schierke noted that spirits were harder to reach in the city because most people there looked past magic.
But the city has a spirit of its own, the Burning Wheel. Not, not the RPG, but a spirit of fire that manages to cook all of the enemies about them. She's able to summon this spirit because she's gained experience dealing with these higher level entities while travelling with Guts and his friends.
When that in and of itself doesn't prove enough though, she manages to focus that Burning Wheel spirit right into Guts sword in order to take out another powerful entity. During that fight, the villain screams out, "You've shortened your life!"
In such a situation where the characters can draw upon great power but at a personal cost, think about what you're potentially setting up. If the characters are going to be killed unless they use this power, why wouldn't they use it? At worse they use it and die, just as they would even if they had never used it! At best, they use it, gain some experience with it, and surprise the enemy.
I know in older editions of Dungeons and Dragons, when the haste spell could age you a year per casting, most people in the party didn't want it used on them every fight but they enjoyed having a scroll of it around just in case. The trade off of power versus age was one they were willing to take for the 'big fights'.
Towards the end of this volume, Guts meets the Great Emperor of the Kushan lands. Noting that Guts is human and branded, he offers Guts the opportunity to work for him. Offering a player an opportunity to work with a bad guy can be an interesting opportunity, but at the same time, can present the campaign with its own set of limitations if it's just restricted to a single character. What happens if the player does decide to have the character go off? Do the other players follow? Does the character become an NPC? Does the GM solo that player on a different day and session?
Offering players temptation is always an interesting way to judge their character development but be sure to have a plan B in case the players take that temptation.