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Old 10-08-2019, 05:14 AM   #1
Brazen Hussey
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Default Fire In the Temple!

I've just read through the third of the new TFT Adventures; Fire in the Temple and the further I read, the odder the assumptions behind the adventure seemed. Those assumptions basically being that the Redcaps are the "bad" guys and the merchants and nobles are essentially the "good" guys who the players will naturally work for.

Of course, the Redcaps are a caricature of union activists. They are naive, and willing to use tactics as foul as any which have been used against them. But the text also illustrates the several offenses which have pushed them to the edge - corruption, abuses of power, etc. To be fair, the writer, David Pulver, is not saying the powerful are really good guys, but in that case why does the adventure assume the players will do their bidding and wipe out these troublemakers? When you read the NPC's backstories, their decisions to become violent adversaries of the establishment seem perfectly reasonable.

In his notes in the back of the book, Steve Jackson describe the Redcaps as a "good intentions, bad results" kind of group. On the other hand, the nobility and guilds described in the adventure are more of a "bad intentions, bad results" kind of group.

I have no desire for this to be a political discussion. But I can't imagine running this adventure for my players - one of whom is a union steward - without them quickly joining the Redcaps side! After all, I imagine none of the PCs would be nobility or merchants unless they are a black sheep of the family.

None of this is meant to criticize Pulver in more than a minor way. I expect everyone will enjoy reading his adventure and several of you may choose to play it. I don't mean to dissuade you!

I'm not planning on using gunpowder in my campaign, so I don't expect to run this adventure. But as I was mulling over what elements I could possibly steal, the above issues seemed like as big a problem as the gunpowder. A scenario based on class struggle could easily turn into a campaign based on class struggle and, no matter where my own sympathies might lie, that sounds incredibly not fun to play in.

Thoughts from anyone else?

Last edited by Brazen Hussey; 10-08-2019 at 05:17 AM. Reason: To fuel my plans for world domination.
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:44 AM   #2
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

Make it personal for the players. The party's Physicker is unable to save a merchant's kid who was a victim of a bombing.

Now you're making me feel bad about casting the granddaughters of the SJW as my "villains". (It would be fun to pit them against the Redcaps where each group would see the other as representative as the evils of society they were in revolution against.)
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:23 AM   #3
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

Or switch sides! This is one of those situations that illustrates why I love sandbox style products but not adventures that assume specific mini story lines. The fact that the redcaps and merchants are at odds with each other is part of the setting. How the players respond to that is what enables an adventure; if there is no choice about how they feel or who they side with then you've missed your chance for an adventure and landed on a rail road. Luckily I find it easy to ignore the scripted nonsense that seems to be obligatory with most published adventures. So long as there is a map and a few creatively described NPC's we'll fill in the rest as we see fit.
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:57 AM   #4
Brazen Hussey
 
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

I agree that having interesting choices is the heart of the game. In the adventure, it is suggested that in the unlikely event of the players being taken captive that they might play along and pretend to false sympathy but not acknowledged that loads of players would be more sympathetic to the poorly used Redcaps than to their former masters.

I think it might have been more interesting if there was divisiveness within the Redcaps with the players likely to choose sides there.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:03 AM   #5
Brazen Hussey
 
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

This all makes me wonder why we players are so accepting of the monarchies in our fantasy worlds. After all, unless you actually support monarchism or a theocracy or some other form of totalitarianism, then you are a leftist in the context of a medieval kingdom!

And yet, supporting good kings and opposing the evil kings is so much the warp and woof of a fantasy campaign that I hate to disturb it. Shhhh! All is well in the lands of fantasy and none of your political realism is wanted here, young man.
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Old 10-09-2019, 03:37 AM   #6
Brazen Hussey
 
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
Make it personal for the players. The party's Physicker is unable to save a merchant's kid who was a victim of a bombing.
Sure, a little manipulation like this can be good. But only, I think, if it serves to make the player's choices more interesting and not just to railroad an adventure. To use the example you provided, they have promised to bring certain dastardly bombers to justice...only to discover either the bomb went off by accident or was done by a rogue member - do the players blame them anyways or support them?

PS Good luck with the granddaughters of Steve Jackson's Wizards?
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:39 PM   #7
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brazen Hussey View Post
I've just read through the third of the new TFT Adventures; Fire in the Temple and the further I read, the odder the assumptions behind the adventure seemed. Those assumptions basically being that the Redcaps are the "bad" guys and the merchants and nobles are essentially the "good" guys who the players will naturally work for.

Of course, the Redcaps are a caricature of union activists. They are naive, and willing to use tactics as foul as any which have been used against them. But the text also illustrates the several offenses which have pushed them to the edge - corruption, abuses of power, etc. To be fair, the writer, David Pulver, is not saying the powerful are really good guys, but in that case why does the adventure assume the players will do their bidding and wipe out these troublemakers? When you read the NPC's backstories, their decisions to become violent adversaries of the establishment seem perfectly reasonable.

In his notes in the back of the book, Steve Jackson describe the Redcaps as a "good intentions, bad results" kind of group. On the other hand, the nobility and guilds described in the adventure are more of a "bad intentions, bad results" kind of group.

I have no desire for this to be a political discussion. But I can't imagine running this adventure for my players - one of whom is a union steward - without them quickly joining the Redcaps side! After all, I imagine none of the PCs would be nobility or merchants unless they are a black sheep of the family.

None of this is meant to criticize Pulver in more than a minor way. I expect everyone will enjoy reading his adventure and several of you may choose to play it. I don't mean to dissuade you!

I'm not planning on using gunpowder in my campaign, so I don't expect to run this adventure. But as I was mulling over what elements I could possibly steal, the above issues seemed like as big a problem as the gunpowder. A scenario based on class struggle could easily turn into a campaign based on class struggle and, no matter where my own sympathies might lie, that sounds incredibly not fun to play in.

Thoughts from anyone else?
Yeah, I had a similar reaction. The Redcaps are caricatures and the political philosophy and symbols used seem anachronistic or out of place for a medieval setting... except "it's Cidri" so it's actually modern or post-modern and the local thoughts could come from 20th Century Earth or something... but they still seem like caricatures.

If anything, I could see players deciding to kill them because their caricatured speech makes them seem like annoying fools.

Of course, the hooks are designed to mostly have the players go there to collect a non-political bounty, or just to investigate an explosion, and the assumption seems to be the party and/or the residents will try to kill each other, which seems pretty common.

It does seem to me like there ought to be an option to sympathize with the Redcaps... but then there's not much adventure material for that in the short adventure. The GM would instead need more merchants to rob and guildhalls to attack and loot.

I could see some of my players deciding to join forces with the Redcaps in order to gain an army of well-armed fodder to go on looting raids on guildhalls with! It'd tend to be a more elaborate adventure module or the focus of a whole campaign.
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:12 PM   #8
David L Pulver
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brazen Hussey View Post
Of course, the Redcaps are a caricature of union activists. They are naive, and willing to use tactics as foul as any which have been used against them. But the text also illustrates the several offenses which have pushed them to the edge - corruption, abuses of power, etc. To be fair, the writer, David Pulver, is not saying the powerful are really good guys, but in that case why does the adventure assume the players will do their bidding and wipe out these troublemakers? When you read the NPC's backstories, their decisions to become violent adversaries of the establishment seem perfectly reasonable. Thoughts from anyone else?
They aren't intended as a caricature of union activists. Some of them do represent individuals whose attempts at peaceful labor protest were crushed, leading them to be recruited by a radical revolutionary cell aimed at overthrowing the existing social order. I think it might be fairer to say they're a fantasy portrayal of communist/anarchist revolutionary cell. As you point out, I did try to avoid making them cardboard terrorists and explain the motivations of all concerned! And I think it's a reasonable change from the usual evil wizard, greedy outlaw, or exterminate the other races motives...

To answer your "why does the adventure assume" question, it doesn't, exactly. First, the very first Hook to the adventure is one where the characters simply blunder into the Redcaps while thinking they're after a dragon. The "authorities hire you to hunt them" is an alternative option. Now, I think it's quite likely that when a bunch of adventurers stumble in the dark into a heavily armed revolutionary cell who have been engaging in bandits, are in the midst of planning an attack, and killing off anyone who discovers their location that violence will ensure between the adventurers and the rebels. I also think it is quite possible that (given the prescence of the chained-up third party and other things) smart players may decide not to kill everything that moves and may possibly talk - which is why I provide all the back story for the GM, the rebel literature, etc. - it's quite possible that a party of black sheep and peasants and robin hoods might indeed decide try try negotiating, in which case this detail presents the information the GM needs to figure out how the revolutionaries will react to them.

As to why the "join the Redcaps" isn't covered in depth - well, 8,500 words are very tight, and most parties, I think, will just hack and slash. I described how the Redcaps think and if the PCs want to join them, I think that's perfectly fine; I figure there's about a one in five chance my own players might have done that.




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Last edited by David L Pulver; 10-20-2019 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:24 PM   #9
David L Pulver
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Default Re: Fire In the Temple!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
Yeah, I had a similar reaction. The Redcaps are caricatures and the political philosophy and symbols used seem anachronistic or out of place for a medieval setting... except "it's Cidri" so it's actually modern or post-modern and the local thoughts could come from 20th Century Earth or something... but they still seem like caricatures.
Indeed, Cidri appears to be a world where anachronism must exist, as it's strongly implied that it is post-20th century world that with the help of dimension-walking individuals created a fantasy playground. Also, while there were quite a number of instances of historical medieval labor-based struggles that produced a lot of bloodshed (e.g., guild/anti-guild violence in florence and flanders in the 14th century) much of the real medieval social movements were tied very strongly with religious and local political elements. That sort of thing requires developing a lot of extra back story to do properly, whereas the existence of guilds, and the rivarly between the wizards' and mechanicians' guilds, exists as an ongoing element of Cidri's background that is already covered in the core ITL rulebook. Thus, building on it seemed logical.

Again, it's hard to get much nuance in an adventure this short. I think that in a short labyrinth adventures, characters entering a dungeon and encountering foes don't have time for more than shouted slogans and broad, primary colors; I tried to give the Redcap leaders and followers some personality and motivation beyond the bare bones, though, to help the GM play them in case they, for instance, captured the PCs, or the PCs opted to negotiate or take them prisoner, but of course your milage may vary.
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