Monday, October 10, 2016

Deshi Spearmen & Creating Otherworldly NPCs

The tabletop group encountered a new faction this last session - the Deshi Spearmen.  Interaction with these creatures should be incredibly difficult as
  1. They are plant creatures
  2. Their language is a combination of rustling leave, wind sounds, and subtle movements
  3. They are really really not human
However, through clever use of the "Recovered Memories" mechanic and some serious luck (a player recovered a memory about being lost in the Great Desh Forest and being rescused by strange forest folk about 5 real life minutes before they actually even knew the Deshi were in the dungeon) there was much awesome interaction.

Deshi SpearmenTags: Stealthy, Plants, Organized
Type: Walking ImpalerOrganization: Small Group
Description: Small, entagled, briarsInstinct: to spread
HP: 8
Armor: 2
Attack: thrown thorn spear or thorny lash ( d8+1 )
  reach or close, piercing 1
Moves:
  Call creeping vines
  Compost the dead
  Release soporific spores
Known For:
  Immunity to piercing weapons
  Hatred of open flames

The Deshi spearmen do not think like mammals, but they are intelligent.  They do not have names as such, but groups often refer to themselves in "tribe names" that resemble locations from which they hail, such as Oakflower.  They do not have concepts of politeness or imagination and speak only in absolutes.  The one abstract concept they have is "Fairness" - something for something, like for like. They fear very little, but when they do encounter something that is a threat their tend to deal with it by ignoring it and will simply not recognize it.  If attacked, however, they respond with untamed ferocity.  They seem to be a collective, but not a hive mind - the concept of the individual is irrelevant to them; but it is the individuals that often cause strife and woe.

...

So how the hell do you interact with and role play plant folks that are have a different view of the world and needs and desires that are completely out of alignment with the normal adventurer?  Deer are more of a problem to their young than a rampaging patchwork demon. I decided that I run this that communication, since they had someone who could at least partially communicate with them, could only be as though they were 2.  You couldn't ask anything more complex than a 2-year-old and the answers you got back were the same.  Subtlety was not possible, nor complex concepts. As someone without kids, this seems reasonable (those with kids may disagree, but just go with it).

I also chose the words and actions carefully. When the party identified a threat that the Deshi already knew about, they simply did not respond or (and here is they key) refused to look at the threat.  I translated things into forest and nature terms; things were described as versions of creatures familiar to the Deshi's native land (even though the party don't really know much about the Great Desh). It created an otherwordly and somewhat difficult situation that the group seemed into.

Eventually, though, the party got things sorted, returned a group of Deshi that were out exploring (and had gone dormant - because that is another thing they can do because they are plant creatures), and made allies with these creatures.  They have another safe spot to start adventures from - at least until they lead the Deshi back to "The Sun".  Praise the Sun \o/

On a final note, one of the party accepted healing from the plant people.  It worked ... but now he is part plant as the fruit grew and took over a bit and he now has bark for skin.  Permanent +1 armor.  The character is a barbarian type, so it works out. :)