Episode 12: Harburk the Impaler

Picking off gargoyles — hellhounds — shepherds abiding in the hills — Harburk the Impaler — videogame excursus.

The bit when the party returns to Red Larch and finds that Harburk (“Hauberk” in our game) has taken over with Jalessa as mayor—that’s not really in the book. Not with as many umlauts anyway.

Here’s what the book says (emphases and bracketed comments mine):

. . . the folk of Red Larch are scandalized to learn that many of their most respected fellow citizens were part of a secret cabal. This discovery launches a whirlwind of gossip, innuendo, and recrimination. The other citizens of Red Larch shun the Believers for the next several months [months??? how long do they expect this game to go?], and the Believers turn against one another. Many retreat into seclusion. Leadership of Red Larch passes to Harburk, but he’s too busy as constable. After a month [?], Jalessa Ornra becomes Red Larch’s mayor. She’s liked and known for common sense, so the townsfolk rally around her.

But that’s obviously not what I did.

One, because you literally can’t present that. People recover quickly in this game. A night’s rest, and you’re back in business. No way this campaign is going to last in-game months.

Two, that’s boring, maybe?

So I decided to have Harburk take a very extreme line on this cult security business.

BECAUSE I WANTED TO SEE WHAT THE PLAYERS WOULD DO

I find that the quality of games improves if you try to cultivate a genuine sense of curiosity about the world and the player characters, but specifically the player characters. Think, “I wonder what would happen if they X,” and then show them X and find out.

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