Tales of a DM: How Prostitutes and Weekend at Bernie’s Prevented a World War

As I predicted, I was not quite able to get through the fourth Wheel of Time book in a single week.  Not that I haven’t been enjoying it, but its quite thick (about 1k pages in paperback) and I’m not exactly a speed reader.  I take my time flipping back through pages when I feel an event that has been foreshadowed is coming up, or referencing the maps when the characters are travelling.  Anyway, since I dislike commenting on a book until I have finished it my next WoT update won’t be till next week. I know that’s the only reason the vast majority of you are even checking this blog, and for those of you sticking around anyway, thank you.

So I want to take this opportunity to do something I have wanted to do since the beginning and talk about my tabletop gaming experiences. Tabletop roleplaying has been a big thing for me ever since I first discovered it back in high school.  I don’t want to get all mushy and emotional here about how its been important to me both socially and creatively, leave it to say it has helped me through some tough times.  I’ve been on both sides of the table, though 3/4 times I end up in the DM’s spot (yes, it’s called GM in just about every game but D&D, I know, I don’t care).  One thing that never ceases to surprise me is the level of creativity used by players in problem solving.  They come up with methods to get themselves out of (or into) trouble that I would never dream of, without often spectacular (or hilarious) results.  I want to talk about one specific occurrence here, as hinted in this article’s title.

The Scenario: I like putting my players into rock/hard place situations when I can, to force them to think about what decisions their characters would make in a tough spot with no real clear ‘good’ answer.  In this case, the players were the leaders of an adventurer’s guild that had come to prominence due the successes of some of their quests.  The world they were in had some a lot of tight political alliances causing a tense arms race (think of just before WWI, where all it would take is one country to declare war for everyone else to get dragged in).  One of the leaders of the guild is married to an emperor’s daughter, which also puts the guild directly in the political sphere.

The emperor’s daughter gets kidnapped by a servant of the Big Bad, and he threatens to kill her unless the players kill a soldier of a rival nation in broad daylight in front of witnesses.  Doing so would undoubtedly trigger a response that would set off the war, letting the emperor’s daughter die would cause the guild to face the anger of her father and probably end with the guild’s demise.  Basically, they had to pick between the good of the guild versus the good of the world.

Well, my players weren’t having any of that and set off on a strange third option of their own making.  First, they investigated into the most recent death of a solider of the rival nation.  They found the soldier’s body was being kept at a local morgue.  They then hired as many prostitutes as they could find to distract the mortician and his staff so they could sneak in and make off with the body.  The next few hours (in-game) consisted of them dressing up and putting make-up on the corpse to make him look alive.  See where this is going?

Using some antics that I can only describe as “Weekend at Bernie’s-esque” they walked the corpse around the city in full uniform, trying to convince anyone who was watching that he was a living, breathing soldier going about his rounds.  Then, when they had an acceptable crowd of witnesses, one of them ‘ambushed’ the corpse and stabbed it.  Thanks to some great performances on their part the witnesses all believed they had seen an overly dramatic murder.

The ruse worked.  The emperor’s daughter was returned safely, and before any war was declared the players revealed their deception to an officer of the rival nation, who was able to confirm that the body they stabbed was of someone who was already dead.  While there was some hard feelings of the use of one of their fallen that way, they managed to avoid the start of a world war.

Needless to say, my plans for a campaign darkened by this decision did not exactly work out after that.  It’s also not the first (or last) time my players would use “hire a bunch of prostitutes” as part of their plans.

Hope you enjoyed this little sidetrack.  If not, well, next week will be more WoT readthrough, promise!

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