My group was getting a bit tired of the slow pace of getting really good. I think they missed the heroic aspects of typical brand X RPGs.
So one night I surprised them by telling them to put away their old sheets. All they would need tonight was dice, a pencil, and the blank sheet of paper I gave them.
Four characters awoke in a clearing dressed only in essentially their underwear. (Do folks in Harn wear underwear?) They didn't know each others names, in fact they didn't even know their own name. There was a pile of clothes, armor and weapons. After trying on clothes/armor and getting the feel of weapons, (lots of dice rolling) they came to an agreement on who got what. Clearly one of them was a fighter and one, the only woman, someone one did not want to meet in a dark alley. The only clothes that fit the tall man with lots of burn scars on both arms was a robe and hat. The fourth man had a cloth uniform of sorts with places that clearly had patches of rank removed. He had a large ugly mace that felt really good in his hand.
I had in my folder the character sheets for the group, a Navehan assassin, an ex-knight, a Jmorvi Shenava, and an Agrikan priest from the Mamaka Order. Each had their major skills in the high 80's. What they didn't know and didn't find out for more than a year of playing, was that they had been hired to assassinate the Earl of Tormau. The Council of Eleven decided to intervene and did some nasty memory wipes. The mage in charge of that area, Seralyn, an advisor to the Earl, was loath to outright kill, and so decided to leave them in the Peran woods. If someone else killed them, that wasn't her problem. The group had no idea at all where they were.
My style of GMing is to allow the characters to go wherever and attempt whatever they want. So I frequently find myself winging it, something I enjoy doing. The group found the road to Kustan and turned that way. Some encounters with local tribesmen taught the players that their skills were quite high. " Roll to hit." "Damn, 86." "Roll location." "I hit with an 86? Damn!"
A few sessions later they decided to try the other direction and eventually found them selves at Tormau. As luck would have it, (they picked it, not me) the inn they stayed at was also the local Lia Kavair home and the assassin was recognized. About this time I was tired of having to keep track of their character sheets so I gave them out, but without names or background. They did some work for the local Lia Kavair and word got out that they were quite good. The Earl, who let the that group alone as they did work for him, got seriously interested and hired them to assassinate the Earl of Ithiko. It took two sessions of planning and investigating to come up with a plan. The players did a real good job and things started to fall into place for them. They found Seralyn helpful but really hated her superior bemused attitude towards them. She, and of course the Council of Eleven, didn't care if they killed the Earl of Ithiko. Everything worked out except for an unfortunate roll of a d6.
At a large tournament at Ithiko, the fighter, who was very skilled with bow, was just forty yards from the Earl who was sitting behind a banner with his coat of arms. He turned and fired at the Earl. A hit, but not a critical. He aimed dead center, the roll indicated the shot was a bit low. I ruled that 1,2,3,4 would be in the chest or upper stomach, 6 would be through the banner and into the groin, but 5 would be into the wooden bar supporting the banner. After rolling a 5, bad rolls ruled the day. I made up all sorts of things that would allow the fighter to get away, but one shouldn't depend on Agrikan priests for miracles. In the end the fighter didn't survive. Damn, I really hate that.
The player got a new character, a heavily tattooed Kubora, and the group decided to move on. Seralyn had many contacts that could use their services and after a year or so they found themselves working for the Council of Eleven as a black ops group. The Agrikan priest wasn't welcome in Melderyn and the Kuboran got a bad case of homesickness and was replaced by a Savoyan mage. The players, however were the same four.
If there's any interest, I can sketch out some of the jobs the Eleven gave them to do.
Let us go then, you and I...