View Full Version : Tribal Mediation - Non Combat Encounter

2010-09-10, 10:05 AM
Hello all,

I was hoping to get some help with this situation and come up with an amazing role-play situation with multiple possible outcomes.

The light details are that the players have been working to restore water to a desert world via an ancient magical artifact and now, at 10th level, they finally have completed the first major part. This will create a lake, larger than any other body of water on the planet which will in turn be a resource that may create conflict.

Luckily, the party will arriver at the lake before much of the world learns of its existance. However, when they arrive, I plan on two nomadic tribes being there already. These two tribes are completely opposed to each other and have laid claim to the lake siting different reasons.

One tribe is truely nomadic and wants the land to graze animals and not to be settled. Their previous grazing lands have all been taken by settlers and they have been forced into exile. Their cultural beliefs discourage them from settling down.

The other tribe wants to settle the land, build and protect the water source from bandits, raiders and slavers who travel the wastes. Their reasoning is that by occupying the water source, they prevent those who could use the water source for evil from having it. They promise that the nomadic tribe will always be free to come and have their herds graze.

In the past on this world, this same thing has happened previously and the nomads are always sent packing. Slavers and raiders send spies in with nomadic tribes or disguise themselves as tribes to attack settlements.

This has made the settlements paranoid and distrusting of outsiders and they tend to become introverted. Based on tradition, settlements offer three days shelter of food and water to travelers but it is most often in a segregated "jail" unless the traveler has someone who will vouch for them from within the city.

What I'm posting for and asking all of you is what else can I throw in this mess? I want this to be a non-combat encounter that involves problem solving, information gathering and the PCs making decisions with weight. How can I set this up? Any advice on something like this - I really haven't done anything like this in a campaign previously.


2010-09-10, 10:12 AM
Although it's more of a random thought than anything else: salt content in the water's too high, or other impurities. Creating the lake is one thing, but unless the artifact's also ensuring the water remains fresh and clear there's the problem of contamination.

Another random thought is that of ecology. If this is a desert world, that ecology won't spring to life by itself, it might need a helping hand along. Even large bodies of open water tend to evaporate pretty damn fast unless there's some form of greenery to tie the water into the land; it sounds ripped from Dune, but there are guys here in Australia who actually practice what they preach in that regard.

I don't have anything more particular in mind, but getting the lake to stay there could in itself expand your campaign as the heroes seek out natural (or quasi-magical) species of plants that can survive and adapt quickly to the new water environment. Have you got a druid in the party, perhaps? Or alternatively he could be your questgiver for this aspect of the campaign.

2010-09-10, 10:35 AM
Well, there's always the third and most evil route: Selling both tribes out to slavers who then take over the water source.

Really, you need to just play it by ear. Maybe may 4 or 5 different outcome based on what players do or attempt to do. In the end though, I find that trying to predict player behavior tends to be rather hard without leading them around by the nose.

Generally, you need to have one or two dissident voices in each group. Perhaps through a blessing or religious ceremony could both tribes be united. How about an arranged marriage of sorts? That way both tribes would be obligated to uphold their agreement. A "royalty exchange" of sorts could be possible, with the sons or daughters of the tribal leaders living with the other tribe for a period of time to cement the relationship. Ideally, you'd want both groups to get together, because once word gets out that there is a good water source, everyone will be all over it and it will lead to bloodshed... lots of it and both tribes will need all the help they can get.