View Full Version : I've written myself into a corner.

2011-01-06, 04:51 PM
You ever have those games that drag on longer than you anticipate, so you start blurting out the first things that come to mind as long as everyone continues to be on the edge of their seat? Those games where you don't actually realize you have NO IDEA where to go with the plot the second the game ends?

With the next chapter of my campaign looming on Saturday, I've been drawing a blank for ways to turn a humdrum spur-of-the-moment set of events into something cool.

Here's the leadup. Go crazy.

- The players are on the hunt for artifacts that contain the souls of long-dead dieties. They haven't quite pieced that together just yet, they just understand talking magical items way above the power level for the campaign. To that end, I decided one was locked away deep in an ancient, crumbling forest keep, and the party arrives in the general region only to find small hamlets with big problems.

- I decided that, in addition to the primary campaign villain (a scrawny, rat-like shadar-kai messenger boy), I wanted to introduce a female 'sidekick' villain. This is because the party has expressed interest in going to the dwarven capital and having a night of wild drunken debauchery, and I thought it would be fun to play it like The Hangover (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hangover_%28film%29). One of the PCs waking up next to a campaign villain makes the list - so, I introduced Bianca, a shady spur-of-the-moment idea. In the 'building a villain' thread in my sig, Lord Vukodlak mentioned a criminal syndicate smuggling lycanthrope pelts, and that idea stuck with me. I decided she cut a deal with the orcish tribe to the north - not the specifics, but only the end result. They kidnap and bring her people from town, she turns them into werewolves and skins 'em alive. Then she got smart and released a few barely-alive lycanthropes into the forest around the city. They remember the brutal orcish kidnappings and strike back - so now the orcs can't leave their squalid hideouts, and are forced to continue working for Bianca, bringing her more people, so she'll bring them food and supplies to survive. They can't hunt, can't overwhelm the newly-changed superior predators that lurk in the wilds, waiting.

- Days and Nights in this campaign world last far longer than normal, what we'd consider to be weeks long. Night has just fallen, the lycanthropes will not be reverting anytime soon.

- The party has just busted into the last remaining orc stronghold, wiping them out left right and center to get back a batch of recently-kidnapped townsfolk. It's a makeshift...I don't know, temple/manor/thing. I wasn't very specific. There's kitchens and religious statues that pose riddles and stop time briefly. :smallsigh:

If this was your campaign, what logical moves would the orcs, the werewolves, and Bianca be taking? Also, I don't HAVE any werewolf minis, so I'd like to avoid a fight with them if possible.

Thanks, guys and gals. I know this one's a hard request.

2011-01-06, 05:08 PM
I'm sure this synopsis makes perfect sense to you, but I must admit it's a little difficult to follow. Perhaps snip out the details that aren't immediately relevant (like the god-gem metaplot).

If the villain is using the orcs as a resource, and the party is slaughtering them left and right, I'd imagine the villain will either retaliate (perhaps with assassins or mercenaries hired to stop the party by any means necessary) or seek to replace the orcs as a resource (by finding another group or tribe she can manipulate into performing the same service).

Another twist might be for a high-ranking orc (perhaps a chieftain of some kind) to explain their plight, and being impressed by the might of the heroes, implore them to free them of their indentured servitude in exchange for their undying loyalty.

If the werewolves are attacking the orcs in retaliation, and they catch wind of the heroes' efforts to wipe them out, they may seek to make allies of them, as well. It's unlikely, but perhaps the players can learn both sides of the story and unite the orcs and lycanthropes against Bianca, who is the cause of all their troubles.

2011-01-06, 05:10 PM
Well for one thing, she just found out that a PC. By it's very nature a powerful individual finds her attractive. If Judging from her dealings with the orcs she is tricky enough to use that to her advantage. Have her play damsel in distress, or something similar. Get the hero's to work for her. Maybe some of her lycanthropes know about her? And she needs protection?

As for the orcs. Have them run for it, or make a last stand. We can die here or we can take our chances with the wolves sort of thing.

The wolves should be wandering about in the area. If you really want to scare your PC's. Never have them attack the PCs. Just the orcs, and any bystanderrs in the area, maybe one of those townsfolk. That orc you were chasing? It's lying on the ground with it's throat torn out. You go away for a second to get the others and it's gone when you get back.

Have the wolves be the threat that they never see. Like sharks. On the land. Acid breath optional.

Or a better comparison the raptors from Jurassic park.

2011-01-06, 05:25 PM
Maybe the orcs knew about the artifact, but Bianca and rat-boy were unaware of the exact location. However, Bianca found out that the orcs did, in fact, know about the artifact. So she crafted her plan by striking the deal with the orcs, knowing that she would end up weakening their defenses by setting them free. They come to her for help again, and she gives them the supplies in exchange for the information as well as for more people. With the information, she hires a group of adventurers (which will end up opposing the PCs) to get it for her.

The orcs, realizing that they will be killed if they remain fighting, strike up a deal with the PCs. If the PCs can kill the remaining werewolves [yeah, yeah, you don't want to use them - just use different minis; I do it all the time], they'll let the villagers go, and tell them about the location as well. If the PCs refuse, they'll slaughter the villagers.

Just in case the PCs fight the orcs anyway, put some sort of document on the chief revealing the location of the ruins.

I don't know if this conflicts with any of your other plans, but it *might* work.

Grelna the Blue
2011-01-06, 05:42 PM
Sooner or later, there will be a fight with the werewolves. Or, at least, if there isn't, the players will be disappointed. Get ready for it.

If the lycanthrope-pelt smuggling scheme falls through (either because the lycanthropes kill enough of the orcs supplying the humans or because the market is saturated), perhaps the criminal ring will start smuggling other things. Perhaps hell-drugs, substances so addictive and damaging no one could lightly dismiss their distribution as a valid exercise of free will. Perhaps love philtres (lots of potential for shenanigans with PCs with that one).

Are the wandering werewolves the most dangerous monsters in the wilderness? If so, they may drive the lesser monsters out into civilized territory. If not, they might become co-opted (I've used a pair of weres as dryad cohorts in the past).

The previous posters' ideas about orcs are good.

Do these god-items leak side effects? That is, if there were an item containing the essence of a long-dead/sleeping god of murder, does the homicide rate go up around it? If so, you could have occasional random magical effects that induce mutation or temporary personality change in a radius around the item's location.

Finally, it verges on cliche, but is it already established that birth control was used the night the PC spent with Bianca? Because if not...

2011-01-06, 05:53 PM
Ah, the corners. How I love them.

It really depends on how many subtleties are going on that weren't apparent in the description. Those who posted before me had some good ideas.

If you're looking to simplify matters though, you can always have the party ripped from time and thrown into a puzzle dungeon, courtesy of one of those artifacts or statues. Perhaps when they come back, only one of the plot hooks is readily accessible. The others have moved on to different scenarios, giving you time to build with the many, many blocks you have.

2011-01-06, 05:57 PM
How about... say Bianca knew about, but knew the artifact would not work for her because she was chaotic (lawful weapon), and she wanted it to work. She would be linking up with local cults and enhancing them with undercover werewolves to enable her to work some sort of custom ritual that would make the artifact chaotic by producing a certain amount of chaotic energy and then using it in a grand ritual. The more of these rituals were stopped the longer it would take.

She'd also know something about the artifact, so she may try to use the adventurers to retrieve it.

So the adventurers would be faced with abductions, weird orgistic cults, attempts to convert them, murder mysteries where people had vanished somewhere, towns where everyone seemed a bit off, and there would be a number of cultic dungeons they could fight through. This interference means you'd have something happening relating to the background plot whatever else was going on. That's what you really need- some grand goal for bianca.

2011-01-06, 06:15 PM
Thanks, guys. You're all awesome.

2011-01-06, 06:17 PM
You've got a plan then, I take it?

2011-01-06, 06:22 PM
Also, I don't HAVE any werewolf minis, so I'd like to avoid a fight with them if possible.

Print out pictures of werewolves and tape them to quarters.

Works well and looks professional.

Grelna the Blue
2011-01-06, 06:38 PM
Print out pictures of werewolves and tape them to quarters.

Works well and looks professional.

9 out of 10 GMs approve this message (okay, okay, only 7 out of 10).

2011-01-06, 06:42 PM
9 out of 10 GMs approve this message (okay, okay, only 7 out of 10).

And that's cause 2 of them think the quarters are a waste of time.

2011-01-08, 09:39 PM
Print out pictures of werewolves and tape them to quarters.

Works well and looks professional.



As for the story, it seems to me like, with the last orcish stronghold wiped out, Bianca needs a new bunch of werewolf slayers. Enter party, enticed by promise of wealth, or of wiping out the werewolves and saving the town, if that's more their style.

Or perhaps, without the orcs to keep them in check, the werewolves have decided to take their revenge on her, and she enlists the party as bodyguards by playing damsel in distress, possibly making up a story that the werewolves are after some magic item she possesses that will heighten the lycanthropic powers or bring about the end of the world or some such (really just a mundane ring or artifact with Magic Aura on it).

And that's when a charismatic werewolf leader shows up and explains his/her side to the players, forcing them to make a choice about who to trust. If Bianca has entered into a relationship with one of the party members, that might split the parties loyalties, leading to an interesting conflict (that can hopefully be resolved by discussion rather than PvP, though that depends on your group.)

2011-01-08, 09:45 PM
Frankly, you've got your answer right in your first post. The werewolves seem to be laying siege to the orcs. Now, your players are in the orcs' stronghold. Now they've got to get out through the lycans.

2011-01-08, 10:26 PM
I know you said you didnt want to have a fight using werewolves, but I cant help but think it would be cool to have 1-2 (or more) of the rescued villagers be infected but not yet turned, use them as ticking time bombs that will go off at the most inconvienent times.
Maybe have them infect another couple of the rescued villagers before they can be stopped.

2011-01-08, 10:32 PM
You could use anything to represent the werewolves. Lint even. Don't limit the monsters your players get to experience by which miniatures youve got! : )