View Full Version : Help working out a plot

2011-02-19, 10:49 PM
To preface this question, I should first explain that I tend to craft plots by coming up with the events and involved groups/individuals that lead into it, then figuring out from there how things will develop prior to the PCs' involvement. This time, however, there are so many options I'm kinda stumped for which way things would go.

The game I'm running is in D&D 3.5E Forgotten Realms, and the PCs are part of a colony expedition to a remote, unexplored island. The island is divided in half by a tall mountain range: The northern half where the colony was established is mostly plains, forest, and lush jungle; the southern half is much more arid due to a rain shadow effect from the mountains. There are natives - a homebrew race divided into two subraces: The Ghashky all live in a giant community secluded high in the mountains, and exile criminals to the arid southern side of the island; these exiles and their descendants are collectively called the Shu-Dashky, and are broken up into a bunch of tribes (see spoilered section below). Both groups worship a single power known only as "The Maker" (vaguely NG, more information available if people care). The PCs have made contact with both major groups, and have set up an outpost on the coast of the south half to trade with the Shu-Dashky tribes.

Tribe info:
Location: Desert west border area
Attitude: Survivalist - They fight if they feel they have to, but life's harsh enough without being at war with another tribe. Suspicious of anyone outside Snake tribe, they do have relatively peaceful relationships with nearby tribes (at least as far as those tribes will allow). In 4E terms, Unaligned.
Relationship: Friendly, trade active

Location: Surrounding large forest
Attitude: Territorial, aggressive, expansionist - One of the largest and most powerful tribes, partially due to the rich resources afforded by the forest. They claim any territory and resources they can lay their hands on, but are especially eager to control the entire southern forest. They also will often send out raiding parties against their neighbors (particularly Grass Tribe), both for resources and to expand their territory. For several generations now, they've completely surrounded the southern forest, effectively laying siege to Deep Root Tribe, with neither side able to make lasting headway against the other. Overall alignment basically Neutral Evil, leaning towards Lawful Evil.
Relationship: Not encountered yet

Location: Scattered nomadic bands, the greatest concentration of which lies near the mountains
Attitude: Genocidal - Basically, a cult of violent fundamentalists, some of whom willingly left the Ghashky community because they felt that exile was too good for criminals. Anyone they encounter that's not part of their group, they try to kill without mercy. For this reason, all other tribes, upon seeing them, will shoot first and ask questions later. Very definitely Lawful Evil.
Relationship: Hostile

Location: Deep desert, moving as they need to.
Attitude: Aggressive, quasi-nomadic - Scorpion Tribe's relationship with other tribes tends to waffle between "uneasy truce with some trade" to "raid other tribes for what we want". Right now, they're more of the latter. Other tribes tolerate them for a combination of reasons: their intermittent peacefulness, the fact that wiping them out would be difficult and costly, and the fact that wiping them out would involve either killing or kidnapping lots of noncombatants - something Snake, Stone, and Grass Tribes would find repugnant. Inconsistent overall alignment, varying from Unaligned to Chaotic and/or Evil.
Relationship: Hostile, raiders

Location: In the foothills of the mountains, and maybe some elsewhere (if they can access resources and bedrock)
Attitude: Survivalist, pious, cautious but friendly - Generally less serious offenders and their descendants, Stone Tribe's culture is far closer to that of the Ghashky than any other tribe. They tend to seek redemption, out of a sort of sense of inherited guilt - sort of the island equivalent of Catholics. Generally keep themselves to themselves, but are friendly enough to visitors (other than Maskers - friendly, not suicidal). All of their settlements are dug into bedrock, leaving them both well-sheltered and defensible. Overall alignment Lawful Neutral leaning towards Good.
Relationship: Not encountered yet

Location: Desert east border area
Attitude: Survivalist - A lot like Snake Tribe, but separate (and thus more trusting of other Grass Tribe members than outsiders).
Relationship: Peaceful, trade active

Location: Center of large forest
Attitude: Territorial, pious/druidic - In something of a case of parallel cultural evolution, Deep Root Tribe has ended up a lot like forest elves: Isolated, close to nature, and violent towards interlopers. They boast a large number of forest druids, and this connection to (and control over) nature helps them push back Strangling Vine's incursions time and again. Overall alignment True Neutral to Lawful Neutral.
Relationship: Not encountered yet

Location: In and around smaller forest
Attitude: Highly variable - Sunset Forest is a tribe in name only. Unlike Strangling Vine, who are united in their struggle for control of the southern forest, Sunset Forest is composed of numerous extended families, bands, and subtribes, most of which engage in a constant struggle with each other for larger shares of the western forest's bounty. Truces and alliances form and dissolve, and groups merge and split on a regular basis. Those groups that find themselves unable to hold a section of forest are often pushed out into the surrounding savannah, where they often survive as raiders while trying to grow in number and power in order to push back into the forest. Alignment varies, but Unaligned, Chaotic, and/or Evil are generally more common than TN, Good, or Lawful.
Relationship: Not encountered yet

So, that's where things stand prior to the events I'm planning. The plot starts with Strangling Vine tribe finding two things around the same time: First is an iron deposit - resources are quite scarce on that side of the island, so suddenly being able to produce a lot more steel weapons and armor is a major tactical benefit. Second is a new patron - the settlers' presence has drawn the gods' attention to the island's native inhabitants, and what self-respecting deity would ignore potential converts? Since Strangling Vine hasn't previously been particularly pious, they were ripe pickings. Newly emboldened by their freshly-forged weapons and increased access to divine magic, they pose a far greater threat than ever before.

Now, to the questions:
- Who should I use as their new patron? My first thought is Bane, pushing them to conquer and dominate, but I've used Banites as villains in prior games, so I'm leery about reusing him. Other possibilities that seem like they'd match well: Garagos, Grumbar (long story), the Red Knight, Tempus, possibly Set.
- Would Strangling Vine start by trying to conquer their longtime rivals Deep Root to gain increased resource access and avoid getting caught between a rock and a hard place, or would they pick the low-hanging fruit (i.e. conquer the neighboring tribes) first to build their strength and numbers for the push inward?
- How would the other tribes react? Obviously they won't be very happy, but would they try to fortify and hold their ground, move away to somewhere ostensibly safer, consolidate forces with other tribes, or what?
- How should I introduce this to the party the next time they visit their trading outpost? Vague rumors that Strangling Vine has gotten more aggressive lately, solid rumors, or perhaps news of a Deep Root messenger that managed to slip out to seek help from other tribes?

Apologies for the massive wall-of-text, and thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions/invective/etc.