View Full Version : A Little Help with the alternate route to an adventure?

Dr paradox
2011-04-05, 11:13 PM
Hallo, I'm writing a personal adventure pertaining to a half orc in my campaign, and I've sort of hit a snag.

I'm trying to plan out ome basic branches to the story, starting with an attack on the party in which a band of orcs tries to capture said half orc as the party rests, en route to their next Act in the campaign. depending on what happens, the party can go three different ways:

1. the orcs succeed in capturing Mord (the half orc), and the party follows the orcs back to their location. Mord tries to escape on his own, but winds up at the mercy of his orc father's former rival. the party bursts in at the crucial moment, they have themselves a good fight, with the rival and Mord going head to head, and then they ride off into the sunset with a nifty flaming longspear.

2. The party beats off the orcs, interrogates the survivors, and then decides a cave full of bloodthirsty and vengeful humanoids isn't worth the danger, and to just get as far away from there as possible. (perfectly legitimate, encounter works as foreshadowing for a later adventure)

3. (here's the tricky one) the orc don't succeed in capturing Mord, and the party traces them back to their lair to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The problem is, I'm not surer how to frame that last one. there's a good thirty orcs in a small cave system, so fighting them all at once will be tricky to say the least.

also, the matter of their goal seems a little unclear. I mean, this isn't completely a ruthless band of pillaging savages, this is the survivors from a devastating attack on their clan hiding out in the midle of a blasted wasteland. Going in guns blazing will likely get them killed, and if not will probably leave the party at the site of a massacre.

Finally, it's harder to orchestrate the confrontation between the rival and Mord if the party intends to storm the caves all at once.

any suggestions would be appreciated, but there's not much of a rush at the moment. Thanks!

2011-04-06, 01:05 AM
Could Orcs in your campaign have a sort of combat ritual that necessitates ``even numbered'' combat, that Mord could invoke to get at the leader?

Eg, the PCs arrive at the cave network, and announce that they are invoking the right of ritual combat, Hsk'thu, and they challenge the leader and his 10 best warriors to ceremonial combat, to the death.

Success leaves the orc clan headless, sure to be mopped up by the local militia, OR gives rise to a new vengeful villian that now has a grudge against the entire party, for perceived underhanded combat (especially if history checks / skill challenge fails to note one or two more subtle parts of ceremonial combat). Your option.

Failure will need an escape plan... The orcs determine that the they violated the Hsk'thu, and it is better for them to live in eternal shame for this, or should be enslaved and sold off, or, you can have some fun with magical rituals that bind the souls of the defeated to wake up in a nether prison that they must subsequently escape from (which could make them legends among orcs, which would put interesting powers at the PCs disposal at the paragon level..) In fact, this last one lets the villian be recurring. even though he is defeated, he finds escape from the nether realm by making the typical pact with a demon, etc etc

2011-04-06, 09:35 AM
Drop a hint after the failed abduction scene, like a note on a body of who exactly is responsible (bbeg) and maybe a map of the caves.

Then run it as a skill challenge for them to sneak in, kill the leader and get out. I like the idea of your group running through the tunnels out while a growing mob of bad guys is chasing them. All in all, 1 skill challenge to sneak in, 1 boss fight and then another skill challenge to get out (with the sword, which they can loose if they fail too hard)

Galdor Miriel
2011-04-06, 10:07 AM
Aren't 3 and 1 the same? In1 you have them fight the orcs in the lair with Mord a captive who breaks free, in free they simply fight the orcs in the lair. No difference.

2011-04-06, 10:10 AM
I'd encourage going with the story angle but to do this you need to discourage your PCs from attacking the orcs on sight.

Since this is simply a group of survivors the easiest way to do this is give them humanity. Add women and children to the mix. Make the orcs seem very relatable when the PCs scope the place out. Maybe they see a couple orcs guarding the entrance, joking and laughing. An orc woman comes out and gives one mild affection while a couple children visit the sentries as well.

This, of course, assumes you have a group that won't just kill on sight. It also assumes orcs aren't 100% evil in your campaign.

Dr paradox
2011-04-06, 10:11 PM
I'm assuming that Orcs aren't basically nothing but heartless killing machines, at least not among their own people, so the women visiting the guards would work to keep them from attacking on sight, or even just making them look bone weary and hungry. my party tends to err on the side of compassion (once decided against murder of a captive, even though it cost them time in saving the town)

The idea of ritual "trial by combat" is nice, except Mord would have no way of knowing it. he grew up around a HUMAN village, with little to no contact with orcs aside from killing the time-ghost-memories of some of them (long story.)

A skill challenge to get in and assasinate the leader is also intriguing. what sort of skills would be involved in that? and how could a failure not result in the whole lot of them being alerted to intruders?

Thanks for the input, guys, I really appreciate it.

(P.S. cool idea about the nether prison. a little long term for the party to be trapped in, since I'm trying to get them to the next part of a larger story, but cool for a "no prison can hold me" fate for the villain.)

2011-04-07, 12:03 AM
Skill challenge to infiltrate and assassinate is tricky for the exact reason you mentioned... it's hard to have the adventure going forward on failure, because this is the problem we are trying to solve : )

Of course, if they are caught, the party could be forced to participate in the ritual combat, because the big bad orc wants to prove his worth to the survivors, see prior post ;)

As far as associated skills:
Acrobatics could allow them to balance-walk through a hole in the orc's defensive scheme

Athletics to reach alternate routes

Bluff: create a believable distraction, see Streetwise

Diplomacy: Useful for a first-failed check, they're discovered by less militant orcs and they talk their way out of it

Nature: They are in caves, eh! Also can be used outside to reason out patrol routes the orcs are likely to use

History: Were these caves historically held by a different group, that were defeated in a certain way?

Insight: Overhear a group of orcs arguing, and intuit which direction they are likely to head

Perception: Notice that one guard that might have seen you if you moved too soon! Or that tripwire trap, or..

Religion: Typical location of orc ceremonial altars, and ritual schedules (quite useful for planning an assassination, if you know where the leader will be!)

Stealth: Hmmmm :) Probably best used as a group check, with the party sneakster being able to use it as a primary skill to scout ahead.

Streetwise: Have you heard rumors of tradegoods these survivors need? Great way to bluff your way in, by posing as merchants seeking to haggle with the leader.

Thievery: Disable basic alarms, or (combined with nature) set some cave traps for the leader, given sufficient time.

So...pretty much every skill can be used in some way.

2011-04-07, 08:30 AM
Skill challenge to infiltrate and assassinate is tricky for the exact reason you mentioned... it's hard to have the adventure going forward on failure, because this is the problem we are trying to solve : )

Of course, if they are caught, the party could be forced to participate in the ritual combat, because the big bad orc wants to prove his worth to the survivors, see prior post ;)

Failure doesn't mean they have to be caught, they can be hindered however.

Hindering can mean any other combination of negative effects, such as:
- They are surprised by the BBeG instead of the other way around
- Costs them X surges before having their battle
- Have them start the fight at lower Hps
- Party member gets lost and only arrives at last battle 1-2 "late"
- Loss of gear
- Declare that since they had to have a few fights during the "sneak" phase that they can all pick one encounter power which needs to be considered "used"
- etc

Any of these (or all if you are very evil) will make that last combat harder.

That's what I love about skill challenges, failing them can make things very challenging indeed...