View Full Version : Plotline development

2011-05-03, 04:03 PM
I'm currently working on a plot for a campaign I'm starting this summer and would love some community feedback. Members of my campaign (Pat, Corey, Mitchell, etc) can stop reading now.

Relevant info on the campaign setting:
The D&D pantheon is split into the four Primal Gods that wrought the world (Pelor, Heironeous, Hextor, and Obad-Hai) and are widely worshipped and the Terran Gods, who were created by humanity's needs and less widely worshipped. Racial deities do not exist.

The world is covered with ley lines, which extend anywhere from a few feet to around the entire prime meridian and surge with magical power. Their intersections, nexuses, explode with magical potential, either sucking away magic around them or spewing it out into the surroundings, to the point that the area immediately around them is inhospitable to life. Dwarves have built foci atop most of the ones that can be reached that channels away this energy and makes the land around them habitable. The players begin in Doria, capital city of the Holy Croethan Empire, devoted to Heironeous, in the northeastern region of the continent. To their south is the hobgoblin nation Horagg (venerates Hextor), with whom they have a tense truce. To their west, the epicurean orc nation of Gromarsh (venerates Obad-Hai), with whom they have a long-standing peace.

My campaign begins shortly after the close of a war with Horagg that killed the brother of a high-ranking (and extremely vindictive) bishop of Heironeous. The bishop, inconsolable and outraged at his brother's death, is doing his best to reignite the war so he can have vengeance. When the Empire refuses, the bishop becomes gradually unhinged, plotting both to punish the Croethan Empire and to have his vengeance on Horagg's leadership for their crimes. He becomes the villain of the campaign, conspiring against the countries and eventually the entire region to quench his lust for vengeance. He seeks first and foremost to resurrect his brother if such an opportunity could arise, but as his body has been lost and (unbeknownst to him) burned, no cleric in the nation is powerful enough to revive him.

My players have a request that I haven't met, however. They're looking for a campaign with a magical feel to it, specifically a powerful and mysterious artifact influencing things, something this plot doesn't really provide. I'm trying to formulate something magical that would let the bishop resurrect his brother, but everything I come up with just seems like a giant macguffin.

Basically, I'm looking both for criticisms and potential subplots to go alongside this story, but I'm mostly looking for ideas or just springboards to ideas to give this campaign an arcane spin. If you have anything to contribute, please post. Nothing is worthless when I'm in brainstorming mode.

2011-05-05, 09:32 AM
Could any of the nodes have been lost or had a city built on top of them? If so, have one start to fail or even fail dramatically to give yourself lots of options.

A group wants to fix the problem and engages the party.
A group wants to help it along/control it and engages the party.
The leak causes people to change.... They acquire interesting, minor SLA's, you get the opportunity to use wild magic and fey templates, etc.
The above changes could be slow, or fast enough that it effectively creates a new race that has to find its way in the world.
The bishop was there when the node failed, and now he has new magical powers that shift the balance.

2011-05-07, 08:40 AM
I like this idea. A broken-apart nexus would also lead into a very big plot twist I have waiting for my players about the nature of the ley lines.
I think with that lead-in I can really bring the players into the campaign, establish the villain as closer to evil (corrupted by his powers) than the vengeful good he was before, since my players aren't great with gray morality, and set things up for the twist. Thanks a lot.

For those intrigued, the plot twist (will probably come across as pretty cliche'd):
The ley lines are essentially bars of a prison. When the Primal Gods forged the world, they scratched the lines across the land as a way of holding in the souls of the dead. Upon death, souls are pulled into the center of the world, an enormous furnace of life energy, rather than sent to their rightful afterlife. The furnace fires forth their energy from the nexuses as arcane power, where wizards and sorcerers use the ambient energy to power their spells, but the excess is used directly by the gods for unknown ends. Nexuses are essentially cracks in the furnace's structure where energy moves in or out to correct the balance, and thus anyone who survives long enough to see the center of a nexus can view the furnace itself.
Dwarves are aware of the furnace, but see it as a cycle of rebirth rather than the soul-fueled generator it is. It is an extremely closely-guarded secret, considered a part of their cloistered religion, in their community.
Resurrection is possible, but difficult, as retrieved souls have already had some of their life burned away (XP loss). However, there are no spellcasters in the world powerful enough to resurrect the dead at the moment (Raise Dead doesn't exist, only Res/True Res work).

2011-05-21, 10:35 AM
One idea I have is that the Bishop is becoming a Geomancer, (A theurge sort of prestige class that has prestige classes involving certain area's) He wishes to make one of the world's Ley lines as a favoured area and use it as a power source for a powerful spell that would revive his brother, but it would also release this magical energy inside the furnace which would tear the world apart from the magical energy.
The Magical item could be an orb with an Imprint of a powerful mage from history that knows how to create the spell.