View Full Version : My campaign is stuck, need ideas

2012-08-26, 03:19 PM
I've had a serious writers block for the last two weeks and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how the story should continue. I'm trying my hand at writing a 'filler' adventure that moves the story along before I get to a larger published adventure (such as Red hand of Doom, etc). Here is what I have.

1. Players are going after cultists that they have been told will infiltrate the politics of a large country.
2. Players find cultists assembling a large machine (a la. Caositech) of unimaginable power.
3. The leaders of the cult are already ingrained in the political system, and using many magical items, easily bluff/diplo/intimidate their way into key positions.
4. The Players were captured at one point by the cult, so the cult knows who they worked for and their task. The cult assassinated their quest giver and also, using those same magical items, disguised themselves as the players. The players had their identity stolen.
4b. The players have met the leader of the cult, but under disguise. This leader befriended them and asked to track down a specific cultist (as a fool's errand).
5. The players are being framed and now have the town guards after them. They are also mistrusted by the public because of the impersonators (ie. they steal something while masked as the players).

There are several tasks the players need to do:
1. Find the people impersonating them.
2. Discover the leader.
3. Disarm the machine.
4. Clear their name.

Anyway, I think I have set up a decent atmosphere to keep my players engaged, the problem is that every time I put pen to paper, I cannot find a decent climax to the story. I'm missing setting, purpose, pretty much everything but the BBEG (political infiltrators).

2012-08-26, 04:03 PM
The players don't have to find the impostors if they set the impostors up for an ambush.

The players need to make the cult think they have a new sponsor, or a new ally who can help them neutralize the magic devices the cult has been using.

The cult will send the impostors to kill the new sponsor/ally, only to find the party waiting for them.

Hopefully, the impostors they capture will be able to tell them where the leaders are.

Now you just have to get your players to think of it.

2012-08-26, 06:53 PM
There are several tasks the players need to do:
1. Find the people impersonating them.
2. Discover the leader.
3. Disarm the machine.
4. Clear their name.

Ok well it seems to me that "1. Find the people impersonating them" should be the key starting point.
As the find their impersonators this should reveal info about where/who the leader is and how to disarm the machine. The impersonators should all be doing things key to the final "use" of the machine.

Maybe have one of the impostors trying to assassinate a person of influence. PC's save the person. They then get an ally of influence to help clear their name.

Anyway... In true cinematic fashion, the whole thing should culminate with the leader trying to use the machine in the presence of a group of the powers that be (Dukes and Kings and stuff)so he can gloat. The group needs to swoop into save the day.
Influential ally helps rally the masses in the PC's name to stop the cult. Bad guys die, PC's names get cleared and they get back to being hero's.

or something like that.

2012-08-26, 07:03 PM
"I'm missing setting, purpose, pretty much everything but the BBEG"

I like to discuss things a bit with my players now and again. How do they see it? What would they like to do? What do they know, what would they like to find out?
Anyway, it seems to me you need to work these things out. Find out what you want to accomplish first.

If you're really stuck, blow past it. Have the cult set off their bomb (or whatever it is), and deal with things from there. The cult may break in two over something real or something petty and become vulnerable, either through factionalim or just a single traitor.

2012-08-26, 07:27 PM
Where are the Player's Characters right now? Under lock and key or roaming about? If their still imprisoned then do a break out session and get them back to their base of operations, if their on the fools errand have them complete it and get back home or to another safe place. Point is by the end of the next session or two get them to a good stopping point but then have them plan your campaign for you, have them decide if they should attack the machine or hunt down the imposters first and write next weeks adventure based off their decision repeat the process until their are few enough plot threads that you want to throwdown the boss or let them take the fight to the Cultists in the End.

2012-08-26, 07:55 PM
Much more interesting if the pcs find evidence of who is after them, possibly via a helpful npc (turncoat/scared witness/political rival). Have all the evidence the pcs have amassed wither away under speculation, however leaving them a stone's throw away from understanding of what is going on. Tempt them. Offer to clear the pcs name if they leave and never return. Make it clear that the law is not on their side and they are wanted fugitives and that nothing good will come of opposing the cultists.

Give them lots of choices and consequences. Do the pcs have anyone dear to them in the city? Are they involved? If the pcs accept the easy way out, would the bad guys "try make sure" (hostages/assassination).

If the pcs defeat the coven, mb the mastermind was distanced from the affair and will now secretly plot vs the pcs. Is he able to hide evidence or further implicate the pcs? Mb the cultists were simply a cell following much bigger plans....

I don't dm high fantasy much :smallsmile:

2012-08-26, 08:10 PM
Anyway... In true cinematic fashion, the whole thing should culminate with the leader trying to use the machine in the presence of a group of the powers that be (Dukes and Kings and stuff)so he can gloat. The group needs to swoop into save the day.
Influential ally helps rally the masses in the PC's name to stop the cult. Bad guys die, PC's names get cleared and they get back to being hero's.

This is what I came in to suggest. If there's a big machine, it needs to get set off/almost set off. What do the PC's talk about when they are planning? You can provide us with a good summary, but PCs are notorious for not having the same understanding of the plot as the DM.

You don't have to have everyone be hostile to the PCs, the impersonators might have hired a two-bit criminal for a supporting role. Then he can see the real PCs and talk to them in friendly terms while looking for more work. If they are smart this can be a nice lead.

At a guess, they need more clues. Pull together a few ideas from this thread and send them hook after hook until they bite on something and start resolving stuff.

2012-08-28, 10:50 PM
If you need to give the players a kick in the proverbial pants regarding finding their imposters, you could have a group of assassins hired by the cult try to eliminate them, with said assassins holding a clue to the whereabouts of said imposters.

It's like I always say; When in doubt, ninjas.

2012-08-29, 12:41 AM
Use one of your old adventures, but give everyone beards.

Kitten Champion
2012-08-29, 04:25 AM
It's an evil cult, but a cult of what? They probably worship some abominable meanie-pants god or demon... or have something equally wicked in mind. D&D cults are rarely so gracious to be the kool aide drinkin' nihilists types.

So they take out the imposters, identity theft being evil and all, but they need to keep them alive to demonstrate their innocence to the reasonable authority figures -- after some encouragement they reveal the true motivations behind the organization. Whatever that may be.

So, our daring protagonists bring their evil alternates to the local police for justice, where they reveal to the chief the cult's whole dastardly plan, but oh noez~! The police chief is in on it. He has the alternates killed (kicking a couple puppies along the way) in private and after learning that none but they know of the super-evil scheme, attempts to execute them then and there. Of course they escape, how could they not? But they're friendless in the world and with the police on their tail, they and they alone can stop the evil plan. Whatever it may be, something about a machine summoning a god would be ironically appropriate for an ending.

So, cunning as they are, our stalwart heroes devise a plan to sneak into the cultist secret base by using the same magical deceptions items the evil alternates used, in an attempt to shut off the super evil machine for justice -- but dear god no! They're discovered! The cultists have abjuration magical devices or their devices simply run out of power. Fortunately for them, almost everyone's been called to the evil meeting hall for the crowning moment of evil. So after some fighting with guards and such, they break into the evil hall where they find evil cultists falling over dead in order to power the evil super-machine (with soul power or blood sacrafice or something), and the evil leader laughing maniacally. As evil leaders often do. In a few minutes the evil plan with be complete and only killing the leader will break the operation ('cause*). But now he's surrounded by competent guards and possibly several monsters who are not of a pleasant disposition even on their days off. The protagonists soldier on, killing the leader through awesomeness. Obviously though, that soul energy has got to go somewhere. An explosion is imminent, with certain death being slightly less imminent but still close in relative chronological terms. The heroes dash away or find some clever means of not being made dead.

The explosion isn't the end, there are no ends.

Your characters find that in the wake of the explosion the undead have started popping up everywhere and the kingdom is experiencing some serious technical difficulties -- and the evil police chief & company are after our heroes for their meddling. Unbeknownst to all, the new BBEG was released on that day, in spite of everything. Though it's only a shell of whatever impossibly terrible thingy it once was. That's going to change though, change bigtime.

Well, that's how I would write it.

2012-08-29, 05:08 AM
Your players have to be able to turn the tide whether it be getting their characters disguised or having some alternate characters to function out in the open since they can't.

The real question is what can they do?

Everything you've mentioned has indicated there isn't anything they can do directly but perhaps they could research the artefact and learn of a means to counter it?

Do your players have a chance of succeeding at this stage?

Its far too easy to make things impossible from what you mentioned and you haven't mentioned anything about the characters which might provide an insight as to where you could lead this campaign towards.

2012-08-30, 02:05 AM
Identify the leader would be the best move. They discover s/he is much higher and more powerful than they thought.

From there, they would form an underground resistance movement from those who the leader has wronged or disenfranchise, as well as higher ups to oppose the leader and the downtrodden peasants. Que the civil war, which ends with the party infiltrating the BBEG's castle during a siege and taking him down just in the knick of time to stop the machine from dooming the world.

Unless they party dies or something.