View Full Version : Help with mcguffins

2013-02-21, 07:08 PM
Dear playgrounders, I have a campaign that I have been working on for several months and i have mapped out most of 20 levels of a pathfinder campaign. The campaign starts off with the players fighting in a multi front war while trying to hunt down the leaders of a cult manipulating the events, meanwhile there is a mad scientist helping each side by building more dangerous abominations combining magic and technology to raise the death toll. about half way through the campaign, the players will discover that the death gods that the cultist's worship are actually a race of advanced aliens who use the planet as a farm and routinely return to cull the civilizations. From that point the players will be focused on stopping this from happening at any cost.

I have decided that the Aliens cull the civilizations by allowing magic to exist on the planet. They have installed a power source that, as long as it is active, allows magic work. Each of the civilizations develops technology based on magic so once the magic ceases to function, any opposition on the planet would be powerless to fight back.

I have between 3 and 4 levels devoted to the players scouring the globe for mcguffins to stop this from happening as, if magic still works, they will have a chance.

I am just completely wracked for ideas as to what they could be. I know I want one to be hidden at the frozen north, and another to be hidden in a jungle. I have no inspirations for where the third is.

Any of my fellow playgrounders have any ideas as to interesting locations as to where to hide them, what they would be, or how the mechanics of them would work? Anything would be appreciated.

2013-02-21, 08:46 PM


Okay, I'm not one to judge, and I'm as down with shaking up tired genres, but the idea strikes me as strange. I might rework them a little, or at least don't use the word "aliens" to describe them. I suspect people who sit down to play a fantasy game will be a little resentful if they find it becoming a cyberpunk game halfway through.

However, I do rather like the idea of a global power manipulating worldwide events by controlling the presence of something as taken for granted as magic is. There was a TV series a while back who's premise was modern earth suddenly loses all electricity, and I was quite taken in by how they managed to wreck a premise with such potential.

Anyway, le macguffins.

Well, in terms of location, it seems you're already already off to a good start, with the whole "grasslands desert forest jungle ice world fire world boss, mm-cha mm-cha mm-cha mmm." (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/6695-Paper-Mario-Sticker-Star) By which I mean, it sounds like you're running through Super Mario 64. Which isn't a bad thing, but it's something everyone's probably seen. Try to mix it up a bit, and not just locations, but also how the world reacts to these things. Perhaps you could have one where a misguided tribe of Orcs see it as a god, and how exactly are the heroes supposed to tell them it isn't, if they receive their magics from it, and how exactly are the heroes supposed to convince them that some otherworldly creatures are trying to shut down their god no really we're here to keep it running please take your spears away from my face? Or perhaps one could be in a small dictatorship where the ruler who doesn't recognize its true power uses it to resurrect the dead for Mortal Kombat championships the heroes have to get through? And if you decide to stick with the "aliens" thing, why not stay true to your theme and put one on the moon? The moon is a major historical symbol that has been associated with magic before.

For more inspirations on environments, I highly recommend just going through your backlog of Nintendo games. Most of the things I've brought up so far have been inspirations from those. I particularly recommend Mario 64, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and Banjo-Kazooie 1&2.

And as for what they are, well. From your description, I believe that these things are supposed to be able to provide magic to the entire world, and the aliens cull the humanoids by occasionally turning them off? Well then, I'm sorry, but I cannot see these things as being small. I imagine a huge force of energy being culled by some ancient machinery. I remember a massive energy ball surrounded by ever-rotating metal circles, each one thick enough to easily walk across, from one room in Metroid Prime 2. Something like that. Then again, I'm not sure how you're supposed to defend something like that. Even if you camp out at one, the aliens can shut down the others and then lay siege to you. Hmm.

A few more questions that will inevitably brought up:

-How did these things get here?
-What do the gods think about having magic supplied by these things?
-Does divine magic still come from my diety?
-How screwed is my wizard if we can't stop them from shutting down?
-Oh dear, my character died. Hey, can I play as a defecting member of the alien race for my next character?
-Ooh, can I use this alien's weapon?

That's all I'll write for now. If this wall of brainsplosions has helped you in any way, let me know. I'll be glad to continue to help you bounce ideas around.

2013-02-21, 09:43 PM
Basically in my setting the aliens control all sources of magic, arcane and divine. However they need to manually activate and deactivate the sources, they cant do it remotely (or else the pcs would not have a chance). The Gods in this setting are the aliens, keeping the races focused on religious wars so that no civilization will become too powerful. The same source that controls arcane magic also controls divine so as long as the players can stop the aliens from cutting it off their powers will still work. That said if the bbeg succeeds, the game is over as all magic users would suddenly be useless. Being farmed would not make for a very fun campaign. Perhaps it is time I broke out the old N64

Side note: The moon is where the pcs will fight the final boss of the campaign. Already have that encounter/dungeon worked out.