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View Full Version : NEED HELP: City Subterfuge Encounter



Tim Proctor
2013-10-24, 05:37 PM
So I'm in need of some assistance in fleshing out this encounter. Here is what I have so far. If it matters its a 3.5 campaign.

Background: This is in an urban campaign (at this point at least) and the group keeps getting attributed with good things that they didn't quite actually do, and they have become pop icons with the poor (there are super massive slums in the city). They are supposed to meet with the City Council (the leaders) because of their rising fame.

I need help with the following:

1) An encounter where an informant tells the group (or a member of them) that they are being used by someone and that someone is promoting them within the city for nefarious means... but I can't figure out why other than as a diversion for something they are doing. I'm not sure how to even approach this social skill encounter.

2) An encounter where one member of the group is wooed by a very powerful local business person who is trying to get the group to run quests for him. He like the group is from the slums and wants to lessen the inequality within the city. He is male, the PC is female but its not a sexual/romantic wooing.

3) An encounter where the group meets the council and most of them think that the group is feigning weakness or lack of power while one thinks that they are actually the lower level (4) that they are. In this encounter I want that to come to light and have the Council agree to keep that information hidden and use the group to keep the slum populous in check by entertaining them.

4) The main background of the session will be that the group gets swept up into an underground war between three business tycoons which had the balance upset by the entrance of a fourth competitor (owned by the business man in 2, who is also orchestrating the war).

4a) An adventure where the group is explained the businesses (they are all legitimate but a byproduct of their alchemy is a drug, which is what the war is really over anyways). How do I get them introduced to this? My initial thoughts were to have the Council in 3 ask them to solve the issue.

4b) A combat based encounter with some of the thugs, what setting could make this memorable rather than just a dark alley?

4c) A puzzle, something the group has to solve so that they enter into a warehouse stocked with piles of the drug, and a dead illithid body (illithids haven't been introduced yet, but they are going to be doing illithid controlling stuff). I'm horrible with puzzles and can't think of anything fitting.

4d) An encounter where the group is caught in the crossfire between two groups of drug runners fighting.

5) Another combat based encounter but this time with agents of the government or government controlled illithids, who are attempting to destroy evidence, these are not the thugs but highly trained people.

6) Another encounter with the Business Man in 2 where he explains that while mapping out transportation routes in the undercity his agents came across a dead illithid and believes that hey are controlling members of the city, but he doesn't know who. I'd like to have some level of fail/success in this but don't know how to implement it.

So yeah I need help, cause I'm suffering from major writer's block when trying to figure this out.

Feo
2013-10-24, 07:15 PM
Eh, Ill try:

1. Soo is the promoting or the Information about the promoting the diversion?
If the Informant is presenting false Information, the Encounter should be about the PC finding out about it and ideally manipulating the untrustworthy source back.
If they actually are promoted within an evil organisation that alone should be enough to give your players pause.

2."Hey, I have this highly risky job for you which will net you a lot of money and also help the poor people in the city."
He may also wine and dine her in a fancy restaurant because thats what business-people do in movies, but most players do accept quests for money.

3.Do the PCs want/profit from the council not knowing their lack of strength? If so tell them (for example by using the informant from 1.) and give them a small chance to bluff the council.
If not (or you really don`t want the council deceived) simple have them find out using spies (or whatever) and gloss over this event or make it a role-playing only encounter.

4.They could be hired by any or all of the major players.

a.To me it would flow best, if they first encountered the drug then a labratory and then had it explained to them (if they haven`t figured it out already)

b. a graveyard (play up the creepiness and make them think undead), the restaurant from 2., a cathedral,a carnival or circus.

c.Illithid+drugs? Im thinking illusions/hallucinations.For example the illithid could not be dead but dying from overexposure to the drug and his uncontrolled powers plus the dust of the drug forces the players to fight the same monster (the illithid??) over and over again in a slightly "wrong" enviroment until they find the creature and end it`s suffering.
Or you could have them look for the warehouse using a modified Einsteins Logic Puzzle (http://www.begent.org/einstein.htm).[Replace Nationalty with businesses and cigarette,beverage and pet with kinds of trading goods, replace fish with drug].

d.Let them just stumble into it or have all three parties look for the same thing.

5.They have come to close to the truth;they are attacked by the elitepolice while they sleep.Think SWAT: Use alchemy or wizard to emulate the effect of flashbangs and smoke/gas grenades than try to kill them with brute force/ extreme firepower.

6.Using all resources at their disposal the players attempt to purge the illithid threat(if there really is one).They can alway just interogate/ask the coucilmembers.They may have/be able to aquire magic rituals or spells.If they have successfully deceived the council in 3. they should get a bonus. They can use the corpse from 4c. to learn more about illithid physiology and abillities.Maybe they even have a chance to capture it alive.

I hope at least some of this was somewhat helpfull.

Winds
2013-10-24, 09:40 PM
I don't have any particular ideas for detail on the social bits, but I second the thugs attacking in public. Having a largely social/political campaign suddenly broken by an outright, broad daylight kind of attack could really point out what kind of mess the party has stumbled into.

Ninjadeadbeard
2013-10-25, 02:19 AM
1) An encounter where an informant tells the group (or a member of them) that they are being used by someone and that someone is promoting them within the city for nefarious means... but I can't figure out why other than as a diversion for something they are doing. I'm not sure how to even approach this social skill encounter.

Watch some X-Files episodes. Then have a somewhat odd-looking fellow scurry from an alleyway and say, "Fame can be intoxicating, a smokescreen for the truth. The truth is out there. Watch the skies". He then ducks out and is never seen again, or maybe he is if you need a conspiracy-theory-nut.

EDIT: Have him sent by some sort of secret group who are fighting the Ithillid in secret, sort of a Shadow War fought between Ithillid and Something Else. In secret, the players are being used as cover for the Anti-Ithillids, hoping to catch their ancient foes in an ambush when the monsters try to eat the players one day.


2) An encounter where one member of the group is wooed by a very powerful local business person who is trying to get the group to run quests for him. He like the group is from the slums and wants to lessen the inequality within the city. He is male, the PC is female but its not a sexual/romantic wooing.

"Hey, babe, can I call ya babe? Yeah, hi. Name's Plutus Hader, you've heard of me. Please no applause. How I've got the deal for you! See I've heard about you guys and I gotta say, "Wow!" I mean, the way you [insert appropriate heroics here], inspired. I mean, inspired. Now, I know you're busy, so I won't waste yer time. People as capable as you are pretty hard to come by, I'm sure you know, so I'd like to be the first to offer you a most profitable venture I can't see someone as smart as you walking away from..."


3) An encounter where the group meets the council and most of them think that the group is feigning weakness or lack of power while one thinks that they are actually the lower level (4) that they are. In this encounter I want that to come to light and have the Council agree to keep that information hidden and use the group to keep the slum populous in check by entertaining them.

After the players arrive, a spy delivers the news about their non-heroics to the Council. When confronted, the players can bluff their way past the Spy's report. If successful, the Council begs their help in some matter. If not, the party is quietly informed that they can consider themselves "employed" by the City, and thus away from a vengeful mob looking to torch the false heroes.


4) The main background of the session will be that the group gets swept up into an underground war between three business tycoons which had the balance upset by the entrance of a fourth competitor (owned by the business man in 2, who is also orchestrating the war).

4a) An adventure where the group is explained the businesses (they are all legitimate but a byproduct of their alchemy is a drug, which is what the war is really over anyways). How do I get them introduced to this? My initial thoughts were to have the Council in 3 ask them to solve the issue.

First, buildup. Have the players notice addicts of this drug wandering the slums, or slumped down in the gutter. Whatever the drug does, make sure that it's hinted at by the state these people are in. Have someone offer to sell the players some "Stuff". Top it off with the players witnessing a minor crime that's tied in with the drug.

Then, if the players don't take the hint and investigate on their own, the Council charges them to investigate.


4b) A combat based encounter with some of the thugs, what setting could make this memorable rather than just a dark alley?

Is the fight an ambush? Have the thugs barricade one end of an alleyway (or collapse some debris there if in a hurry) and move in from the other. Bonus points if the thugs set the barricade on fire too! Then, ARCHERS EVERYWHERE!


4c) A puzzle, something the group has to solve so that they enter into a warehouse stocked with piles of the drug, and a dead illithid body (illithids haven't been introduced yet, but they are going to be doing illithid controlling stuff). I'm horrible with puzzles and can't think of anything fitting.

Well, however you get them to the warehouse and trying to get in, if the puzzle is to open the door, they'll most likely just thug the door down. :smallsigh:

Otherwise, once they enter, have it be a normal, everyday warehouse. Successful Search, Spot or Knowledge Architecture checks will reveal that the inside is too small for the outside. Further checking of various objects and/or bits of driftwood will reveal a lever that reveals the secret stockpile room and a dead Illithid, probably overdosed on his own stuff.


4d) An encounter where the group is caught in the crossfire between two groups of drug runners fighting.

As they walk past a building in the slums where an inordinate amount of security is present, some random guy on the street hauls out a Wand of Fireball and wrecks the whole building/block. As the blown-up guards try to regroup, they and everyone on the street are beset upon by assassins. The assassins will go after the party, but once the guards join in, the assassins will race off. If the players let them go (the guards will give chase), have some of the assassins fire back over their shoulders at the party.


5) Another combat based encounter but this time with agents of the government or government controlled illithids, who are attempting to destroy evidence, these are not the thugs but highly trained people.

The party is asked by a City guard to help with an investigation (the guard is a gushing fanboy). He leads them to the Warehouse with the dead Ithillid. His boss, a high-level Ranger doesn't like it, but by now the Players should have some clout with the Council, meaning they have jurisdiction. The Ranger lets them investigate a homicide, where something killed a guard and ran off. The party can track the creature (due to leaving a trail of blood) to the Warehouse, where 4C occurs. Once they find the body, the Ranger and a collection of guards walk in, pretty much declare that they are Bad Guys Now (hint at possession), and attack. The Fanboy Guard will come in partway through the fight and defend the party if they convince him to.


6) Another encounter with the Business Man in 2 where he explains that while mapping out transportation routes in the undercity his agents came across a dead illithid and believes that hey are controlling members of the city, but he doesn't know who. I'd like to have some level of fail/success in this but don't know how to implement it.

I'm beginning to wonder why are so many dead Ithillid in this damn city! :smalltongue:

The Ithillid has several things on his person, including a contact list. Its blood has destroyed all but one name, written in an alien tongue. Some Knowledge/Decipher checks later, and the party knows that the Ithillid was seeking out a minor Ward Boss (political officer meant to make sure the slums vote "correctly") or something similar, essentially a corrupt politician.

Whether he was working with the Ithillid or about to be contacted by them, is up to you.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Wing it with the social bits. Never let a single roll completely convince anyone of anything. A roll just means the player gained some small advantage in negotiations, or "won" on a single point. Use many rolls to sway conversation, and demand that players actually say what their characters say.

It sounds like the drug war between feuding businesses needs to be tied into the Council a little bit (some are corrupt and bought by the drug lords, or they are the drug lords). And it also appears to me that this city is a series of secret shadow wars on top of each other. Inter-Councilmen assassination attempts on top of a drug war raging in the city, mixed with an even deadlier more secret shadow war fought between Ithillids hoping to overthrow the city and rule it themselves and an order of some sort opposed to those goals.

This sounds rad!

Tim Proctor
2013-10-25, 10:32 AM
Thank you all for the input, I really appreciate it.

So with #1

1) An encounter where an informant tells the group (or a member of them) that they are being used by someone and that someone is promoting them within the city for nefarious means... but I can't figure out why other than as a diversion for something they are doing. I'm not sure how to even approach this social skill encounter.

I'm definitely trying to get a X-Files-eque feel to the adventure I have a player that made his character a Gnome Barbarian (surprisingly effective too) a conspiracy nut and is role-playing it fairly well.

The informant will be telling the truth and is legitimately trying to help them out. I'm thinking that he is from a secret-government organization named 'Black Cell' that was created years ago to protect the city at all costs from all foes foreign and domestic (just like off Swordfish), and they think the group is being used by the Illithids as a diversion. However, I don't want him to tell the group about the Illithids or anything, so what type of cryptic stuff would be good to throw in?


2) An encounter where one member of the group is wooed by a very powerful local business person who is trying to get the group to run quests for him. He like the group is from the slums and wants to lessen the inequality within the city. He is male, the PC is female but its not a sexual/romantic wooing.

I so want to rip off the Hades speech, however not for this character but I'll do it for one of the other drug lords.


3) An encounter where the group meets the council and most of them think that the group is feigning weakness or lack of power while one thinks that they are actually the lower level (4) that they are. In this encounter I want that to come to light and have the Council agree to keep that information hidden and use the group to keep the slum populous in check by entertaining them.

One of the characters is a fame-whore and will do just anything for it, a complete showman, think Johnny Storm where they will stop to talk to people and sign autographs while the rest of the group is fighting. One of the others made a mistake in the first session that got hundreds of people killed and is trying to keep it a secret.

I think that I'll just have one of them the showman type challenge their power, have the wizard say he calculated it and its high, etc. and then have them explain that they want to group's help with their war on drugs and destroying the cartels and making public statements about why drugs are bad. This will introduce 4 fairly easily with a easy transition. What do people think?

As far as introducing the drugs, those have been introduced a couple sessions ago and I have two players whose character's are users/addicts. While one of them is extremely against the drug because she's trying to liberate the slums in a libertarian anarchist way. Also the conspiracy nut things the council created the drugs to keep the slums in check and pacified.


4b) A combat based encounter with some of the thugs, what setting could make this memorable rather than just a dark alley?

So I'm thinking that I'll have them check out a couple warehouses, the 1st will be nothing and they will fall down into a union meeting of henchpeople OR a poker game and fighting will just breakout, and the group will easily beat them up.


4c) A puzzle, something the group has to solve so that they enter into a warehouse stocked with piles of the drug, and a dead illithid body (illithids haven't been introduced yet, but they are going to be doing illithid controlling stuff). I'm horrible with puzzles and can't think of anything fitting.

I like them breaking into a vault or secure room, and then finding a drugged up Illithid that they have to fight. Any idea on stats for it? Guess I'll read Lord of Madness. I would like help with a puzzle sealing the room/vault.


4d) An encounter where the group is caught in the crossfire between two groups of drug runners fighting.

Its a sandbox style game so the order isn't quite important, I'll have them investigate another warehouse but this time they will see the henchpeople sneak in and henchpeople guarding and a fight. I like the idea of rogue with wands having the fight, I think fireball is a bit much but a lower level spell should work fine.


5) Another combat based encounter but this time with agents of the government or government controlled illithids, who are attempting to destroy evidence, these are not the thugs but highly trained people.

I like the idea of a swat type team bursting in with alchemical items, and I wont have the people marked with any forms of identification, but it'll be obvious that someone wants the group dead. What order of operations should the items (and what items) should they use?


6) Another encounter with the Business Man in 2 where he explains that while mapping out transportation routes in the undercity his agents came across a dead illithid and believes that hey are controlling members of the city, but he doesn't know who. I'd like to have some level of fail/success in this but don't know how to implement it.

There are only a few (maybe 5) Illithids in the city, and this city is used (2 million) they are trapped there because the city is on a demi-plane created to escape a war and the Illithids were part of the war forces infiltrating the city defenses and got stuck there.

I'd love more help, you guys are smarter than I am so I really appreciate it.