View Full Version : Help with a story

2014-02-05, 10:30 AM
Okay, I'd like to ask for advice on what to do in a Pathfinder campaign I'm GM'ing for some of my friends. I've almost finished running them through an introductory adventure, and I need help deciding how I'm going to continue from here, i.e. what elements to include. I've provided a short summary of the world and the two story options below.

The world we're playing in is of my own invention, and doesn't have a name as of yet. Most of the action is going on in the player's home country, a kingdom named Aureys.
Short description of the country, it's a kingdom divided into 21 provinces, ruled by (in name only because of reasons) by a king and a roughly autonomous, corrupt court of nobles.
The main conflicts of the game itself (as of now) come from the machinations of the nobles, hostile enemy countries and secretive necromancers who try their best to achieve their very own undead army. Due to wars in the country's history as well as a few more deeply rooted reasons, undead in the game world are a huge taboo. Necromancers are usually killed on sight (as long as there is proof of it),

Long story short, the PC's have been roped into a spy organization/secret police working to keep the country itself safe from internal and external threats. I'm currently running them through an introductory arc to the world itself, explaining the workings of the world to them as they work through a series of jobs I've given them.

So then, what I'm asking for is a second opinion on which of two BBEG's that I've devised I'm going to spring them on. Via technicality choosing one rules out the other, or at the very least limits the other's role to a minimum, but I'll elaborate on this later.
The reason I want other opinions is that I can't quite bring myself to decide which one I'm going to (basically) cut from the story.
Both stories leading up to the BBEG's alter the workings of the world itself to a certain extent, which should at least somewhat explain them ruling each other out.
I'll summarize each of the stories leading up to the BBEG's themselves and the differences between them below.

Story 1
This story's BBEG is an ancient wizard by the name of Dearuda, and he is the one responsible for the whole undead predicament and has the questionable honor of being the first necromancer.
Long story short, necromancy in this world works by forming what is basically a pool of life-energy from people the necromancer has killed or using a lifepool already formed by another necromancer. He formed his by committing genocide on his own country, and most necromancers since then have been using the life-energy pool that he created, unwittingly or not. The guy's plan was to use all of this to raise himself to godhood, and he kinda got there. Before he could get that far, he was stopped by actual gods.
However, as far as the world's laws are concerned, a god can't really kill another god (directly), and since Dearuda was roughly halfway there, he survived as a shadow of his former self (I'm thinking he got trapped on another plane for good measure, but haven't decided about that yet). This all happened almost a millennium previous to current events, and almost all information on Dearuda himself has been wiped out.
This is because information about him (his name specifically) could grant him a way to return, and people insane enough to try and actively bring him back might exist.

The story would explore the undead and their impact on the world, and some major enemies that I've been meaning to work into endbosses for different adventures would probably get either brought back or otherwise find themselves in Dearuda's service by the end.
Engineering the BBEG's return could happen through quite a few avenues, and the PC's would probably bite on some of the shmuck bait's I've planned on laying.

Story 2
This second story's BBEG is a demigod (later an actual god) warlord (name pending) who's out to take over the world. As the story incorporates the earlier story's Dearuda, albeit in a much, much smaller role, the reason I'm hesitant to run through it is its complexity (and in some cases) absurdity.

The BBEG's shortened backstory is that he hails from a different world than the PC's, and one that the PC's will visit. Due to shenanigans to do with dimensional travel and its effect on time, the BBEG has already met the PC's beforehand in his own world, before the PC's ever end up on that world.
The story itself begins with one of the aforementioned enemy nation's starting a war at the behest of the BBEG (who has been working from the shadows for an extended time). Once the BBEG's influence becomes clear, the PC's will be sent after a Macguffin of some sort (most likely going to be a trapped artifact set by the BBEG), and upon finding it will be flung into the world the BBEG came from. Coincidentally, they happen to land in the BBEG's hometown (this version hasn't met them yet).
By this point I've planned that the PC's will have become infused with some kind of power native to their own world, and the introduction of this power into the new world offsets the local balance between good and evil (and in this case, the balance is literal, the world stays together thanks to that balance). This, along with the fact that said power is now missing from their own world, would cause them to try and return to their own world as soon as possible.
Through assistance of the world's inhabitants (I'm guessing some kind of group that keeps watch for disturbances among the planes) the PC's will eventually make their way to someone with the power and willingness to send them back to their own world (the bad guys would probably just kill them to restore the balance). Again, long story short, the journey to this helpful NPC would introduce plot elements that could be helpful/harmful in the future and would probably comprise a few adventures by itself. Before the PC's manage to leave, they'd probably have a short confrontation with the BBEG, who would then retreat and transport himself to the PC's own world, arriving almost a year before the PC's ever set foot on the BBEG's world.
After returning from the BBEG's world, the PC's would now be facing a world where the BBEG has been rampaging for a few months (and since the PC's were necessary for the BBEG to discover their world in the first place, he can get serious after they're gone) and would need to work up power to confront the BBEG and take him down for good.

I know this one sounds pretty damn convoluted, but I like the concept and some of the details, but because of its complexity, I'm a bit hesitant to go through with it.

Differences (in no particular order)
-Dearuda's role in the second story is lessened to a minimum. He's still there in the background, but doesn't really do much.
-Most of the less-important-but-still-pretty-important villains would either be roped in with Dearuda (1st story) or be "villains of the week" (2nd story).
-The 2nd story includes the BBEG, and the other world is a break from what I consider the basic fantasy world, running on technology fused with magic and higher technology in general.
-The 2nd story probably ends up having higher stakes.

Well... Not much more to say. I'll elaborate on any points if asked, and am asking for opinions on which option I should pick. I might've lost my train of thought there a couple of times, so I apologize if the text gets confusing. Thanks in advance for your answers, and sorry for the walls of text...

2014-02-05, 10:40 AM
From what you've put up, Dearuda is the more credible threat, and has the more fleshed out storyline.

2014-02-05, 11:49 AM
The second story is intriguing and is pretty original. I am sure the players will enjoy feeling that they have had such an impact on the world - unless they feel like they have been railroaded all along.

I tend to stay far away from time travel though. It can sometimes make things way too complicated and brings questions that are hard to answer. But if you are up to it it sounds fun!

And I do not see why there there couldn't both villains having an important role in the story.

"Daeruda's cultists were biding their time, little by little the pieces or the evil plan were falling into place. Daeruda would soon be back and the world, his to take...

Then this weird powerful dude from another dimension came and decided to the world would be his. Would the cultists allow this dude to take what rightfully belonged to their master?

Of course not. Throwing caution to the wind, they decided to act upon their plan more quickly.

With two evil powers throwing punches at each other at the expense of the fabric of the world itself, what can the PCs do to avoid certain doom?"

2014-02-08, 01:30 AM
I like the first story better. It was more interesting to me, and, like you said, the second story was convoluted. I understood the second story, but it was a little confusing. Time travel can get....messy, to say the least.

A question: Are there any liches in your world? And, if so, was Daeruda one of them? Also, what plane is Dearuda trapped on? The Shadow Plane, perhaps?

Another question: So, in the second story, you said that the BBEG's homeworld was more high-tech and infused with magic and its very existence depended on the balance between good an evil. Does that mean, before the PCs arrive, that everyone was Neutral? And what about the Law-Chaos axis? Does that matter for that world too?

2014-02-08, 03:24 AM
Okay, to answer Artemicion's question first, I did consider springing both villains on the PC's, but the problem with that approach is that things would get even more confusing. I also like the concept of central villains, so I'm worried that either one of the villains would just detract from the attention that the other villain along with their chief minions would get.
It could work with enough forethought, though.

As for InQbait's questions: There are liches in the world (they don't call much attention to themselves at the moment though), and Dearuda isn't one of them.
As far as the backstory goes, he got close enough to his immortality before a point where he'd even consider becoming a lich. I suppose a flesh-and-blood body also has it's advantages.
As for the plane Dearuda is trapped in, I'm considering a demiplane or something. The shadow plane seems a bit too accessible in my opinion. Although since one of his minions has lots and lots of shadow powers, I suppose that whatever plane he's on could at least be connected to the Shadow Plane.

In the second BBEG's story, the other world does have a spread of Evil and Good alignments. The world would quite literally be split in two, with a "belt" around the boundary between the good and the evil area's preventing most travel, although there are ways.
The whole situation came to be as it is by design (the BBEG's, technically). The balance is maintained by macguffins set on each of the world's poles.
I was planning on the PC's starting on the evil side of the world, mainly because otherwise there wouldn't be much of a journey.
The PC's (who had been infused with some kind of power, most likely a Good one) arriving into the world upsets the pretty delicate balance in the world, calling their arrival into the attention of anyone with enough influence to actually monitor the "belt" dividing the world.
I hadn't planned on bringing the Law-Chaos axis into the balance issue. I did plan on it's inclusion being called to question, and unless I decided to bring it in anyway, I would probably have to think of some excuse for that (although now that I think about it, the PC's own world has a balance like that, sort of, its just not that apparent).

Just as an elaboration though (considering I failed to mention it in the first post), the second story's BBEG does have a very lengthy backstory, which the PC's would probably come to know if they pay attention.

2014-02-08, 02:46 PM
Well, liches are created through the use of necromancy, are they not?
So, would these liches be servants of Dearuda? Perhaps that is why they are not calling much attention to themselves at the moment? Maybe the still-mortal cultists look up to these liches as leaders?

2014-02-08, 04:20 PM
Funnily enough, I hadn't actually considered the whole "liches are made through necromancy"-angle (which should have been obvious, I know) until you pointed it out. Although as I outlined in the story's summary, Dearuda's pretty much an un-person at the moment.
Copies of his books on necromancy and books made by his possible apprentices might still exist, but I wouldn't think he has any active servants working for him at the moment.
The liches I've got planned are mostly independent, with either no clue on who Dearuda is/was or don't hold allegiance to him and don't want him coming back.