View Full Version : DM Help Seeking advice on tailoring to the party's strengths

2021-04-23, 07:45 PM
Hello there,

This isn't something I've really expected to ever need to ask. But I've hit a strong wall of writer's block in the campaign I've been running for the past year. I've put more of the details of the campaign in a spoiler below so your screens don't get flooded by a wall of text and I'll put the big thing here.

Essentially what it boils down to is that my players are really good at roleplaying their characters and none of them are good at investigations or interrogations. That's not to say the players aren't good at that. The players enjoy mystery/puzzle plots. However, I've noticed that they're getting frustrated with those sorts of things because they also value staying in character and, as I mentioned, their characters are not the investigative type. Unfortunately, this has thrown a bit of a wrench in the works of my near-future plot ideas. So tell me, what are your favorite twists on a more kick-in-the-door style plot?

The Party:

Zephyr - Silver Dragonborn Fighter (Samurai)
Caius - Human Ranger (Beastmaster)
Elvira - Human Wizard (Necromancer)

The campaign in brief:
This campaign is very heavily inspired by My Hero Academia. The characters are young adventurers learning the ropes at a prestigious college. They've had plenty of fun, little excursions and are slowly finding plot hooks leading to a necromancer/lich doing nefarious things that they haven't quite figured out yet. The nice thing about this campaign is that I've been able to run lots of mini-adventures and organize them into separate school years. Currently they're in Year 3. So far they have found that the necromancer (named Leo) is working with an infamous pirate named Gorokk Redmoon. In exchange for using magic to power up Redmoon's crew to absurd levels, Redmoon was to provide the necromancer with souls en masse. The players handed off the interrogation of one of Redmoon's fleet captains (kudos to them for owning up to their weaknesses) and learned some terrifying news. Redmoon's crew/fleet is now strong enough to attack several major cities at once. While his crew do a little bit of pillaging, he can fire his guns indiscriminately and pay his end of the bargain.

The writer's block:
I'm not quite ready to pull off the session(s) where Redmoon's assault actually happens. In the interim, the part I'm struggling with is coming up with ideas to tide over the sessions until I have the assault ready, but also ideas for years 4 and 5 (the final year). Year 4 was going to be the players investigating how the Queen's vault was broken into during the raid and hurrying to retrieve a mcguffin to keep an ancient curse on her family at bay. Year 5...not quite sure yet, but I have time to plan for that.

2021-04-23, 07:56 PM
Why aren't you ready for the assault? What are you waiting on?

2021-04-23, 08:06 PM
It just needs some polishing, that's all. There's a lot going on in a big, chaotic scene like that. I need to figure out A) what's happening in the background and B) where player characters would be most useful.

2021-04-23, 08:09 PM
Why aren't you ready for the assault? What are you waiting on?

Plus, it's an issue of timing too. The story and the players/characters need a moment to catch their breath before the big event happens.

2021-04-25, 05:26 AM
Maybe for getting souls to the necromance it is not just enough to kill indiscriminately. Maybe there needs to be done some ritual preparation in the cities that are about to be attacked. Finding those would allow you to know where the attack will hit, disabling them might mean that the target gets switched or that at least the Lich does not really profit from that particular massacre.

2021-04-26, 10:37 AM
A couple of ideas for season 3:

Who do you trust? The players handed off the interrogation of the fleet captain to someone. The information leads directly into a kick in the door style of adventure that leads to...the wrong place. The team attacked one of Redmoon's rivals. When the players go back to ask the interrogator what happened, they claim not to know what the PCs are talking about. If this was a major NPC you can make it clear there is a doppleganger on the loose. Otherwise the NPC really told the PCs who have to decide if they will trust the NPC again. I would likely make it that the captive tricked the interrogator. You will need to make it clear that the handoff wasn't a mistake but the blindly trusting what came out of it was. A mentor NPC could give a little speech about how the mentor should have checked before having the PCs run off.

Gathering forces. The PCs have the info that several cities will be attacked simultaneously. With only 3 PCs, they will need to recruit some allies to help. Allies like:
- Over the Hill fighter who sold his sword for drinking money and now wants it back. [fetch quest]
- Dashing Rascal who is pining for a love interest who has little regard for the rascal as they have never done anything truly impressive. [PCs need setup impressive situation]
- Great Beast that fears it is loosing it's rationality [Convince of need to fight or joy of mindlessness.]
- Grumpy Undead can foresee the upcoming battle and are displeased at all the riff raff ghosts that will soon be joining them. [Convince them to avoid eternity with peasants.]

Trapped! The PCs are called into a meeting to discuss the mcguffin for season 4. The mcguffin is a device that draws people into an alternate world. It is triggered accidentally drawing in the PCs. They now have to get out of the alternate world. Alternately they have to befriend the locals and let them know they will shortly be getting an influx of very confused pirates. [Thinking ghosts of lord of rings trilogy though that is probably too obvious a reference]

Contest of Champions! The mcguffin of season 4 will need to wielded by a champion. The city holds a contest to see who it the best to wield the mcguffin in the upcoming battle.

2021-04-26, 12:33 PM
A couple of ideas for season 3:

snipped for space...

These are all fantastic ideas!