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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default To murder a PC (adventure help)

    So I am starting a new campaign for an experienced group of players. This campaign takes place in the same world and continuity as the previous long running campaign, but many years later, and I want to run an adventure that revolves around the new PCs investigating the murder of one of the retired PCs from the previous game.

    So the question is, how can I murder a retired PC off screen without offending the player(s)?


    I am tempted to actually run the player through the scenario where they die to make sure it is "legit", but that might both spoil the plot of the new campaign and upset the player even worse and making me out to be a killer DM by running an adventure where the likely thought is their death.


    Obviously I could sidestep the problem by not running the adventure at all, but I think it is shaping up to be really promising and would like to go ahead with it if at all possible.

    Any advice?
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2015-07-19 at 01:18 PM.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    I'm not sure. If the PCs have adventured long enough, they may have access to Raise Dead/Resurrect/etc. So it could be difficult to make the deed permanent. Otherwise, I would ask the PCs to craft the story of what they did in retirement, who they helped and who they hindered. In this way you can flesh out exactly which one it might have been and how legit it actually is. This also informs the PCs of how potent their murderer is. It may be difficult to justify finding the killer for early adventuring, depending on what the killer had to do to get to the PC in question. So this sounds like a "-1" session.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    The players are all playing new PCs, right? It's not that they're all bringing back former PCs, but you're killing off one at the outset, right?

    I don't see a problem.

    Retired PCs are NPCs. You're not humiliating them, you're not mocking their actions in the past campaign, you're creating intrigue. If it's not a dishonorable death (e.g. "the corpse was found in a brothel, buried under a pile of drugs"), but rather an intrigue-worthy death ("this is clearly the work of the Assassin's Guild"), I don't see a problem opening the campaign that way.

    In fact, it can make the PC even more epic. If his death is newsworthy in the kingdom, that means he was somebody, right? Like, captain of the guard, general of the armed forces, royal vizier, a minor or major noble, a religious leader - somebody important. For that kind of character to start the campaign dead is kind of a badge of honor, a major wake-up call.

    Look, it's a retired PC. You're not shaming the character, you're ending his story, and using that ending to start the PCs' new story. If your players get offended because an NPC they knew died, the fault lies with them.

    Do it with dignity, and you should be fine.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    1) Make it EPIC. Fending off a demon army probably isn't subtle, but it sure is one hell of a way to go. They didn't die to some rookie assassin, but a legendary figure.

    2) Tie it into the character. If they were a member of a church, they died protecting it and all of the adorable orphans within. Might be hard to work it into a properly sneaky assassination, but you could always have it that the character made powerful enemies doing what they thought was right or what they believed in. This make it seem like a tribute to the character, not just the player.

    3) An angry player is one you have by the nose. Have the enemy (either the one taking credit, the one who hired the assassin, or the assassin themselves) annoy the players. A good standby is stealing crap from them. Now the player is angry, but will want the sweet, sweet, sweet taste of revenge. Against the NPC, hopefully.

    4) Have a way to do a backsies. If you can, work it into the plot that the death was staged and the dude is only captured or was teleported into hell or something. I'd make this a back-up plan, not the intended plot. Also, consider a way to revive said NPC if such a thing is a thing in your setting. It might require an epic plot, but it might be something to appease a player who is not otherwise happy.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    I already know which PC it is and (more or less) how it is going to go down. ATM this is my plan:

    The PC in question has gone on to become the queen of the kingdom.

    She has a bard cohort whom she is extremely protective of. Over the course of play if she is ever attacked or injured the PC in question goes into a rampage and goes to any lengths to slay the perpetrator.

    The villain is a revolutionary army lacks the might to challenge the kingdom head, and would lose badly to the entire (retired) PC party in a straight fight.

    The revolutionaries hire a group of very competent bandits (think the 40 Thieves) to sneak into the palace and rob the royal treasury and then make a getaway.

    The robbery is only a ruse though, one of them has secret orders, though, to make sure to badly injure, but not kill, said bard cohort over the course of the robbery.

    The bandits are not enough of a challenge to stand up to the PC in question in a straight fight. She will rashly don her old armor, not waiting to call in allies or the army, and ride out to slay the bandits. She will corner them in their lair and do just that.

    The revolutionary forces will then surround the bandits lair and send their best warriors to engage the PC and eventually wear her down after a glorious last stand and then abscond with her body.

    The kingdom will not know for sure what happened, all they know is that their queen has disappeared, leaving them bereft of leadership and with a succession crisis on their hands.

    And at this point the new PCs will come on.


    If they successfully find and recover her body they can choose to resurrect her, although given the new PCs alignment I think they might be just as likely to join up with the revolutionaries as fight them.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Personally I'd have it play out with that player and if it happens it happens, but if she doesn't get killed, I'd simply do something different.

    That scenario looks bad to me, there seem to be no real guards, they don't seem to notice an entire mob of random bandits, as they're breaking into a vault or what have you, they don't seem to raise any alarms at all and they aren't pursued by cavalry as they leave. If I had my players try to steal from a royal treasury, they'd never get that far without getting a literal army on their tail.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yukitsu View Post
    Personally I'd have it play out with that player and if it happens it happens, but if she doesn't get killed, I'd simply do something different.

    That scenario looks bad to me, there seem to be no real guards, they don't seem to notice an entire mob of random bandits, as they're breaking into a vault or what have you, they don't seem to raise any alarms at all and they aren't pursued by cavalry as they leave. If I had my players try to steal from a royal treasury, they'd never get that far without getting a literal army on their tail.
    That was just a very brief outline, all of the things you mention will factor into the final scenario.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    I don't really see a problem with that scenario. Her enemies are smart, competent, powerful people, and the ending seems fitting.

    What I would suggest is to make sure she has a legacy. People mention her in tales. People note on theories of how she died. Her successors mention her glory and past deeds. She didn't just fall off the face of the earth. Make sure the players know that this character had an impact, even in death.

    Also, will this bard be showing up in the campaign? I think that might be pretty cool.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That was just a very brief outline, all of the things you mention will factor into the final scenario.
    You'll potentially want to elaborate, if it's just as you have there I'd feel you'd portrayed my character as inept and stupid. The devil is often in the details. If they're fleshed out to explain how they're getting around all that, I'd be fine with it.
    Last edited by Yukitsu; 2015-07-19 at 04:41 PM.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Talakeal: It might be best to tell the ex-PC's player that you have an adventure idea based on the Queen's disappearance or murder, and ask if that'd be cool.

    You need a reason for the rest of the ex-PCs not to join the new party's investigation.

    Also, if the new PCs are likely to support the rebels, maybe you should just make that the adventure, with the PCs as the ones hired to help kill the Queen.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by kinem View Post
    Talakeal: It might be best to tell the ex-PC's player that you have an adventure idea based on the Queen's disappearance or murder, and ask if that'd be cool.
    ^This. You know your players better than we ever will, so if you have genuine concerns about offending them in some way by killing off their old character without their input, then those concerns are probably valid.

    Talking to them away from the table is absolutely something I would do in that situation. Whatever momentary awesomeness might be gleaned from surprising your players with this is not worth the possibility of having one player at the table who starts off resenting the entire campaign premise.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The revolutionaries hire a group of very competent bandits (think the 40 Thieves) to sneak into the palace and rob the royal treasury and then make a getaway.
    This is obviously some group of "40 thieves" of whom I haven't previously heard, because "competent" is certainly not the adjective I'd apply to those I have heard of...

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The robbery is only a ruse though, one of them has secret orders, though, to make sure to badly injure, but not kill, said bard cohort over the course of the robbery.

    The bandits are not enough of a challenge to stand up to the PC in question in a straight fight. She will rashly don her old armor, not waiting to call in allies or the army, and ride out to slay the bandits. She will corner them in their lair and do just that.

    The revolutionary forces will then surround the bandits lair and send their best warriors to engage the PC and eventually wear her down after a glorious last stand and then abscond with her body.
    In general, I don't think there should be any real problem with killing off a retired PC, because 'retired'. However, in this specific scenario? - if it were my PC, I would have a problem with it. Particularly if the character is Lawful.

    A queen is a working title. Simply "riding out solo to fight bandits", no matter how annoyed or confident she's feeling, is not compatible with taking her responsibilities seriously. She would, at the very least, take her personal bodyguard with her (which I would expect to resemble a mid-level adventuring party in itself, in terms of power and, very likely, composition). But "charging in without backup" is - stupid. Incompetent. An unworthy way to die.
    Last edited by veti; 2015-07-19 at 07:40 PM.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    I don't really see a problem with that scenario. Her enemies are smart, competent, powerful people, and the ending seems fitting.

    What I would suggest is to make sure she has a legacy. People mention her in tales. People note on theories of how she died. Her successors mention her glory and past deeds. She didn't just fall off the face of the earth. Make sure the players know that this character had an impact, even in death.

    Also, will this bard be showing up in the campaign? I think that might be pretty cool.
    This. Though I would have at least some of the bandits be smart enough to not get slain and start maybe a third faction. Also, does she have heirs? If not, is the country going to start tearing itself apart? Instability isn't always the best for a group of low level adventurers, as there becomes nowhere "safe"...
    My Characters

    Alaniel (Retired) Bob "O-Matic" Kern (Fallout) Hanzi Ivarisky (Giantslayer)

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    A queen is a working title. Simply "riding out solo to fight bandits", no matter how annoyed or confident she's feeling, is not compatible with taking her responsibilities seriously. She would, at the very least, take her personal bodyguard with her (which I would expect to resemble a mid-level adventuring party in itself, in terms of power and, very likely, composition). But "charging in without backup" is - stupid. Incompetent. An unworthy way to die.
    She is not lawful, no. I don't use alignment per se, rather I use words to describe ideals on allegiance and morality and the player describes her as an Individualist Martyr.



    I wouldn't say "stupid" per se. Basically she is very proud and doesn't like other people dying or getting hurt in her stead.

    The enemy is trying to use her strength against her. If she waits to assemble an army the trail will be cold by then.

    Even taking a bodyguard with her would slow her down and put said bodyguard at risk, and she (correctly) believes that she is more than strong enough to handle the culprit on her own.

    She will also consider it a personal vendetta and a matter of honor that she be the one to deal the killing blow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowsend View Post
    This. Though I would have at least some of the bandits be smart enough to not get slain and start maybe a third faction. Also, does she have heirs? If not, is the country going to start tearing itself apart? Instability isn't always the best for a group of low level adventurers, as there becomes nowhere "safe"...
    No, no heirs. The turmoil that follows her disappearance is to be a major element of the campaign.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2015-07-19 at 07:59 PM.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Then some of the bandits should definitely survive. Maybe a few of them even regret ever taking part in the crime, given what the true outcome was. The leader especially should be alive, and should be trying to seek revenge on the people that hired his/her crew, especially if s/he cares about any of them. Then you just make sure that his/her group comes into conflict with the PCs as they try to get powerful enough to take on the rebellion. Otherwise the part that's lacking is "how were the thieves able to accomplish their objective in the first place?" Also, wouldn't the rebels have stolen the prize from the thieves? That is two powerful motivations for the leader. So killing him/her off is probably a mistake.

    Also, neighboring countries would likely try to take advantage of the situation with political and military pressure.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    ... can I assume you're just brainstorming ideas, and will actually ask the player if she's alright with it first?

    Also, TALAKEAL! Want a hug?
    Last edited by goto124; 2015-07-19 at 10:16 PM.

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowsend View Post
    Then some of the bandits should definitely survive. Maybe a few of them even regret ever taking part in the crime, given what the true outcome was. The leader especially should be alive, and should be trying to seek revenge on the people that hired his/her crew, especially if s/he cares about any of them. Then you just make sure that his/her group comes into conflict with the PCs as they try to get powerful enough to take on the rebellion. Otherwise the part that's lacking is "how were the thieves able to accomplish their objective in the first place?" Also, wouldn't the rebels have stolen the prize from the thieves? That is two powerful motivations for the leader. So killing him/her off is probably a mistake.

    Also, neighboring countries would likely try to take advantage of the situation with political and military pressure.
    I am not sure exactly what the deal will be with the bandits. Some, or all, of them might even know it is a suicide mission up front. I don't think I need them to play any roll in the campaign I have planned, and I want the fallen ex PC to actually get her revenge before being overwhelmed, so surviving bandits might cause a problem with that. But I definitely will have a way for the new PCs to find out what exactly happened should they choose to investigate.

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    ... can I assume you're just brainstorming ideas, and will actually ask the player if she's alright with it first?

    Also, TALAKEAL! Want a hug?
    Just brainstorming for now. Trying to figure out how and what to tell the player are the primary purpose of this thread. I am not sure what to say, I don't want to give away too much of the mystery for the new campaign, but I don't want to upset the player either.

    I have also never said no to a hug.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Ah, I see. That's good then!

    Hug!

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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    The problem with "suicide missions" is what they require of the people carrying them out. Bandits are probably the least likely people to actually carry one out. Which really means betrayal has to be a big part of the story.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Talking to the player who's PC is going to "disappear under mysterious circumstances" is key, but you already have that.

    I'd just tell them that you have an idea for a campaign/story that involves the disappearance of said character, and the ensuing chaos from having the queen disappear. Don't specify what happened, other than leave hints that they could be kidnapping, murder, death in combat, magic transformation... nobody knows for certain - but make it clear that it may have been a tragic ending.

    And if the player is okay with that, you're good.

    The big roadblock I see is the desire for players to have a say in what happens to their characters - which is why you're asking in the first place, obviously. Respect that. If they have requests (had to go out like a badass, is secretly turned to evil, etc.), listen and see if you can make it work. If the disappearance is background, you've got some flexibility. If solving the mystery is a plot point, you need more vaguery in discussion. I suspect that so long as it isn't an ignoble death (death by banana peel), then having an old PC be a central plot point to the campaign would please most players.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    The things that I would have you keep in mind are that you need to

    A: make sure it seems like the character. The more the assassin's plan is tailored to the character, the happier the player will ba and the less they will care about point B.

    B: MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO PLOT HOLES CONCERNING THE QUEEN'S DEATH. If there are, the player will feel cheated, but as long as it isn't a silly death, and the events could have logically occurred, they will probably be okay with it. Make sure you gave a lot of details for Divinations.
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    Default Re: To murder a PC (adventure help)

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    Ah, I see. That's good then!

    Hug!
    Thanks! Here is one right back at you!

    Hug!
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