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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground

    Join Date
    Sep 2019

    Default Drow as main bad guys plot suggestions

    Hey all,

    *Firstly Jamie, Richard, Mike or Ben advert your eyes, this content is not for you! Perlucet will get you*

    Right, so I'm a first time DM that's accidently stumbled into making a campaign off of the back of a couple of smashy smashy one shots and I need some help with piecing together my overall bad guy plot.

    So my plot I'm toying with, is that the drow are living under the city but use mind control to influence and control the mayor into letting them do what they want. Which includes bringing in as many shipments in at the docks, without question and not suspecting them if certain tourists go missing. My main plan for the drow is that they are collecting rare animals and races from far and wide to act as an offering to Lolth. These beings harness a lot of power, since there are less of them in the world, their power is therefore more concentrated and more valuable to lolth. She has told them that if they provide her with these sacrifices, she can break through into this plane to aid the drow in their overthrow of the surface dwellers and drow will rule the continent.

    Now, I love that as a plot, but this is just a town, and if they are to take over the continent, then more drow communities in other places would be involved, with more offerings. I was thinking that maybe ones in another town could be amalgamating large sums of coin to add to the ritual, others could be gathering powerful. Mages under their control to aid the process too. And they would all have to come together as one, or get all these things in one place to allow this ritual to happen.

    I just wanted some advice if anyone can help me to figure out how I could piece this together across the continent, what things could the players ascertain this early without giving the plot away. How would the drow potentially be bringing this all together and what clues could the party get along the way to help them figure it out. Also how would you go about staffing the drow community, I assume a leader, some form of mage and some reoccurring baddies that pop up and give the party a hard time? Is this a bit too ambitious perhaps?

    Thank you in advance for any help! DMing is stressful but exciting huh!? 😅
    Last edited by Nauplii; 2019-09-14 at 05:00 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground

    Join Date
    Dec 2017

    Default Re: Drow as main bad guys plot suggestions

    You say you're new, so I'm sorry if my advice is too rudimentary. But the under dark is a whole world under the world filled with creatures passages etc. Underneath a small simplistic farming village could actually be a capitol City of the drow that has its own under water sea bringing in shipments from other drow or duergar settlements, not to mention possible illithid connections.

    Having a sprawling undercity anywhere is totally feasible in the lore.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Drow as main bad guys plot suggestions

    the drows could be doing several things, which I'll put in separate categories
    most of the things I am suggesting here were part of the plans of several bad guys in my campaign.

    Spoiler: mutigenerational plans (the drow have been accummulating power slowly over generations)

    - use the whealt to slowly build a hidden golem army. golems last forever, so the plan could go on for generations. feel free to throw in any construct or undead out of a splatbook or homebrew as you wish in place of normal golems.
    - research ways into immortality (lichdom is the most common option) and make as many of their high level people immortal, so that over several generations they will have a lot of high level casters.
    this only works if the guys can be trusted to stay loyal, which can be a problem. but it should be fine as long as they make liches from clerics of lolth. it's lolth plan to conquer the world, her lich clerics are going to support that. if any of them want to betray the plan, they are going to lose their powers and are not going to be a problem.
    - stockpile magic items over generations.

    How can the players discover this? difficult to say. perhaps their favourite shop is empty because someone else is consistently buying plenty of magic supplies, and they can choose to investigate. most likely, they can be told this by an appropriate npc that discovered it. or they can not discover it; it's more fun if the drow can start their plan and the players have to face all those secret powers

    Spoiler: politics (how the drows are preparing their invasion)

    - either by domination or by subtly pulling strings, possibly with some accomplices (subtly pulling strings is better, as it's quite hard for the players to accept that a king can be dominated without anyone noticing; they should have better security than that), cause various surface nations to go to war among themselves. this will weaken them by the time of the invasion.
    - perhaps the drow can even find allies that will help them when they invade?
    - try to goad bestial humanoids into attacking the settlements, again with the purpose of weakening their foes
    - control the world economically; by a mixture of regular trade and stealing and assassinating rivals, using proxies or accomplices or mindraped thrulls, buy all the major economical infrastructure.
    once they ccontrol global economy, either divert money to the underdark to fund their war, or cause an economic crisys to weaken thei surface dwellers. perhaps use economical reasons to push surface nations into self-destructive wars.
    - try to rile animosity between humanoids and dragons.
    - assassinate specifically chosen world leaders without a clear succession lines, with the hopes of plunging their countries into civil wars between the various wannabe next emperors.
    - ambush high level good aligned parties, as they would be likely to be a significant opposition once they reveal themselves. bind their souls to prevent resurrections.
    this can justify why the party is lacking help; everyone else who would help them fight the drows has been disposed of already.

    this is where there are more chances for the players to interact with the plot. they may by chance be there to foil one assassination attempt. they may noticce that a large number of important people are dead or are behaving strange. they may be asked to investigate on the disappearance of another good party.
    You can have a lot of fun if the drow can manipulate the players into helping them. I had an evil dragon bent on raising an army and destroying humanoids, and he was able to plant a minion in the party as a supposed cohort and get the help of the party to disable some defences against a place he wanted to attack later. I also had an (unrelated) villain who served as information broker, the party used to buy information from him, and he would send them into ambushes; he got to go it several times before the party realized it those were some of my finest DMing moments
    So, maybe some of the drow intermediaries will hire the players to assassinate one of the kings (make him an evil one, so he can give some excuses why the king should die)? Maybe they can create tension between a good and an evil nation, and the players will rally to take a chance to start a crusade against the evil nations? maybe a draw accomplice can befriend the players and push them here and there, or make them fall into an ambush?

    Spoiler: the big reveal (how are the drows planning to start it all?)

    - always manipulating politics, the drows can manage to get an important event where most surface leaders will be in a single city at a specific time. use some ritual to prevent escape by teleportation, then attack there in force, decapitating the world leadership. (suggestion: if this happens, and the pcs are powerful, the drows can be expected to know about them and to have planned about them. if the pcs just curbstomp whatever ambush the drow set, it makes the villains feel incompetent. you can give the drow overwhelming forces and telegraph the players that their goal is to flee, or you can come up with some plausible justification for why the drow plan failed that would not make them look dumb. few things kill tension like a dumb villain)
    - several parties of drow assassins simultaneously attack the surviving human leadership, before the main invasion
    - a big magic ritual is being performed somewhere, and it will (whatever you think appropriate). the effects are slow enough that everyone notices, and the party then has to race against time to stop it
    - they sell a big bunch of war golems, but they actually secretly keep control of them. in the most appropriate moment, the golem armies of humankind rebel against their supposed owners.

    Spoiler: examples (what I did with my two most succcessful villains, maybe something there will inspire you)

    - cemandrion, lich high cleric of vecna.
    cemandrion publicly renounced the blatant evilness, turning vecna into a quasi-neutral god; he was then able to preach openly, and turn a small clandestine cult into one of the most widespread religions worldwide.
    he build a grand cathedral into one of the major cities, with permission from the authorities. there a built a secret room, and there he built a device that would be used in a grand ritual to suck the souls of everyone in the city, fueling his ascension to godhood
    he helped his most trusted underlings becoming liches themselves. most of them, he kept hidden. over seven centuries, he had ammassed about 400 liches to unleash. everyone in my world was hoarding golem armies, but he had a couple custom models that were stronger than most.
    he manipulated politics to create a climate akin to cold war, with two major blocks at tense peace. that way he ensured that most of his allies would be willing to follow him even after his reveal, for a chance to defeat their foes. he built up alliances to get as much followers as possible once open war started.
    he organized a world fair in the city, to get as many people as possible for his ritual.
    he set up a plot hook (a major sport event, somewhat akin to a gladiatorial arena, where the party would be the major stars) for the party to be elsewhere when he performed the ritual
    he organized his liches into kill squads meant to eliminate as many high level good parties as possible while he performed the ritual.

    unfortunately for him, he had a technical problem with the device, and he had to delay the ritual. when cemandrion was able to start the ritual, the party was no longer at the sport event. due to a combination of the dragon cohort and an intelligent magic item sacrificing themselves to take the brunt out of the soul-sucking effect, they were also able to survive long enough to reach the ritual chamber. the ritual also disabled the magic defences of the cathedral, and would have killed anyone who stood in the room with cemandrion, so he was forced to face the party alone, and his ritual could be stopped. of course his phylactery was safe, so he could regenerate and act as a leader in the ensuing war.

    - skarrakatach, elder gold dragon
    skarrakatach became convinced that humanoid expansion would eventually destroy the dragons, if the humanoids weren't stopped earlier. but not all dragons would follow him, and humanoids were strong, so he could not attack openly.
    Skarrakatach set to wait until something would weaken the humanoids. in the meanwhile, he positioned himself as guardian of the merchant union, a monopoly of magic item dealers that has a huge extradimentional stronghold where they can stockpile all their stuff, safe from murderhobos who would rob them. sleeping amid all those magic items, he was able to grow older and more powerful than any other dragon (dragons need their treasure to survive in my world)
    The merchant union also had a big golem army, enough that skarrakatach would have no hope of destroying them alone.
    One of the merchant leaders, prince Alý, was plotting to take over the whole merchant union (who acted as a sort of megacorporation, with stakeholders voting). a powerful wizard, Alý had devised a ritual to take control of golems, and he gradually took over the whole golem army. Skarrakatach subtly encouraged him, promising him allegiance if he took control at the right moment.
    When the party hit mid-high level, they started to stir trouble. on skarrakatach prodding, one of his dragon accomplices (Calixarenesh) contacted the party and offered to be their cohort; the party had saved the lives of a few dragons in the past, and Calixarenesh used that excuse for wanting to join them. She tried to manipulate the party into stirring more trouble.
    Then Cemandrion performed his ritual and started a large war among humanoids, and this triggered Skarrakatach's gambit.
    the party was able to persuade the merchant leadership (encouraged by skarrakatach) to help the anti-vecna front. Alý didn't like that so much of his wealth would be given for a fraction of its value, so he started his plan, ordering his golems to kill the other merchant leaders. he then locked up in the stronghold, and tripled the price for all magic gear.
    Skarrakatach was correctly counting on the merchant leadership to have a backup plan. the merchant boss' girlfriend survived the attack (complex story there, but there was true love involved, and so the boss gifted her a crapton of protective items and had her trained in self-defence) and revealed the party that his mate had planted a backdoor in the stronghold. if they could infiltrate the stronghold, defeat the usurper and reinstate her mate to his rightful place, they'd certainly get any amount of war supplies.
    the party entered stealthily the stronghold, and were confronted by skarrakatach (forewarned by his mole Calixarenesh). skarrakatach was able to spin a credible story for not having opposed Alý but wanting to swap sides, and the party accepted his alliance. together, they defeated the golem army and the usurper Alý (best fight ever; two dozen high-CR homebrew golems against a low epic party and an augmented, equipped greater wyrm gold dragon, and an adult equipped gold dragon. Three players died, two miracles and one wish were used).
    Meanwhile, the party and their allies were defeating the coalition of vecna. as Skarrakatach wanted as many humanoids to kill each other as possible, he tasked his mole Skarrakatach to perform sabotages against the anti-vecna side, to keep the war balanced. he also had a few moles on the other side.
    The plan worked even better than assumed, because the actions of the mystery saboteur made the players feel insecure, so they persuaded their coalition to move all their war supplies into the merchant stronghold, the safer of all, guarded by the mighty skarrakatach himself .
    the party was bound to discover calixarenesh betrayal eventually. calixarenesh was able to teleport away when they were close to discovering her. confused by the actions of their cohort, the party asked skarrakatach, who feigned ignorance and promised to call a meeting of elder dragons to discuss the thing.
    Meanwhile, he used his cronies in vecna's side (who all the while thought calixarenesh was working with them, and were unaware of Skarrakatach pulling strings) to launch one big attack against a capital city. most high level people teleported out of the stronghold to face this attack. the party went to the dragon meeting, to plead the dragon leaders to help them against the forces of vecna.
    this left few enough people inside. skarrakatach then brough in his two strongest cronies, two other great wyrm dragons (Skarrakatach had copied the backdoor to bring people into the stronghold). together, the three elder dragons turned crushed every humanoid left in the stronghold, and locked it - again. then they went at the meeting of dragons.
    At the meeting, they revealed their plan. they said that humanoids would take over all space and loot and leave nothing for dragons. they said that humanoids have never been so weakened, and that they managed to capture large stockpiles of diamonds to resurrect their fallen. Skarrakatach invited everyone to join him as he attacked the party

    I had planned for the party to flee, and the dragons to split, and a third faction to enter the war, while Cemandrion would offer a temporary truce against the greater dragon threat. I certainly didn't expect that the party would be able to face three augmented, equipped great wyrm dragons with elite stats together. skarrakatach certainly didn't expect it.
    instead the party fought, and won, and it wasn't even that close. this was quite anticlimatic, and the dragons wouldn't follow a dead leader like that, especially not in front of the guys who just slew said leader, especially not when other dragon elders had pledged their support for them.
    the party then forgave the other dragon conspirators, especially Calixarenesh. this persuaded most other dragons that perhaps they could really live in peace with the humanoids, so the dragons joined the party against the forces of vecna.
    this ended the campaign, as the allies of vecna were only in it for the chances of victory, and they sought peace as soon as they found themselves overwhelmed. the forces of vecna alone were then so outclassed, there was no point continuing.

    wow, this went on for quite a while. my campaign had a more complex plot than I realized. I expect you lost me somewhere in the narration.
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2019-09-14 at 03:56 PM.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

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