A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    I don't know how you get inspired, but when it happens to me I rarely get the full picture. I might get an awesome idea for a story, but More than half of the details are missing, and I just can't figure out the rest!

    Can you help me flesh this one out?

    In the town my party is going to there is a rich culture. One of the iconic visuals for this town are the intricate woven patterns in all clothiing, centered around a light blue pendant of some sort. Some people wear in in their hair, some as necklace, but all the townsfolk have one of these light blue stones.

    This has been a part of the culture for so long that the townsfolk no longer know it's origin. It is actually a protection charm that wards them from the powerful magic in the area.

    Whenever someone who's not wearing a pendant takes a long rest in this area there is a cHance they have to roll a saving throw. If they fail their save the receive the "Mark of Hate"; a small blot on the back of their hand. This has the effect of amplifying strong emotions, and is going to be a main plot point later on in the story.

    I need the curse in effect to drive a part of the story forward, but after that I'm pretty sure the players are going to make a connection between the curse, its effects and the pendanrs.

    ...But that's all I got! When I try to think more about it, Im complete blank! I just know my players are going to go on an investigating spree to to figure this curse out, but I have no idea what there is to figure out! The way it came to me was just as a "thing that is" not "a thing something can be done about.

    Can you help me figure out what I should tell my players when they start investigating the Mark, the pendants and the magical effect?

    I'm pretty sure it's really anticlimactic for them to figure out the connection between the area, the pendants, and the curse, but have no way to look into it. :/

    Is that maybe ok? They just figure out the connections, and that the curse is automatically lifted when they leave town, and that's the end of it? The town so might thank them for revealing the truth of the pendants, and they can now start giving travelers a pendant when the come to town, so they don't go crazy. Does that work?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2019

    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    The standard trope would probably be something like a powerful evil creature is imprisoned nearby. The wards trapping the creature are damaged in a small way which allows the creature's to influence the area.

    To fix the wards they likely need to bring in a sage/wizard who needs a macguffin to properly reseal the monster which the PCs have to go out and acquire.
    Last edited by Sorinth; 2021-09-28 at 06:21 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    Quote Originally Posted by Sorinth View Post
    The standard trope would probably be something like a powerful evil creature is imprisoned nearby. The wards trapping the creature are damaged in a small way which allows the creature's to influence the area.
    How about the locals/their rulers have imprisoned a good entity to use as a power source, and that "mark of hate" is the effect of said entity trying to break out?

    After all, the mark amplifies all strong emotions, not just the ones that could lead to evil.

    Maybe the local rulers have magic powers which are based on their emotions, and they're using the entity to amplify said emotions and the resulting powers.

    Maybe the rest of the locals don't know about the details, they just know their ruling class got much more powerful one day and that they've prospered ever since, but a side effect is they need to wear those pendants.

    And the rulers could have either figured out how to imprison the entity on their own, or someone else told them how to do it (a rival of the entity? An agent of evil? A well-meaning person who was clueless about the rulers' true intentions?).

    Or all of this could apply to an evil entity, too, but with the twist the entity is far less harmful or evil than the people who enslaved them.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2021-09-28 at 06:35 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    Love all of this!

    I'm thinking of maybe keeping it "un-interactable" for the players, but still allow them to discover the source of the magic. I think it adds a lot of wonder, that there is magic in the world that just "is"

    The players ask about the pendants and they are shown where the locals get their stones. They are led to a ruin just outside the town. It has amazing stonework and a lot of carved decorations and broken statues. They are led to a stair that leads down into the ruin. There the stonework continues, and the walls are filled with carvings of monsters and people (int check to read the walls as a story)

    After a few minutes walking underground by the light of a torch, a blue light shines from up ahead. The stonework makes way for what looks like natural placement of the stone, growing like crystals from the ceiling and walls. The hallway ends in a arched double door made from the strange material. The locals ignore the door but explain to the heroes that this is where the stone is mined for their pendants.

    Engravings on the door (specific arcana check) reveal that this is an Imprisonment spell.

    And that's it! There's nothing the characters can do about it, really. Its just one of the magical wonders of our world. I'm going to have to make some background, like what's being imprisoned etc. But other than that I can just leave it as is and continue with the main plot ^^

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Love all of this!

    I'm thinking of maybe keeping it "un-interactable" for the players, but still allow them to discover the source of the magic. I think it adds a lot of wonder, that there is magic in the world that just "is"

    The players ask about the pendants and they are shown where the locals get their stones. They are led to a ruin just outside the town. It has amazing stonework and a lot of carved decorations and broken statues. They are led to a stair that leads down into the ruin. There the stonework continues, and the walls are filled with carvings of monsters and people (int check to read the walls as a story)

    After a few minutes walking underground by the light of a torch, a blue light shines from up ahead. The stonework makes way for what looks like natural placement of the stone, growing like crystals from the ceiling and walls. The hallway ends in a arched double door made from the strange material. The locals ignore the door but explain to the heroes that this is where the stone is mined for their pendants.

    Engravings on the door (specific arcana check) reveal that this is an Imprisonment spell.

    And that's it! There's nothing the characters can do about it, really. Its just one of the magical wonders of our world. I'm going to have to make some background, like what's being imprisoned etc. But other than that I can just leave it as is and continue with the main plot ^^
    If the players can't do anything about it, then it's much better if the being is there willingly, or in stasis/incapacitated/dead for reasons the locals have no involvment in. Like they crashed there, started producing the Regional Effect, but they did not react to anything anyone did so eventually the locals just decided to leave them be.

    If they're a prisoner, the PCs will often want to help them. Just being forced to tolerate the enslavement of a being is not a good feeling.

    Alternatively, it could be something like a planar rift or a natural magic phenomenon.

    Or you could mix the two. The place is near a rift in the Astral Plane, and the being is a dead, worship-deprived god whose corpse is partially through the rift, clogging it shut.

    Would work with the effect of the mark, as the Astral Plane is the plane of thoughts.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    So, I'm thinking "Wouldn't this village be really distrustful of outsiders?" If they don't know that the pendants are protective (how do they make more, btw?), then outsiders would seems like a bunch of unstable loons, who can't maintain their composure.

    If I can add to the pendants a bit, maybe the villagers DO get affected by the Mark of Hate, but their increased emotions are siphoned off by the stones, being a food source for whatever malicious being is causing the Mark of Hate in the first place. A villager wouldn't notice it while wearing the stone, but maybe they take really angry baths.
    Maybe there's an huge psychic aberration living in the underwater caverns the villagers get the stones from, or some Illithids experimenting with ways to feed on humans remotely gave the stones generations ago, being more long-lived than humans.
    Check out a bunch of stuff I wrote for my campaign world of Oz.

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    I am the Burley, formerly known as Burley Warlock. I got my name changed. Please remember me...

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2019

    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    How about the locals/their rulers have imprisoned a good entity to use as a power source, and that "mark of hate" is the effect of said entity trying to break out?

    After all, the mark amplifies all strong emotions, not just the ones that could lead to evil.

    Maybe the local rulers have magic powers which are based on their emotions, and they're using the entity to amplify said emotions and the resulting powers.

    Maybe the rest of the locals don't know about the details, they just know their ruling class got much more powerful one day and that they've prospered ever since, but a side effect is they need to wear those pendants.

    And the rulers could have either figured out how to imprison the entity on their own, or someone else told them how to do it (a rival of the entity? An agent of evil? A well-meaning person who was clueless about the rulers' true intentions?).

    Or all of this could apply to an evil entity, too, but with the twist the entity is far less harmful or evil than the people who enslaved them.
    Yeah there are a lot of ways subvert the standard trope. Whether the entity is good or evil there can be a lot of political consequences of it being discovered. If/When it becomes known to the world that a powerful entity is imprisoned in this otherwise sleepy border town suddenly all the major powers will be interested in the town and possibly even start a war to control the site. If the entity is evil, cults might form trying to gain power and free it (And any PCs wanting to multiclass Warlock have Patron sitting there ready to reward them). If it's good and say a servant to one of the gods then the relevant church will move in and possibly cause lots of friction in the town. One possibility is an angelic creature that has gone insane after millenia of imprisonment. Sure it's good and therefore you should free it, but it's insane so who knows what it will actually do once free. There's all sorts of possibilities if the PCs can't actually do anything right away, and it's a great way of getting them invested in the area as their "failure" in doing something might make them feel responsible since their curiosity ends up being the cause of what happens next.

    To the OP, my suggestion would be to have anyone unprotected make say a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw or suffer nightmares. The nightmares get progressively worse with the entity taking more "screen time" in the nightmare and the emotional effect becoming more prominent. So the first nightmare you only catch a glimpse of the entity and just end up cranky that morning, but by nightmare 3-5 the entity can hold a real conversation with the person and will try to get the person to help free it and this is when the "mark" appears.

    So in the minds of the townsfolk the pendants are simply dreamcatcher like devices that help them sleep better. They don't instantly get a mark if they forget to wear it one night, but it's still relatively known that you simply sleep better when pendants are around.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Goblin

    Join Date
    Jul 2018

    Default Re: Mysterious Pendants [Need story help]

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    I don't know how you get inspired, but when it happens to me I rarely get the full picture. I might get an awesome idea for a story, but More than half of the details are missing, and I just can't figure out the rest!

    Can you help me flesh this one out?

    In the town my party is going to there is a rich culture. One of the iconic visuals for this town are the intricate woven patterns in all clothiing, centered around a light blue pendant of some sort. Some people wear in in their hair, some as necklace, but all the townsfolk have one of these light blue stones.

    This has been a part of the culture for so long that the townsfolk no longer know it's origin. It is actually a protection charm that wards them from the powerful magic in the area.

    Whenever someone who's not wearing a pendant takes a long rest in this area there is a cHance they have to roll a saving throw. If they fail their save the receive the "Mark of Hate"; a small blot on the back of their hand. This has the effect of amplifying strong emotions, and is going to be a main plot point later on in the story.

    I need the curse in effect to drive a part of the story forward, but after that I'm pretty sure the players are going to make a connection between the curse, its effects and the pendanrs.

    ...But that's all I got! When I try to think more about it, Im complete blank! I just know my players are going to go on an investigating spree to to figure this curse out, but I have no idea what there is to figure out! The way it came to me was just as a "thing that is" not "a thing something can be done about.

    Can you help me figure out what I should tell my players when they start investigating the Mark, the pendants and the magical effect?

    I'm pretty sure it's really anticlimactic for them to figure out the connection between the area, the pendants, and the curse, but have no way to look into it. :/

    Is that maybe ok? They just figure out the connections, and that the curse is automatically lifted when they leave town, and that's the end of it? The town so might thank them for revealing the truth of the pendants, and they can now start giving travelers a pendant when the come to town, so they don't go crazy. Does that work?
    Cool idea, very evocative of the nazars of middle eastern cultures.

    If the curse and it's solution have been around long enough to be normalized in the culture this much, the PCs might receive some push back from the locals on even attempting to investigate/disrupt things. Some fertile ground here.

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