Page 1228 - Bronze Opportunity

1st Jun 2019, 6:00 AM in School Raze
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Bronze Opportunity
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Newbiespud 1st Jun 2019, 6:00 AM edit delete
Newbiespud
There's always those sidestories and sidequests that never really got the attention of the party, or never found a natural way to be integrated into their path... Any hidden stories like that?

14 Comments:

Jannard 1st Jun 2019, 6:57 AM edit delete reply
Oof, I got a couple of those, but I'll go with one of my favorites:

The team had just been recruited for The Longest Fetchquest, which required them to travel to the other side of the continent. One of the members of the party (named Alesha) was a pirate captain who had lost her ship to mutiny and suspected said ship was on a free port island that happened to be on the way and one of their first possible stops (they were going by boat), so her plan was to recover her ship and transfer the party to it for the reminder of the journey.

This island was a free port in a more traditional sense, several kingdoms and free cities had posts there but nobody claimed ownership for political reasons, and the closest thing to a local government was corrupt, so the place was also home to pirates and smugglers of all sorts, but it was far from just anarchic chaos. There were several factions vying for power, including the most powerful one, a band of pirates turned bullies commanded by a vampire spawn pirate, and there was also the head of a criminal band that had escaped the party in the previous adventure but held no grudge towards them, and was playing at being an envoy for the city the party started the adventure from. There was plenty to do and at least a couple subplots to attend, with good motivations for each character to want to involve themselves in one. The idea was for the party to spend a couple sessions there, disrupt the balance of power and involve themselves in either justice, revenge, politicking or whatever they felt like doing. So far, so good...

But here's the thing, Alesha was actually a renegade from a nation of reavers who were considered enemies by the pirates of the area, so her player was very guarded. Then, when I started describing this Free Port, the players immediately imagined the island of Tortuga from Pirates of the Caribbean, and even after I made some further descriptions they had already made up their mind that the place was super dangerous and piratey.

So what ended up happening? In the span of one session, the party ran into the port, quickly "negotiated" to sneak to the private areas where Alesha's ship was being held, fought some minions of the vampire captain without even caring who they worked for or why they acted so weird, stole the ship and left in a hurry. I improvised on the march to keep their momentum going because I realized there was no point in offering the kind of unsurmountable opposition that would have forced them into reconsidering, they would just have died trying to run for it.

Two things I took from that experience:
1- Be clear and careful with your wording, painting the wrong image can lead to completely warped expectations (which is only good if that was actually your intention)
2- If the party expects something radically different than what you had in mind and act accordingly, but there's no compelling reason to subvert their expectations, maybe go with what they expected and let things evolve organically.
terrycloth 2nd Jun 2019, 9:01 PM edit delete reply
That sort of reminds me of an old game where the module dictated that we infiltrate the Drow city by getting taken as slaves and work our way up through the ranks.

This is not a plan that would have ever occurred to the party.

Instead we ghosted into the city using magic and crept around by physically hiding, trying to finish our mission which was completely impossible since it was scripted to require months of social climbing.

GM decided to negotiate with us OOC so that we could get back on track because he had literally nothing to do otherwise. x.x So we had a cutscene where we were surrounded and taken as slaves (since if he'd tried to play it out naturally we probably would have fought to the death).
kedamono 1st Jun 2019, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
As in, "No adventure a GM creates ever survives contact with the players."
tipulsar85 1st Jun 2019, 9:21 AM edit delete reply
Far back in the mists of time I had a campaign planned based around the through line for Eberron 3.5 and the ones that started with "The Forgotten Forge". After they would finish I would have them run into a second patron, one that would house them and give them a minor job to test their mettle and to fill in the gap. at the end of that job the second patron get an odd letter that he would follow up on and players being an odd but currious lot might notice the letter was in this patron's handwriting. This entire affair would later in the campaign would become a Bootstrap Paradox. That letter was to tell the second patron to find the parties future selves near the Mournlands border.
Akouma 1st Jun 2019, 10:14 AM edit delete reply
Akouma
In my genius game where the players were the time police, they had a session where every household in a massive radius had their pet rocks (yes, the stupid fad that was absolutely ridiculous) autonomously roll away in the middle of the night. They tracked the rocks to some secluded park or something, where a vampire was using blood magic trying to animate a pile of them into a golem. The rocks piled together, forming a clear humanoid-ish form... then collapsed as the ritual completed. The vampire huffed, tried again several times before the players stepped in and arrested him for... whatever the hell he was doing.

So what the players never asked is why the hell he was using pet rocks instead of just rocks. They had, in the groundwork of their investigation, determined that the vampire had infiltrated the organization that made pet rocks and marked each rock with a sigil to make it return. They literally never asked what any of this meant. The answer to why he was doing that was because he wasn't a particularly powerful blood mage. He needed a shortcut to get some kind of animating force into the stone. He figured that convincing thousands of people that rocks were pets and to dress them up and care about them was a good way to instill some sort of life force into them. It didn't work because no one actually loved their pet rocks and it was all a big stupid joke to them.
Jennifer 1st Jun 2019, 10:36 AM edit delete reply
In my first campaign, I intended a bit of royal intrigue, with hints that the new queen's uncle had had a hand in her father's demise. While the players headed off on something completely different, a voyage to a dragon-haunted land (which would, perhaps, prove to contain the overarching bad guy), I put them on the Katie Quinn, a small trading ship.

The Katie was based on a folksong about a similar ship called the Bessie Quinn. It describes the characterful crew ... two of whom are murderers, and I had hoped to have a mystery aboard ship. The players, however, ignored it when the cabin boy disappeared, and never got to meet the disgruntled first mate who'd murdered his daughter's boyfriend, or be distracted by the serial killer who kept the wallets of everyone in port he'd killed. The campaign gave up the ghost long before they got the chance to learn that the ship had been assigned to them because its captain regularly did jobs for Queen Kathrine and was intensely loyal to her - hence the name of the ship.
Aohaku 1st Jun 2019, 11:39 AM edit delete reply
A couple of those in my Greek themed campaign. There were Rust Monsters infesting an iron mine while giant rats ran rampant through the city. They never got around to the iron mine, so another adventuring group cleared it out, but since it took so long, the price of iron jumped.
ZhonLord 1st Jun 2019, 2:09 PM edit delete reply
In my Lankhmar campaign I had a whole planned war between the city's Thieves Guild and a much less morally scrupulous (but far more likely to keep their word) Guild of Shadows. My party kinda got wind of it then went off in about ten other directions, so I've been slowly plotting it out in the background and now the war's going to come back to the forefront - with the party having a lot less control over events since they didn't take part.
Nimbostratus 1st Jun 2019, 4:34 PM edit delete reply
The flowers mostly hiding Apple Bloom's cutie mark are a nice touch.
Digo Dragon 1st Jun 2019, 5:42 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I tried twice to have a good Castlevania plot going but with a vampire dragon instead of standard Dracula. Never got off the ground because the players didn't like the idea of not having the option to just leave and seek a different quest plot entirely.
Firestorm100 2nd Jun 2019, 11:01 PM edit delete reply
Warning! Tree Sap alert!
Syrael 3rd Jun 2019, 2:50 AM edit delete reply
Not exactly a missed -storyline-, but I recently had a 'this wall has cracks' thing in a dungeon and they -didn't- try to break it down.
keybounce 3rd Jun 2019, 8:55 PM edit delete reply
So I just found something on YouTube talking about the "Manehatten Branch of the CMC" ... I don't think I've heard anything more threatening, except perhaps a donkey wearing a bowtie ... Oh, NOT Doctor Who. Bill Nye. Never mind.

Still scary.
Guest 3rd Jun 2019, 9:15 PM edit delete reply
Oh no ... a scientist "improving" a coffee machine?

What will Mare Magnificent (aka Girl Genius) do?

Oh darn, just a speed up and no actual taste improvement. You missed a wonderful opportunity there. :-)