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Help me plan out neat plot ideas for my custom campaign?


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


Hello all, I've played 3.5 a good amount and my group is taking the shift to PF to try it out. (Not to mention my first post here... hi all! :D )

I haven't GM'd before, but I figure we all have to start somewhere.

That said, I also want a pretty good campaign if I can help it.

Thus far, the whole campaign, simplified, essentially is summed up by saying that the world as it is functions on a mostly global level.

The major nations are all generally friendly to each other currently, and there aren't any huge problems. However, over the course of 10 years, it devolved into a rather large upset.

I have it to where there are 4 major nations, one at the north, one south, and two that are the mainland that are divided by a large mountain range.

The idea I had was that SOMETHING happened that caused the Southern Nation, let's call it Nation B, to blame the North, let's call it Nation A.

So Nation B blames Nation A, but obviously that doesn't just start things, so it takes a while for it to kick off, but after they get enough steam in their own nation, they start trying to spread the word to the mainland.

The rest is actually kind of unimportant from here because mainly I just wanted help on thinking of a good hook on what could be a cause of things to go so terrible suddenly.

Sorry if this whole post is a bit hard to sift through, I'm not the best at organizing my ideas, but to reiterate, and possibly clarify, is there any major events I could include in my campaign's back story to spur give a decent setting?

Thanks!


Q:who would profit from starting a conflict/war?
A:weapon makers, lesser nobles, CIA types, or the clergy of a cod of war, a secret power

Q:what is their long term goal?
A:continued war, to rise in rank, to make their job intresting, thats what god says, to weaken poth nation a and b

Q:what villan/group of villans interests you enough to present it well to your players so that they will bite?
A:?

my mistakes in the past have been to start too quickly with the BA plot and overwelmed myself and the very low level PCs with things out of their league. so i would start with some monsters and dungeons until i grew comfortable with the system, my players, and the GMs chair.
let them earn the right to affect the world and 1st level is not the time.

EDIT: god of war not cod of war. though that was my first bands name


Not a bad set of ideas, thanks a lot!

And yeah, I'm mainly just trying to have a backing story that the whole world is aware of (even if they won't have the true story for a while) and they'll just be going on an adventure semi-related to it and I planned on giving a good amount of opportunities to them to do so.

So yeah, I'm TRYING to not get too headstrong into it, but I figured I'd want an idea of what to work with first.

Again, thanks!

Taldor

transvestite BBEGs. will definitely get looks from your PCs


Subtle clues that something is going to happen can be fun, especially if you can keep them subtle enough that it isn't obvious they are clues. A sense of foreboding can be a nice touch to just about any game, I think.

Think of why Nation B would accuse Nation A. Maybe Nation A is known for alchemy, and several of Nation B's warships have been sunk by alchemical solvents?


These certainly pound out my original lame idea.
Story wise, Nation A is assigned as the defenders of Sacred Cities. Each nation has a super important city within it, and it's usually kept secret from the mass populace. However, obviously they aren't impossible to find, so they agreed that Nation A, well known for it's resilience in combat, would be guarding them.

I tied in economic problems to that, making it to where they were blamed for causing far too much of an expenditure on the global economy.

Like I said, lame idea.

Story wise, I still want them to do the above, but I'm loving the ideas guys. I can definitely utilize a lot of them.
Keep it up please!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Alucard55 wrote:

Hello all, I've played 3.5 a good amount and my group is taking the shift to PF to try it out. (Not to mention my first post here... hi all! :D )

I haven't GM'd before, but I figure we all have to start somewhere.

First off, welcome.

I'll put my standard first-timer response here. You have to walk before you can run. If you haven't GMed before I would highly recommend you don't do a custom campaign as your first try. You'll have your hands full running the game, let alone doing all the odds and ends of creating and fleshing out a custom campaign. I'd wait until you are comfortable running pre-made stand-alone adventures. Then try a pre-made campaign. Then get comfortable modifying pre-made adventures. Then you'll be ready to create a custom campaign.

Alucard55 wrote:
Sorry if this whole post is a bit hard to sift through, I'm not the best at organizing my ideas[.]

This is another good reason to let someone else do the heavy lifting to start out. I wish someone had given me that advice when I started (that and having an such an amazing assortment of Adventure Paths to choose from).

OK, let's assume you ignore my advice. Don't worry most people do.

Alucard55 wrote:
The rest is actually kind of unimportant from here because mainly I just wanted help on thinking of a good hook on what could be a cause of things to go so terrible suddenly.

Famine, pestilence, death--the usual suspects.

Do you have any idea where you (and the players) want to go from here. Is this going to be a game of political intrigue? Perhaps Nation A really did kill Nation B's heir to the throne. Perhaps, Nation B is merely trying to frame Nation A, to get help from C & D.

Or is this a game of high fantasy. Where a powerful wizard in Nation A has an accident and creates some monstrosity that terrorizes Nation B. Is some ancient artifact uncovered that disturbs the balance of power.

Some extra-planar being thinks it would be fun to start a human war. Perhaps any one of the above events triggers the monster humans to invade from another continent.

You need to define what type of game you and your players want to play. It does no good to craft a great story about political machinations if the players only want to buy a ship and become pirates.


Some call me Tim wrote:
Alucard55 wrote:

Hello all, I've played 3.5 a good amount and my group is taking the shift to PF to try it out. (Not to mention my first post here... hi all! :D )

I haven't GM'd before, but I figure we all have to start somewhere.

First off, welcome.

I'll put my standard first-timer response here. You have to walk before you can run. If you haven't GMed before I would highly recommend you don't do a custom campaign as your first try. You'll have your hands full running the game, let alone doing all the odds and ends of creating and fleshing out a custom campaign. I'd wait until you are comfortable running pre-made stand-alone adventures. Then try a pre-made campaign. Then get comfortable modifying pre-made adventures. Then you'll be ready to create a custom campaign.

Alucard55 wrote:
Sorry if this whole post is a bit hard to sift through, I'm not the best at organizing my ideas[.]

This is another good reason to let someone else do the heavy lifting to start out. I wish someone had given me that advice when I started (that and having an such an amazing assortment of Adventure Paths to choose from).

OK, let's assume you ignore my advice. Don't worry most people do.

Alucard55 wrote:
The rest is actually kind of unimportant from here because mainly I just wanted help on thinking of a good hook on what could be a cause of things to go so terrible suddenly.

Famine, pestilence, death--the usual suspects.

Do you have any idea where you (and the players) want to go from here. Is this going to be a game of political intrigue? Perhaps Nation A really did kill Nation B's heir to the throne. Perhaps, Nation B is merely trying to frame Nation A, to get help from C & D.

Or is this a game of high fantasy. Where a powerful wizard in Nation A has an accident and creates some monstrosity that terrorizes Nation B. Is some ancient artifact uncovered that disturbs the balance of power.

Some extra-planar being thinks it would be fun to start a human war. Perhaps any one of the...

Well, to address this in order.

I'm only thinking about a custom because I have all summer to do it (My group and I go to the same college, so I have lots of time to plan), and as for the ideas thing, I mainly meant that in an instance like this, where I'm just formulating a post and asking a question, I'm not exactly the best at ordering it, but I'm sure this all just sounds like excuses, so I'll end that with saying I can definitely see where you're coming from and agree, but as far as the first time-thing, I FEEL like all summer gives me a decent amount of time, though I would appreciate comments on that.

As for the second part. I did plan to give my players a copy of the back story (generalized, and not exposing any major details, of course) so they'd know the set up and what's happening.

They, of course, can do whatever, I won't force them otherwise, but they're generally serious, but fun, so I feel like they'll get the cue that the back story is a hint of "This is important and probably things to consider while playing."


Which side are you expecting your players to take? Are you prepared to switch your plans around if they pick a side you didn't expect? That can make a lot of difference, though making stuff up on the spot can too.

Also, of course, welcome to the boards. Don't feed the trolls! ;)


Yeah, I plan for there to be a rather vague start on who is "right" just because I want them to have quite a large reign on what they want to do.

Gradually it'll show that Nation A is actually "good" but I'll throw in a few things that suggest they're pretty much the same in other ways.

Kind of a no one is better than the other, scenario, at least until near the middle, where it starts to become clear.

I'm fairly positive that they'll pick Nation A though, just referencing how they play in other games, but I'm planning for an anything goes path as well.


The two kingdoms were having a major trade argument. One kingdom is the primary producer of raw goods while the other makes finished goods. The old agreement expired this year and both kingdoms want a better deal than they previously had. The chief good to be discussed is a glowing moss that can be uses for ink and textile dye.

Both kingdoms were to send an envoy of diplomats and their respective princes. One kingdom showed up on time the other only sent the diplomats. The prince was on his way. There was a huge explosion that killed all the diplomats and the one prince. Nothing can be proven but both nations suspect the other of betrayal. Trade between the nations is almost nonexistent as they only trade through proxy nations now. The proxy nations are getting rich and the two main nations are hurting financially.


HermitIX's idea can go hand-in-hand with my sabotaged ship idea, at least to start it off. His idea expands a bit more than mine.

Perhaps one of the proxy nations mentioned could be behind the sabotage, gambling that A and B would eventually use them for trade?


My suggestion is to not decide the whos or the whys at this point. Work on just building your opening setting where the players will be and a few starter adventures. At this point, just work on building the first few adventures and a strong villian for the low levels as the conflict begins to break out between the two countries.

Run it like real life, and just note every possible reason the other country could be attacking and run them rampant as rumors. You don't have to pick which one is real at this point. Get a feel for the players and the game before making all these big decisions.

In other words, you are making level 11 decisions at level 1. If you feel you need to be that organized, that is fine too, but my suggestion is start at the beginning where your players will be and interacting before you involve yourself too much with these international politics which might never get involved with actual play.


Honestly, I would consider adapting something that already exists. As someone who has done this for years, it is FAR easier to modify than it is to create from scratch.

Maybe you are good enough to do it from scratch. Who cares? If you want to play more often, prepping for a game is a better use of your time.

Finally, if you want nations at war, take a look at War of the Burning Sky, from EN world. Or Red Hand of Doom. Same basic ideas, except it's already written.


Hey guys, been a bit busy lately, but just wanted to pop in and thank you all again for the suggestions.

@rkraus2, Yeah, I see that, I'm definitely looking into other stuff for inspiration, but I don't want all of it to be cookie cutter, so I just was trying to think of a few things that might be kind of neat. But thanks for the suggestions!

@pobbes, This is entirely possible, however, I still thought that since I plan on sending my players a copy of the accepted back story that a good portion of the world believes, I should have a reason listed, true or not, on why Nation B is blaming Nation A. It's something I can expand on later, yes, but I want a general idea.

@HermitIX and Azten, yes yes, thanks for the ideas, these aren't a bad combo.

Thanks again guys.


Alucard55 wrote:
@pobbes, This is entirely possible, however, I still thought that since I plan on sending my players a copy of the accepted back story that a good portion of the world believes, I should have a reason listed, true or not, on why Nation B is blaming Nation A. It's something I can expand on later, yes, but I want a general idea.

I guess it just comes down to play style because I wouldn't give the players any info like that from the GM. I would always try to flavor it in some way so as to be sourced from in the game. Let it be a herald's cry, or from a royal decree, or a barkeep's rumor. I think perspective is an important role in setting up things like this. When you tell players what "the world" thinks then you are kind of robbing them of discovering it for themselves or letting them offer up an opinion and seeing a reaction. It also helps flesh out NPCs by giving them another defining point. If there is a decree about the war pinned up in town square than important NPCs can all have a reaction or opinion to that to help make them seem more like characters with greater depth.

As for more ideas as to what happened, religion is a great factor to throw in there. I remember some old stories for the Greeks and Romans. Achilles was killed in the Iliad for sacking the temple of Apollo (why he was killed by an arrow after the war ended). In a great tale of unrest that say something about perspective, the people of Jerusalem wanted to rebel against the Romans during the time of Jesus thus their search for a messiah (and this commonly meant a religious, political, and military leader). The reason they were so upset? the Roman sacking of the temple of Jerusalem. Roman history has a different story about this sacking. Pompeii Magnus defeats the state of Israel and is seeking for spoils to take back to Rome. He goes to the largest building in the largest city (the temple of Jerusalem) and finds a room in the back concealed from the rest of the building (the holy of holies not to be tread upon by any except unshoed priests). He rips down the veil stomps his boots upon the sacred dwelling place of god's presence on earth and declares, "Hey, where's all the treasure?"


pobbes wrote:
Alucard55 wrote:
@pobbes, This is entirely possible, however, I still thought that since I plan on sending my players a copy of the accepted back story that a good portion of the world believes, I should have a reason listed, true or not, on why Nation B is blaming Nation A. It's something I can expand on later, yes, but I want a general idea.

I guess it just comes down to play style because I wouldn't give the players any info like that from the GM. I would always try to flavor it in some way so as to be sourced from in the game. Let it be a herald's cry, or from a royal decree, or a barkeep's rumor. I think perspective is an important role in setting up things like this. When you tell players what "the world" thinks then you are kind of robbing them of discovering it for themselves or letting them offer up an opinion and seeing a reaction. It also helps flesh out NPCs by giving them another defining point. If there is a decree about the war pinned up in town square than important NPCs can all have a reaction or opinion to that to help make them seem more like characters with greater depth.

As for more ideas as to what happened, religion is a great factor to throw in there. I remember some old stories for the Greeks and Romans. Achilles was killed in the Iliad for sacking the temple of Apollo (why he was killed by an arrow after the war ended). In a great tale of unrest that say something about perspective, the people of Jerusalem wanted to rebel against the Romans during the time of Jesus thus their search for a messiah (and this commonly meant a religious, political, and military leader). The reason they were so upset? the Roman sacking of the temple of Jerusalem. Roman history has a different story about this sacking. Pompeii Magnus defeats the state of Israel and is seeking for spoils to take back to Rome. He goes to the largest building in the largest city (the temple of Jerusalem) and finds a room in the back concealed from the rest of the building (the holy of holies not to be...

Ah, yes yes, I see your point. I guess I should elaborate a bit.

Firstly, I see your point about the "robbing" them of finding it out, but one thing I might want to point out is that they said they didn't mind where they started in the world, they just wanted me to inform them so they could make their back stories sync up with the location, and the area I put them in is in a civil war over which side is to be believed. By what the "world" believes, I actually meant to say what the people around them happen to think. As they travel, they'll find completely different minded people, and completely different degrees of how much they care about the war.

So in essence, I just wanted to give them what the accepted area view is, and I wanted it to be a general idea in the first place so they could take it how they wanted.

Nonetheless, I did want something that at least sounded interesting, general idea or not.

Also, thanks for all of the good ideas and examples!

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