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Need a few pointers for a VERY malicious encounter...


Advice

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I have in mind an encounter with all of my players' characters that have been killed throughout my campaign so far and I want to shock my players more than their current PCs, of course. I want the returning characters to be under the control of a mastermind, so they can act of villains.

I have in mind to build these characters as grave knights (they all qualify for that template) under the control of a lich spellcaster... but can YOU guys give me more ideas on how I could make a great encounter using the my players' dead PCs as villains ?

Thanks in advance


Are you looking more for surprise factor or dread factor from your players?

If you just have all the dead characters they've ever left behind all just jump out, you're likely to get maybe 30 seconds of genuine surprise and then a groan before the combat starts, (unless you've foreshadowed this somehow)

I would respectfully suggest that you work this for the longer play, allow the players new characters to hear of some of the exploits of their old characters from an unaffiliated NPC.

... allow them to bask in the vicarious joy of hearing someone talk up a character they used to play

... give them a little rope, while simultaneously teasing the story with exploits that they didn't do, leaving them wondering if the legend of that character grew with the retelling, or if this NPC is confused, set the initial hints that the old characters have 'taken on new life' so to speak.

Allow the story to continue with maybe one or two of these characters are noticed as the 'bad guy commander who leaves just before a fight' setting minions upon the party and escaping while just allowing the players a fleeting glimpse at a suspiciously familiar looking enemy commander.

Once the story continues and the 'arena shrinks' so the players are boxed into a circumstance where they know a big fight is just ahead and can not be avoided, make sure they now find the truth, that the characters they knew and loved are now the villains to this story.

... make the players sweat out the anticipation of what a hard fight this is going to be, where they discuss their former characters' weaknesses and strategic advantages.

make them taste the fear of fighting their own creations before the battle begins....

If you are going down this road, make it more than a momentary surprise. make it hurt.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Maybe bring it on as a slow boil.

Have them hear rumors of the deadites. For example, knights wielding weapons or using spells or combat styles the PCs used to use. Have the players reminince about that PC they used to have that also used a glaive, etc. etc.

Maybe have them have an encounter with masked versions of their dead PCs. The N(ecromatic)PCs leave the scene early for some reason. Maybe a common foe using

Then have another encounter where their identities are revealed.

And then violence ensues.


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Those characters aren't yours to abuse, they belong to the players. You need to get permission from them to do this.

Shadow Lodge

DrDeth wrote:
Those characters aren't yours to abuse, they belong to the players. You need to get permission from them to do this.

I couldn't disagree more. Once they're dead--or ages gone, if they retired/became Gods/the next game started much later--they're absolutely fair game for the GM to bring back. If it tortures you to think of someone else playing your character, you're free to think of them as an exact duplicate that isn't actually that character, but I contend that this is the sort of thing that makes games awesome. Furthermore, in any game in which I played long enough to get attached to a character, the GM also played a part in forming that character, and has at least partial rights to him. I'd never give up my character sheet, perhaps, but I'd certainly hand over a copy for later use.

That being said, JiCi, exactly how many of their characters have you killed, and over what span of time? I can't help but be curious.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Getting permission could ruin the surprise.

Besides, it's easier to get forgiveness afterwards than permission beforehand.

;-)


pathar wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
Those characters aren't yours to abuse, they belong to the players. You need to get permission from them to do this.
I couldn't disagree more. Once they're dead--or ages gone, if they retired/became Gods/the next game started much later--they're absolutely fair game for the GM to bring back. If it tortures you to think of someone else playing your character, you're free to think of them as an exact duplicate that isn't actually that character, but I contend that this is the sort of thing that makes games awesome. Furthermore, in any game in which I played long enough to get attached to a character, the GM also played a part in forming that character, and has at least partial rights to him. I'd never give up my character sheet, perhaps, but I'd certainly hand over a copy for later use.

Legally they are that players intellectual property. Morally too, imho.

I'd be happy to discuss allowing my DM to do this. But he'd have to get my permission.


Why not have some variety here? If they're all grave knights, it's going to get awfully boring. Have you considered the broken soul template? Have you considered having one of them be a ghost who they have to free to send off to their deserved place in the afterlife, perhaps by rescuing those who didn't die with him? Have you considered the lich using magic jar to appear in the body of one of them? Have you considered one of them BEING the lich? How about the lich trapped one of them and the clock's ticking before they're turned?

And, really, why does the lich care about the current group of PCs?


a gm wanted to do this exact thing to me as a player who'd just lost his character.

If you're at or near the same mind set as I am, then you build and invest in that character's storyline. It's your story, and everyone's participating to flesh that story out. If the character dies, then that's the end of that part of your story. The gm taking that character for his personal use means that it is no longer your story, someone else is telling you what is going to happen or how your character now acts.

Especially when the plans of the gm contradict everything the player has tried to be. My gm wanted that 'oooooh, he's a villian now.' effect. I stonewalled him. There's no way my character, a generally nice guy doing the best good he can, damn be the consequences, would suddenly turn on his party (yes, i know, magic). especially when, game-wise, the gm killed him with a one shot kill from a creature who's cr was (in my opinion) far beyond the party yet. He then chose to 'take it easier' on the rest of the party, ignoring DR, Special attacks, and lowering hitpoints.

I guess it's a keep off my lawn thing. you want bad guys, make your own.


I solve this issue upfront.

"By playing in this campaign, you consent that whatever evils might befall your characters, once they are no longer player characters in the campaign the GM has authority to use them as NPCs in this or future games."

I've yet to reuse anyone's PCs this way, but if I always say it could happen then it's covered.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Also, there is precedent in RAW with monster abilities that "take over" the PC or turn dead PCs into monsters, like shadows, vampires, and werewolves.

I specifically designed an adventure where 3 players, each playing multiple characters, were trapped on a ship with an undead that spawned more undead when it killed. So the players got to feel the horror of having their PCs die and then become opponents to their surviving PCs.

And it was really fun.


Unless the GM had my exact build I would not worry about it, unless he was a better optimizer than I was. I would know my PC's weaknesses better than the GM most likely.

Other than that I would see it as some guy with my character's name. :)


PCs are just characters in a grand story... how much input they have in that story is often up to them to decide, but if a PC passes, their body doesn't disappear is a puff of pink elephants and gum drops... they decay like everyone else, and are subject to the same spells and effects everyone else is. Don't like that the GM used you as a villan? There are spells that prevent you from being 'reused'... maybe have the foresight to prep for death when your job is to get swung at with all manner of magical weaponry. Just be glad he doesn't use your corpse as a meat production plant with that spell that renews flesh on a skeleton + purify food and drink for a band of ghouls you encounter shortly thereafter.


This could be an epic adventure, depending on the number of dead characters I would spread the grave knights out with just a few in a random encounter and leave a few hints that they are hero's of old come again. That will start the questions of is this an isolated thing or are all old heros being targeted? And if they start looking maybe leave a few clues left by said Lich to lure them into a nice dungeon trap with more of the fallen heros. Plenty of RP and combat possibilities.


pathar wrote:
That being said, JiCi, exactly how many of their characters have you killed, and over what span of time? I can't help but be curious.

Let's see... 7 characters. I'm running a 6-player game, all have lost one character, except for one who lost 2 characters so far.

SmiloDan wrote:

Getting permission could ruin the surprise.

Besides, it's easier to get forgiveness afterwards than permission beforehand.

;-)

My thoughts exactly...

roguerouge wrote:

Why not have some variety here? If they're all grave knights, it's going to get awfully boring. Have you considered the broken soul template? Have you considered having one of them be a ghost who they have to free to send off to their deserved place in the afterlife, perhaps by rescuing those who didn't die with him? Have you considered the lich using magic jar to appear in the body of one of them? Have you considered one of them BEING the lich? How about the lich trapped one of them and the clock's ticking before they're turned?

And, really, why does the lich care about the current group of PCs?

Hey now, calm down... I had this idea in mind, but that's why I asked for other suggestions. The reason why I would try graveknights is because they raise dead characters, since their previous chaarcters were all killed, as undead creatures, and a lich would be a suitable character to bring them back from the dead as minions and control them. As for the lich's role, well, it's just about getting strong minions for its own sinister purposes and it just happens to be the players' previous characters.

shadowmage75 wrote:

Especially when the plans of the gm contradict everything the player has tried to be. My gm wanted that 'oooooh, he's a villian now.' effect. I stonewalled him. There's no way my character, a generally nice guy doing the best good he can, damn be the consequences, would suddenly turn on his party (yes, i know, magic). especially when, game-wise, the gm killed him with a one shot kill from a creature who's cr was (in my opinion) far beyond the party yet. He then chose to 'take it easier' on the rest of the party, ignoring DR, Special attacks, and lowering hitpoints.

I guess it's a keep off my lawn thing. you want bad guys, make your own.

That's why I was looking for the graveknights, as it turns the base creature into an Evil version, and basically screwing his or her moral code altogether. Like I said, those previous characters are dead, they're not alive.

Alright, let me just recap a few things:
- I want to use my players' previous chaarcters that got killed during my campaign.
- I want to make them villains/evil characters under the control of someone else.
- I thought of using the graveknight template because:
* it can be applied to any character with any class.
* it turns them evil.
* it can be justified to how they got created, such as using mecromancy.

You guys suggested me the following:
- Build up the encounter: I couldn't agree more, it's essential, because I'm not looking to shock the PCs, but the players themselves, as in "WHAT ? WHAT DOES MY PREVIOUS CHARACTER IS DOING HERE ???"
- Go with the ghost template: I'm afraid I cannot use such, because I don't know the previous characters' own agendas and motivations, so I can't justify myself their purpose or unfinished business. Asking my players about that would also ruin the surprise as well.
- Go with the broken soul template: that template can be applied only to living creatures, which can't be done in my case because they're dead...
- Go with the lich's magic jar: again, they're dead...
- Go with one of them being the lich: again, they're already dead...
- Go with undead spawns: it could work, but I'm gonna need the lich anyway because the characters were not killed by undead creatures with the create spawn ability.

The last one seems quite interesting. I'd like to add something else: you know the city of gold that is presented in Eberron's Explorer Handbook that the designers decdided to fill with undead to the brim ? I'm using it for my Eberron campaign, using Pathfinder rules. So what I had in mind was to use that city as a place to first meet the dead PCs, since it's a propre place. I haven't decided for the lich, because ti can be human/medium or giant/large.

If I'm going with undead spawns, I can't think of any better templates than the Dread [Undead] templates from Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary (which all got converted to PF in the d20pfsrd), in addition of going with existing templates, like the skeletal champion, vampire and, of course, the graveknight.

Here's what I got for the dead PCs.
- two barbarian
- a rogue
- a druid
- a monk
- a wilder
- a ranger

I'll look for the appropriate templates myself, but feel free to suggest stuff.


Bringing them back as undead is so predictable....apply the Worm that Walks template....Now that's creepy and it may take your PCs awhile to figure out what they are fighting if they haven't run into one before.


DrDeth wrote:
I'd be happy to discuss allowing my DM to do this. But he'd have to get my permission.

Just out of curiosity: If the GM didn't get your permission, then what?

Back on topic: I like the Worm that Walks idea, but don't stick to just one concept. There're plenty of undead templates out there. Add a different one to each character.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

DrDeth: Did you have a bad experience with a GM filching one of your PCs? Everyone else seems to think it would be super awesome to encounter undead versions of previous characters, but you seem pretty adamant about it being a bad idea. Why is that?

Shadow Lodge

DrDeth wrote:
Legally they are that players intellectual property. Morally too, imho.

This has already been addressed, but I'll note that I, too, find this to be a fairly unconvincing argument.

shadowmage75 wrote:
a gm wanted to do this exact thing to me as a player who'd just lost his character.

Well there's no sense rubbing salt in the wounds. If your character just died, he should have left it alone for a while. But that's not the same thing as coming back later.

shadowmage75 wrote:
You don't really need to grind it in like that. How is it that people can stand talking to you, when this is how you post? and yes, I've been seeing your posts in several threads. Just explain the situation, you don't need to talk down to everyone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect


pathar wrote:
...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect

Thanks for that link. It is a state that I've noticed for years. Many people seem to become startlingly rude and obnoxious online and don't seem to see anything wrong with it.

Paizo Employee Digital Products Assistant

Removed a post and replies to it. Please don't insult other posters. It isn't productive.


I did something like this once in a Dragonlance campaign. There were many dead PC's since the group was large and at a climatic event I had the bad guy, I believe it was Artha, who was also a necromancer snap her fingers and the dead rose. The look on the parties face was great.


DrDeth wrote:

Legally they are that players intellectual property. Morally too, imho.

I'd be happy to discuss allowing my DM to do this. But he'd have to get my permission.

Yeah, that's why a DM can't describe the characters taking damage, failing a skill check, dying, being jailed, getting stolen from, or having their loved ones die. Just think what would happen if the DM could describe anything they wanted!


SmiloDan wrote:
DrDeth: Did you have a bad experience with a GM filching one of your PCs? Everyone else seems to think it would be super awesome to encounter undead versions of previous characters, but you seem pretty adamant about it being a bad idea. Why is that?

Could be totally awesome, and thus not a "bad idea". But I had one campaign where the DM didn’t like the way I was playing my PC, so after I left he turned him into some despicable villain, performing horrible crimes and atrocities.

But like I said- it could be fine, it’s just that the DM needs to run it by the players first. Why is that a problem?


VikingTopHat wrote:
DrDeth wrote:

Legally they are that players intellectual property. Morally too, imho.

I'd be happy to discuss allowing my DM to do this. But he'd have to get my permission.

Yeah, that's why a DM can't describe the characters taking damage, failing a skill check, dying, being jailed, getting stolen from, or having their loved ones die. Just think what would happen if the DM could describe anything they wanted!

Sure he can. But he can’t say my PC is doing *anything* (under his own will, that is- if dominated, etc then that’s different). “Your PC wouldn’t do that, he does this instead” is a hallmark of bad DMing. The Players control their PC’s, the DM controls the environment.


Pitt wrote:
Bringing them back as undead is so predictable....apply the Worm that Walks template....Now that's creepy and it may take your PCs awhile to figure out what they are fighting if they haven't run into one before.

There are a few problems with the Worm that Walks:

- The target might have to be living (it's not specified); since the characters are dead, it would imply that someone raised them from the dead BEFORE applying the template. If this is done, my players might be incited to regain control of those characters.
- It's for any evil spellcaster only, I could only apply it to one character... kinda of a letdown.

As for being predictable, maybe... but these undead wouldn't be just simple creatures, but characters the players once used.


DrDeth wrote:
Sure he can. But he can’t say my PC is doing *anything* (under his own will, that is- if dominated, etc then that’s different). “Your PC wouldn’t do that, he does this instead” is a hallmark of bad DMing. The Players control their PC’s, the DM controls the environment.

Look, are you gonna help with this plan or just argue over and over about something completely absurd and ridiculous ? Because right now, you're not helping.

I haven't seen something that applies a copyright on character creation. The way you're talking, taking control of a character via mind-control, raise dead or such is a violation of DMing... I can't even begin to understand this statement.

Players don't own their characters, I, the DM, do, just like a video game owns a character I can create and not me.

I'll ask again: are you gonna help with this plan or just argue over and over about something completely absurd and ridiculous ? Either you suggest stuff or start your argumentation somewhere else.


JiCi wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
Sure he can. But he can’t say my PC is doing *anything* (under his own will, that is- if dominated, etc then that’s different). “Your PC wouldn’t do that, he does this instead” is a hallmark of bad DMing. The Players control their PC’s, the DM controls the environment.

Look, are you gonna help with this plan or just argue over and over about something completely absurd and ridiculous ? Because right now, you're not helping.

I haven't seen something that applies a copyright on character creation. The way you're talking, taking control of a character via mind-control, raise dead or such is a violation of DMing... I can't even begin to understand this statement.

Players don't own their characters, I, the DM, do, just like a video game owns a character I can create and not me.

I'll ask again: are you gonna help with this plan or just argue over and over about something completely absurd and ridiculous ? Either you suggest stuff or start your argumentation somewhere else.

You have already made up your mind. But others may read your idea and think “Hmm, maybe?” I hope they read my caveat and understand it’s a very bad idea to do this without the players permission.

As I said- if PC is being dominated, etc, that’s different. Read my post. “No, your character wouldn’t do that, instead he does this” is a standard hallmark of being a Bad DM.

No, the players own their characters. Their characters are their intellectual property, both legally and morally. You own the environment.

So, I am helping. I am helping other DM’s that may not realize what a bad idea this could be


DrDeth wrote:

You have already made up your mind. But others may read your idea and think “Hmm, maybe?” I hope they read my caveat and understand it’s a very bad idea to do this without the players permission.

As I said- if PC is being dominated, etc, that’s different. Read my post. “No, your character wouldn’t do that, instead he does this” is a standard hallmark of being a Bad DM.

No, the players own their characters. Their characters are their intellectual property, both legally and morally. You own the environment.

So, I am helping. I am helping other DM’s that may not realize what a bad idea this could be.

Well in that case, I am doing the right thing, because the dead characters would be controlled by someone else and thus act differently than the players would have chosen to.

BTW, they are not controlling thees characters anymore, so I can do what I wish to do. Finally, where is it written that players own the characters they create ? Find me the exact quote from the exact book and the exact page, and only then I'll believe you. I'm not making any profit out of using these lost characters... so where does that copyright apply ?

As for me making up my mind, it's true that I'm interested by the undead spams, but if someone wants to suggest me something more interesting, I'll gladly take a look.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

DrDeth wrote:
SmiloDan wrote:
DrDeth: Did you have a bad experience with a GM filching one of your PCs? Everyone else seems to think it would be super awesome to encounter undead versions of previous characters, but you seem pretty adamant about it being a bad idea. Why is that?

Could be totally awesome, and thus not a "bad idea". But I had one campaign where the DM didn’t like the way I was playing my PC, so after I left he turned him into some despicable villain, performing horrible crimes and atrocities.

But like I said- it could be fine, it’s just that the DM needs to run it by the players first. Why is that a problem?

The only problem is that it would ruin the surprise. And the surprise is kind of the point.

But I've also had a DM that wanted to control all the players' decisions and actions. His game got cancelled.


It's up to you to keep the characterization in mind when you DM the character moving forwards. "Ooh, they're a villain now" is kind of beige and isn't very impressive, but if you keep their characterization-- in Shadowmage75's case it would have been interesting and stuck to his character to have that character rise from the dead and start helping people, damn the necromancer who raised him-- it won't offend the player any. And then you can think "Does it really make sense for me to not offer this PC back to his player?" It's a difficult road to traverse and you have to walk the line between writing PC fanfiction and writing it to the point where you might as well just rez the old character and hand them back.

Silver Crusade

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DrDeth has some apt concerns. It's true, the DM is the 'god' of their story/world/campaign. They have the absolute final say. Ideally they should be a courteous, considerate god who bears in mind the concerns of their players (and the players should do likewise in return for the 'god', of course). If you want a less loaded word, then 'owner' can easily replace it and the analogy becomes one of the players and characters being in the house (the campaign) by the owner's permission.

Nonetheless, one has to bear in mind that a character is primarily the product of the player's imagination and time investment. DMs should be careful about doing things that may come across to the player as cheapening that character's value and impact. Some players won't mind, others will, it's the sort of thing you have to gauge as you learn more about your players. Their character exists in the DM's setting under the DM's permission and authority, but it remains the player's character.

The player does cede some creative control inherently by the existence of effects like Dominate, Charm Person, and so on. Outside of these things, it's still nice to bear their character ownership concerns in mind. It can otherwise leave some players feeling that they're just puppets with no true creative input on the story (or whose desires/interests can be completely hijacked), and that often leads to resentment.

The DM/Player relationship is one best built on mutual trust and respect for the story you're coming together to tell. The DM owns it (clarifying edit: 'it' being 'the story'), but they need talented players (addendum edit: with solid character designs) who work together with you and feel that their ideas are respected in order to really make the tale work. Addendum edit: Toward that end, while I cannot cite a page and paragraph that legally state the player owns their character, it strikes me as intuitive. The character and player are valued guests in your 'world.' (end edit)

Getting back to the main topic, others have offered the same advice I would. If you're going to go for this kind of shocking swerve, you need to build it up. This is one thing pro wrestling back in the 1990s got right; you would sometimes see two 'face' ('hero') characters work together for a while, and the story showed one of them gradually becoming jealous of the other's perceived greater success. They would work this jealousy story for a few months, have the 'greater' character try to make amends and show their partner is a valued friend/ally who really is important, and the jealous character would have none of it.

When it was done right, this eventually lead to a swerve very similar to what JiCi is aiming for; the jealous character turned on his partner in violent fashion, leading to a series of matches that had their climax at a major pay-per-view event. Depending on the writers and wrestlers/characters involved, this could end several different ways... but it did yield the desired emotional pay-off. Edit: I phrased that a tad poorly. The pacing involved is somewhat different since the 'swerving' characters in question are dead/undead, but hopefully the basic idea comes across. (end edit)

Obviously you can't follow pro wrestling writing conventions in Pathfinder to the letter, they are different mediums. It is nonetheless a fine example of the benefits in working a storyline; building it up over time, letting us see some things in progress (MC Templar offered some great examples!) before going with a sudden twist with the appropriate emotional impact.


First off, I don't agree with Dr Deth's IP argument, but you should be careful with bringing the old PCs back into the game. If the players wanted them to retire peacefully or settle into a life of doing good, then having them come back as villains won't cut it. If they were killed and raised as undead and enthralled, however, that sounds like the making of an excellent story.

If you make the undead heroes intelligent and perhaps let the PCs know that they are doing all of it against their will, the players will probably want to put the former heroes out of their misery once they learn the truth. Most players would probably enjoy this campaign, personally as a player I'd be interested, but just be careful how you implement it, that's all I'll say.


Wights (including the variant cairn wights), wraiths (or dread wraiths) and shadows (or greater shadows) also make great undead that you can apply class levels to. I had a shadow cleric (of an evil god) villain once who was pretty rough on the party. She took down the party's cleric and turned her into a shadow (which the party later was able to rectify). I have had cairn wights and wraiths with PC levels as well. Great fun. Good luck!

On the other topic of players "owning" their characters, I will just say that I generally have a hand in creating the characters that my players play so at best we co-own them, but I don't think anyone considers themselves as "owners" of characters at our table. YMMV.

Shadow Lodge

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DrDeth wrote:
Sure he can. But he can’t say my PC is doing *anything* (under his own will, that is- if dominated, etc then that’s different). “Your PC wouldn’t do that, he does this instead” is a hallmark of bad DMing. The Players control their PC’s, the DM controls the environment.

Being raised as an undead and inherently evil creature doesn't count as domination?

JiCi wrote:
I'll ask again: are you gonna help with this plan or just argue over and over about something completely absurd and ridiculous ? Either you suggest stuff or start your argumentation somewhere else.

Mm, no. DrDeth's concern is perfectly legitimate and appropriate to this thread. I disagree with him, as noted, but he's not off topic.

JiCi wrote:
Players don't own their characters, I, the DM, do, just like a video game owns a character I can create and not me.

I also disagree with you. The GM has partial custody; I've already argued this. That doesn't mean he owns the characters; it just means he has the same rights to use the ... I guess I'd say "residual concept" of them. Their actions presumably had an impact on the shape of the GM's world, so he has a right to use future [re-]incarnations of them, but to declare that the ownership of the character resides in the GM's hands is just the opposite extreme of declaring the GM has no rights to them, and (in my opinion) is ultimately not useful for deliberating this topic.


JiCi wrote:
roguerouge wrote:

Why not have some variety here? If they're all grave knights, it's going to get awfully boring. Have you considered the broken soul template? Have you considered having one of them be a ghost who they have to free to send off to their deserved place in the afterlife, perhaps by rescuing those who didn't die with him? Have you considered the lich using magic jar to appear in the body of one of them? Have you considered one of them BEING the lich? How about the lich trapped one of them and the clock's ticking before they're turned?

And, really, why does the lich care about the current group of PCs?

Hey now, calm down... I had this idea in mind, but that's why I asked for other suggestions. The reason why I would try graveknights is because they raise dead characters, since their previous chaarcters were all killed, as undead creatures, and a lich would be a suitable character to bring them back from the dead as minions and control them. As for the lich's role, well, it's just about getting strong minions for its own sinister purposes and it just happens to be the players' previous characters.

I am calm. Odd response from you.


The way I'd do it is quite simple, and should theoretically appease both halves of the table. Bring them back as undead, personalities and everything in tact if desired. However, have the BBEG hold control over the former PCs via usual methods for controlling the undead (stuff like control undead and command undead + good Charisma score works). Now they are the BBEG's minions. They probably hate the BBEG worse than the PCs do, since they're also enslaved by the BBEG.

So what to do? Well, let the party get the stuffing knocked out of them once or twice during the confrontation with their now-undead PCs; and make the BBEG really stupid strong. Allow them the chance to break the hold over the former PCs that the BBEG has, allowing this portion of the campaign to end in a climactic battle with the current PCs teaming up with the now-liberated undead-PCs to take the BBEG down once and for all.

Incidentally, instead of grave-knights, I'd suggest just turning the ghoul into a template or something, or just bringing them back as undead versions of themselves (also a very simple template adjustment to make). Grave knights are oddly specific and wouldn't fit very well for quite a few of the classes you mentioned. Ghouls can be created with core magic, and are pretty good for most every class (their stats are between +2 to +4 across the board, so you can't really go wrong with ghouls and ghasts) (and ghasts have a +2 ECL and you can take the Civilized Ghoulishness feat so they appear to be living humanoids).

But yeah, instead of just making it "you vs your old PCs", making it "you vs your old PCs, before you break the bonds of slavery and get a special adventure where you play you and your old PCs side by side against the former overlord". Win/Win all the way around.

Silver Crusade

Ashiel's suggested pay-off for this build-up is a pretty good one. There are some logistical concerns (how do you handle the aftermath? Do their souls depart and the former PCs are thus once again removed from play?), but it's a nice idea to consider.


roguerouge wrote:
JiCi wrote:
roguerouge wrote:

Why not have some variety here? If they're all grave knights, it's going to get awfully boring. Have you considered the broken soul template? Have you considered having one of them be a ghost who they have to free to send off to their deserved place in the afterlife, perhaps by rescuing those who didn't die with him? Have you considered the lich using magic jar to appear in the body of one of them? Have you considered one of them BEING the lich? How about the lich trapped one of them and the clock's ticking before they're turned?

And, really, why does the lich care about the current group of PCs?

Hey now, calm down... I had this idea in mind, but that's why I asked for other suggestions. The reason why I would try graveknights is because they raise dead characters, since their previous chaarcters were all killed, as undead creatures, and a lich would be a suitable character to bring them back from the dead as minions and control them. As for the lich's role, well, it's just about getting strong minions for its own sinister purposes and it just happens to be the players' previous characters.

I am calm. Odd response from you.

My apologies, I thought you were getting upset at your first question. My bad... :)


Celestial Pegasus wrote:
Ashiel's suggested pay-off for this build-up is a pretty good one. There are some logistical concerns (how do you handle the aftermath? Do their souls depart and the former PCs are thus once again removed from play?), but it's a nice idea to consider.

Depends on how you want to spin it. There are many, many different paths you can take with this. You could give your PCs a chance to retire one of the characters and take either their current PC or one of their former now undead PCs.

Or, you could have the undead PCs wander off to find a place in the material plane for themselves, and occasionally do a side-quest where the PCs play their undead PCs occasionally.

Or you might concoct an explanation for their undead life forces being connected to the BBEG, and then being pretty well off with their afterlives which have been stolen; which means the undead PCs would go poof when the BBEG is killed or some mcguffin destroyed.

If it's intended to be a campaign finisher, then it makes for an excellent end, as the PCs get to fight against the BBEG of doom with every PCs they had played in the campaign up until that point. I mean, sometimes you just need the rest of the dead heroes to have a happy ending. EDIT: For those who prefer the english ending. EDIT 2: For those not aware, the other scouts actually died in the original Japanese version (though were resurrected after the final battle; meaning that the ghostly apparitions who join in with the main character to finish off the BBEG are undead apparitions).


I don't think that Graveknights are the best way to go about this.

For one, the flavor of a graveknight is as a solo threat, and as a carrry over from the evil tendancies of the living being it once was. I recomend against it for the same reason id recomend against an all-lich party.

Perhaps a wight, ghoul, or hueveca would suit better, or perhaps ony some of the group were fully turned.

Leaving a "failed turning" as a miniboss clue might fuel the story as well, and give a bit of variety.

Perhaps one became a ghost to avenge the wrongs done to the dead comrades, and is acting as the adventure hook.

If you keep as close to the original character of the dead PC's it should turn out best. "Unwillingly bound" is a good flavor, but one that does not mesh well with "Graveknight"


What a great idea! I ran a game where I made copies of the characters (undead) and had them ran by a powerful Vampire. The group was shocked at first. I only ran it for one battle and I almost defeated them. It would be difficult to surprise them if you leave clues. Some players are really smart and when you think they are going to zig, they zag. Maybe you could conjure up a storyline for your bad guy where he has the power to animate past hero's? Or myabe it could be a weapon, scroll, etc.

Ignore the whiny posts about players and their intelectual property. Anyone can make a character with a background in minutes. Keep your idea going and let us know how it turns out.


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Incidentally, I plan to do something a bit similar in my tabletop game. The BBEG is a big fan of simulacrum; so at some point he is going to make simulacra of the PCs and send them after the PCs. That shall make for a fun encounter as the party has to beat down hordes of mirror match clones.

It'll be fun to screw with the PCs using a few of their own tricks. The psychic monk in the party is prone to using low level powers to gain a nearly unbeatable Stealth check, so imagine the look on his face when he's besieged by about six 1/2 level copies of himself out of no where. :P

Or the party's wizard. Half level or not, wizards be dangerous folk. Especially in large numbers. :P

The party's Paladin will be amusing. She's a tank who's nearly impossible to hit by enemies of her level and has saves like a god. The players were practicing during their downtime and the wizard and Paladin were dueling to keep their skills sharp. The wizard unloaded everything he had at the Paladin (who never actually struck the wizard) but the Paladin was still up and ready to go, causing the wizard to say "Okay, I give. :P". It'll be fun to have a few of these too.

The last PC is a GM-PC that's a ghast/psychic warrior. Lots of little minions with paralysis claws. Good thing my PCs think on their toes. XD


Why not have them turn into different undead? Vampires are always nice but grave knights can be fun too!


DrDeth wrote:
Sure he can. But he can’t say my PC is doing *anything* (under his own will, that is- if dominated, etc then that’s different). “Your PC wouldn’t do that, he does this instead” is a hallmark of bad DMing. The Players control their PC’s, the DM controls the environment.

I don't agree in all situations. If a player says, "I rape all the surrendering goblins, the DM is well within his rights to say "Actually... you just don't do that."

Anyway, I was responding to your assertion that the characters are the player's intellectual property. I don't own Captain America, and therefore can't describe -anything- happening to him (in a publishing context).

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