I'm putting together a low level campaign game using the slow XP progression for four characters. I think I have a pretty good start, and I generally know the ending, I'm just having trouble filling out the middle.
The general idea I have so far is that the BBEG is the leader of a local cult who is attempting to spread his influence. He has embedded himself as a council member in the local town: well liked, respected, but no one knows he's bad.
The players, who are also members of this community, accidentally stumble upon evidence that threatens to expose the BBEG's plans. The BBEG, acting his part as a caring council member, thanks the players for their hard work and takes the evidence in order to "further research the issue and properly deal with the item(s)".
My idea from this point would be to have the BBEG use the unknowing players as pawns in subtle ways in order to further spread his influence and this is the part I'm having trouble with. I'm thinking of setting the BBEG around CR 5 or 6 or so (not too high, I plan on having a Bigger BBEG higher up), so I need some juicy adventure ideas that my BBEG could send the players on until they are of sufficient level to discover and deal with the BBEG.
Thanks in advance for any ideas you all might have!
Benefactor to BBEG is a great campaign idea.
First off, to better answer what sort of errands you want your PCs running, I think it would be good to know what kind of cult the BBEG is heading up. Murder? Demonology? etc.
I'm a very new DM so my 2 cents is quite worthless, but here it is nonetheless.
Generically speaking, collecting artifacts or creating a diversion (so he can go off and do something else) would be excellent. Perhaps eliminating a rival cult/corruption shtick? (He could use this event as his chance for emergency governing powers or something.)
Something to think about:
Simple tasks done by monsters, NPCs and the PCs independently to achieve some goal is a thing of beauty. Are you familiar with the movie, The Dark Knight? The opening scene is a perfect example of what I mean. ("I'm supposed to kill the bus driver."... "What bus driver?")
|Puma D. Murmelman|
This might not add to his influence, but the BBEG could send them on what he thinks is a suicide mission if he feels threatened. players make it somehow and may even be a little suspicious without really having anything at hand.
Or he could produce false evidence and lead the players to get rid of an unwanted competitor/enemy.
Or maybe he portrays himself als benevolent by paying and supporting the players to get rid of local threats (goblins and stuff).
Thanks for the responses so far! They are helping my stuck gears turn.
As far as the BBEG and his cult, this is what I hane so far for my adventure/campaign:
It all starts when the party, while walking down the street, notice a young child, very badly beaten, limping down the street. After some questioning, it is discovered that the child's mother who had done the deed. The group would go to the house to find the father dead on the ground and eventually discovering the mom who had somehow turned into a zombie. After the fight, the party would find a strange medallion which unbeknownst to them is a cursed item belonging to the BBEG cult that turns people into zombies. The kid would let them know that he found it while out playing and when the site is inspected, the body of the cult member ( who's death was merely coincidental ).
It is this info and medallion that the BBEG would take. So while the details can be worked on, I think it's a fairly good start.
I like the angle of the BBEG using the PCs to clean up any competition or roadblocks to his plan. I think the trick is going to make the motives appear "innocent and honest".
As far as the cult, I hadn't really developed that too fully, but I figured that they want to do something with zombies and the god of undeath.
|Azoun The Sage|
Ok, so is this taking place in a city, town, hamlet, farming community? The setting will help with the story.
Council leaders and the BBEG is one of em. Nice. How many people make up the council? Is it all human? Is the community all Human? What are the race breakdowns if not?
BBEG wants to bring about what with the rise/creation of the undead? Is there a greater goal here? Or does he just dislike every in town and wish them undeath? Has he been a long time resident of this community?
I love the concept of this BBEG and the story you are going for. To really help you on this I think alot of your story would come to you if you put more flesh into the villian and his reason for motives as well as the community.
Now simple tasks for the PC's. Well say one of the council members starts to notice the BBEG acted weird, late night meetings, whatever. Well he is doing his own investigation, perhaps just himself, and the BBEG has noticed it. Lets say the BBEG wants to turn the table, let this guy be the villian now, he convinces the party that this other council member is behind this. But he needs evidence to prove such so he can bring it out at Council. BBEG plants evidence for the PC's to find villifing this other council member. Perhaps the party confronts him one night while he is out sneaking around (conducting his own investigation remember) and believes them to be cohorts of the villian where as the PC's see him as the villian. Without to much more the party battle him and most likely slay him. Bringing the information back to BBEG: "It appears it is much more deeper than this one man, I must ask of you to investigate this further but i'm not sure who else in town may be involved. Please use discretion and help me save the town." The BBEG now uses the party to take out other members of the community, visitors to town who may spoil his plans.
Hope that helps!
The BBEG tells the PCs there is an evil cult in the town. He has been trying to uncover it, but he fears that one or more members of the council are involved with the cult. Then he starts using the PCs to spy on council members he wants to get rid of. Even if some or all of the members are not involved in some evil cult, the PCs can find some dirt on them.
The BBEG plants evidence as well as simply manipulates other council members into compromising situations. For instance, he tells one of the council members that the PCs are following him around all the time and acting rather suspicious. When the council member tries to crack down on the PCs, perhaps ordering them to stop following him around, threatening them, ect. they take it as a sign they are on to something.
Whatever magic items the BBEG needs for his ends, he sends the PCs after, informing them that 'we can not let this item fall into the wrong hands'. He may go so far as to have fakes created so when the PCs return the item, he makes a show of placing said item somewhere 'safe'. Only he stashes the fake and keeps the real item.
I would consider further twists...
Not to disparage the story, but the players might sense the whole "Senator Palpatine is Darth Sidious" approach.
Perhaps making the BBEG not embed himself in the council, but have another person entirely - maybe even a generally well respected "niceguy" (maybe the BBEG has serious "dirt" on him?) who then does his dirty work for him.
You could continue to use the councilman to further lead the PC's astray with some degree of sincerity since the BBEG isn't actually him - lots of potential for disinformation here (which, if you think about it, the BBEG would want to exploit).
He may even be torn between helping and hurting the PC's as he tries to interpret his master's plans. Maybe dropping a subtle hint - but never really going the full measure of disclosure (BBEG has my wife captive!) Then, as his cover gets more and more eroded, he is murdered and it's made to look like the PC's were responsible (or some other, innocent person). Rinse, repeat, twist, distort, parry, etc...
I think players have the ability to smell out certain plots quite easily. Now the real fun begins when they think they've figured out the plot and it just isn't that simple. This is where numerous, twisted convolutions can come in handy.
Thanks for all the advice everyone! You've all got some great ideas and I'll keep posting as I come up with more.
RE I_Use_Ref_Discretion: To be honest, the whole "senator palpaitine is darth sidious" didn't even enter my mind until you mentioned that, but I see where you are coming from with that. I was starting at the bottom (zombie mom eats family, what could cause that) rather than the other way around. But I guess to further your analogy, the BBEG would be more akin to to the sith apprentice, while some other yet to be figured out BBEG is the master.
From the sounds of the suggestions on here, I think my next step is to focus on developing the BBEG and also the surroundings/town before I start working on individual adventures.
Send them to go take out a bandit camp cause they've been hitting caravans, try and set it up so that get ambushed, take out most of the bandits, pursue the remainder only to find that they're from a small village who your BBEG has organised draconian taxes against because he needs something in the area or some such... Good PCs will fight all the harder, and hate him all the more, to redeem themselves... Imagine if a paladin PC chases some bandit through the woods, covered in blood, only to burst into a wee village and find out he just made a bunch of orphans!
Just a thought!
Why don't you have the BBEG or his council pawn have the heroes do some legitimate hero stuff. Like capture those bandits (not kill but capture) or take on a thieves guild.
What the characters don't know is that the prisoners that are supposed to be taken to the dungeon for questioning are being turned into undead slaves or being used in ritual sacrafice.
Also you might want to have a more compelling hook than a beaten child on the street. I'd go for a young pickpocket who you chase down into an alley. She then tells you how her step-father makes her do it... Telling a player that their purse jut got stolen is a much easier way to get their attention.