Help me with a plot twist, please.


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Shadow Lodge

Let me start by saying that I'm not 100% sure this is the right area for this, but I this is my best guess...

So, in my Wild West homebrew game, we have a character who is a Marshal. Its become a bit constricting for the rest of the group, who have become good guys framed for a crime they didn't commit. So, we've talked about thinking of making the Marshal an outlaw as well.

Unfortunately his lawful good, Captain America-esque, character would never willing quit the Marshals. So I've been tasked with coming up with a story line that find him in a position where he has to become a fugitive, without being a bad guy.

But I've hit writers block! I was thinking he becomes a scape goat for one of his Marshal superiors... for some reason.... but I just don't know how exactly...

So, if you guys have any ideas, I'll hear any an all.

Thank you!


Who else is in play? What other characters are there? Certainly back in the Old West regional governors were known to be thoroughly corrupt. Maybe the marshal is assigned the job of arresting a member of the governor's family, so the governor has his henchman frame him for a crime to protect his family.

The classic hero being maligned is a traditional trope. It might be fun to see what lawful good resorts to when abandoned by society. This is a perfectly workable storyline for an old west theme, and way you can play with his character and force some tough moral choices.

Shadow Lodge

Well, currently the original 3 members of the party were all framed then had their sentences bought by the railroad company. The 4th (the marshal) was added later, after this her character character died, he joined to investigate the rail, to make sure everything was on the up and up. They are all still building the railroad/settling a frontier town.

Sovereign Court

I'm confused, so the party was 3 good guys framed for a crime they didnt commit. Then another player was added and that player was allowed to choose to be a marshall? Is it possible to have the marshall player just give the marshall over to you as an NPC and then be allowed to make a character that better fits the party?


The railroad could be involved in a land scheme in conjunction with a local philanthropist. The money-bags wannabe can be using intimidation or force to quietly collect parcels of land from settlers that the railroad will pay top dollar to place their tracks on. If the marshal in the course of performing his duties learns about this or seeks to uncover the truth (even if the philanthropist or railroad only suspect he knows something) he could find himself being set up to be discredited, killed, or both.

Nothing is worse than a botched murder, especially if the murder was organized and implemented by a bunch of entitled, rich people with a lot to lose. You could even give your BBEG a monologue (when he has or thinks he has the upper hand) where he explains his grand design for the frontier and how his vision is superior and will bring stability and prosperity to the land. Remember, the best villains are never villains in their own eyes because, to them, their worldview is justifiable. That is the scariest part of all.

Also, remember escalating the threat gradually is better than an overwhelming antagonist at the beginning. Initially, it could be the philanthropist or one of the minor antagonists involved slips up and some evidence of their wrongdoings (either physical or a person) slips through the cracks and in their attempt to cover it up the marshal gets involved. Their response might be to buy off the marshal (very common practice) or to silence the marshal. Other marshals might even try to get him to drop the investigation, which alienates him from those he might seek out for help. This makes it so that he has to ally himself with unlikely forces (the PC outlaws) to make sure justice is served and the law upheld. When buying him off fails, the philanthropist might try to discredit the marshal by framing him for a crime he didn't do and placing a bounty on their head. When this tactic fails to bear fruit or if the railroad finds out, a professional hired gun (or group of hired gun specialists) might be brought in to provide a new fighting experience. Perhaps each bounty hunter has a signature method of bringing down their target (explosives specialist? but you will destroy the town!). As the bounty builds, the philanthropist feels the pressure, and the railroad grows inpatient the final card might be played. This could include destroying the troublesome town who has begun to show support for the outlaw marshal and his band of "heroes", framing the heroes in the process.

Either way, consider introducing the philanthropist as the BBEG only to reveal he is actually the mini-boss/busey.


Someone breaks the framed party members out of jail and kidnaps them, Marshall gives chase, defeats the crew handily, and then the party can convince the Marshall from there, now that he's physically outside of the town, that they are innocent and need to flee. If they decide to return, someone framed the jailbreak on the Marshall and when he returns to town he finds a large mob setting his office and house on fire.

Then it becomes a quest to figure out who framed the Marshall and who is working against the party.

That's the best I can come up with given the limited information.


Have the Marshall character discover the frame-up on the PCs. When he takes this information to his superiors like a good marshall should, have the superior be corrupted by the railroad and firmly in their pocket. After that, if he's a man of conscience, he should easily be persuaded by the mounting pressure on him by his superiors, goons from the railroad and other unsavory sorts that he should step outside the "law" and free the PCs to work with them to bring down the corrupt establishment that framed them to begin with. Walking the tightrope between being a lawman and running from that same law should make for an interesting character. I just hope he's not playing a Lawful Stupid character...


Joex gives good advice above. I don't know that I can add much, except...

You say this PC is rather like Captain America in his outlook and you cannot see how you can make him choose to be a fugitive. Question: have you seen the latest Captain America movie? If you have not, you should. It's very relevant.

Shadow Lodge

Zog of Deadwood wrote:

Joex gives good advice above. I don't know that I can add much, except...

You say this PC is rather like Captain America in his outlook and you cannot see how you can make him choose to be a fugitive. Question: have you seen the latest Captain America movie? If you have not, you should. It's very relevant.

Haha. Good point. Though, he had to fight against an entire corrupt organization... but thats something to think about...


Even more relevant is the Civil War comic book event where Captain America is a willful outlaw fighting against the United States government. To my knowledge they weren't even controlled by some supervillain or anything (though knowing super hero comic books, this moral ambiguity probably doesn't last long).

You could make a classic situation of good vs law, where the marshal can only choose one.

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