|Archimedes The Great|
So, the opening scenario of Phaendar's siege is pretty cut and dry when it comes to how are the PC's motivated: Survive!!, Flee!!, help those that you can... maybe. But after that first escape, I'm kind of at a loss.
I have expressed to my group that I do not allow evil characters in the AP, but even soo. I'm finding it difficult to try and think of how to convince my players to stand and fight, or simply not to just leave. Like straight up leave Nirmathas.
I've prohibited evil characters (unless the concept is very well designed and fits perfectly with the AP), and I've emphasized the characters need to have some sort of ties or heavy investment in Phaendar. I even intend to repeatedly remind them that "you're characters are not you, play them as they would play". But logic, especially when influenced by self preservation still seems to counter the intent of the AP.
The AP expresses that Nirmathas has experienced invasions and raid from Molthune and monster before and they typically retreat to the woods, fight guerrilla style, then return when ready, even at the capital of Tamran. But still.., watching your town become completely leveled by a fine-tuned hobgoblin army, and magically replaced by a giant Obsidian Castle.... seems like there really ins't really anything left to fight for.
Has anybody encountered this problem before? How do you create motivation to stick around?
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Their initial motivation is supposed to be protecting refugees from their town. I more than doubled how many they could rescue, and they ended up with over fifty men, women and children to protect. It became a bit of a race to keep ahead of patrols and find a secure place to live.
I embellished Book 1 quite a lot. We are in book 3 now, the refugees are safe, and now it's time to take the fight to their foes. But flee Phaendar entirely? They are supposed to be heroes fighting for their homeland. The other townsfolk would outright refuse. These are supposed to be heroes. If they flee, you could just run another game entirely, and have them hear news how Nirmathas completely fell, and everyone that they ever cared about is dead or enslaved.
That's the other thing to keep in mind; don't run a party of orphans. There should be family members caught up in this, loved ones, love interests... it's not murder hobos in a vacuum.
Everything those above me said holds true. But on top of that, who said fleeing Nirmathas would be easy? To quote the book:
The PCs may believe fleeing to Tamran the wisestchoice of action, but Nirmathas is disorganized and
self-sufficient. The traditional response to invasion is
exactly what the PCs have just done: flee into the woods,
survive, pick off targets when the opportunity arises, and
wait until the invaders grow bored and fall back. Aubrin
plans to contact the Chernasardo Rangers who call the
area home (a large plot point in the next adventure),
but for now simply advocates finding reliable shelter,
resources, and safety. Lifelong Nirmathi are familiar with
this strategy, and have likely done so before in the wake
of earlier Molthuni attacks. Little about the Ironfang
Invasion stands out from earlier attacks, and Tamran is
150 miles away over rough, bandit-haunted road; most of the refugees feel far safer remaining close to home and
waiting for the hobgoblins to leave.
The Legion controls everything outside the woods, and the Fangwood is way too dangerous to escort a couple dozen refugees through. You can drive this point home by using escalating encounters the further they get into the woods. I used this device even though my party had bought in that they needed to stick around-- early on they hid from a pack of drakes hunting a manticore, for example. And later when they got too good at the survival mini game and didn't feel motivated to try and find permanent shelter, I began using even more terrifying encounters, including two inspired by the Gloaming Wood and Felicity Vale from the back of the book.
You've got all the tools you need to motivate them.