players are conflicted about the plot, what can I do?


Advice


So my players are a part of a government organisation in my campaign and for the better part of 6 in game months have been working to dismantle an insurrection against a group of terrorists made up of monstrous humanoids, by killing it's members and sabotaging their operations and losing friends along the way and it is all coming to a head in what is expected to be a civil war. However a party member wanted to have a meeting with the leader of the terrorists only to discover that though his methods are brutal he does with the best for the people he is fighting for and his reasons aren't completely unfounded and he truly care for the monstrous humanoids who he feels are neglected by the government. there is now maybe 2 weeks until the civil war is going to break out and my players have expressed to me that they want to try and prevent a civil war they basically spear headed for the last 6 months with 2 weeks left until the date the terrorist lead said "meet our demands or we will show you our true strength" and the government has basically said "we aren't going to negotiate with terrorists who have bombed our city and killed our citizens". one player has expressed to me "Well the problem here is I feel that all I can do is alter the small things, I can't actually change any opinions, if I have to roll for it I will. feels like a small ship trying to push the earth" and I have told them "look you started a civil war and 2 session ago you wanted to blast the rebel leader in the face, the metaphorical ship is headed for the edge of the world and you guys actively broke the rudder and pushed towards this end and it's not gonna be easy to fix in this late stage in the conflict, there are very slim chances to avoid an all out war and you guys should maybe start thinking how to minimize damage at this point" but I don't feel they are satisfied with this answer and i wonder if i have made this a little too morally grey (although tbh the rebel leader is a mass murderer and serial killer of government figures who has commanded hios underlings to commit terrible acts for what he sees is a good cause as he is also a "small ship trying to move the earth" in his own way). but tell me what you think i should do or tell my players in this situation as i feel a little overwhelmed by this sudden and complete shift in the party's priories


They want to see their characters as successful heroes, not as failed heroes, or as villains, or worst of all as cogs in an uncaring machine. I can understand that.

I guess...they need to replace the terrorists as the ones dealing with the government. Or to find someone else non-terrorist (perhaps a religious organisation?) who could do so. They've got a fortnight to gain enough support to plausibly deal on behalf of the monstrous humanoid population and to use that support to negotiate with the government.

Maybe there's something they can do to extend that time? I don't know what's causing the ~ two week deadline so I can't say what they'd need to get an extension.

Laying out some general ideas like this to your players and getting them to decide how they're going to achieve them, then designing plans for adventures around that might be the way to go.


Maybe you can change the story a bit and have them discover evil puppet masters who have been pulling the strings on both sides trying to lead to a bloody civil war. And now it is up to the PCs to reveal this to the world and take them down.


Throw the situation back into the player's lap. If you've done a good job of world building the players should have a lot of NPCs they know of that they might be able to work with. If the players can come up with a plan that cuts out the leader of the rebel forces and his most psychotic followers they might be able to broker a deal between the moderate humanoids and the government.

But it is up to the players to come up with an idea. You shouldn't just give it to them. Though if they take their complaints to enough NPCs (or the right NPCs) you can have the NPC give them their ideas on how to do it.

And at that point, you need to make it difficult for the PCs to change things. All of the momentum is heading towards this civil war. If they want to change things, they should struggle. We're talking social encounters with heavy skill use. Bribes should be expected. The deals should go a lot farther than just avoiding the war. Each figure in the negotiation should be expecting some sort of benefit for their faction (or personal gain).

You need to be receptive to the players idea. Even if you can spot some flaws, as long as the general idea kind of sounds good let it work. With effort. You need to make the players feel like they struggled and they did something. Not that you just let it happen. That will be more satisfying.

And the really hardcore NPCs that you've written that want the civil war? They should fight a smaller scale battle. Or you could have the whole scene where the rebelion turns on its leaders as the faction the players worked with helps them destroy the hardcore faction.


King_Namazu wrote:
So my players are a part of a government organisation in my campaign and for the better part of 6 in game months have been working to dismantle an insurrection against a group of terrorists

So, you set the party up with a steady quest-giver, and in addition to being fantasy heroes, they get to be secret agent investigators. That's pretty cool.

King_Namazu wrote:
However a party member wanted to have a meeting with the leader of the terrorists only to discover that though his methods are brutal he does with the best for the people he is fighting for and his reasons aren't completely unfounded and he truly care for the monstrous humanoids who he feels are neglected by the government.

Never underestimate the power of a party to ruin your plotline! That being said, it is just possible the direction they are taking your story will make a better story. You started out making it a James Bond campaign, but your party decided to go native and turn your James Bond story into Avatar. Also cool

King_Namazu wrote:
2 weeks until the civil war is going to break out and my players have expressed to me that they want to try and prevent a civil war

Or finally pick a side in a war that nobody can avert.

King_Namazu wrote:
i wonder if i have made this a little too morally grey

Not necessarily: that probably depends upon the party, and your party seems to be the ones bringing the moral ambiguity in the first place.

King_Namazu wrote:
(although tbh the rebel leader is a mass murderer and serial killer of government figures who has commanded his underlings to commit terrible acts for what he sees is a good cause

Ah, now what will the party do when they see the good people of this land being alternately crushed between the merciless wheels of the state and being chewed up on the savage maws the monstrous terrorists? Will they side with the rebellion only to have to launch another rebellion the next year? What if they do manage to create peace: some kind of power sharing arrangement between 2 unscrupulous, pitiless tyrants? Would such a consolidation of power actually be better for the people, monstrous and mundane alike?

King_Namazu wrote:
one player has expressed to me "Well the problem here is I feel that all I can do is alter the small things, I can't actually change any opinions, if I have to roll for it I will. feels like a small ship trying to push the earth"

So, maybe the objective of the party should be to find a large enough lever they can use to move the world with: take sides, play one side against the other until they take over the country for themselves, forming a 3rd side! Or maybe they should focus on small things like finding a safe homeland to rescue the war victims and smuggle them out of the country.

King_Namazu wrote:
tell me what you think i should do or tell my players in this situation as i feel a little overwhelmed by this sudden and complete shift in the party's priories

I say go with it. Flesh out the details of your civil war and pull the trigger on it unless the party actually decides to and finds a way to stop it. Let your party play in your sandbox. Let them squish ants. Let them rescue ants. Make extensive preparations for whichever direction you think the party will go in and hope those preparations will have been enough. If the party hasn't figured out that the revolutionary leader isn't just as evil as the State, reveal that to them at your pleasure.

I think you have some cool things going on in your campaign, and what you are perceiving as problems are really just opportunities to make it cooler. I bet it will be overwhelming, but there is a lot of potential for a lot of awesome.


Honestly it sounds like you set up a beautiful premise and story and through the player's own actions they have realize that everything is not quite as easy or simple as it seems.

As in most of cases of violence between political/governmental groups both sides usually have a bit of real justification for starting or continuing violence. Rarely is either side completely evil (or completely good).

You're players started a war and now they want to avoid it because they suddenly started to sympathize with the enemy. The best way to approach this is probably for the players to actively sabotage their own government. Not kill anyone but to make it impossible for their government (that I assume has superior forces) to successfully deploy troops.

Afterwards, they can try to mediate between the two forces to end violence and address the grievances of the monstrous humanoids. Of course, the government is probably more likely to label them traitors (which they would be) and attempt to kill them.

So yeah....this simulates the real world well, but I can understand how it might not be the successful resolution the players wanted.

Ah well...sometimes there are lessons to be learned. Best of intentions so forth and so on.


I also want to add this whole things seems like it could be summed up with a couple quotes from the Princess Bride:

Quote:

Inigo Montoya: You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you.

Westley: You seem a decent fellow, I hate to die.


They could always go full

Spoiler:
Katniss
and kill both the government and terrorist leaders. Send whoever fills the power vacuum a message that "don't mess up or we're coming for you, too".


so I'm loving this feedback, to give some more plot to you guys to help you better help me this campaign is set in a fantasy version of the vioctorian era, they are fighting for a monster hunting order funded by the british empire that fights threats across the globe while also taking in the broken and abandoned creatures and giving th em new purpose as agents of the order. the leaders of the BLack Order (yes that's a hat tip to D.Grayman) are a level 20 cavalier who is a somewhat brash young militaristic leader who at the same time isn't a fan of playing by the rules, his right hand is an ancient wizard named Tim who is basically an eccentric version of Gandalf who trolls my part with magic and sass whenever he can, a female sniper slayer who is as cold as they come, a clockwork cyborg mystic theurge

Spoiler:
Who to get revenge on the monstrous humanoids of the world is the puppet master in the shadows and the BEBG pushing the war to a head so he can take out the order and government that prevents him from completing his goals and the monstrous humanoids he despises after orcs viciously ripped him and his betrothed apart and left him for dead upon which he rebuilt his body and swore his revenge.
, and a lvl 20 bard who was a farther figure and pacifist who loved all and too the party. sadly this bard was murdered by who the party thought was the rebel leader but was revealed that they merely took the credit after the bard who he planned to use as a peaceful mediator died and any hope he had of a peaceful alternative died with him. all the leaders are like the party's mentors or parental figure, or rolemodel in some way or another so it would be a hard choice for them to fight the government given it's sheer power as the most powerful empire of it's era and the lvl 20's who protect it and are their family, the revel leader also has no choice but to fight as he is in truth a sentient construct who from his awakening has had his life on a timer due to the tamper proof bomb in his chest, he was also implanted with the memories of the previous leader of their order, a swashbuckler who believed in equality and freedom above all else. the revel leader has expressed to the party that while he agrees that this conflict is not what he wished for he can't stop after all he's done and having so many people die for his cause. the party stole a scroll of miracle from him in order to heal the queen who was injured and infected with a magic resistant disease when they failed to protect her, but they don't realize is it was the one thing that could have defused the bomb in the rebel leader's chest and he let them have it and fully plans on going out with a bang taking all his wrongdoings and those of his underlings with him. however, they are now 5 ft infont of the most politically powerful person in the globe and she is in their debt, and i have told them this favor will be on par with what a miracle spell is capable of use it wisely, though ofcourse the queen historically is a benevolent and motherly figure as is this version of her so there are ethical limits on what they can do with it.

but yeah it feels as though my players feel a bit powerless when in front of all these big fish but they don't understand the power they have as PCs as an inexperienced group and one that isn't very intuitive (seriously talking to the rebel leader is perhaps the one and only thing they've done that i could consider out of the box after nearly 3 years of this campaign) but I'm going to as the queen give them the reigns and the tools to try and complete their goal


The two week limit is caused by the remaining lifespan of the rebel leader then? No extensions if so short of finding another cure. Even if your plot has it that this scroll in particular was the only one, it might be worth compromising your principles a little to retcon a second copy.

Perhaps one of the Rebel's people was frantically searching since the original was stolen and has found leads on copy #2; the leader is stuck in doom and glory mode and won't waste effort on this, but the searcher heard enough about the PCs to realise that they want a route out of this and so they reach out to the PCs. Further twists and turns on this plot are certainly possible, YMMV.


avr wrote:

The two week limit is caused by the remaining lifespan of the rebel leader then? No extensions if so short of finding another cure. Even if your plot has it that this scroll in particular was the only one, it might be worth compromising your principles a little to retcon a second copy.

Perhaps one of the Rebel's people was frantically searching since the original was stolen and has found leads on copy #2; the leader is stuck in doom and glory mode and won't waste effort on this, but the searcher heard enough about the PCs to realise that they want a route out of this and so they reach out to the PCs. Further twists and turns on this plot are certainly possible, YMMV.

There is someone who was searching for it, his second hand who is a sadistic teifling eldrich knight who absolutely despises the group and they want his head on a pike as well :/ he is absolutely a fanatic but he is also the party's #1 enemy so i don't know if they'll ever work together, infact he's slated to burn down their mansion next session and duke it out on last time

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