(Spoilers) Book 4--issues with motivation


Age of Ashes


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I've just read through the Fires of the Haunted City book and while I love the book and Saggorak and Kovlar are very cool and well fleshed out, I found that at the beginning of the book, it just assumes that the players are going to use the Jewelgate, but unlike the previous books there is no real impetus for them to do so. Is there something I missed?

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I mean, at this point they have already done so twice, so why quit at this point even without external incident motivating them?


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CorvusMask wrote:
I mean, at this point they have already done so twice, so why quit at this point even without external incident motivating them?

Depends on how good a time they've had on the ventures.

'Every time we go through one of those portals, we almost die, let's just not.' And so on.


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This is why the following is in my House Rules document:

Quote:
Player characters are not ordinary people. They are adventurers, and thus each character should be ready to answer the call to adventure in order to help move the story along. Homebodies need not apply.

During session 0 I spoke with my players and told them that the expectation is that they'd not play the kind of character who just wants to sit around all day and do nothing. Downtime is one thing, but when adventure calls they're expected to pick up the phone. Otherwise what is the point of playing the game?


Kasoh wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I mean, at this point they have already done so twice, so why quit at this point even without external incident motivating them?

Depends on how good a time they've had on the ventures.

'Every time we go through one of those portals, we almost die, let's just not.' And so on.

What group of adventurers would do this? Maybe the funny guy in the group, but most would be like let's do this.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Kasoh wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I mean, at this point they have already done so twice, so why quit at this point even without external incident motivating them?

Depends on how good a time they've had on the ventures.

'Every time we go through one of those portals, we almost die, let's just not.' And so on.

What group of adventurers would do this? Maybe the funny guy in the group, but most would be like let's do this.

In my experience, both playing and as a GM, PCs rarely actually want the plot they're given. Its usually thrust upon them and it makes their lives absolutely miserable. Chased by cultists, targets of ire for evil wizards, national conspiracies arrayed against you, in addition to repeated and prolonged attempts at murder. Its frankly awful.

Going through those portals has so far, two out of two times, invited trouble into the PCs lives. Not wanting to invite more trouble when you've got a castle to maintain that has to come with certain obligations as any medieval landowner would engender.

Monetary concerns for funding the castle could also be a motivating factor, but with a portal to exotic location, the amount of money to be made by importing Mwangi expanse goods is substantial already.

Acquiring personal power could also motivate, but that also leans heavily on the 'This is the game and you want to level up' wall. Unless you have the power mad wizard, its not a common motivation.

Sheer curiosity is a strong motivator, but that could be tempered by how badly (Or well) the previous excursions went.

That they also always uncover clues about some strange dragon cult whenever they do so is the only compelling argument for continuing to explore the portals--if the PCs have even put together that there's something to be done about it, otherwise its just jaunting off to meddle with other people's business.

That would actually be an interesting way to prolong the campaign: by putting a span of months or years between each portal venture.

All this to say, "Because it's there" is not always a good motivation for the PCs and as added fun, that quote is from George Mallory when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. He died trying.


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That struck me a little as I read through it, but I took a second read through of some sections and there is a secondary motivation that can be emphasised.

The NPCs you'll end up working with are rich and great at making stuff and are going to offer that stuff in exchange for jumping through hoops. I'd emphasize that when the players interact with the scout they meet and I think player greed for toys will carry the day.


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Since I reorganized book 1 to have the presence of Dahak in the gates to be a corrupting, problematic influence throughout the keep (which is why the Hellknights abandoned it), it's a pretty easy step to get to "if you want to keep your new citadel, you're going to have to cleanse the gates of this this influence." If my players neither give a s~%* about the world or their castle, then a lot more is wrong at my table than the immediacy of book 4.


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Kasoh wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Kasoh wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I mean, at this point they have already done so twice, so why quit at this point even without external incident motivating them?

Depends on how good a time they've had on the ventures.

'Every time we go through one of those portals, we almost die, let's just not.' And so on.

What group of adventurers would do this? Maybe the funny guy in the group, but most would be like let's do this.

In my experience, both playing and as a GM, PCs rarely actually want the plot they're given. Its usually thrust upon them and it makes their lives absolutely miserable. Chased by cultists, targets of ire for evil wizards, national conspiracies arrayed against you, in addition to repeated and prolonged attempts at murder. Its frankly awful.

Going through those portals has so far, two out of two times, invited trouble into the PCs lives. Not wanting to invite more trouble when you've got a castle to maintain that has to come with certain obligations as any medieval landowner would engender.

Monetary concerns for funding the castle could also be a motivating factor, but with a portal to exotic location, the amount of money to be made by importing Mwangi expanse goods is substantial already.

Acquiring personal power could also motivate, but that also leans heavily on the 'This is the game and you want to level up' wall. Unless you have the power mad wizard, its not a common motivation.

Sheer curiosity is a strong motivator, but that could be tempered by how badly (Or well) the previous excursions went.

That they also always uncover clues about some strange dragon cult whenever they do so is the only compelling argument for continuing to explore the portals--if the PCs have even put together that there's something to be done about it, otherwise its just jaunting off to meddle with other people's business.

That would actually be an interesting way to prolong the campaign: by putting a span of months or years between...

My experience is most players want to play. They take the hooks available to them and go for it to level and advance their characters. The DM's job is to make it interesting for them to do so.

I had one player that played like he was some real person prone to cowardice. He liked to project his real ideas of life onto his character thinking like most common people in a cowardly fashion always fleeing from danger that made you think why didn't this guy just stay at the farm or his house.

But most players makie heroic or mercenary adventuring types that are licking at the chops for adventure and to get out and do something. And exploring some gate that is part their newly acquired fortress is right up their alley. Getting into fights and having problems with the gate doesn't make them go "Let's not do this because of danger." Instead it makes them go "let's go through this gate and find a fight, some treasure, and get some power."

I know some folks like common person realism thinking of danger as something to avoid. But adventuring types aren't those type of people in general. They're the kind of people that crawl into unknown caves for the thrill, hire onto mercenary companies, join the military to go into danger and war, and want the adrenaline rush of danger, battle, and adventure. At least that is my experience and how I see it.

The only motivation my players need is there is a magic gate in their fortress and they have the key.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
But most players makie heroic or mercenary adventuring types that are licking at the chops for adventure and to get out and do something.

I have never seen this, ever. Only being slightly hyperbolic. It is very rare though.


Tossing my hat into this, the Backgrounds from the Age of Ashes Player's Guide are, for the most part, neutral in regards to motivation. However, three of them should provide players with a more "self-motivating" prod: Dragon Scholar, Haunting Vision, and Reputation Seeker.

I entirely understand keeping the internal logic of "but we have what we want, why bother with more?" especially while there really aren't any obvious external threats to the PCs. I know that it was mentioned that this AP wanted players to be more motivated to do things without NPCs constantly pointing the way, as well. I, personally, like this direction, but I think that some more thought could have been given to providing more hooks for the players to become interested in going through the gates.

I'm quite fortunate, since I have a player in my group who took the Haunting Vision background, and I'm using that to give them horrible dreams of what's to come at the start of every new book. (Book 1 began with her seeing an inferno pouring forth from beneath Citadel Altaerein, Book 2 starts with her seeing chains and smoke wrapping up the Mwangi jungles with the shadow of Dahak over it all, etc.)

As a GM, I like being challenged to take what's in an AP and adjust it for my players. I think that a lot of GMs feel that way, but not everyone shares this idea. I do fear that APs will end up more hand-holding than I prefer, but in this case, more clear motivation to be heroes where they aren't necessarily required could help.

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Kasoh wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
But most players makie heroic or mercenary adventuring types that are licking at the chops for adventure and to get out and do something.
I have never seen this, ever. Only being slightly hyperbolic. It is very rare though.

And I have never seen anyone making adventurer that avoids adventuring <_<


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CorvusMask wrote:
Kasoh wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
But most players makie heroic or mercenary adventuring types that are licking at the chops for adventure and to get out and do something.
I have never seen this, ever. Only being slightly hyperbolic. It is very rare though.
And I have never seen anyone making adventurer that avoids adventuring <_<

A lot exuberance for adventuring gets sucked right out of PCs after an alligator springs out of the water, grabs a member of the party and deathrolls them to negative in six seconds, and a fun source of recurring nightmare fodder.

The players are usually for it, its the PCs who end up traumatized and reluctant to continue on. They will continue on, but its nice when you can hang that on something heavier than 'Well, we don't have anything else to do.'

It can depend on the style of game that's being run, but my group has never found 'Adventure awaits, tally ho' to be anything but the battlecry of the short lived and foolhardy.

On the other hand, we also never have the problem of 'what do all these High level characters do after the adventure' because its 'avoid adventuring'.

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Kasoh wrote:
On the other hand, we also never have the problem of 'what do all these High level characters do after the adventure' because its 'avoid adventuring'.

:D Well that is positive at least! xD


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Kasoh wrote:
I have never seen this, ever. Only being slightly hyperbolic. It is very rare though.

Really? What kind of characters do your players make?


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Really? What kind of characters do your players make?

I'm not saying that I have problems getting people to go on adventures, just that their motivations aren't 'Adventure awaits, lets go!' or Mercenary types. After writing it all out, though I see it was more common than I initially stated or remembered. Memories are funny that way. So I may have to concede my hyperbole, but I still feel like the point mostly stands.

And maybe some of those meet your definition and we define motivation differently. I suppose I just objected mostly to 'Licking at the chops for adventure' because PCs never seem that excited for it.

Also, I apologize for the Humblebrag of AP completions.

Ironfang Invasion:
A brave coward rogue who is on the run from his past
A half orc bloodrager with a mechanical heart of silver
A taciturn Erastillian warpriest
A human arcanist raised by dwarves coming home from graduation at the Academae
A half-drow druid with no common sense.

None of them were thrilled at becoming the protagonists, but the Bloodrager stepped up. I just recall this party had the most trouble wanting to be in charge of the group of survivors at all. There was a bit more 'Well we're the only ones who can fight, so I guess we have to because plot' than I enjoyed in this one.

Wrath of the Righteous:
A tiefling inquisitor (vmc rogue) of The Redeemer Queen out to prove he's better than the paladins who hate him
Halfling Aasimar Paladin of Iomedae (vmc oracle) who was deformed at birth and has confidence issues.
Half-orc Brawler/vmc barbarian Old retired gladiator looking for a place to die
Old human wizard who wiped his class levels and memory with wish
Sylph ranger out for revenge against demons. Because Ranger.

This party is pretty game for whatever quests are out there because they joined an organization to fight demons. There's a lot of duty and responsibility, You're superheroes, you're the only one who can to this one.

Hell's Rebels:
Sociopath Vigilante/Slayer who loves Kintargo more than anything else, including her lovers.
Dashing Swordsman who does whatever the sociopath says.
Raging Hedonist Bloodrager who does whatever the sociopath says. Otherwise, this one would qualify as 'Adventure, tally-ho'
Too pure for this world Oracle of Shelyn who is the morality chain for the sociopath
Tiefling Murder specialist and avenging orphan.

If it didn't advance the Sociopath's goal of freeing Kintargo, the party generally didn't do it. Fortunately that is the entire premise of the adventure.

Skulls and Shackles:
Drow Wizard mastermind who lead from the back.

Plucky Ranger who became the Hurricane King fulfilling her life's ambition.

Old man who Besmara wouldn't let die.

Quigly from Down Under.

Skulls and Shakles is bit 'Adventure!' if you want it to be, but the party mostly played it from the Ambitious pirate crew angle. Maybe that qualifies.

There's a Rise of the Runelords game from way back when that I don't remember much of, but I think most of those PCs either met the 'Adventure, Tally ho' requirement or felt some personal responsibility to unravel the mystery of Runelord Karzoug. That game did include Smashy the Paladin, so the tone was a bit lighter too.

Games I've played in

Carrion Crown:
Carrion Crown
Cleric of Iomedae/Inheritor's Crusader with a chip on his shoulder and will kill the world with kindness

Pharasman Paladin/Gunslinger: On the quest because Pharasma said 'Bout thou must'

Indiana Jones style professor from Lepidstadt. Investigator and thirsty af.

Dumb and nice Brawler.

Orphan girl arcanist with a fire obsession.

Carrion Crown, for any of its other faults, does a good job of binding the party together with the death of Professor Lorrimor. Avenging that death and then following the Whispering Way Conspiracy always gave the party a forward motivation, even if it prevented the party from feeling like they could rest.

Mummy's Mask:
Varisian dancing girl magus who is failing at her aspirations of being a wizard wants to get enough money to leave Wati with the oracle.

Oracle of Anubis on a mission from gawd and starting to resent her lack of agency.

Embodied spirit of a Sultan's Scout from two thousand years ago who has no idea why they're here.

Fabric Magnate's daughter on the run from family responsibility to punch things and have a great story--meets the 'Adventure, Tally ho' requirement.

Ratfolk magus who wanted magical power, but scared of the cult chasing them.

Sand Kinetcist who is fulfilling a dwarven life debt.

This one started out 'Yeah, adventure, money, fame!' and quickly turned into 'Oh no, a conspiracy going back thousands of years is after us and if we stop moving, we die, this sucks.'


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Just to throw my two copper in, because I'm bored at work and downloading Book 4 now:

"Because it's an interesting thing to do" is fine and all, but I understand the concern of wanting a push to go do the thing. "Who makes adventurers that don't adventure?" Plenty of people do! PLAYERS like to adventurer, and a good player will work with the GM to contrive a reason for any given PC to go on any given adventure, yes. Saying "we sit in the castle and manage our holdings" is, truly, a boring way to play the game.

But I more often than not see people making characters first and adventurers second. I won't fault anyone for making a character who jumps at every chance to explore new places, face new challenges, and meddle in problems for the sheer joy of getting stuff done. They can be a fun character, but they're a particular type of character. Usually, though, adventurers aren't adventuring automatons. As boring as "we sit in the castle and don't do anything" is, I find "wind me up and point me at the next plot hook, no matter how tenuous or seemingly inconsequential" almost as boring. As much as it's the players responsibility to find reasons for their characters to engage with an adventure, it's the GM's responsibility to know the party and make the characters WANT to engage.

At least, that's my philosophy of running a game. And I suspect it's a decently common one. Saying "it's a thing to do, your players are wrong if they don't go do it" isn't helpful. Maybe it's true for your group, but I don't think it's the point of the thread. Not all characters are motivated to take the initiative to solve a problem they're only vaguely aware of, especially when it's hilariously dangerous to do so. Take my degenerate party, for example:

* A Human Cleric of Cayden Cailean who used to be a bartender until he got blackout drunk with Cayden himself and woke up with a fresh holy symbol and sash. As of the start of the game, he IS a wandering adventurer, and he DOES sometimes poke at problems, but they've ALWAYS been small problems he was immediately aware of.

* An Arctic Elf Alchemist whose main goal is Hellknight tourism. He's in his mid-life crisis and taken up Hellknight scholarship the same way people suddenly get really into WW2. He's really only here to see the Citadel and maybe own it - it's his personal Normandy D-Day pilgrimage. That's his motivation through Book 1... we aren't yet sure why he keeps at it, aside from wanting to stay in the Citadel.

* A Dwarven Fighter who identifies more as a craftsperson than a fighter. He's moved to Breachill over 20 years ago to pick up a trade after leaving a turbulent youth and was only at the Call for Heroes to spectate. He happened to jump up when the fire happened, and now he's committed to seeing that through, but we can't guarantee that motivation will extend to messing with a portal that's not an active threat to his town.

* A Feytouched Gnome Sorcerer (also Fey blooded, because of course) who is mostly just irate that their good sleep keeps being interrupted by prophetic nightmares from Desna. Less interested in saving anyone, more interested in making the bad dreams stop.

Now, there are plot threads and motivations I can lean on. As mentioned above, the Gnome with horrible apocalyptic nightmares can be pressured into making progress, because the nightmares keep pointing towards the next gate and they're getting worse. They will likely irritate the rest of them into going through with it. And Cayden Cailean hates slavery, so I can rope the Cleric into any action against a group of slavers - I'll just have to make it clear that messing with the next gate will help oppose them. But that's it, unless I do some messing. Now, my Dwarf has a missing brother who never stopped getting in trouble, and that's a perfect fit for this particular book...

But the point is, there are a lot of interesting characters that don't want to jump at the distant, whispered call for adventurer. My players will find reasons to keep playing, and I'll find reasons to encourage their characters so they don't have to jump through hoops to do so, but I don't think they're doing anything wrong for creating and playing consistent characters that might, on occasion, simply not want to take "unnecessary" risk. After all, they aren't really here to be heroes - they just wanted to see a cool building, or deal with a fire, or resolve some minor local problem before moving on.


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And the end of Part 3, Laslunn has a letter indicating she proposed a plan to attack the Citadel in order to gain access to Alesta's Ring. After the owners of said Citadel kill her and a huge chunk of the Scarlet Triad, it's only natural that the Scarlet Triad would want to get revenge.

If the players don't put that together and have no desire to explore the next portal, you could have the Scarlet Triad launch an attack on the Citadel, or even Breachill. That should get the party motivated to finish off the Scarlet Triad and keep the adventure going, especially if they kill any NPCs the party has grown attached to.


While you obviously can build whatever character you want and all, I find the idea that you'd play a reluctant adventurer in this game particularly weird. I felt like the player's guide really beats you over the head with the point that Breachhill is looking for adventurers and that this campaign calls for you to build one.

Mechalibur wrote:

And the end of Part 3, Laslunn has a letter indicating she proposed a plan to attack the Citadel in order to gain access to Alesta's Ring. After the owners of said Citadel kill her and a huge chunk of the Scarlet Triad, it's only natural that the Scarlet Triad would want to get revenge.

If the players don't put that together and have no desire to explore the next portal, you could have the Scarlet Triad launch an attack on the Citadel, or even Breachill. That should get the party motivated to finish off the Scarlet Triad and keep the adventure going, especially if they kill any NPCs the party has grown attached to.

The Triad could also capture a bunch of Breachhill citizens as slaves.


Kasoh wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Really? What kind of characters do your players make?

I'm not saying that I have problems getting people to go on adventures, just that their motivations aren't 'Adventure awaits, lets go!' or Mercenary types. After writing it all out, though I see it was more common than I initially stated or remembered. Memories are funny that way. So I may have to concede my hyperbole, but I still feel like the point mostly stands.

And maybe some of those meet your definition and we define motivation differently. I suppose I just objected mostly to 'Licking at the chops for adventure' because PCs never seem that excited for it.

Also, I apologize for the Humblebrag of AP completions.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

My players make plenty of interesting backgrounds. But their characters are always curious and want to go do things. I don't get what motivation you need other than having a key to open a dangerous gate in a fortress they own. I mean who do they want to be? The group that owns the citadel and calls some adventuring group to explore it or do it themselves since they are capable?

You set the story in the first two modules that they own a citadel with a ring of gates they found. That should set the motivation to continue exploring the gates as they find more keys. Unless they decide to find a way to permanently close the gate and just leave it, adventure over. If they want to do that, I'd just let them if that's the kind of players they want to be. If that is what they find fun, then let them have fun living in a castle with gates they don't travel through.


Curgyr wrote:

Just to throw my two copper in, because I'm bored at work and downloading Book 4 now:

"Because it's an interesting thing to do" is fine and all, but I understand the concern of wanting a push to go do the thing. "Who makes adventurers that don't adventure?" Plenty of people do! PLAYERS like to adventurer, and a good player will work with the GM to contrive a reason for any given PC to go on any given adventure, yes. Saying "we sit in the castle and manage our holdings" is, truly, a boring way to play the game.

But I more often than not see people making characters first and adventurers second. I won't fault anyone for making a character who jumps at every chance to explore new places, face new challenges, and meddle in problems for the sheer joy of getting stuff done. They can be a fun character, but they're a particular type of character. Usually, though, adventurers aren't adventuring automatons. As boring as "we sit in the castle and don't do anything" is, I find "wind me up and point me at the next plot hook, no matter how tenuous or seemingly inconsequential" almost as boring. As much as it's the players responsibility to find reasons for their characters to engage with an adventure, it's the GM's responsibility to know the party and make the characters WANT to engage.

At least, that's my philosophy of running a game. And I suspect it's a decently common one. Saying "it's a thing to do, your players are wrong if they don't go do it" isn't helpful. Maybe it's true for your group, but I don't think it's the point of the thread. Not all characters are motivated to take the initiative to solve a problem they're only vaguely aware of, especially when it's hilariously dangerous to do so. Take my degenerate party, for example:

* A Human Cleric of Cayden Cailean who used to be a bartender until he got blackout drunk with Cayden himself and woke up with a fresh holy symbol and sash. As of the start of the game, he IS a wandering adventurer, and he DOES sometimes poke at problems, but they've ALWAYS...

I don't play these games to be a regular person. I do that every day. I do this to be some extraordinary adventurer looking to do something extraordinary. It super hard for me to relate to people that make characters interested in a common life, like they were forced into the adventuring life. I can see this if you want to maybe make a certain type of character on occasion like a Frodo, but I don't generally make Frodos. I usually make the gung ho adventuring type more like a Conan or a Arthurian Knight. And from a real person mentality, I'm looking to imagine myself more like a special ops soldier who is gung ho ready to roll for the love of it.

My buddies spend their week in some job doing the same thing almost every day. They want the game to be thrilling and filled with adventure and combat, so they can imagine an exciting life doing something they could never do in real life.


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I'm so glad it works out for you. Doesn't mean everyone has the same experience. As a player, I take the proffered story and run with it. But many times when I GM my players do not. Actually, the players are raring to go, but their characters lack a reason to do it. They want a motivation for their characters beyond "because we're heroes". They want a visible danger to fight or a threat that needs averting and are sometimes loathe to poke at things that don't require poking.

This was a real problem at a few points in Iron Gods where the players asked why their characters wouldn't just go home at certain points as the end threat hadn't yet been clearly revealed.

Honestly, that's a classic part of literature. It's part of the heroic cycle to refuse the call of adventure until it's thrust upon you.

Anyway, there's no point in saying "I've never had that problem" and "what kind of player does that?" Obviously, the OP -does- have that problem and his players are the kind that do that. The OP needs suggestions, not tales of how much easier your players are.

I like Mechalibur's solution, above.


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There are two separate isssues that are getting confounded here:

(1) How do I get players to do what the plot requires?
(2) How do I make the game fun?

There are lots of solutions to #1, including just asking the players to do it. But many of these are counterproductive for #2. Forcing PCs to do things they don't have much reason to do tends to be a drag for everyone. Asking players to make only gung-ho adventurers gets limiting after a while. And you don't just need gung-ho adventurers, you need ones who will stick to the adventure at hand, and not, say, continue to explore beyond the Mwangi gate, which is a really interesting part of the world but not supported in the AP.

The best solution I know to #1 and #2 jointly is to have adventures the PCs would actually want to do. _Hell's Rebels_ worked fairly well for us in that regard: the plot is going to wreck the PCs' city, so all you need is folks who care about that and it's fairly smooth sailing. My lead PC was a bartender and warpriest of Caiden; she would have liked to go back to her bar, but it was very natural for her to keep with the plot instead. (Though there were some hiccups in our game with the Rebellion; it started to look to the PCs that actually building an organization was just going to cost lives and accomplish nothing, and they lost motivation to do it.)

On the other hand, there's _Reign of Winter_, where the PCs (and players) probably will *not* want to do what the plot requires them to do; the modules suggest various strategies including coercive magic, but it's hard to make this work.

It does help if you outline the general thrust of the AP to the players before they make characters, and firmly ask them to make PCs who will be on board. (We rescued _Second Darkness_, a notoriously problematic AP, by kicking around "What party would be fun with this?" until we ended up with agents of the Winter Council--which is perverse, but worked well for us.) But it also helps if you avoid unmotivated segments as much as possible, especially between major arcs.

I'm with the posters that suggest having the Triad come through that gate from the other side; then the reason to go through is a lot more pressing. I also wish there were some reason to suppose that each gate-key is through the previous gate; I think I'd have a LOT of trouble convincing my PC of this, as there's no apparent reason for it. (Or, if this can't be solved, say to the players "This is my one gimme--please let it work." And then try hard not to have another one.)

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Through the first three adventures, the PCs get hints about the Scarlet Triad everywhere they go. Voz has a connection, then they're using the Cinderclaws to gather gold in the Mwangi Expanse. One of them drops in from nowhere to take a hostage and interrogate the PCs. Then when they go through Dreamgate, they walk right into the slavers as they take a town.

By that point, I think it seems obvious that the gates and the slavers are somehow linked. If the PCs seem to think it's all a coincidence, having somebody else from the Scarlet Triad confront them or spy on them might convince them otherwise.

However, I think it's likely that many groups start to get suspicious by Book Three. Running into an obvious slaver just before going through a gate and running into more slavers just on the other side screams more than mere coincidence. By that point, PCs can probably guess that the gates give them easy access to additional slaver smashing.

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I've been pondering this as well. I haven't read book 5 yet.

Could go with: go through the gates to get all the keys for them so random strangers can't show up in the basement of the new castle they've gotten themselves.

And then play the Scarlet Triad as more of a conspiracy thing. That they're just this massive organization that has its fingers everywhere slavery might be possible. Include some notes in places that hint at the size and scope of this.

Dark Archive

Kinda disagreeing on reign of winter pcs likely not want to do what plot requires unless GM was running it completely blind for them and everyone made paladins.(definitely agreeing that reight of winter players should know the goal of AP is to rescue Baba Yaga before starting it, otherwise it leads to shenanigans. I don't particularly consider it a bad thing either that players know the basic premise of the campaign, though in this case I think its fault of player's guide for being kinda bad compared to other player's guides :P)

Even the geas isn't that bad because players know they are accepting it (what always makes geases(what the heck is plural for geas? Geas?) is that they need character to accept it for it to take hold. In this case it being accepting the mantle)

Anyhoo, while I agree all on the "everyone is allowed to play how they want to play" and all that, do not try to admonish people for being confused or asking questions, especially when its not even OP of the thread making the claims. Plus the OP has never posted again in this thread, so its not like they ever clarified what they meant. They for example never actually asked for advice, just whether they missed something :P

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