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Campaign defining encounters

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Crimson-Kobold
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Campaign defining encounters

Post#1 » Fri May 15, 2020 11:58 pm

What stories does everyone have of that one encounter that defined, or changed the direction of your campaign?

Let me tell you about the one in my current game. This is a Pathfinder 2nd Edition game, using the Eberron setting. The group has just left a small town after completing an adventure titled "Fall of Plaguestone". They were heading to a trading hub city to catch a ride to one of the biggest cities on the continent, Sharn, which serves as a gateway to many adventures.

However, they had to reach that trading hub first. We're talking about a weeks journey with a caravan. So obviously, I threw some encounters to liven things up. Using the encounter building rules, I figured a group of four wererats would be a decent challenge for a group of three PCs.

Well, that single encounter has changed everything. Before, the party was directionless. Now? Well, two of them are afflicted with Curse of the Wererat, and with Eberron being a low magic setting...there's no one near by to get a Remove Curse from, aside from the nation of Thrane, and they would just as soon kill lycanthropes or banish them to another plane.

But the biggest issue that I didn't consider when I threw wererats at the party was this: Eberron has multiple moons. TWELVE moons to be exact. They occur frequently, and they can last a long time as you end up with sometimes a moon leaving full moon just as another enters it.

This led me to create some homebrew stuff to give the party a quest to resolve the curse (They have a potion they can brew that allows them to suppress the curse, but at the sideeffect of having their weakness to silver active at all times during a Full Moon), but also to create the second major antagonist of my campaign, a Wererat queen that resides in the deepest parts of Sharn. This was all back in January. Nearly four months later, they've now encountered this Rat Queen in person, she nearly kidnapped one of the PCs, and launched a major offensive across the nation as she makes use of a 9 day span of full moons to have her brood lash out and infect as many people as possible to add to her forces. But another lycanthrope, an ancient werewolf, opposes her and brought his pack to Sharn to stop her.

So now there's a wererat/werewolf war in one of the biggest cities of Khorvaire.

The party themselves had just finished a research quest at a high profile university in Sharn, a place called Morgrave University. As they were going over their research, they were on the cusp of learning what their next step would be, when the Rat Queen attacked. Attempting to kill the Professor who was helping them, the party Monk noticed and stepped in, grabbing her, making him the target of her high level Vampiric Touch attack. This led to a chase, as she stole the journal and key they needed to proceed on their quest for a cure, which is when the following set up is what I presented to the group:

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(The wererats on the left managed to bite and afflict potentially seven bystanders)

The Full moon had just crested, the two wererats in the party made their fort saves to avoid turning into frenzied wererats (which would have been disastrous for the party), but now there were six frenzied wererats, along with the Rat Queen facing off against the werewolf Pack Leader. I should note those two were suppose to be more of a backdrop to the action on the bridge area. Well, round two, and now there are two PCs inbetween these high level lycanthropes. They were not meant to be fought at this point, they are five levels higher than the PCs.

Gave the party a bit of a scary as the Rat Queen dominated a PC and convinced him to make a leap of faith with her, luring the pack leader into a trap.

That throwaway encounter has lead to me creating a massive werecreature war in a major city. And I'm just loving the chaos.
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Cole
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#2 » Sat May 16, 2020 9:35 pm

Nice! I'm also a DM of chaos! There's nothing like something going sideways fast. As long as the DM is a "good" DM, it makes for the best adventures! :) I'll stew on this for a bit and get back to your post CK. I'm just busy atm coding as usual and spotted fresh meat! :) Sounds like your game is possibly about to come to an end though (TPK anyone?)
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New Hegdeh
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#3 » Sat May 16, 2020 9:50 pm

curiously recently questions were made in a fb AD&D group about moons and therianthropy.

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Crimson-Kobold
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#4 » Sat May 16, 2020 11:01 pm

Nah, it was technically a moderate encounter, the two on the far right wasn't intended to be part of the fight.

One wererat was immediately pushed off the ledge and fell to his death, and the players made pretty short work of the rest, although their objective was less to fight the players, but to try and spread their curse, mainly to keep the party occupied from trying to mess with their queen.

Setting wise, the city is going to be a bloodbath for 9 days, as the wererats and werewolves fight each other nightly, with one side going after anyone and everyone trying to spread their affliction, while the other doesn't want to spread their affliction, meaning one side is gaining new followers as they lose their minds to the curse, while the other loses forces constantly.
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garhkal
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#5 » Sun May 17, 2020 11:41 am

I take it its the rats wanting to spread things, and the werewolves not?

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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#6 » Sun May 17, 2020 12:35 pm

I thought the opposite since the wolves are the newcomers and attackers and rats are the defendants.

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Crimson-Kobold
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#7 » Sun May 17, 2020 1:24 pm

garhkal wrote:I take it its the rats wanting to spread things, and the werewolves not?


Correct. Their leader desire domination over the continent, in part due to the persecution she suffered early in life, and in part she's a egomanical nutcase. Her end game is to increase the number of lycans in the world to strengthen the connection to one of the Overlords, the Wild Heart, in a bid to usurp it's influence (and claim it for herself if possible). There's a point where once this connection is strong enough, the affliction becomes virulent, meaning any lycan can pass on the curse, not just true bloods (individuals born a werecreature)

The Werewolves know that greater number of lycans runs the risk of a new Lycanthropic Purge which had occurred about 200 years prior.

A lot of this is half baked, mind you, and last minute brewed up as I try to figure out how to keep the plot going, ha.
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#8 » Sun May 17, 2020 3:04 pm

So I was utterly wrong... But wererats are known to be into infecting, so... It makes sense.

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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#9 » Tue May 19, 2020 3:10 pm

I've had that happen to me a few times. The most memorable was on one of my homebrew worlds (the monotheistic one I mentioned in the Monotheism vs. Polytheism thread). The party encountered two tribes of humans that were gearing up to go to war with each other. After some investigation on their part, they realized both tribes had the same complaint against the other--that some of their people had gone missing, and evidence pointed to them being kidnapped by the other tribe. The party smelled something fishy about the whole thing, so did some further investigating and discovered some footprints from a creature called a 'wicked claw' (Deinonychus); yes, dinosaurs were a thing in this world. Anyway, they decided to follow them, and were led to a hidden cave where a pack of the raptors dwelt, but their feathers were black as night, they were larger than normal, and perhaps most surprisingly, they could speak and use arcane magic.

The story was that this meteorite fell from the sky and landed near the raptors. It radiated magic that, over time, mutated the raptors, giving them increased intelligence and slightly altering their physical characteristics, as well. This new breed, which called themselves 'Superior Claws' (Anoteronychus), saw humanity as a threat to the balance of nature, and so sought to start a war between the two tribes in hopes they would whittle themselves down enough to be less of a threat.

When I wrote up the encounter, I assumed the party would learn all of this, find the black raptors, and kill them before freeing the kidnapped humans and resolving the differences in the two tribes by giving them a new enemy to team up against.

What happened instead is that one of the players made a passionate plea to the leader of the black raptors that humans can be a danger to the balance of nature, but they can also learn to be better. And the raptors could use their superior intelligence to help teach them, rather than trying to wipe them out.

Not sure how to proceed, I told the player to make a CHA check. She rolled a natural 1 (and since this was 2E, that was the best possible outcome). So I decided it worked (but being the right bastard that I am, I decided it didn't work exactly in the way the player had hoped). The black raptors released the human prisoners and the encounter ended without violence.

BUT! When that campaign eventually ended, we started a new one that took place about a century later. This little incident had a huge ripple effect on the world's future. The raptors took the player's plea to heart. Humans were dangerous, but they could be taught...and controlled. In the century that passed, the raptors used their magic to slowly charm human leaders, essentially taking over their local governments in the process, which slowly stripped them of their rights. Eventually, this led to the raptors building a large empire on the back of human slavery, which served as a very nice antagonist for the second campaign.

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Crimson-Kobold
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#10 » Tue May 19, 2020 7:36 pm

Pretty cool, and to be honest, I would be reluctant to kill normally animalistic creatures that had gain sentience as well.

It makes me think of the comic, Legacy of Luther Strode. There's a point near the end of the story where he asks one of the villains "You know why I don't want to kill you?" They retorted with "Because you are weak"

His answer boiled down to, to kill something is to end them, and they will never be anything else. That is not strength, that is cowardice, because you're afraid of what might be, that the choice to kill is because one is too afraid to make the choice to walk away.

There is some truth to that, but it's also flawed and simplistic. That said, it's an idea that I want to design a Paladin around some time, using the theme of redemption.
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#11 » Tue May 19, 2020 9:17 pm

Crimson-Kobold wrote:Pretty cool, and to be honest, I would be reluctant to kill normally animalistic creatures that had gain sentience as well.

Oh, yeah, same here. But this particular party tended to solve any and every problem with violence. The only time they'd even consider parleying is if the enemy were to bring it up first. So it was a big surprise at the time.

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garhkal
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#12 » Tue May 19, 2020 10:53 pm

JadedDM wrote:
Crimson-Kobold wrote:Pretty cool, and to be honest, I would be reluctant to kill normally animalistic creatures that had gain sentience as well.

Oh, yeah, same here. But this particular party tended to solve any and every problem with violence. The only time they'd even consider parleying is if the enemy were to bring it up first. So it was a big surprise at the time.


I've known far too many group like that, which is often why Charisma is a dump stat, AND they don't bother with languages...

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JadedDM
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#13 » Wed May 20, 2020 1:03 am

garhkal wrote:I've known far too many group like that, which is often why Charisma is a dump stat, AND they don't bother with languages...


One of the games I'm running is just a series of 2E FR modules. It's for my 'old school' group. We started with Doom of Daggerdale, moved on to The Accursed Tower, and just started up Sword of the Dales. Anyway, they all dumped CHA. All of 'em. The highest CHA stat in that group, ever, was 12. The rest are between 6-10. Suffice to say, they don't make many friends or get many discounts.

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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#14 » Wed May 20, 2020 8:51 am

so the smart magic wielding dinos, they were TN or NE?

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JadedDM
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Re: Campaign defining encounters

Post#15 » Wed May 20, 2020 1:06 pm

TN originally, but they later became NE over time.

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