View Full Version : [3.5e] I've plotted myself into a corner

Dark Knight Renee
2009-01-30, 08:56 PM
I seem to have worked myself into a corner with a plot the PCs have been following, and I’ve reached the point where there is no way to abort in-character, yet none of the ideas we can think of sound even remotely fun.

The PCs, who are high-level but poorly optimized, have been following a plot to take control of a small city-state. They recently apprehended what they thought was the BBEG, but who was really only a MBEG scapegoat, and learned that the real BBEG is still working his plot. Right now that plot is vaguely defined, because I’ve been winging it so far and had managed to sidetrack the PCs. And I really, really don’t know how to either handle it or, alternately, how to end it as quickly as possible.

• The BBEG is some guy with really high Int, either an aristocrat or a wizard. His identity is unknown to both the PCs and his allies, but I’m pretty sure he’s using a “Darth Sidious” scheme, living a double life with a public identity as an aristocrat while manipulating other behind the scenes using magic or messengers. His plot so far is vague, because I’ve been totally winging it, but it’s known that he has numerous allies with resources and relatively limited knowledge of each other and the plot. He’s been linked to numerous political assassinations by one group, and others have been sabotaging and discrediting local Good churches in preparation for an aggressive expansion campaign.
• Right now, I’m assuming that while the PCs were off chasing the MBEG, the BBEG and his remaining allies seized control of the city; the city council is now made up of the BBEG (not openly, posing as his own ally) and his allies and/or figureheads of his allies. They’re smart enough not to turn tyrant too blatantly, but will have started putting in motion their plans to annex nearby towns and villages and assemble an army for future expansion. However, the BBEG is smart enough not to allow blatant tyranny, as he’d rather not attract too much unwanted attention.
• However, the BBEG does expect that the PCs will survive dealing with the MBEG, and should in some way be prepared for their return. As he lacks intel concerning what they do and don’t know, he should assume that they know a lot and act accordingly to get rid of them. He knows the party makeup, and should be able to plan accordingly. However, I’m stumped as to what he’ll do.

• The former MBEG was one of the BBEG’s allies, and controlled an organization of assassins sponsored by the church of Talona (NE goddess of plague, undeath, misfortune, suffering, and the like). When the PCs got too annoying and survived an assassination attempt, he turned her into a scapegoat for everything the PCs know of his plot. After a couple of months of chasing her around the region, she’s now a prisoner of the PC and a possible ally for them, as she’s pretty pissed at being made into a scapegoat. While the PCs were off on their wild goose chase, she had her minions trying to thwart the BBEG and gain info on him, most likely with limited success. (She’s since lost most of her influence over the organization) She’s all set to tell the PCs everything she knows of the BBEG and his plot, and she’s also their biggest resource if they chose to trust her, as she casts as a 15th level cleric, with a healthy dose of Assassin.
• Although it’s been agreed that I need to do lots of prep first and ask for help, it’s pretty much a given that, as of the beginning of the next session, the PCs are going to know enough about the BBEG’s plot to view him as a serious threat, and feel morally obliged to take him out. The biggest catch is not killing him, though, so much as dealing with the numerous allies and evil, power-grabbing organizations he’s drawn around himself, and somehow putting in place a Good power structure in place of the current one. Sadly, I think the BBEG would have done a fairly good job of removing the previous power-holders who weren’t in with his plot, and there hasn’t been enough time for a rebellion to even think of forming. What we have, then, is a political-themed plot that could take months and which doesn’t sound even remotely fun, but which the PCs won’t be willing to walk away from in-character.
The PCs:
The PCs are a large, badly unoptimized bunch with a disproportionate number of rogues and little spellcasting ability. The noteworthy ones are around 16-17 level, but they’ve got some important lower-level characters with them, too. (Some of the PCs are gestalt, the level range is wide, and some stats are in the process of being reworked, but lets not get hung up on the poor party balance; everyone has fun when the plot doesn’t hit a wall.)

• They have a NG rogue/swashbuckler gestalt with a few levels of bard. He’s one of the most likely to ditch the plot, in-character.
• A couple of L?G fighter types, one of which is the character originally charged with investigating the plot. The other wants answers – or someone to answer for – a fiasco involving evil acts he unknowingly preformed while doing quests for his deity’s church (thanks to an infiltrator that got away).
• A CG paladin of freedom/holy liberator with TWF. She’s liable to stick to this plot until it’s dead.
• A CN rogue/sorcerer/fighter gestalt who casts as Sorcerer 13, but has almost nothing but necromancy and is hideously un-versatile. He’s currently obsessed with the mystery behind the plot, even since the BBEG tried to have him killed. He also likes Gather Info.
• A LN fighter/knight gestalt. He’s kinda the necro-sorcerer’s sidekick.
• A lower-level N?G cleric ally, technically a PC but not functionally. He casts 4th level spells and is currently their most useful spellcaster. He probably won’t leave the plot alone, since he and his church got screwed over a few months ago.
• Another N?G rogue, who specializes in Gather Info. Not sure about his dedication to the plot, but it’s more rather than less.
• A CN rogue who is along because her brother is involved.
• There was also a CG gish-type, with some wizard casting, lots of rogue, and a lot of UMD. However, she’s dead, removing the better half of their spellcasting, and the quest for True Resurrection is on hold until this plot is out of the way. No, they can’t get scrolls. No, there aren’t any 17th level clerics nearby.

A apologized if that was badly jumbled. My mind is tied in knots, and I want nothing more than to drop a nuke on my own plot. :smallsigh: Any help would be greatly appreciated.

2009-01-30, 09:32 PM
It's odd that this bothered me the most out of all that, but why is the Paladin 'Chaotic' Good? xD

But on to more important matters, Did you want this BBEG to be human, or could it be some sort of non human shapeshifter, and what is this character's personality?

Drake Devlin
2009-01-30, 09:32 PM
Ok so the easiest thing that comes mind that will buy you some time to think more on your plot is... You can have the BBEG ready for the PC's to come back to town where he has framed them for his evil hijinks (Because he would naturally assume that the PC's have already taken out his last scape goat.) Since he has basically taken over the town they they wish to rule then he can have them arrested and tossed in a dungeon....this is where they can exploit all their nifty rouge skills. And if you make the dungeon intresting enough then you should be able to stretch that along for a few sessions and buy lots of time. Otherwise you can pm me and I can give you more insight with a few more details. :smallwink:

Oh yeah and where do you live I wanna come play hehehe

2009-01-30, 09:45 PM
Perhaps (in order to take the action route) the BBEG has merely rounded up the leaders of Good and plans to use them as a sacrifice to a fiendish patron in order to secure greater arcane power, such that (to continue the Sidious) he no longer has to spider it out in the background.

Gives a success reward of sorting out the politics, and a decent action confrontation with a ticked-off wizard and a nasty outsider.

2009-01-30, 09:49 PM
Surprise ally drops a hint on when and where the BBEG will show up. Surprise - it was an ally of the BBEG himself, trying to lay a trap for the former MBEG on the BBEG's orders. Cue battle. The guy then tells them what little he knows, they go to the next guy, and follow the trail of bodies to the BBEG, who has probably fled by now. After that, it's up to you.

2009-01-30, 10:12 PM
How do you feel about exploring other planes/times/multiverses? Can your campaign support a onetime(?) event which throws the characters somewhere else giving you time to figure out where the adventure is going as the characters struggle to figure out where they are and how to get back to where this quest is. Given that the big bad might have magical powers he could use those to do it, someone allied to him could, or even the mists of Ravenloft could. Once somewhere else you could dangle plot hooks to get them to stay there as long as you want them to, and when and if they come back from wherever they went to, the look on the BBEG's face will awesome.

2009-01-30, 10:22 PM
I just thought of the weirdest plot twist.

The BBEG slips in the shower and breaks his neck. Of course, the players don't know it. So they can spend time investigating a person who is already dead. Plus, since the BBEG is dead, you don't have to worry about the plausability of him taking over organizations.

It could really be a surprise. As the players take out underlings and get deeper and deeper into the organization, the underlings try to convey the fact that their leader is dead. Of course, the players aren't going to believe them. This sets up a non-epic non-climatic encounter with the guy's gravestone at the end of the campaign :smalltongue:

Dark Knight Renee
2009-01-30, 10:29 PM
It's odd that this bothered me the most out of all that, but why is the Paladin 'Chaotic' Good? xD

Paladin of Freedom is a variant found in the SRD that’s Chaotic Good, plus she has the Holy Liberator PrC from CD, which is basically the same. Aside from the lack of focus on lawfulness and the silly code nonsense, though, she plays fairly similarly.

But on to more important matters, Did you want this BBEG to be human, or could it be some sort of non human shapeshifter, and what is this character's personality?

By default, he’s assumed to be a human male, but nothing is truly set. I’ve been assuming that his public ID is that of a particular aristocrat NPC who has climbed the ranks rapidly, but it’s not too late to change anything. On a related note, most civilized regions of the setting are inhabited by an integrated mixture of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings.

His personality… dunno. Pragmatic and cunning? He’s smart, patient, wants to control the region and may have plans from there, he’s allied himself evil churches but doesn’t bother with the gods much himself, he doesn’t hesitate to betray his allies when it suits him, and he likes to have contingency plans. Overall, smarter and way better at planning ahead than me -_-

One of the problems I have is that the PCs can’t simply kill the BBEG and be done with it. It looks like they’ll also have to mop up his allies, and try to make it so that even lesser minions of those allies can’t simply take advantage of the power vacuum once their backs are turned. Surviving goodies aren’t too likely, as he was having them assassinated or framed for things (execution-worthy, no doubt) even before the PCs ran off to spend months chasing the MBEG, and slowly replacing them all with allies. While he might have handed off one or two to an Evilly religious ally, it’s unlikely any are alive, barring low-ranked aids and bureaucrats. At this point, he’ll be more worried about preventing his subjects from even thinking about rebellion and keeping his neighbors from realizing he’s a serious threat before he’s built enough of an army to deal with either.

Throwing them in prison or otherwise trying to have them executed is a tactic he’ll probably try, but he’s not even likely to catch them all – some of those rogues will almost certainly escape an arrest attempt, and that’s assuming he has powerful enough minions who can publicly attempt to arrest anyone. More likely, he’ll just lose some hapless soldiers and give the PCs some bad PR. I doubt they’d get anywhere near a dungeon, and I don’t think this city has one that would keep them entertained for an entire session even if they did. What they do after that is more the problem.

Flickerdart: The PCs just did that to death with the MBEG, and they’ll probably do it again – but the BBEG’s power structure is such that getting rid of him isn’t so neat – all the evil allies to fill the void, some of them much eviler and less subtle, others potentially almost as sneaky.

How do you feel about exploring other planes/times/multiverses? Can your campaign support a onetime(?) event which throws the characters somewhere else giving you time to figure out where the adventure is going as the characters struggle to figure out where they are and how to get back to where this quest is. Given that the big bad might have magical powers he could use those to do it, someone allied to him could, or even the mists of Ravenloft could. Once somewhere else you could dangle plot hooks to get them to stay there as long as you want them to, and when and if they come back from wherever they went to, the look on the BBEG's face will awesome.

Hmm. I’ll have to figure out the most likely means to actually put them on another plane, but considering it’d freak them out while giving the BBEG more time to solidify his power, this might be a perfect next step. I play a multiverse game where the PCs end up being yoinked from universe to universe (each with its own planar structure and, occasionally, entirely different rules). Normally I’d abort that way, but the dead PC issue prevents me from doing it. An unwilling planar excursion, however, would have no problems.

I just thought of the weirdest plot twist.

The BBEG slips in the shower and breaks his neck. Of course, the players don't know it. So they can spend time investigating a person who is already dead.

LOL! In the absence of PCs, his allies and minions would probably tear each other apart once they realized he wasn’t giving them orders anymore. Not so good for the local populace, though. Very tempting, if kinda cheep. :smalltongue:

2009-01-30, 10:51 PM
I realize that you want a slow takeover, but I think an entire trapped city would be appropriate. These PC's are powerful, and so is the Bad Guy. I think it's reasonable for the city to be trapped for the PC's, either obviously or not.

I suggest the BBEG be a level 17 Wizard, for access to level 9 Spells.

Stuff he's gonna do to screw with the players:

Favorite haunts of the PC's are all illusioned to look like everyone died.

Buildings turn into Stone Golems, or their rise out of the street itself.


The Wall Spells, contingencied to screw with the players

Explosive Runes, Runes of Warding, Magic Mouth, Runes of Madness Fire Trap

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/guardsAndWards.htm Guards and Wards is a personal favorite of mine.

-Perhaps a higher-level version of Guards and Wards that does even nastier stuff to the players

-Maze spell


The Wizard has had some time to prepare, perhaps he evacuated the town, or perhaps he really did take over and imprison the people. The entire town is trapped to screw with the players, make use of those spells I mentioned above, the ones that aren't really for PCs, but are for Dungeons and Bad Guys to mess with the players

The fact is, a slow takeover is boring unless it's culminating RIGHT NOW, and as you said, it's gonna be boring if it's political. Yeah, silent evil power grabs are fun, but sometimes you need combat.

The Players fight their way to the center of this town of madness, killing the guards and dispelling the traps, giving the rouges and spellcasters chances to shine, as well as the melee characters.

Boss has 2-3 Elite Guards of spellcasters and fighters, maybe undead or Demons

Players kill the bad guy, but OH NO! The Bad Guy had illusioned himself during his takeover to make it seem like the players did all of it! Don't let them find out until they go to free the enslaved populace.

Even to his death, the Bad Guy screws with your players. How do they deal with the angry mob they just let go free? You decide! Or, I guess, they decide.

angus cotton
2009-01-30, 11:00 PM
Just out of curiousity, this BBEG that runs the local town--what does he do that appears 'good'? I mean, he would be really hard to take down if he is a town councilman who is secretly a wizard of a secret evil clan. But, he would be 10 times harder to take down if he ran the local soup kitchen, created jobs for poor working-class families, work for higher wages for the common man, and promise better living conditions...he doesn't like to do these things, after all, he is an evil wizard....but he does them anyway to increase his popularity on the surface. Kind of like a modern day evil politician does. Killing a guy like that...you risk making him a martyr, even if he is evil.

Imagine, the PCs go to confront the BBEG and he comes out and greets them like nothing is wrong and smiles, turns his back on the PCS for a moment, and walks out, confident they can't do a dang thing about it. They know they can't touch him, because he is so popular with the people, and the BBEG knows the PCS can't touch him, so he acts smug. Dude, that would be awesome!

Dark Knight Renee
2009-01-30, 11:10 PM
Just out of curiousity, this BBEG that runs the local town--what does he do that appears 'good'? I mean, he would be really hard to take down if he is a town councilman who is secretly a wizard of a secret evil clan. But, he would be 10 times harder to take down if he ran the local soup kitchen, created jobs for poor working-class families, work for higher wages for the common man, and promise better living conditions...he doesn't like to do these things, after all, he is an evil wizard....but he does them anyway to increase his popularity on the surface. Kind of like a modern day evil politician does. Killing a guy like that...you risk making him a martyr, even if he is evil.

Yeah... this is all basically the how and why of his subtlety method. Even though I'm fairly sure he's got control of the city, he doesn't want his current or future subjects rebelling when he starts raising taxes, drafting people into his army, anexing the surrounding lands and eventually making war on his neighbors. The idea is, therefore, to do stuff to keep them blind and happy, such as these and using "just causes". The PCs know better, but gaining allies to help get this stupid plot over with is rendered nigh-impossible. That, and they'll probably be branded as "bad guys" before the get the chance to try...

Of course, there's also the matter that it's his minions, allies and 'face' messengers the people will be dealing with, all of them following his plan more or less. The BBEG is probably one of these, but he hasn't made himself a high profile target such as "king" or even "mayor".

2009-01-31, 08:40 AM
Want an easier out?
Mind flayer using illusions and mind-influence to conceal himself and boost his ability to control and deceive his allies while taking over.

2009-01-31, 09:06 AM
If the players do end up trusting and accepting help from the MBEG then the BBEG should totally try to convince the townsfolk that the whole party are followers of the Evil goddess of plague, undeath and nastiness.
Possibly arrange some specific plague and/or undeath that he can blame them for. Heh heh. Have the players all chased out of town with torches and pitchforks.
In fact if they don't end up trusting her, he should probably set up some sort of highly visible (and disposable) scheme which her abilities could help the PCs overcome. This encourages them to trust her, together they trash the obvious scheme (ideally it's one with a benevolent front :smallbiggrin:) and then BAM everyone is accusing them of being mad Evil cultists and low-level adventurers from all over the land are chasing them.

Hmm... something highly visible which would appear benevolent to the populace but which the PCs would immediately suspect of being a trick/trap. Something which a cleric/assassin of plague and undeath could help collapse...
Perhaps a neighbouring town or region has suffered some natural disaster recently. BBEG graciously decided to send in some of his soldiers to help with the rebuilding effort.
To the peons it looks charitable and neighbourly. To the PCs it looks like the obvious ploy to quietly take control of the striken region.
The assasination of some key officers or an outbreak of the disease amongst the soldiers while they're en route seem like an ideal way to slow them down without revealing the PCs hand (and making them look like bad guys). But ther BBEG was expecting this all along and makes them look like bad guys anyway.
Bonus points if the BBEG claims that the original disaster (the one the soldiers were going to relieve) was the work of the cult of Talona (matbe it was :smalleek:), making the PCs look even worse and giving him an excuse to send a larger force to the stricken region and "take steps to secure it against further threats".
Bonus, bonus points if the BBEG makes sure the task force is led by the officers with most loyalty to the old regime/ least loyalty to him, letting the PCs do his dirty work in disposing of them.

2009-01-31, 09:19 AM

1. The BBEG wants to unite a large part of the towns / land / whatever to prepare it to be invaded by anything even worse. He doesn't need to set in motion his tyrant scheme as he will be given the town in reward by whoever he works for.
His current plan is to muster the towns army and send them for annexation of the neighboring towns.
You could take the plot from Star Wars, where the army is assembled to defend from the one who assembles it, using the church of Talona or another organization as the ouside threat that all have to unite do defend against
2. The PCs, being in the process of allying themselves with a priestess of Talona, will be accused by the leaders of the town, who are the unknowing puppets of the BBEG and his knowing, evil agents, of being on the side of evil and of trying to usurp the rulership of the town, and will have to find proof of the opposite. This alone should get the players out of the way in the BBEGs opinion. He will ahve some nasty things waiting for them in the prison though to get rid of them.
3. There is a trail of bribes, threats and political alliances pointing to the agents of the BBEG. From the agents can the 3 assistants of the BBEG, the ones who convey his orders to his agents, be found.
4. Several politicians, including one elderly army commander, some diplomat and an adviser of magic have refused the bribes and have been forced on the sideline of the leadership will help the PCs with clues and explain effects of some of the heavier legislations that the BBEG have gotten in place to get to power. They might become the nucleus of the future rulership of the town.
5. The BBEG himself poses as an incompetent politician amongst the leaders of the opposition of his own puppet government. This lets him discover real opposition threats early and send others to remove them and at the same time is the perfect way to conceal himself as the puppet master.

2009-01-31, 01:25 PM
While it sounds like the BBEG has had time to remove most obvious obstacles from his path, you could always have a crown-prince or legendary war hero or something like that. This long-lost Good guy has been in exile for years or voluntarily went into hiding and has come back to the town in secret having heard about the BBEG. He sees what the BBEG is planning and starts working to subvert him, which is where the PCs come in. The PCs could either try to help the GG covertly, removing political obstacles to his return, or overtly, having the GG emerge as a political figure and acting as his bodyguards.

Just a thought, it sounds like a very interesting campaign. Political intrigue is very hard to do (I'm currently debating whether my campaign needs/wants it or can do without).


2009-01-31, 03:55 PM
The BBEG should focus herself on discrediting the PCs. This, easily enough, starts with accusing them (correctly) of collaborating with a priestess of Talona.

A good way to do this is to have the BBEG send out an armed party, probably part of the city state's normal armed forces, or maybe even militia. The BBEG should arm these guys as best as he can, and possibly insure that several jerks are among the members. First, the PCs will see all the good 'loot', and will be predisposed to slaughtering the people trying to arrest them (the priestess of Talona probably won't be helping, not wanting to be hanged). If the PCs go along with the scouts, the BBEG simply tosses them into another dimension, poisons their food, or whatever.

If the PCs attack (which is likely--let the rogues or whatever detect the scouting party and hearing about how they're supposed to 'take care of' a bunch of well-armed folk--try to make it sound like they're 'in' on the plot but in truth they aren't), have your BBEG or her pet wizard scrying the scene. Since your bad guy should be rather powerful, given the stature of the PCs, it shouldn't be that hard to get someone in a high office, like captain of the guard, to be teleported to the scene of the massacre. If possible, the BBEG should scry it for the guy as well.

If possible, your BBEG should plant the body of a neighboring nation's soldier among the dead as well (this soldier should be disguised, but not in such as way as to make him indistinguishable--such as a partially cut off part of a legionaire marking, for example).

This will convince people that the PCs are dangerous murderers (especially in the scouts bodies are stripped, which they should be). Probably mercenaries from city X. The PCs are then publically humiliated and hated--which will probably guarantee that they'll never take control of the town except by force, as the stain of being branded a murderer is hard to make.

At this point, the BBEG has discredited the PCs, caused an uproar of public opinion (and possibly nationalism), and has grounds to conquer said neighbor. Possibly even an excuse to elevate herself to a high position, such as leader of the armed forces. After the neighbor has been crushed, with minimal losses, the BBEG discovers it's a conspiracy of nations. Her puppets in the council then nominate her to assume the mantle of high protector, or some crap like that. Basically, something that gives her more power than an individual councilman and opens the doorway for her to assume complete control of the city nation as a monarchy or dictatorship.

Considering the religious nature of some of the members of the party, the BBEG should send emmisaries to some of the churches. One of the paladin's, as she did murder several scouts in blood. Can always say she's fallen. Then, perhaps, send emmisaries to churches of justice/vengeance, possibly with a bounty, saying the vile evilness inflicted by party. Heck, put out a call for heroes against them.

The problem with your PCs lie in their high levels. There's not much they should fight that should give them problems. On the other hand, their total lack of spellcasting power means a mid-level batman wizard, with meatshields, can effectively shut them down.

On the other hand, if the BBEG makes it clear that the only way they're getting to her is over a mountain of corpses supplied by the time, the PCs may decide to go abroad to gather some support.

2009-01-31, 04:50 PM
A low-to-medium level Wizard is the brains and the actual Evil Guy, advising a foolish noble who isn't really aware of everything that's going on. The noble can be both the final boss fight AND the way for the players to use the existing organization for good.

Also, make them a gnome and a half-elf and call the gnome Brain, and have the half-elf always ask him what they are going to do next. "Hey Brain, what are we going to do tomorrow night?"

Dark Knight Renee
2009-01-31, 05:09 PM
Some very good ideas there. The ones that rely on provoking the PCs are tricky, since they're a lot better-behaved than your typical adventurers and aren't easily provoked into fighting. Fortunately, they hardly need to do anything like that in order to become scapegoats, so long as a few bits of evidence are blamed on them and certain facts are exploited.

I may have trouble with the trying to use a batman wizard to harass the party… because nobody in my group has even the faintest idea how to play a batman wizard. The now-dead PC with wizard levels and UMD proved our incompetence early on, and since then she normally focused on support, utility, and things that synergies with her rogue abilities. We’ve especially had trouble bypassing saves, since both the biggest enemies and most of the PCs have high saves. Gotta find the Batman guide -_-

So far, the my/the BBEG’s plan is to…

• Plant evidence that a neighboring power is causing trouble for the area, and encourage nearby towns to join up for protection. Also continue framing good churches for various dirty deeds, and probably tie the two together.
• Convince allied evil religious groups to play nice and run a protection racket. The church of Talona does this by default. Discreet agents unleash diseases, pose as groups that they’re framing, and give the populace something to worry about, while the up front members help out publicly.
• Turn the PCs into fugitives. Should be easy, as regardless of whether the MBEG is an obvious prisoner, the PCs also contain two tieflings, a necromacer-type, and a "vampire". And two of the PCs were involved in some of those dirty deeds while working for the church to which the cleric belongs... If the MBEG is being treated too well, or he can make it seem like her being a prisoner is a ruse, accuse them of allying with her and have her former church brand her a nasty rogue agent. To further facilitate this, frame them for killings, etc. Report this to the party cleric’s church (the paladin isn’t local).
• On the other hand, this may lead the PCs to seek aid from whatever nearby powers are being targeted. Local churches have their own problems, but a neighboring nation or city-state that's being framed and set up for invasion might be fairly receptive to their intel and assistance. This sounds like it would run faster and be more fun to run. The PCs may have to ally themselves with the neighboring nation/city and help invade the city they were trying to protect.
• The BBEG will be wary of provoking preemptive strikes, since he doesn’t have much of an army yet; but with the PCs being so persistent (esp. if they do go to one of his target nations), he’ll have to organize his allies quickly, and recruit/draft soldiers more rapidly than originally planned. He'll try to make sure the PCs are thoroughly discredited in the eyes of his other enemies, too, in case they don’t die, but it’ll only help so much if they find a helpful NPC willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (which depends on the plot I need from there).
This leaves the PCs with limited options. The fastest an most obvious is to try to convince a one of the framed nations to invade preemptively, before the BBEG is strong enough to strike openly. While they may be able to find a credulous NPC there, they may or may not be able to salvage their reputations enough to actually participate openly.

2009-01-31, 06:03 PM
I sugest making the BBEG having some grand sceme, relying on pitting the PC's against dummy targets and tricking them with fake targets to cover his real target.

Make him work on something, big. Really big. Equal in size to the Darth Sidious Death Star in scope. Some sugestions:

- He might be working with a band of renegade Mind Flayers who build up strenght, deep under the city, making a brand new settlement with a fresh and unfinished Elder Brain who's growing. Since BBEG is the major controlling force keeping the Illithids under control, killing him simply make his agreements with them void, and they start stalk the shadows snatching ppl, making the citizens horrified.

- Do a Ghostbusters. His house is the focus point of a doomsday cult, who work on a Portal to a lower plane. Since BBEG is controlling the entire magical operation, killing him open the portal uncontrolled, inviting the dwellers on the plane to pour forth uncontrolled.

- Make the BBEG work on a second plot to foil the PC's, when they come, they see an evil faction work on a obvious plot to attack the city, and receive help from a new side. Unknown to them, both sides are setup by BBEG, he dont count on the attackers to take the city (perhaps Ogre/troll supported Orc tribes, or an undead assult by a cult), if so, he'd emerge as dictator; he count on the PC's to support the newly emerging faction who help city, and thus boost one of his new tools to control the city. Keep on building layers of deception, and let the PC's boost the esteem of BBEG.

One of the first ideas of couse fits with the last one; letting BBEG control a doomsday thingie who's his real goal, while he build decptive games to keep the PC's busy, if they do discover him and kill him prematurely, a BIIG new treath emerges, since they released the Big Evil way before the planned time.

Dark Knight Renee
2009-01-31, 06:15 PM
The idea is more to figure out how to wrap up the plot so the game can move on to other things, rather than to tie the PCs down for months as the unwanted plot thickens. :\ As it is, killing the BBEG would still leave several evil groups in a position to take power, or at least fight among themselves and endanger lots of people while they're at it. Finding a way to wrap them up neatly is tricky.

2009-02-01, 07:55 PM
Here's a thought, make the BBEG neutral. He's a doppleganger. His allies? Illusions. A doppleganger wizard who specializes in illusions got sick of all the petty fighting of the various nations and decided to just conquer them all and make them work together that way. He quietly infiltrated the council and took out all of the members. When the members have to be seen he simply teleports wherever needed, changes to the council member and goes out in public. The council members are never seen together unless it's a council meeting, at which point he's simply using illusions to make it look like the rest of the council is there.

PCs take out the doppleganger and you've immediately dealt with the allies too. Without any leaders the other evil factions that would fill the void fight amongst themselves for who should rule and the PCs can help put up a new council.

2009-02-01, 09:28 PM
I really like that idea above. It makes everything easy to wrap up, and even better, it makes the Pc's really angry at the BBEG.

Honestly, I suggest some plot Wrap-up that ends with the BBEG and his supporters dying somehow. Or in the case as above, stop existing.

2009-02-01, 11:40 PM
"Dark Lord Tyrannicus has to be stopped, or he'll raise import tariffs and artificially inflate the cost of doing business, leading to short term gains but a gradual economic cooldown! He's Mad, I Tell You!"

Ahem. What I mean to say is, if you want the plot to end with an epic battle rather than several months worth of court cases and senatorial probes, the villain has to be up to something that justifies violencing. I agree with Starshade: you need a Kefka moment. Something that pushes your players over the edge from 'Wow, he's kind of a jerk', to 'Merciful Gods, he's inhuman, and he's going to kill us all'.
Idea:I like the doppelganger idea- has a sort of Baron Wulfenbach (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20040806) vibe to it, which I always love- but why not go one step further and make them Pod People?

All those political and military leaders that are convinced he's such a nice guy? Some of them are still human, but most of them are talking about themselves. The BBEG has been systematically increasing his influence, getting private audiences with powerful people, and eating their brains. Those 'assassinations' he's been implicated in? They're the ones who realized what was happening and killed themselves before he took over.

He's not invading. He's expanding. He's infecting.

Mechanically, there are about a dozen D&D monsters and spells for taking over minds and bodies. Might be something obscure, might be something as simple as a vampire or some other Spawn Creating undead. Which would give him a good reason to put the good aligned churches under his thumb, Turn Undead ruins your whole day.

So, what happens next? Well, the MBEG has to be still human, or she won't defect. She probably doesn't know exactly what the BBEG is or what he's up to, but she's worked out that he has some kind of method for turning vehement enemies into devoted allies after one private face-to-face visit. Maybe he tried to turn her, and she escaped with her stealth abilities, and that prompted him to discredit her before she could do too much damage.

But, that didn't work, now the PCs are after him, and he has to kick it into high gear if he wants to live through this. He picks a convenient town somewhere between his stronghold and the PCs current location, makes a personal visit, and has a busy night. The PCs arrive, settle in to the tavern for the night- and wake up with a kitchen knife in their shoulder and every single man, woman and child for a mile around trying to kill them. Cue the escape sequence, exit in mad rush to find and kill the original and hopefully free his mindslaves.

A bit cliche, but fun? Maybe?

2009-02-02, 01:01 AM
By the way, if you go with the Doppleganger idea, make sure the final confrontation happens during one of the council meetings. Give the PCs a reason to attack one of the council members only to realize that it's just an illusion, then let them try to figure out which one's the real one while the illusions try to escape.