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Maryring
2010-05-11, 09:50 AM
So I am planning a moral problem for my players. As part of their main quest, they have stumbled across a villian whose plans they aren't quite sure what is, but they do know that he's proven himself capable of murder and slavery, so whatever it is, it can't be good.

Next time they run into him personally, it will be shortly before he and several of his elite will be going to enact one of their special rituals. They failed to stop such a ritual one time before, which left the cleric they travelled with very weakened.

Now, since said villian has no desire to fight the PCs, he will create a portal towards a small village, and send one of his minions through it to destroy it, in hopes that it shall keep the heroes busy. The heroes know that said minion is strong enough to do so easily, and that if they do not interfere, he will most likely torture the villagers to death.

So my question is this. What would you, in a GOOD party, do in such a situation. Would you follow the minion to save the village from an incredibly painful death, or would you try to stop the ritual, knowing that it has the potential to kill far more people in the long run.

Assume that the group is unprepared, and thus have no quick methods of travel. Splitting up would mean that whomever they sent through the portal, even if he could stand up against the minion one on one, would probably be lost for quite some time.

electricbee
2010-05-11, 09:55 AM
If you're going to present the players of the game with a no win scenario, i think you should be willing to bend over backwards to allow them to think outside the box and resolve the scenario.

Perhaps they can steal a widget necessary for the ritual, forcing the big bad to follow them as they chase down the minion.

Maybe they can chase down the minion and knowing the natureof the ritual, mystically buttress whatever it is attacking.

Presenting them with the option of either choosing to split up (and distrupt the game) or select a multiple choice losing option doesn't sound very fun.

Kylarra
2010-05-11, 09:56 AM
It's a no-brainer for the majority of my characters. Assuming I'm confident enough in our ability to actually stop the ritual, take out the BBEG now, hopefully during their exposition where they try to explain about the town.

kamikasei
2010-05-11, 09:57 AM
Stop the ritual. If you let the villains lead you around by the nose you're completely screwed.

valadil
2010-05-11, 09:58 AM
Depends on the character in question (which in my book makes this a good moral conundrum to use in D&D).

I think the idealist would go for the village, assuming he'd find a way to stop the eventuality of the villain killing more people later.

The realist would argue for going after the villain now. Better to let a village die than to later letter a thorpe, hamlet, or city get tortured to death. However, the realist would also be susceptible to the argument that the party may not have the ability to stop the villain, while the village is a goal they can achieve.

The troublemaker would assume that disrupting the villain's plans is the best way to fight the villain and will ignore the village on this basis. I think the troublemaker could also be a realist or idealist.

Other factors to consider. How personally familiar are the players with the villain, the minion, and the village? If they've stayed in the village and met its people, I can't imagine the players would ignore the chance of it being destroyed (of course this assumes they know which village the portal goes to and that the villain can successfully pick a village they care about). They might also have a vendetta against the minion.

There's also the possibility that they'll stand around discussing things while village is destroyed and ritual gets carried out.

Kylarra
2010-05-11, 10:04 AM
Pragmatically, it doesn't require a very high level minion to level the average tiny village and a BBEG with the resources can be continually 'gating in minions to take out villages, so unless there is some sort of personal attachment to the village, the BBEG is generally your best bet.

kamikasei
2010-05-11, 10:06 AM
I think the idealist would go for the village, assuming he'd find a way to stop the eventuality of the villain killing more people later.

Once you do that, though, you've given the villain a tactic that can completely shut you down any time he needs to. Buy a murderer once and you're guaranteed lifetime service, etc.

I think the moral choice is quite clear here. The real issue is whether a given character can bring himself to make it.

Maryring
2010-05-11, 10:11 AM
If they do figure out a third option, all the more power to them, but it will be presented as a choice between "saving someone definately now, and risk whatever nefarious plan to be completed later" and "sacrificing someone to a gruesome death now, to end the threath that the villian is right now".

They know very little about the villian, but they do know the minion. He's tried to make the fighter join their team before *but only the fighter knows that*, and has shown little regard for those he considers lesser.

There is also the fact that said villian is strong. They last found him in control of seven very powerful fey creatures whom they had to liberate.

stenver
2010-05-11, 10:12 AM
If you're going to present the players of the game with a no win scenario, i think you should be willing to bend over backwards to allow them to think outside the box and resolve the scenario.

Perhaps they can steal a widget necessary for the ritual, forcing the big bad to follow them as they chase down the minion.

Maybe they can chase down the minion and knowing the natureof the ritual, mystically buttress whatever it is attacking.

Presenting them with the option of either choosing to split up (and distrupt the game) or select a multiple choice losing option doesn't sound very fun.

I completely disagree.

Chen
2010-05-11, 10:14 AM
Is the party capable of taking out the villain and minion if they split up? If so thats the logically best choice (and generally bad for the game). Could someone sacrifice themselves to allow the villagers to escape by delaying with the minion if they are unable to defeat it? That could also work if the people are heroic/good enough.

Could they prevent the minion from getting through the portal in the first place? While its dramatic for the villain to do this in front of the heroes its prone to disruption or just plain rail-roading if you make it impossible to prevent it. What about grappling the Villain and taking him through the portal to the village with you and the minion?

Also depending on the characters and what the villain knows, is it a reasonable plan? How "good" are these characters? Seems like a risky gamble to send a minion away if the party is just going to kill you regardless.

valadil
2010-05-11, 10:14 AM
Once you do that, though, you've given the villain a tactic that can completely shut you down any time he needs to. Buy a murderer once and you're guaranteed lifetime service, etc.


For a time. I think an idealistic PC would assume they could stop this trick any number of times until they figured out how to prevent the villain from opening portals.

kamikasei
2010-05-11, 10:17 AM
There is also the fact that said villian is strong. They last found him in control of seven very powerful fey creatures whom they had to liberate.

If they think they don't have a good chance of beating the villain now but would at a future confrontation, then that makes protecting the village this time a more justifiable choice.

But don't look at it as the party sacrificing anyone. The villain is the one sending minions to destroy villages simply to get his way. It's not the players' responsiblity to prevent all harm befalling anyone in the entire world.


For a time. I think an idealistic PC would assume they could stop this trick any number of times until they figured out how to prevent the villain from opening portals.

True, similar to the issue of having a better chance of beating the villain in a future encounter, they may have a better chance of countering this specific tactic once they're more powerful. Of course, that can't prevent the villain from setting up other kinds of dead man's switches.

Maryring
2010-05-11, 10:17 AM
They should be able to prevent it from happening another time though, since they do have the chance to prepare themselves with dim anchor. Since it is rare for them to need it though, I doubt that they'll have a scroll of it with em.

PersonMan
2010-05-11, 10:18 AM
For a time. I think an idealistic PC would assume they could stop this trick any number of times until they figured out how to prevent the villain from opening portals.

And by then how much damage will the villain have done? How many rituals of PLOT or enhanced power will the villain have completed?

kamikasei
2010-05-11, 10:21 AM
They should be able to prevent it from happening another time though, since they do have the chance to prepare themselves with dim anchor. Since it is rare for them to need it though, I doubt that they'll have a scroll of it with em.

As I edited in to my above post in response to valadil: they can stop the villain from teleporting minions off to do mischief in future, but they can't stop him from having minions already primed to do the mischief. "Every time I conduct one of these rituals, I'll have my minions lying in wait go to a random village and destroy it in a horrible fashion unless you go to Prearranged Location X and stand on your heads while singing 'Gosh, The Villain is So Sexually Potent'..."

Gnaeus
2010-05-11, 10:23 AM
A good aligned group could do either one.

The most important thing here, IMO, is not to make the moral, character driven decision a tool to beat up PCs with the ugly spiked club that is the alignment system. Paladins and clerics should not fall as a result of their PC's choice in this kind of dilemma (unless their god had a specific outlook that they chose to ignore).

"My alignment is XY so I think I should do this" is perfectly acceptable reasoning.

"Your alignment is XY so you should do this" is not.

And of course, you as the DM should be prepared for them to make either choice or to split up.

electricbee
2010-05-11, 10:27 AM
I completely disagree.

That was constructive, helpful, and added meaningfully to the dialogue.

Noedig
2010-05-11, 10:31 AM
I rather like the choice that has been presented to them. As to the choice, if I knew the BBEG was much stronger than myself and the party, I'd go and kill the minion. This seems the logical choice.

Alternatively if your good party is willing to get a little dirty, they can capture the minion, torture him, read his mind or some how obtain the location of the BBEG from him, and then teleport in and ruin his little ritual.

Maryring
2010-05-11, 10:33 AM
As I edited in to my above post in response to valadil: they can stop the villain from teleporting minions off to do mischief in future, but they can't stop him from having minions already primed to do the mischief. "Every time I conduct one of these rituals, I'll have my minions lying in wait go to a random village and destroy it in a horrible fashion unless you go to Prearranged Location X and stand on your heads while singing 'Gosh, The Villain is So Sexually Potent'..."
He could be lying about it too though. It's a villian, they're supposed to lie, hence the proof of sending Babyeater mcBlooddrinker through the portal before em.

And no spiky clubs of beating. It's supposed to be a fun moral challenge, to counteract all the political and fighting stuff they've done recently.

kamikasei
2010-05-11, 10:36 AM
He could be lying about it too though. It's a villian, they're supposed to lie, hence the proof of sending Babyeater mcBlooddrinker through the portal before em.

This evil, lying, Babyeater-employing villain sounds like the kind of guy a ragtag group of heroes should take down.


Alternatively if your good party is willing to get a little dirty, they can capture the minion, torture him, read his mind or some how obtain the location of the BBEG from him, and then teleport in and ruin his little ritual.

I get the impression they know exactly where the BBEG is: standing a short distance away from them.

Yukitsu
2010-05-11, 10:38 AM
Generally, I'd plane shift over to the minion, but leave the party to face the BBEG. Then I'd nova the minion very publicly, very excessively and to such a degree that future minions would think twice about following that order. I usually have faith that the party could defeat the BBEG without me.

Edit: though there were two occassions where the party went after the minion, and I got to solo the BBEG.

stenver
2010-05-11, 10:38 AM
That was constructive, helpful, and added meaningfully to the dialogue.

Presenting them with the option of either choosing to split up (and distrupt the game) or select a multiple choice losing option doesn't sound very fun.

I think that making hard choices are very fun. Simply following a railroad, where everything is WIN and every choice is obvious is terribly boring.

Of course. If GM punishes them for choosing a lesser evil between 2 evils, then it becomes crap. For example, i believe that a paladin, faced with this situation, should not become an ex paladin.

But making players choose between their home village or stopping a villain is something that can really make PC think and give a special kind of flavor to the game. Nothing in the real world is always win-win. I like to bring it to the D&D as well.

Tough choices make game interesting.

And of course, THIS is the time, when players get creative and maybe think something up to make it a bit more of a win-win, without splitting up.

valadil
2010-05-11, 10:43 AM
And by then how much damage will the villain have done? How many rituals of PLOT or enhanced power will the villain have completed?

Oh absolutely. In this case it's a question of who can accomplish more during the amount of time between encounters. If the players are no better off the next time they face him, they have no reason to wait. If they can catch up to him in terms of power (or ability to deal with minion portals), waiting may pay off.

Mastikator
2010-05-11, 10:52 AM
To me it seem like an obvious choice to go for the village. The previous ritual left one guy severely weekend, so whatever the next ritual is, it's not as bad as an entire village tortured to death.

Also, even if they go after the BBEG, which they don't even know if they can take out, and in fact have failed to do in the past, they still have to go after his minion, which they think they can take out. Before or after it destroys the village.

Minions that can singlehandedly take out entire villages don't grow on trees. This is not some trump card the BBEG can pull any time. For all they know it's his most powerful minion.

Yukitsu
2010-05-11, 10:55 AM
Actually any level 11 or higher caster can pull as many of those minions as they want.

Mastikator
2010-05-11, 10:59 AM
Do we know that the BBEG is a level 11+ caster? I didn't seen any mention of that, I can only make judgments based on known facts.

hamishspence
2010-05-11, 11:02 AM
The original post said:


They failed to stop such a ritual one time before, which left the cleric they travelled with very weakened.

and


Would you follow the minion to save the village from an incredibly painful death, or would you try to stop the ritual, knowing that it has the potential to kill far more people in the long run.

implying that whatever the consequences of the ritual, it's more than just "leaving the cleric very weakened".

Lin Bayaseda
2010-05-11, 11:03 AM
Usually, in the movies, when the hero is faces with this dilemma, he somehow manages to both save the girl and get the villain. For he is Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Rather than a lose-lose scenario that will make the players feel bad no matter what they do, give them at least a fighting chance to have it both ways.

Mastikator
2010-05-11, 11:07 AM
The original post said:
implying that whatever the consequences of the ritual, it's more than just "leaving the cleric very weakened".

Potential also implies uncertainty. You may choose to stop the BBEG from a ritual that perhaps will kill many, or maybe it won't, and last time you tried you failed. Or you may choose to stop his minion who will certainly kill an entire village, and you're pretty certain you can stop him.
Real people trumps hypothetical people.

nedz
2010-05-11, 11:13 AM
I would expect most parties to do 2 things.
1) Send a message (or some PONTI* messanger) to the village to tell them to scatter.
2) Stop the ritual.

Obviously 2 is more important, and 1 might not be possible.

Its always interesting to see how these decisions pan out though.

* PONTI = Person Of No Tactical Importance

Kylarra
2010-05-11, 11:35 AM
Potential also implies uncertainty. You may choose to stop the BBEG from a ritual that perhaps will kill many, or maybe it won't, and last time you tried you failed. Or you may choose to stop his minion who will certainly kill an entire village, and you're pretty certain you can stop him.
Real people trumps hypothetical people.Well actually assuming that BBEG is ready and willing to sacrifice an entire village to divert you for unspecified amount of time to complete this ritual should be a clear sign that fighting the symptoms rather than the source is a losing proposition.

electricbee
2010-05-11, 11:36 AM
Presenting them with the option of either choosing to split up (and distrupt the game) or select a multiple choice losing option doesn't sound very fun.

I think that making hard choices are very fun. Simply following a railroad, where everything is WIN and every choice is obvious is terribly boring.

Of course. If GM punishes them for choosing a lesser evil between 2 evils, then it becomes crap. For example, i believe that a paladin, faced with this situation, should not become an ex paladin.

But making players choose between their home village or stopping a villain is something that can really make PC think and give a special kind of flavor to the game. Nothing in the real world is always win-win. I like to bring it to the D&D as well.

Tough choices make game interesting.

And of course, THIS is the time, when players get creative and maybe think something up to make it a bit more of a win-win, without splitting up.


I think we may be seing this as two sides of the same potential abuse, railroading.

There are always opportunity costs to a players' choice of action. Any time you deal with problems A B and C, X Y and Z potentially fester.

My concern is that a railroad with a switch (path A where bad thing alpha happens or path B where bad thing beta happens) is still a railroad.

There is a difference between presenting a dichotomy, where both options having significant lasting down sides and a thorny situation with no easy or obvious solution. To often when a DM presents two choices s/he becomes attahched (consciously or not) to those two outcomes. I prefer a game where the DM interprets the characters choices and develops story accordintly without having a prejudice towards a certain outcome.

That said, I'm all for meaningful player choices and concequences for those choices.

stenver
2010-05-11, 11:47 AM
I think we may be seing this as two sides of the same potential abuse, railroading.

There are always opportunity costs to a players' choice of action. Any time you deal with problems A B and C, X Y and Z potentially fester.

My concern is that a railroad with a switch (path A where bad thing alpha happens or path B where bad thing beta happens) is still a railroad.

There is a difference between presenting a dichotomy, where both options having significant lasting down sides and a thorny situation with no easy or obvious solution. To often when a DM presents two choices s/he becomes attahched (consciously or not) to those two outcomes. I prefer a game where the DM interprets the characters choices and develops story accordintly without having a prejudice towards a certain outcome.

That said, I'm all for meaningful player choices and concequences for those choices.

I agree with you on that one. If players manage to think any clever way to stop both, then GM should let them, by all means, not reluctantly stick to his A or B. GM should always be ready that, since players actions are so often, so off the chart, that there always might be a plan C.

But i dont think GM is forced to think plan C out for the players himself.

For example, players could stumble upon the ritual, while one member is invisible, others in a bags of holding. Dimension door right in the middle of it, jump out, foil the ritual and still have enough time to run after the minion.

GM should now start to quickly improvise his plan C

electricbee
2010-05-11, 12:25 PM
I agree with you on that one. If players manage to think any clever way to stop both, then GM should let them, by all means, not reluctantly stick to his A or B. GM should always be ready that, since players actions are so often, so off the chart, that there always might be a plan C.

But i dont think GM is forced to think plan C out for the players himself.

For example, players could stumble upon the ritual, while one member is invisible, others in a bags of holding. Dimension door right in the middle of it, jump out, foil the ritual and still have enough time to run after the minion.

GM should now start to quickly improvise his plan C

That said, this potential scenario has the potential to be disruptive.

The most obvious and foreseeable solution is to split the party, which leaves to groups playing for a fraction of the time until the party is able to reunite.

Splitting up is perfectly reasonable from a story perspective, but creates issues in the context of the game.

ApeofLight
2010-05-11, 12:37 PM
Yeah, I think the party splitting is the best option even if it does mean my party is split up for a bit.

electricbee
2010-05-11, 12:45 PM
Splitting the party is good to address the story concern, but its bad for a gaming group.

Two separate encounters means that each of the two groups gets to spend half their game time watching other play and not really able to contribute. At best they are bored, at worst a distraction.

If distance to the village is an issue, its likely that more that each sub group will be sitting out more than just a single encounter. This is why most game mastering guides explicitly reccommend NOT splitting the party, even though it is common enough in stories.

stenver
2010-05-11, 12:58 PM
DM always has a choice to make it so you cant really split a party. Lucky for DM

electricbee
2010-05-11, 01:15 PM
DM always has a choice to make it so you cant really split a party. Lucky for DM

But a DM who clumsily enforces that choice after presenting a scenario readily resolved by splitting the party needs to put on his engineer hat.

Chugga chugga chugga chugga choo chooooo.

valadil
2010-05-11, 01:21 PM
Two separate encounters means that each of the two groups gets to spend half their game time watching other play and not really able to contribute. At best they are bored, at worst a distraction.


If the players really think that splitting up is the best course of action and are all willing to sit out while the other side runs combat, by all means let them.

And once you've done that there are still ways to entertain everyone. This scenario is not happening in a dungeon. Other people may enter either side of the combat. If there are any friendly NPCs nearby, hand them off to inactive players. This is really easy to do in the village. Hand out townsfolk. They'll have to be weaker than the PCs (don't want to overshadow the heroes afterall), but they'll keep the other PCs involved. For the villain fight you can even let the other PCs play the bad guys. This does take some risk, but if your players are mature enough it should be a good time.

Grommen
2010-05-11, 01:46 PM
That is why it is good to be the Bad Guy, he can devise twisted evil plans that make the good guys wince.

So why not send your best fighter out to deal with the minion, and the rest of you go attack the BBEG.

Hopefully the DM in this particular case has left both the BBEG and his minion with a critical flaw that can be exploited to overcome them. This leads to great story telling, and drama. bla bla bla and all that smack.

Look they do it in the movies all the time. Shaggy and Scooby go this way, and the rest of them go another.

Now if your players get bored, then too bad, they made a choise. Send them for the stinken Pizza.

Now if your DM is a cold hearted kniveing bugger, he might kill you all and you can start over next week with new and fresh chacters. Problem solved. :smallbiggrin:

BlckDv
2010-05-11, 01:47 PM
I view the split party as an issue for the DM to resolve. If you really want to present this a a choice for the party to make, and not a railroad plot element, you as DM have to be willing and able to support whatever choice the players make, for good or ill, and splitting up is not even a very fringe case here to plan for.

I'd make sure to have elements to keep the "absent" players in the game as you run the other side. Depending on player maturity and meta-gaming concerns, you could let the players of the PCs that go after the Minion run the NPC guards/monsters that remain to guard the ritual. letting them face off against the party, or you could let them play as angels or spirits that exist immaterially, fighting against the ritual itself, letting them make checks to slow down the ritual and buy the other players time, but unable to affect the physical world.

When running the Minion smashing the city; let the players of the PCs fighting the ritual have a commoner each, let them run in to try and help the PCs, I'd let them come back in as another commoner a round or two after each death... it lets all the players stay in the action, and makes the deaths from this villain even more directly impact the players.

lyko555
2010-05-11, 02:56 PM
Personaly every time I've ran up against this senarioi tell the party to get the bbeg and dive through solo. They should beable to fill my gap, and i should be able to distract the minion long enough for villagers to escape.
Also sitting out isnt always a bad thing it lest you think of the fun tortures you get to do when you rejoin with the party and have a bbeg to play with.

Murphy80
2010-05-11, 03:21 PM
So my question is this. What would you, in a GOOD party, do in such a situation.

The short answer, not what you expect them to do; no plot survives contact with the players.

Aron Times
2010-05-11, 03:43 PM
In Chess, you can't win against a half-decent opponent without losing some of your pieces. If you save the village at the cost of stopping the villain, more people will die.

"You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I'm offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094226/quotes)

Mark Hall
2010-05-11, 03:49 PM
In many ways, this is a no-win scenario. Thus... What Would Mr. Stiffly Do?

IMO, the "best" solution is to stop the minion, learn more about BBEG's plans, and stop him next time, better informed. This is "best" because they don't KNOW what shape his evil takes, just that he's willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Thus, stop the short-term evil, and hope to stop the long-term evil at the next opportunity.

His evil may simply take the form of ascending to godhood and, assuming he doesn't have a further plan to take out all the other gods, it's not that big of a deal. Stopping the evil of the minion is of more immediate importance.

However, I would also accept as a why-I-am-still-a-paladin rationale that his evil needed to be stopped and, while the death of the villagers is tragic and horrid (and likely atonement-worthy), stopping the evil of the BBEG before it goes further is of greater benefit.

valadil
2010-05-11, 04:35 PM
I had another thought. Your players may treat it as a tactical problem instead of a moral one. The enemy clearly wants you to go through the portal (otherwise he'd have sent his minion there before you showed up). You think it's a village, but only because the villain told you so. Is this villain a trustworthy fellow? No? It's a trap! Obviously you shouldn't take the bait and get ambushed by a dozen waiting minions. Fight the villain.

This solution requires a certain amount of either paranoia or mid fight logic on the part of the PCs.

stenver
2010-05-11, 05:07 PM
But a DM who clumsily enforces that choice after presenting a scenario readily resolved by splitting the party needs to put on his engineer hat.

Chugga chugga chugga chugga choo chooooo.

The thing is, DM can make it quite clear to players that either encounter, whichever one they choose, will be hard. Splitting the party will likely result in one or more death of a party member, if not all of them.

Of course, this requires a few thing:
*Players need to have encounter the certain minion before, to actually know, what it can do and that it IS dangerous
*Players need to be serious enough NOT to make stupid choices, but to think things through
*Players need to be good at teamwork, so if they stick together, they have an awesome chance to win. Splitting the party will seriously hamper their ability to work as a WIN team.

Eldonauran
2010-05-11, 05:33 PM
I wouldn't hesitate. You kill the BBEG (to stop the source of evil) and then save the village (clean up the mess).

Talon Sky
2010-05-11, 06:06 PM
Usually, in the movies, when the hero is faces with this dilemma, he somehow manages to both save the girl and get the villain. For he is Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Rather than a lose-lose scenario that will make the players feel bad no matter what they do, give them at least a fighting chance to have it both ways.

^This.

If it were my choice and splitting up wasn't an option (like, the entire party is needed to stand a chance against the BBEG), then I'd forsake the village. It's not choosing the lesser evil, it's simply choosing the greater good.

Tiki Snakes
2010-05-11, 08:28 PM
I wouldn't hesitate. You kill the BBEG (to stop the source of evil) and then save the village (clean up the mess).

Correct answer.

He sends a minion to butcher an entire village? The correct response is to take the BBEG out quickly and with extreme prejudice so that you have plenty of time left to go after and stop the Minion before he can do too much harm.

If it only takes you a couple of rounds to drop the BBEG, then barely seconds have passed. Even assuming the Minion is pretty damn powerful and the Village defenceless, the sheer logistics of killing an entire village full of people who don't want to be killed means you have a quite some time to work with, comparatively speaking.

Malificus
2010-05-11, 10:45 PM
I have a knight- (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KnightInShiningArmor)errant (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KnightErrant) character. His name is Thunderfoot. Thunderfoot is lawful idealist (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IncorruptiblePurePureness). This is what he would do:

1. Charge the BBEG.
2. Mess up his ritual in the most expedient fashion so that it can not be completed at this time, leaving the BBEG unhurt if he is not hurt in the process as Thunderfoot is more worried about now.
3. Run to the town
4. Stop the minion.
5. Re-find the BBEG later, knowing he has to try doing the ritual again.

If he had time to talk with the party, he would have them split up, with him going to stop the minion, while the rest stop the ritual.

He would then pay out of pocket to revive every single person he could who died.

Gralamin
2010-05-11, 11:36 PM
I think its critical that people are missing something (Chen mentioned it way back on page 1).

If there was one person, its Moral conundrum between facing the BBEG and stopping long-term evil, or stopping short-term evil. It is an extremely difficult choice, and one a character will probably regret either way.

This isn't one person, its a party. If a minion is being sent to kill people, send one of your own to take care of it. The rest will focus on the BBEG. Sure this increases your chances of losing, on both sides, but that would be kinda the point of the save them both answer. You have a fighting chance of taking them both down, and saving everyone, and it is the right choice.

Heck the OP even saids:

Assume that the group is unprepared, and thus have no quick methods of travel. Splitting up would mean that whomever they sent through the portal, even if he could stand up against the minion one on one, would probably be lost for quite some time.
So its not even like its that bad of an option, since one-on-one is possible, and assumability, you can stop the BBEG with the rest.

Temotei
2010-05-11, 11:44 PM
I'd probably get the fighter/barbarian to bull rush the villain into the portal, then jump in with everyone in tail.

If that's not possible, maybe we have a Setting Sun specialist or some kind of thrower.

Or maybe a good Strength check followed by several attacks of opportunity will allow the muscle to pick the BBEG up and carry him through the portal.

No spells used up other than possible healing if absolutely needed, depending on the villain's ability to hit and deal damage.

Eldonauran
2010-05-12, 09:55 AM
If there was one person, its Moral conundrum between facing the BBEG and stopping long-term evil, or stopping short-term evil. It is an extremely difficult choice, and one a character will probably regret either way.

Can't comment on what the party would do, since I only control my character, but my character wouldn't hesitate. He would go after the BBEG even if the rest of the party goes to save the village. There is no stop-to-think-about-it, when evil gives you a choice, you take out that evil. Evil always has an agenda and a back-up plan, or failing that, tries to get the good guys to make a bad decision.

My character would never regret his decision, only the lives that were lost. The BBEG arranged for those villagers to die, not you and no matter what, you are not responsible for their deaths. All you can do as a good guy is to avenge those already dead and save the ones who are still alive once you've dealt with the BBEG.

Kylarra
2010-05-12, 10:09 AM
So its not even like its that bad of an option, since one-on-one is possible, and assumability, you can stop the BBEG with the rest.I read that as saying, "even if we grant the possibility that one on one is possible, that player is effectively out of the game here", not necessarily saying that one on one is possible or even a plausible solution. You could be sending that solo player to their death at the hands of a sadist.

Yora
2010-05-12, 10:22 AM
I'd probably try to put an end to the villains plan right now. Some dead people now or a lot more of dead people later seems like an easy choice.

And even if the group believes that his plan can still be stopped if they attack him again in two or three days, he can just send his henchmen to another village again. He could keep on going with that until he runs out of villages or henchmen. And at that point his real plan has probably long succeeded. So stop him now to minimize casualties, as there seems to be no way to avoid casualties completely.

But what's really the purpose of this thread? The group that will face this choice can chose either the one option or the other, both are completely vaible depending on how they judge the situation. And as I see it, they are completely free to chose either way.
Unless you want to make this into a "Should the paladin fall" thread (and PLEASE! Don't do that!), would their choice have any consequences?

Samb
2010-05-12, 11:15 AM
I think this may depend on what kind of DM you are as well.

Are you a killer DM? In which case, this is a lose-lose situation.

1) Stopping the ritual does not stop future rituals to occur by the BBEG (if the PCs didn't kill him) or his underlings (like the one destroying the town). So not only do your PCs have the guilt of not saving the town, they didn't really acheive anything by stopping said ritual.

2) Saving the townsfolk results in said disaster. PCs faced with loads of regret and wondering if they made the right decision. Have the bad guy taunt them for their inability for added insult.

Maybe you are a cool DM? In which case no matter what your PCs do they will be rewarded. This makes what looks like a lose-lose, really a win-win (but the players don't know that).

1) Stopping the ritual frees up the kingdom guards to minimize the damage to the townspeople. Although the town is destroyed, her people are safe.

2) Stopping the destruction of the town results a very pissed off BBEG who was very close with said second in command, and maybe the knowledge and/or means of how to stop the ritual or at least minimize it's effects. For added ante, make the town itself important to stopping the BBEG in some way.


No matter how you play it you will not fail as a DM, it just depends on your style.

Maryring
2010-05-12, 09:46 PM
Nah. No attempt to make any Paladins or Clerics fall. I just needed to bounce the idea and see if it'd be fun for the players. Seems to have gotten a good enough response that I'll be running it.

druid91
2010-05-12, 09:56 PM
The obvious solution is to start a shadow war and act like Good aligned BBEGs instead of Big old heroes.