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SilverLeaf167
2012-02-15, 09:41 AM
What's your opinion about having the PCs face multiple differently-themed "elite generals" or something like that on their long quest to reach and defeat the actual BBEG? While it certainly can give some opportunities for variation in opponents, longer campaigns and lots of other shenanigans, I think it might feel a little too "anime" for a lot of people, start feeling repetitive or just annoy the players enough to make them think of some way to bypass half the plot.

Personally, I often think of character ideas I consider cool and would like to play sometime, but am forever stuck as a DM for my group and thus have no other way to show off those characters than including them as NPCs in the campaigns I run. I'm just not quite sure how the players might feel about it, or what the general opinion is.

Any opinions, or specific tips for running this kind of plot?

Kol Korran
2012-02-15, 11:51 AM
some thoughts:
1) the idea of "Team evil" works fine if everyone in the team is different. this does not mean having a different race class, but rather having a different interaction with the PCs, a different role to play (and most importantly, be more than just a battle to get through):
- one or two can be the main villains main generals, the main tools to make their will happen.
- another might be a great spy, with the main problem being tracking it down and/ or capturing it.
- another might be a double agent (for various reasons)- at times helping the PCs, at time hindering them. will they trust it? not trust it? might the party dpend on it? but might it betray them? keep it vague.
- another might be a former ally who is somehow forced and or/ blackmailed to this role. will the party try to save it? or cut it down?

2) i know little of anime, but i think it's quite important that the different members of the team have their own personalities, part of which having NOTHING to do with the overall team's mission, part of it may even CONFLICT with it. and the players need to come and feel that (through various means). that way they are real people, and not just "mini boss level C".

3) another important factor is for them to act as a team, especially if the party is supposed to meet them more than for just one battle. at first they meet villain A which runs away. then they meet B, which they sort of bargain with. later on they meet A and B (perhaps leveled up, perhaps with reinforcements) working splendidly togehter.

4) their role in the overall plan: i dislike having villains perfectly rtailored for some job. this means if they die- no one can replace them. instead i like the stages to the master villains' plan to have back ups, and one mini villain able to take over another guy's role. (though perhaps not as efficiently) this way the party feels that Team Evil is affected by their efforts, but is not a complete walkover...

hhmmm, perhaps not all of my points were... to the point, but i hope it helps.

SilverLeaf167
2012-02-15, 12:28 PM
My players, donít open this spoiler. Also donít open any other spoiler in this thread, unless it specifically says it doesnít contain specific info about my ideas.
In my case there is no single specific BBEG, at least I havenít decided on one yet. It might make sense to have one though, something of an ďequal leaderĒ, kind of like Nale is for the Linear Guild: not because of him being the most powerful, but because of his wit and his skills being specifically suited to this.
Team Evil in this case is a group of different arcane mages, who want to discover, prepare and perform a certain very powerful ritual, which the PCs want to stop. I havenít decided on names for them yet.
The Beguiler who can spin pretty much anyone around his little finger in order to benefit his cause and keep the groupís actions secret. He also manages a small private army, composed mostly of easy-to-fool goblinoids, giants and mercenaries.
The Warweaver, who works with the Beguiler to organize smaller strike teams where necessary. He basically moves the soldiers to the chosen spot with a Teleport, buffs them all, accomplishes his goal and leaves
The Necromancer, who mostly focuses on basic minionmancy and works together with the Abjurer to protect important locations.
The Abjurer, a gish who focuses on warding himself and any important locations, as well as acting as the group's "melee tank" if ever necessary. The Evoker, who is happy with just blasting stuff. The least fleshed out character, to be honest.
The last but not the least, the Diviner+Generalist, who I think might be the best fit for the leader. He's the mastermind behind everything the group does, being the best at planning and setting up their schemes.
I'd like some opinions on the set-up and how they might affect the PCs, but if your comment would contain any actual information about the villains, please put it in spoilers. I really don't want to spoil anything for the party. I also don't really want help with their builds, just how they work together and against the party.

Nerd-o-rama
2012-02-15, 04:19 PM
In the roleplay I'm currently helping to run, a team of four "evil" generals to act as bosses is exactly what we're doing for most of the first plot arc. Then again, it's explicitly an anime-based game. Giant robots and everything.

That said, in the context of D&D-style heroic fantasy, it makes perfect sense for the bad guys to form an organized team, especially when you take D&D rules and their love of complementary niches (healer, tank, skillmonkey - the adventuring party ones) into account.

If you've got intelligent, organized enemies, it makes sense for those enemies to form a team or delegatory hierarchy, depending on the group. The Evil Emperor has his Court Sorceress, his General, his High Priest of Asmodeus, and his "Troubleshooter" (he finds trouble and shoots it), all of whom might be encountered independently, for example.

Kol Korran has four very good points there, especially about making the villainous team different - the Evil Emperor might have a General for each of his army corps who are all (for the sake of argument) of similar statistics, but making the players plow through all of them in succession would be insanely boring. Specialization and variation is the name of the game for the numerical statistics, and like all characters, they should be characters first and people filling roles in your campaign either second or tied-for-first, depending on the level of storytelling you want to bother with.

Pokonic
2012-02-15, 09:22 PM
I once had a nice little five-man trio that fought my PC's to the bitter end.

It consisted of the following:

A Young Red Dragon, who, eventualy vi the PC's getting traped in a time-slower thing, was Mature Adult by the time the game ended. While child-like in the beginning, he served as a heavy-strike team all by himselfby the end, and was less of the team pet he was before so much as a secondary fighter . Was the groups main form of transport, and actualy served as a heavy weapons platform at one point. I refrained from him using spells, and was the nearist thing to a Gish the group had.

A half-red dragon Troll fighter/warlord, he was everything good about Stone Dragon and took every advantage he could with it. Was far smarter than he looks, and was the de-facto leader of the group. Was the sibling of the full-blooded red-dragon, and was a utter pain in melee. He wore inchanted armor, to boot, and even self-distructed himself in a blaze of fire to prevent his "little brother" from being one-shotted. He still is fondly remembered by the party as being well-roleplayed and actualy having a legit business while not attempting to kill the PC's. Also, was a decent big brother.

A Halfling rouge. Was a utter arse, and died mid-way thru the opening encounter with the party. Was a sadist, actualy had a few portals open to Dis as well, and was in fact on the run from the Devils. We quickly figured out that the Devils where fighting her, not with her. We offered assistance to the Glugon in charged, and because of that we got to keep his stuff. Also saved us later from "cashing in" information to stop a possible slander to the now-promoted Pit Fiend, and convinced it not to lend assistance to the final battle.

The Human Fighter (later Death Knight) was a figure that never realy got expanded before the time-skip. Before a generic merc, he became a death-knight... for power, realy. Rather silent, rarly spoke, he was covered head-to- toe in mythral armor. He had a realy nice sword, and the fight with him on dragon-back was fantastic. Had a personal vendetta against the party wizerd, and constantly attempted to fight her alown, and almost killed her a few times. The bantering between the two of them was fanastic!

A strange ooze-like creature, its actual identity was never actualy reveiled in the game. It had some abilites that called forth both body-snaching and mimicry, and in fact pretended to be the halfling lass to get close to the PC's in order to engulf them. The Troll, the guy who found it, had no idea what it was ether, but found it in a old temple in the middle of nowere. It was later suggested by the parties wizerd that it was some child of Jubilex, but when he even consulted a Solar about the creature (mind you, thats not the only reason why), it said that the creature had nether far realm taint nor Abyssial origins.

Engine
2012-02-15, 11:13 PM
What's your opinion about having the PCs face multiple differently-themed "elite generals" or something like that on their long quest to reach and defeat the actual BBEG? While it certainly can give some opportunities for variation in opponents, longer campaigns and lots of other shenanigans, I think it might feel a little too "anime" for a lot of people, start feeling repetitive or just annoy the players enough to make them think of some way to bypass half the plot.

Well, in a steampunk campaign the group was stuck in a dystopian industrial city with a nearly-utopian floating city above as a government.
The lower city was divided in sector, each sector had a specific product or service it had to provide with monthly standards. The sectors that didn't met the standards were enslaved and forced to work a lot more through the gruesome use of drugs and constructs.
The PCs wanted to overthrow the highly secretive governement, but the knew that only a mass revolution could bring down the upper city. Sdo they started "conquering" sectors, unfortunately the majority of sectors were under a nasty half-orc who ruled with an iron fist and a lot of mooks.

So the PCs started assassinating the henchmen of this "lord" so they could take over their sectors, reducing the manpower and goods the boss had, until the final confrontation with the half-orc.

Well, the henchmen of the half-orc were some kind of mini-bosses, and it was fun because the campaign was driven by players, the mini-bosses didn't just come up from nowhere.

You could try something similar. (By the way, I wasn't the DM)

SilverLeaf167
2012-02-16, 12:17 AM
Well, in a steampunk campaign the group was stuck in a dystopian industrial city with a nearly-utopian floating city above as a government.
The lower city was divided in sector, each sector had a specific product or service it had to provide with monthly standards. The sectors that didn't met the standards were enslaved and forced to work a lot more through the gruesome use of drugs and constructs.
The PCs wanted to overthrow the highly secretive governement, but the knew that only a mass revolution could bring down the upper city. Sdo they started "conquering" sectors, unfortunately the majority of sectors were under a nasty half-orc who ruled with an iron fist and a lot of mooks.

So the PCs started assassinating the henchmen of this "lord" so they could take over their sectors, reducing the manpower and goods the boss had, until the final confrontation with the half-orc.

Well, the henchmen of the half-orc were some kind of mini-bosses, and it was fun because the campaign was driven by players, the mini-bosses didn't just come up from nowhere.

You could try something similar. (By the way, I wasn't the DM)
For some reason, this reminds me of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood :smallbiggrin:
For the most part of the game, you're assassinating generals one by one to free small areas of the city and weaken the BBEG's power in the area.

Mystify
2012-02-16, 06:00 AM
It can work if done well. Avoid it being "Generic Evil Overlord B, which happens to be just enough stronger than Generic Evil Overlord A who you killed 3 levels ago." They need to be real characters with real motivations. Trying to bring down elements of an enemy group individually is a sound tactic for the parties to be utilizing, though obviously it could fail and they end up fighting 2 at once, etc.

Kol Korran
2012-02-16, 06:45 AM
My players, donít open this spoiler. Also donít open any other spoiler in this thread, unless it specifically says it doesnít contain specific info about my ideas.
In my case there is no single specific BBEG, at least I havenít decided on one yet. It might make sense to have one though, something of an ďequal leaderĒ, kind of like Nale is for the Linear Guild: not because of him being the most powerful, but because of his wit and his skills being specifically suited to this.
Team Evil in this case is a group of different arcane mages, who want to discover, prepare and perform a certain very powerful ritual, which the PCs want to stop. I havenít decided on names for them yet.
The Beguiler who can spin pretty much anyone around his little finger in order to benefit his cause and keep the groupís actions secret. He also manages a small private army, composed mostly of easy-to-fool goblinoids, giants and mercenaries.
The Warweaver, who works with the Beguiler to organize smaller strike teams where necessary. He basically moves the soldiers to the chosen spot with a Teleport, buffs them all, accomplishes his goal and leaves
The Necromancer, who mostly focuses on basic minionmancy and works together with the Abjurer to protect important locations.
The Abjurer, a gish who focuses on warding himself and any important locations, as well as acting as the group's "melee tank" if ever necessary. The Evoker, who is happy with just blasting stuff. The least fleshed out character, to be honest.
The last but not the least, the Diviner+Generalist, who I think might be the best fit for the leader. He's the mastermind behind everything the group does, being the best at planning and setting up their schemes.
I'd like some opinions on the set-up and how they might affect the PCs, but if your comment would contain any actual information about the villains, please put it in spoilers. I really don't want to spoil anything for the party. I also don't really want help with their builds, just how they work together and against the party.

in order to answer your question more seriously we'll need to know more about:
- the villain's goal and how they are going to achieve it (as in what are the stages). that might be a bit too risky in this thread though...
- the individual personalities. risky as well
- and not to forget- the party of PCs themselves.

that said, i'll share my thoughts about your Team Evil in the following spoiler (as mentioned- players do not read)
the generalist mastermind sound to me like he's seconded in scheming only by the beguiler. he sounds someone who KNOWS stuff, for real and is always 2 steps ahead of you. he also sounds like a secretive type. i think he has a way to ensure everyone's loyalty (like it or not). since i don't know about his abilities, resources or goal i can't help much other than that.

as to interaction with the PCs... sometime they meet him, but only with the others. he isn't concerned about them till they really start being a hassle. then through his divinations he learns very, very, very specific info about the PCs (family, friends, vulnerabilities) and tries at first to blackmail them, and then just destroy their loved ones and the like. (or the PCs). you also seem to lack a conjurer- he might be able to call upon strong extra planar beings to hunt down the PCs.

the emphasis should be on how personally well he gets to know the PCs, to the level of minor spells and magic items, not to mention strategy and vulnerabilities. put the fear into them.

a suggestion: he might make a nice mystic theumarge (or whatever you call it) putting the divine inside the equation as well, also a possible source for his "knowledge"

the one i see amassing armies of simple monsters is the warweaver, not the beguiler (who should focus on elite people he manipulates). the way you describe him he sounds like the dependable type, so i'd say the generalist promised him something he deeply believes in- to be restored to position, to avenge someone and the like. i actually see the warweaver as the battle engaging of the group. i'd advise giving him some combat boosting itmes (or at least survivability. i imagine this guy as an ex army wizard, that had been let down for some reason.

with him can go the evoker. perhaps they are even friends or the like. you seem to want him to fight, so let him fight. but while the warweaver relies on the troops, the evoker forms his own master unit.

might go with a warmage with a fix or two.

The abjurer i see as a sort of "security specialist" it's his job to have the places scry/ teleport warded, and the like. i imagine him in mostly two roles: trap maker (focusing on fewer, but deadlier traps, perhaps with a sick sense of humor) and magic item crafter for the group. i'd also go and have him be a golem crafter if the feats allow, to add something else to the necromancer.

his interactions with the PCs: minimal if at all at first, they mostly see his creations- traps, special "cool" items of those they equip and golems. i'd suggest to perhaps make this guy a warforged or a half golem at some point. the important thing is the special touches: magic mouths and programmed images when the characters activate traps, magic item who voice "death to "PC's name!"" when activated, golems with his face on it and the like. the party might get to think he is the mastermind!

however, he relies on the party going through his installments, and is a very prepared fellow, not improvising well.

the way i described it an artificer might fit more, but you can work with an abjurer none the same

why does he stay with the group? i'm not sure. but a possible route would be that only the group has the resources to let him craft enough as he pleases, letting his creative output out. he too might have been kicked off somewhere because he "got out of hand". let this guy be the mad artist who finally has the time and energy to...draw.

the necromancer is a bit difficult. with the range of undead and their abilities i'd not stay just at basic minionancy but make this guy the James Bond of the team- undead (especially intelligent ones) are capable of a lot of things regular troops aren't. i see the necromancer coming to a place, getting out the right undead, doing the job and getting out. undead don't need to breath, suffer little from heat or cold, aren't affected by all the fort save effects and more... place the challenges against the group to make the necromancer shine more.

i'd make him the cool logical, cold type. not maniacally cackling. why does he join the team? because ti's the logical thing to do (make your own explanations).

the beguiler: a guy who can manipulate minds at ease? the generalist must be SURE he's on their side, menaing- he's got some sort of a hold on the beguiler, some powerful blackmail, curse or the like. (include a
"dead man's switch")

which opens up the sweet spot of the beguiler perhaps trying to subtly help the party once they seem competent, but opposes them on other turns. i see him as the manipulator of influential people, and the generalist spy against places warded off magic. rarely fighting if ever, rather manipulating events to stall/ harass/ mislead the party (and perhaps control them?) if you can make him appear different each time (have him be a changeling?) the party might even get the feel of some organization trying to help them, and later learn their error.

i hope this helps. :smallwink:

SilverLeaf167
2012-02-16, 07:23 AM
The reason I made the Beguiler the army leader is that he can easily manipulate just a few key people to gather and control large numbers of mooks. The Warweaver was dedicated to small groups because that's where his buff spells work the best (they can affect a small bunch of targets, but not really an army). I think I might actually make the Evoker specialize in AoEs and battlefield control in general, not just Evocation, which would make him an useful partner to any of the other team members.
I like all your other ideas though, especially the details of the Abjurer, the Beguiler's treachery and the Necromancer's personality.
The reason I didn't include a Conjurer is simply because I don't want too much mooks running around, as a duo team-up by the Warweaver and Necromancer can easily do that already. I'm also kind of trying to limit the size of the team, a separate member for every single spell school would be a little too much.