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Talakeal
2013-07-02, 03:35 PM
Ok, so quite a while ago I ran a mission where the ogres (who were, generations ago, defeated by humans, their empires shattered, and forced into the hills) are being rallied into a single unified army by a powerful prophet.

A bounty was put on this prophet's head by the human kingdom because if the ogres ever did unify they could cause some serious damage.

The players accepted the bounty and, due to some very unlucky dice rolls, were defeated and captured by the prophet's bodyguards.

Right before they could be executed the ogre prophet intervened and said that the spirits told him that in the future the party would come across an artifact of the ogre people. If they swore that they would return this artifact to him he would spare their lives.

The rogue, the only conscious party member, agreed, and the party was released.

When they awakened the rogue told the rest of the party about the promise. Each of them wanted to do something different about it:

The rogue (who made the promise) wants to deliver the artifact to fulfill her oath and then kill the ogres after the fact out of revenge.
The fighter wants to kill the ogres now.
The mage wants to simply ignore the ogres and run off with the artifact.
The artificer wants to go through with the promise and try and make peace with the ogres, allying against much bigger threats.

As a DM I would be fine with any of these approaches (although A and C are kind of **** moves), but the PLAYERS are adamantly refusing to adopt any other goal.

Now it is several months later and the party is, in all likelihood, going to acquire said artifact in the next adventure.

This has train wreck written all over it, is there anything I can do as a DM to salvage this plot?

Tsriel
2013-07-02, 06:04 PM
Yep, definite group implosion waiting to happen. You might not like it, but you could have to do abit of subversive railroading and eliminate some of the options. If this is an artifact we're talking about, it wouldn't be hard to make a claim that the artifact itself has "other plans".

Leave it up to the players to determine how those "other plans" work out.

Kane0
2013-07-02, 06:34 PM
Well, you don't have to pick one or the other. A lot of them overlap.

A, B and C can all work together really. The collective goal there is to kill the ogres (except in C) and keep the artifact. D is the odd one out since that means both letting them live and giving them the artifact.

So just find a way to get the players to choose between A/B/C or D. The artifact may have a say in this too, which makes it easier for you.

Personally I think the chances of the Orgres living and the Party giving up the artifact without any interference on your part is rather slim. Some plot devices might be in order.

Talakeal
2013-07-02, 06:42 PM
Well, you don't have to pick one or the other. A lot of them overlap.

A, B and C can all work together really. The collective goal there is to kill the ogres (except in C) and keep the artifact. D is the odd one out since that means both letting them live and giving them the artifact.

So just find a way to get the players to choose between A/B/C or D. The artifact may have a say in this too, which makes it easier for you.

Personally I think the chances of the Orgres living and the Party giving up the artifact without any interference on your part is rather slim. Some plot devices might be in order.

I think so to. Thats kind of a problem, as one of the players says he is feeling really depressed out of character because the rest of the party always talks him into taking the evil path, and is considering quiting the game as a result.

Your Nemesis
2013-07-02, 07:15 PM
Well, you could always have the ogres be the ones to do the betraying. Have the Ogre Prophet use divination magic to keep track of the party and attack them once they have the artifact. Alternatively, if the party actually gives the artifact to the Ogres, then they could try to kill the party because they are too unworthy to handle such a holy item.

This approach depends on the place that the ogres have in the campaign setting, and what role you had hoped for them to have going forward: YMMV.

Talakeal
2013-07-02, 07:21 PM
Well, you could always have the ogres be the ones to do the betraying. Have the Ogre Prophet use divination magic to keep track of the party and attack them once they have the artifact. Alternatively, if the party actually gives the artifact to the Ogres, then they could try to kill the party because they are too unworthy to handle such a holy item.

This approach depends on the place that the ogres have in the campaign setting, and what role you had hoped for them to have going forward: YMMV.

If the party goes back on the deal the ogres will almost certainly do something to get revenge, and i suppose it is possible that the ogres will attack anyway.

The real problem though, is getting theplayers to agree on a course of action in the first place, otherwise they game could fall apart before they get within a thousand miles of the ogres. Especially if the rogue simply decides to steal he rtiact from the party and return it on her own.

zorenathres
2013-07-02, 07:28 PM
As the DM you are in sole control of the artifacts tangible abilities, make it give static benefits to all ogres in the area or another similar power that can only be used by ogres, or the artifact is intelligent & refuses to be used against those of its own kind.

Traab
2013-07-02, 07:33 PM
If it gets to the point of group implosion, then use dm fiat and say, "I will roll this dice, if x comes up, its plan a, if y comes up, its plan b," etc etc etc. By this point they will realize the game is over if a decision isnt made and they will hopefully go along with it instead of letting the game die right then and there. Seems like the best option when everyone has their own plan and noone is willing to give up their stance, let random chance decide.

Kaiisaxo
2013-07-02, 07:57 PM
Well, that kind of things can be bad. But nothing unsalvageable:

a) You could have the party sent into another plane when they retrieve the artifact, then during the rpocess of getting back home, have it stolen by a truly bigger threat to the world, one the party couldn't truly defeat on their own, this would make it more necessary for the party to try an alliance with the ogres, then have the prophet place a mark of justice on them in order to prevent them for murdering ogres, he would do so as a condition for the alliance to work. [Though nothing would stop them from betraying the party and starting a great scale invasion to the other kingdoms, but that is something for later]. Take the chance to introduce truly likeable and almost heroic ogres the party could not just slaughter without remorse.

b)If it is about taking the "Good" path, then have them being ambushed preventively and after they find the artifact by a splinter faction of very aggressive ogres (maybe the ogres killed before getting the artifact could be reanimated as skeletons or other kind of undead for a rematch after the party finds the artifact). This would allow the party memebers to kill some ogres while giving them a reason to get rid of the artifact if they don't want to keep being stalked and ambushed on an everyday basis by ever growing udnead ogres. Also the more animose party members could have an incentive to give it away -the recipient will have a though fight ahead-, thus making the ogres into victims.

c) mix more or less the two prior ideas?

SethoMarkus
2013-07-03, 08:24 AM
It IS unfortunate that a situation like this arose, but I do have one question regarding the player of the artificer. He is having moral qualms about the rest of the party wanting to kill the ogres, but isn't that what their original mission was? I suppose my main question is, did the artificer have a problem with the bounty from the beginning, or just now since the group was captured and the prophet is sending them off to gather the relic?

It seems that in-character, a solution would be as some of the others have stated. The group needs to come to a compromise, most likely because outside variables have changed. Maybe the ogres show themselves to be more honorable and Good than originally though; maybe the ogres are more Evil and traitorous; maybe some even bigger threat captures the relic.

However, out-of-character, it seems that the group needs to have a discussion as a whole and make an agreement to maybe play the next campaign in a style more to the liking of the artificer's player. Sometimes people want to play the amoral thief, sometimes they want to play the Lawful-Good knight; whatever the case, if the group of players are friends, it is up to them to make sure they take care of their own and give everyone a fair chance at the play style they most enjoy.

nedz
2013-07-03, 09:27 AM
If it gets to the point of group implosion, then use dm fiat and say, "I will roll this dice, if x comes up, its plan a, if y comes up, its plan b," etc etc etc. By this point they will realize the game is over if a decision isnt made and they will hopefully go along with it instead of letting the game die right then and there. Seems like the best option when everyone has their own plan and noone is willing to give up their stance, let random chance decide.

Wait, what ?
Don't do this.

Let the players work out the situation and let the consequences follow.
This situation is not a disaster, far from it, this is an opportunity for meaningful role-play. It may well be the defining point of the campaign.

This is a conflict: drama follows.

Scow2
2013-07-03, 11:16 AM
It IS unfortunate that a situation like this arose, but I do have one question regarding the player of the artificer. He is having moral qualms about the rest of the party wanting to kill the ogres, but isn't that what their original mission was? I suppose my main question is, did the artificer have a problem with the bounty from the beginning, or just now since the group was captured and the prophet is sending them off to gather the relic?When the Party accepted the quest, the Ogre Prophet was a Doomsday King Mook. It was a standard "Kill bad guy, get money" quest.

Now that the Ogres defeated, spared, and spoke to the party, they have become Sympathetic Figures.

What I think you need to do, Talakeal, is figure out where the Ogres are on the moral guideline, and either show the Artificer that they're bad news to convince him away from Option D, or reinforce to the party as a whole that the Ogres are actually Decent Guys and Cool Big Bros, and guide them toward upholding the bargain.

Maybe once they have the artifact, they could use it as a bargaining chip to learn more about what decision to make, and possibly renegotiate the deal so it's not strictly one-sided.

Of course, I tend to be idealistic, so I'm on the artificer's side. Let him get a chance to be awesome and stick to his principals.
Wait, what ?
Don't do this.

Let the players work out the situation and let the consequences follow.
This situation is not a disaster, far from it, this is an opportunity for meaningful role-play. It may well be the defining point of the campaign.

This is a conflict: drama follows.Given this group's history and the strained tensions of all the players, drama is a very, very, very, VERY, VERY BAD thing. It IS a disaster waiting to happen.

Traab
2013-07-03, 11:53 AM
Wait, what ?
Don't do this.

Let the players work out the situation and let the consequences follow.
This situation is not a disaster, far from it, this is an opportunity for meaningful role-play. It may well be the defining point of the campaign.

This is a conflict: drama follows.

Im not talking about, "You have 10 seconds to decide then I will for you" Im talking about total deadlock that can only end in the game grinding to a halt because noone is willing to change their mind. Thats not drama, thats game over. In a case like that you have two choices. Either someone make the call and everyone goes with it, or you play a different game. And if someone has to make that call, it might as well be the dm using random chance.

Talakeal
2013-07-03, 02:45 PM
Ogres are "savages". They have no qualms against robbing or even eating civilized humans.

In this case, however, the humans are the aggressors in the conflict. The artifact is theirs by all rights, and they did spare the PCs, one of whom did promise to bring them the artifact.

Also, if word gets out that the PCs make enemies regret sparing them, and the players think there are no consequences for being defeated, it makes it a lot more likely they will have a TPK in the future, which is bad for everyone involved.

I would LOVE to play a campaign where everyone agreed to be playing the "good guys", in fact this was supposed to be such a campaign. The problem is the majority of players, I have encountered, are borderline sociopaths IRL and don't comprehend the concept of "good", or are hack and slashers who treat the game as Diablo and just want to kill stuff reasons be damned. Even those who want to play a good character have a habit of acting on impulse without seeing the consequences of their actions.

Ozfer
2013-07-03, 03:22 PM
Well, if we follow their next course of action in steps-

-Get the Artifact: No matter where you stand on what to do with the ogres, why wouldn't you want a powerful artifact

-Go back to the ogres and... Then what?
-Kill: If they decide one this, and player D is unhappy, maybe give them good reason to kill the ogres?
-Return artifact: On the off chance they actually do this, you could easily devise a plot device that allows them to eventually do some ogre-killing.

nedz
2013-07-03, 05:44 PM
Given this group's history and the strained tensions of all the players, drama is a very, very, very, VERY, VERY BAD thing. It IS a disaster waiting to happen.
But conflict is the root of drama, and drama is the root of role-playing :smallconfused:


I'm not talking about, "You have 10 seconds to decide then I will for you" I'm talking about total deadlock that can only end in the game grinding to a halt because no one is willing to change their mind. That's not drama, that's game over. In a case like that you have two choices. Either someone make the call and everyone goes with it, or you play a different game. And if someone has to make that call, it might as well be the dm using random chance.

OK, I get what you are saying, but I still think this is a bad solution because it's deus ex machina. A better one might be to have an NPC turn up and try and resolve the situation their way which the PC's get to respond to.

Lord Torath
2013-07-03, 06:18 PM
Have them receive information regarding either the artifact, the ogres, or a greater threat that they will require the ogre's aid in overcoming. Maybe they find out that before the tribe of ogres moved in, giant spiders frequently made their way through the current ogre territory to prey on humans. Far more than the ogres take.

Maybe the artifact belonged to the ogres, and will have a side-effect of making all ogres within 200 miles more lawful and neutral, but only if worn/wielded by an ogre chief. In addition to its other exceptional powers.

Or there's an inbound horde of, oh, let's say separatist muskrats that are the ogres' natural enemies (and that they are more effective at killing off that the PCs are), and the PC's need the help of the ogres.

Or, heck, make it all three. And make certain you have at least three clues for each of the things you want them to find out about the ogres.

If you want them to choose plan D, you've got to give them plenty of information that it is the best option for them, and not just the right thing to do.

TuggyNE
2013-07-03, 07:17 PM
But conflict is the root of drama, and drama is the root of role-playing :smallconfused:

It is also, in excess, the root of collapsed friendships and destroyed groups. Talakeal's players seem to be the type to do everything in excess.

Jay R
2013-07-03, 09:57 PM
You are about to reach a moment that is dramatic, character-defining, important, fun, and difficult for the players to resolve.

Why on earth would you want to prevent it from happening?

Talakeal
2013-07-03, 10:03 PM
You are about to reach a moment that is dramatic, character-defining, important, fun, and difficult for the players to resolve.

Why on earth would you want to prevent it from happening?

Because they won't handle it in character. They will fight it out out of character, and then the loser will passive aggressively try and "punish" the other players in character by abandoning the party or refusing to help another character at a crucial moment.

Sith_Happens
2013-07-03, 11:31 PM
Because they won't handle it in character. They will fight it out out of character, and then the loser will passive aggressively try and "punish" the other players in character by abandoning the party or refusing to help another character at a crucial moment.

This is only the third thread of yours I can remember reading and your group already seems beyond fixing, so my advice is simply to bring some popcorn.

Jay R
2013-07-04, 10:57 AM
Because they won't handle it in character. They will fight it out out of character, and then the loser will passive aggressively try and "punish" the other players in character by abandoning the party or refusing to help another character at a crucial moment.

You can protect the party from the monsters.
You can protect the party from the law.
You can protect the party from natural disasters.
But you can't protect the party from the party. It's the one thing you don't control.

"You can't make anything foolproof. The fools are too ingenious."

But you asked for help. Here's the best I can offer: talk to them. If the problem is out of character, then the solution is out of character. "Hey, guys, do you really enjoy failing at individual goals more than you would enjoy succeeding at a team goal? Is it more important that you each pick a personal favorite goal than work together for a second-best or third-best goal you can all enjoy?" Ideally, get them talking about it away from the table, when there is no possibility of immediately walking away. Any time one of them says, "Screw this, I'm leaving," you can reply, "We're not playing now. You can't decide what actions your PC will take until next Saturday at the table." This prevents people from usurping control of the conversation with a PC action.

The alternative is to make encounters that require the whole party. If an individual decides to "punish" the party by leaving, he should quickly face an encounter that the party as a whole would have defeated. (Ideally, in this case, an ambush by ogres.) Depending on how stupid you consider the action, and whether that player appears to be the major problem, this could be a fatal encounter, and the player's new PC cannot enter the action again until this plotline is over.

Also, it would help if the artifact requires four people to operate.

Another useful tool is to have them suffer a surprise attack any time they stop to argue. (And yes, if the players are arguing at the table, then the PCs are arguing.) This is the DM equivalent of usurping the argument by character action, and yes, I'm being somewhat inconsistent. But doing it to solve the problem is very different from doing it to make the problem unsolvable.

This is the actual situation that railroading is for - not to force them to choose a specific goal, but to force them to work together.

Having said all that, I still recommend talking to them away from the table. Because one brute fact remains constant: you can't protect the party from the party.

Talakeal
2013-07-04, 04:01 PM
Also, it would help if the artifact requires four people to operate.


Oh, they can't use the artifact at all. It is very cursed and cannot be used by non ogres. It is the symbol of ogre leadership after all. Hence the reason why it has been locked away rather than actively used against the ogres for all these years.

Still, the party doesn't plan on using it. They instead plan on finding some way to disenchant it or sell it, and barring that just keep it away from the ogres out of spite for humiliating them.


Hey, guys, do you really enjoy failing at individual goals more than you would enjoy succeeding at a team goal?

I love this quote. Unfortunately my players can be so petty and spiteful that I think they actually DO prefer failure to not getting their way.

Scowling Dragon
2013-07-04, 07:08 PM
If they get the artifact and act jerks with it go BB on their butts (Brother Bear).

Have it turn them into Orges. Permanently. And have them loose the ability to talk in any other language except Ogre.