View Full Version : DM Help How to involve PCs in a this campaign?

2014-07-30, 08:01 AM
Plot is simple. There is a dracolich that wants to make himself stronger by immersing his body into a pool of power in an old abandoned city. This city has quite a lot of artifacts and demons in it so adventurers quite often frequent it. Due to this a small merchant port town has been established a day's ride south of it.

So we have an abundance of adventurers all over the palce, including divine classess that would get tipped off regarding this evil shenannigans quite fast.

PCs are starting the campaign in a big city far away from all this. This city has all sorts of adventurers, clerics, good wizards and such in it.

So I wonder: Why and by who would these four lvl 6 adventurers be asked to go and explore the situation?

I have two sort of plot sketches: One of the adventurers has a gold dragon father. perhaps this dragon could ask its son to spy on the enemy. Still I have no clue why would gold dragon ask a measly lvl 6 character to spy on a dracolich and his small armada? (also look at group composition below)

Second sort-of plot incentive is the fact that dracolich intends to import a fair amount of slaves to have them sacrifised during his immersion. A member of Thieves guild could ask the adventurers to go and explore the thing ... (unusual amount of slaves being sent to destination X) if they had any diplomancers or rogues in a group! But they have two clerics, a barbarian and a ranger in a party.

It's a strange conceptual mess.

I could also do "you just got shipwrecked" near the site, but that still does not explain why ALL OTHER adventurers do not intervene.

Tell me if more info is needed.

Thanks :)

2014-07-30, 08:35 AM
Are the characters new, or is it an already established party?

One cool idea I once read somewhere is to drop the characters at the starting point of the adventure with a basic idea what it is about, and then have the players explain how they got there and what got them involved with the situation.

The dracolich probably has a minion, who is doing things in preparation for the big event. He has caused all kinds of grief and one of the people he crossed decides to gather some others of his enemies so they can band together and bring him down! That might be an NPC, or also one of the PCs. Say the minion broke into a castle, made a mistake, and a battle broke out that burned down half the castle. But someone recognized him and that person was no stranger, who had been suspected to be involved in a number of robberies and murders.
Let the players come up with ideas what he has done to them, and then start the campaign by tracking him to the lair of his secret master. Who ordered all the crimes to begin with.

2014-07-30, 09:16 AM
Rather than importing slaves, perhaps the dracolich has put out rumors of vast treasure in this ruin, and has his defenses set up to specifically be a killer grind of a dungeon. So rumors of wealth and danger abound about this place, and "nobody who's gone in has ever come out," so obviously the wealth is still there and it's just waiting for the right party to come clear out the dungeon.

Business Scrub
2014-07-30, 09:17 AM
A fun trick that has worked in the past for me is to give each character a motivation. Seriously look at your PC's, and their backstories, and look for something you can leverage.

Wall of Text Warning

The clerics should be easy enough to get on board, since they are presumably good. Whether they are told about the dracolich (undead == bad for good clerics) or the demons (also baddies), the characters will probably be passionate about stamping it out. Perhaps they got letters from their respective churches calling them to arms, or telling them that a powerful artifact of their faith is trapped in the city. They might've been asked to do it because
(a) all the clerics of a faith were asked, and they may meet others on the road. (The 'You're not particularly special' route)
(b) higher level clerics were busy doing things deemed more important. Is it possible the churches don't know of the Dracolich's plans? If so, they might be using their high level NPC's to take down another active lich, demon, etc, and have simply intended our PC's to scout it out.
(c) Right time right place. Maybe the church needs X done now, and they're the highest level clerics they could contact in time.

The ranger (if he is not an urban ranger or the like) is probably a man of the natural world. Maybe he's heard rumors of a growing undead population (if the dracolich is making undead minions, that is) near the city area, and has taken it upon himself to investigate.
Alternatively, he may want to free these slaves that are being imported. Rangers tend to be chaotic good like that, but you'd have to decide whether your ranger would do that.
Finally, perhaps he is mentored/works with a druid, who has got wind of the demons or dracolich. The druid can't or won't leave his/her forest unprotected, but can send the ranger in its stead.

The barbarian is a bit harder, since they don't tend to take orders. Is he the war loving type? Maybe he heard of a really special axe (hammer, sword, etc) in the relic city, and wants it for himself. Or he sees one of the enemies as a challenge to his strength. Also see below

Then there's always the personal route, if nothing else seems to fit. Lots of slaves are being taken? Maybe one's a PC's relative/friend/lover, and contacted PC in his/her time of need. This NPC could also give them some plot information (say, about the dracolich's plans) whenever you found it convinient.

tl;dr Give each PC their own personal motivation. Orders from superiors work well and create good/useful npc's. A friend in need is a great catchall for some PC's.

2014-07-30, 10:39 AM
I would either have a family member kidnapped and forced into slavery, or have a sizeable portion of the local population pressed ganged into slavery where they are at. Both would start them on the line toward your goal without you having to directly involve your big bad until later.

2014-07-31, 03:56 AM
Thanks guys (and girls).

Personal motivation indeed seems to be a nice goal. Clerics are easy to motivate, true. Rumors of an ancient relic in this city and the fact there are actually no other clerics of their order in the city - this could work nicely. Also kidnapping of a friendly PC. Nice. We may have something here.

2014-07-31, 04:33 AM
The other adventurers ARE getting involved It's just that the dracolich's plans are SO huge, they're all busy tracking down other parts of the Evil Scheme.