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View Full Version : DM Help Incentives for visiting specific locations?



MonkeySage
2014-07-30, 11:16 AM
In a pathfinder game I'm running, my players have recently found a map. The map was found in a goblin outpost, and most of the marks on the map are in both Goblin and Common. The dungeon was marked, but there are 4 other marks: the Kingdom(marked as central), the Dominion(a port town), the Frontier, and the Lawless.

The Kingdom was a militarily weak region, who's king pledged allegiance to the Emperor after his predecessor, the previous emperor, died of old age.
The Dominion is a magocracy that the Empire has been in an unsteady relationship with for years. It is a hub for aspiring mages and is known for it's luxury goods, beautiful vistas, and slaves.
The Frontier is in a jungle territory south of the Empire, largely unexplored. It is home to wild elves who worship the god of dinosaurs and have been pretty unfriendly to the human invaders in their territory.
The Lawless is a region that the Empire has been struggling to control for a while. It's practically ruled by it's thieves guild, and is considered one of the most unsafe areas in the Empire.

Each location has some significance to the plot of the campaign, so I want to provide an incentive for visiting each of them. They have the benefit of a fugitive who has a small amount of inside knowledge about each location, having been chummy with some of the higher ups at one time(he's dodging death penalty because he associated with a notorious thieves' guild).

The Empire in which the campaign takes place is under the control of a Hextorite Regime, and has recently outlawed the worship of Heironeous, Kord, Erythnul, Gruumsh, Olidammara, Nerull, and Vecna, on pain of death. It has outlawed unlicensed magic and all civilian mages are forced to wear a bracelet identifying them as licensed magic users. Those who use magic without a license are usually sentenced to death. And you guys can see where this is going.

My players are a cleric of Kord, an elf wizard/alchemist, a sylph magus, a human rogue, a dwarven druid, and a half elf ranger.

Note: The players have heard of the Lawless before: they "rescued" a "cleric"(Demon-worshipping urpriest) who said he had a friend in Lawless who could use help if they needed money. This friend is a weapon smith who wants a certain plot relevant sword shard. The players have found a similar shard in the dungeon they just cleared.

Yora
2014-07-30, 11:50 AM
If there is something waiting for them in those four places, then make that something call for them to come.
How to do that depends entirely on what it is and why the PCs care for it.

MonkeySage
2014-07-30, 12:35 PM
Well, I do have something similar: the fugitive is a militia captain from the port town they left before they went to the dungeon. He is the one who sent them to the goblin outpost, hunting down the leader of those goblins. Turns out, this leader is part of a three way alliance. His job is to create a distraction; occupy the imperial citizens with concerns of invasion, etc. His allies are a wizard in charge of "intelligence and espionage", and another man in charge of "public relations". At the moment, their only lead is on this goblin leader, they've only gotten hints at the identities of the other two. The fugitive will want the players to investigate things further. But I don't want to point my players in any one direction; I want to make them interested in each location for a different reason. At the moment they don't really have anyone "calling" for them other than the fugitive they have with them.

Thrudd
2014-07-31, 12:00 AM
Incentives will depend entirely on what the characters' motives are. You can't motivate someone if you don't know what they want and possibly why they want it. So tell us: what do those characters want?

Mark Hall
2014-07-31, 09:24 AM
That sword shard could be the key... if they're finding shards of a weapon, perhaps there is an artifact/relic that they can reassemble... either in the "Magically powerful object" sense of "artifact/relic", or in the "historically important" sense of the words (like Narsil was reforged into Anduril)

MonkeySage
2014-07-31, 08:07 PM
Ah I do actually have pretty big plans for that sword shard. :) They have already found a "dagger" containing a sword shard. The sword they all came from once belonged to an angel, who thousands of years ago poured his essence into the sword as part of a ritual to trap a qlippoth lord. Now a certain cult that worships the qlippoth aims to set her free by reassembling the broken pieces. Villain faction #1: Qlippoth Cult

The emperor is a hextorite, and a fallen paladin who found out about the cult. He is trying everything that he can to prevent this cult from succeeding, with the help of his two colleagues: a goblin priest and his army, and the headmaster of a magical assassination academy. He has so far managed to keep the existence of the cult hidden from the general public, and the players themselves have no idea the cult even exists. All the emperor and his allies know is that the cult is interested in these sword shards: they do not know why, and their wizards have had no luck scrying on the shards.
I should point out that if everything goes the way I expect it to go, the players will be chasing after the emperor, believing him to be the big bad.

As for the players: They have been tracking down the goblin priest, who they just found out is trying to provide a red herring for the general public. He has two friends, one in charge of "intelligence", and one in charge of "public relations". The clues are vague enough that they haven't yet figured out the goblin priest is working with the emperor.

The weapon itself was once a large cold iron great sword with several magical properties and a few spell like powers(like chain lightning and etherealness, for instance). The shards have since been made into their own weapons, and most retain one or more of the sword's original powers. The hilt has been made into a rod, on which spells can be stored.

Thrudd
2014-07-31, 09:27 PM
So that's a lot of good info about your plans and your setting, but not much about the characters. Why do the characters care about any of this? Are they just after the goblin priest? If so, then you need to connect each of the locations to something he is doing or someone he knows, to encourage them to go there. They hear a rumor he is sending a messenger to meet somebody in Lawless (though you already have one hook for lawless); they find out one of his contacts lives in the Dominion; maybe the Kingdom is having a problem with goblins in general, is it the priest's doing?; they hear goblin scout parties have been sent to the Frontier, what are they looking for?

I assume all the characters have a reason to go after the goblins and their leader. How did they get started in the campaign in the first place, someone hired them to go look into goblins? Is there a big payday coming if they complete the investigation and take down the goblin leader, or are they now doing this out of pure goodness, or what? Really, just the fact that they have a map with marks on it would be motivation enough to visit each of places, if they are truly dedicated to finding out what the goblins are up to.


Regarding motivations: What I really mean is, why are the characters adventurers and what sort of adventurers are they? Do they hunt for lost treasure and magic wherever they hear about it because they want the wealth or power? Are they fighting to defend their world from evil, and go wherever they hear about innocent people being threatened? Are they for-hire adventurers who make their living being paid by clients who ask them to perform dangerous tasks? These things should inform you about how to motivate them to go places.

MonkeySage
2014-07-31, 10:14 PM
The motives of the PCs have been pretty difficult to determine actually; some of these people are new players and haven't put much thought to it. From what I can gather, though, this is what they have:
Cleric: Captain Diandra is my militia captain. She is strong, and I respect that. She wants me to get to the bottom of this business with the goblins because they are acting out of character. (Chaotic Good)
Ranger: I go where he goes. (Chaotic Neutral)
Wizard: Power, curiosity. (Chaotic Neutral)
Rogue: Greed, curiosity about the others. (Chaotic Neutral)
Magus: The voices are telling me this is a good way to train. Rogue seems to get me. (Chaotic Neutral/Lawful Evil, depending on which of her personalities is in control)
Druid: Curiosity, tagging along.(This guy actually has done a pretty poor job at role playing so far.) (True Neutral)

Thrudd
2014-08-01, 03:48 AM
The motives of the PCs have been pretty difficult to determine actually; some of these people are new players and haven't put much thought to it. From what I can gather, though, this is what they have:
Cleric: Captain Diandra is my militia captain. She is strong, and I respect that. She wants me to get to the bottom of this business with the goblins because they are acting out of character. (Chaotic Good)
Ranger: I go where he goes. (Chaotic Neutral)
Wizard: Power, curiosity. (Chaotic Neutral)
Rogue: Greed, curiosity about the others. (Chaotic Neutral)
Magus: The voices are telling me this is a good way to train. Rogue seems to get me. (Chaotic Neutral/Lawful Evil, depending on which of her personalities is in control)
Druid: Curiosity, tagging along.(This guy actually has done a pretty poor job at role playing so far.) (True Neutral)

That's a lot of chaotic neutral, not usually the types who are going to care about the common good. The cleric takes orders and wants to do good, so that one is easy. Is he the one who gathered the group and convinced them to help, out of friendship, or with promises of riches and power, or what? Do any of the characters besides the cleric actually care what the goblins are doing?

If the campaign isn't too far along yet, I would ask the players who don't have clear motives to come up with the reasons they want to go on adventures, what their goals are. Especially for the new players, they need this exercise to learn how to role play. Why are they willing to go off and risk their lives regularly? It doesn't need to be complex or detailed, even if it is just "I want to get rich and buy a castle" or "I want to find the most powerful magic" or "I want to drive monsters away from civilization", as long as they give you something, you will know for sure what to motivate them with. Give them some suggestions or examples if they don't know where to start. It does help if their goals are somewhat similar, they should decide as a group why it is that their characters stay together, if they haven't done that already.

They may be wonderfully cooperative players who agree to stick together and go along with whatever adventure hooks you give them for no real reason, but it helps give them more ownership of their characters and the game when their characters actually have some investment in the world. It also makes planning adventures easier, and makes it possible to have a more open world where the players decide what to do and how to do it.

Neli42
2014-08-05, 01:29 AM
If the campaign isn't too far along yet, I would ask the players who don't have clear motives to come up with the reasons they want to go on adventures, what their goals are.

One of our regular GMs does this. He asks for both short-term and long term goals from each character. When goals are met, we set new ones. This serves the dual purpose of focusing the role-playing and assisting the GM in fine-tuning the plot points. Our other regular GM achieves this through rich character backstory, created when we roll them up, from which motivations emerge. Either tactic could help you out in this scenario.

nedz
2014-08-05, 03:39 AM
A large part of RPGs is the sense of exploration. For the players to simply explore the setting should be all the incentive they need you just have to make the locations interesting when they get there.