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View Full Version : Roleplaying [Brainstorming] Players found an evil book



LucianoAr
2015-02-08, 12:32 AM
i didnt even have it planned, but one of the player rolled well searching for a specific book in a library... and i ended up loving the idea.

they found a book that is evil, i played creepy audiotracks (Escalating in creepyness) everytime the owner slept in possesion of the book, and it also reveals magical secrets about an ancient evil. i made the characters extremely reluctant to part with it (kinda like saurons ring) and im planning to start giving the players abilities when they are holding the book.

they will start noticing them slowly, and im thinking of ways to roleplay it correctly, like, you try to do something and you instantly succeed, or you have +x to a roll (which im not telling the character, just adding it in my mind) any ideas to ponder upon will be welcome

im trying to drive em to a point that the book is really powerful, but the characters have to make a choice or be consumed by its darkness.

ANY ideas whatsoever are useful, about anything related, maybe we can brainstorm a little, see what comes out.

M Placeholder
2015-02-08, 12:44 AM
Check out some of the Ravenloft rulebooks. Those had some handy tips on how the Dark Powers seduced characters by giving them a taste of power - but at a small price. Then a larger amount of power, and a slightly higher amount of power, and so on, untill they were corrupted and passed beyond redemption unless they made amends before the event horizon.

Give the players some power, but at a price. Make the wages of sin attractive, but make sure their is always a price. For example, the Rogue may gain an even more silvered tongue, but as a side effect, he now cannot do something such as handle a certain type of treasure - it becomes literally hot. Nothing too grand, just a small setback. Make that the start of a potential journey into hell.

saeval
2015-02-08, 01:58 AM
make the book sentient. maybe unable to communicate besides through dreams or, gasp, a page that can be written into that gets responded to, that becomes blank again after a day. (so you can't sit and talk to it all day, you gotta explore the netherspeak/dark knowledge of it, not be its buddy)

The book could be trying to get them in contact with its creator, or slowly instilling the traits of the creator of the book.

The books magic could very well be compulsion, while holding the book, if someone asks for something, it could be treated as if they've attempted charm person or even dominate if the holder is in a fury. The book could have magic all themed around the idea of Greed. The owner is compiling a hoard, and couldn't explain why, beyond the obvious "because its mine/I can/I deserve it"

The book could be the first step in collecting an assortment of items for a ritual of great power/summoning/binding. The book nudges them in certain directions by rewriting itself to lure them to particular points of power/items of power.

knowingly using the power of the book could cause aging, or shortly after an effect exhaustion that cannot be taken away except by a long rest.

Yelling at or demanding assistance from the book, knowing the consequences or not, ("I know you/it can help us get through this trap/magical barrier/ward, its done it before!") could produce stronger effects but constitutes an agreement with the book, sort of like a pact with a devil, you -owe- it, and it will take from you: whatever the DM seems fit/years of life/stat drain/ability to enter holy grounds. The book may even withhold its gifts in the hopes of inciting a tirade that results in this.

TheThan
2015-02-08, 01:59 AM
Clearly this is the necronomicon. Itís written in human blood and bound in human flesh. If they read the incantations in the book they will summon forth demons that can destroy the world.

saeval
2015-02-08, 02:02 AM
Clearly this is the necronomicon. Itís written in human blood and bound in human flesh. If they read the incantations in the book they will summon forth demons that can destroy the world.

I mean, duh.

LucianoAr
2015-02-08, 09:32 AM
Saeval, i like the way you think, man.

Btw the ravenloft books seem like a great source of inspiration, any ones you guys recommend? Like the setting bookm for example?

M Placeholder
2015-02-08, 09:44 AM
The Ravenloft campaign sourcebook has a section on how to apply power checks to the game setting, and details the road to corruption.

Have the Tome's eldritch power subtly work their way into the players psyche. With some tweaks, you can incorporate the power checks into your campaign, and watch the book seduce them with promises of power. Watch your players fight it.

Deophaun
2015-02-08, 09:56 AM
Clearly this is the necronomicon. Itís written in human blood and bound in human flesh. If they read the incantations in the book they will summon forth demons that can destroy the world.

Either that, or the Twilight series.

Kami2awa
2015-02-08, 12:47 PM
Either that, or the Twilight series.

You know, I'd play it as this. Rather than the tome bound in human flesh etc, have the book look pretty normal on the outside. In HPL's work, the Necronomicon is not described much but isn't particularly strange in outer appearance. Consider the anonymous black notebook in Death Note, for example. An evil book would not look obviously evil if its purpose was to draw the reader into corruption.

M Placeholder
2015-02-08, 12:56 PM
You know, I'd play it as this. Rather than the tome bound in human flesh etc, have the book look pretty normal on the outside. In HPL's work, the Necronomicon is not described much but isn't particularly strange in outer appearance. Consider the anonymous black notebook in Death Note, for example. An evil book would not look obviously evil if its purpose was to draw the reader into corruption.

I'd second this, unless the book has already been described. Make it look benign, almost conforting. Let the players get a false sense of security from it. When they hold it, let it give them a sense of comfort. All the better for it to get under the skin of players.

Also, is the book sentient, or is it just evil?

Red Fel
2015-02-08, 02:45 PM
Evil book... Ah, this takes me back. College was a marvelous time. For some.

First off, you need to determine the purpose and function of the book. For example, if it is a Necronomicon-style text, its function is to bombard the reader with knowledge of the outer cosmos that expands the mind and explodes sanity. If it is a summoning text, it was likely written by a being that wants to be summoned. If it is just a general "fragment of cosmic Evil in book form," then its purpose is simply to corrupt; it might as well be a sword, a ruby, or a snowglobe for all the difference it makes, the point is that it corrupts. Alternatively, it could be a manifestation of a Faustian bargain - the book possesses an intelligence that allows the PC to access greater power, in exchange for greater prices paid. The point is that its purpose and function will determine how it gets what it (or its creator) wants from the PCs.

Let's take them one option at a time.

1. The madness text. The book makes people crazy. Fortunately, it only affects people when read. Unfortunately, it is sought by powers great and small, Good and Evil, and sometimes the only way - or the easiest way - to escape or defeat them is with the forbidden knowledge in the book. When unused, the book grants its holder nightmares, unease, and paranoia. A great way to express this is by having the player whose character is in possession of the book make random sensory skill checks (Listen, Spot, Perception, whatever you have in that system). Generally, they will see nothing. Occasionally, let them know that they notice something innocuous - a creaking floorboard, the sound of wind through the cracks in the wall, a slight movement in the shadows. Enough to make them think that either something is stalking them, or they're going crazy. When read, the book grants various intelligence-based bonuses, such as knowledge about enemies, spell power upgrades, or magical abilities. It also makes the PC who reads from it go crazy. Start slipping them notes about what they see, hear, and experience.

2. The summoning scroll. This is an easy one. The player should be made to believe that he has complete control of the situation. The book allows the player to summon things, bind them, or channel their powers. The goal is to make the PC dependent on this. The way to do that is for the same power that created the book to send its minions after the PCs. The book, when used, will conveniently open to the most useful method - channeling a demon's fire, creating a binding circle against devils, or summoning imps or what have you. Even better, as the PC grows more experienced, the spells become more potent - a spell that once summoned one imp now summons a small squadron; a spell that channeled a bit of infernal fire now creates a blazing inferno. The goal is to get the PC to perform a spell that opens a gate - a big gate - through which the book's writer will emerge. That's the trick - because no immediate price becomes apparent, so the PCs get overconfident.

3. The fragment of Evil. This is your typical "Ring of Sauron" situation. If you recall your required reading, the One Ring granted power to its wielder, but by the same token drew peril to him, forcing him to rely on it in greater amounts. This will function in a very similar way to the madness text above, with one exception. Instead of slowly guiding the PC down the road to insanity, the text's power places the PC in increasing moral dilemmas, where the easy way out is to use the book's power for a less-than-noble purpose. Instead of negotiating, use force. Instead of capturing the target alive, kill him. Instead of saving the old church, knock it down so that you can safely explore the catacombs beneath. The book's influence causes circumstances to arise under which it would be more expedient to do the wrong thing. If the PC hesitates, the book provides a solution - using its power - that makes it both easier and more desirable. As a result, the PC (1) becomes more and more dependent on the book's convenient powers, and (2) commits greater and greater wrongs. The end goal is a thoroughly Evil PC who is madly addicted to the book's power.

4. The living Faustian. Picture it. The PC is in a combat situation. The circumstances are dire. It's not looking good. Suddenly, time seems to slow down for a moment. The pages of the book seem to move of their own accord, revealing a spell that would resolve the situation. At the bottom of the page, however, there is a cost listed - a price the PC will have to pay. Perhaps it's a promise to do something at a later time. Perhaps it's an immediate action, such as cutting himself or murdering an opponent rather than knocking them out. The prices start small, because the spells start small. Over time, however, as the PC becomes more comfortable with these spells, more powerful ones - with higher costs - appear in the book. And on every page, at the bottom, is a signature line. Sign, and wield the power.

These all have two elements in common. First, the PCs must be placed in situations where it would be easier to use the book than to solve matters on their own. Second, the book must possess an addictive quality - either because increased use produces increased benefit, or because the PCs have paid such a price to use them that there's nothing else to be done.

That's just my 2 cp.

Kami2awa
2015-02-08, 03:13 PM
Very much depends if it's a book of evil, or an evil book. That is to say, does the book have any power or sentience of its own, or is it the information contained within it that has potential for evil? Or indeed both...

Bob of Mage
2015-02-08, 11:28 PM
Check out some of the Ravenloft rulebooks. Those had some handy tips on how the Dark Powers seduced characters by giving them a taste of power - but at a small price. Then a larger amount of power, and a slightly higher amount of power, and so on, untill they were corrupted and passed beyond redemption unless they made amends before the event horizon.

Give the players some power, but at a price. Make the wages of sin attractive, but make sure their is always a price. For example, the Rogue may gain an even more silvered tongue, but as a side effect, he now cannot do something such as handle a certain type of treasure - it becomes literally hot. Nothing too grand, just a small setback. Make that the start of a potential journey into hell.

It might be also good that if there is more than one option of how to pay for a power. Using the buring treasure example, the Rogue could offset this by stealing X amount of treasure per day for the sole purpose of paying off the power. The amount would be small, but would put the idea into the PC's head that sometimes it's a good idea to rob people. If the PC is not have strong enough mortals, this could lead to a slippery slope. The whole idea is for the PCs to start using the powers by paying the less "evil" price first. In fact they don't even need to know that those are an option till after they start using the powers (warning bells would go off in a PC's head if they saw an option for a power payed for in the blood if virgins).

The key is to get the PCs hooked before they ever know what they are doing could even be linked to "evil". At a monent when they really wish they had a way around the cost of the power (say the major treasure they find is purely the type that burns the Rouge, but that PC must hand deliver it to the NPC who gave them the quest to find it), have the book hint at slightly more darker costs.

If the PCs have been using the book you should give them some sort of evil aura regardless of other actions. So say the Rogue refuses to rob random people, and is CG, he would still ping on detect evil spells. This could lead to issues where good aligned being might be at odds with the PCs. Some Archon might appear and order the PCs give up the book and anyone who has used it will face punishment. Maybe they could talk down the Archon if they hand over the book and have it spare the PCs (might do some thing like send them on some quest for forces of good), or they might get in a fight. And of course what are the chances that the book might have a power that's useable for those being attacked by an agent of good?

Finally make sure they can not get rid of easily (there a good chance that any smart PC will try and be rid of an evil idea like that first chance they get). You could even have it as a minor artifacts, meaning there are only cretain ways to rid one's self of it, much less destory it. It might have nothing to do with the larger story, but would greatly define the PCs themselves if they have to deal with it over the run of the game.

Leviting
2015-02-08, 11:37 PM
Regarding the "can't get rid of it" thing, you should make it always seem to be there for the PCs. Leave it at the inn? It shows up in their bag. Give it to a wizard? It "occurs" in their horse's saddlebags. Lost in a pit trap? It shows up on the floor below.

And when the PCs desperately need its power they've grown to depend on to survive, it is gone, leaving them to their doom.

LucianoAr
2015-02-09, 09:00 AM
Amazing contributions. Red fel yours was diamonds, gave me lots of ideas.

It seems youve played or dmd this scenario before, how did it go for you?

Red Fel
2015-02-09, 10:51 AM
Amazing contributions. Red fel yours was diamonds, gave me lots of ideas.

It seems youve played or dmd this scenario before, how did it go for you?

I haven't DMed this specific scenario, actually. But I have a lot of experience with the idea of slowly corrupting the PCs. The most important thing is not to threaten their agency - everything the PCs do, they have to have a meaningful choice. They can choose to use the book, and be corrupted by it, or choose to take the high road. The high road should be hard, but not impossible. That's the trickiest part. The PCs should face challenges that can be made easier by the book, but that the PCs could still overcome on their own, albeit with greater difficulty and peril.

When they do use the book, again, don't take control of their characters. Let them do it. But make prudent use of various DM tricks. For example, passing notes is a great way for one player to know what's going on in his PC's head without letting anyone else know. Requiring random rolls is an awesome way to ramp up paranoia. Taking one player out of the room for a moment for a "private character talk" is also great - double bonus if you actually don't discuss anything important, but the other players think you did.

The end goal is for the players to choose, or not choose, a path that corrupts their characters, destroys their moral compass, and generally makes them either crazy, or monstrous, or both. And all along the way, that descent into personal hell is their choice.

If you do that, you've got gold on your hands. Or blood. Or gold blood, if you're facing some particularly weird monsters.

goto124
2015-02-09, 07:16 PM
I personally try not to make it TOO obvious they're being corrupted. It's more interesting, and happens to make a lot more sense.