View Full Version : Council plot advice

2016-02-17, 10:24 PM

I would like to get some advice from the DMs out there, please. I'm running a 3/3.5 loose homebrew game and have run the story into a situation where the party (APL 5+) is requested to meet with the local lord (Fraylarp) for a number of reasons.

Background on Lord Fraylarp: He comes from a long line of paladins. About 4 decades prior, their court wizard screwed up a major gate experiment and long story short, their entire keep in the forest was leveled and the demon escaped into the wilds. The keep had been in their family for a couple centuries and was connected (via massive tunnel system) to a series of very profitable mines off in the north. Since the majority of the family was killed, the rest were forced into hasty retreat. The paladin faith was somewhat discarded after that and since that time, Fraylarp has built a keep and presides over the entire eastern half of the province. He never speaks of what happened in the forest and shelters his only son from the world because of what happened there.

-- fast forward --

The party has been encountering a large host of orcs (at random) that are clearly part of a cult. A few sessions ago, they briefly encountered a necromancer as well. During that time, the other major town in the province was attacked by orcs/gnolls and essentially razed. They (orcs) abducted the local magistrate/lord (named Carthann), who presides over the western half of the province. The party, quite by accident, was able to survive a massive battle with this group and managed to rescue Lord Carthann who immediately begged them to take him to Fraylarp for council.

The group knows nothing about the keep in the forest.

The necromancer resides there with his gang and has hired a large orc host to guard and bolster it's defenses. The necromancer is secretly in league with some Illithids in abducting magic users from the surface and slaving them to a massive gate system to open a portal to the far plane, etc. (undeveloped filler story). The necro is using this old tunnel system under the forest keep to access the underdark and that's ultimately where I want the party to be.

My dilemma is this: I want the council (that they must have) with the Lords to be memorable, you know? On a council of Elrond kind of level. I would like for Fraylarp's son to be the one who ultimately tells the group about the forest keep and what happened there, as his father is extremely guarded and to proud to speak of the horror that befell his family. Obviously, the orcs are the immediate problem as not many people know about the necro...much less what he's up to.

* Can you suggest some ways to approach this council gathering to make it memorable?

* A way to mention the necro (if necessary)?

* A way to get the group to want to go to the old forest keep as it is the staging point for my underdark portion of the game?

* How should I play Fraylarp? Should he be cocky or quiet? Should he have a desire to want to send his few troops to help the group?

All advice is appreciated, Playgrounders. Thank you in advance -

2016-02-18, 02:02 AM
if you want it to be like the council of elrond, I i would have npcs debate over the course of action based on knowledge the players lack. so that the players sit out the debate to learn more of what is going on. and have finlap's son mention his course of action as an afterthought, and be overruled by his father as too bold and beyond anyone in the realm. Which is a cue for the players to offer themselves. if they don't the son can ask the outsiders to try. and help can be promised them. you might add some prophecies that spur on the son that make him think "a rising sun" will witness success, while the father is sure that "none of his line" will encompass the restoration. which is ambiguous enough to allow the PCs to do it before the son.

2016-02-18, 02:11 AM
in that scenario Fraylap should be cautious and patient, preferring to hold what he has, and his son should be eager for direct action. NPCs should be calling for some decision for change or urging defensive action for the present and Fraylap should moderate while praising the worth of each loyal retainer as befits a great lord.

2016-02-18, 11:44 AM
Sounds like a fun game!

* Can you suggest some ways to approach this council gathering to make it memorable?

There are a few ways you can do that:

get your props on: players will flock to a well-made map of the forest, showing the location of the keep. This will make any background information or narrative much more interesting, especially if you include hints on the map that there might be something beneath the keep;
when you're narrating (and keep that to a minimum), make eye contact--lots of eye contact--with your players. When you're narrating from the perspective of someone's who's hiding something or lying, let the players know (sport a little sly smile or give them your evil look, let them succeed at that out-game sense motive check);
get carried away: use voices, get up and pace around;
make the council about your players: the big risk for council of Elrond type of stuff is that players will feel like spectators. And they will certainly feel that way if NPCs start arguing about something that your players don't care about (yet). So challenge them to participate: give them a seat up front, invite them with your eyes to intervene when you know you're saying something they won't agree with, leave pauses in between sentences to give your words time to settle and players time to respond. Encourage them when they want to speak and have NPCs agree with them to make them feel like they matter.

I'm sure there's more ways if you think about it some more!

* A way to mention the necro (if necessary)?

You'd need to make up your mind here: either it's about the Orcs and the PCs need to get a hook to deal with this terrible menace or it's about the necromancer and the PCs need a hook to deal with him (and proceed into the Underdark). I think you're perfectly safe by just making this about the Orc band for now and have the PCs unveil the terrible, underlying truth as they proceed. That way, the players will feel as if they own the adventure much more, considering that they'll be the ones who discover the necromancer and his nefarious activities under the keep; it will feel as their responsibility to deal with him.

If you really want to mention the necromancer though, I'd do a 'the mysterious leader of the Orcs' kind of thing and mention him just in passing (but with a meaningful expression so that players will catch on that this guy is a big fish).

* A way to get the group to want to go to the old forest keep as it is the staging point for my underdark portion of the game?

This is kind of difficult for an outsider as we don't know your players and their characters. The best quest hooks are bespoke quest hooks, and I don't mean bespoke to a single player, but rather bespoke to the party as a whole.

You say your guys are around level 5, so you've played a bit and you know them a bit. Try to come up with three reasons per player why (s)he'd want to go on an adventure and try to pick a few that appear on most lists as prime quest hooks, be they to get cash, to vanquish evil, to help people in need, to snoop around in the library of the ruined keep that contains quite some interesting tomes on magic, to get experience, or to get revenge for loved ones who died during the Orc raids. Rinse and repeat further down the line to give them a hook to get into the Underdark, although in my experience the simple discovery of a nefarious plot to ruin the world is often enough to trigger players to want to prevent that. But again... this depends on your players.

* How should I play Fraylarp? Should he be cocky or quiet? Should he have a desire to want to send his few troops to help the group?

This depends entirely on the quest hook as Fraylarp can be a material component of that hook, or just someone who delivers it. After all, if your players are interested in helping good folk, then make Fraylarp one of the good guys: he should be hospitable, nice, and humble and the PCs will want to help him. If they're just interested in cash, he can be the worst kind of guy, just so long as he promises a handsome cash reward. Also consider at this stage if you want Fraylarp to be in on the evil, maybe he's a bad guy in disguise and will turn on the PCs later. If so, that can influence how he deals with the PCs as well.

As for sending in troops: only do that when the PCs need assistance or when you want to send along a traitor/saboteur. If they don't need assistance (and I think you're always better off making it so that they don't) then it's always good to keep NPCs to a minimum, both for administrative purposes as for not-annoying-your-players-with-potential-DMPCs-purposes :smallsmile:

Hope this helps! Let us know how you proceed!

2016-02-18, 01:12 PM
Thank you for the very good suggestions.

2016-02-26, 09:56 AM
see original post for more info ---^

In tooling around with some backstory, I've decided that the Necromancer at the old family keep in the woods is actually Lord Fraylarp's eldest son. When the demon (Hezrou) crashed the gate years before, the boy could not be found by the family in their haste to escape. Presumed dead or soon to die, the lord made the decision to run with his youngest son and what advisors/troops he could find still alive in all the chaos. The fact is, the boy wasn't dead. He was hiding and while the Hezrou was thrashing the keep, he tried to stay hidden.

QUESTION: Do you think I should have him possessed by this thing?

Here's some supporting backstory for that proposal (leading up to him being a necromancer).

A couple years after fleeing the keep Lord Fraylarp heard rumor that his presumed dead boy was seen in a town approximately 100 miles away. He sent his squire and a small group of soldiers to investigate, but they found nothing except for a horror story about an ongoing serial killing spree that someone had been committing over the past few months. They were targeting local clergy as there modus operandi. Lord Fraylarp, upon receiving word of this, stationed a group of soldiers there to protect the remaining clergy and opened an investigation. The murders stopped shortly thereafter, but the killer was never found.

His boy, Arlo was the killer and left for the old keep. In the tunnels underneath, he accidentally came in contact with an Illithid who saw a potential in him (possession)? The Illithid decided to use him as a vehicle to do surface work and in exchange gave him a host of orcs for protection and free reign of the keep and the tunnel system.

He's a necromancer of Nerull and a klepto for taking artifacts from other deities altars and placing them as trophies around his. He has killed a champion of Kord and Flarnaghan and they are his personal bodyguards (dread wraiths).

Thoughts? Is possession a good idea in this instance? Does it matter?

2016-02-28, 02:56 AM
I agree with Nobot that the necromancer is something to have the party discover for themselves.

You will need to have Fraylarp and his youngest son decide how they feel about fighting Arlo the necromancer. That could set up another council of war after they make that discovery.

Not sure what I think of possession. it would explain his drastic career