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View Full Version : Campaign Where The PCs Try To Save The World...And Fail.



Leliel
2008-04-09, 03:41 PM
For my first 4th.ed campaign, I plan to run a "transition game", which explains how the Great Wheel became the Astral Sea, how the Maelstrom came about, etc. The players will know this beforehand.

What the PCs don't know is that the particular method for transition is not at all nice. You see, I plan for the basic Pandorym plot presented in Elder Evils to be the basis of the plot (with a few twists, ie a new BBEG and pals), with the not-so-small addendum that Obligatum VII suceeds in freeing his mind (then to rub salt in the wound, the BBEG mentioned above sics the inevitable on the PCs, pointing out that "failing everyone" probably counts as a breach of contract).

The last 10 levels of the campagin revolve around trying to save as many people as the PCs can, while dealing with (A), Pandorym's now-superpowered minions, (B), Pandorym himself, and (C) the self-loathing that all this causes.

So, is this a good plot?

martyboy74
2008-04-09, 03:49 PM
Dependign on your group, you may want to let them know (OOC) that they are going to fail, and that this is going to be a transition game. It may the self-loathing part harder, but it will mean that they don't get furious with you if you have to railroad them into failure.

kjones
2008-04-09, 03:50 PM
Obvious problem: What happens if they, somehow, manage to stop him? Can't put it past PCs.

Cuddly
2008-04-09, 03:51 PM
I'm running a game right now, that, depending on what the players do, will either result in Tenebris being released from the Void to usher in 10,000 years of blood and chaos, their world being consumed by Atropus, or Demogorgon waking the Leviathan that their world rests upon.

I'm totally down for a world, possibly multiverse, ending to end a campaign. Personally, though, I think the golem things from Elder Evils are pretty stupid. They aren't very metal.

random11
2008-04-09, 03:51 PM
I love these kinds of plots.
Be sure to build two different worlds, the pre and the post apocalyptic. Double the work, but also double the pleasure :smallsmile:

Also, keep in mind that plots like this tend to pull the DM toward railroad plots.
Take your time, if the players don't cause what you planned, simply postpone it to the next quest, don't force them.

One last thing: If the people in the area will know the players had something to do with the catastrophe, they might not be so happy about helping them. In fact, it is more likely the players will be chased by the same people they are trying to save...

Vortling
2008-04-09, 03:56 PM
Seconded on the advanced warning, especially if your group likes playing heroes. Nothing like having the DM railroad you into failure to make you quit a group. On the other hand if you players figure out that they're doomed to failure some of them might try to jump ship to the winning team. That's something else to watch out for.

Cuddly
2008-04-09, 04:01 PM
Just have contingencies when the PCs eventually decide to do something else. Multiple ways to end everything.

Maybe, upon learning of the fate of the everything, they decide to investigate how to survive, and blow off helping other people.

I say keep the players in the dark.

random11
2008-04-09, 04:10 PM
On the other hand if you players figure out that they're doomed to failure some of them might try to jump ship to the winning team. That's something else to watch out for.

Another option:
The players are supposed to do something which will cause a catastrophe.
If they find out about it, create a group of (non evil) NPCs that didn't hear the PCs warnings, and now the players must chase and stop the other group before it's too late.
If they also manage to do this, just declare that the players won the campaign and that the event took place after the characters died of old age. Replace their characters with the former hero's children, and run the "save all" plot with the new characters.

shadow_archmagi
2008-04-09, 04:13 PM
Keep the players in the dark but make sure you have a backup plan. Cover all your bases at all times. Ensure that you can burn all traces of alternate plans so that players feel they COULD'VE stopped it, had they taken absolutely any other course of action.

As gamers, they'll believe they rolled a 1 on Craft Winning Plan, because they see 1s rolled all the time. At the same time, they'll berate themselves and wonder where they went wrong. You can cause real pain and suffering with this.

Rutee
2008-04-09, 04:14 PM
I say you tell them and get them to agree with this first. They can do the execution so much better if they know what's expected of them and agree to it then if they're left in the dark.

That aside, sounds nifty.


As gamers, they'll believe they rolled a 1 on Craft Winning Plan, because they see 1s rolled all the time. At the same time, they'll berate themselves and wonder where they went wrong. You can cause real pain and suffering with this.
At what point does this become fun for the players? It's more then just the GM that has to have fun with this.

Cuddly
2008-04-09, 04:17 PM
I say you tell them and get them to agree with this first. They can do the execution so much better if they know what's expected of them and agree to it then if they're left in the dark.

That aside, sounds nifty.


At what point does this become fun for the players? It's more then just the GM that has to have fun with this.

Screw the players. :smallsigh:

shadow_archmagi
2008-04-09, 04:23 PM
At what point does this become fun for the players? It's more then just the GM that has to have fun with this.

Curse the internet's lack of ability to convey sarcasm.

ahriman
2008-04-09, 04:29 PM
Sounds like a good idea, but I would do early...early, early, early in the campaign. Like, one adventure to learn the world basics, and the next one, when they're like lvl 3 or 4, they end up releasing Unimaginable Evil on the world. I haven't read Elder Evils, so I can't comment on your choice of BBEG, but having the PC's be "choosen" to stop him and failing works really well.

What I wouldn't do is make it a 6 month campaign ramping up to the big finale, and then somehow making the players fail. They'll feel, rightly, that they were cheated/railroaded. Doing it earlier on not only takes the sting out of it (how were they supposed to defeat this thing, they can't even cast fireball yet!), but also lets you get to the "fun" part of the campaign--watching the entire world collapse around them, as the PC's run around trying to atone for their mistakes/helping those they can.

IC they should hopefully feel like they failed. OOC, they'll know it was all part of the game.

Mad Wizard
2008-04-09, 04:34 PM
Maybe you should have a somewhat different event that takes place if the PCs manage to actually stop the BBEG. It would be interesting to have them find out about this at the last minute, such as while they fight the BBEG.

ahriman
2008-04-09, 04:36 PM
Or, alternately, you could go with them SAVING the world. Maybe the BBEG shows up, and is devouring all of reality. The players, eventually, manage to defeat him, and reality gets recreated...that's the transition to 4th ed. Heck, you could make their old characters legendary figures in the new world, maybe even gods.

Cuddly
2008-04-09, 04:37 PM
Saving the world is so cliche and expected. Everyone saves the world. Destroying the world is only slightly less lame.

Dr Bwaa
2008-04-09, 05:01 PM
You can also play on the fact that very few people actually consider themselves "evil." even Xykon doesn't want to destroy the world! Maybe the BBEG knows something the PCs don't, and whatever horrible catastrophe he's causing is actually the only possible way to forestall something much, much worse... (of course the PCs wouldn't find out about this until they've nearly killed the BBEG and he's pleading for his life (sorta).

Prometheus
2008-04-09, 05:48 PM
Have the true story be destroy the world in order to save it. The forces of evil cut of all possibility for a good future, so while the players are personally responsible for the ultimate ending, they did it against the will of the forces of evil. Therefore they win and lose.

Deepblue706
2008-04-09, 07:35 PM
Saving the world is so cliche and expected. Everyone saves the world. Destroying the world is only slightly less lame.

What if the world is not necessarily destroyed, but wrecked to a point where the terrain is all blasted and the only people left alive are the ones that the evil guy who ascended to godhood and brought the end of times decided to ignore, because he could just vaporize them with his giant laser mounted on his dinosaur-guarded tower of junk if they did anything he didn't like?

allonym
2008-04-09, 08:22 PM
If the players being screwed and horribly disadvantaged and having to at most limit damage wasn't fun, there'd be no-one to play Call of Cthulhu.

Leliel
2008-04-10, 06:37 PM
You can also play on the fact that very few people actually consider themselves "evil." even Xykon doesn't want to destroy the world! Maybe the BBEG knows something the PCs don't, and whatever horrible catastrophe he's causing is actually the only possible way to forestall something much, much worse... (of course the PCs wouldn't find out about this until they've nearly killed the BBEG and he's pleading for his life (sorta).

That's actually what he's planning on.

Since Pandorym is unlikely-at-worst to punish people who quite willingly help him out-he's LE, remember-the BBEG plans on ruling what's left of the universe using his elder evil granted powers after Pandorym has had his fun and left. That, and the BBEG is an Athar. An insane, meglomaniaical Athar, but an Athar nontheless. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say his disrespect for deities has intesified into an unreasoning hatred, and as a result, fully considers his actions justified.

It won't garner any sympathy, but the players will realize where he's coming from.

And for those of you who think that this is unreasonable: The players will be able to save a bunch of deziens of the Great Wheel, Sigil included.

Besides, when the DM has his screename come from Neon Genesis Evangelion, a bittersweet ending is one of the best you can hope for.

Ascension
2008-04-10, 08:55 PM
Besides, when the DM has his screename come from Neon Genesis Evangelion, a bittersweet ending is one of the best you can hope for.

Protip: If the DM starts playing Komm, Ser Tod as you head into the final battle, you know you're in for trouble.

I've always kinda wanted to have the PCs submit their characters' mechanical builds well in advance before a campaign and to ask the person with the strongest build (if I was reasonably certain they wouldn't spill the beans in advance) if they'd be willing to do a Face-Heel turn in the final battle. They still probably wouldn't be able to take on the whole rest of the party alone, but teamed up with the BBEG... I think it'd be fun.

FlyMolo
2008-04-10, 09:08 PM
Protip: If the DM starts playing Komm, Ser Tod as you head into the final battle, you know you're in for trouble.


I knew I took German classes for something.

Yes. You're in trouble.

BadJuJu
2008-04-10, 10:10 PM
What if the world is not necessarily destroyed, but wrecked to a point where the terrain is all blasted and the only people left alive are the ones that the evil guy who ascended to godhood and brought the end of times decided to ignore, because he could just vaporize them with his giant laser mounted on his dinosaur-guarded tower of junk if they did anything he didn't like?

Kefka is such a nutjob.