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    Fates's Avatar

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    Default Help with GMing?

    I'm a relatively new DM, only on my second campaign. I've come to something of a dilemma.

    In the game I'm DMing, a powerful, monotheistic theocracy has long since taken control of most of the civilized world; much of their dogma decries and condemns magic, and that, along with personal grievances of their own, is why my PCs are set out to bring down this church.

    They've handled it quite well, for the most part, and I'm fairly happy with how the campaign is going. The players are decent at least at roleplaying their hatred for the church, but I feel that they aren't doing really "into it." It makes the game feel a bit stale, and I want to try to excite them to really start getting serious about roleplaying, especially when it comes to their feelings toward the church.

    Essentially, I believe that I need to work harder to make sure that not only the player characters, but also the players themselves feel convicted to end this church. I want them to be angry. I want them to hate the church and all it stands for.

    Does anyone have any suggestions of how I might do this?
    Last edited by Fates; 2012-11-11 at 11:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    An old standby is to have an agent of the church steal an item from the party. It doesn't even have to be something particularly valuable, or useful, though obviously that helps.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    I've recently finished DMing a campaign involving a powerful monotheistic church that controlled much of the world that my group was bent on overthrowing. Not sure if this will work for your group, but it did wonders for mine;

    - Make the church leaders very visible but untouchable and entirely too smug about it. Nothing frustrates and angers my players more than being unable to directly attack their enemies when they can see them! And a generally holier than thou attitude on the part of the badies doesn't hurt.

    - Slowly introduce stupid new laws to towns controlled by the church that make the PC's lives annoying; Outlaw drinking after nightfall. Outlaw the carrying of weapons by anyone not visibly wearing a holy symbol of the church. Make it custom to greet people with "By the grace of the almighty and righteous one god, well met" and replace goodbye with "Hallowed be the one god, and fare thee well". Have NPCs get upset if they don't use the correct phrases. Rub their faces in the fact that society is run by these guys.

    - Have agents of the church attack the periphery of the PCs world in nasty but technically legal ways; Arrest any NPCs that have helped them and burn them as witches. Purchase and then convert their favourite pub into a church. Have a PC's elderly mother thrown out of the family home on trumped up debts. That kind of thing.

    Hope you can get something useful out of that!

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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Me and my best friend planned a campaign like this, and discussed at lenggth why people got mad at large churches and governments in the first place. We decided that one of the best ways to turn a party against a large, lawful institution is to have them do the same things that such institutions in real life do: combine ridiculous rules with insane graft.

    Have the church tax them at every turn. The party should be constantly paying tolls, having random tax men show up and question them about magic item purchases and spells cast, and most importantly: increase the price on liquor to insane amounts.

    All of these will generate irritation, but not hatred. That's why you combine it with graft and hypocrisy.

    For example, let's say they have to infiltrate a secret society of the church. They go through the elaborate entry rituals through some insane disguise and bluff checks, not to mention creative bribery on the part of everyone else, and enter it. What do they find?

    A brothel. A place where elaborate orgies and abuse of the wildest drugs imaginable take place nightly. Where the clients are constantly subject to abuse and hastily covered up deaths: they should probably see a girl covered with bruises and cuts being dragged out. When they meet the church officials, have them BRAG about it. How their superiors turn a blind eye to them, how they spit in the face of the god they worship and get away with it, and how they finance this elaborate den of vice through taxes such as the new liquor tax.

    If that doesen't get the PCs blood boiling, I don't know what will.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    It's hard to hate an institution, & I mean hate it with a passion. You may not like it, it may be terrible. But it's this big faceless thing. If you want your players to hate the church, give the church a face. A warrior priest that is out to stop the players, an evangelical who converts their friends & family. Better yet, someone who is close to the church is brain washed into becoming their ultimate, unquestioning pawn, who will turn against the players & strike them down. Also, load up on hypocrisy, maybe the special forces of the church are Duskblades/Magus/Hexblade, or some other arcane spellcaster. People hate hypocrites. That's my two copper anyway
    Last edited by Anderlith; 2012-11-12 at 02:13 AM.

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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Good ol' fashion Witch Trials.

    Have one of the higher ups in the church going round random towns and villages putting people on trial for suspicion of using magic. Have them publicly torture a 'confession' from them and those close to them. Then have the poor victoms executed in a horrible way, no matter their age/gender/physical or mental state (before the torture).

    That should drive the good aligned characters in the group to start really hating the church. Even the neutral characters should start feeling that this isn't right. The evil aligned characters (if any) will start to either get jealous of, or be spurred on to out do them.


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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Wow. You guys are amazing.

    Thanks a lot for those ideas. I'll be sure to keep all of them in mind. The orgy one may be a tad tricky, as a couple of my players would be offended at that, but I think the jist of the idea would still work wonders.

    That's not to say I couldn't use more input. If anyone else has an idea, do spit it out! I'll be happy to hear it.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Quote Originally Posted by MasterofFates View Post
    Essentially, I believe that I need to work harder to make sure that not only the player characters, but also the players themselves feel convicted to end this church. I want them to be angry. I want them to hate the church and all it stands for.
    It could also be possible that the players are either not terribly into the idea of hating the church or could use some distraction from the overarching plot. I would suggest throwing out some unrelated plot hooks -- a small village threatened by giant ants, a newly discovered dungeon to be explored, something totally unrelated to the church -- and see what they do. Make sure they know it is fine for them to switch goals or simply spend a week doing something different. If they jump at the idea, it is a pretty clear signal that nothing you do will make them hate the church. Sometimes players simply don't want to do what the GM has planned for them. Good GMs roll with it.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Are any of the PCs casters? Or psudo-casters (psionics, binders, etc)? If so, have that PC become a personal target of the church leadership. If the player is willing to go for it, have the PC actually arrested and tortured. (Obviously, let the rest of the party rescue the PC before the PC is killed.)

    Now it's personal.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kesnit View Post
    Are any of the PCs casters? Or psudo-casters (psionics, binders, etc)? If so, have that PC become a personal target of the church leadership. If the player is willing to go for it, have the PC actually arrested and tortured. (Obviously, let the rest of the party rescue the PC before the PC is killed.)

    Now it's personal.
    There's a warlock and a shadowcaster, both of which have, in fact, been captured and tortured. Because I've been trying to keep things around PG-13, I didn't go into much description, however. It didn't take them long to escape, anyway.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Have any loveable, harmless, friendly NPCs? Not someone major or plot important, but someone the PC's have come to recognize. You know, the one guy whose voice you do at all the inns (even if it's not really the same guy). Although tropey, I've found one of these to things works well:

    1. Have the church execute him. Publicly. When he is technically guilty of something rather minor. Make it so the PC's can't save him. e.g. they only just got to town and it happened two weeks ago.

    2. Have him refuse to associate with the PCs for reasons related to the church. e.g. "I'm sorry. I can't talk to you anymore, warlock."
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    Why not some good old fashioned bigotry? Have the church target specific nonhuman races that the PCs may associate with or, in the event that you don't have nonhumans in your world, pick a race. Have the church specifically exclude these guys and persecute them for being excluded.

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    DrowGirl

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    Quote Originally Posted by MasterofFates View Post
    That's not to say I couldn't use more input. If anyone else has an idea, do spit it out! I'll be happy to hear it.

    Well...to be really 'against' the players, you need to hit where it hurts:

    1.Experience. Have the church stop them from getting XP. For example: have the BBEG arrested right before the characters get to his lair(''oh, adventuring vigilantes, thanks for your help but we arrested Count Evil and he will stand trial for his evil deeds so you can put them weapons away.")

    2. Treasure. The Faith IRS--"Oh good you killed the evil dragon Goum...now we will claim it's treasure hoard. We will return all rightly stolen property and use the remainder to repair and repay damage the dragon has done over the years..."

    3. Both (Fun) All monsters and evil is gone from the lands......

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malak'ai View Post
    Good ol' fashion Witch Trials.

    Have one of the higher ups in the church going round random towns and villages putting people on trial for suspicion of using magic. Have them publicly torture a 'confession' from them and those close to them. Then have the poor victoms executed in a horrible way, no matter their age/gender/physical or mental state (before the torture).

    That should drive the good aligned characters in the group to start really hating the church. Even the neutral characters should start feeling that this isn't right. The evil aligned characters (if any) will start to either get jealous of, or be spurred on to out do them.

    This sort of thing is what you want (although it doesn't have to be exactly witch trials). One big problem with religious organizations is that by they're very nature, they think they're always right (they're speaking for god/gods/etc).

    Put the PCs in a situation where the church is doing something that very clearly isn't right, but where the church has a very clear justification for doing so.

    God says women can't touch weapons. Church is hanging/whatever a woman for chasing off a bunch of local bullies who had almost beat her child to death. That sort of thing.

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    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Charge them with heresy, confiscate their stuff,
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    NinjaGuy

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    "Hollowed are the Ori."

    Stargate did this decently with the Ori. Ori required their subjects to give their willpower to them. The biggest problem was them trying to convert everyone to their own religious views. Since if you didn't they would destroy your planet.

    In my current DnD game I had a Temple of Light that acted as any normal church would. Except that they would kill anyone who didn't fall into their own small box.

    The players didn't hate the Temple and in fact worked with them. If the temple ever found out that one of the clerics was a necromancer they would have killed him. Effects on the world seem to affect how players act. As long as the church wasn't killing innocent people the players were perfectly fine with it.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    Show it in the people under the church's boot. The church puts ridiculous laws into place, have the people accept them blindly without question, and those who do question it openly disappear. Have an NPC get a little too drunk and have him speak out against the church. Then he disappears, and nobody questions it. Have the majority of the population believing in the church doctrine and actively participating in the atrocities committed. The people are the ones doing the witch burning, but it's the church that instigated it. Have the church be very bigoted, they dislike members of certain races to the degree that they will not allow them into certain parts of the cities. This is reflected in the way the people act because that's what they believe. The dwarf shouldn't be allowed into the temple district because that's just the way it is for them. The hypocrisy suggestion is really good as is giving the players an physical entity to hate that represents the church. The Cardinal Richelieu as it were.
    Last edited by SgtCarnage92; 2012-11-15 at 04:45 PM.
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    Default Re: Help with GMing?

    As mentioned above, have the church persecute NPCs that they like.

    First you'd need to get the PCs to get attached to an NPC. One of the things I like to do is introduce a lot of NPCs and then keep bringing back the ones the players like. It's good if the NPCs are helpful or provide some valuable service to the PCs.

    Let's say the party thief has caught Timmy the street urchin trying to pick his pocket. The thief admire's his moxie and starts teaching him some skills, hoping to make an apprentice out of him. Timmy comes and goes, and sometimes works for the party as a spy or scout in the city.

    Then one day Timmy's arrested and thrown in prison.

    The PCs go to see him and find out that he's to be whipped in the public square, as it his first offense. Timmy asks them to show up at the punishment as a show of moral support, and maybe to offer him healing once it's all over and he's released.

    The party shows up, but before the punishment begins, the local Bishop reads off a new law that states that thievery is now punishable by death. He then has the executioner lop Timmy's head off while the party watches in horror.

    If you really want to twist the knife, you can have Timmy tried extra harshly because he pissed off a clergyman or because he found out something incriminating about the church.

    Maybe he's tried as an adult, instead of as a kid, and executed because he saw the bishop fondling altar boys.

    That should piss them off.

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