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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Jan 2019

    Default Campaign Idea: Heart of the Obyrith

    I have an interesting idea for a campaign and I would like to see what you guys think of it

    A powerful wizard created a powerful artifact known as the Heart of the Obyrith. It was sought out by the cult of a demon lord to be used in a ritual to make said demon lord incredibly powerful. An organization of good mages found it instead and, upon learning of what it was capable of doing, set out to create a different artifact to destroy it. Before they could, the cult attacked their home base and nearly claimed it for themselves, but one mage used the incomplete artifact to shatter it and send its pieces to random parts of the world.

    The party would stumble across one of the fragments by accident and be contacted by the organization of good mages. They would task them with finding the other pieces of the artifact needed to destroy the heart while another adventuring party seeks out the rest of the shards. The party would set out on a series of quests to complete the artifact. Before they return with the components needed, however, a member of the other partty seeking the shards would be captured and interrogated. He would give out the location of the place the shards were hidden , which would be attacked by the cult and the shards would be transported to the demon lord to be reforged as the Heart of the Obyrith. The party would then have to talk a couple of other demon lords into attacking the demon lord's layer of the abyss in order to give themselves a chance to infiltrate his lair and destroy the Heart of the Obyrith before the demon lord can use it in a ritual to make himself incredibly powerful.

    What do you guys think?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Default Re: Campaign Idea: Heart of the Obyrith

    Bump, anyone got something to say?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    RifleAvenger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Campaign Idea: Heart of the Obyrith

    Quote Originally Posted by dededo11 View Post
    I have an interesting idea for a campaign and I would like to see what you guys think of it

    A powerful wizard created a powerful artifact known as the Heart of the Obyrith. It was sought out by the cult of a demon lord to be used in a ritual to make said demon lord incredibly powerful. An organization of good mages found it instead and, upon learning of what it was capable of doing, set out to create a different artifact to destroy it. Before they could, the cult attacked their home base and nearly claimed it for themselves, but one mage used the incomplete artifact to shatter it and send its pieces to random parts of the world.

    The party would stumble across one of the fragments by accident and be contacted by the organization of good mages. They would task them with finding the other pieces of the artifact needed to destroy the heart while another adventuring party seeks out the rest of the shards. The party would set out on a series of quests to complete the artifact. Before they return with the components needed, however, a member of the other partty seeking the shards would be captured and interrogated. He would give out the location of the place the shards were hidden , which would be attacked by the cult and the shards would be transported to the demon lord to be reforged as the Heart of the Obyrith. The party would then have to talk a couple of other demon lords into attacking the demon lord's layer of the abyss in order to give themselves a chance to infiltrate his lair and destroy the Heart of the Obyrith before the demon lord can use it in a ritual to make himself incredibly powerful.

    What do you guys think?
    So we've got your typical muffin macguffin quest. There's a place for the classics, but this scavenger hunt has a few issues:

    • There's a lot of things which must happen for this plot to work.

    The party must agree to find the artifact pieces. The party must not interfere with the search for the heart shards. The party must not hide any pieces away from the others as part of said interference. A member of the other group must be captured. The party cannot stop the cultist attack or evacuate some of the shards. The party is expected to ally with demons as part of defeating the big bad. At any of these junctures, because there are other real people across the table with their own ideas, the party might not act as you've described here.

    When you have a plot so rigidly set out, two things happen. First, if it's not robust, it's easily interrupted. Secondly, you'll be tempted to force events to go according to the plot, which becomes worse the more fragile the plot is, because your attempts to keep things going apace will be more frequent and more obviously constrictive to player agency. The biggest red flag I see here is that the cult assault to grab the heart MUST succeed, because there are myriad ways the party could prevent this if they're there, or even if they're NOT.

    Essentially, as presented, this plot is a rail-road. This is not always a bad thing; if you're up front about it, and the players are participationist or otherwise buy into sacrificing their agency as regards this story. Most games, besides sandboxes and/or very player goal driven/collaborative plots, involve some level of this. However, this is a gradient, and very few players appreciate full railroads ESPECIALLY when they're not told they're going to be on one.

    Personal example:
    Spoiler
    Show
    In my current game, the party is part of an organization trying to minimize damage from a world war going on, and hopefully stop the war, especially because their employer can see the future and sees a terrible calamity ahead for the world if nothing changes. At the end of the last arc, they chose to go to a minor nation in the Confederacy which is under invasion by one of the superpowers and also on the brink of civil war. This is one option of several, but it's the hook they bit on.

    Now that the party is there, they've been presented with the job of serving as the current leader's champions in the face of a challenge from a power hungry chief (whose agents tried to assassinate the chiefs of the other tribes - really chiefdoms - in the previous arc). The Warleader hopes the party assisting the other tribes will shore up his support, allow him to fend off his challenger, and reassert his authority/grow trust in the party's NGO so he can order his people to make the painful choice to abandon their homeland (the war seems unwinnable). The PC's have four weeks to do this, upon which there will be a contest to decide the warleader. I know the party is highly likely to agree to this, but if they DIDN'T the plot can go on because the players have their own ideas as well.

    One wants to end exploitation of the nation's people by its Confederate allies, another wants to covertly fight on the front lines against the foreign invaders (even though the party's employer doesn't want that, because theirs is a peaceful mission). Even if the party accepts my hook, I will try and weave these personal plans into the adventures I write. Even though my planned plot has events that go down at the challenge, those events differ depending on the party's prior actions. They could even avert the challenge altogether if they do something like assassinate the challenger, but that has its own consequences. As does giving up, as does how and if they disrupt the plans of the invading army. How this arc ends affects the next, or at least another down the line. I plan, but I leave space and consideration open that the players may drastically change events. It's their story too, they're the main characters in fact!


    • Some of the Events that Happen Don't Make Much Sense

    Why send the party that found a heart shard to find the pieces of the OTHER artifact? Why would the organization of good mages let the adventurers who are finding the heart shards know where they're ultimately stored - the possibility of capture and interrogation always being high? Why would they store all the heart shards in one place where they could be easily stolen? Why would the PC's work with other demon lords instead of, say, good outsiders who have a vested interest in not letting a demon lord supercharge itself and are far less likely to try and betray the group in the end (as most of the demon lords will try and claim the heart for themselves)? Why isn't the demon cult also trying to find, capture, and/or destroy the pieces of the anti-heart artifact, since without that the PC's can't destroy the heart?

    It's possible to develop explanations for these, for example maybe the other party were already working on finding the heart shards so that continues to be their job. But you do need to think these sorts of things through.

    ----------------------------------------

    A better way to structure this, if you don't have a party consenting to ride the train, is to set up factions and desires, and let events play out semi to fully dynamically from there.

    - The good mages, and hypothetically the PC's and the second party, want to find the shards so they can destroy the heart.
    - The cult and its demon lord want to claim the complete heart and raise their master to greater power. Secondarily, they want to prevent the good mages from obtaining the tool needed to destroy the heart.
    - Other outsiders either want the heart for themselves, or want to see it sealed away or destroyed.
    - Repeat this paradigm for every smaller plot within the campaign, such as interests active in an area where the party are searching for an artifact piece.

    Surely the demon lord's cult will try and seize the heart shards, perhaps even by raiding the place the good mages are hiding them, but you shouldn't dictate that they succeed. Let the actions of the PC's (and the NPCs on both sides, to a lesser extent) determine that. Plan specifically only for a session or two ahead, and even then be ready to amend or discard plans based on player agency. Plan more vaguely past then, you don't want to invest too much time in events that might not happen and/or content the players will never run.

    This is a plot I've seem plenty of times before in coarse form, but some oldies are goodies. It comes down to execution.
    Last edited by RifleAvenger; 2019-09-23 at 08:14 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Default Re: Campaign Idea: Heart of the Obyrith

    Quote Originally Posted by RifleAvenger View Post
    So we've got your typical muffin macguffin quest. There's a place for the classics, but this scavenger hunt has a few issues:

    • There's a lot of things which must happen for this plot to work.

    The party must agree to find the artifact pieces. The party must not interfere with the search for the heart shards. The party must not hide any pieces away from the others as part of said interference. A member of the other group must be captured. The party cannot stop the cultist attack or evacuate some of the shards. The party is expected to ally with demons as part of defeating the big bad. At any of these junctures, because there are other real people across the table with their own ideas, the party might not act as you've described here.

    When you have a plot so rigidly set out, two things happen. First, if it's not robust, it's easily interrupted. Secondly, you'll be tempted to force events to go according to the plot, which becomes worse the more fragile the plot is, because your attempts to keep things going apace will be more frequent and more obviously constrictive to player agency. The biggest red flag I see here is that the cult assault to grab the heart MUST succeed, because there are myriad ways the party could prevent this if they're there, or even if they're NOT.

    Essentially, as presented, this plot is a rail-road. This is not always a bad thing; if you're up front about it, and the players are participationist or otherwise buy into sacrificing their agency as regards this story. Most games, besides sandboxes and/or very player goal driven/collaborative plots, involve some level of this. However, this is a gradient, and very few players appreciate full railroads ESPECIALLY when they're not told they're going to be on one.

    Personal example:
    Spoiler
    Show
    In my current game, the party is part of an organization trying to minimize damage from a world war going on, and hopefully stop the war, especially because their employer can see the future and sees a terrible calamity ahead for the world if nothing changes. At the end of the last arc, they chose to go to a minor nation in the Confederacy which is under invasion by one of the superpowers and also on the brink of civil war. This is one option of several, but it's the hook they bit on.

    Now that the party is there, they've been presented with the job of serving as the current leader's champions in the face of a challenge from a power hungry chief (whose agents tried to assassinate the chiefs of the other tribes - really chiefdoms - in the previous arc). The Warleader hopes the party assisting the other tribes will shore up his support, allow him to fend off his challenger, and reassert his authority/grow trust in the party's NGO so he can order his people to make the painful choice to abandon their homeland (the war seems unwinnable). The PC's have four weeks to do this, upon which there will be a contest to decide the warleader. I know the party is highly likely to agree to this, but if they DIDN'T the plot can go on because the players have their own ideas as well.

    One wants to end exploitation of the nation's people by its Confederate allies, another wants to covertly fight on the front lines against the foreign invaders (even though the party's employer doesn't want that, because theirs is a peaceful mission). Even if the party accepts my hook, I will try and weave these personal plans into the adventures I write. Even though my planned plot has events that go down at the challenge, those events differ depending on the party's prior actions. They could even avert the challenge altogether if they do something like assassinate the challenger, but that has its own consequences. As does giving up, as does how and if they disrupt the plans of the invading army. How this arc ends affects the next, or at least another down the line. I plan, but I leave space and consideration open that the players may drastically change events. It's their story too, they're the main characters in fact!


    • Some of the Events that Happen Don't Make Much Sense

    Why send the party that found a heart shard to find the pieces of the OTHER artifact? Why would the organization of good mages let the adventurers who are finding the heart shards know where they're ultimately stored - the possibility of capture and interrogation always being high? Why would they store all the heart shards in one place where they could be easily stolen? Why would the PC's work with other demon lords instead of, say, good outsiders who have a vested interest in not letting a demon lord supercharge itself and are far less likely to try and betray the group in the end (as most of the demon lords will try and claim the heart for themselves)? Why isn't the demon cult also trying to find, capture, and/or destroy the pieces of the anti-heart artifact, since without that the PC's can't destroy the heart?

    It's possible to develop explanations for these, for example maybe the other party were already working on finding the heart shards so that continues to be their job. But you do need to think these sorts of things through.

    ----------------------------------------

    A better way to structure this, if you don't have a party consenting to ride the train, is to set up factions and desires, and let events play out semi to fully dynamically from there.

    - The good mages, and hypothetically the PC's and the second party, want to find the shards so they can destroy the heart.
    - The cult and its demon lord want to claim the complete heart and raise their master to greater power. Secondarily, they want to prevent the good mages from obtaining the tool needed to destroy the heart.
    - Other outsiders either want the heart for themselves, or want to see it sealed away or destroyed.
    - Repeat this paradigm for every smaller plot within the campaign, such as interests active in an area where the party are searching for an artifact piece.

    Surely the demon lord's cult will try and seize the heart shards, perhaps even by raiding the place the good mages are hiding them, but you shouldn't dictate that they succeed. Let the actions of the PC's (and the NPCs on both sides, to a lesser extent) determine that. Plan specifically only for a session or two ahead, and even then be ready to amend or discard plans based on player agency. Plan more vaguely past then, you don't want to invest too much time in events that might not happen and/or content the players will never run.

    This is a plot I've seem plenty of times before in coarse form, but some oldies are goodies. It comes down to execution.
    I must admit, the dynamic version of this plot does sound more appealing. I was hoping, however, for a big final showdown with the demon lord at the end as the final boss. Any suggestions for having that happen?
    Last edited by dededo11; 2019-09-23 at 09:00 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Default Re: Campaign Idea: Heart of the Obyrith

    Okay, here's my revised version of the plot

    The Heart is no Longer shattered. It is in one piece and is hidden in a secure location that the players aren't told about.
    The players are now racing against the Cult of the demon lord to find the components to create the artifact capable of destroying the heart, which the cult is intent on destroying. The party will encounter the cult as they collect the components.
    The heart will still be taken by the cult and given to the demon lord after the players find all the components to create the artifact to destroy the heart. After whichit will be suggested to the players to seek out help from the upper planes in order to get an army to distroct the demon lord's forces while the party infiltrates the demon lord's lair and destroys the heart, but it will be up to the players if they do that or decide to take a different approach.

    How is this?

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Default Re: Campaign Idea: Heart of the Obyrith

    Bump, anyone got something to say?

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