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GroggyGolem

Got a party transitioning away from Force stuff

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The campaign I began in January wrapped up its first major story arc with the party of heroes deciding they want nothing more to do with the war between Jedi and Sith. Those that have fallen to the dark side killed their masters and those that stuck to the Jedi ways have now decided to abandon the order, finding common ground with each other in that they are done with it all. This comes right at a moment when they had achieved the majority of the goal the Council set out for them, interestingly enough. They have the means to accessing a power the Sith have been trying to discover, have chosen not to pursue it, and are planning to keep the key to said power. The Jedi tasked them to destroy the source of the power so the Sith couldn't obtain it.

Now we seem to be moving into a more Edge of the Empire style game. The party wants to acquire their own ship, send the Explore Core crew that was taking them on Jedi missions back home and start earning some credits. It seems they just want to survive and don't have any particular long-term goals in mind beyond that.

I'm pretty excited to be covering a different aspect of Star Wars for a while, though admittedly a bit disappointed the original plotline wasn't resolved (yet). I hadn't considered the group deciding to do absolutely nothing with the key to unlocking untold power and abandoning their quest.

What are your stories of your parties making unexpected decisions that shifted the focus of your game?

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I have a group (ongoing) that started out working for a low tier hutt who was looking to expand his power. As the missions went on, they decided they didn't want to work for him anymore. Breaking with the Hutts is hardly an easy thing, especially since they had multiple deals with their boss and were basically working on his payroll. So, I got together a mission module that kicked off with them returning from Mask of the Pirate Queen, paying the Hutt his dues and then declaring that they were breaking away.

Then when they were in front of the Hutt, he says that he is excited for the future and already has their next assignment in mind (I did not actually have one made because they had spent weeks talking about how they wanted to break with their old boss and possibly kill him at some point in the future). Literally everyone in the party got cold feet and they just kinda sat there for a while discussing how they wanted to do this cause apparently for all the discussing about wanting to break away from the Hutts, none of them had thought about how to actually do it.

My personal nightmare was when they started to legitimately discuss taking the job and then breaking away after that. Praise Holy Galactimus they didn't end up doing that, but there was a good 10 minutes where I was sweating bullets behind the GM screen trying to come up with a Plan B if they actually took the job.

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If I actually wanted them to pursue a story arc to its conclusion they wouldn't have any realistic choice, which honestly you still could.  

If a group moves off on an odd tangent I let them, and then if an older arc rears its head they usually deal with it.  So in your case let them run around and do as they will, and then at some point reintroduce your original idea and fast forward to the end game in that case.

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33 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

If I actually wanted them to pursue a story arc to its conclusion they wouldn't have any realistic choice, which honestly you still could.  

If a group moves off on an odd tangent I let them, and then if an older arc rears its head they usually deal with it.  So in your case let them run around and do as they will, and then at some point reintroduce your original idea and fast forward to the end game in that case.

That was what I intended to do. Railroading is something I try to avoid. I did start this campaign on a bit of a rail to give the group a threat, a goal at least in the short-term and a reason to join together, but had imagined if they were going to veer away from it they would have done it much sooner, and anytime they brought up walking away from it all I reminded them that they can certainly do that because I wasn't going to force them to follow any one path. Going by them getting this far into it, I had thought they intended to see it through, but right at the end they decided not to.

I'll let it rest for a while and then bring it back in at some point. They may continue to try and avoid the hook and if so, I won't force it upon them.

Edited by GroggyGolem

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Well if you're looking for threads to get tied up and a definitive conclusion you've got railroad to a certain degree. Doing it where they actually believe it's  what they want to do is the trick, in your case that means take their new motivation and make that an obvious outcome to pursuing your original idea.

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Interesting situation -- as you pointed out, it's curious that they followed the plot as far as they did but not to its conclusion. 

My personal panacea for dealing with veering party interests is just to think in terms of threats & incentives instead of plots. I recently ran a smuggling campaign using a lot of the older WEG resources, and, in my experience, the lifeblood of any good smuggling campaign is The Job (of course involving ever-more-interesting, increasingly-dangerous twists and turns). My biggest concern was that my party would get distracted before seeing The Job through, perhaps abandoning my meticulously planned crime sector entirely. I managed to avoid any disasters by continually revising the carrot-and-stick, such as having bounty hunters complicate certain options or having new opportunities fold into The Job. It was sort of railroady, but also tailored to their interests, so they didn't seem to mind.

I'm especially interested in how you're handling the departure from Force-related stuff not just in terms of questing but in terms of tone, themes, etc. Is there still a 'destiny' aspect to their missions? Are they grappling with the Dark Side or is that conflict taking a backseat? That sounds like an interesting challenge.

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5 hours ago, Timequake said:

I'm especially interested in how you're handling the departure from Force-related stuff not just in terms of questing but in terms of tone, themes, etc. Is there still a 'destiny' aspect to their missions? Are they grappling with the Dark Side or is that conflict taking a backseat? That sounds like an interesting challenge.

They have experienced a small amount of more EotE focused material early on in this campaign. They were taken to Ord Mantell, which is notorious for smugglers, bounty hunters, criminals, as a safe haven for trade, work and recreation. It is also a well-kept secret as to its location. There they looked for some means of pay and transportation back to Coruscant, ended up doing a job for the Pirate Queen (aesthetically inspired by the character from the adventure book but all the details save for the look have been changed). Currently their plan is to figure out a way to get back to Ord Mantell and discuss the matter of work and a ship with the Pirate Queen. They have a lead to get there they are following.

As far as tone, it's been so far a sort of race to find the power the Sith were after first and they did stay ahead in that race. The dichotomy of philosophy between the Jedi and Sith has been a large focus on the game, as the players were learning from both sides what they were about. I don't push Destiny openly in the games I run because there's quite a bit of obvious railroading it might bring with it. The closest part to that would be that one of the player characters who started as a non-Force User had been of a tribe entrusted with the secret to find some lost relics of an ancient protector and friend of their people. The secrets were passed down in a staff carved with unique hieroglyphs only their tribe had the means to read. One relic was what the Sith had been after, though they did not know what form it took, same as the player characters.

Beyond that, one character had a backstory of being raised to use the dark side, being taken in by the jedi for a time to be taught their way but has slowly, with manipulations from his former master and experience of their adventures, become the weapon his master intended. He even fulfilled the Sith way of killing the weaker (took his Sith master out after a betrayal from the master, though the master seemed quite pleased he was going to deal a deathblow). So you could say his "dark destiny" is quite on track.

As far as grappling with the dark side, half the group has sort of embraced it. 2 left the main party to train with the Sith for about a month. The entire party at one point had unique vision quests when the Sith semi-captured/semi-welcomed them to their academy. As I have tossed out the Conflict rules, I opted for letting the players describe the test of their morals and the choice of giving in to it or standing against it. I also informed them they would be embracing the dark side if they chose to give in and would be from then on dark side characters.

The non-Force User secretly stole a holocron that promised power as long as they followed the ways of the Sith so has started off their Force use as a dark sider.

For the 3 that didn't give into the darkness, one openly stole a Sith holocron but has barely touched it. 2 of those chose to stand against their temptation and were from then on considered at paragon status. The 3rd did the same but wished to remain in the middle, gaining no benefits (entirely their choice to keep with their character narrative).

 

Party consensus was that they have heard enough from both the Jedi and Sith, think both have their flaws and their strengths and don't want to fight in their wars anymore. So they are striking out on their own, with the goals of gaining some jobs so they can acquire a ship of their own. Plan is to introduce several factions now that they are sort of broadening their horizons in the galaxy by stepping away from the Jedi/Sith conflict. So the usuals will be around: the hutts, pike syndicate, black sun, the pirate queen and her people. I've already put together some information on potential jobs they can pursue. The non-Force User was a bounty hunter at the start of the campaign, so they could always decide to lead the group into that line of business. I think out of character one player mentioned becoming Force Users for hire jokingly (knowing them, likely a half-joke half-serious comment).

 

I always intended the group's decision at the end of the campaign arc to take part in shaping where the galaxy heads, since they are the heroes of the story and "Destiny" surrounds them.

The thought was if they failed and the Sith obtained the power they were seeking, we would pick up a few years down the road with the Sith as the dominant faction of the galaxy. (Still could happen down the road)

If they succeeded then the war would end for the time but a different, non-Force related threat would eventually spring up. (Also could still happen down the road)

In this case, due to their decision to both abandon the quest to find the source of power and abandon the Jedi/Sith conflict, the war is going to be prolonged and with neither the heroes nor Sith acquiring that power, the effect on the galaxy from this war will be worse. The republic is going to outlaw open Force Use and Lightsabers after all the devastation, which will make the Jedi order flee the core worlds so they can put a stop to the Sith and attempt to repair their damaged reputation as the protectors of the republic. Their absence as protectors of the republic will make the republic seem weaker, crime will spike, it'll be a sort of wild west of sorts with the republic military and navy trying to keep order and failing to do so beyond the scope of the core worlds and maybe a few of the expansion region. Criminal factions will rise in power and lay claim to planetary sectors, trade routes, anything the republic no longer has a foothold on that these factions can profit from.

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Hi Groggy Golem It sounds like you have a pretty good grasp on your players and your story.

It also took me a while to sort through my group to see if we had any big story arc departures and for the most part the answer has been "Not really."

But we did have one unexpected twist a couple of months back.

And for those of you just joining the campaign is an AoR campaign where the PC's are all force sensitive and being trained by the Rebels to be a Special Ops Group (SOG) to carry out the tougher missions.

One of the PC's had a bounty on their head and were wanted by the Black Sun.  Part of their back story included a friendly contact who was still in the Black Sun.  There were a couple of "innocuous" meetings and encounters over the past year where this PC would change tact dramatically.  For example, they were hired by a local concerned business man to help clean up the community of spice dealers.  Turned out that the concerned business man was trying to edge out Black Sun operative importing product.  He wanted to be the local distributor.  And as soon as the PC found out that they were interfering with a Black Sun reprisal op, she walked away from the mission and took the team with her.  

Okay so this group was pursuing a fairly routine mission and found themselves pretty close to Hutt Space.  But that PC has also been having a number of encounters where Black Sun bounty hunters and representatives were threatening to cash in on her bounty.  She then takes the team to Nar Shaddaa to "settle her score."  Mid mission.

It was tense and interesting as they were pretty much summarily locked up and threatened with immediate execution.

And this is an awful reference but "You down with TPK?  Yeah you know me!" :blink:

One session later, they "paid" her debt and are "free" and clear.  But news travels slowly . . . :o

So the PC's 'surprised' me with one deviation, but it's nothing close to what you are describing.

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On 12/12/2018 at 10:03 AM, GroggyGolem said:

his comes right at a moment when they had achieved the majority of the goal the Council set out for them, interestingly enough. They have the means to accessing a power the Sith have been trying to discover, have chosen not to pursue it, and are planning to keep the key to said power. The Jedi tasked them to destroy the source of the power so the Sith couldn't obtain it.

I'm pretty excited to be covering a different aspect of Star Wars for a while, though admittedly a bit disappointed the original plotline wasn't resolved (yet). I hadn't considered the group deciding to do absolutely nothing with the key to unlocking untold power and abandoning their quest.

What are your stories of your parties making unexpected decisions that shifted the focus of your game?

Had you considered whether "interested parties" (Sith & Jedi) would still want that power?  I mean, a group has set out to find this great, lost power.....they go out for a time....and then stop pursuing jedi-Sith stuff altogether and drop out of sight.  Some might say they gave up the search, but wouldn't some observers be suspicious that they had 'found' something great and made off with it?  Suspicion and mistrust comes in where there's a void. Maybe they become more Edge but there's some sort of bounty "capture alive" on them.  Now, they may not know why.  They'd have to capture someone to find out why, maybe.  

 

As far as shifting focus, I often like to just throw things in a PC's way and then be ready to go whichever way the PC decides. An example is where a PC had befriended an NPC with hopes of climbing the corporate ladder. They become friends and the NPC asks if the PC will back him up when the time comes.  That he has something big coming up.  The PC agrees.  Well, at a rooftop corporate outing, their boss and the them are out on a balcony by themselves and the NPC gives the PC a wink and a nod and them promptly pushes the supervisor through a (rigged) loose railing and over the side, plummeting to his death!  The player (and PC) was totally shocked!!!  It took a little while for the player to recover.  After hearing the scream, onlookers came over and asked what happened.   I left that in the hands of the PC/Player.  After a few uncomfortable minutes of real time, the player blurts out, "Oh!!! He fell!!!"

Later, the NPC was found to have been smuggling items out of the museum and the removal of the supervisor would better cover his tracks and allow him to steal more stuff (and replace them with fakes). The PC was a "It-belongs-in-a-museum-type" and thwarted his former friend's plans, having him arrested and lying about being involved at all. 

 

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1 hour ago, DurosSpacer said:

Had you considered whether "interested parties" (Sith & Jedi) would still want that power?

Oh they will. I already mentioned bringing the plot line back in and that is how I would do it. The sith and Jedi will be searching for the party for similar reasons. Sith want the power and know they have it (players didn't kill all their assailants, left 1 alive. That guy can report to the rest of the Sith). The Jedi are going to want to ensure the players destroyed the source of power and if not would want them to share any knowledge they gleaned and debrief a bit since their acting master and group leader is now dead and the council doesn't know how that happened.

 

I'm not going to bring it back in just yet but we'll come back around to it eventually.

Edited by GroggyGolem

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