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smythe

a little help with a scenario gone off the rails, please ...

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Hey all,

 

Ran my first game in a year this last weekend.  As predicted, the party behaved unpredictably.  So, any suggestions for getting it back on track would be appreciated. 

 

Scenario:  Small town in the Reikwald.  Merchant find's ancient weapon in cave next to cache of warpstone.  One thing leads to another.  Soon, all of his family are mutants.  They discover ritual for summoning daemon (I loosely ripped this from the Eye For An Eye scenario).  For reasons too long to go into, they want to summon the daemon.  They need to sacrifice a demi-human while Morrsleib is full on mid-winter's night for the ritual to be successful and they have captured a couple of them (elves, that is).  Set up clues and rumors for PCs to follow to find the cave and prevent the sacrifice, 

 

Now it goes off the rails:   PCs roll into town seeking shelter in the middle of blizzard the day before mid-winter.  One sees the cart holding the heavily manacled elves pull through town.  Instead of pumping the innkeep and patrons for information and then bedding down for the night they decide that these elves cannot be criminals and must be saved.  Stat.   Instead of bedding down for the night, they charge out into the blizzard to the merchant's house (after doing some small amount of innkeep-questioning).  Two PCs break into the basement while the dwarf knocks on the front door and tries to distract the merchant plus family.  The two other PCs, via some amazing rolls, manage to free the elves but (due to banes) alert the household to their presence.  Shenanigans occur and PCs plus captive elves escape but dwarf is captured.  Gaming session ends on cliff hanger.

 

So, I want to get the dwarf back into play ASAP so that the player running him is not bored out of his shorts.  Otherwise, I would continue the scenario as before because a dwarf works just as well in the ritual as an elf.  Now that things went to pot, I've decided that only an elf will do for the ritual and am thinking about perhaps setting up a hostage exchange scenario either in town square or at the merchant's house or at the inn. 

 

Problems:

1) The rest of the town believes that the elves are criminals and will be inclined to act against the PCs (who really don't know if the elves are innocent are not) once it is shown that the PCs broke into the merchant's house to free the prisoners.

2) There is the worst ice-storm / blizzard of recent memory going on outside.

3) The previously captive elves are pretty beat up and near death (a third one died of exposure earlier)

4) I am playing with guys who are used to D&D and seem to have an inflated sense of how badass their characters are versus ordinary folk and so, even in a hostage exchange situation, may be tempted to be frikkin' retarded.

5) The dwarf had been drugged and placed in heavy chain manacles on feet and hands.  Him escaping by himself seems rather unlikely.

 

Suggestions?  If y'all have any imaginative suggestions for this predicament, I'd appreciate it.  Remember, I want the dwarf to get back with the party ASAP because being a hostage for an entire gaming session kind of sucks ... even if he did cause it to happen to himself.

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

Smythe

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Tricky, if I were the merchants I'd probably assume that the party storming in and saving the elves knew about their mutations and the ritual. So I'd probably kill the dwarf and start spreading rumors about the elves having accomplices in the town and offer a big reward to anyone who can find the elves and/or the party.

If you don't want to kill the dwarf dead you can have the merchant family dryg him and toss him into a river, assuming he will drown/freeze to death. Let the dwarf run the risk of contracting a desease (like blacklegge) and fatuigue him severely but let him float onto shore and survive the river (barely). This can happen early on in the session so that the party may be re-united. Otherwise, let the dwarf player create a new character (maybe he can even play one of the elves who wants to find out why he/she was kidnapped?)

If you don't want the entire town to hate the PC's, let the merchant family keep quiet about the incident, wanting to find the elves and PC's on their own so that people don't come and poke around in their business (since they risk exposure as mutants/chaos cultists). LEt the PC's know that the elves are considered criminals, and let one of the elves suggest that the elves could flee out into the forest (so that they can be re-captured by the merchant). Let the elves beg the PC's to find out why they were kidnapped and you might just be on track again. ;)

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 A few ideas:

 

There could be a rescue-party coming for the elves. Maybe some badass sneaking assassines who only find the dwarf, but free him to question him about their relatives' whereabouts.

 

You could then stage a fight of elves and pcs against the villagers to escape and then afterwards make one of the elves tell about what she/ he heard about a ritual.

 

Or you could feed the dwarf with information, things he saw or heard, before he is rescued by the elves.

 

The blizzard could very well calm down or the elves use their wilderness skills to build a shelter outside the village.

 

 

Another approach would be to not interfere much and let the party find out how to rescue the dwarf. The dwarf-player could play an npc for this story part. So he actively helps on the job. Maybe even give him an elf of the rescued bunch (who maybe is a good thief or other relevant class that is needed), who could very well help, but could have to argue against it with the rest of the pcs, if you feel mean... (So basically he would play against himself...)

 

 

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I'd have the dwarf interact with the merchant family, in which one is having a guilt trip. Have the dwarf hear him mumble "We shouldn't be doing this, but farther says so, but it's wrong, etc..."

Give him a chance to try'n convince him/her to release him, and would also include a large element of finding out what he's talking about?

The PC's shouldn't suspect Chaos Involvement yet, so play to what they suspect. If they suspect the merchants want to sell the elves as slaves, or whatever, use that.

Needs some work...

 

But no matter what, remember that Warhammer is (in my opinion) not about winning, it's about not loosing to much, and at best survive.

It's quite a different way of playing, especially for people coming from D&D. It doesn't take a lot of brains to see, that with all those diseases, mutations, severe wounds etc... that this game is not going to end pretty for the PC's.

Don't kill PC's, just to kill them, but also don't go out of your way to "save"/protect PC's doing reckless stupid stuff.

I liked the disease idea, and would make the dwarf work damned hard to escape, and even so punish him with risk of contracting disease (lying in a cold wet cellar), or perhaps going insane from seeing stuff he shouldn't be seeing (so dump fatigue/stress on him!!!).

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First, I hope the dwarf is thoroughly depressed - getting captured rescuing elfs of all things, if I die this way the ancestors will never smile upon my soul.

Roll forward, don't deny what dice have won or lost, but twist the heck out of it, etc. 

One question - do the now-freed elfs know what was up?  Can they tell PC's truth?  (These merchants must be tough customers if they captured three elfs, perhaps the elfs are drugged with some elf-bane substance)

Assuming the rest of town - is not in on it, believed the efls were criminals of some sort, this does make the merchants now panicked - they are likely to think plan blown and it's all gone wrong.

Find the next point where everyone can be active and drive to it fast.

I would skip narrowing the required sacrifice, let a dwarf do (of course a dwarf is worth 3 elfs, take pride in that player), and flash forward to the merchants rushing to site of ritual (the cave?) to complete sacrifice - perhaps having raised an alarm in town that bandits in cahoots with evil elfs have freed them and are on prowl. 

Get to a fight ASAP where the active heroes can free the dwarf so he can rejoin them, in meantime perhaps he can use social actions etc. to aid in fight/rally his friends etc.  Think the Eye for Eye battle at the ritual scene, but give heroes chance to interrupt sacrifice.

I would encourage player creativity by saying to dwarf player - if you sacrifice a fortune die, they have not reckoned with dwarf vigour when tying your bonds, you can roll to break free each round (Hard test).  Otherwise they manacled you and you can't break free. (it's useful to get players to realize they can buy narrative shifts in things, opportunities with fortune dice trade ins per GMs Toolkit).

The true "warhammer" ending is that the heroes defeat the cultists but in eyes of town they murdered merchants and freed criminals and they must flee.

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Valvorik, Spivo, Socratim, K7e9:

 

Thanks very much for your thoughtful responses.  Y'all have given me a lot more to think about.  I'll see about posting an update to this thread detailing how the PCs made out.

 

-smythe

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