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Thread: Help with plot
06-16-2005, 09:56 PM #1
Hi, in my campaign a scenerio calls for somebody "Getting rid of" High Mage Aelies and the pc's over many adventures will be given opportunities to investigate and uncover the plot.
Now, the primary villian who would do such a thing is an epic Ftr/Wiz/Rog with a lot of Charisma. His MO is appearing very very good in public, but in the background forgeing an empire mainly through assassination and charasmatic power plays. He's about 37th lvl and prestiged out the wazoo, but only up to lvl 7 in wiz. His underlings consist of his daughter who is a lvl 30 Ftr/Rog, a lvl 16 deathknight, a lvl 14 lich, a lvl 12 ancient dead priest, and a lvl 9 vampire theif. (obviously you see the progression of villans to be uncovered).
Now, my big question is even with this support, how does he "Disappear" a lvl 22ish wizard (thats Aelies in my campaign) and do it silently and sneaky? I can look at the numbers and realize it would happen, but for the life of me I can't imagine the details. It would seem that a spellcaster that can cast 9th lvl spells would be almost all knowing, all connected, and prepared for almost anything. I don't even know if the villian will kill him or just imprison him, or braindamage, soul capture, or whatnot. To me having killed a mega-mage would almost be worse than imprisoning him. People of that power magnitude would certainly have contingencies and ways to strike back from the dead. I mean some one could just speak to the dead and find out what happened right? It would almost be better to drain him to 1 int and make him your gardener, right?
but back to the question, how do I do it? and how do I do it so it will be believable and I won't have PC's saying "well why didn't he just" and not have an answer for them.
Oh, and about the levels of the villians and such, I'm not giving the whole breakdown because I'm trying to keep this reletively short and primarily convey the flavour and general capability.
Thanks in advance everyone. I hope to come up with something really clever. Most of the npc's involved in this scenerio have wis and int scores well above 18 and I'm pretty sure mine in real life as a DM are probably only 14 at best. :lol:
06-17-2005, 05:37 AM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2002
- New Haven, CT
Well, since HMA is supposed to be the most powerful regent in Anuire, and almost all Cerelia, the fact that you have these demi-god characters running around shows to me you have heavily modded the "low power, low level" feel of BR. Since you've done that, I have to say it's all out the window as to what to do.
Basically, it's your world, your campaign, your decisions. [forgive the preachy sound if any.] If you say no one notices HMA is gone, they don't notice. After all, he is a fairly reclusive wizard.
But then again, anyone taking him on in his home territory ought to expect a gazillion magical traps. Don't be surprised if half the Erebannien burns down during the fight to kill HMA.
06-17-2005, 06:22 AM #3
Forgive me, Ausrick, but Benjamin is right: you have gone a little wild on this thing...
First of all, I can think of very few non-awnsheglien characters that should ever reach epic levels, even elves, and hear you are, presenting us with an epic character (no stats) with his 30th-level daughter (consequently, and with her being his underling, we can safely assume he is much more powerful than that); not to mention the fact that, aside from not being sure you can even have a 14th-level lich (I think you need more levels than that!, I cannot see how a lich should be an underling of these two...
If you care to give out more details, I would be happy to give you a more rounded opinion, maybe with less criticism as well!
06-17-2005, 07:59 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2005
Hmmm for suggestions.
1. I would sincerly, and pleadingly ask that you reduce all the levels of the bad guys by about half (37th level? Essssshhhh) but as its your campaign its your choice.
2. How about instead of wiz/rouge/fighter you make him sorcerer/rouge since his charisma is high already, putting sorcerer there in place of wizard reduces critical stats (though Inteligance is still a high demand stat), and adds to belivability factor while descreasing the "He can do anything he wants factor."
3. Drop the Templates, baring charming/commanding I have yet to see a reasonable plot explination for a lich following a living master same with a vampire. Both those characters work as a mid level (9th level thief) and high mid level/high level (14th level wizard) challenge for your players.
4. Drop the priest of give us an idea of what an Ancient Dead Priest is doing working for Mr. Uber (for lack of a better name)
Now onto what you asked for help with.
1. High level mages tend to be paranoid but at the same conceited beyond all get out. The paranoia is the level of power they weild and the enemies they make in getting to that point.
2. Having high level spells does not a all powerful all knowing being make.
3. No fortress is fail proof (hence a good defense is a better offense, it is easier to take things than to keep them).
Additional note: Speak with dead answers Yes or No questions with no supparlitive information, additionally it only answers what the person knows (a posied knife in the back or throat cutting from behind will yield little.)
With a mage like HMA the important consideration is to not assault on his home turf (wherever his residance is), as this gives him an advantage
Step two in taking out a wizard is to figure out their study pattern, once you establish the set time they study for new spells (and are thusly without previously memorized spells or the new ones), you plot a way to get him to be outside his tower for a day (in case of overwhelming paranoia about being defenseless)
Step Three: Magic Item Neutralization, whether you have a rock with AMF on it (kinda cheesy but works) or a wand of negation or something else, you must have a way to stop his magic items.
A wizard (even high level ones) without magic are sitting ducks to mid-to midhigh level fighting type.
Set something up within those parameters and his dissapearance can be sneaky.
Option 2: Brute Force.
Mages, even high level ones, have limited magic if you send enough cannon fodder at them they run out of spells and devices and then you strike.
Subtle this is not, sneaky this is not. Works though.
Both these options fail if HMA has powerful friends (but as a recluse this isn't likely.)Dar-dar
06-17-2005, 09:50 AM #5
- Join Date
- Nov 2001
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
Sounds like a Birth-Realms game to me (pardon the sarcasm).
Ancient dead priest? A prestige class I assume. I'm having trouble associating it with a BR deity though (only Kreisha comes to mind, even though Nesire would have more applicability but wouldn't support evil - especially undead styled evil). I also personnaly favor only a single prestige class per character (Iknow its not in the rules but it makes more sense to me to have a character devote so much of himself to concept of prestige class he pretty much doesn't have the dedication to another one, IMO).
I think Darrius gave you some good ideas.
Another way would be to draw somethig from the novel Shadow Stone and link HMA to someone as a close personal friend (even though the 2nd ed BR material didn't give the impression he really had any). Threatening this character would draw out HMA and once he has been drawn away from his home turf it is a whole lot easier to handle.
Another possibility is the Shadow World. Using the teleport/dimensional spells go through the Shadow World concept - if HMA has sustained sufficient damage/threat he might acually have to leave quickly. This could cause him to be trapped (or otherwise occupied) in the Shadow World for a period of time. His dissapearance shouldn't necessarily require his death should it, perhaps only his vacancy from Aebrynnis would work.Duane Eggert
06-17-2005, 01:18 PM #6
If it is meant to be a sneaky disappearance, then why do your PCs have to know at all? Make Aelis vanish, die, whatever, and then slowly introduce the idea that he is missing. Perhaps strange things start happening in the Erebannien, people disappearing, monsters and undead appearing, and no sign of Aelies. Eventually someone is sent to find out what has happened and this could be where the PCs come in. They search the Erebannien, find Aelies' home (which I have always places in the Storm Tower in Roesone) and find evidence of a struggle and have to work out what has happened.
If the PCs aren't present at the combat, it doesn't really matter who the baddies get rid of him, toss him in a cage in the Shadow World and make the PCs find and rescue him, they don't need to know how it was done, just that it happened. That Aelies was defeated should give them some sort of idea of what they are up against, especially if you play up the idea of Aelies being the most powerful wizard around etc.Let me claim your Birthright!!
06-17-2005, 01:54 PM #7
Thanks everyone. and about Mr. Uber, I should have given it more thought, I wanted someone who would be a problem for the PC's for virtually almost ever (Like the Gorgon wouldn't be enough, right?), and btw he is an awnshe.
I started from the idea that I wanted someone and his team of close associates to covet the power of HMA, and go for his sources the quietest way, taking him out of the picture, then maybe having a forced investiture, whatnot. So I hit my villan closet of past campaigns and assembled a team based on ascending order of CR and difficulty to discover. Next I wanted him to set his sights on gradually taking over things. Him being rather charismatic I wanted him to present him self well, being rather deceptive. . . shaking hands, kissing babies, building orphanages, and generally lulling the populace into liking him, thus causing problems for the PC's. They might even trust him too and do jobs for him until as time unfolds they might witness actions that might get them to start asking questions. It is at this point that I run into the problems that I was asking about and got some good feedback on from you all. The last thing I want is for a PC to say "Come on DM, you know that if that happened half the Erbannien would have burned down!"
About the levels, those were mostly my excuse of thinking what could possibly take HMA down. I thought it would have to be someone overwhelmingly powerful to work. That is just my own shortcomings of perception.
Basic backstory is about 9 years ago when I first got into birthright as a player, my DM was a little monty-haul and quite a bit vague. I played a second edition character up to about 12/12/12 ftr/mage/theif, bloodline of Azrai. took over quite a bit of stuff. I would say the downfall was that that DM let me do stuff just because the dice said I could, and no backstory as to how it actually happened or what it looked like. The campaign eventually exploded.
My initial thoughts on the equation were:
Someone to neutralize HMA = <Powerful Villan
Reconstituted overpowered PC from back in the day = Powerful Villan
translate 12/12/12 2nd edition directly to 3rd, add lvl for scion.
go to closet for evil underlings.
And then I looked at what I had and saw that I still didn't know how it could feasibly go down and that there were a lot of holes.
So I went to you guys. and I assumed that quite possibly my initial thoughts were flawed, so scrapping/reworking the villans is not going to ruin my day.
So by all means criticize on, and preach on. I appreciate it.
The only true given I have in this story sofar is that I want a charismatic villan to move in on southeastern anuire, and he is so deceptive that he's not even recognized as a villan at first, and he neutralizes the threat of HMA because 1)he covets the sources, and 2)when you're trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the surrounding nations, the last thing you need is a powerful wizard in your backyard. He is to be an Awnsheghlien or blooded from Azrai but he is good at masquerading as a saviour. And not an existing one, because my players read too many of the printed campaign materials.
So now I bring it on the table to you guys, because everyone here seems very thoughtful and forthcoming, perceptive, creative, and knowledgable.
Thanks already for the help you've given me and I hope this post explains better than the first one where I'm coming from on this.
Thanks and take care,
06-17-2005, 02:05 PM #8
about your question on what types of questions they will ask. Knowing them from past experiences some possible examples would be.
was the area trapped
were the trapps bypassed
were some left untriggered
where was the possible entrance from
were there any footprints
was there any blood? blood spray patterns, about how much blood and in what rooms, pools of blood.
signs of forced entry
any broken items/weapons/magic devises.
any stray arrows
anything out of place, missing.
any guess from angles/tragectories the number of assailants.
and probably a bunch I can't think of.
2 out of my 6 players watch way too much Court TV, Law and Order, and CSI.
and one thing I'm trying to do with this campaign that I feel I've failed at in past campaigns is keeping the believability high, so I want to cover as many bases that I can.
And thanks Raesene, you asked a good question and layed out a good basic flow of events.
Thanks and take care,
06-17-2005, 08:54 PM #9
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
One point. Being a half elf wizard, and protector of the Erbanien, it is highly unlikely that he would ever threaten the Erbanien. therefore he wouldn't have a bunch of fireball spells, and would not have any contingency plans that involve harming the forest. It is also a way to draw him out. The entire Erbanien may be his home, but his wizard tower is probably where he spends most of his time, and is best defended in. A spot a province away, may leave him at a disadvantage, or at least an attacker with a much smaller disadvantage.Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
06-18-2005, 02:36 AM #10
- Join Date
- Oct 2004
- Blackgate, Danigau
A few random thoughts:
First, to take out a lone wizard a well connected leader with a group/organization need not even be higher level than the wizard. As a general rule it is much easier to destroy than protect or build. If you know your target well, exploiting his weaknesses instead of attacking his strengths can make the conflict easier. Some weaknesses of wizzies:
Not great fort save [use poison that drops INT=lose higher level spells]
limited spells per day [numbers and waves of attackers]
very dependent upon spell selection [can use powerful divination, attack, defense, scrying, etc but not all on the same day....the unexpected can quickly catch a wizard unprepared]
low HP [a single decent fighter can kill in a few rounds]
Spellbook [fragile and important]
magic dependent [anti-magic zones, many anti-mage monsters steal spell energy...]
Consider that your villians follow about the same rules at the PCs. Think about how did they get such high levels? Going from even 20th to 21st level takes alot of EXP. Doing the deeds that earn that EXP will make you very famous. Even if you keep your name secret, people will know that someone just killed a dozen important awnies.
Consider instead the parrallel growth model of villany. In this, the villians start just a little above the players in the begining of the campaign. But as the players are doing adventurous things and leveling up, so are the villians. The players might pass one villain in levels or get passed by some new apprentice villain. As the players are the adventuring heros they will probably tend to grow a bit faster than the villians, slowly eating their way up the cabal.
This kind of growth is more flexible than just static villians created at the begining of the campaign. If the players start at lvl 1 and you already have a 37th level villain, you have kind of planned way to far ahead. Dont set your villians in stone. You and your players might get distracted and go adventure for a while outside the region. The levels they gained might have put them above their next rival. When they come back to the main plot, recalibrate the villian they meet next to be a suitable challenge. In the 20 years game time, and several years playing time while your players level up, are your villains just sitting on their hands?
Your main villian seems similar to Lex Luthor or Senator Palpatine. A two faced weaver of plots. As such, any assaination of Aelis is unlikely to be just a straightforward battle. Your main villian, ill call him Lex instead of Mr. Uber, will likely be a leading citizen/hero of the region before the attack. Some guild or law holdings would do nicely. Maybe he is known as a freind of the Erbannian rangers cuz he helped take care of some logging bandits [that he had controlled]. While Aelis is relusive, he might view Lex in a good light.
I think Lex Luthor is a good analogy for your villain. I think we will all agree that he is much lower level than Superman. But because he was smart, had resources and followers, and planned carefully, he again and again was able to threaten Superman. The only reason most of his plans failed so often was because Superman was the super-hero who sold the comics. So killing Superman [HMA] might include:
a kryptonite rock [a realm spell that creates an anti-magic bubble]
an intricate mechanical trap [dimensional anchor, traps, etc]
a military complex [a dungeon in which the bubble is placed]
ninjas [rogues with poison weapons that lower INT or CON]
Lois Lane in peril [some friend of HMA who has been kidnapped]
the killing blow [Lex Luthor, and most movie villians, always forgot this, but a complicated over thought trap actuall needs something that will kill the hero in a quick fashion....id suggest a fighter about lvl 8]
As a puller of strings with a good and an evil persona, your arch-villian need not actually be any higher level than your players, much less HMA.
Resist Monty-Haul. Just dont do it. Low-level grit is alot of the flavor of BR, IMO. Once you get above 15th lvl players ask, why are there armies, why do i care about ruling provinces or cities? I can single-handedly kill hundreds of lvl 1 humans or goblins. I can assainate any regent in the published material with ease.
If you are trying more for realism or believability, it kind of breaks down at even moderate levels in the BR world. New challenges from the shadow world, the gorgon, or aduria can keep the game lively. But a party of 20th level in Anuire make everyone else in the region look like ants. Keeping such high levels consitent and playable is why FR has every bartender a retired 20th level paladin.
Because even a low level group could kill HMA if they plan a bad day for him, you can keep your villains and players down in the sweet zone of levels.
I would echo Raesene and say, dont worry too much about the details of the battle. Attacking HMA at his home would be foolhardy unless one of the villians was his apprentice or maid. Getting HMA out of the house and into a well-laid trap/ambush is entirely plausible. Use thinking about how to take on HMA as an interesting brainstorm not a worry. From my above analysis Ive already added some interesting elements to the mix [a source for Lex, an anti-magic bubble realm spell, a team of poison using rogue/ninjas, a goodguy backstory for Lex, etc...]
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