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Help with a campaign 
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Post Help with a campaign
I'm looking for a few interesting ideas to help me with my campaign.

Brief Summary: This campaign is a weekly Bronze Age fantasy campaign that has been going strong for about a year and a half. I try to keep the game as open as possible in terms of player choice (i.e. sandbox style) as this is what most of my players (and I) prefer. But I also have players who really like to be railroaded, too, so I suppose in practice the game lies somewhere in between. Since nearly the beginning, the PCs have been following one main story thread. This thread has taken them on a very long journey far out of their comfort zone, but it has also been a thrilling ride. They've followed up on a lot of my side plot hooks, but they've also left a few unexplored and some only half dealt with. They are now coming near to a critical juncture in their main plot thread. At this juncture, I would like to present them with a number of options on how to deal with it (I think 5 should be sufficient). My problem is I haven't come up with 5 options yet, and generating a few ideas is what I'd like help with.

Main Plot Thread: Early in the campaign, back in their homeland, One of our PCs was exposed to a foreigner from the far south. This man died in the player's arms while he was trying to save his life. The player felt a burning sensation on his shoulder after this and discovered a strange tattoo-like mark. They have been trying to figure out what this tattoo is from the beginning and this is what has led them on this long trail. They so far know that the tattoos transfer on death and that only certain people can receive them - people of certain cultural heritage. They know these tattoos are somehow associated with a God (or possibly a Demon - the distinction is very blurry in our game world since most people who worship demons think they are gods, and our PCs are firmly of the belief that all Gods left the world long ago and so anyone who claims to worship one must be worshipping a demon) and that the culture that worships this particular God comes from the deep south.
The tattoo-lie marks can be used like magical runes and each one conveys a certain specific magical power to the bearer. They also know that, in the distant past, the people of this culture who bore these marks hunted one another in a dangerous game to try and gain more power by killing others and having the marks tranferred to themselves. They do not know if this still happens, but they suspect it does because the PC who has the marks was once hunted himself for them, but turned the table on his attacker. They are now approaching the point where all will be revealed to them.

When they finally reach their destination they surely find someone who can tell them all that is known about these marks, the people that bear them, and something of the God they are associated with. At that point I can foresee several choices. They might
a) choose to join in the game themselves and become magical power brokers in the name of this God (Demon?)
b) choose to return to their homeland and spend the rest of their lives in hiding.
c) try to get the marks removed and to remove themselves from the game altogether.

Of course, they always find ways to surprise me, but I think they will go for choice (c)

If they do, I will surely try to find some options for mark removal. I would like to geve them 3 possible leads to follow up. Some or all of these leads may work, some might not. All should be extremely risky.

What occurs to me off the bat is that if they could somehow contrive to kill the PC in question. The Tattoos will magically dissipate from a dead person, or transfer to another who is in physical contact with them. By killing the PC, the tattoos would leave. The PC could then be ressurected, now tattooless, and be on their way. The catch here is that their are no known Gods in this world, and hence no ressurection spells. So coming up with ways to acheive this will be complicated, and probably more nefarious than they would like, perhaps involving some necromantic experiment or a powerful Demon. They have already encountered a demon who might acheive this - they raided it's temple about 6 months ago, stirred up a hornet's nest, and then fled. Will they have the balls to go back there? I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they realise this is an option (assuming they do). So that's option 1 for removal. Option 2 would be to have them hunt out a nefarious necromancer to see what he could do - very risky since the PC might end up undead, as opposed to ressurected.

My Question: What other options are there for removing a magical tattoo that some God or Demon put there? Answers that put the PCs in a morally difficult situation are especially looked for.

Thalaba

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Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:53 pm
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Post Re: Help with a campaign
Since you mentioned the Demon thing, you could run with that and have the payment the Demon request be something vile. I suggest slaughtering an orphanage (make sure to bring in pictures of children for that session), or specifically looking for a host that will allow the Demon to better assert itself into the world. Of course this host will need to be an innocent child. Make sure to point out the social reprecussions of doing such, and maybe have the Demon mark them in some way so everyone with basic knowledge of such things will know that they bargined with a Demon.


As a side note I only suggest going after children because it seems to be a universal faux pas (forgive my spelling if this is incorrect). Some poeple would have no problem slaughtering puppies, kittens, holy men, or even woman, but as a whole taking the same action against a child especially if you point out that they kid is looking up at them in awe and wonder, will stop the person in their tracks.


Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:10 am
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Post Re: Help with a campaign
You could have the players go on a quest for a greater artifact that has the power to return the gods to this plane. As a reward for pulling it off the diety would then remove the mark and offer them postions in thier holy army for the coming war against the demons occupying this plane.

You could have a chosen one born in a local village who has the power to absorb the marks by touch without the host needing to die. Once he has absorbed all the marks he ascends to avatrhood, and the players then can chose to assist the chosen one or combat his attempt to rule the plane.

Thats all I got for now.
Good luck. :D

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Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:35 am
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Post Re: Help with a campaign
Thanks very much for the replies!

@MrLoki: The demon thing is an option, but demons in this world don't work quite like what you might think. They aren't summoned up and negotiated with - instead they are more like anything from tangible monsters to minor godlings/powerful spirits. I would be possible, though, to get wind of a demon sitting on some distant throne and try to negotiate with him. I don't think I would allow Demons to actually have the power of resurrection, but they might have something they once stole from a god, or some not-quite-resurrection-but-almost power (like reincarnation?), and/or they might lie about their abilities to string someone along.

I don't think the demon would ask them to slaughter an orphanage, though. That would be too outright evil and I'm fairly sure the Players wouln't take that option. But a single child, yes, that might work. To make it morally ambiguous, though, the child would have to volunteer to be killed. They won't stoop to killing an innocent for personal gain, but if that innocent was a willing participant, well, no I can foresee heated debate within the party, and that's what this campaign is all about.

@Ulthar: Yes, a quest to bring the Gods back would certainly be in keeping with the campaign. My only issue with it is that it will extend the campaign by quite a lot as I think it would be a big undertaking. However, it is exactly the kind of thing the players might latch onto, so this is certainly a possibility I hadn't really thought of, so I had better plan ahead a little in case they suggest it as a course of action.

The idea of a chosen one who can absorb the marks without killing the host is a good one, but it runs a little too much at odds with what the marks really are. I won't go into detail here, but I don't think I can use that idea as presented. However, it possibly could be paired up with MrLoki's demon suggestion. What if a demon-prince offered to absorb the marks himself using some technique he had learned. Would the PCs be willing to pursue this avenue knowing that a Demon would inherit the power?


I thought of a few other brain teasers myself:
1. What if a mark bearer were to be turned to stone (as in by a Gorgon). Would they be dead? Would the marks leave? Could they be brought back?
2. Could a poison or other drug be induced to bring the player to the edge of death, or to simulate death? The story 'The Charnal God' by Clark Ashton Smith made me think of this.
3. Could the player's spirit be made to switch bodies with another person and, if it could, would the marks stay behind or would they transfer with the spirit?

Also, I didn't mention before, but the setting has a very South Asian or Vedic mythological feel to it, at this point, and also a Howardesque vibe.

Thalaba

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Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:09 pm
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