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msherman
Crimson Coil Cultist
(12/24/03 6:44 am)
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Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Three of the four characters in my game currently have interesting ongoing side plots:
- The cleric of pelor has his own hallowed shrine within the dwarven temple, and just beat a 20 year prison term in Verbobonc for selling cursed items.
- The fighter/rogue/shadowdancer has spent his entire career working on improving a bastard sword with an interesting story behind it, and has just been made a Knight of the Hart in Furyondy, and given an equally interesting shield to go along with it.
- The rogue/wizard/assassin constantly flirts with evil, having survived the Demonstone ordeal with his conscience not quite intact, and is the 'target pc' in Thicker Than Water, which I'm integrating into the RTTTOEE campaign (and will result in a meeting with The Third in the final battle, and a fight for the Air Binder).

The fourth character is a big beefy Barbarian (with a few levels of Sorcerer). She really shines in the big fights, with her improved critical and great cleave often wiping out big swaths of enemies per round, and she often seems pretty bored with the RP-intensive sessions. The only real spotlight time she's gotten in the entire game was when they first got to the earth temple, she was challenged to single combat with the Swordmaster. Her backstory is pretty thin (her tribe was slaughtered by orcs, and the party helped rescue her), but it does have one good plot hook in it: she had a 3 year old daughter who was killed by those orcs. I've already tugged on that hook once, when the party was tempted by a Glabrezu, she was offered her daughter back alive.

So, I'd really appreciate any suggestions for any side plots or other devices to give her character some more spotlight time in the RP, instead of just in the big fights.

Cordo Crowfoot
Deathmantle Cultist
(12/24/03 6:59 am)
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Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
You could always introduce a Newt-like child... a slave kept in the other fane or one of the outer temples that (hopefully) brings to life her dormant maternal insticts.

msherman
Crimson Coil Cultist
(12/24/03 7:08 am)
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Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Hey, thanks, Cordo. That's a great idea, and it actually fits in really nice with my plans for the next session. The PCs will be fighting their way in via the air door, and searching for Varachan (he told them to take the air door and turn right to find him, and he'll meet them in the hall outside his room). Then, when they're inside his room, Thrommel will arrive, and Varachan will have to flee the Fane, as Thrommel's discovered his complicity with the party; this will result in a running fight to escape back to the Air Door (which Thrommel can't exit, due to both the daytime sun and the Stalagos, at least IMC).

I'll give Varachan a slave girl, maybe 6 years old. Varachan (who's still Evil IMC, just not an insane follower of Tharizdun any more), will of course want to abandon the child in the fane; he has more important things to worry about. Shalathal will likely try to rescue the child, and that'll introduce some fun tension between the party and Varachan.

Cordo Crowfoot
Deathmantle Cultist
(12/24/03 7:13 am)
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Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Or V could even try to use the girl as a bargaining chip... Offering her to Thrommel in front of the PCs.

msherman
Crimson Coil Cultist
(12/24/03 8:44 am)
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Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Oooh, that's a nice trick. I like it. Of course, Thrommel will turn it down; he's far too machiavellian to turn down the huge amount of political capital he'd gain by handing a traiterous Varachan _and_ the PCs over to Hedrack. But simply hearing Varachan make the offer should really mess with the party's heads.

Caedrel
Crimson Coil Cultist
(12/28/03 4:08 pm)
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ezSupporter
Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Fantastic ideas - just thought I'd toss in something from my own experience, though, where I've tried to give a couple of different hooks (unsuccessfully) for a new player who wasn't all that interested in them.

She's now retired from our group for the rest of Return, and it's clear that such a long campaign (and a sporadic one at that) wasn't holding her interest enough. She was new to D&D and playing it because she likes fantasy novels and her husband is a keen D&D fan. I wonder if I didn't put too much pressure on her trying to "involve" her PC in the story when all she wanted was just to sit back, have some fun, and not feel too guilty if she decided to do something else on any given Saturday night.

You've got a much better feel for the people in your group than I do, but this was something I only realised after she left, despite having read Robin D. Laws' guide about the "casual gamer"...

errant42
Tolling Bell Cultist
(12/28/03 11:43 pm)
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Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Those are some great ideas! Man I love this board!

I love the idea of Varachan still being evil, and it hadn't even occurred to me. And the plot hook about the kid is great too, although I'm already kinda making that available to the party-- IMC, Spugnoir was replaced instead of Jaroo. Renne, his (orphaned) daughter, is a Wiz 0 [apprentice-level] who is going to help expose and fight the doppelganger, and might take up with the party if they are willing to protect her until she gets a little experience.

In any case, I thought I'd deposit my two cents. A good plot hook for someone who might not be so excited about the RP angle is the optional kind. Let her (I'm assuming a female player) decide if she takes the bait, or if she doesn't want to get "that involved." No pressure, just an opportunity. That said, the orphanned kid is perfect-- if the PC doesn't want to take care of her, they can just drop her off at the nearest church.

I'd also give her more chances to do what she does best-- to shine in a combat situation. If she had fun facing off against the Swordmaster, give her the chance to do something similar (but not identical). Set up a few battles so that her abilities are employed and emphasized. Have her gain a reputation as a powerful warrior, to the point that most people are intimidated by her, and some seek to challenge her for the prestige (and do so at inconvenient times). That's all some players want-- is to feel like their character is a badass.

msherman
Crimson Coil Cultist
(12/29/03 7:34 am)
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Re: Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian?
Thanks for the help, folks.

About Varachan: in my game, he's Neutral Evil, and really just looking out for number one. In a past life, he was a Cleric of Iuz, sent to infiltrate the ToAC when Hedrack was sent to the ToEE. He had been a willing convert to Tharizdun for many years, thus losing his powers from Iuz. When he became aware of the full extent of the doomdreamer's plans, he snapped out of it, realizing that the end of the world didn't really help his life plans out all that much. He's been watching and waiting for a group of Good adventurers to strike at the ToAC who seemed strong enough for him to be able to help along to defeat the Doomdreamers before it's too late. This group wouldn't have been his first choice, they seem like such bumbling idiots, but time is of the essence. I figure I'll give the party's cleric of pelor a chance to convert Varachan, but he'll have to work very hard at it RP-wise, and if he does, even after Attonement (which will cost 500xp), Varachan will be out of commission for quite a while retraining in the worship of Pelor (4 months, using the 1m+1w/lvl guideline from Requiem for a God).

Errant, it's funny you should mention Renne; this character's backstory about the dead daughter didn't come to light until I offhandedly mentioned to the party that Renne had died in the elemental disasters (floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and fires) that struck Hommlet when Nierethi stole Lareth's destiny and the world changed to 3.5. Up until that point, the player had been keeping this nugget of RP gold to herself; this was her first real live roleplaying campaign, previously she'd only played CRPGs or live one-off games, and she didn't know that the DM was supposed to be in on all the nifty backstory secrets to make them work out well with the plot. She (the character) got into a real funk over Renne's death, which I misinterpreted as the player getting into a funk over being bored by a heavy RP session, and hillarity ensued. :)

As for the 'optional' nature of the hook, that's exactly what I was planning to do with this one. The child is there, and Varachan plans to leave her with the vampire. They don't even need to save her; there's no in-game reason to do so, other than the obvious moral ones. If they do save her, it'll be very easy to simply send her off to a church orphanage, and be done with it; I'll give them a little XP reward for that, and be done with it. But the RP hook is there for the Barbarian if she wants it.

As for giving her chances to shine in semi-solo fights, I've been doing that, too. Just last session, the party raided the Arena, to rescue Mereclar (who helped the party after they spared his life when they attacked the west gate). He was scheduled to fight his own Howler, and the Barbarian ended up getting bitten by the huge beast while standing right at the edge of the ledge, stuck on a quill, and dragged down into the pit with it. She seemed to enjoy that (well, execept for the part where I rolled 7 dice of damage for bite+2 quills+falling...) Sadly, the meddling Cleric ended up finishing the beast off with a Flame Strike before she got a real taste of arena fighting. :)

Edited by: msherman at: 12/29/03 7:47 am
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