Osmond, Thrush, Qukki….Do not read this, this has heavy spoilers for the future. Seriously, I want this to be a surprise.
So to summarize: I am playing a heavily homebrewed campaign as a dm, I have 3 LV 5(hopefully at that point) players and I want 2 factions of badguys to unit and spring an evil plot to take control of a city while they stall for time and send 3 stolen artifacts through a portal and escape with their ill gotten gains. I want to make it plausible for a small force of powerfull badguys to be able to kick the players ass the first time (Stealing the artefacts that the players found), hold the cities defenders off, and have a chance to succeed while also not killing my players in the first encounter and not stacking the deck too much in the enemies' favor.
Without going too much into detail, I think I have the following problems:
- How to make sure they know what is going on without monologues and exposition dumps. How to give them clues before hand without tipping them off entirely.
- How to ambush them, not kill them, and allow them to escape the first time.
- How to convince the party to run away the first time.
- Advice on challenges for a small party of LV4-6 players and assoiciated allied DMNPCs (players are ok with my DMNPCs, I know what I am doing in that regard and what pitfalls to avoid there). How many and what type of allies should be available for them.
- How to explain that a group of allies survived the initial assault on the city without just Deux-Ex Machina saying they survived somehow and are still incredibly powerful.
- How to prevent the party from fucking up terribly and dying, while also giving the enemies a chance to win.
- How to mitigate the party from expending all of their resources.
- How to make this satisfying and epic.
- How to prevent party disruptions in my over all session plan while still giving them some choices and not railroading too much.
These are my main problems, and here is the situation in more detail:
Party is in the city of Stormpoint looking for artifacts that could create warforged and give them sentience. An enemy nation called the City Ships has been sending agents to track them down and find out what they know and steal artefacts. City Ships want the means to create warforged because they are low in numbers and want expendable soldiers. There is also a Dragon cult of Tiamat who want to find an artifact that can locate the remaining dragons (Dragons are almost extinct in my setting…Kinda…its complicated but not important rn), this faction has had little importance in the setting so far, but the party is aware and have fought them before. These 2 factions have allied without the party's knowledge and are preparing a complex plan to attack stormpoint, steal the artifacts, and gtfo.
Party is in the city of Stormpoint, an ancient city of dragonborns that was the center of ancient empires of Dragon Rider kingdoms, and used to be full of powerful aritfacts and magical secrets. In the main castle, called the Bastion, there is a structure called a LeyGate, an ancient portal making device that has been dormant for millenia (remember this for later). After a large war, an entire district was bombed and made magically radioactive from a highly destructive spell, this was around 500 years ago. Inside that district there are many dangers, but the special artifacts are hidden inside, and the party needs to traverse the dangerous wild magic perils and ancient undead guardians of this dead district.
While the players are going to have to survive the perils of the district and reach the final destination, the enemy party of agents, comprised of 2 recurring city ship villans and some new dragon cult allies, will follow. There they will find a special, crude, Leygate that can only go from there to the Bastion, or to a pocket dimension where the artifacts are located. Along the way if I can have them find cool artifacts and magical weapons to boost their Damage and survivability.
When they go to the pocket dimension, they will find a friendly warforged NPC who ive nicknamed Abby, who will answer questions about the Creation Forge, and the Soul Forge. The dragon artifact will be there as well. One thing to note is that depending on how they got here they might be hurt and have low resources (abilities and spellslots)
After some time the badguys will come through the leygate and try to kill them, revealing themselves. Ideally I want the party to flee and be teleported out of the pocket dimension, out of the Plane, and appear somewhere within the city, which will come after attack from a combined force of Wyvern Riders, dragon cultists, unthinking contructs that the City Ships found a long time ago, airships, and mercenary units from far off lands. The City Ships want to maintain plausible deniability with this and blame it on the Dragon Cult, while the Dragon Cult does not care.
Should the badguys succeed in getting the artifacts they will use the leygate to go to the Bastion, and use their arcane knowledge to quickly repair and jury rig the Leygate inside there to teleport out, this will take some time. Meanwhile, the wyvern riders, the mercs, and all other enemy forces will hold the bastion.
One thing to note is that most of the airships and city guard had left due to being deployed to combat giant incusrions up north, which the badguys took advantage of. And I am planing on there only being recruits left. There are some airships, but they might be destroyed in the initial blitz attack from the wyvern riders. Enemy Mercenary forces will hold the Bastion and enemy airships will rain down fire on those who enter.
Inside the Bastion, the main villains will be jury riggin and repairing the other Leygate to send their 3 Artifacts through, (Creation forge, Dragon Locator, and Soul Forge in that order). When the party inevitable reaches the Bastion I plan on there being a timed combat encounter where every minute the badguys send an artifact through while defending against the party. There are a couple wizards that are focused soley on getting the artifacts through, but can be killed to slow or negate the process.
Throughout the time in the city, all the way leading up to this battle, I am planning on introducing NPCs that might be of aid to them in this climactic battle. Good guy forces are as follows:
Party: Human battlemaster Fighter, Lizardfolk ranger, arcane trickster halfling rogue, and DMPC Monk (previously a player who left because IRL reasons)
Random NPCs that the party may befriend in the city: A Leonin Fighter, a Kobold Sapper, a Dragonborn city guard that has a crush on Fighter, The Dragonborn Govenor who might be taken hostage in the Bastion (Palading? Cleric? No class? Idk what to make him), and the construct ABBY (Forge Cleric? Order Cleric?). I have no real idea what to make of these guys.
A mysterious NPC who might be a young copper dragon in disguise. Cr7
An airship full of shirtless baddasses making jojo references (based on a previous session full of memes), currently trying to repair their state of the art airship.
Raw recruits of the Ironscale Legions, an elite fighting force of heavy infantry. A small platton of 20 or so individuals left behind due to inexperience. This Ironscale platoon is treated as a CR 11 Creature based on some calculations Ive made online, but they are essentiallu 20 NPCs acting as 1.
Bad guy forces are as follows:
Outside the Bastion:
Mercs: Mercenary Units of spearmen and crossbowmen. . These two "Creatures" are units of soldiers fighting together using a different homebrew. Each of these "Creatures" are CR 5 and CR3 respectively. These will ideally be killed by the Ironscales with player assistance. And 1-3 Airships, I dont know how many of these airships is too much.
Dragon Cult: Cultists (MonsterManual), Wyvern Riders(Homebrew), and a homebrew, 2 headed semi-undead dragon frankenstein monster (party has fought this before and won)
Small number of Warforged contructs, unthinking, unfeeling, and dangerous (CR1 homebrew), provided by the city ships.
Inside the Bastion:
City Ship Agents and recurring villains: Human Swashbuckler rogue (LV5), Human Fiend Warlock (LV5)
Dragon head cultist: Draconic Sorceror (Im debating what level to make him)
2x Cr1 Warforged NPC soldier
1x Cr3 Warforged NPC artillery construct.
Low level wizards that dont really fight unless provoked and are dealing with operating the LeyGate. I dont know how many and what level to make them (Maybe have them have tenser's floating disk for the large and heavy artifacts)
So, that was very long, I know, I am sorry, but I really wanted to make something epic and culminate this arc so the players can move on to bigger things while giving them a satisfying conclusion and epic battle, making them heroes of the nation. Thematically my goals are as follows:
-Really hype up the dastardy schemes of the City Ships and lay seeds for their main BBEG (An admiral of the city ships they dont know about yet who has planned this)
-Put the dragon cult front and center as a terrifying force of evil and set up some dragon related stories later.
-Make them care about the city and introduce warforged into this setting as a whole.
-Threaten them, challenge them, but dont tpk too hard, I want there to be tension, I dont want to kill my players outright but I want the badguys to have a chance of success and possible consequences for failure.
Do you have any advice on the questions I asked in the begining? Am I overdoing this? Will this plan for the session fall apart inmediately due to player choices? Is it cool? Do you guys have good art of roll20 city battlemaps?
- None Found
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