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Content of the article: "BBEG vs BBEG?"

I would like some advice about a campaign I am running, and describing the situation will take a bit of reading, but I hope a few of you are willing.

There is a large, powerful artifact, large enough to require being moved in a wagon or a ship, that must be kept from multiple powerful factions that would use it for various evil plots. The artifact in fact must be returned to its original location or the entire world will become destabilized, but a great deal of travel is required to get it to its original location.

The party has been tasked to transport a dummy artifact to a completely different place, to try to throw powerful enemies off the trail of the real artifact, which is being transported in secret by a different team (I've successfully instilled some motivation in the party by referring to them as the beta team, and the others as alpha team. It can be a dangerous move, but it's worked so far).

And now the problem; I want the party to be attacked while on the open sea by two leaders of different factions; a draco-lich, and a powerful dragonborn sorcerer. I don't want the party to think they should fight, so I want to roleplay some interactions between one of the BBEGs who arrives first and then have the other BBEG arrive before a fight breaks out. The two BBEGs decide the other is a bigger threat and attack each other, causing chaos and destruction.

The crew (NPCs) will abandon ship, and encourage the party to do the same. Ideally, the artifact will be sunk with the ship and the party will escape with the help of a tribe of Merfolk they have done work for in the past.

Read:  One of my players ended a fight that I had spent 7 sessions building up to in 2 spells and I didn't see his perfectly laid trap coming

The question; is it a bad idea to have a BBEG show up and demonstrate how powerful they are, not on the party, but on another BBEG? Showing the group an enemy they can't beat (under normal circumstances, anyway) is dangerous, but my group tends to not get into fights recklessly, so I trust them to make pretty reasonable assessments. Are there too many ways this could go wrong?

Source: reddit.com

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