Dungeons & Dragons Online

Cool encounter to challenge your players and let them learn something

Your players roleplay fine, but only with you the DM and your NPCs?

Do they not talk outside social encounters and e.g. go to sleep instantly when they rest?No bonfire talk?

When fighting enemies, do they fight more for themselves and not as a group?Because "my character is neutral whatever, so I don't really caaaareee."

Look no further.

I present to you the solution no one asked for, for a problem that was my own fault.


The ANTI-PARTY

What is this Anti-Party?

Its almost a carbon-copy of the so called heroes your friends play.

Make a rivaling group of "heroes". They can work for the same entity your players work for, or you can make them work for the BBEG.

Its important, that they have almost the same goal and skill-set as your players.

They are there to incite some sort of pride, that your players are the heroes, not the others.

The anti-party is there to bind your players closer together, to give them a better group dynamic. (via hate >:))

Create the Anti-Party

I created characters that were really similar to the PCs, but different in crucial aspects.

For example: We have an ice dragon sorceress, indifferent to the people shes been through with a lot and traveled the world. So I made the rivaling sorceress a fire sorceress, with a temper when someone insults or hurts her friends.

You know your players best and should know what aspects to change.

You can even make the anti-hero be something the PC would hate.

(Our Paladin hates everything to do with chromatic dragons, so I made the anti-paladin a blue dragonborn)

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Phase one

For the hate to flow, you need to set them up some time before your players are actually going to meet them.

Have some NPCs talk about this awesome group, who saved their cat. This awesome group that helped defend the village against an invasion of gummybears or even dragons. Or let your players read about them in a newspaper. Whatever would make sense.

This will make them curious and maybe wanting to meet them.

I set them up by having children play with collectible playingcards of this Anti-Party. So my players did everything in their power to get their hands on these cards. When they found this brand of breakfast cereal the Drow-children eat (Sporeos) everyone got the card of their Anti-Hero. I even teased special strategies and traits this Anti-Party has.

For example: Gragnok, the devourer, a troll was able to throw the fire dragon sorceress into enemies so she could use her breathweapon. And another was able to get her out again.

Your player will feel massively rewarded when they actually read these cards and remember the moves, so they can work against them. (mine didn't realize…)

Phase two

Have them meet in a chill setting, where they can have a friendly rivalry and compete in something.

Like a tavern where both groups just chill from a day of travel and have a tavern tournament.

Or some sort of race, bard tournament, whatever gets you going.

Its important, that they somehow clash and it becomes clear that this other group is awful.Maybe the Anti-Party is arrogant, thinking they are the best adventurers in the world. They have playingcards of themselves after all.Maybe the Anti-Party thinks slavery is okay. Anything that gets the PCs going and triggers them.

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I can't stress enough, that its important, that your players must hate these people.

Phase three

Both groups get the same quest and they now have to work against each other.

Let the Anti-Party win, by them obviously cheating or even stealing the thing they went after from your players. Or by just working together, so they solve the riddle much faster.

Embrace the hate. Let the hate flow through them. That's what this anti-party is there for.

Because now your players have something to talk about. Maybe even let them guess how the other party got there faster than them, or how they stole that thing.

Phase four

Have them fight. This phase can come whenever you feel like the hate is at a boiling point.

Maybe its right after they got the same quest. Maybe after they first met them.

Important: this encounter must be challenging. Depending on what you want to achieve with this Anti-Party let your players lose.The Anti-Party must work together like clock-work.

I wanted my players to get that sense of pride for their group and a better team dynamic, because although they were traveling and fighting evil together, they never talked much in character with each other (they are new and kinda shy and only talked to my NPCs in character).That doesn't have to be their fault. In my case it was definitely my fault, for not doing teambuilding earlier.

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So I had them fight after phase two and lose. They all went down.But since the anti-party is a bunch of assholes, they took something from every PC and left them in the ditch.

But by losing, they learned a valuable lesson: they don't work together, but rather beside each other.And they saw how it could be. They learned this lesson not by a strong evil opponent or a monster, but by just some other dudes. Then losing and almost going down wasn't because some monster had an ability, or they rolled unlucky. It was clear that it was because they had no strategy and didn't talk to each other.

And my players are taking it as an opportunity to learn more about their traveling-companions.

I hope this maybe helps someone approach a problem, that I for some time didn't know how to fix.

Source: reddit.com

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