First of all- Hillda, Kyreese, Euphemia, Nemo, and Wanu: go away.
TLDR: My players had a group of commoners activate a psuedo time travel device that deposited the commoners in a hostile environment, and they came back as corpses. Now they believe the very-plot-relevant time travel device to be a murder tool. Help.
Now then, I'll try to be brief, but you know how these things go. I apologize in advance.
My players just finished off the first major arc of their storyline, defeating a powerful Hag from the Fey. One of my players is an accidental time traveler; her backstory is being pulled into the Fey thousands of years ago, and then being spit out after freaky time dilation stuff went down, so it seemed like a night to her. She took a book from the Hag's lair that tells the story of her home tribe and it's eventual destruction on it.
The hag, interested in that part of history, has cast a series of complex spells on the book that allows someone who cracks a magical cipher to transport themselves to a pocket plane containing a perfect recreation of the world on the day my players' tribe was destroyed. This is important, because there is a secret location that can be discovered by participating in the events of that day that is going to be important to their progress in the real world.
The premise was that during a campfire scene she would solve the cipher of the book, the party would get pulled in, and immediately be attacked by dinosaurs, indicating they are in the past. At which time, the book would offer to remove them and they could continue later when they eventually realized there is information they need they can grab from it. They get to play their complex crime drama action game with a fun time travel adventure stuck in it.
HOWEVER this is what happened instead. My players rolled below 10 trying to crack the cipher three times in a row. I was trying to think up an excuse to give the fourth person advantage when they said "I'm not gonna try to turn that thing on- it belonged to the Hag. It could be a trap." Everyone agreed.
So solving the cipher was shelved for the moment. Not a big deal- the player who owned the book made it clear she still wanted to figure out how to use it.
The next day they arrive in the city and the player heads to a Wizarding College. She looks for a group of students not doing anything, and does some light flirting to convince them to try to crack the cipher for them.
She backs away from the group of five men tinkering with the book because of a joke I made about them having B.O. She DID however make sure she was watching them so if they figured it out she would know how to do it too, rolled a high perception check.
One of them gets a nat 20 arcana check, activating the book.
Them being level 0 wizards in training, the whole group sans my player (standing far enough away) was sucked into the book and was immediately murdered by dinosaurs. But all my player saw was the book swallow them and then spit them out as mutilated corpses.
The player swipes up the book, casts sleep on some witnesses, and dips.
So NOW the whole party believes the book is a "grenade" so to speak- that the purpose of the item is to activate it, throw it at someone, and let the book murder them. The group chat is afflutter with creative plans to trick their enemies into activating the book and using it as an assassination tool.
How do I convince my players they need to use the book on themselves without spoiling it? I have some really fun dinosaur encounters planned, and I actually think the way the time travel serves as both a character-centric arc for the player and as a mystery solving tool is awesome.
The hag in question was established as a social outcast with zero friends who would have known about the book.
Help, I'm at a total loss.
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