Content of the article: "In what ways can I subtly hint to my party that something much deeper and horrible is going on behind the scenes of their main quest?"
So, the campaign I have planned is, on the surface, sort of a blend of Game of Thrones and Kingdom Come: Deliverance. My party will be working for the heads of different noble families that are sworn to the same king of a minor kingdom. This king, not without a touch of madness, is using banditry and other ignoble methods to weaken the power of his vassal states so that he might provoke them into open war where, in his mind, he will easily defeat them and claim direct dominion over all their lands. The party will uncover these plots, unique to each province, and bring evidence to the noble heads, whereupon they will muster their forces and lay siege to the city of the ‘mad king’; a battle in which the party will obviously play a large roll.
That’s what’s going on at the surface of the campaign.
What I have going on in the background is more eldritch in nature. There’s an aboleth living just off the coast of the large lake that this kingdom is situated against. This aboleth has entered into an arrangement with the king’s daughter wherein she is given the classic promise of power and wealth in exchange for persuading her paranoid, delusional father to sow discord in his own lands. The aboleth will give her the power to summon ‘deep spawn’, a Lovecraftian homebrew creature conjured from the remains of a freshly slain corpse. The princess is going to perform this ritual in the middle of the siege of her father’s city, causing an absolute slaughter when these abominations crawl from the dead of every corpse.
During the course of the surface level campaign, the party is going to be sent on a series of well-paid quests by the princess (using an assumed name; they won't have any idea who she really is) to retrieve a number of ancient treasures. These items will actually be artifacts that will increase the potency of the aboleth’s conjuration ritual. If the party doesn’t take her plot hooks or decides to pawn or keep the artifacts, they’ll actually have a much easier time at the end of the campaign, as the aboleth and the princess won’t have nearly as strong of an army.
I want to have some subtle indications that there’s something deeper going on behind the scenes, but I don’t want my players to have an ‘ah ha’ moment and figure out what’s really going on until it’s too late. What subtle hints or encounters can I drop that might have that little hint of eldritch in them without going too overboard?
- Worried one of my planned characters might become a DMPC, need advice.
- A PC is about to reunite with her parents, how do I not screw this up?
- Could use some help to design my BBEG plan to overtake a kingdom
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