Dungeons & Dragons Online

Need help crafting an escort campaign.

If you are on the crew of The TBD please stop reading.
Hi all, I need some help. I’m currently in the process of bridging to separate campaigns. The older campaign didn’t have all the players that my current campaign has. By coincidence most of the older players are taking a hiatus for new babies. I want to use the off time to merge a new group of PCs comprised (mostly) of those newer players. But I want the events to be directly tied into the old campaign, so when everyone comes back, it’s a seemless coherent blending of old and new.
I have the way to do that and it’s for the new team to deliver a key mcguffin to the OG crew essentially. The McGuffin in this case is a portal, imagine a stargate. Their quest will be to bring the star gate to a location far across the continent, so when the OG squad is ready they can gate to the location, meet up with the new guard and get started on the quest.
The problem this basically turns an entire campaign into a giant escort mission. I foresee several problems which I’m going to list out below, I’m looking for ideas:
1) The players’ main goal will be to deliver the stargate. So why wouldn’t they just ignore any other hook out before them? Sure I can force a few things, but I want them to have some agency to choose some side adventures.
2) This one item, the stargate, is critical. If it gets destroyed along the way they’re done. I don’t want this to happen, I also don’t wanna just deus ex machina the whole damn quest, what’s the point.
3) escort missions can be fun for a side quest, this entire campaign, likely 10 or so session is going to be an escort. That could get boring after a while. I need some ways to not have that happen.
4) what are some ways I could mess with the PCs along the way, while keeping it fresh.
This will be a solidly mid level campaign in 3.5. The OG crew their margins with are level 13. I wanna start this group and level 10 or so. So “bandits attack” is fun and all but for this crew that will be a joke. I’m still gonna do it cuz I like fodder encounters every so often, but I need a bit more than that.
Anybody got any ideas?

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Source: reddit.com

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