Need some polt advice - General Discussion Discussions on Obsidian Portal Community Forums
Need some polt advice
edited January 2008
There doesn't seem to be a good place to post this on this site and I am not currently an active member on any other RPG forums, so I will ask here.
I have recently introduced a plot where a player has taken up the vestments of a long dead hero. The Hero was the champion of a long forgotten sun god (Egyptian style) that was at war with a long dead Jackal god (Sett'ish) who's champion created an empire a'la the ancient Assyrians (show 17). Both of the gods are now gone and mostly forgotten, the sun has ceased to be worshiped by the majority of the population who tend to see it as a curse.
What remains of the long dead civilization that worshiped these two gods is a few dozen priests, (more like gurus), and ruins of the Jackal Empire. In some of these ruins exist large obsidian orbs that contain portals to the negative energy plane. The energy could be channeled into a variety of necromantic weapons. A group of modern radicals are trying to gather the orbs to use for their own purposes. Eventually the players are going to be instrumental in the conflict with these radicals.
So a player has taken up the vestments of the long dead hero, but unlike the Hero of legend the character is one; female, and two; a member of a druidic order that is marginally opposed to the followers of the sun god. Also the hero of legend is supposed to have a female companion that bears his shield and provides comfort and shelter for the Hero. This roll is being played by the foreign, gay, male, elf.
This has thrown a major wrench in the priests of the sun god's legends. So now the characters need to prove their worthy of the honor and the burden of carrying the vestments. So I need to come up with some trials for the two characters that not only will prove their worth in wielding their destiny, but also can involve the other party members in some way.
Any body have any thoughts or questions that would help them formulate suggestions?
You definitely painted yourself into a bit of a corner with that one. I mean, trials for those two, no problem. Involving the entire party makes it more of a challenge. There's always ye olde trapped tomb, the hero and his companion being the only ones to have ever survived it. It would help to know more of the original hero, honestly.
Egyptian-style sun god? Well, if there's any desert terrain nearby, a test of survival seems _de rigeur_ - face the judgement of . If there's no desert, but a mountain, that can also work (as one ascends nearer the presence of ). Depending on the spells this druid knows, it might even be easy for her to survive versus the elements. Her friends may need to help her survive versus the wildlife.
I think the companion would need to endure a test of loyalty. If the druidess has some deep dark secret, and the priests are powerful enough to cast something like _Commune_, you could have the secret come to light as they scry for anything they can use to discredit her and hopefully turn her friends against her. If there isn't anything pre-fab for you like that, then maybe your priests have strong social skills and can try to play to the elf's vanity ("YOU should be the one who's the hero in all this!"). Spells like _Suggestion_ and _Dominate Person_ are, luckily for him, arcane rather than divine. Or perhaps they have a wizard ally...?
I also have this really convoluted idea for a setup where the priests have an illusionist at their disposal and some wands of low-level druid spells, meaning they could potentially make the elf believe the druidess is attacking him, just to see if he stays her friend after that. But without being more familiar with your world, that just feels like reaching.
Well the setting is in a desert so trials of endurance are an option. I don't like them so much because they rely so much on random chance as opposed to rp. But it is an option.
I kind of have an idea in my head of a groups of the priests trying to sabotage the trial, and the rest of the party working to thwart that.
I like the Idea of the fighting of illusionary monsters where the two party members are fighting each other, not quite sure how to pull it off without the players realizing strait off what is happening.
I think, first and foremost, you need the trials to make sense for the religion. They have to follow from their beliefs and imagery. Involving the others shouldn't be too difficult, since religious quests often involve companions, but the important part will be making the trials feel like they belong as part of the religion. Try looking up the Helipolitan cult of Ra in Egypt and see if you find anything there that inspires you.
Sound like time for an Indiana Jones-style tomb-raiding type challenge: only the true hero can find and enter the lost tomb of the first priest of Ra, and claim the the correct treasure from its hidden vaults. Puzzles, creatures, picking the correct treasure or else triggering a lethal trap, lots of fun!
Also, one generic idea for getting the other PCs involved: have there be some dissension among the priests. Let there be some who thinK "OMG NO WAI" because the druidess and the elf are nothing like the heroes of old, and others who believe what matters most is that these two have willingly taken up the mantle and wish to commit themselves to resuming whatever grand quest and/or attaining the big overarching goal the heroes were after.
The trials were decided upon as a means of compromise - to let the PCs "prove" they're worthy. But some of the "NO WAI" priests will attempt to sabotage the trials, potentially fatally for the PCs, and one of the supportive priests could leak this possibility to the rest of the party. Hopefully the other characters would at least care about two of their fellows possibly getting killed, and want to prevent that.
Don't test the characters, test the players!
One of the big characteristics of many ancient legends involving sun gods also involve a descent into the underworld, where the god endures being stripped of possessions, dignity, pretensions, and life and thus is reborn with power over life and death.
Before the session, meet with your hero and have her be ordered to descend into the underworld, where she must gradually give things up in order to continue (doing your best as the GM to indicate that these losses are *permanent*, like losses of items, XP, stat points, maybe skills and feats . . . be creative). Then, at the very last, her soul leaves her body and gains new knowledge of how to proceed on her quest. In addition, there should be some way to "cheat" at each stop along the way. If she doesn't cheat, she gets a small prize/benefit at each stop. If she does cheat, the party must later face a tougher challenge to get to her. It should be pretty obvious to the party that she's the result of their difficulties, too.
Having done all, you bring in the rest of the party. Her soul arrives and speaks to them, telling them that they must now go into the abyss and find her body so that she can continue her quest. Then, as a spirit, she guides them through the underworld, where they are forced to fight through the many denizens in order to reach her. They don't have to do this, in fact it's pretty obvious that the priests would rather have a different hero and try to encourage the party to leave her be until her spirit has faded and vanished, then they can send someone else to face the trial.
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