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Comments: 28
Ideas: 0
Rating: 4.2826
Condition: Normal
ID: 160


February 9, 2011, 7:42 am

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By the law they froze


It is extremely cold and snow cover the plains as the heroes notice the dead frozen people hanging from the branches of scattered trees along the road. Ahead they see the local Lords soldiers hanging them up, mercilessly throwing buckets of water on their naked unprotected bodies until they freeze.

By the law they froze

The characters have to be in a land far north where there is a harsh and cold winter. They are now wandering a region wich is controlled by local Lords wich each have their own piece of land.

Walking along the road they see men hanging by rope in the leafless trees. Their faces bear the sign of their last hours of pain and agony. They are covered in iced water that has obviously been poured on them. Ahead on the road the party locates the reason. The local Lords Guard are hanging them up, pouring buckets of water on them. Hour after hour, until the slowly freeze to death.

The guards greet the heroes, they don’t seem troubled at all by their appearance. They seem friendly, and if asked they explain what is going on.

A local village on their lords land has of late refused the taxes. The lord sent his soldiers with the taxmen to enforce the law. They were met by resistance and open battle. This apparently angered the Lord greatly. He sent soldiers and mercenaries to burn down the village and capture the farmers for execution.

The guards don’t seem to be troubled at this task at all. The moan of many half dead people fill the cold air. Many grown men beg and cry, even as their tears freeze.

*If the players at this point show obvious disgust the guards do not seem to care.

Then a soldier steps forward. He asks the party where they come from and what their purpose in on the Lords land is. He says also that mercenaries are needed.

*The players notice a suddenly hostile attitude amongst the soldiers.

They are told that many villagers have hidden in the forest to the east. “They are trying to get the other villages to rebel also”, says the head-guard, “and we can have nothing of that”.

The Situation

As the players are at the top of a small height they can consider the situation. There are ten guards around them. Six are occupied with pouring water on the “convicts”. The rest are standing around them, the leader being the nearest one. Ahead the path they see the burnt ruins of a village and a large pen full of peasants. This is being guarded by twenty guards. It’s a mile away.

In the forest there is a small band of armed rebels from another village. They watch the scene with dismay, but dare not attack alone. If they see battle on the hill where the heroes are they will rush the pen. Also there are civilians from other towns which are walking around performing tasks or travelling trough. These might be convinced to fight on the spot if they think they will live trough it. Depending on what the heroes do.

The Ethics

This is a plot that will set your players to a hard test, if they do the right thing there may be no reward and probably failure. If they do the wrong thing there will be a reward and the friendship of a ruler. But still, can the heroes ever forget all those faces of agony?

The methods

~The Non-Violence way~

Non-violence doesn’t just mean not doing violence; it’s also a way of taking positive action to resist oppression or bring about change.

The aim of non-violent conflict is to convert your opponent; to win over their mind and heart and persuade them that your point of view is right. An important element is often to make sure that the opponent is given a face-saving way of changing their mind. this might be important since no feudal lord, depending on the respect of the people intact, wants to loose face.

Non-violence has great appeal because it removes the illogicality of trying to make the world a less violent and more just place by using violence as a tool. After all, on the top off the feudal system of this region there might be a tired old lord that does not know what his generals are doing in his name. Let the Heroes seek him out, they might be able to make him understand what’s going on. If they get him alone.

~Just punishment~

Believe it or not, seen trough the eyes of the lord this sort of example and punishment is just.
Five conditions must be satisfied for a punishment to be considered just. They might or might not convince the players.

*The punishment must be for a just cause.

The lord knows that during a rebel like this, nobody works and thus food is not supplied to the people. A whole empire may be torn to pieces during rebels.

*The punishment must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.

The lord himself.

*The intention behind the punishment must be good.

It’s all done in the best interest of the people.

*All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried first.

A Herald was sent to warn them. When his horse returned with a headless rider the matter was pretty much settled.

*There must be a reasonable chance of success.

There is, even more so with the heroes helping out.

If the heroes join with the lord they might have problems serving him and his generals in the Non-Violence way. They might try, and who knows this might just be the ticket out for everyone. But most likely they will have to beat, whip and battle scared farmers with pitchforks and knives. They would be commanded to preform brutal acts for money and a friendship which might pay off later.

The Straight Choices

*Will the heroes sign on the task as mercenaries and hunt down the “rebels” for gold?

*Will they sign on as mercenaries and later on try to double cross the guards?

*Will they battle these guards on the spot and hope for the best?

*Will they join up with this ruthless lord so that they can save their own hides and make some gold as well?

Last words

The fundament of this plot is the encounter which instantly sets the heroes in a tight spot and a moral choice. You as the GM of this game will only need those basics to get started. I am sure that your game will run itself once you have triggered the basics. The rest is to provide you with some hooks and ideas around the subject on which the plot focus on. In addition there are some nice idea expanding comments below.

Good luck, Mike.

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Comments ( 28 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Barbarian Horde
July 9, 2004, 12:40
You might want to make the rebels some type of race/religion etc that the players are opposed to.
July 9, 2004, 17:53
Why would you do that?
That removes the moral choice. They no longer have to make a hard decision.
Michael Jotne Slayer
July 9, 2004, 18:41
Well, thanks CP. As the reader will notice, there is not much information on the land, the Lord, the village and surroundings in general. The choice is what is paramount here, the rest is easy for the GM to fill in, like names etc.
July 10, 2004, 16:37
Easily make it non-cold specific by having the guards hanging them by their arms and legs, or just plain hanging them. The cold and water thing is pretty brutal though and I can see how other ways of torture and murder may not be as effective to the get PCs in the moral dilemna state. (Can't believe I just wrote that sentence.)

Like it because it can be placed anywhere at anytime and could blossom into something big or just be a side adventure that the players go on.
July 15, 2004, 17:32
It is easy to forget that centuries ago that the law was as often enforced by fear and word of mouth rather than the presence of a civic police force. There might be a sheriff, or constable, but they were certainly not the modern equivalent of the LAPD. Feudalism often relied on making dramatic and powerful examples of those who broke the law to encourage everyone else to obey said laws. The idea is not much different than the brutal excercises of power that the Russian, and Slavic feudal lords inflicted on the peasantry up to the end of the 19th century.

If such punishment is commonplace enough to be accepted by the peasantry of a kingdom, it is likely that said kingdom will be rife with power hungry corruption at the top of the feudal structure, as well as many small coteries of conspirators and informants. It would also likely be ripe for a rebellion against the oppressive and unscupluous leadership.

At the top of this system, the genre 'evil lord' would reign supreme. Good setting, and interesting application, the freezing water is absolutely heartless.

July 17, 2004, 19:46
Another plot twist is that you could have some dark arts practiced by the local Lord. Have some rumors of undead walking the lands. (chill touch and cold weather, NASTY)
January 18, 2005, 9:16
That makes it again an easier choice for many (somewhat) good PCs. Another twist on the rumours may be a necromancer allied with rebels. He needs a supply of bodies, and they need some magical muscle on their side.

So the lord is a cruel bastard, and the rebels willing to do _anything_ to get their hands bloody.

Kind of makes it hard to become an ally of either side...
January 19, 2005, 9:46
A plot twist that would be totally unexpected is to have the lord rumored to practice some dark arts, but in reality it is one of the main rebel leaders who is the dark mage. He is gathering the energies for his own purposes, more than just taking over this silly region.

Now if the Dark Mage appears to be a young, pretty girl that the players have previously met and liked (he might of taken her over, or she might of been a lesser dark mage since the begining). So, of course the NPC they know is right, and the Lord must be Evil.

The Lord could be responding to the inhuman things the rebels have done to his captured troops. So what seemed so easy in the begining, is not so easy in the revealing.
February 22, 2005, 8:42
And, to add yet another twist on the matter, what if another lord starts to support the rebels, wanting to take it all over while the local forces are occupied? The stakes rise again.

It might handle a bit editing, but the high rating and many (idea-expanding) comments show what a simple but solid idea can inspire.
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 21, 2006, 14:16
Thanks for the HoH Iain, this is actually my very first submission in the citadel. Made in the summer of 04, oh well, brings back memories.
Voted Iain
February 22, 2006, 12:46
You're welcome - I've always liked this submission, though hadn't realised it was your first. The HoH feature is definitely one of the best things about the new citadel.

I also realised I just HoHed and forgot to vote, so will do that now!
Voted manfred
February 24, 2006, 5:49
Still remember it for the cruel punishment. *shudders with discomfort*

A good plot with many options, still expanded by the comments.

(Then, will you do some rewrite on it one day, MJS? Cosmetical stuff mainly. It could shine even better.)
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 24, 2006, 7:33
I am torn between wanting to keep it in it's original form or edit it. I think I will go for a cosmetical edit. Just have to work up some courage... *suspense music*
February 27, 2006, 11:21
Hmm..this one looks quite tasty. I need to train a couple new DMs on my server, and I think this will do quite nicely as a jumping off point. I will deffinately come back and let ya'll know how it goes.

((BTW..Have to say again how much I love this site when I don't have time to come up with my own idea's from scratch. Indespensable for someone like me who tends to run two games a weekend. :D Love you all!!))

*edit* I was going to run this on Saturday, but to really do it right I think that I need to build some new areas for my server/mod. So...give me a few weeks, then I'll let you know.
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 27, 2006, 18:14
Thank you Fenixphire, be sure to tell me how it went!
Michael Jotne Slayer
February 28, 2006, 4:56
Updated: Updated: Did a spellcheck, played around with the formatting, used bold fonts and added methods+ ethics and such. Thank you Manfred for encouraging me(twice) to edit this. I hope it turns out for the better:)
February 28, 2006, 10:03
Looks much better! :)
Voted Mourngrymn
February 28, 2006, 16:03
I have so forgot about this in the conversation to the new site. I always wanted to vote but failed ot do so.

This one has so much potential for gaming purposes it is scary. I would love to see my players faces when I describe the ice crusted people hanging from the poles. Kudos Mike...
Michael Jotne Slayer
March 1, 2006, 9:14
Updated: Deleted a few tid-bits that were of no relevanse to the plot.
Voted Murometz
April 5, 2006, 14:07
Only voted
Voted valadaar
October 18, 2006, 12:08
This is an excellent plot. Not able to use it quite yet, but I'm putting it on my Favorites for later use.

Good job!
Voted Wulfhere
October 18, 2006, 12:51
Actually, by the standards for punishing rebels in the Middle Ages, death by exposure is fairly moderate. Consider Vlad the Impaler, the death of William Wallace, the Catherine Wheel, or Roman Christians who refused to revere the Emperor as a god. One English nobleman was convicted to death by hanging in every city of the land. Normally, hanging snaps the neck, but they were careful to avoid that; they cut him down repeatedly and brought him to the next town to hang again. Depending on your players' comfort level with scenes of extreme violence, you could make the executions quite unpleasant.

If I were running this scenario, I would make sure that the PCs meet the nobleman, his pleasant family, and his soldiers in a friendly context before the execution scene, to make them seem decent people that have been forced into a grim situation by the rebel's intransigence.

Then, I would give evidence in the village that the failure to pay taxes was not entirely the villager's fault. Perhaps there are signs of starvation among the remaining villagers and rebels; their crops failed due to an early frost. The pitiful remaining livestock, seized by the lord's soldiers, is obviously riddled with disease and malnourished.
Voted TheST
December 14, 2006, 20:41
Just one thing: it says "Six conditions must be satisfied for a punishment to be considered just," but I only count five. Am I missing something?
Michael Jotne Slayer
December 18, 2006, 12:19
Updated: Changed it to five. I think I originally intenioned to have six conditiones but missed to write the last one up. Can't find it anywhere now, so five it will be.
Barbarian Horde
October 3, 2007, 10:28

But I have an another option. What will happen, if the heroes give a helping hand to the rebels, and after that, the rebels want to freeze the lord's soldiers the same way, what they done?
what about an old soldier, who tried prevent the punishment(everibody knows him)?
what about the nasty mercenaries?
There will be the next moral situation...

Voted PoisonAlchemist
July 15, 2011, 4:32
Only voted
Voted Dozus
November 8, 2012, 14:13
A simple but well-outlined plot that's almost universally useful. Bravo, an HoH for you.
Michael Jotne Slayer
November 18, 2012, 13:11
Hmmm, ideally I should create a submission in 2012 or it would be mye first year since 2004 without any submissions.

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