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Comments: 17
Ideas: 0
Rating: 3.9737
Condition: Normal
ID: 145


April 1, 2006, 8:53 pm

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Sometimes, just sometimes, the best response isn’t to go for your sword first and ask questions afterwards.

As stated, this is for when your PCs are starting to getting in to the habit of killing everything they come across that looks vaguely evil.


A king hires the party to go as an embassy to a powerful semi-barbaric tribe on his border. He sends them with gifts to the tribe and an offer of peace: he is hoping to secure this border in preparation for a campaign elsewhere, and would like a temporary cessation of the intermittent raids across his border.

What happens

A little way in to the tribe’s territory, the PCs are attacked by a small number of warriors, clearly, from the tribe. Assuming your PCs aren’t intelligent, they slaughter them with ease and loot the bodies. They then merrily proceed further in to the tribal territories to where the leaders are.

Of course, your PCs might be intelligent. In this case the plot will turn in to the problem of how the PCs defend themselves against people trying to kill them without killing the attackers (this shouldn’t be too hard: the attackers are fairly inept (though the PCs won’t know this at first) and will surrender if a couple of them take bad wounds). This will then be followed by a diplomacy mission - which you can make as simple or complicated as you like.

What happens next.

A little bit later, the PCs are met by the chief and a large number of warriors (too many to fight). It transpires that the people who attacked the PCs were a group of youths who had only recently gained adult status in the tribe, who were out on a raiding party (raiding is a way of life in the culture and is how they gain honour). The rest of the tribe is understandably not too pleased that their youngsters have just been slaughtered.

This not only will seriously jeopardise the original mission, but will also put the PCs at the mercy of the tribe and in serious danger of their own lives. Even the best diplomacy in the world will not let them get away without serious reparations (perhaps in paying blood money or by performing some service to the tribe). On the other hand, if they choose not to do this (or are inept at diplomacy), they may choose to escape and make a bid for freedom.

If they succeed (I leave the details of the difficulties to you), they will face a further problem. The king who hired them will be rather unhappy at the failure of their mission and the way in which they have angered the tribe. The obvious way in which he can placate them and prevent a series of retaliatory raids is to catch and hand over to them the miscreants they are demanding.

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Comments ( 17 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

February 13, 2004, 17:49
An excellent, simple way to teach stab-happy heroes a lesson.
4/5, one point deducted just because it was just "bare-bones" adventure setup, with no story. Normally, that isn't that much of a problem, but this seems extra dry, if you will.
February 14, 2004, 6:31
Barebones could be good if you already had a world to plop this into. I am giving a 5 because I wouldn't have to change anything to use it. Great player tamer!
February 14, 2004, 8:12
A fair point Captain! I was going to come back and add some story, but after reading Strolen's comment I decided not to. This is because Strolen has basically described my intentions when I wrote it: this is a one-off short mission to be plopped in anywhere, rather than a whole campaign story.

However, when I used it, the king who sent them was Lord Niavon of Torridon (see npc), and the timing was one month before his fateful invasion of Siluria (the one that drove him mad). This was a crucial part of his preparations for the war. The barbaric tribe was the Wyvern Tribe of Orcs, a large and powerful tribe (made up of five clans) located in the south-east foothills of the Rhaetian mountains.
February 14, 2004, 18:33
cruel and unusuall, excelent. The shear evil of your mind brings me great pleasure. However, i do think that this is a little unfair because what are they supposed to do. let the attackers kill them? There is a time to kill, and a time to let live.
February 14, 2004, 18:38
No, they're not supposed to let the attackers kill them. They are meant to drive them off, subdue them, disarm them or otherwise force them to surrender. It says the attackers are youths who are new to combat; in other words level 1 warriors who the PCs should be able to subdue (without killing) easily -if they think of it. Wounding a couple is OK (and, as stated, would cause them to surrender), as is maybe killing one, but not butchering them all. The PCs are meant to be peace envoys to these people after all.
February 14, 2004, 18:56
sorry i tried to edit that i was supposed to say "if the players had the intellegence to not attack them wouldn't they also realise that retaliating would be a mark of hostility?" but it never got edited in, i suppose i never considered the posibility that they would have an explination if they just subdued them.
Barbarian Horde
February 18, 2004, 9:22
Interesting idea, but it doesn't really stand to reason that armed raiders, unless OBVIOUSLY underage or poorly armed, would not be taken seriously by seasoned killers. I think a better way to teach this lesson might be to add a human dimension to a more obvious threat - like a troll wandering the countryside looking for a new home because his was destroyed by a cave collapse. You would make sure the players see the troll first, giving them the option of combat or parlay (or avoiding entirely). If they choose combat, punish them by making sure they get banged up (they don't necessarily need to die). If they choose to parlay, reward them by having the troll give them something special or perhaps promise to help them in the future for helping him find a new home. If they avoid interaction completely, you could make the situation more compelling by having a villager(s) come back in a panic saying that a troll had been spotted and the party is asked to help.
February 18, 2004, 9:36
That would be entirely beside the point of the plot.
That's like saying "Oh, we need to go to work in about three minutes. But first, let's eat dinner and lunch."
February 18, 2004, 15:38
Although CP's point doesn't make a point...does it? Your idea is a whole other plot, and a rather cliche and boring one as far as that goes because there is no depth to it. How do you hadd a human dimesion by taking the human element out of it and adding a 'monster' that is almost always 'evil' and is always good to kill? It makes more sense to have human warriors in a morality tale. Seasoned warriors would IMMEDIATELY be able to tell experience when the first exchange is made and if they choose to kill them all it would indeed be simply a slaughter. I disagree with your post in its entirety.
March 5, 2004, 10:00
Although I am still new to this place, and haven't seen many plots, I shall still say that this is a pretty good mission/adventure for pc's that get high off of fighting for no good reason. I may use this I give this a 5/5 just because of how funny it could jeopardize the welfare of my pc's.
Barbarian Horde
May 21, 2004, 7:33
I agree with Anonymous. The choice should be up to the players - not the GM. If the GM attacks them with warriors - regardless of whether they're skilled or not, the party won't know that immediately - what party with half a brain wouldn't defend themselves? I mean come on. Think of today. If some guy jumped out of the bushes and started fighting you, you'd have little choice but to fight back. You might not hurt him, but you would defend yourself. The troll idea was good because this allows a choice - attack the troll, which is evil, or not. Then set up the consequences for the action. Yes, this doesn't fit into the plot as given, but the idea of his comment was to take choice away from the GM and to the players. It'd always better to have players get into trouble for their own choices rather than have the gm railroad them into trouble. This plot has a good idea which just needs to be adjusted slightly to incorperate that point.
Barbarian Horde
May 31, 2004, 15:37
I don't agree with the original Anonymous. If some guy jumped out of the bushes like the situation in the previous post, yes you would defend yourself. But when it was obvious that the guy couldn't hurt you too much; that you are that much better than him, will you pull out out your knife or pistol or fist or what have you and kill him? No, you wouldn't, and that is the point that this encouter is trying to make. And Strolen is right, adding a troll would strip the encounter of its human dimension. In fact, it would change the entire thing. Why would the tribe care if the troll was slaughtered? As the idea was given, they wouldn't. It IS an entirely different plot.
Barbarian Horde
January 10, 2005, 22:26
lol @ the anonymous guy who came back and pretended to be another anonymous guy who agreed with him. 'I swear, the troll idea's great!!'
Voted Cheka Man
March 31, 2006, 19:41
I like this idea-it reminds me of certain rl situations.
Voted axlerowes
September 14, 2006, 14:42
Only voted
Voted Wulfhere
October 17, 2006, 18:56
I've known groups of players that are just what this sort of scenario is supposed to address ("Kill 'em all, let the gods sort them out!"). I've also known groups that were the complete opposite ("We shouldn't attack until we're sure the pirates are going to betray us."). Either extreme is maddening for the GM.

On one hand, if your goal is to broker a cease-fire between two hostile groups, only a fool would start by slaughtering some of the other side to open negotiations. On the other hand, if it's not clear how dangerous the attacking group is, you can't blame the PCs for defending themselves. I've seen scenarios that expected the party to subdue attackers, despite the fact that the party was woefully ill-equipped for such a task.

I am not overfond of the "you meet too many of them to fight" situation. I've been subjected to scenarios that repeatedly surrounded me with overwhelming force to force me to parley. That can become a "rail job", especially when there are compelling roleplaying reasons why the characters wouldn't cooperate with the desired plot. They should at least have the chance to flee ignominiously (and fail the mission).
Voted valadaar
April 4, 2014, 10:10
There have been some interesting comments here, perhaps some of the best BH conversations I have seen in a while, but I am in agreement with Wulfhere.

Frankly, if the youths attacked, its on them. Treating them with kid gloves feels a bit like imposing modernity. Raiding is not an innocent activity, as you could ask any target the youth party _would_ be able to handle.

And yes, this would cause diplomatic issues, and this seems to be by far the most likely outcome.

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

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