101 fun ways you messed with your players

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  stories of how you made your players stare at you in awe.


 1)   mine was back in my last game (eberron, 3.5) my players were searching the ruins in xendrik, they decided to make camp at the base of a ziggurat. late at night they ended up encountering a were-tyrannosaurus giant. im still suprised they survived it. i guess thats what happens when 4/5ths of the group are silver flamers

2) Doppelgangers!
Just in case I failed to mention; I am playing D&D 3.5e.
3) misdirected their scroll of teleportation to the lair of an earthquake dragon

4) sent them to the underdark to be imprisioned by drow

5) had a dragonborn prince fool them into helping him assassinate his father 
6) (converted) nilbog at level 5.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.

7.) In a previous campaign (right around the time of the Young Guns movie), players had an in-game joke, yelling "Did you see the size of that chicken?!?" whenever anyone ran past them... Travelling through a canyon, a dishevelled and delirious man comes running past in a panic trying to fire an unloaded crossbow at something he thinks is chasing him. Players of course began making chicken jokes. As they proceed in the direction the man came from, they top the next rise and are immediately charged by a horrid Giant Dire Chicken...


Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...


7.) In a previous campaign (right around the time of the Young Guns movie), players had an in-game joke, yelling "Did you see the size of that chicken?!?" whenever anyone ran past them... Travelling through a canyon, a dishevelled and delirious man comes running past in a panic trying to fire an unloaded crossbow at something he thinks is chasing him. Players of course began making chicken jokes. As they proceed in the direction the man came from, they top the next rise and are immediately charged by a horrid Giant Dire Chicken...




   reminds me of  "the bard's tale"
Place an obvious trap in a room, like a large head off on the side with scorch marks all around the floor, or arrow holes on one wall.  Even a cheesy deadfall trap will do.  Inform the player where they need to stand to be able to disarm the trap mechanism.

Have a well hidden pitfall trap in that space.
Tolkein was a jerk. Seriously, what DM sends 9 Wraith Lords at a Lvl 2 party of Halflings. The only 'correct' way to play D&D is by whatever method is making the group you have at that session, have the most fun.
9) a fancy potion bottle, looks like a healing/buff potion. filled with sovereign glue
10) lizardfolk rogues, my players dont like swamps anymore "imma gonna make you squeel!"
11)brothel full of beautiful women [cough] various hags [cough]
12)big huge magic sword on the wall, fighter grabs it and draws it against the miniboss. he happened to pull out a +1 dagger out of a great sword sheath. the sheath was more magical that the dagger. he got extra xp for killing him with the sheath



    (edited for spelling)
13) Skin kites.  In an old 3.5 campaign, I really played up describing how their Cha damage attack was them tearing off chunks of skin from the opponent and adding them to themselves (because as I recall they healed a little off it).  It was basically just a random encounter, but apparently I did it right, because the players still talk about how it freaked them out.

14) In an Eberron campaign, the players saw an alternate future in which a rakshasa lord was freed from Khyber.  The way they knew this?  First relatively intact corpses rained from the sky.  Then skinless corpses.  Then inside-out corpses.

(Yeah, all my good campaign stories are basically horror genre.  I work with the talents I was given.)
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
13) Skin kites.  In an old 3.5 campaign, I really played up describing how their Cha damage attack was them tearing off chunks of skin from the opponent and adding them to themselves (because as I recall they healed a little off it).  It was basically just a random encounter, but apparently I did it right, because the players still talk about how it freaked them out.



Haahaa.  I did the same sort of thing.  My players still talk about how the skin kites sufficated them.  I had described them as wrapping all around their faces.  When they tried to breath, I said the necrotic rotting flesh got sucked into their mouth a little bit, and they could taste the putrid decay.  Our Shardmind said "I don't have taste buds!" and I informed him that his mind makes it real, and possibly worse than his companions' experience.

15)  I had my players have to interupt a bard's concert to fight poly dimensional abberant creatures while trying to make the crowd of Lizardmen think it was part of the show.  This lead to the Tiefling Warden and Shardmind Monk having a break dance fight against the monsters while the Wilden Ranger shot dazzling arrows through torches as a distraction.
16) Have them fight a lich to get a portal key that they need, only to find out that the portal key also serves as the lich's phylactery. They either get to risk the lich regenerating or get stuck finding another way home.
This didn't happen to me but I thought it would be quite fitting here.  When I first heard about this I cried laughing and in fact my cheeks are sore from writing this.

(17) erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">The Hand & Eye of Vecnaerdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> work in a simple manner: replace the appropriate body part with Vecna'serdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> and gain extraordinary powers!   A DMerdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> was running two simultaneous campaigns in a realm; one party leaning towards evil, one towards good.  Both campaigns ran at the same time but the parties had essentially no interaction.  

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Evil party comes up with a plan: after finishing a dungeon they a take erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">particularly strange monster's head and cast some spells on it to give an aura, etc.  Afterwards, they set traps in the dungeon and some monsters...  then they travel to town and spread rumours that the powerful Head of Vecnaerdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> can be found at X,Y.  Good party travels to dungeon, fights long and hard and alas: the Head of Vecnaerdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">.  

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Can you guess what happens next?  The good-aligned party actually argues about who to decapitate, they agree on the wizard.  Barbarian cuts off his head and they attached their new artifact.  Doesn't work so what does the party do?  They conclude that they took to long between the decapitation and the head-attachment.  After the barbarian cuts off his own head the DMerdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> bursts out in laughter no longer able to control himself.    
My favourite dirty trick to play on PCs is a simple way to make them read far more in to the situation than they should.

(18) Somewhere in the dungeon is a 150x150 grid of small (between 5'x5' and 10'x10') square rooms, each containing a door on each wall (rooms on the outside of the 'maze' have false doors along the outer edge). On each door in the interior of this network of rooms is a number from 1-9, the numbers mean nothing at all but I've yet to see a party wander in to this scenario who didn't end up thinking they had stumbled on to a series of rooms that magically teleported them around. Sit back and laugh as they wander around trying to figure out the logic behind a puzzle that doesn't actually exist. For added fun, place a single trapped room somewhere near the entrance, and watch as the party expects similar surprises in all the following rooms.
(19) The party was going through an abandoned crypt. There was nothing undead in there, but the party kept taking precautions to avoid ambush/traps by undead. To keep them on their toes (and have a little laugh) I stopped, opened my monster manual, and then asked the players to roll perception checks. After they did, I smiled, and said they say/heard nothing unsusual. I think they shat themselves.
(20) Had this pulled on me in 3.5ed.  My orc hating dwarf had died and been reincarnated as an Orc (pure luck on the reincarnation roll).  His patron god gave him a vision of a vial in the dungeon that would restore him to his dwarven self.  Enraged at becoming his hated enemy he stormed through the dungeon relentlessly looking for said vial.  Hilarity ensued has he just ran through every trap, triggering em, making every save, and not taking any damage because he was a thief, until he found the chest with the vial.

He cracked open the chest, grabbed the vial, and chugged the deadly acid and ring of wishes that was contained within.  The other party members had to cut open his dead body to retrieve the ring and bring him back to pre-orc status.   
2 times stick out to me, and they both involved chasing down a lich with mind-control powers.

1. While in his lair, they come across a frozen lake. They get half way across and it cracks underneath them. They plunge into ice-cold water as skeletons rise from the depths to drag them down to their watery death. It was a skill challenge, but then I told the party cleric to roll an insight. After his second success, he comes out of an illusion and sees his party under the effects of the illusion. While the other PC's are fighting imaginary skeletons, drowning; the cleric was using heal checks to jolt them out of it.

2. At the end of several drawn out encounters, the PC's finally came down to the final villian with literally a few surges and no dailies left. I asked them to roll initiative (meta-gaming that combat was starting). Just before they lost all hope, an angel they knew personally intervened and restored them as if they had just taken an extended rest. They were genuinely worried they were going to fight the ultimate boss with no resources left.
(23) My personal favorite: The group was celebrating a victory in a Dwarven city with plenty of ale and hearty laughter. Dancing, games, and shenanigans galore were going on in the tavern throughout the night. The entire party passed out before ever making it to their beds.

As the sun began to rise they awoke only to be horrified by what was around them. The tavern itself was in pieces and the only thing left of the Dwarves was their mangled skeletons. The group could discern that the skeletons had been there for quite some time. Everything that they had seen the night before was merely an illusion.

The group was freaking out and left the town immediately to continue on their journey.
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24.  The party came across an elf and an orc fighting.  I specifically mentioned that the orc was in fine plate, while the elf was unarmored ... they attacked the orc, who was an agent of the (human) king, who the elf was going to assassinate to destablize his kingdom so the elves could invade during the confusion.  Every bit of evidence they found on the orc's body that verified his status as a King's Man was dismissed as being stolen.

They did eventually head to that kingdom to return the armor and weapons to their 'rightful owner'.  Too late, of course.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
25. In a very linear one shot, I had the group find a key to a door a couple rooms away--the door was unlocked, and when the party got there, they promptly locked themselves out. It took them a while to figure out what had happened when the door wouldn't open like they expected. Laughing
26. The party was sleeping at an inn. For an unspecified reason, they all woke up simultaneously in the middle of the night and felt compelled to go outside. They found all the inn's employees and patrons in the lobby prepared for battle. On questioning any of these NPCs, they urged the party to go outside to speak with someone. They found a Dragonborn NPC outside whom they had spoken with before, however his attitude and dialogue were completely different (usually he is arrogant and impatient, now he's calm and humble). After a few minutes of conversation, shadowy figures were seen lurking closer, until the silence was broken by a cacaphony of orcish battle cries. The Dragonborn turned to the party and said, "Fear not, for we still have some time before they arrive." At this point, the party simultaneously woke up, each within his own room in the inn. They went on to finish the quest without taking another extended rest, completing it in time to thwart an orcish invasion.
27. Had one NPC get close to a PC, while at the same time another PC was having nightmares where he was forced to kill the NPC.  When the time came that the NPC was to give themself sacrificially, I got to set back and watch the players run the next hour or so of the game without me.

28. Orchestrate PC death scenes (organized with the PC, but not the rest of the party).  One PC sacrificed himself to save his brother (player playing the brother became very distraught when trying to find remains in the wreckage left behind)

29. Dragon shapeshifted into henchman, so he can watch the party try out the defenses he had built outside his lair.  Best part was the speech one of the PC's gave as they were approaching the final room of the lair.  He was instructing the rest of the party on Dragon Etiquette.
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30)  In one game I DM'd in 3.5, I had the players on an escort mission.  They were, of course, the impetuous kind; didn't bother to ask details, just how much they were being paid to get him from point A to point B.  Thus, they didn't know that the guy they were escorting was tomb-tainted... that is, he healed by inflict spells rather than cure spells.  They were competent enough that he didn't get hurt much, at least, and when he did get hurt he'd spend his turn quaffing a potion of inflict light wounds.

Again, all they noticed was that he'd drink the potion and his wounds would heal.

So, near the end of the adventure, one of their guys gets dropped, they finish the fight and ask their client for one of his potions to help their buddy out...    
31) last summer, i got annoyed at how absurdley good one player was at tanking (almost was never hit period.) i created a group of extremely overpowered enemies with weapons that bypassed armor class (completely by the rules too, 3.5) and killed that player by accident. on the first turn of the fight. oops.
32) The party had set a great deal of store in a series of bets on the next days' gladiatorial matches, depending on a series of wins to save another player character's life; this character had been captured and forced into the fights after an attempt on a guardsman's life (the player of this character was the resident ridiculous munchkin). The party awake and go to the matches, only to watch an unfolding tale of horror, as one combatant, a flesh golem, goes berserk and begins slaughtering passerby, eventually coming to nearly deny physics. The party destroys it by trapping the creature in an exploding alchemists' laboratory, sacrificing their own lives in the process; the munchkin was frustrated to discover that no amount of magic expended or rules bent could save him as the flames from the explosion chased his heels for what seemed like miles and miles before he collapsd from exhaustion. I let the utter frustration of this seeming party-kill hang for about ten seconds, the whole group in near despair, then calmly announce,

"You all awake drenched in a cold sweat, each to his room in the inn. The sun seems to be just rising on the of the match, as you try to shake of the remnants of the dream."

The party stared dumbfounded for a moment, before nearly falling over with elation coming down from that prolonged suspense. They talk about it still ;)

33) While I mixed OJ in the kitchen, I overheard one of my players discussing tactics and character design with the others, having apparently gone through my notes for the night's one shot when I left the room. I modified the encounter thusly; the old white dragon became a simulacrum under the control of an adult red lairing in a subterranean volcanic lair. Never mind that the lair was set in an arctic setting; the red had access to plenty of cold-lair wards. The party smiled blithely through their little 'secret', convinced that the characters, modified to take down a white, would have no problem. The look on their faces when the red exploded from the mountainside following the dissolution of his simulacrum was priceless.

34) In the city-state where many of my campaigns take place, it is an almost entirely unknown fact that the thieves' and assassins' guildmasters are one in the same. Indeed, they don't know it themselves, due to a case of multiple personality disorder. One player who had become acquainted with the Thieves' guildmaster, Kaflatela, went to seek him in his quarters (to invite him to a formal dinner). He discovered the master Assassin, Hreimar, the Hound of Death, in his place. He was quick to greet him fondly, knowing Kaflatela's very sociable manner, but was cut short by Hreimar's curt "Kaflatela's out. I'll take a message." The long pause was followed with, "Oh. Huh. You know, you look just like him." Fantastic.

35) One of my favorites for one-shots. After trying for quite some time (unsuccessfully) to ram a door down, the party finally think to examine the door for some kind of markings or runes. The DM replies tht there are, indeed, letters on the door. "P-U-L-L"
Okay, here are some of my best


36) Suddenly have the RP stop in the middle of an encounter and tell the PC's that they wake up at a tavern with bartender telling them, "Damn that was one hell of a show, you'd never believe what happened! You were all amazing!"


that's right, the Hangover, D&D style  
37) The players were stuck in a valley that was beset by a plague and had to figure out how to stop the plague.  In a corner of the valley was a small area that was untouched by the plague.  A hermit lived there, after a short talk he was determined him to be insane.  Cue the shenanigans where I just did whatever I felt like doing i.e. localized time jumps, amnesia, you name it.  The hermit had nothing to do with the plague and had no idea why he was unaffected by it, he was just there so I could have some fun messing with the players.

38)  Lich captures the party and makes the paladin's sword into his phylactery.  Need I say more?

39) While exploring the demon wastes the players find a magic onyx statuette of a demon that radiates magic.  Because no one had identify they didn't know that it was a nystul's magic aura.  After they spent a while in town arguing over whether to destroy it, a random sage identifies it for them so they stop arguing.
40) I DM'd once, but that was a Cyberpunk game. I had the players do an assasination-robbery in Dubai, assisted by an NPC agent from their client. It wasn't really subtle, and they ended up havin a firefight with the local SWAT equivalent and then having a running, gunnin chase along an elevated highway, after which they crashed and just barely managed to slip underground.
After they had shaken their immidiate pursuers, the NPC congratulated them on job well done. As he was walking into the shadows, he slid off his fake rubber face, and told the players they could propably don theirs too and slip back to the general populace.

All of the players had been completely unmasked the entire time.
41. Placed a bomb into a chest at the end of a big boss fight. They opened it and then *BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP* WHAT THE FU... *BOOOOOOOM!*

42. Showed them a sword on an alter magically suspended in mid air. Told them it was made out of void but cuts like diamonds. What I did not tell them was that it was forged ANTI-MATTER. When they touched it both of them anihalated and vaporized violently!

43. Enemy army made entirely out of /b/tards. LULZ

44. Put them in a room where the door locked and a ten second timer counted down. Pressing a button next to it resets the timer. They exhasted every possibility of escaping for hours while one of them kept pushing the button. When they finally said forget it and let it count down to zero the door opened.

My real screen name is WAR10CK. Space pirate science, We do what must because we can.

45 : Back in 2nd Edition, I've created a Magic Ring which would grant you your most wanted wish! The legend behind this ring was that the mage who crated it died when he slipped it on his finger.

The truth is that mage said that he wanted to do one last magic Item before he dies...

Finally, a player took it and used it! I said nothing...I just listened to his will as he played.

Someday, some people were calling him Lord when they met him. He asked to be a great Lord of a Realm on an island! A Realm spawned and people there were under his command...Some of his people started to travel to find him! He died before ever stepping on the ground his own realm...

Bards sing about him!
I'm playing: Abin Gadon, Halfling Bard Winston "Slurphnose", Gnome Sorcerer Pasiphaé, Minotaur Shaman Eglerion, Elf Ellyrian Reaver (Ranger) DMing: Le Trésor du Fluide (Treasure from the Fluid) Un Royaume d'une Grande Valeur (A Kingdom of Great Value) La Légende de Persitaa (Persitaa's Legend) Une Série de Petites Quêtes... (A serie of short quests) Playtesting: Caves of Chaos We're building the greatest adventure ever known to DnD players! Also playing Legend of the Five Rings and Warhammer Fantasy. Sébastien, Beloeil, Qc. I am Neutral Good and 32 years old.
This is a really good thread; I am going to use a lot of these ideas.
Place an obvious trap in a room, like a large head off on the side with scorch marks all around the floor, or arrow holes on one wall.  Even a cheesy deadfall trap will do.  Inform the player where they need to stand to be able to disarm the trap mechanism.

Have a well hidden pitfall trap in that space.

I did something very like this.  First trap was a series of fire jets that covered a 10' section of the 20' wide hallway.  Scorch marks on the floor and not great concealment of the jets made it pretty easy to spot.  Second trap was a pressure plate--the entire 10' section of hallway just past the fire jets.  Landing on the pressure plate triggered a force blast from the far end of the hallway that pushed two squares and knocked prone....

Speaking of the end of that hallway, it had a double door with a decent gap (about an inch) between the doors, locked and barred from the other side, and 10'x10' alcoves to either side.  There were well concealed panels on either side of the door.  Both panels were fake, and did nothing--but standing in front of them triggered force blasts that pushed you into the alcoves, triggering even more fire jets....

There was no way to deactivate the traps and no easy way to open the door, though it was possible to destroy the fire jets (the party Avenger phased through the wall and dropped his torch off on the way).  The hallway was built by someone who had a teleport 5 speed, who could therefore simply bypass the 20' fire jet/force blast combo, and then teleport past the door thanks to the gap (the dungeon also featured numerous climbs of 20', platforms spaced by 20', etc.)

t~
46) Minions that made the players want to hit them... at first.

Here is the minion:

Thrall Beast - Level 10 Minion Soldier
Small Elemental Magical Beast Initiative +11
HP 1; A missed attack never damages a minion. 
Immune - Force
AC 26 Fort 23 Reflex 22 Will 21
Speed 6
Standard Action:
Bolster Essence - At-will
Attack: +13 vs Fortitude.
Hit: 3 force damage and the target's empowerment increases by 1.
Str 12 Dex 19 Wis 15
Con 15 Int 15 Cha 18 

This is what I gave the characters on a notecard to explain what empowerment did:
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Characters with empowerment X on them gain +X to saving throws, attacks and damage rolls.  Save ends at a -6.
Example: Deo has Empowerment 4.  That means Deo gets +4 to saving throws, attack and damage rolls.  At the end of the turn Deo must attempt to save against this effect at a -2 (-6 +4)
 

What was on my sheet of paper about the encounter:
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When a character succeeds in a saving throw against empowerment he/she explodes with residual energy hurting those around him or her.  This deals Xd4 force damage to all targets in the specified range where X is the empowerment number.  Consult the following table:
Empowerment Range
1-3 Close Burst 1
4-6 Close Burst 2
7-8 Close Burst 3
9-10 Close Burst 4
11-15 Close Burst 5


That... was a fun encounter.  It ended with the wizard succeeding in a save v 13 empowerment which almost true killed (-bloody) the entire party after everything was dead.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
The paladin is moving down a trapped corridor, he's already avoided/weathered a couple of traps, when he triggers a pitfall. He jumps back as the trapdoor opens to the long fall with spikes and some unidentifiable liquid (water) at the bottom; no harm done. It's not a large pit; he can jump it with a running start, and does so, easily clearing the first pit and landing on the second pit placed just beyond it. Tongue out
XD That was a fun game Matyr. I was so glad I was 20 squares away.
47) My games tend to be rather comedic so...
Magical plague is sweeping the Shadowfell, and the party has been sent to investigate and retrieved an artifact that is believed to be causing the issues. In most cases people die quickly and their bodies break down into dust...However, the party finds that the plague has an adverse reaction on the native rabbit species, causing them to grow rapidly (tiny to large) and for their fur to turn pink...as well as turn incredibly aggressive. They didn't realize they were in combat until the rabbits had attacked twice.

"It's not a large pit; he can jump it with a running start, and does so, easily clearing the first pit and landing on the second pit placed just beyond it"

This is epic. Can't wait to use it. This is why it's rare to see an epic tier paladin; they never seem to think about anything! Thanks, Morior!

XD That was a fun game Matyr. I was so glad I was 20 squares away.



Your game's version of that encounter was a bit different and far nastier on the debuff explosion.  Mostly because it was in "one shot" form.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
2) Doppelgangers!



SOOOOOOOOOO THIS +1

i always giggle remembering their faces when they discovered the halfling bard who was leading their way actually wasn't the halfling bard they've met before.



======================================= I Apologize For My Bad English =======================================
(48) Party examines a room, discover nothing and proceed. Last to walk through the room is the barbarian. He is suddenly attacked by the carpet, and nearly killed before he can be rescued. As it happens, the carpet would only attack non-dwarves since it was animated during the final line of defense of the dwarf stronghold a few decades earlier. All other characters that searched the room earlier were dwarves. The funny thing was that it was a published adventure, and I really had not expected the half-orc to be the last to pass through the room a round or 2 after the rest of the party was gone (and hence busy with the trap/puzzle in the next room).

(49) Not mine, but still great story. PCs are asked to assassinate enemy commander in the middle of the camp, and they are given a magic stone that would allow them to teleport out after the deed. Players know they angered the person given them the command, but see nothing wrong with the mission, and never double checked the stone beyond whether or not it has an aura (which is really not much of a guarantee in 3E). The look on their faces when the stone did not work must have been great. It was one of the players who told me that story with glee about their own stupidity, so that DM must have done something good ;)
50) Allow the players a free hand, with access to plenty of resources, and set them to design and execute a detailed plan to guard a valuable item (they probably don't have time to build a dedicated castle from scratch, but they can call upon a large pool of hirelings and the skills of an accomplished group of NPC mages or equivalent). The item goes missing while they're guarding it. Some months later (real time), the party gets sent back in time to steal the item from their earlier selves, as per the detailed notes the GM took at the time...
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