Help! I have no idea how this adventure ends.

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The PCs have broken an old madman out of a prison, he is obsessed with finding a precious (possibly magical) gem. They're helping him. Also, he has a rival who is also after the gem, but who is more greedy than obsessed/insane.

The gem is, of course, in a dungeon.

The question is, what happens when the old man finds the gem?

The cliche choice would be that the old man becomes evil and the PCs need to fight him. But I'd rather do something else.

Ideas?
I would have the gem just be some dinky non magical gem that the old man waned amd goes about his buisness.
The gem is magical. With the correct command, it projects an illusion of the old man's wife and children as they were just weeks before they died in a house fire that the old man caused with a drunken accident 30 years ago.
Boraxe wrote: "Knowledge of the rules and creativity are great attributes for a DM, but knowing when to cut loose and when to hold back, when to follow the rules and when to discard them, in order to enhance the enjoyment of the game is the most important DM skill of all." Keeper of the Sacred Kitty Bowl of the House of Trolls. Resident Kitteh-napper.
The gem is magical and is a portal keystone. Removing it will unleash a demon horde that will ravash the entire land (make sure the PCs learn this from a guardian right at the end).

Now the PCs must make a moral decision of whether to take it and gain great weath (or something else) and doom the country, or leave it and either convince the old madman and their rival to leave it or cut them down.


Then make the gem a requirement in a later quest, no matter which choice they tookWink.
The gem is not inherently magical, but is a component of a powerful magic item. The mad old man is actually the servant of a powerful evil wizard, and is himself a sorcerer of comparable but slightly lesser power to the party. Stat him up as a companion character (DMG2) and have him ingratiate himself to an arcane spell caster in the party. He will try and tag along with the party whenever he can (at the behest of his evil overlord) and will feed them plot hooks to retrieve the other items the wizard needs to complete his magic item.

Sounds like you don't need to know what that gem does for a while now. I wouldn't worry about it until the the night before the session before your PCs are expected to get it.


Then go back through and see if any of them threw out guesses. Pick the coolest guess. Don't tell them you did it, and make a comment like "When you said that I was like 'no way he got it!' and tried hard to keep a straight face. I thought you had figured it all out".

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

The gem is actually the man's sanity/memories, splintered off and sealed away by his rival many years ago.  Perhaps he was the witness to certain events and could not easily kill him without arousing suspicion;  so he chose to discredit him by making him insane, using powerful magics to fracture his mind.  The madman could have previously been a person of some importance, many many years ago, far fallen from grace now.  

Upon recovering the gem, the madman could regain some of his former self and become more lucid, though will rather "off", as I imagine his mind will likely never recover 100%.  This could launch another quest line where they could seek revenge against the rival, right the wrongs he caused many years ago, or try to restore the madman's former position of importance.

This would put more importance on the rival in this story other than him being some greedy guy who wants a pretty gem.  Of course, he may just be an agent of the true villain, and was told about the gem and that is very valuable, but did not know its true purpose.  The villain knows that the madman has been released from prison by the PCs, and needs to relocate the gem before they find it.

As for the gem itself, it could be a normal gem used as a vessel for the magic, or it could actually be an artifact which traps people's minds.  Who else might have also been a victim of this artifact?  In freeing this man's mind, did they free anyone else's?  Do they have to find the person and get close to them before releasing them from the prison?  Can the other people's minds that are trapped inside of the gem communicate with people holding it?  Treating the gem this way gives you a bunch of plot hooks that you can use.

Hope I helped!
The gem is actually the man's sanity/memories, splintered off and sealed away by his rival many years ago.  Perhaps he was the witness to certain events and could not easily kill him without arousing suspicion;  so he chose to discredit him by making him insane, using powerful magics to fracture his mind.  The madman could have previously been a person of some importance, many many years ago, far fallen from grace now.  

Upon recovering the gem, the madman could regain some of his former self and become more lucid, though will rather "off", as I imagine his mind will likely never recover 100%.  This could launch another quest line where they could seek revenge against the rival, right the wrongs he caused many years ago, or try to restore the madman's former position of importance.



This idea is winsauce.
The PCs have broken an old madman out of a prison, he is obsessed with finding a precious (possibly magical) gem. They're helping him. Also, he has a rival who is also after the gem, but who is more greedy than obsessed/insane.

The gem is, of course, in a dungeon.

The question is, what happens when the old man finds the gem?

The cliche choice would be that the old man becomes evil and the PCs need to fight him. But I'd rather do something else.

Ideas?

Why would they break a madman out of prison and help him in the first place? lol

Well when he gets the gem, he gains the power and sanity he needs just when his rival gets there. His rival is strong, so there you have a boss fight with him as an ally who does weakening attacks on the powerful rival.

Or the man finds the gem, teleports happily, quest completed, but taking the gem triggers enemies (like shadow spawns or something).

The rival could be the man's brother, so that is why they are both after the gem. Or it could be his other half: they were seperated by some powerful magic into two people, and the gem reunites them into one. The rival doesn't want his insanity and the insane guy you're helping wants to be one again. I like this one =P

The gem itself could be a villain, sort of combining aspects of classic intelligent artifacts, it craves to be released on the world.  The PCs have to destroy the gem and possibly battle the rival and the madman who are both been touched by the gem.
They don't need to kill the old man, and he isn't evil, but they need to destroy the gem.

Alternatively, using the intelligent item, one of the two men could get a hold of it, and kill the other (or try to) and battle the PCs. You could even have one of the PCs  get obsessive about it.

Also, there's a lot you could do about the two men, why are they rivals?  Are they like Indiana Jones and Belloch (sic?), who are always competing to get rare items?  Were they school boy rivals that eventually turned into genuine hatred?  Are they simply fellow competitors in a search for the gem?  Are there other parties (who either have sent them or have not yeat appeared, but are also competing to find it?).
 
There's definitely a lot you can do with that though!  Good luck!

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