I need some help with a campaigns story

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I'll be honset I'm in over my head.

I've DMed for quite a while but creating a story has never been my forte.
And now I'm running a campaign where the story is paramount, and I'd really appreciate if someone could help me with it and/or offer some ideas.

I really don't know where to start or what to say or what's even releveant, but here goes:

Plot so far
Each thousand years the Reign of the Gods is threatened by a mortal uprising. Throughout history the gods have always been victorious and with each uprising the gods have tightened the hold over the mortal realms (I'm counting the shadowfell and feywild among the mortal realms).

So once more it's time for a mortal uprising and my players are playing key characters in the dethroning the gods.

There are gods on both sides of the conflict. Those wishing that gods rule the mortals, and those who'd rather the gods have less influence then they currently have.
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Rooting for mortals: Avandra, Bane, Ioun, Melora, The Raven Queen, Zehir

Rooting for gods: Asmodesus, Bahamut, Corellon, Erathis, Gruumsh, Llolth, Pelor, Tiamat, Torog and Vecna

Undecided: Kord, Moradin

Just because some gods are on the same side does not mean they're allies.


Player characters
Daniel winters, hengeyokai paladin of Avandra
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Daneil is Ammut a reoccurring character in this thousand year cycle.

Also know as: Devourer of the Dead and Great of Death

Appearance: the head of a dragon, front of a guulworg and rear of a manticore.

Anything that is killed by it can never rise again.

Ammut is an exarch of the Raven Queen.

It was used to hunt the priests of Orcus and Vecna, slaying them and their minions so that they could never oppose the Raven Queen again.

Ammut is also a creature of destiny, it is said that Ammut will one day bring an end to both Orcus and Vecna, But it is also said that Ammut will be a key character in ending the Era of Immortals.

All of this was greatly disliked by Orcus and Vecna so in a daring coup they captured the Devourer of the dead. They knew that they could not kill a creature favored by death so to trick her they bound Ammut's soul to a mortal body and locked away its memories.

In the end the mortal carrying the Devourer of the Dead died and Ammut itself became tied to the endless wheel of reincarnation, to resurface every thousand years.

The last Ammut was the lover of Sehanine (Rin).

Gry, longtooth shifter seeker
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Gry was adopted at a young age by a group of humans, half-elves and goliaths.
She'll be representing the will of the spirits and mother earth.
Also her biological sister is a powerful servant of Bahamut.
The beast that killed most of her biological family still hunts both her and her sister.

Khara, Kenku storm sorcerer
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Khara acquired her power from an artifact that held the soul of an Ancient blue dragon. The dragon's soul now lives within her subtly affecting the young sorceress.
In story almost her entire flock will be killed by Rhos(see the entry on Rin), but someone (probably a servant of some god or the other) will frame Rin for Rhos' actions.
Hopefully after learning that Rin did not really do it and that both of them are searching for Rhos they'll join forces.

Rin Ciadottir, changeling/human psion|warlord hybrid
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Rin is the reincarnation of the slain Godess Sehanine. Sehanine herself opposes that gods rule over mortals and has fought in every cycle for their cause. Only when the mortals win can she ascend to the astral sea again (instead of being endlessly reincarnated).
Father: Corellon
Mother: Araushnee/Llolth
Siblings: Eilistraee and Vhaeraun

Rins cousin Rhos was kidnapped before the start of the adventure by a group of Kekus.
They're going to preform a ritual on him that'll turn him into a living weapon specially made to combat divine power.


The players where not introduced all at once but one at a time, we also played miniquests that explain why they all join forces.
Currently only Gry and Rin has joined forces, but Daniel will soon join them and then hopefully Khara.

What I need help with
The story is currently lacking an antagonist, or some sort of puppet/chessmaster.
Motivations for the gods (I've got some, but not others and there's just so many of them).
A clear goal for each tier of play (I plan on taking them from heroic to epic).

What I can provide
Complete backstories for the characters.
The history and state of the country the game starts in.
Maps.


Any and all help will be greatly appreciated
~Camelopardalis
I just said in another thread that I'd avoid doing this, but I'm going to sidestep giving you direct ideas and advise another course of action: ask your players.

There's a strong tendency for DMs to want their stories to play out like novels in (at best) the sense that they provide unexpected twists for the characters. (At worst, in that there's a predefined path.) That's a very understandable tendency, and I do it myself. It's fun to think about, just as writing is. But what often happens is that DMs then come to this forum asking us how to get their players invested in this story the DM has written. The joke is that players are only there to ruin story. Funny right? But it's said that when something is funny, examine it closely for a hidden truth.

Part of the truth is that people are more invested in things they help create. You have four other brains at your table, all of whom are already invested in at least part of your story (their characters) in a way no one here ever could be (especially given their unusualness). If you want your story to pop, I really think you need to involve those authors.

Basically, ask them leading questions. "Which gods do you think root for mortals?" "That's an unusual choice. Are they really for the mortals, or are they just playing a deep game?" "Two of the gods on the same side hate each other more than their actual enemies. Which two, and why?" Perhaps the best thing we can help you with here are questions to take back to your group.

Turn to them. Accept any answer they give you, and add on to it. Everyone should take that tack. Avoid blocking. Seeming contradictions would usually be a problem, but gods can certainly come across as contradictory and that should raise a lot of interesting questions (perhaps to be answered later, again by the group) as to why.

This isn't guaranteed to work. You need a group that wants to see the game and the others at the table succeed, and everyone needs to be able to let go of ideas sometimes, including the DM.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Turn to them. Accept any answer they give you, and add on to it. Everyone should take that tack. Avoid blocking. Seeming contradictions would usually be a problem, but gods can certainly come across as contradictory and that should raise a lot of interesting questions (perhaps to be answered later, again by the group) as to why.



No surprise that I'm with Centauri on this one. I liked this part quoted above in particular because it's the contradictions themselves that make for some really interesting stuff. A recent example in a game I'm running had one of the players establish that a nasty bullywug pirate captain has a human "daughter," a little girl that he adores. WHAT?! That's strange - and interesting! I would have never thought of that in a million years and it turned the story around and took it in a new direction once the PCs rescued her, an NPC that simply didn't exist before the players made her up. It makes Captain Burrp redeemable and gave the PCs leverage they didn't have before. If we wanted to, this relationship could be explored.

I'm sure you'll get some good feedback from some of the storyteller DMs in this forum, so I just have a couple of questions: Before you started this plot-based campaign, what were you doing before? What made you go from what you were doing to this style of play?

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Turn to them. Accept any answer they give you, and add on to it. Everyone should take that tack. Avoid blocking. Seeming contradictions would usually be a problem, but gods can certainly come across as contradictory and that should raise a lot of interesting questions (perhaps to be answered later, again by the group) as to why.

No surprise that I'm with Centauri on this one. I liked this part quoted above in particular because it's the contradictions themselves that make for some really interesting stuff.

Rereading that, I want to make clear that I mean "everyone in this group" should do this, as it really doesn't work if only one person does it, especially if others are actively doing the opposite.

Seriously, though, I do think everyone who plays D&D should at least try this approach.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Thanks guys.

I do like when the players alter the story. but in my experience very few players seem willing to try, even when I try to encurage them to do so.
Asking them about gods is an idea, only one of them actually knows some DnD lore but it shouldn't be imposible to get the others to read the basic concepts of the gods.
I'll do that and see what answers I can get from them

Q: Before you started this plot-based campaign, what were you doing before?

A: I was doing campaigns with rather loose plot, making it up along the way and using character backstories to fuel story events (my way of rewarding them for making one at all). Lots of improvising, and going with the flow.

Q: What made you go from what you were doing to this style of play?

A: My players were pushing for a more story/intrigue/plot based campaign, with lots of opportunities for roleplay. And well, it's their fun time as well.
So I gave them a couple of questions to answer (how much combat, magic, diveinfluence there was to be in the game, where it would take place etc).
And then I gave them five scenarios to vote between, and they choose this one.

I wasn't finished with a lot of thing, but they were really excited about the campaign and well so was I. So I started the campaign with a lot of the plot unfinished (but with most worldbuilding done).
Obviously a bad choice, 'cause now I'm here begging for advice.
I do like when the players alter the story. but in my experience very few players seem willing to try, even when I try to encurage them to do so.

If you enjoy it, and want to encourage the group to contribute, there are ways.

First of all, don't think of it as "altering the story." Try to think of it as "writing" the story. Feel free to come up with your own path for how you'd like things to go, but be aware that people often have their own paths in mind, even if they can't put words to them, and with that in mind recognize that your ideas are really only just ideas until they're spoken or put into action. So, if a player suggests something that is different from something else you had in mind, the players idea is how it is. If it's compatible, your idea might also be how it is, but if not, you may need to set that idea aside for another time - or forever.

Make it clear that every idea will be accepted and added on to. This can lead to some craziness, but it's the only good way I know to show players that there's no risk of someone shutting their idea down. That fear of rejection or "getting it wrong" is often a big reason why people don't offer ideas.

Some people express ideas without realizing it or with unconscious qualifiers meant to mitigate the risk of failure. If you hear "I assume," or "Wouldn't it be cool if," or "This makes me think of," scoop up that idea and incorporate it, so they can see that their ideas can be made useful.

Asking them about gods is an idea, only one of them actually knows some DnD lore

That's ok. You'll be establishing new lore, or additional lore. Start with the basics, so as not to overwhelm them, and then let them create the popular myths and beliefs about these gods.

but it shouldn't be imposible to get the others to read the basic concepts of the gods.

Assume that it will be. Don't assign homework. The whole idea is to obtain and maintain player investment in these ideas by having them create the details that are interesting to them. Based on their character concepts, it's clear that they're creative, so tap into that. I bet they could go on for hours about their character without ever having memorized anything anyone told them they had to read.

I'll do that and see what answers I can get from them

Best of luck. It's very exciting when it works.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I'll give a little more direct advice, by asking a few questions that will hopefully help you flesh things out. Also go check out the Mortal Kombat movie/plots. Its all about realm v realm battles. 


Each thousand years the Reign of the Gods is threatened by a mortal uprising.

What allows the mortals to do this every thousand years?

So once more it's time for a mortal uprising and my players are playing key characters in the dethroning the gods.

Why? This is a great thing to ask your players. Why are you interested in dethroning the gods? Hopefully they give you some solid direction for the plot.
and those who'd rather the gods have less influence then they currently have.

Why would they want this?

The story is currently lacking an antagonist, or some sort of puppet/chessmaster.

How about a rival group who are also trying to become gods. Maybe this other group is total jerks? Provides some motivation, so that the players don't want them to gain all that power.

Motivations for the gods (I've got some, but not others and there's just so many of them).

Do you need to include them all? I'd cut it down to just the ones you see playing an important role. Here is a good chance to ask your players which gods they want to include. I'd also leave it ambiguious as to why some gods feel a certain way. 

A clear goal for each tier of play (I plan on taking them from heroic to epic).


Heroic- Do something that allows them to be the specific ones to challenge the gods. I'd let them, the rival group, and maybe a few others succeed. Maybe one from each nation or culture. 


Paragon Tier - The weeding out. The PCs directly compete against the other groups and vie to become the only remaining one.  


Epic- The PCs battle gods. At the begining of this tier, I'd do something to make it so that the gods who want to give PCs power are defeated and on the verge of death.




"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"

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I would encourage you to allow more of the gods to be undecided, and thus give the players opportunities to foster support from gods and try to position them favourably towards the uprising mortals.

Although honestly this sounds more like a battle among the gods themselves where the conflict is over the role mortals play in the cosmos. Some gods see the mortals as players, others see them as pawns. Some gods want to allow the mortals greater freedoms, while others want mere slaves. Given that the players themselves are more than mortal (reincarnated god, avatar of the primal, soul of the dragon, etc.) this doesn't seem to me a conflict between the mortal races and the Gods. Not that that is a bad thing, it's just how I interpret the information given.

Regarding an antagonist, there was a post on these forums a while back about a homebrew god, you might find it useful:
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
I don't know how to quote yet, I'm very new to this forum.

Q: Each thousand years the Reign of the Gods is threatened by a mortal uprising. What allows the mortals to do this every thousand years?

A: A couple of things: each cycle a couple of "heroes" are reborn that have been prophesied to bring the end of the immortal reign. A growing sense of discontent among the the mortal races for being treated as pawns by most gods. Also as the gods power of the mortal realms increase the world spirit stirs (if I remember correctly the world spirit threw the gods and the primordials out of the mortal world for wreaking too much havoc in the dawn wars).

Q: Why? This is a great thing to ask your players. Why are you interested in dethroning the gods? Hopefully they give you some solid direction for the plot.

A: Such motives have yet to be established for most characters since they're unaware of the role they're going to play (only the one playing Ammut/Daniel is currently aware of it).
I'm going to throw this destiny stuff on them and see how their characters react. If they reject it or embrace it, to see if they'll go through "the heroes journey" refusing the call, coming to terms with it etc.
The one playing Daniel was very accepting of it, but then again he was brought up to believe that he was some sort of protector of freedom.

For all I know they might choose to side with the gods on the issue, and then it'll be a very different campaign.

Q: and those who'd rather the gods have less influence then they currently have.
Why would they want this?

A: Think of the kenkus, they displeased the Raven Queen and she ripped their wings right of off them. If you don't pray to the right god they might just throw obstacles in your way to spite you (not praying to Kord might land you in a storm at sea).
Holy wars between different gods in a city might very well ruin it.
Being told "do as I say or be punished" by a god is a bit frightening, especially if the god isn't very nice to begin with. Living in fear and blind obedience is not fun.
Not that diminishing the gods power will put an end to all these thing, but we all like to blame someone for our misfortune.

Statement: How about a rival group who are also trying to become gods. Maybe this other group is total jerks? Provides some motivation, so that the players don't want them to gain all that power.

A: Oooh, interesting! I really like that. Perhaps telling the people that they'll be much better gods than the ones they currently have?
I find this line of thought very interesting, I'll have to think about it.

About the gods: I followed Centauri's advice about asking my players and in doing so more gods became unaligned. Six gods for each faction.
And my players provided some motivation for each god, I never told them if a god was traditionally viewed as evil or good so it was rather interesting to her them discuss and interpret them.

Statement:

Heroic- Do something that allows them to be the specific ones to challenge the gods. I'd let them, the rival group, and maybe a few others succeed. Maybe one from each nation or culture.

Paragon Tier - The weeding out. The PCs directly compete against the other groups and vie to become the only remaining one.  

Epic- The PCs battle gods. At the beginning of this tier, I'd do something to make it so that the gods who want to give PCs power are defeated and on the verge of death.

My thoughts: I like the idea for heroic, but for paragon I'll probably go more for cooperation (and probably backstabbing) between the different groups. Trying to organize whilst still remaining hidden from the gods.

I like the idea for epic, with their supporters beaten and on the verge of death.

Statement: Although honestly this sounds more like a battle among the gods themselves where the conflict is over the role mortals play in the cosmos. Some gods see the mortals as players, others see them as pawns. Some gods want to allow the mortals greater freedoms, while others want mere slaves. Given that the players themselves are more than mortal (reincarnated god, avatar of the primal, soul of the dragon, etc.) this doesn't seem to me a conflict between the mortal races and the Gods. Not that that is a bad thing, it's just how I interpret the information given.

My thoughts: when you say it like that, I more thought of the main PCs as front figures in the conflict.
I gave them that kind of power so that none of them would feel like they're lesser than their fellow players.
The soul of the dragon will probably be the most fun for me, 'cause it'll most likely vote Tiamat (and she's all for the gods continued reign). Likely leading to some sort of battle for dominance inside Khara's soul.

That hombrew god also sounded interesting.

It's real good talking to you guys, you help me get my thoughts straight and sorted.
I don't know why it is so popular in 4e but every campaign I've seen is centred around the gods, or Orcus. It's very unoriginal. Not saying my campaign is original, but the whole gods being dethroned and Orcus rising is very cliche.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

{quote} words you want to quote {/quote} but use [these things] instead. 


Anything else you want us to check out? Im interested in this campaign and hearing more about it. 

"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"

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Thanks Krusk


Anything else you want us to check out?



Not at the moment, but thanks for the offer.


Im interested in this campaign and hearing more about it.



I wrote a real long comment, and then my computer froze and I lost it.
I'd love to tell you more, but I'm feeling a bit crestfallen at the moment.
  Love your idea. Hope this helps.

  How about using the Trojan War approach? The Gods all agree not to interfere in the affairs of Man directly. Using agents and intermediates is how They further Their agendas.This creates separation within Their ranks. Mankind is making strides in every area of life.Art,magic,literature,invention.

  They are on the verge of stepping out of the shadow cast by the Gods.Men will still worship the Gods,but won't depend on Them like before.Some of the Gods see this as a step toward independence,but a few will feel threatened.

  Perhaps it's like a micro-senate.The votes are in and it's a tie.An agent for the opposing Gods has been given power in order to serve.This could create a demi-god-there's your puppetmaster.

  The Gods use Their followers like voters in an election.The most followers wins it for their side.Maybe instead of powering up the PC's,you could power down the Gods.Losing temples robs Them of Their power and weakens Their followers.

For the tiers

Establish the sides,know who to pray to and who to deny.

Find the temples,statues,shrines,etc.

Battle between champions for Man'sGods and the oppposing Gods' champions.

  Again,love the idea.I DM'd a campaign set in ancient Greece.Three of the Olympian Gods were secretly against Zeus and co.
 Hades,Eris and...Hera.This last one shocked the party.

  Hope this helps,you have a great idea and a lot of good advice.Happy gaming!
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