Need a secret from the mouth of Vecna

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So for the session tonight my heroes are likely to kill a Dracolich and free the once imprisoned god of secrets, Vecna. As a reward for their accidental save, he will bestow upon them a great secret. I've talked to the players and they love it, but I've been talking up this big secret that will really bother their characters; however, I cannot think of a darn thing. If you, the people of the forums, could throw some vague ideas at me so I can fit them into my lore that would be fantastic.
Who better to ask what reveal will really bother their characters than the players themselves?

Whatever it is, it should lead to the next adventure (or one in the future). 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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So for the session tonight my heroes are likely to kill a Dracolich and free the once imprisoned god of secrets, Vecna. As a reward for their accidental save, he will bestow upon them a great secret. I've talked to the players and they love it, but I've been talking up this big secret that will really bother their characters; however, I cannot think of a darn thing. If you, the people of the forums, could throw some vague ideas at me so I can fit them into my lore that would be fantastic.



Have each player write something their character would fear to learn on a piece of paper. All the pieces go into a hat/bowl/bag, and one is drawn when the dragon dies. That fear now becomes fact.
Ask the players.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

"(Player X), I am your father!"
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Asking is a good way to go, assuming the players will tell you the truth. 

When players in my group create characters we write backstories with flaws, traits, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, etc.  If you do the same this would be a good time to look through those to build some ideas.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
Asking is a good way to go, assuming the players will tell you the truth.

Interesting caveat. What would a lie look like in this case? And what would be the reason to lie?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Another possibility, if you are using 4E there are Boons which can be granted by gods, and several specifically by Vecna. The secret is so terrible you cannot give voice to it, but the knowledge alters the hero in some way, and they tap into the secret to access the Boon.

Another possibility, if you are using 4E there are Boons which can be granted by gods, and several specifically by Vecna. The secret is so terrible you cannot give voice to it, but the knowledge alters the hero in some way, and they tap into the secret to access the Boon.

I like that. It's sort of like the Draconic Prophecy: a world- and epoch-spanning McGuffin.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Remember, Vecna and secrets are a lot like Fight Club. Rule 1: You do not discuss secrets. Rule 2: You DO NOT DISCUSS SECRETS!

Vecna's followers rarely share stuff with each other, much less random heroes who tend to want to build very public legends.
Asking is a good way to go, assuming the players will tell you the truth.

Interesting caveat. What would a lie look like in this case? And what would be the reason to lie?




It would probably look like the truth. 

I should also add it may not be something the players are immediately aware of, as in maybe they haven't given it a lot of thought.  I believe it could be worthwhile exploring.  The idea of generating fear in a roleplaying game is something that deserves a long and well thought out conversation.

Real fear, as in horror or terror.

As far as the lieing, I think in this particular case lieing is more of a defense mechanism then anything else.  We often hide our deepest fears so thoroughly that we are unaware of them most of the time.  To find these fears it may be necessary to explore things the player considers taboo, assuming the player is comfortable enough to be uncomfortable and reveal perceived weaknesses. 
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
Asking is a good way to go, assuming the players will tell you the truth.

Interesting caveat. What would a lie look like in this case? And what would be the reason to lie?

It would probably look like the truth.

I should also add it may not be something the players are immediately aware of, as in maybe they haven't given it a lot of thought.  I believe it could be worthwhile exploring.  The idea of generating fear in a roleplaying game is something that deserves a long and well thought out conversation.

Real fear, as in horror or terror.

Do you consider the fear from a movie or other fictional source to be "real fear"?

As far as the lieing, I think in this particular case lieing is more of a defense mechanism then anything else.  We often hide our deepest fears so thoroughly that we are unaware of them most of the time.  To find these fears it may be necessary to explore things the player considers taboo, assuming the player is comfortable enough to be uncomfortable and reveal perceived weaknesses.

The issue is with bothering the characters, not necessarily (and probably not preferably) the players themselves. Some things that would horrify my character are merely interesting to me.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

 
Asking is a good way to go, assuming the players will tell you the truth.

Interesting caveat. What would a lie look like in this case? And what would be the reason to lie?

It would probably look like the truth.

I should also add it may not be something the players are immediately aware of, as in maybe they haven't given it a lot of thought.  I believe it could be worthwhile exploring.  The idea of generating fear in a roleplaying game is something that deserves a long and well thought out conversation.

Real fear, as in horror or terror.

Do you consider the fear from a movie or other fictional source to be "real fear"? 



Yes, otherwise I would have to actually scare my players without being able to do so through a fantasy or fictional setting.  As successful as murdering a player with a heavy bag of dice may be in arousing feelings of horror, it does seem likely to end a players suspension of disbelief and roleplay opportunities in a terminal manner.


As far as the lieing, I think in this particular case lieing is more of a defense mechanism then anything else.  We often hide our deepest fears so thoroughly that we are unaware of them most of the time.  To find these fears it may be necessary to explore things the player considers taboo, assuming the player is comfortable enough to be uncomfortable and reveal perceived weaknesses.

The issue is with bothering the characters, not necessarily (and probably not preferably) the players themselves. Some things that would horrify my character are merely interesting to me. 



Exactly, horror is individuated.  You cannot take a collectivist approach here to see what would horrify 'the group'.  The group is not a person afterall.

As far as the secret goes, keeping them in suspense and never revealing the full details of the secret could be useful.  The PC's may reveal their own fears with their actions while attempting to unravel its secrets, if they anticipate their greatest fears to be unleashed.  You could see them preparing in unuasual ways.

-I read this wrong the first time. 

But I still agree.  Hense the suspension of disbelief and my response to part 1.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
Exactly, horror is individuated.  You cannot take a collectivist approach here to see what would horrify 'the group'.  The group is not a person afterall.

You can, because it's fictional. The group can work together and agree on something that horrifies every character. That might not mean that they draw the same conclusions from it, or deal with it in the same way (unless there are mechanical effects from it), but if everyone states "my character is horrified by this" then it's true.

As far as the secret goes, keeping them in suspense and never revealing the full details of the secret could be useful.  The PC's may reveal their own fears with their actions while attempting to unravel its secrets, if they anticipate their greatest fears to be unleashed.  You could see them preparing in unuasual ways.

I'd be careful with this. For a character to prepare for something can mean that their player actually does want to see it happen, or strongly expects it to. Subverting that can make the player feel tricked out of what they "spent" on the preparations, even if it's only time.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

How about something like this: With your players' buy-in, of course, one character's eye is revealed to be the Eye of Vecna. And another character's hand is revealed to be the Hand of Vecna. It has long been the goal of the artifacts to be reunited and through Vecna's various machinations, it has happened. But how? Explore that bit with the players through collaborative storytelling or by playing to find out.

Meanwhile, the fact that these artifacts are reunited heralds a time of advancing darkness that only the PCs have a chance to stop. But how will they do that if the goals of the attached artifacts are opposed to their own goals? Play to find out.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Exactly, horror is individuated.  You cannot take a collectivist approach here to see what would horrify 'the group'.  The group is not a person afterall.

You can, because it's fictional. The group can work together and agree on something that horrifies every character. That might not mean that they draw the same conclusions from it, or deal with it in the same way (unless there are mechanical effects from it), but if everyone states "my character is horrified by this" then it's true.



Thats still not a collectivist approach, its an individuated approach whereby you reach consensus.  I don't want to get into semantics here, I'll just say that we agree in concept, just possibly not on terminology and move on.

As far as the secret goes, keeping them in suspense and never revealing the full details of the secret could be useful.  The PC's may reveal their own fears with their actions while attempting to unravel its secrets, if they anticipate their greatest fears to be unleashed.  You could see them preparing in unuasual ways.

I'd be careful with this. For a character to prepare for something can mean that their player actually does want to see it happen, or strongly expects it to. Subverting that can make the player feel tricked out of what they "spent" on the preparations, even if it's only time.  



Horror campaigns are a totally different breed than heroic campaigns.  I seriously doubt what he is doing is making a horror campaign, or even in the same vein as those campaigns.  However using thematic elements from a horror game for a 'chapter' or 'episode' in a heroic campaign can be done effectively-although I would certainly encourage player buy in and discussion, as it probably wasn't discussed beforehand.  Which would easily enough alleviate any unintentional tension from such action.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
Guys, OP asked for suggestions, not debate. He can decide if a suggestion is worth taking or not.
The characters are not real. They are mearly a facet of imagination controlled by the whims of otherworldly beings greater in power than even the mightiest of gods. Their actions serve only as proxy to such beings, and they shall never know true freedom unless they can find a way to defy their mysterious masters.

.....What 4th wall? XD
The characters are not real. They are mearly a facet of imagination controlled by the whims of otherworldly beings greater in power than even the mightiest of gods. Their actions serve only as proxy to such beings, and they shall never know true freedom unless they can find a way to defy their mysterious masters.

.....What 4th wall? XD

Wow, I like that. The characters can't win unless they find a way to make an entirely independent choice, counter to anything the players would want them to do. Even suicide would not be an escape.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

So I left the thread for sometime as I was busy, but after coming back I like what I've found. I've decided that I will use ToaSama's idea which will definetely bring some thought ot the table. I imagine at first they will be in awe at what these beasts might be, but soon they will realize it is they and boom it hits them! Loved the idea, thanks for bringing it to the table. I also plan to use another secret as a prophecy to foreshadow a great undead war that will take place and it will reveal some secrets that will hlep the heroes stop the twilgiht of life. If they don't figure it out I will likely change the meaning as I will craft it to be ambiguous.
The characters are not real. They are mearly a facet of imagination controlled by the whims of otherworldly beings greater in power than even the mightiest of gods. Their actions serve only as proxy to such beings, and they shall never know true freedom unless they can find a way to defy their mysterious masters.

.....What 4th wall? XD

Wow just wow! my hat is off to you sir because that is freakin awesome! hahahaha
So for the session tonight my heroes are likely to kill a Dracolich and free the once imprisoned god of secrets, Vecna. As a reward for their accidental save, he will bestow upon them a great secret. I've talked to the players and they love it, but I've been talking up this big secret that will really bother their characters; however, I cannot think of a darn thing.

Some possible secrets:
- The exact day of the PC's death.
- The PC's saving Vecna wasn't accidental. It was part of his plan.
- Pro wrestling is real.
- One of the PC's will eventually betray the others.
- The location of the Head of Vecna artifact.