Possible plot and RP difficulty.

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Okay, first some back ground.  
A few months ago, the party freed a Demon who had been held in a long forgotten magic circle for several centuries in return for power in the form of exp., and a bit of cash. They then took a contract from a wizard to find and collect 5 magical shards that, when combined, create a key that the patron wizard believes will open a gate to the library of a great conjurer who died a few centuries ago. They have found two of the shards, and on the way out of the tomb in which the second was buried with its owner, they have encountered the demon that they freed.

We stopped at this point last session, because one of the players, who was absent both at this session and the one where the demon was initially freed, has been very keen to meet this NPC.  

1) I have been having a difficult time figuring out how to reunite the party, as the keen player was off on a beer run more or less, and doesn't know where the tomb is, and several of the other players have stated that they feel simply saying "poof! he was with the party all along, just quiet etc." denies them a solid RP experience, as stated RP would be changed.  I don't fully agree with this, but I have no wish to act against the player's wishes, so does anyone have a suggestion on how to resolve this?

2) The demon wants the shards that they have, and will, now that he is free of his restraints, demand them of the party.  I already have set pretty well in stone the idea that he will be checking a pocket watch during the convo., and if combat is engaged he will simple summon a few minor devils to cover his escape off to some appointment or other. He will offer, if the party keeps in the convo. for a bit, to take the place of their wizard patron, and have them keep the two shards they have, in order to gain the trust of the wizard, and the location of the other shards.  If this is accepted, how best, in your mind(s) to run a demonic patron, and do you see any potential problems arising from this?

3) The wizard patron, and the demon are not the only factions looking for these shards, as the party will soon discover if they have not already(the tomb had fresh corpses of two factions searching for the pieces, who met eachother in the tomb. Unfortunately the party did not search the bodies, and thus do not have the various notes, tattoos, etc.)  So, how best to show them that there are other factions involved, without blatantly saying it, or throwing an unnecessary encounter (which, at least as I see it, would be unlikely given that a great deal of resources were lost by the factions whose men were killed in the tomb, and too many of their people in that area would seem unrealistic)? 
1) I have been having a difficult time figuring out how to reunite the party, as the keen player was off on a beer run more or less, and doesn't know where the tomb is, and several of the other players have stated that they feel simply saying "poof! he was with the party all along, just quiet etc." denies them a solid RP experience, as stated RP would be changed.  I don't fully agree with this, but I have no wish to act against the player's wishes, so does anyone have a suggestion on how to resolve this?

Retconning is fine and extremely useful. Get comfortable with it.

I don't know why "stated RP" would have to be changed, or what "solid RP experience" you think you'd be denying them, but if they're alright with that, then don't worry about it.

So, how best to show them that there are other factions involved, without blatantly saying it, or throwing an unnecessary encounter (which, at least as I see it, would be unlikely given that a great deal of resources were lost by the factions whose men were killed in the tomb, and too many of their people in that area would seem unrealistic)?

Don't just tell them about the other factions, work with them to figure out the details of those factions. The players will be more engaged with the idea when it's something they figured out, and you won't have to worry about realism nearly as much.

Why does the game itself work when it's so unrealistic? Because people are bought into it working. That's the secret. That's all you need to make the most ridiculous concepts work: buy in. But that means having the players on your side and even collaborating directly with you.

Good luck.

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

1) I have been having a difficult time figuring out how to reunite the party, as the keen player was off on a beer run more or less, and doesn't know where the tomb is, and several of the other players have stated that they feel simply saying "poof! he was with the party all along, just quiet etc." denies them a solid RP experience, as stated RP would be changed.  I don't fully agree with this, but I have no wish to act against the player's wishes, so does anyone have a suggestion on how to resolve this?



I'm also in the camp that this doesn't seem to be a huge issue as players in our party are constantly catching up to us after a session or two (or all of them, in one player's case) off, but if it's what your players want, it's what your players want. A couple sessions back, I deliberately got my previous PC killed off to be replaced by a better-built character who could actually do his job. Part of what made things a little interesting was that we were in the middle of a dungeon, and the DM stuck me a couple rooms away from the party so we could "meet up". That little bit might help, but then you'll have to work out how he got there, and I think this is best done taking the player aside and having a quick chat just to make sure the two of you are telling the same story. If he wants to be a dedicated RP-er, he'll embellish it a bit, and I can't imagine a small amount of retconning will be overly detrimental to the rest of the part, whether they told the Innkeeper to pass on their destination when the other guy got back or he asked around and found someone who overheard their conversation (that probably didn't actually happen).

2) The demon wants the shards that they have, and will, now that he is free of his restraints, demand them of the party.  I already have set pretty well in stone the idea that he will be checking a pocket watch during the convo., and if combat is engaged he will simple summon a few minor devils to cover his escape off to some appointment or other. He will offer, if the party keeps in the convo. for a bit, to take the place of their wizard patron, and have them keep the two shards they have, in order to gain the trust of the wizard, and the location of the other shards.  If this is accepted, how best, in your mind(s) to run a demonic patron, and do you see any potential problems arising from this?



It's probably a pretty minor issue, but 4E doesn't make demons out to be overly sophisticated creatures. MM1 goes into a lot of detail about how mindlessly obsessed with pure violence and carnage they are. Granted, I doubt your players have read the Monster Manual and will call you on this, but it's not exactly "canon" for D&D. Also, probably a pretty minor issue because you're free to play in whatever world you want, so you can totally have a world where demons aren't the mindless engines of destruction that 4E wants them to be and are more in line with, pretty much any other depiction of demons.

That said, I don't see much of an issue. The overall quest doesn't change; they're still off to track down the shards. They'll have some very different interactions (with the Wizard especially), but the short term should be pretty by the book and give you time to start planning ahead for what the demon might try to do with the shards, what'll happen if the Wizard gets wise to their betrayal, things like that that you'll need to have an idea of further down the line.

3) The wizard patron, and the demon are not the only factions looking for these shards, as the party will soon discover if they have not already(the tomb had fresh corpses of two factions searching for the pieces, who met eachother in the tomb. Unfortunately the party did not search the bodies, and thus do not have the various notes, tattoos, etc.)  So, how best to show them that there are other factions involved, without blatantly saying it, or throwing an unnecessary encounter (which, at least as I see it, would be unlikely given that a great deal of resources were lost by the factions whose men were killed in the tomb, and too many of their people in that area would seem unrealistic)? 



D&D players not looting every corpse they find? What sorcery is this?

How do you feel about metagaming a bit? My DM has been shameless about telling us that there are going to be massive ramifications for our betrayal of the government we were working for. Would it hurt too much to simply say, "You know you guys aren't the only ones looking for the shards, right?" I mean, they're powerful magical artifacts deeply tied to local mythology. Would this be a major revelation to anyone? Just giving them the hint will probably (especially since they seem to care deeply about their role-playing as evidenced by point 1) motivate them to start looking more carefully for clues and actively ask around when there are NPCs around about these other factions.
"It's probably a pretty minor issue, but 4E doesn't make demons out to be overly sophisticated creatures. MM1 goes into a lot of detail about how mindlessly obsessed with pure violence and carnage they are. Granted, I doubt your players have read the Monster Manual and will call you on this, but it's not exactly "canon" for D&D. Also, probably a pretty minor issue because you're free to play in whatever world you want, so you can totally have a world where demons aren't the mindless engines of destruction that 4E wants them to be and are more in line with, pretty much any other depiction of demons."

Perhaps I should have clarified, this possible patron is not a lower level "Soulless" demon, it is an upper level demon that functions as described in the 4e Demonomicon ie: has a soul, knows his/its own truename, has a slice of the Abyss carved out to call home. 
1) I have been having a difficult time figuring out how to reunite the party, as the keen player was off on a beer run more or less, and doesn't know where the tomb is, and several of the other players have stated that they feel simply saying "poof! he was with the party all along, just quiet etc." denies them a solid RP experience, as stated RP would be changed.  I don't fully agree with this, but I have no wish to act against the player's wishes, so does anyone have a suggestion on how to resolve this?



Yes, ask your players. You seem to think it's okay to assume he was there all along. They seem to think this robs them of something. So ultimately the only people who know what will work for them in this scenario are the players themselves. Straight-up ask them what they think would make the most sense and do that. They seem to have an idea of what they don't want. Now ask them what they do want, with the understanding that a fellow player shouldn't be sidelined against their wishes.

2) The demon wants the shards that they have, and will, now that he is free of his restraints, demand them of the party.  I already have set pretty well in stone the idea that he will be checking a pocket watch during the convo., and if combat is engaged he will simple summon a few minor devils to cover his escape off to some appointment or other. He will offer, if the party keeps in the convo. for a bit, to take the place of their wizard patron, and have them keep the two shards they have, in order to gain the trust of the wizard, and the location of the other shards.  If this is accepted, how best, in your mind(s) to run a demonic patron, and do you see any potential problems arising from this?



Yes, the demonic patron is a super-nice fellow, always happy to help, and overly-generous with those that serve him. He takes the form of a doting old man with a fondness for weak tea.

3) The wizard patron, and the demon are not the only factions looking for these shards, as the party will soon discover if they have not already(the tomb had fresh corpses of two factions searching for the pieces, who met eachother in the tomb. Unfortunately the party did not search the bodies, and thus do not have the various notes, tattoos, etc.)  So, how best to show them that there are other factions involved, without blatantly saying it, or throwing an unnecessary encounter (which, at least as I see it, would be unlikely given that a great deal of resources were lost by the factions whose men were killed in the tomb, and too many of their people in that area would seem unrealistic)? 



Tell realism to take a hike. This is a fantasy game - consistency is what's important and that can mean just about anything (even illogical unrealistic things) as long as it follows in the fiction. So throw some extra people from whatever factions you want in there. As long as the previously established fiction didn't say, "They don't have many people in their faction" then you're fine.

As an aside, perhaps you might consider a standard operating procedure when it comes to certain aspects of the game. With player buy-in upfront, you can establish that the characters are always searching bodies, always looking for secret doors and traps, always reading shady NPCs for truthfulness, or the fighter is always marking if he attacks, or whatever. If they don't want to do one of these actions, they can say that when it comes up. Otherwise, you can presume they do these things and give them the results. Since it does presume a character action, you need to get the players' buy-in on this upfront and don't abuse it by playing "gotcha."

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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 Actually, the easiest and most logical thing to do from a narative point of view IS to straight out tell them about the other factions - they've just bumped into the demon, who's already introduced himself as one of those competing factions, and thus it would be fairly logical for him to bring up the dead people from the other factions, at least in passing... It would certainly help his cause to portray the situation as the party being absolutely surrounded by enemies seeking the shards (whether or not that many enemies actually exist) and that it's in the party's best interests to join with his cause.

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Actually, the easiest and most logical thing to do from a narative point of view IS to straight out tell them about the other factions - they've just bumped into the demon, who's already introduced himself as one of those competing factions, and thus it would be fairly logical for him to bring up the dead people from the other factions, at least in passing... It would certainly help his cause to portray the situation as the party being absolutely surrounded by enemies seeking the shards (whether or not that many enemies actually exist) and that it's in the party's best interests to join with his cause.

Ooh, they were dead, until a demon agreed to raise them in return for some service....

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

Perhaps I should have clarified, this possible patron is not a lower level "Soulless" demon, it is an upper level demon that functions as described in the 4e Demonomicon ie: has a soul, knows his/its own truename, has a slice of the Abyss carved out to call home. 



Didn't know there was such a thing (the Demons you described, not the Demonomicon itself). I'll have to try and add the "-nomicons" to my library at some point…