Hey everyone. I'm in the works of writing a new camapign and I've just been wracking my brain trying to come up with a decent meta plot. Now i have no shame in picking apart published adventures and scavenging for ideas.
Here is the ideas that I have so far (well, maybe not all of them):
Asmodeus is the main villain. He will be the big bad end game boss. Now the world takes place in standard 4e Points of Light setting only on my own world. I have a map leftover from my last campaign which took place during the reign of the Tiefling empire of Bael Turath. So now the world is mostly in ruins and Asmodeus wants to destroy it and rebuild it in his own image (cliche i know but i like it).
Here are my questions. How does Asmodeus' influence show in the world? How do i give the illusion to my players they are on different adventures, hunting down different adversaries but have them all interconnected?
I have been influenced by reading the Scales of War adventure but i like the idea of using Asmodeus as a Villain instead.
Last point (i know i keep jumping around), Doing research on Asmodeus i came across a story of Asmodeus once being known as Ahriman, a serpent and his twin Jarizian. In my campaign world these two where never gods at first but they became Archangels, Ahriman then being punished and fell into hell becoming Asmodeus. Jarizian becoming the Light, possibly Pelor?
Where should i take this now? Basicly how should the three tiers play out? I would greatly appreciate the feedback! Thanks in advance
Having built many meta plots and story lines I can say this. It never gets easier. Trying to wrap your brain around a whole story that encapsulates not only a set path but also the pliability of free will possessed by the characters is taxing to say the least.
Though first and foremost you asked
How does Asmodeus' influence show in the world?
The best way to really pinpoint an answer for that is to ask: Who is Asmodeus in your campaign? Is Asmodeus a God, demigod, the most powerful arch-devil, just a regular arch-devil? Ideas can run the gamut, depending on power, to influence the campaign world in many different ways.
Is Asmodeus the primary God of Evil in your world? If so, then Asmodeus could be responsible for ALL evil in the entire multiverse. Every evil act could be directly or indirectly influenced by Asmodeus' will. Because Asmodeus exists at all creates the evil which resides in the multiverse. Perhaps every mortal is assigned an incorporeal temptation devil (much like a guardian angel only evil) who isn't powerful enough to do anything but tempt every mortal to evil acts. The little voice in the back of every mortal's mind convincing them they can get away with doing some wrong for their own benefit is actually a devil who inhabits the mortal's body. This way would be very easy to incorporate interconnectedness because it's very easy for the PCs to come across this information say paragon tier or so, when they realize that every evil ploy they foiled had been part of a greater plot to spread evil throughout the multiverse by Asmodeus himself.
Is Asmodeus less powerful than the supreme evil deity? Maybe just a demigod or the most powerful archfiend? If so then there are plenty of ways to make the plots interconnected, however it takes a little more planning and creativity. Maybe not every quest the PCs go on has to do with the main plot line. Just most of them. Those bandits the PCs hunted down to stop from preying on the village where they stopped to get more supplies at level 3? Nothing to do with Asmodeus, just helping out people who needed some help.
Or maybe it was all part of Asmodeus' plot. Perhaps Asmodeus is starting to become aware of the PC's through their actions and it's starting to fulfill a prophecy Asmodeus discovered about himself a millennium ago, but Asmodeus is a busy guy. He has all the Hells to run. Sure a prophecy is important, but it also could be coincidence, so Asmodeus hasn't stepped in directly. He does what devils, nay all Lawful creatures do best. He delegated. Maybe he said cause trouble for this specific group of mortals (the PCs), but he gave that order to a general who gave it to one of his commanders who gave it to one of his captains and so on and so forth through the hellish ranks until it came to someone who was willing to take care of it trying to gain favor and power within the ranks. It doesn't mean that some is particularly good at taking care of these sort of matters. So maybe that devil decided to influence a bunch of nomadic brigands to terrorize a specific town that happens to be on the PC's route. In that way it's still connected to Asmodeus, but it's only an indirect order that got passed down. Now as the PCs gain more power be sure that Asmodeus will delegate to his most powerful followers both hellish and mortal, more direct approaches in dealing with the PCs. Eventually the PCs will foil his plots enough that he will step in directly and try to take care of the PCs.
Another good point to bring up about interconnectedness, is don't tell the PCs up front that the brigands that were attacking the village had anything to do with Asmodeus. Maybe the PCs don't find out the villains they fought at level 3 had anything to do with Asmodeus until waaay later, like level 10 or even at the very end. You can always go into a super villain type monologue explaining the intricate details of the plan. Maybe at level 29, during the final battle with Asmodeus, the PCs are captured, and Asmodeus lays down the whole plan from start to finish. Like a Bond villain, playing up how it doesn't matter if they know the plan now, they'll never escape alive. Muahahaha!!! With this method it really brings home different horrors that have happened during the course of their adventuring career. Perhaps a NPC friend sacrificed himself for the lives of the PCs, during a seemingly unrelated adventure stopping a monster from eating a city of dwarves. Later the PCs find out that it was Asmodeus' doing all along that unleashed that monster upon the dwarves to draw the PCs in and perish, but it was the sacrifice of their friend that saved them all. Now it's personal.
You said you want Asmodeus to try to destroy the world and rebuild it in his image. I think making the other twin Pelor is a really good idea. The constant struggle between the light and the darkness is a classic. Perhaps the party are the followers of Pelor. And Asmodeus has a prophecy saying a group of mortals (apply proper parameters in reference to the party) are the only ones able to prevent Asmodeus' 10000 year reign of darkness.
PCs stop a few different minor threats normal adventuring stuff, brigands, maybe a dungeon or two all the while dropping hints of a cult trying to open a portal to hell, heroic tier ends with a climactic battle between the leader of a cult following Asmodeus, and the PCs.
After the major battle at the end of heroic tier, an emissary of Asmodeus (one of his devil commanders or generals that was in charge of the portal project, one of many in fact.) appears before the PCs and blames them for ruining Lord Asmodeus' plans, hinting at a prophecy. Then throughout the Paragon tier the PCs will be constantly plagued by devils.
Devil appearances and plots will become more and more pronounced. Keep dropping hints about the prophecy, until the PCs decide to investigate it directly. Then it will uncover that they are the chosen ones to prevent Asmodeus' 10000 year reign of terror and darkness turning the world into a living hell (literally). A good final battle would be the PCs hunting the emissary of Asmodeus they met at the end of heroic tier and questioning him about the prophecy.
A good point to note throughout this tier the connection between Pelor and the world should be diminishing, for some reason either the link between Pelor and the world or maybe Pelor himself is growing weaker.
The Devil emissary may have set up a dungeon or citadel. (or the situation may be vise versa. The emissary may hunt down the PCs with a giant horde of hellish beings and half fiends. The PCs could fortify a city to stand against a hellish mob.) Either way the final battle of Paragon tier should be with the emissary of Asmodeus and reveal the whole prophecy.
At the conclusion of the battle with the emissary of Asmodeus, I could see the body of the creature exploding causing a rift which sucks the party into the top layer Hell itself. As soon as they arrive a visage of Asmodeus can appear to them. Properly focusing his attention to the PCs now that they truly realize they are the only ones able to stop Asmodeus.
The Epic tier will consist mostly of traveling through hell trying to get to Asmodeus' stronghold on Nessus, and being tricked by Asmodeus this way and that. Some tricks I see; Asmodeus sends visions of their homes being ravaged and destroyed by devils which run rampant across the material plane, or illusions of fake hope as they travel through hell.
Perhaps time travels more slowly in the Nine Hells, and Asmodeus was able to make several stable rift gates open from Hell to the Material plane, and now Devils control most of the Plane, turning it into another hell. Make the journey through hell particularly grueling. Little food, no water, devil hordes at every turn, no allies. Make the PCs feel truly alone. Once or twice have a supposed ally show up to help through through a couple trials or tribulations only to betray them at a convenient time. A good way I was thinking to end the campaign would be to have the PCs face Asmodeus when they are the most weak, resource depleted, and hopeless. So Asmodeus just toys with them, perhaps capturing them and summarizing his plan (Bond villain style as stated above), and then maybe the PCs receive a vision on how to destroy Asmodeus once and for all, but it requires the PCs to sacrifice themselves in the name of Pelor, but make it a process in which the players have to actively participate in their own destruction, destroying Asmodeus and closing the rifts between the two planes forever.
And the Epilogue can happen a could different ways; You can go to an objective third person view, fast forwarding a little through time, and showing the world peaceful once more with the devil hordes gone, the world returns to a peaceful state and four (or however many PCs there are) new stars shine brightly in the sky protecting the world and serving as a lock on the gates between the material plane and hell.
Or the PCs stand in front of Pelor's, obviously dead, but Pelor shows the PCs the world, as it heals from the damage, and his link to it restored. And maybe Pelor mentions, "It's time to rejoin my essence, the life force in which I created you out of." Hinting either all mortals are part of his divine being or maybe the party was always pieces of himself that he put out into the world foreseeing this catastrophe all along, and the reason he was growing weaker is because the players were growing stronger, and he was funneling more of his divine essence into the PCs.
That's just how I would set it up. Of course this still leads a lot of player in put in each tier of how they are going to proceed with each of the necessary conflicts. Anyway I hope this helped. Good luck, let me know what you come up with, and happy DMing.
]Last point (i know i keep jumping around), Doing research on Asmodeus i came across a story of Asmodeus once being known as Ahriman, a serpent and his twin Jazirian.
In my campaign world these two where never gods at first but they became Archangels, Ahriman then being punished and fell into hell becoming Asmodeus. Jazirian becoming the Light, possibly Pelor?
Jazirian was originally the couatl deity of Community, Peace, Learning, and Parenthood, which seems more in keeping with Erathis the Goddess of Civilization, her allies are normally Pelor and Ioun.
This would make more sense in a plot to destroy the “civilized” world, although I’d be more inclined to say Asmodeus will destroy civilization and rebuild it with his version. His ally in this would primarily be Bane and possibly Zehir (an homage to the original serpent Ahriman).
A quick glance through “Devil” indicates no Radiant vulnerabilty, which limits some of Pelor’s gifts.
Pulling Bane in gives you the choice of utilizing the Iron Circle at lower levels as a main antagonist; by mid-heroic the devils will begin to appear.
You could also impede the PCs by having the agents of the primal powers hindering both sides in hopes for a collapse of all civilizations.
The Vault of Pacts wasn’t destroyed when Arkhosia got its final posthumous revenge. Instead, it was pulled down into the deep earth; there (as mostly discredited prophecies foresee) to lie in darkness until the day the New Emperor arises, a tiefling whose destiny it is to forge Bael Turath anew. The Vault has be opened by a false emporer, perhaps a PC or one of their allies is the true heir. Whether the New Emperor will stand for good or ill, not even the prophecies know, but the false emporer has the backing of Asmodeus and the Crimson Legion.
Playing into your aspect of the tiefling empire could be the ruined stronghold of Vor Rukoth, which holds Najala’s Gate – a direct link to hell that if opened would unleash the legions of Hell upon the world.
Thank you for the great responses! I really do appreciate them.
To answer your question DeathbyDonut, Yes Asmodeus is the main Deity of Evil but the others are still there. I like your ideas morandir62, about him allying with Bane and Zehir. That would deinately work well with filling in some holes and not having Asmodeus literally be around every corner.
I'm not sure if i want the entire epic tier adventuring through the Nine Hells, Unless I can use the illusions to my advantage and conceivably have one or two dungeons for them to adventure through. Another fun idea would to have a massive war start fighting its way through the Nine Hells towards Asmodeus.
Pulling ideas from Scales of War. I like how Tiamat succeeded in destroying Bahamut (kinda). I know Jarizian was originally the couatl deity, but for what i have going i'm thinking of having Pelor's true form being one of the twin serpents. Now what if Asmodeus knows that the only way to achieve his goal was to weaken and eventually slay Pelor?
Another vision in my head was now that the Nine Hells was a planet. What if Asmodeus moved it? What if he physically moved the planet towards the world and covered it in an everlasting eclipse! That would definitely weaken Pelor further as his followers cant contact him unless of course he is already gone as Pelor wouldn't let something like this happen in the first place.
I do like the idea of using Vor Rukoth as a location. The portals to the Nine Hells could well be there, possibly have it as the battleground for the ending of the Heroic Tier leader of Asmodeus' Cults.
What is the Vault of Pacts? This isn't something i'm familiar with but it sounds interesting and I may add this into my campaign with a bit more information.
Okay, So to tie in with Asmodeus having his hand with everything i think Heroic Tier should look like this.
Goblins: Not sure their name yet but they will have been supplied weapons and resources by the Iron Circle to cause trouble for travellers, possiblya distraction to the Iron Circles true plans. | | V Iron Circle: Followers of Bane. They will invade the city the players are in, possibly siege. They are looking for something that will be useful to their advisor, a membor of the Crimson Legion. Followers of Bane will be structured like Military, with their General being advised by a Warlock | | V Crimson Legion: Followers of Asmodeus. Looking for something to assist them in getting the gate at Vor Rukoth open. an artifact from my last campaign is something called the "Black Altar". This will be the epic conclusion to the Heroic Tier, a battle against a cult trying to open a permanent gateway between Hell and Earth, fueled by a milennia of souls destroied by the Black Altar
The Black Altar is an artifact thats thousands upon thousands of years old created by asmodeus when he first became the ruler of hell. In my last campaign this altar was used by an evil paladin king to sacrafice his people and harvest their souls. the last group broke it into pieces and dropped most of them into the ocean. But nothing is to say they aren't trying to reforge it! The black altars usefulness is that when a soul is killed upon the altar, no matter how innocent or good this person was in life, their soul is tainted and finds its way to hell. Now how can the players destroy this artifact without just breaking it up like they did the last time?
The Black Altar i refered too in the last post was not actually used by the players of my last game, it was some lore they heard of and knew the baddies of that story wanted it, the campaign ended short of them ever seeing the thing. So in classic Macguffin style, they dont know what it lokos like. What if its something small? I was inspired after watching Lord of the Rings to make it something incredibly small. an artifact that every evil person wants for Lord Saur... Asmodeus. I'm thinking a fun adventure throughout heroic may be for them to have to find a way to destory this artifact before it can fall into the hands of the cultists and they use it to open the portal to the hells.
Question: Should I have the adventure play out as normal and them take it from the cultist leader at the end of Heroic then have them find a way to destroy it? OR! have them find it early on and discover someone wants it dearly and is hunting them down just to get it. I can picture the armies of bane roaming the countryside burning villages to the ground to get it back, the Cults of asmodeus undermining governments and using them to also find it.
Would this work? Has anyone ever had a "destory the one ring" type adventure spanning many levels? How can i make this work without them just dropping it into a ditch somewhere or giving it to the first homeless person they come across? I'm thinking it should be something they can carry unencumbered. only being an evil artifact it'll screw with their minds >
Before D&D there was Tolkien. Much of the lord of the rings was direct inspiration for D&D. I remember in the Hobbit towards the end there they found themselves in a Dungeon and were facing a Dragon. "Destroy the one ring" adventure would be really fun the only important part is hooking the PCs in a way that they stay interested through all the trials and tribulations of the journey instead of, like you said, "just dropping it into a ditch somewhere or giving it to the first homeless person they com across."
The idea of the item being small is a good one, usually it's the inconspicuous things that cause the most troubles. For me, as a DM, it's important for the player to not know what's coming. I don't like to directly copy stories, especially popular ones, mostly because I hate for my PCs to see where the adventure is going. A good twist I was thinking of is give the evil artifact the ability to bond itself to a soul. Usually the first soul it comes across, have the person gain some sort of minor boost or special ability, but slowly the item corrupts the person, and once the item attaches itself to the person's soul the item will teleport itself back to the owner's possession anytime it's separated. The only time to really separate the item from a person is to kill them.
The PCs can spend a level or two searching for the item and come to find out it's an innocent child or teenager who has it and is attached to it. And the PCs become attached to the person and hope to remove the curse of the item from the person and then find a way to destroy it (maybe there is no way to unattach the item from the person, so it's a general foreboding feeling of hope then rejection and finally sacrifice. Make your PCs feel a bit throughout the story.)
This makes it so the item is not cumbersome as it carries itself. But the item itself can whisper in the minds of the PCs trying to get them to kill the child. The evil whispers can come from an evil phantom/illusion of the evil child. (Could be like split personalities or I would do a separate entity being a phantom/illusion of an evil version of the child, to cause a little confusion. So the PCs would be able to find out they're being tempted/haunted by an evil being.
Anyway that's just my take on it. Hope it helps and happy DMing.