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The setting - 1920's with some low magic abilities.

 

The cast - 1 - black magic dabbling rich dilitante

2 - Shadow type mystery man with the ability to supress magic

3 - Safari huntress with teh ability to swith her mind into an animal's body

4 - Eskimo tracker with the ability to summon blizzards and shoot deadly icicles from her hands.

 

The original plan - The players would investigate some kidnappings and the theft of a Celtic artifact. Their investigation would lead them to a circus, where they would be captured by a villian that I hope to make a long-term nemesis. The villian would leave them tied up in a flaming tent, creating a cliffhanger. After they escaped they would have to race to prevent the villian from sacrificing one of the kidnap victims and summoning forth a demon.

 

What actually happened - The huntress and tracker invaded the circus killing a major henchman, released the victims, and called down a blizzard to cover their escape. Mr. magic and anti-magic were captured, but I allowed them to escape, since I wanted the group to remain whole.

 

Added complications - at the end of the session the Mr. Magic and the tracker had a falling out over the tracker's impulsive actions. The tracker's pride is hurt, and she leaves the group.

 

The problem - I need to finish this story, and fill up an entire session (5 hours). The players know what is going on and where it is going to happen, but they don't know when.

 

I'm having two problems, first, coming up with enough material to stretch this out for a whole session. I basically have a dramatic conclusion, and nothing more. Second, I want to play the villian smart, and to me the smart thing would be to cut my losses. His circus is turned upside down, most of his henchmen are arrested, and he's on the run. He knows the heroes have enough information to deduct what he is doing.

 

So, what should I do? I was thinking about having a letter from the villian to one of the players he was able to identify, basically a "see you later sucker" message, but I'm afraid this is going to be a let down for the players.

 

Anyone agree with this ending, or have some thoughts on how I can pump some new life into this story?

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If it were me...

 

I would take one of the characters hostage, move him away from where the villain was going to carry out his scheme, and leave a ransom note of some type.

 

Moving up the time schedule on the plot is also something, or moving the actual scene of the crime with the limited resources the mastermind still possesses.

 

CES

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Sounds like a fun romp so far.

I'd think about ways to get the party back together to start...Perhaps the main body of characters really doesn't know what the bad guy is doing or where he is, but could figure out his location if only they had a tracker. Or, maybe the tracker uncovers the villains trail, but he has gathered his reserves--Killer Clown, Sideshow Freaks, or whoever--and so she needs help to stop the villain's plot.

 

If the villain is on the run, perhaps the climactic encounter could be on the vehicle he is escaping with--train, zeppelin, ocean vessel. The characters and the bad guy have to engage in a game of cat and mouse as they seek each otehr out without destroying the vehicle or panicking the rest of the travelers.

 

One thing I'd love to see is the animal-body switching character to become part of the circus while inhabiting the body of a circus animal, and the villain is the Lion Tamer or whatever. Does she stick to the script or horrify the audience by attacking her 'trainer'. Cool!

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I'm having two problems, first, coming up with enough material to stretch this out for a whole session. I basically have a dramatic conclusion, and nothing more. Second, I want to play the villian smart, and to me the smart thing would be to cut my losses. His circus is turned upside down, most of his henchmen are arrested, and he's on the run. He knows the heroes have enough information to deduct what he is doing.

Well if its the 1920s, he may just bribe/blackmail the police into letting his flunkies go.

 

To bring the group back together, have the tracker runoff their own for a bit, ending up near where the final sacrifice will occur.

 

Have the remainder of the group frolick through the adventure (a magic guy and an anti-magic guy on the same team?...OK :)), getting into situations where they could have really use some one with the trackers powers.

 

At the end, have them reunite to stop Mr. Bad. Possible subplot, Minion of Mr. Bad attempts to convince tracker to switch sides.

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Another approach

 

Another way to tackle this would be to let the good guys win -- at least in the short term. (This assumes your players enjoy their characters and want to continue your campaign.) The heroes really have thwarted your master villain's current plot. Let him retreat into the woodwork and launch your next adventure. It need have no apparent relation to the heroes' first outing. Have your various characters cross paths again in the course of their investigations. Maybe by then things will have cooled off a bit and they'll be able to work together again.

 

But the villain from Episode One hasn't forgotten about them, and he still wants to summon that demon. Maybe while the good guys are pursuing their current quest they begin to notice small items in the news that indicate a familiar pattern: a missing child, a rare book stolen from the downtown library, a mausoleum broken into at the city's oldest cemetary. If they're particularly on their toes (and make some Perception or INT rolls) they notice they're being watched by shadowy figures in alleys or darkened doorways. Maybe they discover that someone has gone discreetly through their rooms and taken some trifling possession -- a locket, a scarf, a pen knife. When they confront their current nemesis and his thugs, he denies any knowledge of these occurrences.

 

Have them catch a fleeting glimpse of your master villain or one of his main henchmen on the subway, or in a reflection in a storefront window, or across a crowded ballroom. Of course, he's gone by the time they can turn around or push through the crowd. Maybe these glimpses are followed by some nasty event directed at one of the heroes, or at one of their DNPCs. The subway train derails or suddenly loses power. A pedestrian killed in a freak accident in front of the store turns out to be some kind of special investigator. An important guest at the ball dies of an apparent heart attack. What all this adds up to is up to you but the police will think the adventurers are nuts if they tell officers of the common link.

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Hah! No master villain worth his handlebar mustachios would let himself be thwarted so easily.

 

Since the tracker has wandered off by herself, she's the obvious target of a kidnapping plot. A letter to the rest of the group should bring them to a place where the tables can be turned - or if that's too improbable - a none too subtle clue of another kind.

 

This has several advantages: if the rest of the players come to her rescue, (and it's pretty likely) then it bonds the group for later adventures and solves the wander-off problem.

 

It's easy to set up (all you need is a lair with an improvised prison and some cheap, easily hired goons). The ad-hoc nature of the whole thing makes it easier for the plot to fail without making the villain seem like a buffoon.

 

It establishes the chief villain as the sort PCs love to hate (mess with us, will you?) and gives him a good reason to have a hate-on for them, too.

 

You can embellish this - if the tracker hates being the passive rescue object for a session, give her a chance to escape at some point (this means you'll have to run her seperate from, but at the same time as the main group, but with only 4 players this should not be too much of a problem).

 

Cheers, Mark

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tracker impulsively decided to bring the villain to justice on her own. switched minds into one of the animals in the circus. Was detected and caught. Villain did something to prevent her from switching back to other body (or has other body hostage as well).

 

She is now a hostage.

 

Group must rescue her. Of course it is a trap.

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The master villain should definitely be angry enough to want revenge on the group or at least a member, if he perceives one of them as the "real" cause of their fiddling in his business. Others have suggested him kidnapping someone, the lone tracker having come up, which makes sense.

 

Maybe he is smart enough to take off, though, so he simply puts "that stupid meddler" (or meddlers if he can get them all) into a death-trap and goes on his own way, knowing his current plan is exposed and he must make his way off. Then the PCs can elect to chase him, or he can have disappeared without a trace, leaving them looking forward to encountering him again someday.

 

If you don't want to mess with him for a while, the "see you later suckers" message can be played off as an effective "we won" message, with the "this time" from the villain. If they are not that used to him yet, and you have another plot, they probably won't be too let down.

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