Idea for storyline – Loki sows sedition

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  • #33156
    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    Ok, I would like to start up a storyline to help motivate players while also bringing some Markshire angles. With the release of the Titan and the destruction of the Gate, refugees have streamed down Thrym Pass and into Foothold, Yar, and other areas of Markshire. Times they are a changin, and chaos reigns.

    Sounds about the perfect time for self-interested individuals and groups to see what profit they can make, don’t it? So, the criminal enterprises, diasaffected people and outright evil types will put various plans into motion (supported by willing chaotic or evil characters). Against these the stand the authorities of Markshire (supported by willing lawful and good aligned characters).

    That’s kind of the general situation right now, and there are tons of ways to play off this. Let’s talk about one:

    Loki stirs up the pot – Now with Even More Chaos!
    One idea I had would be that Loki, seeing the perfect opportunity to sow strife and discord, starts working via his worldly agent (maybe a cleric/thief?) to incite anger and dissatisfaction with the Lord Mark and with his failure to prevent the Titan’s release. They start a campaign of lies and rumors, planting the idea that the government has failed the people, start pulling at emo folks’ heartstrings (these little encounters could be great quick RP interludes with different characters). But the kicker here is that these same agents then start assassinating those critics whom they egged on. All the while trying to implicate the leaders of Markshire in the murders. Confusion and doubt rule!!

    That gives ways to explore the law versus chaos angle (which is one especially unique part of Markshire – which also means it’s unfamiliar to new people). We can talk about the founding of Markshire, the right of the Lord Mark to rule, etc.

    This could continue for as long as it seems to be working, though I wouldn’t go too terribly long (depends on the intensity I suppose).

    How it ends
    An imagined finale goes something like this:

    After many of the critics are silenced, there is a Lauksveld celebration in Verdan Park:
    (PCs are encouraged/contracted beforehand to supply goods for the special celebration)

    At end of celebration/feast (featuring a brief verbal tussle between the last critic standing and the Lord – maybe he doesn’t respond though).

    We set off the fireworks.

    Muffled scream almost drowned out in the other noise

    Critic goes down – acid dagger to the heart. “Good” PCs likely chase after killer. *cue Benny Hill music*

    Maybe PCs find killer, tortuous path leads them to priest of Loki. Maybe they don’t.

    Storyline ends as priest is dealt with (maybe not much happens, to reinforce idea that Loki and Odin are blood brothers and Loki resides in Asgard).

    I think this barebones skeleton has some things going for it:

    Possible good aspects of this storyline
    Law versus chaos angle – the critics (one might be s-m-r’s idea of a bitter, wounded veteran – lost his/her whole GG company when Gastlinyk was released?) are honest, just pawns and dupes, but they’re going against the rightful rulers and government of Markshire.

    Short RP interactions amenable to all types of PCs…and my -or your – schedule
    A lot of early stuff can be short interactions with many PCs, either as the agent of Loki (by taking on others NPCs’ appearances) contacts them and questions the actions of the Lord Mark (some offhand remarks that common NPCs make to “good” PCs), or actively recruits them to criticize the government (for truly chaotic/evil types). These short ad hoc things would likely fit my schedule a bit better than regular, scheduled, longer sessions (though some will be like that). Also, some of this can be forum based RP (speechs, letters, pamphlets from the critics) which is also good for my schedule.

    Not limited to PC level, class, alignment – allowing everyone to contribute
    PCs can be involved at many steps. In investigating some of the murders of the critics. Any assassins could be contracted to take on some of these as CDSes. In simply getting things ready for the festival any PC could help. Got a bard? Bam, can you perform at the festival? Got a tracker type: bam, you’re asked to investigate the murder scene of one of the critics. Got a face man? Bam, can you talk to this critic and talk him down a bit? Got a diviner? Bam, can you research some particular scrying spells to get some clues as to what’s happening?

    Multiple DMs can work together on this
    If people are interested, I’m more than happy to work together.

    Still, it needs fleshing out a lot, and I want to hear from your folks’ experience where this is likely to be led completely astray by the players. Though it can be taken many different ways depending on their actions, which is good, but maybe it loses all focus and it never really “clicks”

    Lemme hear it. I’m a big boy, and can take the criticism; I know it’s honestly given coming from you all.

    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    Just a reminder for myself, one angle to work in would be some profiteering merchants and whatnot. Gouging the refugees for food, stuff for shelter. Gouging the rulers for supplies for hte army, be it weapons, food, etc.

    Some might just be greedy bastids, but to crank up the moral quandary, maybe some are just down on their luck folks who are trying to get by. The widow of a soldier, selling off her excess grain, or hogs. Or they lost more in the destruction of the Gate than what they’re trying to get back now, so in their own minds their actions are justified.

    Interesting perhaps, but needs fleshing out with actual NPC names, and some reason to get the PCs involved.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Here are some of my thoughts on the bigger picture you present, LT.

    I’d recommend the lead bad guy seem much more charismatic, compassionate, and friendly. If the world is already in disarray, with people running scared (normal citizens as well as adventurers, politicians, and more), then they’ll want to hear a comforting, reassuring leader who can lead them out of the darkness, and into a new age. Someone confident and able as a warrior, leader, and organizer.

    Of course, this is simply a way for Loki to dismantle the government in Markshire while it’s up against the ropes. By providing people with an alternative–“abandon your government”–and have lieutenants that reflect the various reasons to do this, it diverts the argument away from good vs. evil, and more along the lines of law vs. chaos.

    For example, abandon your government because:
    –they are unfit to rule. The response to the release of the Titan has taken too long for Lord Mark to respond. Many refugees are literally left “out in the cold,” unattended, while Lord Mark and his cronies still sit safe in their castles and cities, surrounded by guards.
    –they are weak. Had the soldiers been outfitted in better gear and better discipline, they would have been able to handle this.
    –they cannot be trusted. Somehow, it was in Lord Mark’s best interest to lose the Gate, or release the Titan. Perhaps accuse Lord Mark of sowing disorder in order to strengthen his position at home. This one’s a stretch, I know…

    The veteran you mention, LT, would be only a minor character in this kind of story; an obvious, one-dimension-of-the-whole that can be explored and perhaps elaborated upon as time goes on. Depending on which facet gains the most traction, storylines can branch out from there.

    I’m personally fond of the one-armed veteran idea, and although I never followed-through on the original character sketch it would be interesting to see how it develops if used in this manner.

    • Markshire PCs:

    In regards to the traveling merchants, here are some thoughts…

    The countryside should be filled with merchant caravans heading from West to East, restocking the defenses of Foothold, sending supplies to refugees, and equipping adventurers. Raiding parties of bandits and hard-hearted refugees from the Gate should operate on the main road leading between Foothold and Stonemark, preying on poorly-defended caravans; this of course leads to the establishment of smaller, more effective, more mobile courier groups (i.e. the PCs) that take longer but less-traveled routes (heading into the forest to avoid the main roads, for example). The area between Spinehold and Stonemark would be a popular raiding route, as well, with supplies heading northward to the capitol city.

    All these bandits will have strongholds out in the wilderness that will periodically need to be wiped out and cleaned up. Sending in some PCs with a group of NPC town guards versus a fortified bandit stronghold seems like an awesome idea.

    Turf wars will spring up between rival gangs and bandits, as their numbers have swelled and their muscle improved. This goes for within Stonemark as well as across the countryside. I can imagine a lot of action surrounding Cona in terms of lawlessness, or people taking the law in their own hands to defend their gains.

    In fact, if I ever come back online–outside of the day job, that is–I’d like to re-open the mining company (I worked with a few dwarf PCs on this in the past), as creating more weapons seems like a logical–and profitable–enterprise for any adventurer with the initiative and physical strength.

    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    *furiously scribbles notes*

    Thanks smr, that is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, adding some muscle and skin to the bare bones I sketched out.

    (note, before right before I got the email alerting me to your reply, I had started up the Wild Bonerz demo. :D)

    Driving to work today I had the idea that one of the prominent critic would be another noble family, working to position themselves and increase their standing- working all their persuasion and doing their best to appeal to the populace.

    Other critics might be more cynical and simply anti-government, not necessarily offering a good alternative. They are targeted for extermination anyway.

    The merchant stuff is great too, that take things from ideas to actual scenarios to present to players.

    Now, just gotta figure out how to actually pull this kinda stuff off in game!

    Thanks again smr!

    • Markshire PCs:

    Driving to work today I had the idea that one of the prominent critic would be another noble family, working to position themselves and increase their standing- working all their persuasion and doing their best to appeal to the populace.

    The best political manipulators work BEHIND the scenes, using others to do the dirty work, and only coming out of hiding when the time is ripe.

    For example, IIRC, The way Hitler came to power is he caused a deadlock on the Presidential vote, causing runoff elections. Then, he demanded to be made chancellor, but von Papen is appointed, who distrusts Hitler and is allied with the military leader von Schleicher. Then, after another runoff election, von Schleicher and von Papen break with each other (von Schleicher wanted to be chancellor), and when von Papen lost support, von Schleicher becomes chancellor. Then, von Schleicher starts to lose support, and von Papen, looking to seize the opportunity, allies with Hitler. After many more political upheavals, von Papen convinces the then president Hindenburg to appoint Hitler, thinking they could control him. Oooops……
    Only then does Hitler really roll out the storm troopers (they were used earlier to cause riots and weaken the government, but never directly) and use them to suppress and further eliminate opposition. Then when Hindenburg conveniently dies in August 1934, Hitler assumes all power in Germany, backed up by all of his thugs.

    Convoluted? You bet. But it’s pretty clear from history that Hitler engineered the whole thing, pumping up the violence as he gained power, both to frighten the population to his way of thinking, and to eliminate opposition, first secretly, then, after he became chancellor, overtly.

    The communists used similar tactics against the czar in Russia, undermining his position, and causing revolts, not directly, at first, but using others as puppets until they had enough power to take center stage, at which point they removed the opposition the simplest way possible – by eliminating them. They ALSO eliminated any of their “friends” that they thought might not go along with the new arrangement, so the people that aided them most are the ones they got rid of first.

    The real weakness of any democracy is through frightening the population into electing a radical leader that would normally not be viable or electable. If that leader is ruthless enough, they then strip away the democratic process using intimidation and violence, and maintain power with terror.

    So, going back to a MS2 scenario, Loki would merely need to agitate against Lord Mark at this point, and attempt to turn the population against him. Then, get others to start demanding that he (as a upstanding citizen) be appointed to take over, but allowing others that have more support to seize control while secretly undermining THEM. In addition, using other supporters to make them turn on each other, getting an influential one to press to have Loki made boss.
    Once that does occur, then the bad guys come out of hiding. They kill or attempt to kill any viable opposition, to keep Loki in power.

    Simple! 😉

    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    Reminder to self – Got in game on Monday night 5/17/10), had Gustov talk to Meredoc Wrint and Faerell XXX. Planted little seeds of wondering why the authorities haven’t done or addressed anything recently with regard to the Titan. Gave them packages to take to Cona, but Faerell didn’t have cloak sufficient to go there, and then logged.

    Still, gotta start planting the seeds somewhere.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Babbeling idiots and protestors… like a town cryer..

    You can have some random person yelling out front of the guard towers or in the city calling for action. When the PC’s go by the npc attacks them with their speech trying to recruit them to yell at the powers that be to take action.

    And for a nice spin on the babbeling idiot, have them accept no answer but lots of money to them or the hiring of their spouse and hazard pay and a big insuarnce settlement when they die trying to fight the titan.

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