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D&D 3E
plot advice 
14th-Sep-2004 08:09 am
I'm looking for some ideas for my current campaign. I need one of the party members to undergo a "religious experience". This is important for a few reasons. One, the player wants her character to start taking some paladin levels. Two, I want to give the character a charge to be a sort of guardian for a minor artifact weapon. To add a wrinkle, one of the *other* party members has the artifact, but no one knows it (yet).

One thing is that I cannot use dreams or visions. I've been using dreams for something else and I'd be afraid they would ignore or not trust it. Another is that I need to get the item from the one character to another. Luckily the one that has it is my character, so I do have some control, but I want it to be in-character, so he's not going to just hand it over without reason.

I've thought about somehow provoking a fight between the two, but there is no guarantee that one will disarm the other. I could have one character literally throw it at the other, but that seems odd (although not ruled out).
14th-Sep-2004 05:33 am (UTC)
Do you have a character in your own game? Or do you mean NPC? Or is this a communal effort where people take turns GMing the same set of characters?

If you're running an NPC then you can always retrofit their motives or simply have them instructed (dream, talking statue, burning bush, face in the clouds, clicé #5) to give the item to player Y. If it's the latter and this is a communal effort then you'll need to do all this in your watch and make sure you don't leave too much in the way of loose ends, also watch that whoever first introduced the artifact doesn't also have plot plans for it.

I assume the character who wishes to take some levels in paladin is going to be cooperative. I think it's fair to say that if you put in an obvious chance for an epiphany into the game and they turn their back on it - that they've also turned their back on a chance to be a paladin (for now, at least). If you suspect the player is only after a few levels of paladin then you'd be wise to try and wrangle things so his religious fervour can legitmately cool after a while.

That's a good point. Ultimately you can't plot point a character's religious fervour - it needs to be up to the player.

You could have some wizened old woman hobble up to the group and predict loudly that [Your Character] will grant [The Artifact] to [The Player]. Prophecies are very much in a relgious theme and there's nothing like them for player biat. As an alternative almost any NPC the group is talking to could suddenly roll their eyeballs back and speak in a ghostly voice "Give [The Artifact] to [The Player]." Both are very overt, I suppose.

Perhaps both the NPC and the PC could be on guard duty one night when they're not kitted up to the max because they're not expecting any trouble. When trouble does strike perhaps [The Artifact] is the only weapon nearby to [The Player]. This works only if the artifact is a weapon or something suitable.

Perhaps the artifact wants to be with the player and keeps falling from the backpage/sheath of the NPC.

Gosh, I could go on and on, but I've done enough of that already.
14th-Sep-2004 05:59 am (UTC)
A demon approaches the party (minor if low level). The party and demon are held frozen as the sword flies up into the air and shimmers with light. A heavenly voice says something cryptic about destiny and the character you have meant it for (cryptic but obvious). A fight ensues, duel between would be paladin and demon.
14th-Sep-2004 09:31 am (UTC)
Heh.. the demon would freak out a different character who has been having dreams about demons. =)
14th-Sep-2004 09:25 am (UTC)
Some very good ideas, thanks! FYI, my character is a PC in the campaign and I'm the only DM. The character that wants to become a paladin is another PC.

> Perhaps the artifact wants to be with the player and keeps falling from the backpage/sheath of the NPC.

Actually, the artifact does want to be with the other player, but I want to try to work in the religious experience. My character very well could walk over and hand it to her and be done... but that's no fun! ;)

I just came up with the idea of the weapon suddenly showing some sign of the PC's god (on the ground, in the air, whatever) and somehow relating it to a dream or vision. Or perhaps someone channels the voice of the deity, as you suggested.
14th-Sep-2004 08:57 am (UTC)
hmm, religious experience, no dreams or visions?

alright, here's one. have your character, the npc, die or come really close, just as long as there's also a convenient way back. when your character comes back, have him (or her) be a little awed and amazed, and explain quite breathlessly that while "on the other side" a mysterious voice (or what have you) commanded that the arifact be given to the future paladin. have your character, in what could perhaps be a rare case of fervor himself, fall on his knees and pray, tugging the paladin down with him, or what have you. kind of cheesy, but yeah, it ought to work. besides, as dms, we deal in cheese anyway.

oh, and if you need a religious experience for a paladin, nothing beats a massively overdramatic summoned celestial hovering up to him on ambrosial wings and simply laying hands on his forhead or some other such religious cliche. after all, it isn't every day that angels go smacking folks on the forehead.
14th-Sep-2004 09:27 am (UTC)
A near-death experience might work. Unfortunately having a celestial show up isn't as cool as it would normally be because the party already has a celestial (ghaele) and 2 plane-touched. I may "borrow" the celestial's body to channel the deity. :)
14th-Sep-2004 09:45 am (UTC)
Borrowing the celestial's body to channel the deity could be cool, if the player is agreeable. You could even consider doing an individual session with just the player who wants to take levels in Paladin, and invent a quest the character must complete that will specifically require the item. Or even go ahead and involve the whole party, if they would be agreeable.
14th-Sep-2004 11:28 am (UTC)
If the artifact is important for some reason, you can always send assassins or some such after the person who guards the artifact. Weather they succeded or not, lead the PCs on an adventure of discovery, where they eventually find out that Mr. Paladin should be the one who weilds it.

As far as signs go, I always liked using the stars or a comet as an omen. If the importance of the weapon is far greater, you can always up the ante by having new stars appearing with old ones vanishing, perhaps creating a new constellation with some clue to the weapon.
18th-Sep-2004 02:05 pm (UTC) - My advice...
The Paladin serves a deity willingly and loyally unto death. If he doesn't start out a Paladin, you as DM need to gauge whether the deity in question desires the PC to serve in that fashion.

Look at what the deity values. Example: Heironeous is the god of honor and chivalry. An existing character aspiring to become a Paladin will be watched by the big H to make sure he lives up to the standards of his chosen few.

Now, if the PC in question measures up through whatever trials you have or will put him through then you can give him his moment of epiphany. Here's the way to do it: keep it subtle. Nothing is more rewarding for player or DM than the "Oh, I get it!" moment. Also, people love reading into things, whether or not you put them there.

Here's a couple of things you can do:

1) The PC is checking on a wounded comrade (PC #2) Pass out the following notes:
PC: As you examine the injury, your hands start to feel very warm. You feel a sense of assurance that your friend will be all right.
PC #2: You are healed x hit points (x=the CHA mod of the first PC)

2) The Party encounters something fearsome, requiring Will saves. More notes (have them ready in advance)
PC: A gentle voice from somewhere deep within says two words: "Fear Not."
Others (within 10 feet): You hear a gentle voice say "Fear not."

Then apply the Aura of Courage bonus to the nearby PCs, while your Paladin-to-be is fearless.

You should be able to think of a few more "signs" like this. Then when the time comes, put the party near a shrine/temple of the patron deity. Let the PC go in alone and see if he has questions or gives thanks. Have a quiet little one-on-one between deity and PC and take it from there.

The whole thing becomes more personal and meaningful if you do it that way.

Now, as for the item... Well, I'm sure you can take it easily from there... :)
20th-Sep-2004 04:05 pm (UTC) - Re: My advice...
I agree. Understated is definitely the way to go. It's more personal, more subtle, it gives the player more input into the experience, and the new paladin has a real Story to go along with their conversion, a story that they helped create.

Have the artifact transfer happen later, perhaps even serving as a point of stress between the new paladin and the DMPC ("Please, grant me custody of the sword-- my god requires that I guard it." "No way-- your god is *not* my god!" with the paladin now bound to guard the artifact, even if its not actually in his possession, which means perhaps guarding the one whose possession it is in).
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