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A Scholar & Scoundrels - A Challenge of Party Integration

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  • A Scholar & Scoundrels - A Challenge of Party Integration

    I've hit a problem with my current group, that I need some help on.

    3 of the group are revolutionaries/troublemakers, that have no problem being thoroughly underhand. The other member is an old solar who has traveled with them so far in order to get to Lathe and its alchemy seminary.

    Having got there (with the others conspiring to steal some jewels and use them as the symbol of a revolution across the Cinder Isles), the scholar's player is struggling to find reasons for their character to stick with the group.

    I heave some possible ideas for this (a god is after revenge and has put a bounty on their heads, and is after all of them), but any other thoughts on introducing plot threads to bring the circle more fully together would be really helpful.

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  • #2
    Auld Faithful works here:

    A Wyld Hunt supported secretly by bastardly Sidereal ninjas has targeted the group (and anyone associated with them as collateral damage), in order to survive you must band together to stomp Dragon Blooded Shikari into elementally aspected paste!


    • #3
      Heh, this reminds me of my own group.

      I suggest you present them something at the seminary that gives the group a reason to continue adventuring together. Maybe an another scholar has discovered a recipe for Panacea or other interesting formula, but the required, unique ingredients have conveniently been seized by a group of despots and pirates - coincidentally, perfect targets for your revolutionaries to overthrow. Retrieving them would be too dangerous alone, so it makes sense to keep traveling with the troublemakers - they are going to curb stomp the right despot eventually, and then the scholar can claim the ingredient as loot. (If this sounds like a too big of a coincidence, you can always blame Sidereals!)
      Or maybe they find out the local academia are being threatened by an oppressive and populist government and the scholar's peers convince them to stay with the revolutionaries so they can make sure the eventual new regime will be more favourable towards research.
      It is a bit challenging to tie together many different character motivations, but when you succeed, the fruits are all the more rewarding.

      The reason could also be more sentimental: maybe the Scholar's circle reminds them of some of their old companions, or some visions from an earlier incarnation hints that they used to be in a Circle. This could convince the Scholar to put off their research for a time to bond with their new Circle. (Is age still a problem for them? With Age-staving cordial or high enough essence, a year or two of adventure is nothing to them.)
      What does the Scholar think of their group's troublemaking? Maybe they'll stick with the group to make sure they do not cause too much trouble (or at least to direct it towards right targets). A kind of reverse-Belkar, if you will.
      (The player should be careful with this one, so as not to sound too preachy.)

      I'm usually lazy and let the players come up with the justifications on why the party sticks together, so I'd give the final responsibility on the Scholar's player. And, if none of the ideas you suggest seems to stick with them, there is nothing wrong with leaving the Scholar to their seminary and rolling up a new character. Maybe the Scholar has an acquaintance or discovers a protege at the seminary, and introduces them to the group. The Scholar could become an Ally, so they won't be completely out of the campaign.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Taleksi View Post
        What does the Scholar think of their group's troublemaking? Maybe they'll stick with the group to make sure they do not cause too much trouble (or at least to direct it towards right targets). A kind of reverse-Belkar, if you will.
        Something similar is happening in the game I'm playing in. The Knight Raiton, my Eclipse, is traveling with two assassin Night Castes. He figures as long as he keeps them at his side, their violence can at least be used for good causes.
        Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 01-31-2019, 07:08 AM.



        • #5
          My first thought would be "do they have any intimacies towards one another?" If the PCs actually like one another, or have other strong emotional connections, you can justify one going along with the others without necessarily having that fit their personal goals. People join each other for personal reasons all the time.

          Besides purely personal reasons, is there any way to link the scholar's goals to the others? You mentioned the scholar is trying to get into the alchemy seminary, while the scoundrels are engaging in jewel theft. Could the seminary ask for some rare gem as an entrance fee, that the scholar has to ask the scoundrels to acquire? Or perhaps in the course of their various nefarious activities, the scoundrels came across rare reagents, happen to mention seeing them to the scholar, and now the scholar wants their help getting them? Or flip it around, and have the scoundrels' goals tie them to the scholar. If the alchemy seminary can produce useful potions or poisons that enhance the scoundrels' revolutionary activities, they have a reason to keep coming back to the scholar and dragging him into adventures.

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          • #6
            A lot of good ideas here, I might add another option though. If the player really feels that there’s no reason for their character to stay with the others, and if they feel their part in the story might be done, they could consider changing characters. It could be fun to some up with a new concept and introduce somebody new. I’m not saying that it’s the best option, but it’s just one I didn’t see in earlier posts.


            • #7
              As long as there is some way the scholar could help the revolutionaries advance their goals, and vice versa, they could just be trading favors. "I'll help with your thing if you help with mine." They already have a working relationship of sorts, so why not continue to use each other's services, even if they aren't exactly friends?

              (If they are friends, well, all the more reason to do this.)

              You just need obstacles in their respective plot threads where they could use the other's help. Maybe the scholar needs someone to steal his rival's research, or break into the restricted section of the library, or something. Who doesn't occasionally run into situations where they could use the help of underhanded troublemakers? And...I dunno, maybe they could use the scholar's help in researching the history of the Cinder Isles to make their propaganda campaign more effective. Or something. Depends what else he can do. (If he's also a sorcerer, for example, he would be invaluable to them for any number of purposes.)


              • #8
                The exalted scholar finds text about a prophecy related to upheaval of the cinder isles, with drawings of flags, jewels, and a group that looks a lot like them. It states that without his help their revolution will fail, and they will all die? It’s a little heavy handed but if the player can’t do the heavy lifting necessary to play along then you’ll have to?

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                • #9
                  Talk to the players and ask if they can find common ground for their characters.

                  A possibility that they might like would be to have an in-character falling out, that would split the party... the two parties to fill out with new characters. They might even be antagonistic.

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                  • #10
                    The onus is on the players to create characters who can work together. With your guidance as the ST maybe, but you can't shoulder all the burden of party cohesion. I've tried that, it sucks, it isn't fair and I don't recommend it.

                    It sounds like all of your players are on the same page bar one, and they need to get on it. That's not to say that they need to squeeze themselves into the same mould as your scoundrels, but they need to find a reason to stay with the party, or they're NPC material. Which isn't to say they have a bad character, just the wrong character for this group. You can craft as much careful plot wrangling as you want to make the PCs dependent on each other, but from you've said it sounds like the scholar doesn't even like these people, or have any investment in them, so that's a gap they're going to have to bridge together or you have a party that needs constant external pressure in order to hold together.

                    As for bridging that gap, talk to your players. All of them. Ask what their characters like and/or respect about the others. Suss out their attitudes. If there's a total disconnect between the two sides, or if the best they've got is "They're useful in certain situations I guess," then you've got a problem. And maybe your odd PC out isn't the only one, or even the main one. Try to find out if the disconnect goes one way or both ways. It could be that the scoundrels have unintentionally formed a clique that the scholar is having trouble breaking into. If there's little emotional investment on the part of one or both sides, lean on the adventures they've had so far and ask if their character(s) couldn't have formed some kind of bond or mutual respect as a result of their shared travails. They have to be willing to work with you on this one and actively try to justify such a bond if there's a way that it could make sense. If the answer is honestly no, don't give up (if the answer is dishonestly no, then you have a player problem, not a character problem, and I'll leave it to you how to deal with that). Ask what it would take to make them care about the other(s).

                    If their goals were better aligned, would they see them as comrades? In that case, a bit of plot wrangling like the suggestions in this thread could be all you need. Produce a mutual enemy, make the fortunes of the alchemical seminary and the rebels depend on each other, etc.

                    If they had past life visions of being friends and circle-mates, would that mean anything to them? It's heavy-handed and doesn't work for everyone, but if it's something they wouldn't mind exploring then it's not a bad option and can be used to introduce story-hooks from their past lives.

                    Are there NPCs they care about who could be drawn into the story involving the other side? A sibling or partner joins the rebels and exhorts them to do something about injustice. A trusted lieutenant or ally of the rebels needs healing from the alchemists. Try to make this NPC personally invested in another PC (or several), so your disconnected PC(s) have to deal with this person or people that their loved one or close friend cares about. Try to develop a personal connection between the PCs from there.

                    Whatever you go with, you need to make your disconnected player(s) understand that they need to take the opportunity to bridge the gap and run with it. If they keep making excuses for why their character still doesn't care, you have a player problem, not a character problem.

                    ​Maybe the answer is always going to be no because the one player just doesn't want to play the same kind of game as the others. If you can't find a play-style they're all happy with, then you've done your best, but the group isn't working and it needs to be pruned or disbanded. The threat of this alone might make your players finally scramble to get on the same page, but if even that doesn't do it ... honestly, there's nothing else you can do at that point.

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