Hermes12 wrote:Great story and I love the way that you set up a three equally valid but contradictory routes to resolution. Really fits in with Eberron's shades of grey!
Creating all of the different paths and options turned out to be a *lot* of work that my players didn't really care all that much about because one of the characters was an *extremely loyal* dragonmarked scion of House Sivis, who had absolutely no problem with going pure "Dragonmarked" path and the rest of the party was apathetic enough about everything (I *nearly* got a couple of them with the turncoat whose daughter was being held hostage, but the Sivis gnome convinced them that it was serving the greater good) that they didn't really debate anything.
The thing about it all that they really liked, however, was the denouement at the end when I tied together all of their previous adventures which, from their perspective, were largely disconnected: the return of Halas Tarkanan, the Emerald Claw demon-plague, the ancient artifacts, and the turncoat all came back in the final adventure in ways that they weren't expecting, which really pleased them. I was most pleased that, upon learning about everything that he helped accomplish (killing all of those innocent people who were only guilty of *potentially* having an Aberrant Dragonmark, or even one of their descendants or ancestors having one), the Sivis gnome, who was a trial lawyer when not adventuring, had a crisis of conscience and had to reevaluate his loyalties to his own House.
I designed a few other espionage-y campaigns, but they didn't have the same number of branching decision points because making all of those was just an *insane* amount of work for a campaign that would only be played a single time. I did one where the players were a pack of Silver Flame Inquisitors that discovered the hidden agenda, black magic, and generally corrupt shenanigans (including an assassination plot against Jaela Daran that would reignite the war) of Cardinal Krozen and other members of the Council and then had to stop it.
I did another where they were a rag-tag bunch of diplomants and spies working in Thronehold that stop a bomb plot meant to reignite the war. After foiling it and discovering who concocted the plot (Aundairan loyalists from Thaliost seeking to cause other nations to declare war upon Thrane by blaming them for the attack), they were engaged to discover the masterminds behind the plot in Thaliost, who were getting funding from outside but were only engaging in said behavior because Archbishop Dariznu was uncharacteristically ignoring orders from both the Council of Cardinals *and* Jaela Daran herself and enacting draconian punishments that just served to decrease the stability of the city; furthermore, he was becoming paranoid and power hungry, secretly consolidating power and getting ready to cause a schism in the Church and march his own loyal armies upon Flamekeep. After ousting Dariznu (upon discovering that he was under otherworldly influence, causing him to ignore the orders from the Church) and defusing the powerkeg that was Thaliost, they are further engaged to find the source of who was funding the rebels (evidence points them to Stormhome). In Stormhome, they find evidence that Lord Darro ir'Lain (one third of the Triumvirate of Aundair, Second Warlord of the Realm, and Commander of the Knights Arcane) has been funding the rebels of Thaliost and is, along with a number of other Aundairan nobles, planning a coup in which they will oust both Aurala and her brother and place her son Wrogar for reasons left unmentioned (their writings specifically do not blame Aurala or her brother for their actions and many of the nobles expect it to be a bloodless coup). In Darro's castle in Aundair, they discover that the evidence against Darro funding the Thaliost rebels has been fabricated (his money is all going into the coup) and further evidence proves that Darro, and the rest of his conspirators, believe that Aurala is being controlled or affected by some external influence which is driving her to begin the war anew, sure that she will win with an "apocalypse spell" that has been developed by Adal and his ilk. With the assistance of some Kalashtar who are trying to counteract the agents of the Dreaming Dark, the PCs discover that Aurala and Adal are both under the long term effects of mind seeds (just like Dariznu), which have completely changed their personalities and made them crave more and more power and abandon any desire for peace. In the final confrontation, the players have to face Aurala, Adal, and the assembled wizards as they begin casting the massive apocalypse spell (a firestorm large enough to destroy an entire city) as the opening move in the Next War; with the help of the Kalashtar, they are able to psychically enter Aurala's mind and destroy the seed, but Adal is too far gone and must be killed before he finishes casting the Apocalypse spell (destroying the seed in Aurala's mind frees her from its compulsions but places her in a coma due to the insidious influences).
After doing this and discovering the influence of the Dreaming Dark and the Riedran attempts to surreptitiously destabilize all of Khorvaire, the next tier of the campaign would focus on the players, with what little assistance the Five Nations (now aware of their influence of Riedra) are capable of providing, heading over to Adar in order to assist the Adarans in their war against the Riedrans. It would be less "espionage" and more "asymmetrical warfare". After *that* campaign (which is a 10 level war campaign that ends with the liberation of a Riedran bastion city and the destruction of its hanbalan monolith), the players would then move on to freeing Riedra from Quori subjugation and, eventually, moving into Dal Quor itself to fight Il-Lashtavar itself (created as a god-tier Quori) and bring about Il-Yannah by killing it (and likely dying in the process since all of Dal Quor would be reformed while they are trapped there).
The name I gave this campaign was, of course, "Dreams of Peace".