Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

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Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Bonetti » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:23 pm

(Fleshing out a partial idea from another thread. This is clearly aimed at Alliance players, and probably requires scaling the map to allow for much farmland in the kingdom of Stormwind (Elwynn, Westfall, Duskwood, Redridge). Note as well that it follows the actual story of launch

Background: The Defias Brotherhood came into existence when the nobles of Stormwind refused to pay the engineers, artisans, and laborers who rebuilt Stormwind after its destruction twenty years ago. One of the engineers, Edwin vanCleef, led a revolt and founded the Defias Brotherhood which turned to banditry to extract the payment from the recalcitrant leaders of Stormwind. This story is not yet known to the PCs.

Heroic Tier (1-10):
The PCs are enlisted by beleaguered farmers (either in Elwynn or Westfall) who are hard-pressed by the Defias bandits stealing crops and waylaying travelers, merchants, and farmers taking crops to market. After beating back Defias bandits and digging into their structure, they find clues leading them to learn more of the history of Stormwind. In the process, they uncover the fact that the nobles of Stormwind refused to pay the guilds who rebuilt the city. However, the situation is beyond repair since the continued refusal has led the Defias Brotherhood to grow into a powerful criminal organization, an organization so powerful it has driven everyone else from Moonbrook and set up headquarters in a secret mine underneath the town (Deadmines). The party goes after vanCleef to protect the city, and in the process gets the final proof of the nobles' betrayal. Note that vanCleef has built an army (and an ironclad which he is preparing to launch), so this is not a one-sided issue.

(This is built heavily around the existing quest lines in Elwynn and Westfall, and culminates in one of the classic low-level instances. Mine these heavily, and make sure that Defias Pillagers are appropriately lethal and that they have to do a tough escort quest of the Defias Traitor to find out where the entrance to the Deadmines are. Some of the linking quests, e.g. the deed that drops in Elwynn, can be used to drive the Defias as pure villains.)

Paragon Tier (11-20):
On returning to Stormwind, if the PCs confront the nobility they find them somewhat sympathetic -- until Lady Katrana Prestor gets involved. At that point, sentiment swings harshly against the Defias (and, if the PCs are too loudly their champions, the PCs as well), and it becomes clear that the nobility is under her sway. With the King missing and Anduin still but a child, her influence over the nobles means she's nearly running the kingdom. If the party chooses to not take this route, it should be pointed out to them by an established NPC. Either way, investigating Lady Prestor leads to an investigation of her background -- and that of her father, Lord Daval Prestor. This leads to an investigation of an allied kingdom, Alterac, which has been devastated and lost to Ogres and a criminal organization, the Syndicate. Investigation yields the information that the Prestors appeared out of nowhere, and Daval Prestor disappeared after the battle of Grim Batol -- and that Lady Katrana appeared suddenly herself, claiming his lineage, and exercised immense power over the Stormwind Council once Varian disappeared.

(Note: The Syndicate may have ties to Lord Perenolde, a noble of Alterac and claimed to be a distant cousin by Lord Daval Prestor -- which means that they have ties to Deathwing and the Black Dragonflight, if true. The fact that Lord Prestor was a human disguise for Deathwing remains unknown at this point.)

Ideally, this will eventually lead to the rescue of Marshal Windsor from Blackrock Depths (thus uncovering the war between the Dark Iron Dwarves who are mobilizing under Blackrock Mountain with the aid of the elemental servants of Ragnaros and may soon pose a threat to both Khaz Modan and Stormwind, and the Black Dragonflight rebuilding on Blackrock Mountain's peak). See the Alliance Drakefire Amulet questline for one way to play this out. This tier should conclude with the revelation of Lady Katrana's true identity: Onyxia, broodmother of the Black Dragonflight, and an assault on her lair. However, a new threat still looms...

(Onyxia's Lair does not necessarily need to be in Dustwallow -- it could be any of several locations, including in the middle of Blackrock Mountain or in the ruins of Grim Batol. The overall story could play out several different ways, but one of the keys is the charm-based influence that Lady Katrana has over Stormwind and the prince. One should also set up Bolvar Fordragon with this, which would allow a separate adventure path to fully work through his tragic story.)

Epic Tier (21-30):
The revelation that Stormwind has been corrupted by a dragon's influence leads to chaos in the leadership of the kingdom as her spells are shaken off. This leaves the kingdom vulnerable, as Onyxia had blocked any movement of troops, and the Dark Iron Dwarves seize the opportunity to invade. While their forces are being beaten back, the PCs investigate the source of their strength, and discover the fact that the two groups in Blackrock Mountain are at odds. With some misdirection, they can bring the dragonflight into opposition against the dwarves, forcing the Dark Iron forces to retreat from Stormwind. Even so, Onyxia's brother Nefarion (who has been ruling Blackrock Mountain as Lord Victor Nefarius, and has built a second version of the Horde under the leadership of his ally, Rend Blackhand) seeks vengeance and poses an imminent threat. The PCs assault Blackrock Spire, defeating Blackhand's Horde, Nefarion, and thus preventing the rise of a new Black Dragonflight.

(Note: if additional adventures are needed to flesh this out -- the source of the Dark Iron's power at this point is an alliance with the Fire Elemental Lieutenant of the Old Gods, Ragnaros. Molten Core could be introduced, with a defeat of a still-weak Ragnaros in the middle of being summoned crippling the Dark Iron clan's power. This could also be a setup if there is a second campaign run with the same players with new characters -- by setting all of this backstory up, the story of Bolvar Fordragon's eventual demise and then acceptance of the crown of the Lich King could play out -- just in time for Deathwing to erupt, seeking payment in blood for the death of his children, Onyxia and Nefarion.)
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Re: Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Big Mac » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:47 pm

This is brilliant.

I'd love to see this sort of thing expanded if you ever run it as a campaign.

Do you know if all the NPCs you mention are all in the Warcraft and World of Warcraft RPG books?
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Re: Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Bonetti » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:15 am

Well, I'd like to take credit, but I just tried to take existing stories and turn them into a single narrative[*] :-) I doubt that all of the NPCs are in the books, I mined the quests for them. I also doubt I'll ever run anything here, but it's fun to take ideas out for a spin.

In Warcraft the RPG: Lands of Mystery: vanCleef is mentioned (with partial stats) in the Westfall entry, as are the Defias. Dark Iron dwarves are in one of the sample adventures (although it's not Blackrock Depths). The history of the Defias Brotherhood and some named folks (only one of which appears in the game, I believe -- vanCleef) is outlined under Organizations. The Syndicate is as well, as are the leaders (Lords Perenolde and Falconcrest, and Lady Perenolde). Nefarion is named but no other information is provided. The Black Dragonflight is ignored.

I haven't seen anything else anywhere, but I may be missing some books.

[*] Individual zones tend to have good stories, but they tend to not be well-linked. Also, they do fall naturally into the 4e tiers and thus can be sliced into adventure paths (as this one is).
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Re: Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Big Mac » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:46 pm

Bonetti wrote:Well, I'd like to take credit, but I just tried to take existing stories and turn them into a single narrative :-) I doubt that all of the NPCs are in the books, I mined the quests for them. I also doubt I'll ever run anything here, but it's fun to take ideas out for a spin.


I realised that was the sort of thing you were doing. But we have had a lot of chat about the MMORPG and this thing really pulls the plots into a form that is more useful for tabletop.

Bonetti wrote:In Warcraft the RPG: Lands of Mystery: vanCleef is mentioned (with partial stats) in the Westfall entry, as are the Defias. Dark Iron dwarves are in one of the sample adventures (although it's not Blackrock Depths). The history of the Defias Brotherhood and some named folks (only one of which appears in the game, I believe -- vanCleef) is outlined under Organizations. The Syndicate is as well, as are the leaders (Lords Perenolde and Falconcrest, and Lady Perenolde). Nefarion is named but no other information is provided. The Black Dragonflight is ignored.


I guess this is the sort of thing that could be listed somewhere and then made into the basis of a netbook.

Bonetti wrote:I haven't seen anything else anywhere, but I may be missing some books.


I don't have any books yet. I need to do a bit of research and then start hunting for them.

Bonetti wrote:Individual zones tend to have good stories, but they tend to not be well-linked. Also, they do fall naturally into the 4e tiers and thus can be sliced into adventure paths (as this one is).


I don't "get" the 4e structure, but it sounds like a good "campaign" outline to me. :cool:

I think that there could probably be several paths for each zone, with the additional things working as "side quests".
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Re: Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Bonetti » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:59 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:Well, I'd like to take credit, but I just tried to take existing stories and turn them into a single narrative :-) I doubt that all of the NPCs are in the books, I mined the quests for them. I also doubt I'll ever run anything here, but it's fun to take ideas out for a spin.

I realised that was the sort of thing you were doing. But we have had a lot of chat about the MMORPG and this thing really pulls the plots into a form that is more useful for tabletop.

That's actually the reason I'm doing this. It's pretty easy to be overwhelmed with the quantity of story that's in the MMO, but certain subsets can be linked into a consistent arc. I know that if I were to run such a game, I'd probably focus on the Legion, Outland, and the gates (since it leaves the most flexibility while staying consistent with the source material), but the Defias really deserve more than they get -- a couple storylines in Westfall, a quick instance, and you're done with them by 20 or so.

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:(list of MMO stuff in the RPG books)

I guess this is the sort of thing that could be listed somewhere and then made into the basis of a netbook.

It could. At this point, the larger problem is that while the books fed the original MMO development, now the books trail the MMO by a lot. Worse, I think the license expired (or at least no real books are continuing to be published), so they're falling further out of date with the current world development.

Of course, as with any tabletop game, you can freeze time at any point you want and diverge. The World of Warcraft RPG book really just integrates the OGL rules/SRD into the rules directly, and updates it for the original MMO launch's races. The world isn't advanced any in the process, and with fewer supplements one is actually partially dependent on the older RPG books for some of the detail.

Of course, the smart GM will just use wowwiki to keep up with the zones and NPCs and lore :-) Most of the time, the important stuff is well-defined, and the MMO gives you a bunch of handy NPCs to use. If you read up on the questlines (if nothing else, via thottbot, wowdb, wowhead, etc.), you can get a feel for how a zone's story is currently implemented. Then, just swipe the important story elements and go from there.

If I ran the aforementioned plot, I'd take full advantage of the Stalvan questline (which has no real importance, but leads a player from zone to zone in the MMO) and just have that as a little side-quest throughout the heroic tier.

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:Individual zones tend to have good stories, but they tend to not be well-linked. Also, they do fall naturally into the 4e tiers and thus can be sliced into adventure paths (as this one is).

I don't "get" the 4e structure, but it sounds like a good "campaign" outline to me. :cool:

I think that there could probably be several paths for each zone, with the additional things working as "side quests".

I'm not sure what the original definition of Adventure Path is, but the one example I have at hand provides two things: some overarching, loose story from 1-30 (max level), and chunks tiered by power level. In 4e, 1-10 is Heroic, and you're supposed to be establishing yourselves as heroes in the mortal realm. 11-20 is where larger stories start playing out, and although you can touch other planes earlier, this is where they often start figuring in more heavily (the Shadowfell and Feywild in particular). Then 21-30 becomes world-changing/plane-walking stuff. The truly nasty bad guys (and good guys) start falling in at the end of this tier: Tiamat, Lolth, Orcus, etc.

4e is actually designed around this, with a jump in power at 11 and 21. In addition, at 11 and 21 you can choose a Paragon Path and an Epic Destiny (respectively), which opens up additional features and powers. In essence, it works out as two 3e/3.5e prestige classes, except that you don't stop leveling in your original class in the process. Hmmm, maybe it's more of a 2e kit, actually... From a structure point of view, it's nice because one can basically think of it as: normal stuff at Heroic (evil mages, bandits, opposing kingdoms), incursions from stronger forces (shadowfell, feywild, cultists, some demonic stuff) at Paragon, and major, major bad things (far realm opening back up, elder horrors, ancient evils, gods trying to remake the world) by the end. Just having that as an expected power arc makes planning easier, and allows one to start with a stereotypical arc then tweak it against expectations here and there.

The D&D Insider DUNGEON magazines have a full 4e adventure path (Scales of War). My biggest disappointment with it was that it was a bit more loosely connected, story-wise, than I would have liked. Individual pieces were handed off to different authors, and so not enough Checkov guns were laid in Heroic for my personal taste. However, it provided an outline of how to think about the power levels across a campaign, and that's pretty useful. So, I adopted it while extracting individual linked storylines from the MMO for use in tabletop games. In some cases, they're pretty close (like this one, although I made some implicit links explicit). In others I had to expand on them, like for the Ori... er, I mean Naaru.
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Re: Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Bonetti » Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:09 pm

Hrm, looking back over the arc, I see that I left the question of "what happened to Varian Wrynn" up in the air. There is a canon answer, and his return figures heavily into Northrend and Cataclysm. However, for this storyline, I'd probably hint strongly that Lady Katrana engineered his disappearance to leave an underaged king (his son, Anduin) to be manipulated by advisers led by her.
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Re: Defiant Machinations [Adventure Path]

Postby Big Mac » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:13 am

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:(list of MMO stuff in the RPG books)

I guess this is the sort of thing that could be listed somewhere and then made into the basis of a netbook.

It could. At this point, the larger problem is that while the books fed the original MMO development, now the books trail the MMO by a lot. Worse, I think the license expired (or at least no real books are continuing to be published), so they're falling further out of date with the current world development.


The licence did finish. There are three fanon netbooks in development. Even More Magic & Mayhem is in beta release. They had some sort of hold up on it. I've been over to the World of Warcraft forums and, although it is quiet, they have another person over there who is working up to making a netbook.

I think one of the major problems with the fanbase is that the WoW:MMO is so popular that it dominates the search engine results and makes it hard for the fans booted off of the White Wolf forums, to realise that there is another forum that stepped in to take its place.

There is now a WoW:RPG page on Facebook, and I am going to crosspost a link to this Adventure Path over there. Hopefully that will help get this idea out to more fans.

Bonetti wrote:Of course, as with any tabletop game, you can freeze time at any point you want and diverge. The World of Warcraft RPG book really just integrates the OGL rules/SRD into the rules directly, and updates it for the original MMO launch's races. The world isn't advanced any in the process, and with fewer supplements one is actually partially dependent on the older RPG books for some of the detail.


To be honest, I'd be more keen to pad out the world than to advance the timeline from the WoW:RPG era to the WoW:MMO era. The RPG books can only tell you so much. The MMO can be raided to give you more.

Bonetti wrote:Of course, the smart GM will just use wowwiki to keep up with the zones and NPCs and lore :-) Most of the time, the important stuff is well-defined, and the MMO gives you a bunch of handy NPCs to use. If you read up on the questlines (if nothing else, via thottbot, wowdb, wowhead, etc.), you can get a feel for how a zone's story is currently implemented. Then, just swipe the important story elements and go from there.


You could use Wowpedia. In fact one of the advantages of Wowpedia is that it contains articles about content removed from the MMO. I'm not sure if Throttbott and the other sites keep out of date information.

Bonetti wrote:If I ran the aforementioned plot, I'd take full advantage of the Stalvan questline (which has no real importance, but leads a player from zone to zone in the MMO) and just have that as a little side-quest throughout the heroic tier.


I suppose there is also Night Druid's other idea (which I think he mentioned in the SJ forum) of using MMO-like quests that pay out smaller amounts of XP. That way this Adventure Path could be split up and used in tandem with other Adventure Paths and standalone quests. (The standalone quests could be side-quests, while the other quests could build up to form the Adventure Paths.)
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