Just ran a game for my group last night in a long running campaign.
They’ve been murder hoboish for a while now and a bounty hunter showed up on behalf of a faction they had pissed off.
I thought they would fight this dude off but…well they singles themselves out, ignored warnings from NPCs that this guy was dangerous and instead tried to steal items rather than help their buddy.
All that resulted in the Bounty Hunter taking a PC and taking off pretty easily.
Now what? Lol.
Should I do one on one sessions with the captive trying to escape? Any ideas on how to handle this mess I’ve made?
Just ran a game for my group last night in a long running campaign.
If it made sense in terms of the timeline, I might play the next session switching back and forth between the main party chasing the bounty hunter and the kidnapped PC trying to escape. There could be some fun in each group playing off of the consequences of the other’s actions in this cat and mouse chase.
These questions are always so hard to answer without 100% of the background. The most important thing to think about is the tone and themes of you campaign.
If your campaign is brutal and realistic, that PC is not coming back… If your campaign is playful and cinematic then I would do this (if you can)
Play a 1-1 session with the captured PC (virtual or even email if you have to). See if and when the PC escapes. Then during the next session play the rest of the party chasing down the bounty hunter.
Then depending on how long each took, the party could rescue the captive PC, or the party could be the distraction that let the captive escape, or the party could ambush the bounty hunter’s camp and yell “We are here to rescue you!” only to find the bounty hunter dead and the ‘captive’ calmly cleaning his sword.
As long as the captive PC is in on it and understand what you are doing, and the pursuit doesn’t take up too much time everyone will have a good time.
So the captured PC has access to Message (when he can get in a rest), so my idea is this…
He wakes up in some dark holding cell, maybe some chances to talk to other captives, maybe chances to see the area he’s in through a grated window, basically have him play out trying to get enough information to provide clues for the rest of the group searching for him? Lots of murky details with this idea as is, but could work?
Ah, so no chase?
It could work-- maybe instead of a cell, they’re in a camp, the farm of a sympathizer momentarily, or somewhere else that gives them a bit more to interact with and gain clues from?
Who are the other prisoners? Who does the bounty hunter work for?
Right - the chase is kind of over already. At the end of the last session they gave up on chasing and took a long rest to regroup and come up with a plan. Which means the Bounty Hunter has an 8 HR head start bringing his captive towards the border. There’s a border town where caravans stage trips across to go to work in mines that I think the Bounty Hunter would head to and keep his captive in a hidden location until he can coordinate getting this captive on a caravan headed for the mines.
Was thinking if the PC broke out and found themselves in this strange town full of enemies they could learn where they were - send a message and then survive until the main party gets to them to help them out.
Was the captured PC incapacitated for this entire 8 hours? Could they get some clues and/or leave some clues during the ride (not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall…)? Does the party have any inkling at all on which direction the Bounty Hunter went? Would it be obvious, given the direction that the Bounty Hunter fled that this settlement would be the destination?
In terms of the session, you could go back and forth between the separated PC and the rest of the party. Depending on your players, they may find watching the other stories engaging but they might not.
Good point, we rolled to see how long after he was grabbed that he woke up, he woke up a couple hours into the travel and decided to try to stow a tree branch to club the bounty hunter, failed his sleight of hand roll and the hunter knocked him out and finished the first leg of his travel.
The party DOES know he’s headed to the nation to the west, there are a few smaller towns along that path they could go to, also the bounty hunter rode a Nightmare so probably if they ask around some people might be able to point in the direction the flaming horse went haha.
update on this - me and the player have been playing this out via text.
So far he’s met a real jerk of a Gray Dwarf and been moved from a secret holding cell in a shop and out on the road in an iron caged wagon. A big storm came in so the first day of travel has ended with them taking shelter in a ruined fort. There are 5 other captives with him (enough to help him get in a fight if he wants). The ruins are occupied by a group of cultists who are Home Alone’ing the Slavers. There happens to be a sealed vault below this fort full of Warforged (playing in Eberron) that only the captured PC can open. Still not sure how he will break free but he’s made a few allies with the other captives, learned about the fighting tactics of the gray dwarf, and kicked off a distraction that got 2 of the slavers thugs killed off by traps in the Fort.
I’m thinking the slavers will explore the place they’ve decided to take refuge in and maybe send the captured PC in first as cannon fodder or something. He’s a 7th level dude so basically a superhero, but has been kept from resting so has no spell slots or weapons, and like a handful of HP. I’m hoping the situation will be a bit tense like the early level play and can cut from that mini dungeon crawl back to the party’s pursuit next session.
Oh cool. That’s a nice location for all sorts of hijinks! From the rest of the party’s standpoint, any leads or clues they can glean to get them to the fort?
From the parties perspective they know the Bounty Hunter is generally headed West. They know the distance he could cover at a maximum (rolled really well to discern what item the BH was using to make his escape).
There are a few possible towns or places in range, one on a major trade route heading to the West which should be the most obvious place to set out for.
There’s a traveling food merchant they know who they will spot if they head west, he can point them towards the town as well.
If the kidnapped PC gets a long rest in he can cast Message and inform the party of the landmarks he’s seen so far or anything to help guide them. If he shares what he’s gleaned the party will be able to confirm which town he was held in and departed from.
If he DOESN’T manage to communicate any clues back, they’ll have the description of the BH to ask about and a ring of his (made of the weird purple metal).
He was held in a shop that sells items with a purple hue and a big half ogre dude runs the front, they can question him or anyone else in town to get on the right track (probably that will happen as the storm is hitting and the slavers are taking shelter in the fort.
So what’s the plan for the next session? Going to focus on the main party on the hunt?
Yeah the player and I are going to play a 1:1 session with him severely depleted and controlling a couple NPC captives with him as well to go through this mini dungeon as “canaries in the coal mine” since the slavers have run into a couple traps but need to clear this place out and make sure there are no occupants.
Hoping to progress the captive PCs storyline a couple days so when we do the full group we can pretty much just focus on them tracking (the captured player has a backup PC who will tag along to help track his OTHER PC haha)
Using this map of a ruined fort for them to explore, probably just the main and lower chambers. Just gotta come up with an interesting secret door and some traps.
Nice map! I would definitely lean into the crumbling ruin of the structure as natural traps and as elements that could be fairly easily manipulated into fashioned traps.
Alright so I’ve setup the scenario for a 1:1 session.
The captors decided to take 2 of their captives out of their cage and use them as canaries in the coalmine to clear out the lower level of this place.
I rolled up a basic fighter type and a basic thief type and let him choose which one he wanted to go with, the player is a cleric/warlock (with only 10 HP right now!) and the NPC ally has about 25 HP.
They’re manacled together at the wrist of one hand each and a hobgoblin is feeding the slack of a chain down as they explore…
My challenge now is to NOT kill my player right away haha.
A few collapsing walls, maybe a portcullis that breaks loose and falls, and a few mutants lurking below.
My idea for the big finale of the session is the discovery of a “vault” of dormant metal soldiers and some evil force twisting their forms into some monstrosity.
My player’s character has some enhanced ability to control/command these kinds of soldiers so I’m thinking since he has like no HP the challenge could be in awakening these allies before the evil force adds them to their own ranks.
Whatever the outcome, when the party finally shows up they’ll find something crazy.
Their ally now commanding a small force of metallic soldiers or some terrible monstrosity bursting out of the ruins with their ally attached to it’s body or something.
Have you seen, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army? There could be some inspiration for you in there.
Could they use some of these environmental hazards to break the chain? How much slack does that chain have, anyway? If the captors presume there’s no other way out than the way they got in, they could do without the chain and just drop them down into the under-levels.
It’s been a WHILE since I watched that one, but dang I love those movies. I’ll have to check it out again.
I’m fully expecting him to break the chain at some point and I’m going to have it be pretty long, maybe like 200’ or something ridiculous. If they snap the chain, it’ll just be a little harder for the captors to haul their (presumably unconscious) bodies out.
If they DO break the chain somewhat deep into the under level I doubt the captor hobgoblins would be too eager to run in after them right away since their numbers are low too.
In terms of the golem/robots, why are they down there? What does them being there say about that facility? Is it a warehouse? A prison? A factory? How did the “evil force” get down there to discover them? Did it come down the same way the PC is going down? Did it come from somewhere else?
We’re playing Eberron so the vault is going to be housing dormant Warforged. The fort is within a few hundred miles of the King’s family estate so these served as sort of “standby” troops that never got used during the war and have since become forgotten. The Evil Force is going to be some minions of one of the trapped aberrations who live deep beneath the surface, they found some tunnels up into the vault.
Ah, Eberron, okay. Might be fun to see if your party ends up heading down to cross paths with those aberrations!