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Gamemaster help needed for plot

PnPgamer

Explorer
Hey guys!
I am going to start a new campaign using pathfinder 1e system with my own setting. The background will be that some of the players are sons/daughters of royalty, and some are older former members of the court. In the land they are from a dictator got the king killed. An oracle got a vision of the future that only way for queen to be able to rule once more, she should disappear and let the members of the court take the children to a different land, into exile. Game starts on a point when these princes are adults and the guardians are a bit older.(there are other details but these are the relevant ones for my gm help)
My intention is to let the guardians know it all, and let them decide when it is the right time to reveal some or all about the details of the royals past.
My question is if this makes any sense to try to keep it a secret (i personally love secrets) from the royals or should they reveal it immediately? Should i just skip the whole secret shenanigans and tell everyone on session 0? If to go with secret route, what would be the reason(s) to actually keep it a secret?
Thanks in advance for your help and ideas, they are greatly appreciated!
 

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zarionofarabel

Adventurer
I'm not a fan of keeping campaign premises secret, but I think your idea is fun. However, if you do decide to keep it secret you are bait-switching the noble PC players.

Have you thought about what fake campaign premises you will use until the guardian PCs tell the noble PCs the truth?

It does sound like a fun bait-switch so I am no completely opposed to the idea, just make sure the noble PC players are the type of peeps that will be okay with said bait-switch.
 

PnPgamer

Explorer
I'm not a fan of keeping campaign premises secret, but I think your idea is fun. However, if you do decide to keep it secret you are bait-switching the noble PC players.

Have you thought about what fake campaign premises you will use until the guardian PCs tell the noble PCs the truth?

It does sound like a fun bait-switch so I am no completely opposed to the idea, just make sure the noble PC players are the type of peeps that will be okay with said bait-switch.
I was thinking of keeping it generic in the way that they have moved all around, doing this and doing that. More of a drifters life than anything stable. And the guardians are the only father/mother figures the nobles have. You know, generic murderhobo life fron the get go, haha.
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!

As long as the Players were "cool with the idea" from past talks...even if it wasn't specific for THIS campaign, but just one of those ideas that get tossed around after-game. Or, if you are SURE your Players would be cool with it...AND...you Players trust you.

If you are unsure about any of that, perhaps work on a second "Campaign Story Idea" as a back up. Pitch several 'ideas' to them involving "nobility, power-players and intrigue, and all that kind of secret stuff". See if they bite. Test the waters. If you get upturned noses about being "nobility" or otherwise intertwined in politics...go with a different initial story set up.

I would also like to point out one HUGE thing you are overlooking: You are assuming they want to "Return as the rightful rulers and bring the country into a new age of peace and prosperity". What if they DON'T want that? "Malik gets all his Warlock stuff from Cthulhu! WHY would I want to do this again?"..."You? Malik is a psycho! I mean, I adventure with you, sure, but Sneakin' Hollanau here is a Thief. Letting you 'take over' and infest the night time with all those eyeballs, tentacles, vajajas and peens? No thank you Evil!", etc. ;)

Point is...you can't keep it all secret and spring it on them... AND expect it to all go according to plan. That never works (ok, almost never). We started playing Kingmaker (using BECMI/RC/DarkDungeons RPG, not Pathfinder). My players did about 80% of the first module...then decided... "Naaaa. Changed our minds. We're going to go see if Red Dragon Valley to the north actually has Red Dragons". ...and off they went... shrug Ok then, campaign story changes... :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I'm not sure what the difference between "king" and "dictator" is but...

I was thinking of keeping it generic in the way that they have moved all around, doing this and doing that. More of a drifters life than anything stable. And the guardians are the only father/mother figures the nobles have. You know, generic murderhobo life fron the get go, haha.
It will be pretty obvious to the royals that they're different than the peasantry because they'll probably know how to write, eat with utensils, and ride horses. Blending in with merchants or lords might be a little easier, but they'll have to say that they're from a "far off land" - merchants and lords like to know their competition.

Keeping it a secret from the players is cool, as long as those players are fine with you knowing something about their characters that they do not. Also, I wouldn't expect the royal PCs to immediately bite onto plot hooks that depend on them being princes. Some might reject their birthright/duties.
 


Lackofname

Explorer
So, another one of those "depends on your group..." deals; if this is the same group you play with all the time, disregard this comment.

But in my experience, campaigns built to rely on specific characters is setting you up for disaster if that player has to drop the game. So y'know, whatcha gonna do if Prince1's Player's job suddenly changes his schedule and now he can't make game nights when everyone else can, and Prince2 dies in a fight.

I've seen a few games crash from "Can't replace the Chosen One".
 


I think this premise may work, depending on your group. And I think having secrets can be an interesting element to a game if it’s something that the players are cool with.

But, I don’t know how it will be up to you to reveal this secret if a player of one of the guardian characters is the one who knows it. Won’t it be up to that player to decide? Couldn’t they decide to spill this in session one?

You may be able to come up with some kind of compulsion or similar element in the fiction that can maybe restrict a guardian from telling the secret, but of you do that then the question is why give them a secret they can’t share?
 

PnPgamer

Explorer
I think this premise may work, depending on your group. And I think having secrets can be an interesting element to a game if it’s something that the players are cool with.

But, I don’t know how it will be up to you to reveal this secret if a player of one of the guardian characters is the one who knows it. Won’t it be up to that player to decide? Couldn’t they decide to spill this in session one?

You may be able to come up with some kind of compulsion or similar element in the fiction that can maybe restrict a guardian from telling the secret, but of you do that then the question is why give them a secret they can’t share?
I was thinking of building up that there is a premonition from an oracle that contains certain events that hint that certain parts of the nobles past can be revelead, ie. "Start moving towards your homeland when a valley has been cleansed from goblins and a hag(pretty much the first set of adventures gained from the beginning town)". A little more mysterious, poetic and oracly than that but you get the gist. i would sprinkle all kind of that stuff around. and also the fact that they should have not told them until the beginning of the game because they are in exile and hunted as the last heirs to the throne. The guardians can choose to tell, but it will have consequences in the future.

In this context, king and dictator are the difference between the rightful bloodline vs my villain who has overthrown the land by force.

I have done inquiries about what is the forceeable future for my players is for the next couple of years and it should be fine. Thanks for pointing out the leaving player problem, any suggestions for that?

Technically if the group is uncomfortable with the secret backgrounds and all, i am ready to spill the beans right up and there on session zero, leaving the players in the know and leaving me without the need to figure out steps for the divination.

The basic idea IS to technically join the resistance, restore nobility and overrule the evil dictator, but im open to actually them doing the opposite. The villain will try to lure them in from time to time, but i will make sure that he seems rotten to the core, with no regard to lives of innocent, and obsessed with the goal he has. This will happen later on in a campaign though.
 
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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Being hunted by assassins from the other kingdom is going to 'spoil the surprise' in-game. "Why always US being shot at, Uncle Longbottom, never any of the other knights-errant?"

Is there something like The Sword In The Stone which can establish the PCs royal claim to be authentic? (Watch the movie Excalibur for a gritty take on that scene.) If not, why would anybody in the land support them against Le Dictator Terrible, and draw his wrath?

It's a neat concept and I want it to work, but I do not see how they kick-start the process of raising the forces that can successfully replace the Usurper on the throne with themselves.
 

aco175

Legend
I would tell the players at the start of the campaign. I would think this is something you should get their buy in on since it is their PCs. There could something where they were all exiled 20 years ago and grew up in secret, unaware of their heritage, but this may only work if the players know or if they all take short-lived races like humans. An elf exiled 20 years ago with some human babies would have to know something.
 

PnPgamer

Explorer
Being hunted by assassins from the other kingdom is going to 'spoil the surprise' in-game. "Why always US being shot at, Uncle Longbottom, never any of the other knights-errant?"

Is there something like The Sword In The Stone which can establish the PCs royal claim to be authentic? (Watch the movie Excalibur for a gritty take on that scene.) If not, why would anybody in the land support them against Le Dictator Terrible, and draw his wrath?

It's a neat concept and I want it to work, but I do not see how they kick-start the process of raising the forces that can successfully replace the Usurper on the throne with themselves.
They are not hunted actively nowhere else besides the land they are from. They will have adventures outside at first.
Yes, their mother is alive. I have an idea for an adventure related to that. There are other familiar people living in there as well.

Thanks for your feedback :)
 

PnPgamer

Explorer
I would tell the players at the start of the campaign. I would think this is something you should get their buy in on since it is their PCs. There could something where they were all exiled 20 years ago and grew up in secret, unaware of their heritage, but this may only work if the players know or if they all take short-lived races like humans. An elf exiled 20 years ago with some human babies would have to know something.
My intent was actually so that the mentors would be more long-lived races, and the heritors would be humans. I have said that race choices may come into question during session zero.
Thanks for the feedback! :)
 

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