Saturday Seed ~ 63 (HEX)

This week’s seed is for Hollow Earth Expedition.

A Villain has captured one whom he believes is the hero’s paramour, and sets an elaborate trap to delay our heroes with threat of her death. To succeed the hero must know her life intimately, yet… he has never met her.

This week’s seed is very short and will take a lot of tuning for each individual game, but I get a real kick out of it. I now envision this being for Hollow Earth Expedition, but when I used it, it was as a part of an ongoing Call of Cthulhu campaign. It can be repurposed for a variety of settings, periods, and genres such as a superheroes game, or even Shadowrun, although for the latter, I would pretty much expect the victim to be left to rot.

The Seed

A recurring villain captures the loved one of the hero and sets a herculean rescue task in order to secure their release.

Planting the Seed

One (or more, if you like) of the heroes is in a relationship. That special person is planning to take a trip soon. In preceding sessions, or at the very least scenes well prior to the onset of this seed, the heroes should slowly realize that someone has had goons observing them from a distance. If these conditions can be met, the seed can be planted and grow to fruition. While this plot will have more traction if the relationship in question is a romantic one, it can work just as well with a dependent, close friend of the group, family member, or the like. In the same way, the villain in question can be a recurring figure, or just one more representative of an opposed organization.

The details

It will be obvious to the heroes that this is a ploy to distract them from something else that the villain intends to perpetrate.

The threat to the life and well-being of the victim will also not be in doubt.

Can the heroes thwart the plot, rescue the villain, and capture the villain, or will a sacrifice need to be made?

For longer games and campaigns, I would suggest the villain is seeking to obtain something and that if they are allowed to escape, that item return to haunt the heroes. Examples of this would be an artifact of rumored power, access to a researcher or inventor, influence over a powerful person, knowledge of a new technique or science, and so on.

In shorter or one-shot games, make the villain’s target something of only transient significance, such as money; or something that cannot be recovered, like the removal of an obstacle, (social, political, economic, rivalry, etc).

What’s going on

The pacing of the release of these details will definitely shape the mood and experience of this story idea, but the next item is the most significant one in terms of shaping the tale.

The captured party is not, in fact, in any way related to the heroes. The goons have captured the wrong person entirely. This mistake, however, does not put the victim at any less risk.

With this piece of information, the tale can shift between straight adventure and heroism to moral dilemma, and back again.

Of course the victim must be rescued, but the stakes can be raised to the point where the heroes at least need to think about the needs of the many, outweighing the needs of the few.

When will you reveal this mistaken identity? From the start of the Death Trap scene? During it? After the jaws of death have cruelly crushed the life from the hapless victim? Not until the loved one returns from their trip? The possibilities are broad, and each carries with it a distinct feel and flow.

The twist

To make it more bizarre, the villain has arranged a spectacular and elaborate death trap, the navigation of which requires intimate knowledge of the victim (birth date, height and weight, alma mater, mother’s maiden name, first love’s name, etc).  How can the heroes possibly navigate this trap in time to stop the villain? How will they divide their forces? How much time is there to use, how much to lose?

The choices are up to you!


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