What would it look like if every single weretiger were lured to the Beastlands to fight for the privilege of being the mate of a lusty feline goddess?
I am probably not the only DM who throws adventure paths in front of the players without having a clear picture of how the climax of those adventures will play out, if the players choose to pursue them.
Sooner or later though it´s time to get down to business and prepare for the showdown. I have two such conclusive encounters waiting to happen at the moment. One is a final confrontation with a god that the players themselves played a part in making, where I haven´t even worked out what the divine realm looks like, or what powers the new god has. That´s a real headache.
The other is a summoning to the Beastlands, where one of the players, a weretiger (infected), will get a chance to fight for the right to mate with Ferrix. Since I often get so many good tips and excellent feedback on this site, I thought I´d see if any of you have any ideas of how this tournament might look like.
It all started when the weretiger in the party, who contracted this strain of lychantropy on Earth and keeps it in check with the help of a powerful artifact (an tiger pendant from India) started acting weird. The first sign came when he ogled two drow priestesses that travelled with the party, which earned him a scolding. There were also other signs of arousement, which is especially worrying since what triggers his involuntary shapeshifting is strong emotions and excitement of any kind.
In Sigil his condition worsened. He was even somewhat attracted to a simple house cat. He had to make willpower (wisdom) checks to contain his arousement. Very easy ones at first. Gradually they´ll increase in difficulty.
After one more minor adventure they returned to Sigil, where he is still tormented by raging hormones. Then suddenly and without provocation, he was challenged by a man who turned into a tiger and attacked him in the middle of a crowded street in Sigil. He defeated the assailant, and evaded capture by the Harmonium, but both he and his fellow Earthlings were now seriously worried about his condition. Especially since they have so many other pressing tasks ahead of them, and worrying about their friend tearing his pendant of and then ripping them apart is not something they need right now.
Fortunately they had a wise ursinal to consult, and he could tell them that supposedly weretigers from all over the Multiverse were drawn to the Beastlands by pheromones sent out by the goddess Ferrix. She is looking for a new mate, and she wants him to be the most powerful weretiger in the entire Multiverse. Who that lucky tiger is will be decided through a tournament where only one tiger will remain as the winner. Their friendly ursinal warned them that the pheromonal pull will only grow stronger in the coming days and weeks. His only hope is to resist it until the tournament is over and a mate has been chosen, but this could take several weeks or even months. Perhaps he would be less affected by the pheromones on the Inner planes, but this is hardly an option for him, for various reasons.
The other option available to him is to travel to the Beastlands and fight. This might be good for him since he could probably ask to be granted permanent control over his condition by Ferrix. As a morning gift of sorts, if he wins of course. This would make him quite formidable and grant his other quests a greater chance of success.
This is where my troubles as a DM starts though. How will this tournament be organized, what will the «arena» look like etc. etc.?
The first problem to solve is how to sift out thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of weretigers, so that a manageable number of contenders remain?
The only idea I have as of now is to demand of the fighters that they succeed in an initial task or challenge in order to qualify for the tournament. It could be one particular task for all contenders. For example crossing a difficult terrain, full of gorges, quick sand, etc. to fetch a fruit or a monkey that is only found in trees that grows in one particular location. Or it could be invididual tasks, more suiting perhaps for the chaotic nature of Ferrix and her proxies, like bringing back the obsidian triangle of a gereleht. These individual challenges could be extremely unfair in terms of difficulty, which might provide for some fun role playing.
Any ideas of how to do this? Or any ideas of what a suitably difficult qualifying challenge might be?
The other challenge is to figure out how the fights are organized. The weretigers arrive at different times. Some come weeks after the first challengers have arrived. It would seem unfair that some fighters have to defeat a large number of opponents, while another competitor theoretically only has to defeat one, if his timing is right.
Any suggestions of how to deal with this is very welcome. I thought that maybe the fights might not proceed like a sports tournament with a rigid system of progression, but rather be governed by the whims of the proxies of Ferrix. Whoever they would like to see fight each other are matched in the «ring».
The greatest challenge however is coming up with a number of unique and colourful opponents for our earthling weretiger to fight. I would love to get some ideas on that. For example if any of you already have weretiger player characters or npc´s that can be tossed into the tournament more or less as they are. The wily, clever fighter, the chivalrous weretiger, the brawling barreled chested fighter, and of course the one that knows all the dirty tricks in the book etc.
Last, but not least, if would be nice to get some input on how to get some variation in the actual fighting. Our earthling is not used to fighting as a tiger. Should that be reflected in a lack of skill, at least initially? Could a weretiger be an expert or specialist with claws or fangs, as player characters can with swords or axes? Are there any special weretiger skills or proficiencies that experienced weretigers have picked up during their lifetimes? How could the full tiger form and the hybrid form respectively be used to the best effect during a duel?
NB. There´s also the question of how this will affect weretigers on other worlds that does not know how to travel to the Beastland, but still feel the tug from the pheromones and the aggression and arousement that comes with it.