Life of the Party

Orroloth's picture
Recommended Levels: n/a

Author’s note: This hook contains spoilers for the Faction War adventure, so unless you have already read it, are going to, or wish to spoil your surprise, you shouldn’t read this.

Prologue: It’s that time of year again! Darius, factol of the Sign of One, is holding her annual ball for the high-ups of the city. Everyone’s who’s anyone is invited, including perhaps the player characters.

There are plots galore in a party such as this, and the politics of the rest of the year may very well be decided.

The factions have been unusually conflicted, and there is even talk of war in some circles. A good party could even prevent such a thing from ever happening, a good many alliance has been made over a glass of brandy in the late hours following a grand ball of the ring-leaders. Then again, a well-placed insult, or a clumsily spoken jest can easily start a war...

-Armed with a fork-

All the factions, even the Anarchists (though they were not invited), are present, and the players may have received invites or direct commands to attend the party. They might even be neutral, with no faction connections, and still be invited if they are important enough. Perhaps they are involved with the Planar Trading Consortium, or the Snail Outfitters, or perhaps they are emissaries of a planar race, like the githzerai or even the fiends or the celestials. The only requirement is that they are interested in such a party, and capable of sparring with other things than spells and swords!

All the factols are present, except Skall, who sends a representative. And every one of them has a sizable contingency of yes-men and followers, along with other high-ups and their friends. The PCs could easily be a part of the retinue of a faction high-up, if they’ve proven themselves as capable factioneers in the past, especially in more delicate matters.

Even PCs with little social skills might be invited, if the high-up bringing them along thinks they’d might represent an important group, or at least make a good impression. Unfortunately, for those without the ability to make small talk and without anything important to say will probably have very little to do in this adventure, unless it’s as fellow conspirators. Thankfully, that’s seldom a problem in a Planescape adventure.

-Fit for a factol-

The party is held in the Lady’s Ward, co-hosted by Jeremy the Natterer, known as ‘the Lady’s Jester’ (a name he calls himself), in the grand Jester’s palace.

No expense has been spared, foods and drinks from around the multiverse, combined with the best entertainers Sigil has to offer make this the most opulent party the PCs may ever witness (unless they have been to a power’s party, that is).

The host himself, escorted by the typical assortement of lackeys and underlings, most of which are members of the Ring-Giver sect, is as extravagant as his party, laughing and entertaining, singing and dancing. Most of the people in the party seem more of him now than they do for the rest of the year.

But however interesting the Jester is, his guests are far more captivating.

-Sub-plots & lesser politics-

The party is long and there is plenty of time to follow smaller plots before the greater events unfold.

A few ideas for subplots:

  1. A high-up known to the PCs is having a bit too much fun...and he or she is making a terrible embarrassment of themselves and the group they represent. A superior of the PCs asks them to quietly remove the high-up from the party. The problem is that the high-up has no intention of leaving early, and even tries to pick a fight with one of the PCs if they are persistent. It is up to the PCs to defuse the situation.  
  2. An ambassador from the Tanar’ri (who invited him is a mystery) offers the PCs a job, just a little spy mission for the Blood War. Of course, he’ll get really angry if he’s refused...the tanar’ri are like that. Convincing him that the PCs are wrong for the job will take all their guile.  
  3. A devious member of the Anarchists has succeeded in getting herself invited to the party. She tries to publicly draw forth a conflict in the PCs party by pointing out contradictive philosophies within the party, for example by trying to start an argument between two PCs who belong to philosophically contrary factions. PCs who get too excited risk alienating themselves to other factions, even allied factions, as zealots.  
  4. One of the PCs is offered a grand gift by the Lady’s Jester himself, an expensive piece of equipment, or even some real estate. However, the Jester never gives gifts without fully expecting to be repaid in full or more...and he will make the PCs lives’ really, really miserable if they don’t. The best way out is to decline the gift...gracefully. Do. Not. Ire. The Jester.

-The plot reveals itself- In the end, what the adventure is really all about is the animosity that is building up between the factions. It is nothing new, of course. Such things come and go. Two factions might come into conflict with each other for a while (especially those who are geometrically opposed), but things always seem to settle down eventually, if only because the Lady of Pain won’t tolerate open warfare on her streets.

But war is coming nonetheless. Factol Darkwood has been stirring the melting pot that are the factions for a while now, and he is almost ready to strike...that is, strike out in the open. He has been ‘striking’ all the time behind the scenes.

This party may become the first hint the PCs get that war might be coming. The DM can either use it as a springboard into the war (a sort of hook for the greater adventure, creating connections between the PCs and some important high-ups, so that they can get more easily involved), or even as a chance to stop the war from happening at all, although that is not the focus of this hook, merely a suggestion to those who dislike the thought of a faction war.

-A war in the making- Several things will happen during the course of the party that connect with the events of the war in some way. Sometimes, the players will only witness them, unable to affect the events, but still able to discern vital clues from them if they keep their eyes open. The DM is encouraged to be subtle, and to mix these events with the minor happening mentioned earlier to throw the PCs off the track.

Most vitally, Factol Darkwood is looking for allies. He has heard of the PCs, and thinks highly of them (especially if some of them are members of the Fated but not if they have ruined his plans in the past!). He has decided to quietly recruit them...or at least see if they are interested in working for him. The duke has no time for fools who cannot think for themselves, though, so he tests them, to see if they are suitable.

The duke will already know what the PCs are capable of in battle (he has an incredible amount of spies and operatives working for him), so he is really trying to discern if the PCs have the brains to be serious players in faction politics. Of course, if they prove to have brains but are not willing to work with him, he’ll chalk them up as another obstacle...

The test is fairly simple. The duke approaches them, nonchalantly (perhaps he pretends to notice them as he is walking past them, suddenly ‘remembering’ them... offering them praise for something they did, or asking them questions about someone they know, to hide that he’s really interested in them) and tries to gauge their reaction to him friendly or otherwise. If they appear relatively friendly (and they would be foolish not to, the duke is one of Sigil’s most influential men), he’ll ask them a small favor (this should send alarms going off in the PCs heads...the factol of the Fated asking for favors!): he wants to be introduced to factol Alisohn Nilesia.

To the PCs, this may look like an obvious ploy on the duke’s part...after all, it is fairly unlikely that the PCs know the factol of the mercykillers enough that they feel comfortable with introducing Darkwood to her. On the other hand, they now have a perfect opportunity to get to know two factols at the same time! Not to mention being amongst the first (even the only) learn of the duke’s attempts to woo the young mercykiller.

Naturally, whether the PCs introduce him to her or not, he manages to woo her, anyway. The only difference will be that they are not involved in any way (and might even miss the clue that so blatantly appears before them... something they might regret when the faction war hits). If they do introduce him to her, they’ll find that the whole thing goes surprisingly smoothly, and the duke will offer them work for him after the party.

-Other small, but important events-

The PCs should notice a distinct aggravation of faction rivalries. Everyone is going to be diplomatic about it (well, almost everyone), but it should be clear that it’s not ‘business as usual’. The kriegstanz is getting vicious.

However, well-placed words can do wonders, and when the war finally ignites the Cage, relationships built and alliances constructed during the party might well play a part in lessening the eventual damage caused by the war.

For the first part, canny PCs who wish to listen to rumors should be informed that if there would be a war, several factions would try to stay out of it for the most part. Namely, the Athar, the Dustmen, the Bleak Cabal, the Sign of One and even the Believers of the Source will be less directly involved in the events of the war unless someone thinks of involving them, and doing so might either cause more damage to the city or lessen it.

Whether the PCs take upon themselves to play peace negotiators (or warmongers) with the various factols, or whether they are given express commands by their superiors is up to the DM, but even the mere suggestion of an alliance to the right person could result in at least a certain level of cooperation during the war. The Sign of One and the Believers of the Source are probably more easily swayed to work with the law factions, and the Dustmen and the Bleaker Cabal are probably more easily talked into allying themselves with the Doomguards or the Revolutionary League, but anything can happen at this point. Let the PCs be key persons in any negotiations that happen, but try not to give everything away at once, the war should come as a surprise, after all, even if it’s not a total surprise.

One faction that might prove important in any peace negotiations is the Transcendent Order, if the war rumors are brought to their attention early on, they might be able to accomplish far more than they otherwise would have (perhaps factol Rhys could even be convinced of not running away at the first sign of trouble, although that is unlikely, considering how she makes decisions).


The party leaves everything open. Entire adventures, even campaigns could spring from this source. Something as big as a faction war has to have events like this one leading up to it.

Perhaps later on, the PCs will look at these events as how it all started and how it all could have been avoided.

Clueless's picture
Joined: 2008-06-30
Life of the Party

Really good way of getting the party to feel personally *connected* to the events as well actually. That sense of responsibility goes a long way towards keeping them on track without railroading.

Orroloth's picture
Joined: 2004-10-23
Life of the Party

I wrote this hook as a response to an individual who wouldn't believe that most of my adventures don't have any combat at all.

I've run tons of these for my own players, in fact (although they might not all be worthy of a hook), and if there is one thing I have observed during the latter part of my DM career is that combat is always optional - especially in Planescape.

I have a couple of more political hooks that take place during/beforfe the FW like this one to write up, and then there's my new campaign, Apotheosis, which will require a completely new write-up for itself...

Loki De Carabas's picture
Joined: 2004-12-14
Life of the Party

I really lie the idea of "continuity hooks," such as this one. No event exists in a vacuum (unless you're only the Quasiplane of vacuum that is), and hooks like this one tie things together nicely.

Very nice work, keep 'em coming!


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