Tusk Riders in Balazar: How to use them.

I published this nasty group of Tusk Riders about a month ago and got comments which suggested they were a little over powered and would make a mess of anything found in Balazar.

Both of which were true, but hadn’t phased me as these guys are not designed to be one (or many) combat encounter, but are designed to be a campaign plot theme. However seeing as I had not stated as such its very understandable that readers had not understood this.

descent pic

Background Principles

I have a number of thoughts as regards major plot which will be going on in the campaign setting;

  • Not everything going in a campaign setting on is at the players power level or is their business.
  • What the players can’t cope with shouldn’t come knocking down their door.
  • Things are in motion whether the players react or not
  • There should be a couple of believable safety valves to stop players directly getting involved with plots well beyond their power levels.
  • Ongoing ripples and consequences from these larger plots should be creating an impact on the lives of the characters.
  • All plot should aid in revealing parts of the story which are interesting to the players
  • As characters grow in power they are impacted more by higher level plots & foes
  • Solutions to campaign level plot require allies and politics as much as stats and powers

I would define the tusk rider as this type of  ongoing major plot device, which add background colour and teaches them about the campaign setting whilst the players can deal with their own plot.

For example,

My characters are a small party of Lunar fixers and hired help on their way to Elkoi. They are met by a Balazaring Clan who claim to be loyal to the Lunars and King Glyptus but have suffered at the hands of the Tusk Riders. The players are requested to pass this message on the Lunars in Elkoi, with complaints  about the actions of these lunar agents. This message is delivered and some political wrangling happens just at the periphery of the characters vision.

This slight interaction very quickly tells the players the following facts about the campaign setting;

  • The lunar administration is divided
  • King Glyptus is Weak
  • Some balazaring clans are Loyal
  • Halycon Von Enkorth is playing a high risk game

It could also create a whole storyline of being sent to molify the aggrieved clan without fighting the Tusk Riders, or being sent to rebuke the tusk riders on behalf of the empire.

Also an event as large as the tusk riders arriving in Elkoi lands  has a number of knock on effects, and could have more especially if Halycon sets the tusk riders in the rebel clans in Elmwood.

  • Accelerates the loss of loyalty from Elkoi clans
  • Heightens tensions between Trilus and Lunars
  • Destabilises the reign of King Glyptus
  • Heightens tension between Erpytus and Halycon
  • Brings Toraths Orlanthi out onto the west plain out to fight the threat
  • Creates 2 or 3 seasons of skirmishes and instability out on the west plain

So am using them to create a sense of movement, politics and threat whilst the players are still in the mindset of “That is dangerous let’s not go near it.”.

When I want to introduce direct interaction with them to campaign I will look to do the following to ensure we do for maximum game fun;

  • Players encounter small rides of appropriate power.
  • Players encounter them in the presence of potential allies for a stronger ride.
  • Players get the chance to ambush a stronger ride.
  • Tusk rider will be keen to taken on softer targets than the players without good reason.

Hopefully these initial encounters lead to a series of more direct encounters with the tusk riders in small groups which may be more challenging.

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