I’ve managed to paint myself in a bit of a corner for next week’s session, and was hoping some of you could help me kickstart my imagination.
My players are on the verge of entering a big monastery where a cult of humanoid lizard priests is trying to perform a ritual that will cause the blood god Groth to manifest itself in the body of a girl they kidnapped (and whom my group is trying to rescue. The girl, not Groth. :-)).
The problem is that a couple of sessions ago, in a different location, my group already encountered and beat a second group of these lizard priests who were trying the same thing on a different kidnap victim (sister of the current girl — they were kidnapped together, and then the lizards split them up. I know, I know — it seemed like a good idea at the time…).
You can probably see what my problem is: I don’t want to offer my players a repeat of the same adventure, but I am stuck on how to escalate / differentiate the plot. In fact, I’d like to avoid a second slugfest altogether, so would prefer to enable something with a bit more potential for NPC interaction, and non-hack’n’slash solutions.
What I was thinking so far, is that I could have the players actually be spotted and welcomed by the priests, told that nothing’s wrong, the girl is there of her own free will, they’re welcome to meet her and stay the night, etc. etc. But of course there should still be some nefarious purpose/front behind all of this, and that’s where I am stuck.
Why would the priests pretend to be friendly to the party (considering that in the monastery the players will be vastly outnumbered, and could basically just be slaughtered at any time)? What is the priests’ ulterior goal with the second girl? What sort of non-violent solutions could I help nudge my party in the direction of? (I don’t want or need to railroad them, but my players do appreciate a bit of “there’s something for us to discover/figure-out here” GM prepped puzzle play). Can I maybe do something with the victim’s fiancee, who is traveling with the players as an NPC, and so far has not been of much use on account of him just being a humble peasant boy?
So yeah, I’m somewhat stuck. Does anybody have any ideas for me?