When I began this series, I said that I wanted to create a group that might be allies for the players if they shared their goals but could also be an obstacle depending on what the players decide to do. Having gone through this process, I think the faction works for this. They have a righteous cause complicated by the laws of the land–“lawful” or “good” conflicts may feel like old hat, but there’s probably a reason they’re tropey–but it’s also likely a cause that players won’t understand unless they do some investigation. They might find themselves in opposition to the Shields of Abigil by just following the laws of the land or participating in the region’s events, but if they dig deeper they’ll understand the story and maybe even feel motivated to help. Rewarding players for exploring your setting is generally fun and sets a good precedent for further investigation (if you’re having trouble getting them to do so). And if not? There’s still plenty of things you can do with them as adversaries.
For the rest of this post, let’s look at a couple of sample scenarios involving the Shields of Abigil and how they might function as enemies of the party first, as that might be the more evident thing in terms of how your players will approach the game.
Scenario 1: The Patrician’s Party
Gyliam the Noble has invited your heroes to a grand feast. Perhaps they have saved the people of his realm from a threat, he has heard about their adventures and wishes to hire them, or he simply has a party and invites them as a show of hospitality.
Regardless, play up his skill at cooking if you need a hook for them to participate or his munificence as a host. During the feast, he may even tell the group about the Shields as a problem of his. As the guests indulge, Alanis crashes the party with her forest friends. Branches shatter the windows, and animals overturn tables and chairs. In the chaos, Gyliam pleads for help, and the group can put a stop to the druid’s fury.
If you want a contrast after the party, have the group meet a crowd of hungry peasants after their bellies are filled. As a follow-up, you can have Alanis steal Gyliam’s father’s crystal, with the group being charged to retake it and going into the woods to find the perpetrator.
Scenario 2: Tournament Trials
In this scenario as a starting point, the group has heard about or been hired as representatives in the Tournament of Nobles. If you would like it as a follow-up to the scenario above, Gyliam may have asked them to act as his champions at the tournament or even security to ensure the Shields do not disrupt another event. Either way, the group finds out that Abigil has found her own representative to win her position back. She may be fighting for herself, or Wari the Strong will stick up for her in a magical duel.
As events proceed, perhaps Abigil is cheating to ensure her victory (regaining her title is worth a little dishonesty). Or maybe Wari has contacted her people to swoop in at the conclusion of the tournament, capturing a number of the nobles involved and striking their champions when they are tired and weakened. If the dwarves invade, this would be an opportune time, especially if their scout has won the day already.
Hopefully these scenarios provide some inspiration for how you can incorporate this group into your world. Even a few possibilities can easily lead into a number of other events, depending on how you want things to unfold. However, we can also make the Shields more sympathetic, so looking at the other side is worth some time.
Next: what if the Shields of Abigil are allies, instead?