In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was meant to sneak onto an NPC's farm, discover the NPC's secret mine, and then get spotted by the NPC while leaving. The NPC grabs his ax and engages the PC in combat. Killing the NPC would result in a series of future events for the PC.
Unfortunately, the PC has become focused on a logging protest, which I only created as rationale for the NPC to leave his farm, opening up the opportunity for the PC to investigate it.
If my PC doesn't kill the NPC, it's going to be very hard to work the associated story-line into the campaign. I can't have them fight to the death at the logging protest because a lot of other townsfolk will be there, which could make for an unpredictable encounter. What if the PC failed a diplomacy check, the entire town turned against him, and hung him? Game over.
Another problem is that I'm going to have to write this logging protest scene, which I hadn't intended. It feels like it's an opportunity to get things back on track, but I can't figure out how.
Specifics of my game aside, what do you do when the PCs choose not to follow an important story-line? There are other story lines. Do I let this one go? The worst part is, killing the NPC actually works in the PCs favor and I really want him to experience those benefits.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.