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The following question contains major spoilers for the Storm King's Thunder campaign.

I'm currently running Storm King's Thunder for my party. This is for a home game (not Adventurers League). I just read up on chapter 10 of the book where the party visits Maelstrom. In this chapter, the party is supposed to have an audience with the Storm King's daughter, Serissa.

According to the book, the characters can approach this meeting in many different ways; they can take Serissa's quest for the coin, or convince Serissa that Iymrith isn't who she says she is. While I feel these are the most common approaches to this part, the book also talks about a scenario where the players take an aggressive approach and capture or slay one of Serissa's sisters before the meeting ("Dealing with the Giant Lords", p. 208):

"If the characters slay one or both of her sisters, Serissa is convinced that they are assassins who have been sent to finish off the royal family. She commands Maelstrom's defenses to destroy the adventurers. Serissa also reaizes that her faith in the small folk has been misplased. In effect, the killing of Miran or Nym gives Iymrith a major victory, so far as the act drives a wedge between giants and the small folk."

The book continues saying that the party can attempt to convince Serissa that her sisters are evil with a Persuasion check... But what if that fails - or my party does not pick up on this and just tries to fight their way out, either through the exit or by having to make new characters? By doing this, they could miss out on the alliance with the storm giants and they won't force Iymrith to her lair, both of which are needed to progress the campaign.

Did I miss something in the book which covers for some unexpected aggression from my party during this chapter? Or is there a way I could approach this so that it won't derail the campaign as much?

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Failure is an option

Players, through playing, can and should be able to meaningfully interact with the world. Usually they make the world better; sometimes they make it worse.

Don’t rob your players of the opportunity and the consequences of a massive cock-up that they sincerely earned.

How to DM these consequences

I will start by saying that I haven’t read or DMed Storm King’s Thunder but I have done both to at least half a dozen of other WotC book adventures. They are all quite similar - apocalypse hangs in the hands of the players. It’s OK from time to time to let the apocalypse happen.

So, consider how the world changes based on what went down. The NPCs still have things they want to achieve; what will they do now?

Perhaps the person you discuss will seek different allies? Even allies whose goals are not strictly in line with their ethics? Maybe it’s better to be on the winning side and to try to mitigate some of its excesses?

Maybe the DM has to change up the future chapters to accommodate this? Maybe this will make things harder for the players going forward? I certainly hope so; if my players’ failings force me to do extra prep somebody is going to suffer.

Remember, it’s a make-believe world; it doesn’t matter if you break it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 keeping the training wheels on prevents your party from learning - if they whiff by being murderhobos in this campaign, they may moderate their approach next campaign. Always coming up with other options for them makes their decisions meaningless and without responsibility, it's all just die rolling. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 22 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 from me too, being a DM is about writing the story, as much as it is about getting your players to play it. If things get out of hand, just let them get out of hand and re-write the future. \$\endgroup\$ – John Hamilton Jan 23 at 9:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ "It’s OK from time to time to let the apocalypse happen." - for this sentence alone, you deserve my +1. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark wishes Monica well Jan 23 at 11:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ That said, make sure that there were enough hints that they weren't supposed to be murderhobos this time. I have played in games that were 5 identical encounters where "kill everything" was the only option that got us even remotely close to the goal, and in the 6th the DM got disappointed that the first reaction of the party was to unsheathe the swords. As a DM, you are also training your PCs, if diplomatic approaches never lead anywhere they will stop trying. \$\endgroup\$ – xLeitix Jan 23 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm... might've put an interesting twist on that Pacific Rim speech: "Today we face the monsters that are at our door, and bring the fight to them. Today, we are letting the apocalypse happen!" \$\endgroup\$ – 8bittree Jan 23 at 19:09

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