Raj Got Stuck in the Crystal
I’m a relatively new DM, and I ran into an issue with my group recently that I think I could have handled better. For our campaign, I designed a world where the continent the players live on was taken over by a massive jungle in an event called the overgrowth 20 years before the start of the campaign. The players after several sessions found that a sect of crazed followers of Melora were the apparent cause, with a running theme that crystals were somehow related to the massive vegetation growth. This all culminated with them storming a living temple, and defeating the high priestess there. As she died, she smashed the crystal in her staff, opening a portal sucking the players into the Feywild.
Since my players are generally newer to DnD, I used a vignette of the party’s mage in his teenage years being taken to the Feywild during a school trip, so I could have a teacher figure explain generally what they were getting into. I gave each player a student to play, and one jumped into the persona Raj as the teacher’s pet know-it-all. They had fun, and when they awoke in the Feywild they were very near where the trip took place. I made sure to describe the now cracked large crystal they were standing near.
My plan for the story arc was simple. The players would realize they were in the Feywild, and get clues the followers of Melora were using these crystals to steal magical energy, depleting the enchanted forests. They’d have to return to the mortal realm, and defeat more followers to smash the crystals and end the Fey catastrophe. I had a nearby portal they could use to return home, and planned NPCs that could point them towards it to continue the story.
However, my mage immediately upon seeing the crystal said, “Oh hey, this is the crystal Raj got stuck in!” My players then proceeded to spend 10 minutes laughing about how Raj messed up a spell on the field trip and got stuck in, or fell into a natural formation, or angered a local hag who cursed into giant gem. The cracks were attempts to free him of course! I completely lost control, and was now left with a choice. I could either continue with this idea that Raj fell into a crystal, throwing a complete wrench in my plans, or I could tell the players no and ruin a joke they all seemed enthusiastic to extend. I chose to continue with what the players enjoyed, and left poor Raj in the crystal.
I ended the session early, and had to take time to completely rethink not only my storyline, but what the players’ purpose would be in the Feywild. The next session felt very disjointed because of this, since it opened up a lot of questions I wasn’t ready to answer with plot holes that now opened up. I know players have a tendency to destroy your story points, but what can a DM do in a situation where a major plot device is hijacked? In the future, how do I get Raj out of the crystal?