My game system is pathfinder but the setting is entirely of my own creation, with a group that is largely interested in the role-playing aspects of the game; when it's more dynamic to wave away strict rules-lawyering, I generally do so.
The plot largely involves ancient magics and dragons locked away when civilization began, and the gradual splitting of their dimensional cage manifesting as meteors of raw, uncontrollable, magic material. (Think phazon in the game series: Metroid Prime) To conclude my first season of play, my players saw their first meteor impact the city they were staying in after many sessions of investigation of cultists and flailing about the city trying to understand what's going on. My issue is this:
- As the magic involved is extremely old, very few people have knowledge of it in the slightest. I have alluded to people that know but have had little success directing.
- The cultists they managed to capture and interrogate had previously, willfully lost their humanity for their cause, turning them into abominations. I could not fathom any reason that a villain would tell the heroes what was happening given that they had come so far already.
- My players are largely afraid of taking leads up.
- My sorcerer was severely wounded and then after the meteor impact, exposed to the influence of the meteor itself, at which point I gave him a compliment of draconic powers and the knowledge that he would die soon (alluding to cracking skin and light shining beneath that they had seen before when an villainous NPC supercharged himself). He ran rampant and allowed the other PCs to escape, but ultimately destroyed his body in the process from excess magic. None of my players seemed to understand possible connections or even what happened at all besides the sorcerer, but his new character should not have his old knowledge.
- Lastly, with the meteor finally fallen, my players have more questions than answers, and do not know what they plan to do. Every point I lay out for them to gain knowledge has been thwarted, resulting in a world that has grown drastically beyond what characters at level five should handle.
I need to get a handle on what goes on in the world without giving the impression of railroading and I have a few points laid out for what might happen next, but I need to give my players a mote of hope to guide them. They've discussed travelling to the capital to meet the sorcerer's parents and tell them of their sons demise, maybe find out the truth in his powers, but are now travelling in the wrong direction. I am considering slowing down the pace at which my campaign plot points arrive, but the issue is convincing players that doing little things is worth their time now that all hell has broken loose.
I've created a setting and plot that is at the moment too powerful for the PC party to handle, is there any way to establish that this is the case, but still give the PCs meaningful tasks to accomplish so that they will grow to become capable of trumping the powers at work?