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I just ran my second session of HotDQ and I've run into a problem. After almost wiping to find Leosin, the party absolutely furious that he didn't want to go back with them to the point where they cursed him to his fate and walked out.

They now want nothing to do with him, and will probably end up attacking him if he bad-mouths them or shows up and puts on the mystery act. How crucial is he to the rest of the story? I've heard conflicting messages from this remix blog that says he honestly isn't that important, and people on Reddit who say he's one of the more important NPCs to the story, so I'm not sure what to believe.

I'm looking for suggestions on where to go from here before our next session. I've decided I probably need to read through the entire module (I've been attempting to go through it episode by episode), but I'm not sure how to best remedy/work with their attitude towards him if he is going to be continuously showing up.

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Leosin's later appearances in the campaign are purely as a quest-giving NPC.

  • In episode 3, he sends the player characters back to the Cult camp, and sends them to meet Ontharr Frume in episode 4. This is going to be the hardest Leosin instance to replace, since at this point there isn't any equivalent NPC to give the quest. You could have an authority figure (perhaps even Ontharr himself?) arrive at Greenest to give these requests. Alternatively, the people of Greenest could ask the characters to return to the Cult camp, since they would naturally be concerned about the possibility of another attack.

  • In episode 4, he represents the Harpers, and together with Ontharr Frume of the Order of the Gauntlet, he gives the characters the quest that drives the campaign from episode 4 through to episode 8. Doing this without Leosin is simple - any representative of the Harpers can take his place, or Ontharr Frume can give the quest by himself.

  • At the start of Rise of Tiamat, he summons the characters to the Council of Waterdeep. Either Ontharr Frume or whoever you used to fill Leosin's place in episode 4 can be used for this. (Or any powerful NPC the players trust, really.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You left out that having Leosin on the player's good side gives them points for the end of the Rise of Tiamat scorecard. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jul 14 '15 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMNoob Having GMed Rise of Tiamat to the end, I'm willing to stick my neck out and say that the council scorecard really doesn't matter. A TPK is far more likely than the party not getting every faction's full support by the end. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 14 '15 at 22:41
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tl;dr Just flow with it.
Leosin has a purpose, but that purpose includes having the players not like him.

In terms of plot, Leosin is the main source of information about the cult, unless one of your players chose the cult infiltrator background.

Leosin is also an important figure in the waterdeep council in the Rise of Tiamat module, if you are in his good graces, then other factions are more likely to support you.

My impression of the module is that Leosin is intended to be a challenge to the players. What's more important, your pride, or foiling the Dragon cult? I would not remove Leosin or change him, rather I would allow the players the chance to not listen to Leosin and to watch the world detereoate a bit fighting off the dragon cult where they can find them. (This should be easy since they are raiding all of the sword coat).

In such a situation, I would skip episodes 4-8 and build off of what the Rise of Tiamat module suggests as ways of getting characters up to level 8 and summoned to the council for other deeds. Alternatively, if the players are getting along with Ontharr Frume he can be their contact instead. My group was very close to disliking both Ontharr and Leosin and I was about to let the party go on their way, until one player decided he wanted to join the Order of the Gauntlet even is Leosin wasn't worth talking to.

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I have encountered similar problems with pre-made adventured before. Look at the NPC not as crucial people to the campaign but as crucial assets. The difference is quite straight forward: What matters is not the NPC as such but the knowledge, quests, ideas, personality, etc that they are representing.

My advice to you would be to extract the essence of Leosin and just replace him with another character that is in Greenest. I had prepared for exactly the scenario you mentioned as my party was unlikely to actually rescue Leosin. Hence I did the following:

I had devised another NPC, Jo'on was his name, that was a Harper Scout sent to contact Leosin. He missed Leosin but was able to find his journal. Leosin had left his journal at a location that would make it easy for other Harpers to find if he should go missing. I had devised Jo'on's attitude to be more in line to what my party would accept as a friendly NPC.

The benefits are clear: you do not loose any knowledge Leosin had. What Leosin could only have confirmed while in the camp, you can seed as assumptions. If you want to have the demise of Leosion have repercussions, seed some erroneous assumptions.

Using this strategy to replace NPC you can deal with any turn the PC's take without them ever feeling like you shove something down their throat. All you need to be prepared to do is figure out the reason the NPC is there and devise different strategies of how to approach what the original NPC would have meant to the PCs.

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