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My PCs are pursuing a major villain who deals with assorted plant-based monsters, who we'll just call the Queen. Being a manipulative sort, I think she would probably try to lead them towards attacking the local druids, who are naturally in conflict with her. However, I'm at a loss for how she could actually accomplish this. Some of my ideas so far are:

  • Hint that another NPC (a certain PC's mother) has been taken into custody by the druids, when the Queen actually has her.

  • Simply claim to be a part of the local druidic order herself.

  • Point out that the druids oppose construction of the major city in the area (to which several of the players are associated).

However, I don't really feel like any of these would work. The first seems the most likely, but that PC's player has been struggling to show up to games and none of the other players are familiar with her mother. (I actually don't have anything about the other PCs that could be useful here — the ranger doesn't get along with anyone in his backstory, everyone the thief knows is dead, and the priest gave me nothing.)

I'm running AD&D (2e) and building the world from the ground up, pretty much as we go. This particular druidic order resides in the continent's largest forest, where the Queen has been making her base of operations.

So, what would be the most effective way for a mid-level spellcaster to draw a party into conflict with a druidic order?

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If there is already potential conflict between the city and the forest (as you suggest) then the evil plan practically writes itself. Have the queen hire/force mercenaries (or thugs of any stripe) to attack one side leaving evidence incriminating the other side.

So for example, she could hire some thugs to attack the druids, maybe steal something from them or otherwise mess up their business. All the while these thugs are dressed in stolen uniforms from the city guard, carrying forged papers or items that identify them as from the city, or even just hollering "We're taking this forest in the name of City!" Inevitably the druids will investigate or even retaliate against the city, especially if tension about the city's growth is already an issue among the druids.

Now you have a situation where the druids actually ARE hostile, based on this misunderstanding about who actually attacked them and why. Furthermore you've built in a solvable mystery (who really attacked the druids? Was it actually some of our people gone rogue? Are we responsible for the horrible thing that happened to the druids?) that your players can pursue, as well. That way they are less likely to feel unfairly "tricked" into attacking the druids, even if "let's wipe out the druids" is their immediate solution to the mysterious hostilities.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Brilliant! I think this is what I'll have to go with... I hadn't even begun to think about having her hire middlemen. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passage
    Feb 6 '16 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can play this both ways if you really need to escalate. Have some people attack the druids claiming to be from the town. Have other people attack outlying villagers and plant evidence that the druids did it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim B
    Feb 6 '16 at 20:33
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Have you considered the Queen might have done the same thing with the druids, and now the druids think the PCs are the most dangerous enemies of balance around?

When you plan to put two factions against each other, you have each become unreasonably angry at the other, so that everything they say might be mistaken for excuses and the will to convince thamselves of being the good part.

This way, if the PCs don't go to the druids, it's the druids going to the PCs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose that might be an option, but it still raises the question of how she would accomplish that-- the druids are already in conflict with her, and I can't really imagine them just believing her claims. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passage
    Feb 6 '16 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, @Passage, you don't really do this on the open. You just plant false clues. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Feb 6 '16 at 17:04

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