Plot Twists in Dungeons and Dragons
Crit Academy covers the awesome Dungeons and Dragons article "Left Hooks: 24 Plot Twists Ideas and Design Patterns" by Jeremy Clarke. We share our thoughts and our own comments on each of his detailed concepts.
The PCs encounter an enemy of great power. In their current state, and outright engagement would likely be extremely difficult for them. Their investigation has led them to a secret weakness of the enemy. A ritual or item that will allow them to conquer the foe. Unfortunately, they discover that what they thought was a way to weaken the enemy, actually make them an even stronger foe.
Hardened by Fire:
The employer of the PCs or a mentor to them is also the cause of the conflict. The purpose is often to toughen up the PCs or the region in which they are apart of.
Reminds me of the movie Wanted.
A Group of assassins follows a prophecy of the almighty himself. In the hopes of ensuring evil doesn’t rise.
Come to find out, the assassin leader was manipulating the prophecy’s all along. Making him judge, jury, and executioner, not the Almighty.
Ally with an Enemy:
Out of nowhere, a port city is attacked by a fleet of enemy ships.
The port town doesn’t have the resources to fight an effective naval battle. The PC’s must turn to the band of pirates(who they have, up to this point, been tasked with dealing with) for help.
Can the pirates or PCs be trusted? Will both sides stick to their agreement? Or will one side backstab the other?
The longer the PCs take, the more permanent a change starts to become. Creating a sliding scale of success instead of a success or failure condition.
Such a twist creates higher ongoing tension the longer the drama goes on.
For example, a fire elemental takes roost in a nearby volcano. It stokes the fires in an attempt to lead to an eruption. The longer the PCs take, the more violent the volcano becomes. Increasing its frequency as well as how severe it is.
Ash blots out the sun, landslides become more frequent and earthquakes begin to topple buildings.
This is a great example to encourage players to not take long rests, as they work their way to the top.
Did we do that?
The PCs are on the wrong side. The’ve been tricked or forced into supporting the villains goals.
Maybe, the villain is a patron to the group, a mentor or friend.