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The Hidden Empire

Plot points/Scenes

  • The protagonists are tasked with find the Kabutoe scouts their first interaction will dictate how the Empire proceeds.
  • Eventually word will get back to the hive and the Kabutoe will take the heroes either willingly or not into the Kabutoe empire.
  • Two factions will vie for control of the party to dictate the future of the empire and it's dealings with the outside world
  • With lines drawn and armies ready the Kabutoe will have a civil war to decide the fate.

Themes

Opposed values, political intrigue, isolation

Structure

Exposition

The bodies of a kabutoe are brought to the protagonists. Thought to have long since gone extinct the species was considered a dangerous swarm that expanded without any consideration for their environment. The adventurers are to investigate the species and discern weather they are a threat or have changed and worth opening trade.

Conflict

One way or another the heroes will be brought into the capitol of the kabutoe empire. There they must learn of the various rules and factions within the city to better influence what will happen. The shogun has gone into seclusion and two heirs are vying for prestige to be recognized as the next shogun.

Rising Action

It becomes clear that there are two sides to the kabutoe mirroring the heroes. The traditionalists believe that there is nothing that can be learned from other species and the empire must close it's borders. The reformists believe that trade and communication can be made if both sides are willing. The two factions will vie for the favor of the foreigners but when it becomes obvious one side is favored the other faction will attempt to kidnap and instigate a false narrative be it the traditionalists killing the outsiders and blaming them for their violent ways or the reformists killing the strangers and blaming the traditionalists. But even with the two sides fighting there is a chance a third side can be created with the Empress and those loyal to her able to topple the shogunate and regain control of the empire.

Climax

Tempers flare as both traditionalists and reformists erupt into outright civil war with the two sons of the Shogun at either side. The battle is fierce but with the intervention of a small band that is not expected the heroes can turn the tide of battle in their favor. When the fog of war lifts the empire will be forever changed.

Falling Action

The Shogun leaves seclusion to find the choice for his heir has already been made. But before the protagonists can be lauded as heroes they must prove they made the right choice.

Resolution

Depending on who the heroes sided with and what they did within the empire the fate of a nation will change. But the changes will take time and the heroes will be sent back to their own country to plan for the future.   If the Traditionalists won then the empire will close it's borders as they attempt to protect their empire from the other races. If the reformists won then the first merchants and diplomats will be sent out as kabutoe feel out the other races. If the Empress regains control of the army she will decide with the help of the people who assisted her.

Components

Goals

  • Introduce the kabutoe.
  • Show the kabutoe as a species on the verge of change.
  • Let the players choose who to help and have them take a major role in changing an empire

Hooks

As adventurers they are not publicly aligned with any nation so if they were to be caught or fail they can be disavowed. Their country will pay them to take on this job and outfit them with the necessary resources.   As part of a specific guild it is their job to find out if the kabutoe are a threat or a boon. If they are worth dealing with then the guild will benefit if the players make a good impression, if not they can warn the guild to prepare ahead of time.   A former ally that has kept their identity secret reveals that they are a kabutoe. Having fled the Empire for political reasons they found the kabutoe scouts and believe the kabutoe will be revealed sooner rather than later. They urge the protagonists to assist them in making a proper first contact.

Stakes

The fate of not only the kabutoe empire but all the surrounding countries are at stake. If the investigators make the wrong choices they can begin a war or make the initial dealings with other nations unfavorably towards their own. The team will also have a direct impact on the next shogun and possibly the empire depending on who they side with. Should the Empress regain control of the empire she will place a figurehead as shogun and weaken the empire but improve their commerce.

Moral Quandaries

The heroes must choose what is right for multiple nations as they interact with the kabutoe. Their choices will decide if the kabutoe open themselves up to other nations only to be wiped out by scared species that only remember tales and myths. Their actions could also make the kabutoe start a war or prepare for one the other races are not ready for.

Cruel Tricks

No matter the end result with the kabutoe and the protagonist's nation the other nations will want the kabutoe wiped out and their dealings could make allied countries a target. The traditionalist will eventually vie for war no matter how well they deal with the protagonists.

Red Herrings

The priest/monks of the Inevitable hold sway over the majority of the population and have their own say in the court. But the nobility has long since drifted away from the teachings of the Inevitable and only in his old age has the shogun turned to his faith.   The party can attempt to make it's way through to the shogun but being cloistered in meditation he is not willing to listen. Instead of making the shogun take action it will drive a rift between the factions and the party as they will break a strong taboo.

Plot type
Chapter 1: The Kabutoe Empire

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