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The "Vogler" Model Part 12: The Road Back

This may seem like it should be a quiet time in the character’s lives, but the road back is really where the action gets going again.  The characters have seized the sword, and have enjoyed some much deserved rest, but their mission is far from over.

Using again, the example of negotiating the peace treaty, the characters must now return that signed treaty to their king.  This should be no easy task.  Rival political factions, Orc spies, and even roving gangs of bandits should make the journey home an exciting and challenging one.

This is also a good opportunity for an escaped villain to retaliate against the heroes.  It’s up to you whether the villain will fight to the end, or simply snipe at the heroes as they attempt to complete their journey.  The choice really depends on whether or not you want to your villain to be a continued source of conflict for the characters.

To build up tension along the road, ratchet up the lethality along the way.  Don’t make the first encounter too deadly, but don’t give the characters too much time to recover either.  Time the attacks so they occur just before the heroes have healed their wounds and recovered all of their spells.  A wonderful example of this is the episode “33 Minutes”, from season one of the new Battlestar Galactica.  In this episode, the Cylons attack every 33 minutes, never giving the beleaguered crew of the Galactica time to rest and recover.  This takes a terrible toll on the crew, and throughout the episode you see the cracks start to show.  What you also see, is how the heroes rise to the challenge.  In the end, the crew survives - bloodied but not defeated.  They survived not through superior numbers or weapons, but because they never gave up.

One method often used in fiction (especially film), is to have the heroes ambushed when their destination is in sight.  This usually encompasses an exciting chase scene, and a running combat.  This is another fight that needs to be carefully balanced.  If you want the players to get the most out of the scene, there must be a real chance of failure.

This struggle is also an important component in the Resurrection.

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