IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE
In which assaults both inexplicable and inexcusable are committed against the innocent and guilty respectively, and a holy man asks a favor with long-lasting consequences…
The shivvel addict in the first part of Session 2 is what I sometimes think of as a “foreshadowing encounter”.
In the Shadow of the Spire is primarily designed as a node-based campaign (with a few wrinkles that I’ll discuss at greater length at a later date). This means that I do have some general sense of what will be included in the campaign, if not necessarily what will happen in the campaign.
(Although only a general sense: There are quite a few “foreshadowing encounters” scattered throughout these journals which foreshadow… absolutely nothing. The PCs went a different way. I like to pretend that I always meant for those to be “local color encounters”.)
In this particular case, I knew that the PCs were probably going to get wrapped up in a tight little knot of criminal conspiracy involving the shivvel trade. The pay-off starts coming in Session 7, but by laying the groundwork for shivvel here I’ve established some necessary exposition which will make the later stuff easier to present when it comes up. I’ve also established shivvel as part of the wider reality of Ptolus; so when I later say “the shivvel trade is important”, the players don’t have to just take my word for it: They know it.
A subtler example in this same session is Brother Fabitor. I knew that in Act II (which turned out to be several dozen sessions later) I would need someone from the Imperial Church to contact the PCs; thus the introduction of Brother Fabitor here.
I thought there was actually decent odds that Brother Fabitor would become a more significant NPC. And he might have if the paladin Alysta had remained part of the campaign. Instead the PCs ended up becoming more closely associated with Mand Scheben (who you haven’t met yet) and ended up engaging the Imperial Church in completely unanticipated fashion.
… but those are tales for the future.
Random GM Tip – Foreshadowing in RPGs