The main party playing in Fletnern right now is referred to by several nicknames, but one that I started using is “The Rescuers”. From the second mission, they seem unable to complete a mission without bringing someone home with them. Yes, a couple of the missions were rescue missions, but the others were not.
This has changed a lot of things in the campaign and honestly forced me to do some fancy thinking to handle things. Example - In an early mission, they were supposed to retrieve a spell book considered to be far too dangerous. Well, they didn’t kill the conjurer who had it - they captured him. Seems normal enough, but the trick was that he didn’t really have the spell book, only a couple of the spells that he had copied out of the actual spell book when he fled from the cult who really had it. So, inadvertently, they kicked my tail as a GM. Now it wasn’t a matter of tracking down the cult, they just questioned the guy. OK - poor planning on my part - good thinking on theirs.
But ever since then, they’ve been bringing folks home. Some are liberated; some are captured. All are valuable. The folks they saved are now useful contacts around the city. It is obvious that anyone who was saved by a team would be willing to do favors for their saviors. These folks have also passed on their respects and gotten the party new missions (and new contacts). The prisoners always know more when questioned over the course of weeks than they reveal if questioned on site. Since the missions the party was doing were generally for the “good church” in their city, the church and their political counterparts easily had the means to hold and question prisoners, which helped the party in later missions.
How did it help? Well, as mentioned, the first guy clued them into the fact that there was a cult, and the cult was using the spell book. This actually saved them from having to do a filler mission to learn there was a cult. The next mission therefore was more of a capture mission where they went after the only interpreter known to be able to translate that language. He had more information about the cult. The mission after that, they started to see real benefits. They had an idea of what the guards and leaders were like (equipment, skills and spells). They knew about a secret way into the ruined castle, because it was the way the first guy had escaped. They knew there was more than one “cell” of cult members, though they did not yet know where the others were. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a lot, but knowing that you’re going up against fire mages, when you thought you were going up against conjurers is a big deal (to anyone who uses a strategy other than kick in the door and attack).
None of these things was impossible without the captives, mainly because I had not planned for them to gather so many. But it made things a lot easier! Going forward, I am going to write my missions with at least an idea of what might happen if some key bad guy gets captured or someone gets saved. The benefits will continue to be on the minor side - hints about how to get past guards or a trap or perhaps where a hidden treasure is. I really like that this happened, and I find it more fun because it was spontaneous, though they are learning - far better to capture and see what they get out of it, than just be The Slaughterers.