Have you ever thought about other people’s quests? You know all those other adventurers and what they are doing for a living. Did you think that your party was the only group willing to risk their necks for huge rewards? What are all those other guys doing for a living?
Who cares, right? Well, it can really work into the plot devices, plus it just makes sense. If your adventurers are questing to find the long lost trident of Ebeneezer in order to calm the seas and enable their nation to invade another, that other nation should be questing to find the diamond shield of Fazzbrin in order to blind all the ships at sea before they can invade. Or at least points to that order. What if you don’t do this? Well, then your players’ side is the only one with fantastic stuff and they win every single time because everyone else is simply boring. Does it matter to the adventurers? Yep! How? Here’s an example:
OK, so the only way to defeat the evil lord is to chuck his ring into the fiery volcano, so the main quest line is about a bunch of civilians trying to accomplish that task. If the other side had simply sat still, this would not have been that tough a mission. The big bad guy instead chose his nine best guys and gave them missions - go get that ring. They did not all work together - they spread out in smaller groups and homed in on it. That’s why it took three books instead of just one - both sides were questing for the same thing.
OK, here’s a less epic example: The evil god is trying to weaken the nation’s government, while the good god is trying to preserve it. The bad guy sends relatively minor monsters against the provincial territories, luring the army and the adventurers out of the capital city to battle the monsters. That’s good adventuring stuff, right? There are packs of giant wolves invading the borderlands, let’s go kill them! Then the good gods reveal the locations of some cool legendary magic items in order to keep the heroes alive, of course they’re hidden in crypts filled with undead, but that’s good adventuring too. Then the evil guys start causing civil unrest in the capital, but all the military types are out in the field fighting monster distractions. The nation needs to split its forces, making the borderlands that much more dangerous. By the time this quest chain reaches its conclusion and the forces of evil are attacking the capital in force, the good players have fought monsters, recovered treasures, dealt with evil cults in the capital and saved young noble girls from being sacrificed. Meanwhile their allies have also been fighting monsters, and might have learned new strategies or even invented new equipment (dragon scale armor, manticore tail spears, naga poisoned arrows, etc). Also, the bad guys have been granted more magical powers for every noble girl they did sacrifice (every time the party either failed or failed to act). They have also learned how the adventurers attack, and taken actions to defend themselves. If your party’s main mage is always throwing fireballs around, the bad guys who have been working against them for the last two years will be wearing rings of fire resistance.
(to be continued)