The question I set before you is this:
How can a party of low level PCs defeat an extremely powerful BBEG?
Or more to the point, what should I provide them with in order to facilitate their success?
The campaign started as the party being the only surviving members of an army raised against a powerful demon wizard and his forces.
The demon was defeated, wounded, but not killed and his forces were scattered.
The PCs were totally cut off from their lands and were forced to escape deeper into enemy territory.
Cue survival hijinks in not!mordor.
After recently defeating a rather strong miniboss and forming a makeshift base under an abandoned inn, they put it together that the BBEG is alive, weak, and working to regather his forces.
They also know that the demon king is able to leave his body and possess the body of another.
What they do not know is
the demon is actually possessed by an evil spectral entity that has chosen the demon as the best possible body to use as it conquers the world.
The demon alone would be a serious threat, but is nowhere as controlled and calculating as the specter.
The players have, correctly, guessed that attacking the BBEG while he is weakened is there best shot at killing the demon.
They are more ambitious than I expected and want to slay the terrifying villain immediately.
I want to enable them to have a shot at killing it but even wounded the demon is vastly more powerful than them.
I can't come up with a way to aid them without powerful DMPC-like npcs or shoehorning in a set of "Silver Arrows" that will arbitrarily kill him.
I hate the idea of kryptonite lying around and it's against the whole theme.
The idea of the campaign, largely successful so far, was to put the planning entirely in the Players' hands.
I'd like to put something in their path or the BBEG's environment to give them an advantage.
Also, feel free to post other stories of PCs fighting overpowered enemies.
>Or more to the point, what should I provide them with in order to facilitate their success
That's the point. You DON'T. Maybe you include in the lore the bbeg's weakness to silver or something, but you don't specifically help them plan to defeat an OPBBEG
honestly it depends on if they actually come up with a plan to kill it or just go with the old fashioned stab it to death plan. perhaps have hints of other stranded units in the area they could link up with to give them numbers for the assault? it may not be much but the ability to have meat-shields to soak the inevitable one-shots of the BBEG would be invaluable. Plus have perhaps hints to a weakness yet undiscovered, perhaps one of their armies magic casters found close to death searching for the last scraps of that knowledge in a ruined library currently occupied by one of the BBEG's lieutenants who is either trying to destroy said records or take them for its own use to usurp its boss while its weakened.
>Maybe you include in the lore the bbeg's weakness to silver or something,
I realize that was just an example, but the reason a weakness in the lore is tricky is that the army that defeated him did not know about it, and they are in enemy territory.
Having peanuts being banned from the land because the demon lord has an allergy or somewhatsits, seems too obvious.
How to I present clues like peanuts, silver, and kryptonite, without it seeming like I'm saying, "Here. This is what you need to do."
My best idea was to steal a bunch of ideas from y'all and then seed the territory with them until the party picks a plan.
Their plan now seems to be, get close and think of something.
>a ruined library currently occupied by one of the BBEG's lieutenants who is either trying to destroy said records or take them for its own use to usurp its boss while its weakened.
This has potential.
I made it very clear that there was no point in looking for other survivors, but maybe the magic user teleported a squad a great distance away at risk to themself, hence the close to death part.
Your setting seems like insurgency rather than survival, because if there were no kryptonite hidden in the main region of the demon's army, there would be no reason for the party to stay in enemy's territory at all.
When you let the pc's make every decision regarding your campaign, you need story hooks to support most of the ideas the pc's gonna have.
They will be looking for allies, weaknesses, angles of attack and retreat routes, so you should prepare those ahead of time.
You created the idea of the demon being possessed by an outsider. So there should be means of discovering this fact. Maybe there is another spectre joining the battle, because he wants to snatch the main spectre's gains and powers. Or there is an ancient place of power in the spectre's realms which contains lore or weapons to destroy him, so he chose these lands to be attacked first and to gain control over his weaknesses.
Also to add a few ideas:
Make clear that killing the demon -right now- may be a bad idea, because the spectre just hops in the next host. Let the players learn that there is a spectre controlling the demon, but he can not leave the host before it is completely destroyed. So it might be wise to cripple him instead and cast some mumbo jumbo to prevent the spectre hopping into the next body, before destroying the demonic body once and for all.
Regarding the idea of other spectres I mentioned in >>43085906 , you could implement another spectre in those realms, which is kind of neutral and observes the whole situation without intervening yet. At some point make clear that the demonic spectre regards the observer as an enemy.
If your party establishes contact with the observer, let the party show him how much they want to destroy the demonic spectre and maybe he can help them, if they do some optional quests. They could defeat henchmen of the demonic overlord at crucial locations or sacrifice magic items to the observer, which will give em powers or allies from beyond for this.
Can we have more details about the warring factions and precisely how the demon was defeated? There simply MUST be some retarded arbitrary reasoning as to why this raised army could defeat a demon and his minions and yet still end up with 100% mortality rate. (how is the demon defeated if nobody is around to defeat him? by the sound of your explanation of the PC's being sole 'survivors', they certainly weren't part of the demon's defeat).
Did the army realize they were going to lose and did some sort of self-sacrificial bomb that the demon didn't see until too late? Did the army lure the demon into some other kind of trap relating to the very terrain that had special demon-bane properties even knowing they would be killed regardless, if only to give someone else a chance to end this guy's warpath?
Give us more details so we can give a more appropriate solution.
Personally, I like the idea that the previous army managed to lure the demon and his forces in a field of native flowers that have negative effects for him and weakened him. Or maybe it was purely coincidental and the army had no idea what kind of advantage they had.
>f there were no kryptonite hidden in the main region of the demon's army, there would be no reason for the party to stay in enemy's territory at all.
Just FYI, they were physically forced to move further into the territory at first, then encountered greater resistance the closer they got to the border.
On Player suggested that maybe the BBEG gave standing orders to fall back and protect the borders if the army got routed, so I stole that idea and ran with it.
>They will be looking for allies, weaknesses, angles of attack and retreat routes,
Angles and routes I worked out ahead of time, allies were originally not planned on but I'm liking the teleported squad idea and I suppose they could find hiding oppressed civilians.
Weaknesses are my issue.
They've interrogated grunts and gotten a lot of obviously bogus rumors of the BBEG's immortality and infallibility, but I didn't design the BBEG with an intended weakness.
>So there should be means of discovering this fact.
As I typed my response, I actually came up with a good idea to show this while still retaining the tweest.
The demon wizard found a macguffin, then got more powerful, controlled, and intelligent and gained the ability to possess others.
Let the players make the jump that the macguffin is a power source, when it was a prison for the specter.
Macguffin is broken and the specter believes it can't ever be fixed.
>Make clear that killing the demon -right now- may be a bad idea,
They've considered that killing the body might not kill the BBEG if he can body jump.
But as a bad idea, it could go either way. The specter can jump bodies at will, but stays in the demon unless it is incapacitated, because it is the beat humanoid body on the plane.
Killing the demon body won't stop the specter, but it would take away his greatest weapon.
Doing both at once would be ideal.
I'm considering using your Observer specter as macguffin repair tech support, but if the PCs try to work another angle, so be it.
>There simply MUST be some retarded arbitrary reasoning as to why this raised army could defeat a demon and his minions and yet still end up with 100% mortality rate.
"I found what they're weak against, point-blank annihilation."
The good army was trying to preemptively attack the BBEG before he could prepare his army to successfully invade and met the bad one in a network of tunnels under a mountain in enemy territory.
When it was clear they were losing, the mages of the good army collapsed the mountain on everyone while holding the demon in place.
They hoped it would be enough.
The demon survived, but was wounded and needed to be dug out and his forces scattered.
You were right, the PCs were low-level scouts guarding a tunnel near the surface from a possible attack on the side.
>Can we have more details about the warring factions?
Nutshell: (sounds so generic in summation)
Demon ruled largest tribe of orcs in the mountainous badlands.
Suddenly he bands all the tribes together, joins with goblins tribes in the mountains and even leads the wild trolls and beasts.
He forms an army and takes over the bordering human and elven villages until he holds a fortified position and begins forging proper weapons and armor.
The human lords form an army with the local elf tribes and the dwarven clan that has been fighting the goblins for years to take down the menace.
It's certainly probable that there are more good forces amassing for another attack/defense.
You can have an imprisoned spectre that he likes to torture by constantly killing him and forcing him to possess small creatures.
Get that prisoner a body that can talk and he'll blab a little of the demon's weaknesses....then start a miniboss fight because he IS still a spectre.
This is a good idea too.
Because even if the beaten specter lies or they don't believe it, they have the knowledge that a specter can be imprisoned and controlled.
Now to come with the how that's done.