For context, I’m running In The Shadow of Tower Silveraxe. In the module, there is a group of distrustful, tribal cyclopses named the Golthek. They’re led by a priestess whose interests include collecting gems of power (vague battery-like magic rocks that can power a few dungeon features throughout the hexcrawl) and enslaving any “Others” (anyone non-Golthek).
Anyways, there is an exiled defect to the Golthek that has recently stumbled across and befriended the party. While the party (with exile friend in tow) was traveling within Golthek territory, they were ambushed and outnumbered. Throwing down their arms, they were taken hostage and led to the Golthek’s home.
They’ve spent a few hours in captivity, met two other captives (a pair of noble oafs were who having a casual hike through dangerous mountains), and I’ve sown a few seeds that some Golthek might be sympathetic or amicable to the exile.
My thoughts now are “why” and I’m having a bit of a block on coming up with something interesting. There’s not much description in the module about why the Golthek priestess has decided to take captives or seek out the gems of power (I think there’s just a line that she would take any that exist in the PCs inventory). Any evocative ideas, or thoughts on interesting events that might occur in the next few hours/days of gametime?
In her possession is a book she can barely read that speaks of what can be done with the gems, but not how to do it. She takes captives to query them for the knowledge to use the gems. So far nothing, but once you have them they make cheap labor.
Do the PCs have the coveted knowledge seen seeks, and if they have it do they want her to possess such power? Of course she will look favorably on anyone that can explain the use of the gems.
Perhaps the priestess and/or Goltheks need a bit of something from the Others – a bit of their life force, a few snippets of their souls, some blood, siphoning off energy. It powers their devices. Or recharges the gems of power. Or super-charges the gems and turns them (the gems) into something far more powerful (your imagination can decide what that might be. A portal? Infinite healing or fountain of youth for those who stand in the gems’ aura? A way to summon/resuce their exiled evil god or legendary hero?) Plus it’s always good to have someone else around to do mundane chores such as washing the dishes and dusting the dungeons.
Maybe the captives will be used as part of a major sacrifice in a while (when the moons align just right, which can give a bit of time pressure to your PCs), but for now, they need to be kept alive and in semi-reasonable shape.
So… perhaps priestess is planning on some Other/human sacrifice for nefarious purposes (that may be completely independent of the gems). The sympathetic Goltheks know that trafficking with Evil never ends well, and anyway, they want to thwart her plans (either for that reason or because they’re part of a different political faction). This would be a totally independent plot line or plot hook that might well lead to some future adventure after this one is over.
Or not. I’m sure you’ll come up with something, and then your players will surprise you anyway by choosing something that you hadn’t anticipated.