[RPG] How to create a “mole”-ish campaign?


Mole: n. A spy who achieves over a long period an important position within the security defenses of a country. =Sabatour

One of my friend saw me playing solo D&D on school (on my computer :p) and suddenly 4 people asking me to host a session of D&D and teach them. How cute.

I said that I don't have any campaign available to play. (I only play on internet), and then one of my friend (who turns out nice at D&D!) tells me to make one.

So I start making the concept of the campaign (single session), and I remember that my friends who asked me to host one is actually people who like "to stab in your back" in real life. (Name any high school betrayal that you can think), so I started to make my concept of the campaign.

I decided to loosely based on the TV Show "The Mole", but kinda twist it. In the show, people tries to get the money (or treasure on campaign), but the mole is trying to sabotage them so they failed and consequently, the money goes on the mole. I decided that in the climax, each of this PC will fight the PC who they think is the mole. I decided that the mole wins if he is the last PC standing, consequently, if the mole is killed in the climax, the survivor wins.

But there is something that I concern.

1 How do I pick the mole?

Should I tell them in advance that "My friend, you are the mole" or tell them to pick cards on D-Day, and find out their role.

2 Should I tell the campaign in advance?

In the TV Show Mole, the mole is tell in advance the "things" they will face in their game. Should I do the same? (Assuming in scenario 1 the answer is I tell them in advance? )

3 The climax doesn't feel right!

Really? They start gathering treasure and suddenly in the climax, they start killing each other? It just doesn't feel right? Any suggestion?

4 How my mole PC will sabotage the game?

Causing other PC to death is of course a fair game, but in what scenario, my mole will sabotage the game. I need to give my mole a motive, that while he still sabotage the game, but also on other hand, making sure that other PC still make it to the climax battle royale with the mole itself.

And finally, the most important question of all….

5 Who is the mole? Does anybody has experience playing in this game style?

Any advice will be precious, thank you.

Note: I told them I will do their best and If I can't host one, at least my other friend can host it using the campaign I write…

Best Answer

Don't do this. Especially not in 4e. Especially not with new players.

From a pedagogic (problem based learning) point of view, this is a horribly bad idea: you want your students to be focused on a single suite of tasks that they can slowly master into a single, unified, "playing D&D" task. By saying "oh, and someone's a traitor" the game will descend into paranoia: fine if that's your intention, but it will actively sabotage your learning goals.

I've tried running games and campaigns in this style. With good role players, working at slight odds to each other, I merely failed badly. It's quite possible to have the idea of treason be central to the theme of the game, especially if you're playing a political game with mechanics that support intra-party conflict. In 4e, there are no rules for PC versus PC conflict, and therefore, this is seriously unwise.

I in fact, played a "mole" (character turning NPC for reasons) in a 4e game. The deception managed to last half a session. Then we hauled out the solo NPC stats we had developed for him in the fight, and he was neatly trounced as one of the culminating battles of the chapter.

Your goal should be intentionally developed complexity, not accidental complexity. Learning the mechanics and basics of role playing is hard, especially when students aren't particularly motivated to read the huge variety of books and rely on personal instruction. Unless you have extremely well developed system mastery, just chunking the rules down to specific, masterable, tasks and providing feedback on those tasks will tax your skills quite heavily.

I urge you instead to have the group chip in for the red box and play through it a few times, with everyone alternating roles. Once you have some system mastery, then you can figure out what game it is that you want to experiment with next. Another useful route is to run that solo D&D game as a collaborative brainstorm. "What do we do next, what our our options?" While this deemphasisies the role-playing aspects, it does allow collaboration and explicit externalisation of ideas for how the mechanics of the game actually work. It's also a great lunchtime activity. (Treat it much like a chess puzzle.) You can then build on that framework by treating character building as homework, and running built characters through this known gauntlet.