By - August 23, 2015 - Leave a comment

If Quentin Tarantino designed a D&D adventure »

Quentin+Tarantino+Django+Unchained+Panel+2012+_tWze2rq76DlWhile we’re writing a piece on the Walking Dead spinoff, I thought I’d tie-in a few things cinema to D&D.  Because now that he’s finished creating another excuse for Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet to have ‘BMF’ on it, Quentin Tarantino could pitch his next cross-genre vision to the folks at Paizo, bringing his unique style to the current champion of movie genres.  Here’s how it might go…

Quentin Tarantino:  “So we’re starting off by seeing a whole bunch of capes, man. I’m talkin’ flyin’. I’m talkin’ punches thrown. I’m talkin’ walls collapsing with the heroes dustin’ off their shoulders. I’m hearing AC/DC and I’m seein’ hot chicks in catsuits.”

Paizo Person: “Kids sure are loving the Marvel Universe, even before all the extensions. That’s true.  A bajillion dollars true in fact…

QT: “So let’s bring this little party underground, baby. Let’s start dungeon-crawlin’ and brawlin’ and the kids’ll come callin’.”

PP: “Hmm.  Well, what do you propose?

QT: “We’ve got an enemy mastermind. Super-villain. Arch-freaking-criminal like they called Tommy in Goodfellas. Only this guy is world domination. He’s ‘take-over-the-whole-planet’, loads of minions everywhere, feasting at the table of evil. He’s buffed, he’s power-up. Like he’s the boss-level to end all boss levels.”

PP: “Umm. Pretty much sounds like every adventure we have.  And we’ve have, I dunno, 8d10 of them and counting.  Oh look, we just made another one.”

QT: “Well allow me to retort. Here’s my spin, daddy-o. He’s boss, because he’s fortified where that kind of magic…it just stays with you. His lair, his lair makes that stuff stay on, but only for as long as you’re in there. Magic stays, and wizards see that, see?   Well this Doctor Menace, he don’t like that. He’s declared open season on spellthrowers.”  {does a gun gesture with his hands}

QT continuing: “There’s your hook. Assassins killing David Blaine, David Copperfield and Penn but not Teller. So here comes your party, finally getting to the boss level. And the wizards know they can buff everyone crazy like, and it will stay as long as they’re in this area. And the bad guy is buffed too. And all his henchmen with the black shirts that say ‘Cohort” on the front. And the fights are getting so intense in his lair, with people flying around and smashing things, they start doing hardness damage to the walls, even though they’re almost invulnerable, and the place starts coming down around them, and it’s just this huge battle with collapsing pillars and barbarians throwing horses through walls and…”

PP: “Hey, hey, hey settle down. That’s a great end battle, sure. Magic stays permanent, even stacks, only while they’re in the lair. People and weapons rival the hardness of their surroundings, and start doing damage to the place. Self-destruct countdown sequence at the end so no one can use the area ever again. Bittersweet. Would make for a good end battle taking up five plus hours of game time. Love it. What else you got?

QT: “Ok…ok…so, we go paranoid then. Whole kingdom is out to get the party. Talkin’ Cap and Widow runnin’ from Hydra, man, but they’re running through the kingdom, right? And only they know that the boss-man is a doppelganger. So he’s got them wanted for trumped-up crimes, only he don’t know what they know and he don’t know whether who they know knows what they know. So he’s got to get them alive. Man-catchers, nets, big ol’ Planet Of The Apes hunt. Whole damn kingdom goes Running Man on them, because there’s gold coins to be had if you spot them. The party’s the prize, baby, and the game is nationwide. So, out of nowhere, your half-dozen heroes have gone from belles of the ball to stuck in the middle of a dungeon on the wrong side of the law like (snap) that.”

PP: “Wow, Mr.Tarantino. A clever DM sure can pull a lot of adventuring ideas from genre movies. It’s a deep mine to tap, especially if they need a quick scenario on the fly.”

QT: “Just make sure the soundtrack is rockin’, baby.  And a few quotable catchphrases don’t hurt either- oh, I’m sorry did I break your concentration?”

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By - August 15, 2015 - Leave a comment

The Journey As The Destination »

Recently, the perfect storm of perspective had me experiencing, in short succession:

  • A family driving trip 1,500 miles from Western, NY to Texas
  • Reading a book on Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, whose travels will make you realize complaining about driving on paved roads with air-conditioning makes you a weak little crybaby.
  • the ending of the Malazan Crippled God series, which included, in the second book Deadhouse Gates, the most intense and electrifying flight of an army I have ever read.

So, let’s put them all together and suggest for all you gamesmiths, taking the journey and making it into an adventure itself.

Normally, the need for travel brings groans from the party and sends them scrambling for windwalk and teleport spells, off to the griffin dealership, or sifting through every bit of lore they can find to learn of the nearest portal. But for the sake of variety, at least once in your gaming why not make the travel part of a quest actually adventurous or even the focus of the campaign?

Several specific reasons can easily be brought up for the need for protracted travel.  They might be commissioned to discover new lands and open new trade routes (ala Magellan) or escape from danger while being relentlessly pursued (ala Clotain’s in Deadhouse Gates). Delivery of delicates or simply important information could also warrant long expeditions, as well as a drive that demands the party visit several successive areas, cities, or even cultures.

Limiting the party’s magical options is a must when ‘getting there’ is supposed to be 1/2 the fun. Heavy cargo or large numbers preclude the use of the usual distance spells.  People and items could be far too delicate to be moved using most magic.  Maybe the magic itself could be a magnet for malevolent forces that are part of the pursuit. Even cultural taboos forbidding magical use could be employed to force the characters to take the long slow way.

Once the party is in fact out on the long road, the paradigm of adventuring is flipped, with the encounters randomly coming to them rather than the other way around. Unexpected ambushes happen, not to mention the known dangers that must be endured as the wilderness is crossed. Nightly watches are a lesson in large scale tactics, skills are passed to novices to assist with the expedition, and diplomacy is tested when spoiled nobles demand more protection.

Prolonged attacks test their endurance, with spellslingers forced to conserve their dwindling slots and sorties depleting both the strength and will of the defenders. Resources become critical. Clerics have to decide whether to prepare healing for the defenders or food for refugees.  Potable water needs to be found, animals need care, and typical treasure become less valuable then food and shelter: you can’t eat GP and even the biggest gem won’t give sanctuary from a desert Sun.

With a bit of adjustment, what is looked at by your players as a dull necessity to get to the action can be turned into the action itself.  A globe trotting campaign can be equally filled with combat and roleplay, where the PC’s are challenged just as much as during a normal dungeoncrawl.  And all without having to do that door-kicking-in cliche.

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By - August 10, 2015 - 3 Comments

Real world problems for D&D characters: taxes, fees, and surcharges »

Today we’ll start talking about stressful stuff that happens throughout our daily lives that, realistically should happen also to people in fantasy worlds. The inspiration for this comes from technical issues that affected DungeonMastering.com recently such as dead links, site outages or email notifications for older posts. First off, we apologize.  Secondly, we’re working on solving the various problems.  Per our Tech Priest what occurred was “mass login attacks on numerous sites which caused MySQL to slow down and all sites to become unresponsive.  Basically like a DDOS attack but specifically trying to log in and gain admin access to the server.”  That’s Geek Speak for some people are Chaotic Jerks.  Anywho, while this Neuromancer stuff is being sorted out, here are some suggestions for how to incorporate the real world pain of taxes, fees, and surcharges to your D&D games.

We’ve talked before how dying in D&D isn’t the end.  But the other half to the “only two things in life are certain” quote- which isn’t Benjamin Franklin’s, is taxes.  Kingdoms require revenue.  If the party completes a dungeon or conquers a dragon horde, unless they handle themselves with Batman-like secrecy, word eventually gets out.  Envoys from the local ruler to the regional ruler to perhaps those representing the ruler of the realm itself will want a conversation.  And then their share.   How this request is presented and how much is requested is up to A) where the party is, and what that area’s leadership is like + B) if this new treasure will cause game imbalance.  Unless it’s in the interests of the story don’t anger the players but don’t ignore the logic of basic tax policy or let too much treasure erase the difficulty.

After a few such run-ins the party may decide to stick to locales where the taxation is low or collection not enforceable.  In this case they could encounter another real world PITA for these places which are fees.  In fantasy worlds the possibility of payments for carrying large weapons or being a wizard or bringing in mounts/animal companions could be common.  Think of all the ways a real life government collects needed revenue through indirect tariffs like parking tickets, red light cameras, or dog licenses. Now transport these revenue streams that to a society living near an area where explorers such as the PCs come through.  Again, unless its in the interests of the story you’re not looking to drain the party so much as have believable responses.

Finally there are the inevitable pricing increases that happen whenever adventurers arrive into town.  Sometimes equipment should be more than list, sometimes it won’t be available at all, and sometimes they won’t buy things from the PCs for even 50% of MSRP.  After all, the average party after going through an adventure is walking around with more wealth than most small towns.  Yet rather than a list of rules, use your head when it comes to economics.  If they walk around buying things like big shots, the townsfolk will assume they’re big shots.  But the laws of supply and demand still apply.

Roleplay Idea: The players are in a Lawful Neutral territory where slavery is legal.  After a very successful dungeoncrawl, they’ve been summoned before the ruler who, per the law of the land for windfalls and inheritances, offers them a choice.  They can keep 90% of their haul, and only hand over 10%; yet that 10% will directly go towards continuing the enslavement institution.  Or they can keep just 10%, but that 90% will go towards purchasing freedom.  Not surprisingly though most of those with newly found fortunes opt to hold onto them, making the chains remain.

Twists: Switching out various aspects could change how players respond.  For example, if the slaves came from sentenced criminals the players might accept the practice.   However if the slaves were from the poor who couldn’t pay debts or otherwise victims of unfortunate circumstances, the PCs may be more inclined to or possibly actively resist.  Double twist: The party has to completely agree as a group about the split or the entire haul will be seized.  This could be an opportunity for some dynamic roleplaying as the players debate fairness vs liberty, with their wealth- not to mention the lives of those enslaved- on the line.

 

While one of the reasons we play fantasy games is to escape from reality, that doesn’t mean we should ignore some aspects from our lives even if they’re the sucky ones of taxes, fees and surcharges.  They may not be the stuff of heroes but they are stuff that even heroes have to face.

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By - July 24, 2015 - 1 Comment

Dungeons and Dragons Races – The Dragonkind Races Highlighted in Races of the Dragons »

Dungeons and Dragons RacesNumerous Dungeons and Dragons races exist; however, none captures and excites a player’s imagination as the races of dragons that exist in the supplement, Races of the Dragons. If you are to become an exceptional Dungeon Master, it is imperative that you learn about these amazing beings. Ultimately, these creatures have the capability of being adversaries, as well as allies. In a brief review of our history, we find that there are a multitude of myths and legends surrounding dragons. This is, in part, why these legendary creatures hold a special place in the heart of those that play Dungeons and Dragons. In most instances, the presence of dragons in a campaign indicates that the players involved in that campaign have acquired a mastery of the skills required to be a proficient D&D player. If you are ready to join the ranks of the highest respected Dungeon Masters in the game, you must know about the Dungeons and Dragons races that directly pertain to dragons.

Dungeons and Dragons Races of Dragons

The dragon races highlighted in the Races of the Dragons supplement include the dragonborn, the half-dragons, the spellscale, draconic creatures, and the kobold. Below, you will find the other dragon races as outlined by various books that are part of the Dungeons and Dragons game:

  • In the Draconomicon, you will find numerous dragon races. These include the half-dragons, the dragonkin, draconic creatures, dragonnel, storm drakes, elemental drakes, shadow dragons, faerie dragons, planar dragons, fang dragons, landwyrms, and the spiked felldrake.
  • In the Fiend Folio, you will discover the Dungeons and Dragons races of the sunwyrm and the sea drake.
  • In the Monster Manual, there are the dragon races of the wyvern, true dragons, ravid, behir, kobold, the pseudodragon, and the dragon turtle.
  • In the Monster Manual II, you will discover the dragon races of the spellweaver, the gem dragons, the linnorms, felldrakes, hellfire wyrm, and the frost salamander.
  • In the Monster Manual III, you will find the dragon races of the ssvaklor, the ambush drake, the rage drake, the dragon eel, and the dracotaur.

Conclusion

If you are to master being a Dungeon Master, it is important that you learn as much as possible about all of the Dungeons and Dragons races, as it relates to dragons. While it is true that most players will not play such a race in a campaign because of the immense power and capabilities exhibited by the races, you are likely to include dragons in your campaign. In fact, if you want to be hailed as a successful DM, including dragon races in your campaign is an absolute necessity. For information on adventure sites and various types of NPCs that may be used in your campaign, be sure to check out the supplement, Races of the Dragons. For further information on how to achieve the ultimate level of success as a Dungeon Master, you may visit our website today at: http://www.dungeonmastering.com/

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By - July 20, 2015 - Leave a comment

Ideas from Co-operative Boardgames for D&D »

DM: “So, you’ve entered the room of Eternal Evil…”  Players: “We storm in as fast as we can, unleashing as much cacophonous violence as possible and raise any dead when we’re done.”

DM: “So, you’ve entered the mystic china shop full of expensive, hand-made stuff.”  Players: “We storm in as fast as we can, unleashing as much cacophonous violence as possible and raise any dead when we’re done.”

Weary DM: “So, you’ve entered the Orphanage Of Eternal Anime-eyed Scions and…Players: “We storm in as fast as we can, unleashing as much cacophonous violence as possible and raise any dead when we’re done.”

PC’s standard operating procedure can resemble a raid in Juarez. Fortunately ‘cooperative” board games (where everyone works together, either all winning or losing) suggest game mechanics for the Dungeon Master that can move the action from repeatedly kicking down dungeon doors into the realm of movie trailers.

Pandemicstop outbreaks before they end humanity by sharing knowledge, discovering cures, and treating diseases. DMs can apply:

  1. Separate needs, same time Make time-sensitive actions required at the same time, creating the need for the party to split up to get them done in time. Not only do you have to get the falsely-convicted prince free of his cell, you need to keep the magistrate busy in court while you do it, and that means creating diversions all around the hallowed halls of the Justicar.
  2. Someone needs to know!  The diversion in the halls of justice has forced the discovery that the prince is actually a doppelganger, and the moment he’s near the princess, its lights out for her! Pushing a need for long distance communication while being chased by the despotic king’s forces creates new challenges for the party.
  3. Triggering the spill  The false prince remains jailed (or killed, knowing this party), but they didn’t get the Justicar distracted for long enough, now he orders his loyal troops to enter the city and begin hunting down the party and their allies. Unless they warn enough of their friends, the thieves guild that was waiting for ‘just the right moment’ have realized now is the time to steal the party’s armor that the smithy just finished.

Marvel Legendary; stop a supervillain’s nefarious plans and waves of underling enemies by recruiting Marvel superheroes and building up enough power to eventually fight the boss baddie.  DMs can apply:

  1. Pipeline of thugs  Soldiers of the enemy arrive constantly, their plodding pace and additions to the attack stretching the characters resources. The party knows they can’t unleash their devastating stuff too early, lest they have nothing left for the leader.
  2. Recruiting resources Magic spells are needed to power the ancient hold’s defenses, and hero points and grit points can be used to add to the players’ success at getting the local tribe of pech to fight on their side.
  3. What the hell was that noise? The longer the party takes to build the giant-chopper that’s designed to take down the frost giant archer, the deeper the evil duergar sappers dig into the side passage to let the giant spiders in to attack, the farther the darkmantles fly to harass the party, and the worse the smoke gets from the burning mushroom forest.

Shadows Over Camelot; save Arthur’s realm from invasions, the Black Knight, siege engines, a dragon, and a possible traitor all while hunting for the Holy Grail.  DMs can apply:

  1. There’s a snake in my boots! Character possession and geas magics are just a couple of ways to introduce SoC’s traitor mechanic. But who says a traitor needs to be evil? Sometimes the players loved one is at risk and forces him to choose them over the greater good at the worst possible time. However SoC proves that even the suspicion of treachery does damage.
  2. Benefit from doing nothing The player is forced to take no action, lest his efforts possibly make things worse. Rather than their sword saving the day, have a hero stuck holding a trap closed, or wrap their hands around the one rope that, if let go, releases the lynch pin to the walls of the tower upon which their battle rages.
  3. The heavy gamble A huge risk means a huge reward! Like being given two paths to take, one with horrible ends, the other with grand good stuff to horde (treasure? Power? Victory? That last hit point you needed?). Making an early decision, where the outcome won’t be known for turns or even days, carries the suspense.

Good DMs will beg, borrow, and steal any good idea.  Co-operative games aren’t just enjoyable, they’re a rich field to idea mine.  But elements that you yourself find fun playing, your group will find fun playing with.

And fun is why we all do this.

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By - July 12, 2015 - 4 Comments

6 SWEET Suggestions for D&D from GoT Season 5 (Part One) »

imagesIt’s no secret that we’re all huge Game of Thrones fans here.  This year we’ve done posts about the premiere and then the finale.  In between we also wrote about the 2nd episode because it had a bunch of ideas for your D&D games. However there are still 7 other shows in this batch, all with some solid suggestions for fantasy RPGs.  So from those here are 6  SWEET suggestions from Season 5, albeit separated into two parts to allow more discussion.  And as this opening Melisandre meme image specifies, ‘spoilers’ all over the place.

kids-1433171598Zombies = Zombie kids  One of the terrible truths in an undead outbreak is that they would soon be able to surround and then either eat or zombify two particularly vulnerable groups: elderly and children, as neither is really known for their cardio abilities.  (Nor for carrying a change of underwear)  So kudos to Martin and/or the writers for including a bunch of little wights in the Hardhome battle in S5E8, as that’s simply realistic.  But it’s also incredibly troubling to witness, as expressed by one of the defenders  SUGGESTION:  where there are zombies, there could be zombie youngsters.  To make a quick template, change their size to Small, take off a few HP, but increase the Dex and their AC.  If your edition has rules for monsters that function well together in conjunction, apply those, as rabid rug rats would be decidedly pack like.  While not technically a swarm per se, they are ankle biter material which could manifest itself rule-wise as having the equivalent of various Teamwork Feats such as Horde Charge.

thrones-02Death can be done ‘off screen’  In S5E10Stannis’ army is routed and he’s the sole survivor. He has a brief fight with 2 enemy soldiers, then, wounded, is cornered by Brienne of Tarth with a magic sword named Oathkeeper.  We see her swinging this Valyrian steel but the camera cuts away before it connects.  Now, often in TV this can mean that the implied death really isn’t a death after all.  However the director made it (Dark) crystal clear that yes, Stannis isn’t surviving and that the actual strike wasn’t seen because doing so would have been “gratuitous.”  SUGGESTION: if an NPC or PC for that matter is facing overwhelming odds, rather than play out the inevitable with doing a round-by-round, it can be more appropriate- not to mention save a ton of time- to instead handle the obvious ending narratively.  i.e. “You kill scores from the undead horde, but eventually, their numbers simply prove to be just too much and they drag you down.  Screaming.”  Feel free to rule that an ending via descriptive story telling is more appropriate than running a hopeless situation with a bunch of dice + math.

hqdefaultDragons can just Fly away    Surrounded in an arena by the Sons of the Harpy, things are grim for Daenerys. Luckily for our Meereen cast, a Dragon Ex Machina appears in the form of Drogon the largest of the 3 hatchlings.  He chews, crushes, and incinerates batches of her enemies.  Yet the apparent victory is only a brief respite as dozens of spears eventually hit home; hey, some people still play that a 20 is a 20.  Daenerys saddles up and she and her new steed fly the frak out of there.

SUGGESTION: Ah, Dragons.  A staple of our hobby as much as oddly shaped rooms containing a wacky assortment of monsters waiting for murder hobos to take away their treasure.  But all too often, they can fall into the Breath/Claw/Claw routine and boringly become a big angry land lizard.  Yet the most effective draconic tactic can be the most forgotten ability: using their wings, not with a buffet attack but to keep them out of range of groundlings. So have Dragons fly as much as possible, dive bombing the party with rocks/wagons/horses from the beginning, soaring around to strafe with breath powers, or at least flapping away after 50% HP.  Basically, all dragons should be ready to simply take off whenever a battle looks bad for them- bailing is how they can live to grow to Smaug proportions.

Ok, that’s the first half of D&D ideas from the 5th Season of GoT.  Any guesses on the 3 others coming up?  Think of points we missed on these ones? Let us know in the comments.

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By - July 5, 2015 - 1 Comment

4 Groups in D&D that deserve more Independence »

DND FireworksI would have bet all my jumbo dice that there already was a 4th of July column. We’ve previously written not one but two articles about Memorial Day as well as an attempt to process 9-11 from a gaming context.  But there actually isn’t anything in our archives, so to connect with the Independence Day holiday DungeonMastering.com presents 4 Groups in the D&D system that deserve more Independence.  In order for autonomy, here they are:

4) Henchmen, hirelings, and cohorts  HOW THEY ARE: too often these guys can be the Red Shirts from Star Trek.  Even if they aren’t deliberately put into harm’s way, when they do die, too they are just quickly forgotten.  INSERT INDEPENDENCE BY: while the Leadership Feat has modifiers to a character’s Leadership Score from followers dying (some of which are cumulative) this doesn’t prevent logic when it comes to how they behave.  Gold only buys so much loyalty, and common sense should prevail.  If an attendant is quite obviously in over their head, they certainly can ask for any outstanding pay and simply leave.  However if they do die on an adventure, then friends/family might seek out the party, either for an inheritance or at least a body to bury.  Either way if followers aren’t always properly equipped, the death rate can be high enough for no one to ever sign on with the group again.

3) Familiars, Animal Companions, and Paladin mounts  HOW THEY ARE: usually treated like obedient pets, albeit pets with very useful powers.  Heck, in some editions they even come back from the dead with a couple hundred GP plus an 8 hour ritual.  INSERT INDEPENDENCE BY: make sure their own needs, motivations, and goals are regularly brought to the attention of the controlling character.  Especially for basic requirements such as food/shelter/security, but as helpers advance along with their PC caretakers, their wants should advance as well.  Consult Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to see how these requirements grow from basic to much more complicated.  The pyramid starts with simple things like shelter then stability then moves onto affection then later respect, and at last are things such as self-fulfillment.  Bottom-line, while they only have a supporting role these figures should still have material worth making a backstory.  (fittingly, ‘independence’ is on tier 4 of Maslow, aka Esteem Needs)

2) Summoned Monsters and Nature’s Allies  HOW THEY ARE: suddenly pulled into our world to do a caster’s bidding, they last as long as villain’s guards in a James Bond movie before winking back to the plane from whence they came.  Beings summoned from spells often are the fantasy equivalent of personal mine detectors.  INSERT INDEPENDENCE BY: having the monsters summoned gradually having heard of the spellcaster, and react to him based on that reputation.  If the caster has treated previously summoned allies negatively, then word will eventually get out and any that have to come won’t work to the best of their ability.   They will be curt to the point of rude and while not hostile, not as helpful as they could otherwise be.  Conversely if the caster has been positive, indicating appreciation or simply being polite, summoned creatures could assist above and beyond the call of duty.  Perhaps they might personally answer the summons again if the experience was good enough.

And the #1 group in D&D that deserves more independence…

1) Intelligent magic items  HOW THEY ARE:  pieces of (expensive) equipment listed on a sheet, to be used as needed until the battle is over, then basically ignored until the next combat.  INSERT INDEPENDENCE BY: paying careful attention to the rules of how these special magic items work.  An item’s Ego score determines how much control they’ll exert over the wielder, which can be extreme.  For example in Pathfinder, “a score of 20 or higher always considers itself superior to any character, and a personality conflict results if the possessor does not always agree with the item.”  Even if there isn’t an immediate conflict, the item most likely feels the relationship at best as temporary given the lifespan of its mortal ‘owner’ particularly with the life expectancy for adventurers.  At worst the item sees the person as a meat puppet to do its bidding, exerting control whenever possible to achieve its own ends.  However, at the least, because intelligent items are created with a purpose in mind, they will want to pursue those goals.  Don’t let them stay simple swords or rings: have them be as special as they are, which means having them demonstrate a measure of independence.

Ok, that’s our choice of those groups in D&D that deserve more self-determination.  Any ones we missed that should be on the list?  Any ones on the list that shouldn’t be?  Or that should be higher/lower?  Let us know in the comments below.

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By - June 27, 2015 - Leave a comment

3 More Adventure Starters for your D&D games »

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We’ve talked before about how there’s a middle ground of having to buy a module or creating absolutely everything yourself.  While there’s an advantage in time saving to simply running a pre-published thing and there’s an advantage in customization with making everything up, it can help to take an idea, use it as a springboard for your imagination, then make it best fit your group. So here are 3 more Adventure Starters for you to make as your own.

4.) Save a Kingdom, Get a Kingdom

A prince in a nearby kingdom has made an enticing offer to anyone brave enough to assist him. Last year a mysterious figure united previously divided goblinoid tribes and they conquered, then settled the land’s mountainous region. Once home to  prospectors, miners and hunters, most of the citizenry were enslaved. However, a small resistance has started and the prince wants to aid this underground. Especially after conventional attempts to reclaim proved ineffective; the monster’s mystery leader is surprisingly strategic and the combined tribes routed the royal army.  As a reward for successfully freeing the people, the prince is offering not only titles of nobility but also titles to that same land.

…This concept takes a straightforward goal in which the players are attempting to clear evil. How they accomplish this is up to them: stealth, guile, diplomacy are all possible tactics.  The success of the mission can be far from simple; perhaps the Prince isn’t telling the party the whole story. And who is this mysterious leader?  Furthermore, the prospect of being able to own land in a frontier area adds the possibility of establishing their own base of operations. That is if they can keep it.

5.) The Darker Sides

The players are secretly meeting each other in a grandiose tower near the center of their underground city. Below, a mix of aristocrats, slaves and warriors bustle through the streets. The community is divided even architecturally amongst various noble houses vying for power, with each character connected to one. In the center of the metropolis is an enormous spire, which eclipses all neighboring buildings. But more insidiously, it serves as a perennial reminder to the citizenry that their diety is always watching. Suddenly, the players notice intruders behind them. A group of Surface Dwellers! They warn of an ancient evil lurking under the city, and have learned that of a sinister ritual soon being performed. If not stopped, this ceremony will summon an unspeakable being- even for Drow. They propose a temporary partnership to prevent the entity being unleashed.  But can they trust these humans? Can they even trust each other?

…This adventure revolves around a different concept: an-all Dark Elf group with each player having both the main shared goal as well as personal private ones. I’ve previously written about such individual motivations and what better way to try some subterfuge than with Drow?! This political web could take the players into a plethora of drama; not only must they discover the culprits behind this ritual and stop it before it’s to late, they also need to navigate through a deeply divided city, with factions that have been embroiled in conflict for years. All while working with- or against- a party of typical PC adventurers.

6.) Sail Away, Sail Away

On the first full moon of the month the adventures set sail to a far away rival city. Aboard a stocked galley, the party is entrusted with the timely transportation of a giant egg as a condition of a carefully negotiated treaty. But as they hastily journey to the exotic destination, a strong storm and a blistering current throw the vessel far off course. When a sudden burst of wind tears the sails, and pushes the vessel ashore onto an unknown island, calamity strikes. The captain of the ship and several of the crew are badly injured so command falls to the adventurers. Will they be able to repair the ship and still sail to their goal? Or at least to safety? And what’s that sound coming from the egg?

…This adventure is built around the idea of a more open-world exploration such as a sand box style play in which the characters investigate their strange island surroundings. With numerous hurdles for the adventurers to overcome (repair the  damaged ship, stabilize the injured crew, deliver the treasure in time etc.), such a scenario will require quiet a bit of planning and innovative thinking if they hope to all make it off alive. Yet the cracking egg is a reminder that they have a looming eadline. One that could be lethal if it hatches too soon.

What do you guys think of this round?  What would you do to customize these ones?  Do you think any would make good fully finished adventures? Let us know in the comments.

If you liked my Adventure Starters, please check out my module: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/147044/Khatogon-5th-Edition-Dungeons-and-Dragons-Adventure which is still on sale for just $2.99 for a few turns longer.  Thanks!

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