So this Saturday I'm starting a Beginner Box game. The players are all experienced players and were, at one point, part of the longest running gaming group with which I've been involved (although most of these players haven't gamed for a while).
I'm running the Beginner Box for two reasons: 1) its layout and presentation is GREAT, and 2) I hadn't received my copy of the Core Rulebook before we started making characters. We're going to transition to the Core Rulebook as the characters level.
To make it easier on me, I'm using mostly published Beginner Box adventures, twisting, modifying, and stringing them together into a longer campaign. Here's what I've got so far:
Thelsikar, the evil cleric of Lamashtu, is planning to destroy Sandpoint as a sacrifice to Lamashtu by unleashing summoned monsters on the town. He has two things in his favor: a ritual which binds an evil spirit to a specially prepared candle and summons it into a consecrated receptacle, and a deal with Black Fang for whom he promises to make a growth potion if Black Fang will attack Sandpoint.
Here's some detail on the ritual: the evil spirit summoned is bound to the candle yet exists in a body (the receptacle); this can be a corpse, a body-shaped collection of rocks, etc. As long as the receptacle is animate, the candle cannot be extinguished.
So here's what I've got so far: the game will start with the Deadly Mine adventure from the GM Kit. The elemental is Thelsikar's first attempt with the ritual, so the characters will find a burning candle which they can't extinguish until the elemental is dead. When they return to the mayor and sheriff with the miners, the sheriff will recall someone reporting to him flickering lights in the mausoleum, and the sounds of movement. He will ask the adventurers to investigate. This is the Beginner Box Bash: Terror adventure (at least the mausoleum part of it). Of course, the monsters will be zombies - not skeletons - and the characters should find more of the candles.
Now here's where I'm stuck. I want to flesh out Ruins of Raven's Watch from the GameMasters Guide and make that the next stop, which will lead to Black Fang's Dungeon as the "boss dungeon". What I'd like to have happen is for the candles to lead the characters to Thelsikar somehow, which leads them to the Ruins where they find him. I was thinking that maybe one of the shops could have sold Thelsikar the candles (which gets them the name), but then routing them to the Ruins is giving me a problem.
So. Anyone have an idea?
Use your NPCs. Pick up a copy of Burnt Offerings (part 1 of the RotRL AP) for lots of info on Sandpoint.
Ameiko will always give them a free ale and tips on who to talk to, or maybe even a tip on areas to explore for fun. Belor the sherif or Kendra the Mayor will also be good sources of advice should the PCs ask them.
Here's my ideas:
Ameiko suggests talking to the sherif, Belor Hemlock.
Belor can tell the PCs that Abstalar reported a break in with nothing missing a number of nights ago. He has recently had word that Thelsikar was seen slipping through the night in the north of town, and Belor hasn't been able to find Thelsikar since.
Talking Father Abstalar reveals that he has just discovered that a crate full of mundane candles were stolen, worth a total of 2 sp. Why would someone steal only these?
Kendra the Mayor or Ameiko can suggest talking to Shalelu who is in town at the moment. Or the PCs literally run into her somewhere in town, perhaps whilst talking to Belor.
Shalelu is the town's ranger, she has seen Thelsikar skulking about near Raven's Watch during the last month.
I've been working on building the relationship with Ameiko with the plans to use the Jade Regent AP one day.
Some more material that takes place in and around Sandpoint:
We Be Goblins (free pdf module)
Player's Guide for Rise of the Runelords AP (free pdf)
First book of Jade Regent AP (be sure to run We Be Goblins before hand)
Adventure hooks can be as simple as
- hired by someone (merchant, priest, mayor, etc)
- overheard gossip in tavern
- found a dropped note that leads to adventure
- coming to the aid of someone getting beat up in the streets
There are countless ways to bait the hook. Just don't expect that players will always take the bait. They may want to explore an area you have no material for or go off and do their own thing, like set up a bandit camp and raid traveling merchants. If they resist your lures then you can either play along with them, let them call the shots and improvise everything or have "the talk" with them to explain that if they want a quality adventure, they have to follow your leads.
Thanks, Don Walker, but it sounds like you didn't read my post. My group and I are very experienced so I'm not looking for assistance with the hook or how to handle players who don't take the bait. I'm looking for ideas to create a believable connection between two unrelated adventures.
OberonViking, I like the idea of Abstalar's stolen candles and Shalelu spotting Thelsikar out by the ruins. The party has a cleric and a rangeresque fighter, both of whom are acquainted with Abstalar and Shalelu, so that just might be what I need.
Have the candle burn noticeably brighter (or a strange color) when the holder turns to face the direction of Theskilar, as the spirits within attempt to connect with the performer of the ritual.
Maybe require that they learn his name, or some obscure name related to the summoning, and chant it as they do this.
It went REALLY well, Llefser. We're only able to play about once a month, and I'd greatly overprepped... which isn't a bad thing. But at this rate, I've got the next 4 months worth of sessions just sitting there ready to go.
So there are 3 PCs - a Human Wizard (Illusionist), an Elvish Rogue, and an Elvish Fighter. I've tossed in a Dwarvish Cleric NPC for some healing. I ran the Deadly Mine adventure with all the little bits about the candle and the players took the bait hook, line, and sinker (although they did catch me up on one thing; if the mine had been abandoned for such a long time, why did the dwarf miner found by the elemental totally step over a burning candle to start looking at the gold flecks in the wall? Wouldn't a candle - obviously a sign of recent activity - give him pause? As a long shot I had the dwarf miner tell them that he saw it and was a bit concerned until he saw the gold flecks in the wall and then his greed took over.)
When they got back to town and reported to the mayor and sheriff, they started giving each other glances and talking about coincidences; finally they told them that a few nights ago a stock of candles had been taken from the cathedral, and that last night weird noises and candlelight had been seen from within a mausoleum.
That's as far as we got... next session (the 10th of next month) will find them looking into the mausoleum part of the Beginner Bash: Terrors adventure, and they'll find out that Shalelu spotted two thugs delivering a couple of boxes to some dude out by Raven's Watch; she'll have investigated and found a dropped candle (which matches that found in the mine and the mausoleum.)
That premise honestly sounds a ton like the beginning of Rise of the Runelords. Why not just run Rise of the Runelords? O.o
Because I don't want to buy Rise of the Runelords and I don't really feel comfortable running modules/adventure paths. I never seem to know them as well as I know stuff I've put together myself (even if the stuff I put together myself relies on stuff from modules/adventure paths) and it's harder for me to be smooth and go with it if the players go "off track."
So... just a finance and comfort thing is all. :)