Arcane Joe's page
128 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.
I'm a youth arts worker, and alongside approaches like drama and art I use D&D with groups as the basis of group work, sometimes issue-based group work.
I write bespoke campaigns and adventures according to the preferences of the group and identified themes worth exploring.
The group have explored their own interactions to some extent through the game, they have also gone on to write and run their own adventures for each other.
I use AD&D, or a slightly simplified version of it for new players. This means less time is spent scratching heads over character sheets and mechanics, allowing us to focus on the role-playing aspect. This may be simply because I am so familiar with the system I can help others to make a start and be in play within minutes. Or perhaps the system is more amenable to new players...
..now fight each other over that point while I return to my work.
I think my most untypical character was a Bard based on Ben Stiller.
Any ideas for what may be required in the process of training to be a demon-hunting Inquisitor in the far distant science-fiction future?
I'm wanting to run a few sessions with people training their characters...So I’m looking for some interesting ideas or ideally a few play-session layouts that will mix role-play with a sense of character skill development.
You don't have to know the game to reply - all good ideas welcome.
I have a rather time-consuming quirk. I insist on having a visual aid (art or photograph) for almost every NPC the players encounter, not just key enemies or allies, but also local authorities and priesthoods, henchmen, outlaws, other adventurers, petty rivals and often even shop-keepers.
Although this takes some extra work on my behalf, it does have distinct benefits as well. It helps me to role-play these characters (taking cues from their appearance) and it also helps the PC's to remember who-is-who in the story. My plots tend to involve a lot of interpersonal intrigues and a large cast of characters that the players have different relationships with, so for this flavour of D&D it's worthwhile.
Like French Wolf I like to put the pressure on as well. We've a little in-joke where I begin each play-session with the words: 'I just want you guys to know you've done really well to have survived the campaign this far.'
Thanks MrFish - Glad you liked it : )
After posting my mind wandered onto some later developments. The existence of duplicates of the PC's could be used for later stories, for good or for evil. And the woman who was the original template for the doppleganger culture could be an interesting person to introduce at a later stage in the campaign (assuming she doesn't live in the City).
Those may be obvious developments, but could still be handled in an unusual way.
The woman, let's call her Ursula, must have been an adventurer of note to have discovered the City first. Perhaps she is a highly ambitious warrior (a la early, evil Xena) who has gone on to become a queen by her own hand in normal civilisation. Ursula, seeing the possibilities of these doubles, took a unit of dopplegangers away with her, who now serve several purposes. They double for her on the battlefield and sometimes in affairs of state* Sometimes they die in her stead, but soon after Ursula appears again fresh and unharmed, earning her a reputation for immortality.
If Ursula were to be a campaign villain it could be a nice conundrum, as the PC's could defeat her several times, but to no avail, as they have never yet encountered the original.
You suggested putting this theme on the back-burner for a while. If so I'd be tempted to run some adventures around the real Ursula for a while, or maybe just have rumours of an immortal queen float around a few taverns, long before the PC's find the doppleganger city. Adding further levels of mystery and potential moments of discovery.
Or better yet, let's make a sequel to LOST! :D haha
* each of these dopplegangers could be highly trained in a given field, whether combat, diplomacy or love-making, creating a sense that Ursula is good at everything.
There are several themes which commonly appear when the idea of a Matriarchy arises. Some of them appear here and are worthy of exploration.
However I'd feel the nagging temptation to approach this from a slightly surreal angle.
To begin with I'd have all the women be human. But the catch is - they are all the same woman! From a distance it appears to be a functioning society replete with females undertaking various roles, but on closer inspection the appearence (although not the attire, attitude or function) of each woman is identical.
This should genuinely cause some bewilderment among the players. Of course you'd then want to have a nice mystery to explain this. The mind naturally starts fishing for certain possible answers such as: are they all the daughters of some great being?
I'd probably develop the plot something like this:
The women, all of whom have different names, seem unaware of the strangeness of their situation. If the PC's spend any amount of time with this friendly culture, they have the eerie experience of seeing exact twins of members of their own party.
The 'women' are a race of dopplegangers, detached from civilisation. They have all shaped themselves after the one previous visitor they have ever had (who, if still alive, might be prisoner or queen, or in an entirely other location for the PC's to meet another time). The introduction of new forms to imitate (the PC's) might be a saving boon for this society, or it might escalate into horror, loathing and general panic when the first few dopplegangers break from the long established norm.
Haha - this could be foreshadowed several sessions in advance by a prophecy that the heroes will shape civilisations in their own image!
Thanks for the interesting topic, I like a good imagination work-out : )
I've introduced maybe two dozen people to D&D. Not because I care about the industry (as an AD&D player I rarely buy WoTC products) but because I love D&D - it rocks - and I believe others will love it too!
Here are my personal top two approaches to the mission of gamerising the world!
1. Keep it simple. I run a rules-lite version for new players which is very easy to pick up in half an hour. It's like a super-simple version of AD&D. I'm sure any DM can develop a 'lite' version of D&D for new players. Why? So new players can get on with having fun roleplaying their characters and trying to hit stuff. Then you can focus on creating a great story and gripping situations so they want to come back!
2. Just invite them for a game! Go on just do it! Work colleagues, friends, your wife's friends, family members. I've never regreted running a game for someone who has never played before and they've, at the very least, always found it more diverting than they expected. Some have found a new hobby for life.
That's it - keep the mechanics simple, and get over yourself and invite people to try!
I can see that there's some fun to be had in randomising dungeons. However, when compared to creating a location that has an ecology which makes sense and/or structuring an adventure or location for most dramatic content, I'm not sure that random creations stand up so well.
I was playing in an adventure months ago where the DM openly rolled for a random encounter while we travelling. He then rolled for a random enemy and a long battle ensued, about which the player characters had no stake whatsoever, other than to stay alive. I found that flatly boring and contrived. How much nicer it would have been for that DM to have designed an encounter ahead of time, which was either related to the story, or was constructed interestingly rather than just a random attack.
This example isn't exactly illustrative of what the topic starter is proposing. But it is in the same ball park. Unless all you want from D&D is a series of random battles and treasures, with which to fight more random battles and gain more random treasures. It's like MMOPRG thinking, without any of the artistry.
/played <too many days>
But what WoW doesn't offer so well as D&D is the dramatic situations imho.
Thanks for those links guys - that's helped me to find it:
‘what really kept us hooked was the search for the character that represented our higher self. Playing D&D was a training ground for our imaginations and an opportunity to explore our own identities’
Hi I'm looking for a quote from Vin Diesal about D&D where he says something about making characters that were an 'ideal self' or something. I think it was on the back cover of a book about the history of D&D. Can anyone provide the quote and say what book it was from?
Re the example given of player vs character stats.
I feel this is only part of the cake.
A character's alignment, personality, background and campaign experiences give plenty of fuel for character role-playing, without even looking at the stats.
IMO the real fun of role-play stems from the characters involvement in the story, dramatic situations, feelings about allies and enemies etc.
Anyone can enjoy this, regardless of 'player stats' : )
A belated thank you. I'm about to start writing my essay and much appreciate your comments : )
Not yet - although they became aware of Haven as an NPC adventurer from there helped them out of a tight corner.
It's kind of amusing, because they went back to Kaer and seem genuinely afraid of going back out again! : D
Ran my first 'out of the Kaer' sequence at the weekend, as the heroes fought their way through portions of the City of Parlainth to try and retrieve an Orichalcum Gate Key from a Horror-disguised-as-human who had stolen it and was attempting to deliver it to his hungry masters.
I just wanted to comment that running a 'City as dungeon' was incredibly exciting. The geography and source material provided a very interesting staging ground for adventure. I was inspired to develop all kinds of interesting encounters with roaming Cadaver Men, treacherous masonry, and unsavory scavengers. Mixing these and other elements together to enhance the scariness of situations.
The previous sessions spent in the Kaer (to provide contrast to the 'above-ground' experience) really payed off and Parlainth came across as I'd hoped, a lethal and shocking contrast to Kaer life.
Crucially they still didn't meet a true 'Horror' in this first outing. Anticipation is everything!
Still loving Earthdawn,
My feeling is that creators sometimes have to appeal to the lowest common denominator by including staple 'popular' fantasy races.
I've used the campaign themes that appeal to me, but I always, always feel that anything is up for adaption to the sensibilities of the DM and the culture of the players.
Hate to say it, but orcs and elves are considered a little 'corny' in these parts. But if they work for you then go right ahead.
That's an excellent question, and the phonetics of names can add a great deal to the flavour of people and things.
I'm not an expert in this area, but I try to go for consistent naming approach for a given culture. My approach to this is usually very simple.
I take the culture in question and think of real-life nationality that carries a similar mood. Then I google a list of names from that country and name the characters and places from that list.
So, for example, I'm creating a barbarian nation and feel they are comparable in mood to a mythic Norse viking style. I run off a list of Scandavian names and go from there.
Some of the less popularised world cultures have great unusual names that you can use to create a seemingly 'original' yet consistent feel. Peruse a list of Ukrainian names for example for a very distinct mood.
Well thats my lazy approach, but even Tolkien borrowed names from mythology so at least I'm in good company - ha!
I try to be an easy-going chilled out contributor here - but sometimes some of you DRIVE ME NUTS!! For once I'm going to unleash my vorpal sword and start hacking off some heads!
This thread is another example. Instead of trying to pick apart the rule mechanics of a dramatic scene, how about looking at what actually makes it... dramatic!
I swear this rules-centric approach to every topic is the result of 3ED & 4ED mechanic heavy D&D!! *waves sword in air*
Ratchet gave an excellent example of a heart pounding fight scene. If you wanted to give your players a taste of the same FEELING it would have little to do with feats and powers. Look at the structure of the battle and the NARRATIVE techniques that make it rock. For example:
The attack has a very eerie harbinger (the glowing sword).
The 'heroes' have to defend some very vulnerable allies.
The heroes are split off from each other and have to fight their way to meet up.
One of the heroes redeems his previous disgrace by fighting unstoppable odds. This kind of thing is high drama.
It culminates with a face off between the two rival party leaders.
The battle serves to lead on to a powerful moment of character development between two major personalities who have been at odds with each other.
Because they fail to protect the hobbits, the battle leads to further drama as they must now be rescued.
If you could apply some or all of that 'formula' to a sequence you are DMing you might approach the same sense of drama and excitement. Rule sets be damned.
* rant ends *
Re the races discussion, for my own perculiar taste I have ripped out the classic fantasy elves, orcs etc and kept only those humanoids which are more unique to the setting - for example the Obsidiman race. I like to differentiate settings and to achieve that sometimes less is more.
I'm compiling some art for use in my campaign here:
Quick campaign update. Hyperion has now escaped from the Kaer, taking with him other prisoners from the 9th Circle of the Pit (Prison). Nyx and several other capable but dispensable people are preparing to leave and give chase. The atmosphere is pretty exciting.
I've decided that their Kaer is located underneath Parlainth! They will have to fight their way up through the frightening derelict catacombs beneath the City... oh the lols! I can't wait : D
Now my campaign is heading out into the world proper, I warmly welcome tips, advice or adventure hooks from you more experienced Earthdawn GM's. You lovely people : )
Here's something positive from a long term perspective.
My best friend and I both began playing D&D in our early teens at School. Years later (we are approaching 40 now) we were both lucky enough to have partners/wives with similar interests and we've both introduced our spouses to the game. The four of us have enjoyed several campaigns together. And yes these are attractive intelligent women beyond our worthiness - haha!
Women can bring a real depth to characters they role-play. They can construct untypical heroines with great attention to personality, motivations and human interest. They have original approaches to problem solving.
Over time I've had the pleasure of playing D&D or CoC with at least nine female players, and they've each bought great enthusiasm and innovation to the sessions.
I've run no small amount of single player campaigns for my own lady. We've stomped through the Realms, Darksun, Planescape, Ravenloft and two dozen home made settings. I dare say I've learned how to balance the pro's and cons of single player campaigns!
My new Manager at work, a razor sharp and charismatic lady, discovered that I run some D&D in the youth clubs. She said she could see the value of it as a past-time for young people, but personally she felt it was boring. I'll be inviting her to experience it for herself soon : ) I've had a lot of fun introducing the game to people outside the stereotypical demographic.
I'm probably way off topic by now... thanks for reading.
Thanks Txoro and others : )
Here's a quick self-indulgent summary of the 'story so far'. This is a single PC campaign.
Nyx lives in a Kaer known as 'The Kingdom'. It is ruled by a Theran leader who is self-indulgent and distances himself from the people. Nyx is an acolyte studying The Passions, with an eye to becoming a Priestess. The priesthood also occupy a high status in Kingdom society and enjoy wealth and privilege beyond the regular populace of the Kaer.
Nyx's friend and fellow acolyte is murdered by a killer named Hyperion. The temple are ineffectual in taking action, and Nyx, already disenchanted with the religious way of life, resigns before reaching ordination.
Instead she seeks out a notable warrior trainer and petitions him for the training required to become a member of the Kaer militia. In the tradition of these things, he is reluctant to train a member of the temple but finally relents. Nyx subsequently gains a job working for the guard, who control a nine-level prison complex known as the Pit, and organise patrols to keep law and order in the streets.
The Kaer is divided into several areas which reflect social classes. Nyx's experiences policing each strata are reflective of the differing culture of each. Most of the adventure takes place in 'Subterrainia', a dangerous underclass region (think Mad Max III). This has it's own criminal 'godfather' who expects the guard not to interfere with his business. Naturally this is an ongoing source of intrigue.
Through books, theatre and sermons delivered to the prisoners by visiting priests, Nyx gradually builds her understanding of world history and of the Scourge that has befallen them. Hence this information is gradually introduced through role-play, rather than at the outset. This reflects a Kaer focussed mentality that has become concerned with it's own politics and almost forgotten it's origins.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned killer 'Hyperion' has been apprehended and secured in the lowest circle of 'The Pit'. Secretly he is a Horror who has taken human form and is waiting for the opportunity to undermine the security of the entire Kaer. For now Hyperion is content to watch and observe human behaviour, but he has a plan to take his leave both of the prison and of the sealed Kaer itself.
Three people in the Kaer have the means to open the Orichalcum gate and one of them is the Captain of the Guard. Hyperion plans to orchestrate a prison break and in the chaos obtain the 'key' from the Captain. He intends to leave and report to his masters, to orchestrate a Horror invasion of the Kaer. However, a rare individual with the requisite spiritual and militant training will be sent out to stop him!
NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Sociology Themes & Perspectives, Haralambos (1980) - 'They enjoy or suffer the unequal distribution of rewards in society as members of different social groups.'
The Shaolin Temple (1982) - The hero must prove their seriousness before receiving training.
The Terminator (1984) - Introduce information as part of the action.
The Divine Comedy (1321) - Sinners are kept in hell in nine catagories of seriousness.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) - The hero passes through a gateway between their home and the world of adventure.
Final Fantasy VII (1997) - The hero explores the world whilst driven by chasing a hated foe.
Hey my Earthdawn source book arrived - and as you already know it's fantastic! I love the talents, weapons and of course was already sold on the setting from reading this thread. I'm finding it a really rich book, reminding me of the old 2ED box set campaign settings, which were always exciting to open and look through.
I've run my first two sessions this week, very focussed on Kaer life and intrigues. The PC is witnessing social inequality and combating a criminal network, playing as a member of the Kaer guard/police.
I've dropped no hint of my intention to later take the campaign out into the wider world. I'm going to keep it this microcosmic for as long as I've got worthwhile ideas.
Thanks that's very useful. I've purchased a sourcebook online and while I wait for it, I've been designing a Kaer city I've named 'The Kingdom'.
I'm going to be running this for a single player and I want to run some Kaer based adventures before they set forth into the wider world. So to create the illusion that this campaign will be very local and internalised before it opens right up.
To do this I've decided the PC will be part of 'The Kingdom's' city militia, responsible both for keeping order and maintaining the Kaer Prison. I've been giving some thought to power groups and criminals within the Kaer. I want to introduce the wider themes very gradually.
Forgive me, as I've yet to read the books, if this contradicts published material, but I have an idea that the Horrors are in fact cosmic criminals that have escaped from a transdimensional prison that has collided with the planet. This is a secret that might be uncovered further down the road. For me it also creates a mirror of the PC's own starting circumstances, as the initial story arc will culminate with a prison break within the Kaer, a small reflection of the metaplot.
Your enthusiasm has prompted me to look into this setting, particularly as I need a new campaign for one of my groups.
Looks awesome - I'll be giving it a go!
Morgan - Knight (lvl 6)
Setting: Cursed Empire (Chris Loizou)
(Seperate player group to TPK above)
Adventure Path: 'Seed of Destruction' (own)
After a druidic attack on the City of Celestia left the entire place in ruins, prisoners escaped from the 'special' wing of the state prison. Some of the Empire's most notorious criminals made a fast alliance and basically whooped the PC's badly, causing general defeat and one fatality.
I'm interested in ways in which the many insightful people here, can or have identified things which they or their group have learned from the experience of playing role-playing games.
Let me backtrack a moment, because this will interest some of you. I use roleplaying games as part of my work in the community with young people. Now before people get too excited about the thought of being 'paid to play' for it's own end, consider this for a moment. D&D can provide a very engaging social metaphor, which is superior almost to any other conceivable tool for exploring choices and consequences in a safe environment.
I'm looking to write some of my practice up, linking it with other learning theory, and may post the results here if it seems appropriate.
While I'm evaluating this process, it would be great to hear from your own experiences. I'm giving no steers as to 'what' may have been learned in your groups. For the purposes of pure research I'd just like to hear simply anything with a real world application that D&D players have gained from the gaming experience.
Your humble narrator,
Cursed Empire (aka Crimson Empire). I bought the first edition for this which has a very well thought out internal ruleset.
The World themes are very strong. Action takes place after a Great Cataclysm and the God's are a distant memory apart from singular human envoys which individually respresent the sole inheritor of each deities influence. This is a world at war, with clearly and imaginatively designed factions.
The emphasis is on gritty wartime campaigning, there are some traditional fantasy elements but for my part I just stripped them out and was left with a very strong world theme, great backstory and huge potential for role-playing the decline of a once sovereign empire.
Here's how it works, take a look at some art and suggest what it might be depicting in D&D terms, or what story/encounter (even campaign) ideas spring from the picture.
So here's a good one to whet your imagination:
Take a look and post any ideas. Thanks : )
2. The Welcoming Hall
A vast unlit chamber, wherein all light sources seem to burn only dimly in comparison to the epic size of the great vault. The arches and walls seem to drift up into faraway space, and bear the time worn inscriptions of the long forgotten race that were the architects of this monstrous hall.
Keen eyed adventures will soon discover the many gnawed corpses, faces twisted in a rigor mortis of fear, that further serve to warn against exploration.
From the farthest distance a great rushing can be heard. Here the gigantic stonework is hewn in colossal scars and gaping plunges. A great subterranean river charges beneath in mighty crashes, several hundred feet beneath the present surface.
Proceeding onwards will require careful planning. Visibility is low and chasms yawn hungrily to swallow any who cannot make long leaps across the treacherous masonry.
This is probably when sickly dozens of benighted sub-humans will emerge from the tunnels and cracks that are their tenebrous home. Putrid skinned from lack of sunlight and with the carnal determination to sink their malformed teeth into delicious soft flesh, or die trying.
With quick wits, the lucky might make their way forward with skill or sorcery, before the great hunger descends upon them. But once the farthest end is reached, going back would be an option even the mad would never consider.
I adopted 'Warlord' as a high level Fighter title, not given out automatically, but identifying Fighters whose prowess, tactical and charismatic skills were such that armies or equivalent powers were drawn to their cause.
Which literary novels have people used as source material for role-playing campaigns? I'd be interested to know which books DM's have found useful for settings/adventures.
My own attempts at adaptations have included:
The Prince of Nothing (trilogy) - Bakker
The Book of the New Sun (series) - Wolfe
The Books of Invasions (trilogy) - Mills
Although each campaign was supplemented by much home-grown material, extra depth and flavour were bought to the table by the inclusion of ideas that I never would have conjured, surprising and delighting players with a different 'voice'.
Do others have experiences, recommendations?
When the opportunity arrives for a 1-2-1 session with a group member, it can be an excellent time to flesh out that character's backstory and history - whether or not it has already been seeded in previous role-play.
Does the character belong to a Guild? Do they have siblings, lovers or rivals which dip back in the characters past before they were part of the current adventuring party?
This is a choice moment to introduce such NPC's and awaken themes personal to this character that can resound in the campaign ahead.
In case this is in any way unclear I'll throw down a few quick examples:
1. The Mage's Guild Master arrives and seems uncannily familiar with the PC's current activities and companions. He wishes the PC to do something that will detriment the adventuring parties current goals, perhaps even eliminate someone in the party.
2. A former lover, from a now elapsed relationship, has found themselves in serious trouble, and knowing that the PC has risen to some power, implores them to intervene and help them.
3. An old enemy or rival, personal to the PC, has: a. Established themselves as an agent of a local power group. b. Sought out the PC to form an uneasy alliance for a common goal. c. Devised a scheme to undermine, kill, or manipulated the PC.
Any of which could be a sweetly personalised hook into a published or home-made adventure.
Please forgive my randomness in advance.
As the wholesome undertaking begins to decline into the dangerous survival experience you are imagining, the party itself begins to crack.
One of the party members (NPC's) begins showing symptoms of something akin to possession. They are heard at night having muttered conversations with someone who is not there, but if 'woken' have no recollection of it. They develop pre-occupations with strange and obscure details and become inconsolably terrified at times, with no apparent cause.
Relations between two party members with very different personalities begin to fray under the pressure of the challenging journey, threatening to spill into violence.
A miserable change in the weather brings increasing pressure on the group. When the bard slips on the sodden earth into a dug pit of barbarian waste, no amount of lavish perfume will erase the stench from his or her fine attire.
The Paladin is frequently blamed for somehow incurring the ill will of the Gods.
Just some flavour - may or may not suit your appetite.
I'm a youth worker and as part of the provision I provide for young people I run three regular D&D groups at the youth club. Besides the recreational benefit, I justify the project with the social learning that occurs as interactions and issues are explored through role-play.
I found all of the above a little hard to follow, as my own gaming experience is really on the opposite end of the power spectrum (low fantasy medieval and modern).
Neverthless anything Cthulhu always catches my attention. Your campaign certainly sounds very interesting - I suspect I am missing out on a very different role-playing experience.
I know something about Lovecraftian stuff so maybe I can throw in something useful to your multiversal mix...
Although it sounds like Cthulhu might fit into your current story, what function does Cthulhu actually serve in a narrative? In my opinion Cthulhu is something partially grasped, hinted at, known imperfectly but terrifyingly suggestive. I think that player familiarity with the Mythos can detract from the potential to mystify, confuse and frighten.
For this reason it is my humble suggestion that something new and truly unknown be created to meet the same role in your story. The Lovecraftian flavour might be best channelled through the mystery of an enemy incomprehensible to players and characters alike.
If it were me, I'd want to start my imagining by turning the whole thing on it's head and consider whether beauty and perfection cannot be more frightening than tentacles and ruins...
I think the first question I'd be asking myself is whether to set such a campaign in the 1960's, the modern era - or even in a medieval era.
Whilst some of The Prisoner's themes are timeless, it would be interesting to consider how modern flavours and contemporary issues could reinvent the experience.
If the Village were created today, would it be more akin to The Matrix - a virtual reality designed to placate or manipulate the subject's unconcious? (Think about 'Living in Harmony' - a VR experience?)
How would modern interogation, psychological and even pharmaceutical advances be used to break former agents? Which modern agencies (real or imagined) would be interested in creating such a place? What about genetic engineering (The Schizoid Man)?
Really the possibilities are endless. Especially if your players have never watched the show.
And if you prologue the experience with some life as a secret agent/special forces, and are willing to think outside the box of the series formula... well hell I want to play too!!
Of course in the series we have the old chestnut of why did the hero resign. This may not work so well in your campaign and there could be many other secrets that the player holds.
If I had to run this tomorrow, I'd probably try to create a syntheses with another strong theme. I'd probably run it as a Delta Green (Call of Cthulhu) campaign.
The PC's are members of an ultra-secret faction, unknown even to their own government, investigating an X-Files type conspiracy. They run some adventures of this kind and begin to gain some insider knowledge.
They are captured and bought to the Village - but who is running it? Cultists? Extraterrestials? Their Government? Another Government?
They are subjected to horrifying and disorientating methods of breaking down their will and deceiving them, involving all kinds of technologies and approaches, including simulated escape and identity theft.
Long term they operate both within and without the Village to try to discover it's own secrets and bring down the conspiracy.
Just my take on it : )
Total Party Kill!
Symon - Knight (lvl 3)
Isabelle - Druid (lvl 4)
Tolouse - Knight (lvl 4)
Takhan - Mage (lvl 4)
Setting: Cursed Empire (Chris Loizou)
Adventure Path: 'Seed of Destruction' (own)
After meeting with an Envoy (a human avatar of a 'dead' God), the PC's realised they were being duped into undermining the security of the very Empire they had determined to protect.
Despite being only a modest fighting force themselves, the PC's reasoned that with some subterfuge they might 'get the drop' on this Avatar and be able to pound them into submission with physical violence.
It didn't work.
Chris Mortika wrote:
One thing I'm gathering is that, maybe, the parameters of a setting have an impact on different answrs to the question: "What's the right (or smart) decision to make in this situation?"
Do I attack the orcs on first sight? Do I parley? Do I try to ally with them against the green dragon in the valley?
Or do I run like mad? heheh
I like the way you've expressed that. It could be argued that it is the DM's role to providing the information, atmosphere and tone that will provoke appropriate choices from such questions.
One of the best things I ever saw a DM do to set the tone of the world was in the first session of a Stormbringer campaign. We were at a port and he described this absolutely gargantuan ship that sailed into the harbour. For me this was like the Titantic turning up in ancient Britain. I recall a sense of wonder... a sense that things were a little different here... I knew he wanted to surprise and delight us.
Just a quick post-session thank you - we had a great time and the gambling and rivalry suggestions were the icing on the cake. I created a poster of the most likely winners (all NPC's) and the odds for them to win respectively. Thus whenever one of the players drew a 'favourite' to compete against the excitement was so much more, and the victory the sweeter (or the loss less humiliating!)
As for the maiden and her suitor, this got quite nasty and is developing into a wider story arc. Shamed in the tavern and then defeated in the tournament by his love rival, the jilted 'Knight of the Black Falcon' is gathering his ne'er-do-well friends to get some payback on the handsome PC..., and these Black Falcons don't take any prisoners... believe me.
'Winslade!' - hehe that has a good ring to it! I may have to borrow that name for the final incarnation ; >
Thanks Eileen & Darkjoy!!
I can use those ideas for sure : )
Good topic. I really enjoy low fantasy campaigns with a focus on gritty action and the personalities involved. There is a lot of mileage in understanding how mundane things operated in a medieval style environment and a lot of flavour that can be established with some research.
As an aside, while running different settings for the same players, I always have one NPC that pops up as a well know villain that the PC's are aware of - but never actually get to fight (I use the same image each time, I like visual aids).
Sometime this year I plan to run a fantasy set in the 'real world', where this villain plays an important part. He travels to different worlds, looking for the best one for the dark powers he serves to infiltrate. Having surveyed different possibilities (all the other settings the players have adventured in) he finally settles on modern Earth as his choice...
High Commander Cohn
In celebration of the
Victorious defence of Vokdar city
Is proud to announce a
Contest of Champions
Swordsmanship - 128 places
Jousting - 32 places
Archery - 64 places
On the last day of the year 24 G.C.
Preparation for the Tournament itself is fairly complete, but I plan to have a break at the midway point where everything stops for a big banquet. If anyone has any interesting role-play ideas for the midway point to bring the day to life, or any other related ideas, they will be most welcome.
Just to report back and say this session really rocked and thanks for your ideas : )
If anyone is interested, here is an overview of what went down. These events happened in the context of an ongoing war between rival nations. The rival nation, of which K’Tang is part, have over-thrown the enlightened rule of the Empire.
The party: Knight, Assassin, Ranger, Druid.
Having heard about the Mirror through the investigations of a spy, the party gained access to K'Tang by subterfuge, masquerading in the paraphernalia of ‘Executioner Knights’ (a faction allied with K'Tang).
Once within they witnessed the outward signs of the usurping of the Empire’s rule; broken statues of imperial heroes, public amenities in bad repair while the powerful were clearly prospering. A great swathe of homeless had been created by the self-serving rule of Queen Regna and her supporters. Empire loyalists had been executed and displayed in the streets.
The PC’s had already identified the walled district that contained the mirror, due to intelligence from the spy. At night they employed stealth to follow the Blind Priesthood and their potential human sacrifices into this area.
When the PC’s came face to face with the mirror (their presence still undetected by the Priests) they saw the true corrupt and macabre form of the City reflected. They also saw idealised versions of themselves, and that the Priesthood appeared more like vampires in the reflection. They quickly cottoned on that this was a 'true' reflection of things as they were.
The Priests threw their first victim into the mirror. This unfortunate appeared to collide with their relfection and then existed only within the mirror. Once there they were set upon by the ‘vampire’ Priests in a most unpleasant way. After the shock of this the PCs quickly set upon the Priests and killed them.
While the PCs determined how to destroy the mirror they realised a local Knight had discovered their trespassing and was riding in to pursue them. This Knight, handsome and resplendent in his armour, was rather more gruesome and corrupt looking in the reflection. After the inevitable clash of arms, they experiment with several means of destroying the mirror. Eventually the Druid reasoned that the mirror might be destroyed from within. The Ranger and Knight (the PC knight that is) went through to the other side while the Assassin and Druid stayed in ‘reality’ to watch…
The Knight had a necromantic Ghost Blade (a particular magic item in our campaign) that he unsheathed. The Sword was so terrifying in this world that he could barely wield it. They came up with the weird plan of jumping back through the mirror and hitting it with the Ghost Sword at the same time (much to my secret amusement).
The Knight was faster in the jump. He destroyed the mirror as he leapt through and, being partway between two realities, was sliced in half. The Ranger was stuck in the phantasmal reality, while the Druid and Assassin realised that there own predicament was even worse as K’Tang was collapsing in an extremely noisy catastrophic implosion. They ran like devils to their horses, and after several red-faced life and death rolls, they managed to ride clear of K’Tang before they could get crushed to bits by falling walls etc.
The Ranger, still alone in the mirror reality, was then attacked by the shadow version of K'tang's 'Queen Regna' (herself a formidable warrior and even stronger in reflection). It seemed Regna had some connection to the mirror and was extremely pissed off about the turn of events. The Ranger was horribly outmatched to deal with Regna by himself. However, exhausting all his resources and cunning, he managed to defeat the evil Queen and almost bleeding to death he found himself back in reality, standing in a giant desert that an hour ago had been a mighty metropolis.
The session was very nail biting and ended as the PC’s encountered a trader looking for K’Tang and feeling very lost and confused. The PCs had very mixed feelings about the overall results of their actions.
Reflecting on my delivery, I could have done more within the mirror realm, but as it was it turned out to be a tightly paced session, which engaged the players and clearly shook them up quite a bit.
I knew you wouldn't let me down and would take the tip of an idea and expand it imaginatively... : ) Hopefully others can find something usable here as well.
First questions: Carborundum, the Gods were once very much present but a 'Great Cataclysm' threw the world into another orbit/dimension too distant for the Gods to reach. There is one very interesting exception to that situation, each God can choose one 'Envoy', a human representative or avatar to represent their interests and inherit unique powers.
I liked your ideas, and will attempt to adapt them to suit the flavour of my campaign, of course other remixes are possible and just as worthy.
Here we go...
THE SCREAMING MIRROR OF K'TANG
An immense ornate bronze sheet (Krome), inspiring awe. In it's dormant state the mirror reflects the true nature of it's location (Varianor). Whereas K'Tang is wealthy, industrious and appears very glamorous - the hideous mirror reflects the real feelings of corruption, oppression and fear. It audibly groans with the weight of sadness (Varianor). Few would dare approach the mirror directly, for fear of meeting a horrible caricature of themselves.
The mirror can be commanded to scry upon surrounding regions (Set). It has a twin in the distant city of Morg. Through this connection the mirror can be coerced to form a gateway to conjure allies (Set, Saern). Thus two remote cities are able to reinforce each other. These rituals are administered by a blind priesthood who feed the mirror with living souls (Set). These souls become trapped in the mirror's twisted reality.
Creation and Destruction:
The twin mirrors were created by a prehistoric sorcerous race and discovered during strange excavations. Even the Blind Priesthood understand the mirrors' workings imperfectly. A mirror can only be destroyed from within (Saern), where a counterpart exists. However this counterpart will be defended by reflected forms of K'Tangs champions. It's destruction would suck the entire city away into legend (Krome).
Uh well, it's like this...
Within the enemy city of K'Tang a huge uncanny mirror has been erected, the power of which is central to the defences of this Lawful/Evil city-state.
That's as far as I've got so far...
What role does the mirror play in the defences of the city?
What actions would be required to break the mirror?
What would the side-effects be of it's destruction?
The setting is Cursed Empire, which is a little obscure but essentially means: war theme, roman tech level, some sorcery (rune and elemental magic), no Gods (they are dead or distant).
Thank ye kindly : )
Anyone recommend a fun XBOX 360 co-op hack and slash... something in the flavour of the co-op Baldur's Gate games? You know, choosing skills and killing stuff - with a friend? Thanks
PC's Name: Daryl
Circumstances of Death: Person found to be in heaviest armour when entire party retreated from a hungry giant.
Adventure: Cursed Empire Setting