Hello, reader. I'm hoping to get tips, criticism, etc. On a broad idea for a campaign as well as some ideas to end it. It plays through as follows:
We begin the adventure traversing the wilds. Upon nightfall, flames can be seen in the distance enveloping a city as beastial cries are heard.
Reaching the city will evoke the dragon to leave and allow players to find the king and offer assistance. They will be told of a scholar out in the forest, banned from the city years ago.
Orcs will be assaulting the hermit’s hut and the players can negotiate with or kill them to gain access to Scholar Windslow.
Windslow will tell the players the dragon is an elder of the Dra’ha clan. That said, he can only be slain with a weapon blessed by the monks of Toe’ma’ro. Bad news, they were all killed 200 years ago. But he tells players of a library to the far north that will lead to the last blessed weapons.
Journeying north will take PC’s through a mountainous pass in a never ending blizzard. They'll come to a bridge which will snap and cause them to land in snow outside the frozen library. The door will be completely frozen so the party must find a way to thaw it. This can be achieved by finding a note in the skeleton near the stairs. It will show a picture of a cave opening.
PC’s will need to cross a freezing lake by hopping across frozen ice blocks. Half way across, a dire shark will begin chasing the PC’s. Reaching the other side will bring the players to a glacier. They must climb part way up to find a Crack resembling the picture and inside is a hole to an old temple.
Inside are wraiths and mummies. The players will locate a mimic in the heart of the prayer room that will drop a Holy Forged Bow which will fire beam arrows and can open the library.
Inside the library is a skeletal guide. He explains knowledge is best kept by those who discover it. He leads you to a circular room where chairs are all set up in the center, a person in each. As PC’s get closer they realize they're corpses. Players can ask the guide to use a spell which will allow communication between the corpses and players. Speaking to the warrior king will reveal the location of the blessed blades and he gives you his own.
Leaving the library will activate a mini boss fight with the elder dragon. PC’s will break off a claw before he flees.
As they travel back they find a master arcane smith who offers to create magic whetstones from the claw.
Returning to the city of Lodelith will reveal the king has been preparing upgrades to defend against the dragon. He only needs one last ingredient. The heart of a basilisk. Players may do this side quest and help with the final battle.
The swords were buried in a tomb within what is now the grand forest. The PC’s begin getting visions of the last heroes as they near it. Upon finding the door, each player must pay blood to open the door. A cut scene plays revealing the PC’s are reincarnations of the past heroes who each took on a small piece of the dragon’s soul to be reborn with him. The players gain access to the treasure room within, giving each Mastercrafted armor and weapons.
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You seem to have it planned out - but PCs do not always follow your carefully laid trail of clues. It might be worth planning out a bunch of "what ifs" - nearby towns in case they go wandering, alternate ways of bypassing puzzles etc. You can gently hint that they're off course, but railroading can lead them to resist harder.
For example: with a frozen shut door, what's to stop them just dousing it with oil and setting it in fire?
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There are some things that I think you should consider and prepare for:
1. What are the killer hobos doing in the wilds?
2. Why would the killer hobos go to a burning city?
3. Why would the killer hobos help a king?
4. Why would the king want help from the killer hobos?
5. How could the king put his kingdom's fate in the hand of the killer hobos?
6. Why wouldn't the killer hobos kill the scholar?
7. Why would the scholar help the killer hobos?
8. How will the killer hobos survive in the cold for what sounds like a big part of the adventure?
9. How and why would the killer hobos just stumble upon the door to the library when they're already going there?
10. Why can't the killer hobos bust open the door?
11. Why can't the killer hobos bust open the wall beside the door?
12. How will the killer hobos know to cross the lake?
13. What happens if the killer hobos fall into the water with the shark?
14. How will the killer hobos know that they have to climb to find this entrance?
15. What will the killer hobos do when they can't climb where they need to?
16. How will the killer hobos find this prayer room?
17. What happens if the killer hobos don't acquire this bow?
18. How will the killer hobos know that the bow opens the door?
19. What happens if the killer hobos fail the above mentioned objectives on their way back to the door?
20. Why wouldn't the killer hobos kill the skeletal guide before he even mentions 'knowledge'?
21. Why would the killer hobos trust the skeletal guide and not attempt to kill him?
22. How will the killer hobos know to ask the guide to cast a spell?
23. Why can't the killer hobos cast a spell them selves?
24. Why is the spell needed? Why isn't the sword just there at the table?
25. How does the dragon just flee from the killer hobos?
26. What was the dragon doing there and why wasn't it there before the killer hobos got the sword?
27. Why would the killer hobos break of a claw from the dragon?
28. Why would the killer hobos not chase the dragon when they have the sword?
29. How do the killer hobos just happen to meet this arcane smith on their way back?
30. Why don't the killer hobos kill the arcane smith before he says "hello"?
31. How can the killer hobos trust the arcane smith to stay true to his word?
32. Why didn't the killer hobos meet the arcane smith on their way there but only on their way back?
33. Why would the killer hobos care about this wheatstone?
34. Why would the killer hobos go back to the city?
35. Where do the killer hobos find a basilisk?
36. How will the killer hobos know to pay blood?
37. Why would the killer hobos agree to pay blood?
38. How is a cut scene in a TTPRPG intresting?
39. Why would the killer hobos care about mastercrafted swag?
40. How is it that all the killer hobos happen to be "the chosen killer hobos" and they all somehow happen to be there at the right time to accept this quest?
41. How will you make the answer to question 40 not really s&++? (I'm allergic to "chosen one")
42. How would there be a final battle with a dragon that flees?
43. Will this final battle be any good at all and not just numbers?
44. Why would the killer hobos even participate in the final battle?
45. Why would the killer hobos wait for the dragon to come to the city?
46. Why does the final battle take place in the city?
47. What happens inbetween all this traveling?
48. What happens if one of the killer hobos dies mid-game?
49. What happens if all the killer hobos dies mid-game?
50. Why would anybody prefer this over a Paizo AP?
Please note that this isn't all you need to figure out. This is not to say "you're doing a bad job because you havn't provided an answer already". I just want to point out that there's a lot that you need to do with your current idea to make it run as smooth as possible.
I would advice you to put more events into the story, something that makes the narrative take a turn. One example of that is in Lord of the Rings when they need to alter their planed path to Moria, because they couldn't cross the mountains. It adds a lot dynamics to the story, feels much less linear and it can also open up for player decision, on what to do and what not to do, etc.
There are easy answers to these questions. Some are not as good as others. Remember that players only think that it's bad to rail-road a game when they know they're being rail-roaded. A bad answer to these questions or ill preparation for these situations will make it apparent. Having no answer will de-rail the game, which means that all your ideas are worthless.
Just an idea I got when reading this: couldn't the PCs make their own weapons instead of having to find old weapons? They need to accuire the knowledge on how to make them from the library, find materials for the weapons, prepare a ritual and ask this arcane smith to help them make these weapons.
"Broad idea" is something along the lines of:
There is a Dragon. The Dragon is Evil and can only be hurt by "X". The Heroes must find "X" and use it to slay said Evil Dragon. Preferably in the nick of time. Then cake will be served.
I get that Rub-Eta is being a little facetious (which I found hilarious, but that's just me) but it's legitimate and constructive criticism. Expect that players will actively avoid any breadcrumbs you throw them. Plan for them to take the path you don't want, and make sure the plot is flexible and resilient when they do.
You don't have to answer my questions here, it's just you who needs to know the answers. The reason why I made 50 points is probably because I can't find anything fundamentally wrong with your idea, so I have to nit-pick. I'm not saying you're doing all (or even any) of those 50 points wrong, I just wanted to concretely define some of the more vague areas so that you know what to think about and keep in mind when you further refine your idea.
Personally, I hate getting the respons "looks good", because I know there's always room for improvment, no matter how much times is spent on already.
What are killer hobos? I run a lot of games and my players always pay for at least 3 month poor life style or or month of average. So they definitely aren't hobos. The poor lifestyle comes into play only when they have established settlement.
PCs generally don't have permanent homes, because they are out adventuring and not kicking back at the house sipping brandy.
They also kill a lot of people.
Murder Hobos is a fairly old good nature mocking of the entire concept of adventuring PCs in general.
The best advice I can give is to make a living setting, not a scripted one.
By living, I mean take all of the major players and figure out WHY they are doing what they are doing. Once you understand their motivation, and you know where they are coming from, you will be able to react to the unexpected *MUCH* easier.
Don't just say that X happens after Y occurs, understand why its happening and what the problem it is solving actually is. Once you've defined exactly what the problem is that has to be overcome, then you can react better to it when the PCs come up with an answer that is just as valid but nowhere near what you expected.
Basically, this isn't a video game. Perfectly scripted events are a very bad idea because it will *NEVER* go the way you expect, and efforts to try and force your players down a specific path is generally seen as a very bad idea (called railroading because the PCs aren't allowed to go off the tracks).
One thing that strikes me as asking for trouble in your description? You've got a dungeon that you say is full of wraiths and mummies and presumably other undead, and then they turn a corner to find a skeleton who is a friendly NPC? When they've just slogged through an entire dungeon of undead, what makes you think they won't attack this guy on sight and kill him?
Also, you mentioned a boss fight with an "elder dragon" where the dragon flees from the PCs. Okay, but then you mention later that they get rewarded with masterwork gear.
That doesn't add up in my book. If they're low enough level that masterwork weapons and armor mean anything at all to them, they're not going to stand a chance against a dragon of any age category, much less Adult and up. If they are legitimately powerful enough to make a dragon run for it's life, why would they want mundane equipment as a reward?
And before that, why do they have to cross a frozen lake by doing something as risky as jumping across ice flows? My first reaction as a player wouldn't be to do that, it would be to find a boat or some other way of crossing that doesn't involve as great a risk of me falling into freezing water and dying of hypothermia.
And of course, this all assumes that the players even take the bait at the very beginning. If the "your reward for all of this is masterwork gear", then I'm assuming that these guys are level 1. I sure as hell wouldn't go chasing after a dragon at level 1!
Overall, it sounds like you are planning this out like a video game quest line where important NPCs are invincible and the players can either go down exactly the path you want them to or they can just not play.
That really isn't a good way to run a campaign, IMO.
Take a look at this site on Gamemastery 101. It's old, but it's got some great articles on preparation.
You've got what seems IMHO to be a fairly straight-line adventure planned. Adventurers rarely follow the straight-line path unless you force them. and most groups I've been exposed to are rarely happen with a forced plat.
So how do you get them engaged?
- Give them multiple ways to find out things. This is the rule of 3 for each set of information you want to share.
- Plot out motivations of key mover/shakers. The issue underlying your scenario is a problem with a BBEG which is a dragon. He's raiding the city - why? Stopping him can be done by acquiring weapons that (might) allow the group to kill him. But also, the players might be able to recruit help, or do something to shift his focus, or even negotiate with the BBEG.
- Set up a timeline for how the situation evolves, and how events will occur without the player's intervention. Then add a few thoughts on how it might change based on different types of player intervention.
- Lastly, consider having a node-based adventure where the nodes are multiply interconnected. This allows you to place the adventure hooks where they snag the players' interest. If done well, you'll wind up with a group that is really heavily invested in your game.
Broad idea is good except PCs will and often ask common sense questions you may need to consider and plan for. Be prepared for PCs to do what they want not what you have planned. For example the walk across the lake. Why not go around or if powerful enough over by flying or teleporting.
You have a good idea now I suggest you start fine tuning it before you start. I have seen campaigns and adventures fall apart because a poorly planned adventure didn't take into account PCs often do not do what is expected of them. Another thing don't attempt to force them to follow your adventure as you have planned it since that just pisses of players as much as a DM killing them because he can.