(1001) In-town Mini-adventures

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In free-form, "sandbox"-style games, its often important to balance obvious "fight stuff" encounters with other forms of challenges.  See if you guys can list some ideas for jobs, quests, or just things to get involved in for players who are hanging around a town looking for "things to do" - hopefully with an emphasis on roleplay, skill-use, problem solving, and HOW the problem is approached.

1. The city government and the Temple of Pelor are at odds with each other over the temple's treatment of an obvious criminal.  The temple has offered sanctuary to (at least) one criminal, attempting to provide protection from the law if the criminal follows the temple's penance.  The town seems polarized on the issue, siding strongly with one or the other.  The PCs can attempt to investigate the circumstances and mediate the issue.

2. After a few high-profile magical mishaps in the town, a strong anti-magic sentiment is taking hold of the populace.  This will make things uncomfortable or difficult for the party, which (presumably) has a selection of magic-using characters that are now either disliked, or have to hide their magic.  The party needs to deal with the results of the situation or help give magic a better image in the town.

3. When walking around town, the party notices a heated debate at the gates which almost immediately resolves itself into the guards unceremoniously and violently forcing some potential visitors to the town away.  If interested, the party can investigate who they were, why they were turned away, and what it could mean to the party to intervene.

4. (the obligatory) [insert vermin here] are in the innkeeper's cellar, which likely now has a hole in it leading to a comically large dungeon right beneath the PC's feet!

5. A powerful family in the town has recently fallen into poor favor with the ruling class.  The family contacts the PCs to steal, blackmail, intimidate, spy, or perform some other dastardly activity to help the family underhandedly move up the social ladder again.  No matter which side is taken, this can help give the PCs some NPC friends and enemies.

Feel free to use any of these ideas you want, and also post any others that you think of.  I'll be posting more ideas as i think of them too, as long as this thread remains even somewhat active.  This might become a useful brainstorming repository of ideas for DMs struggling to find an intermediary activity or add some flavor and NPC interaction to a game.             
6. The large subterranean worms that keep the city palace's garden's soil filled with nutrients have dissapeared, and the flower arrangements carefully made for a foreign emmisary visit are wilting away. The party can help by finding the worms, making the soil rich again, or improvising an alternate reception.
A local evil lord is making a bid for control within the governing body and has employed a third party to kidnap children, wives etc. The third party could be a thieves guild that is inhabiting a sewer system, warehouse, or catacombs and could be wererats.
The noble is using the kidnapped family member to force agreement for the selling of family holdings to the third party (on behalf of the evil lord).
This plot could be expanded by the evil lord moving mercenaries quietly into the city in readiness for a coup and the nobles who's family have been kidnapped are being forced to not act during the coup.
6. The large subterranean worms that keep the city palace's garden's soil filled with nutrients have dissapeared, and the flower arrangements carefully made for a foreign emmisary visit are wilting away. The party can help by finding the worms, making the soil rich again, or improvising an alternate reception

i started reading this and it was taken in a whole different direction than i expected.....giant worms under the city lead to something quite surprising...

8. Track a "Jack the Ripper" style criminal around the city.  Following his murders/crimes until he's caught.  Depending on the style of game, it could lead to an entire organization, a single fight to the death, or maybe not even a fight at all (maybe the ripper couldn't possibly hope to engage the PCs in combat, instead he's just apsychotic genius killer that's hard to catch)    
9. A new drug is on the scene and is quickly rising in popularity. What happens when a staunch anti-drug crusader is found dead of an apparent overdose? 

  •  Did he know too much or was he just a thorn in the side of the drug cartels? What did he know?

  • Was he actually behind the drug smuggling? A closet user? 

  • Can you help his wife clear his good name? Why won't the guard get involved?

10. The local Mage Academy has abruptly decided to move out of their current tower, citing a new patron and larger facilities outside of town. But their new location is in some abandoned ruins of no considerable note, and the moving seems quite rushed and well-guarded. Is something amiss in their current tower? Did something get discovered in the ruins that demands immediate attention?

11. The arrival of a famed foreign bard causes a tremendous ruckus, as rumors of his womanizing begin to sprout throughout the city. Perhaps more damning is the claims that he uses magic to have his way with the wives and daughters of honest townsfolk. The bard denies wrongdoing, but then again, they all do. If something doesn't reign in the rumors there will be a lynch mob after him. Can his womanizing be halted or is this the work of a jealous rival?

12. A recent string of arsons has the city on edge.  The flames are often seen in the shape of arcane runes, but the fires don't appear to be magical. The common people are suspicious of the local wizardry, and they are starting to recieve threats. Several prominent wizards firmly state that they will use any means necessary to defend themselves from 'the rabble'.  The arsonist must be caught and quickly! 
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The party visits a weapons shop, encountering the owner, a friendly man. They conclude their business and move on.

Unknown to them, they have just placed themselves on the bad side of another of the town's shopkeeps. When they visit (for example) the enchanters shop, they find the prices mysteriously raised. Turns out the two shopkeeps have an old enmity, which the adventurers could choose to sort out. 
9. A new drug is on the scene and is quickly rising in popularity. What happens when a staunch anti-drug crusader is found dead of an apparent overdose? 

  •  Did he know too much or was he just a thorn in the side of the drug cartels? What did he know?

  • Was he actually behind the drug smuggling? A closet user? 

  • Can you help his wife clear his good name? Why won't the guard get involved?

Or was he "taken care of" by the real drug distributors? 

14.) the PCs are accosted by disease ridden beggars, and someone close to them is kidnapped and held hostage unless the PCs can aqcuire the cure

15.) the sewers are backed up, it's up to the PCs to fix it. it turns our there is a hive of monsters in the sewer, which they must fight. 
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Thinking of starting a sandox campaign, or are you just trying to get us to roleplay more? :P FYI I finally don't work on Saturday and I'll have some prep done for my campaign.

As for the thread....

16) PC's are hired to investigate the disapearance of a noblemans daughter who was a member of the recently founded new church...

17) PC's are hired to investigate a series of recent atrocieties that seem to be aimed at inciting a revolt. They must figure out who's behind it and what the culprits real goals are.
18) The players have reason to suspect a prominent citizen of the city is a devil worshipping cultist. However, due to the fact that he makes regular, valued donations to the town guards and the library among other things, the mayor is unwilling to have him arrested without solid proof.

19) The players recently uncovered an ancient, working airship: the only one of its kind known to exist and only the players know exactly where it is. Not only do they need to acquire a crew to make use of it, there are a lot of factions who would pay a great deal of money or kill a great deal of people to get their hands on it.
20)  Someone wants the PCs to investigate the disappearance of two inn patrons that went to a courtyard connected to a backalley.  The courtyard is renowned for the shady things that happens there after dark and there is an old well in the middle of the courtyard that is known for its black water.  If the PCs interrogate the cityfolks in the houses, they find that no-one is willing to talk.  They seem afraid of something...

21)  An old crazy wizard that lost his only daughter is going mad by the docks.  He seems completely out of his mind and is a teacher at a school specialized in conjuration...    


The pcs have been fighting powerful wizards, they stole all their loot and  finally they kill what they think is all and head to town for a nice rest in an inn.

When asleep they all have the same dream of some creature (a dragon?) that they have to fight and all they know if they feel compelled to do it by some unknown force and if they lose they feel something terrible will happen.

in actuallity there were some wizrds left (illusinists?) and are casting spells shaping there dreams and trying to find out where the magical items are before killing them in there sleep, pcs have a certain amount of time to finish the dream or the wizards will find out where they have the magical items steal them and try to kill them while they dream
23) After completing their quest and returning to the Mayor's residence, one of the PC's ends up on a date with Lady M, the former adventurer and current mayor
(insert wineglass man) true story 
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24)  The PCs receive an invitation to a banquet at the manor of an important nobleman with ties close to the Duchess of the city.  The invitation seems out of place but acquaintances of the PCs will be there and insist that the characters attend.  However, before heading there, the PCs are asked to pick up a mysterious package from an alleyway and are asked to leave all their weapons upon entering the manor.  Once inside voices can be heard coming from a room and behind the PCs, two guards block the frontdoor.  Approching from the room, it is now clear that those voices, they speak of treason against the Duchess!

25)  An explosion is heard in the market place and the Alchemy Shop is burning!  People are scared and don't know how to react.  From the screams coming from the top floors, it seems that children are trapped in the appartements above the shop.  Toxic vapors are emanating from the first floor and an assistant that got out of the inferno is speaking of a new vat of Alchemist Fire.  Of course, it would be incredibly unfortunate if that vat came in contact with the fire that is spreading fast...
26, with apologies to Mr. Pratchett:

The city's halfling and dwarf populations, always somewhat at odds with one another, are on the verge of open warfare within the city.  The usual pub brawls and isolated quarrels have escalated to the level of roving, armed gangs of dwarves and halflings seeking out individual targets after dark for back-alley beatings.  The watch has issued a curfiew on the surface, and its manpower is stretched dangerously thin trying to keep the peace in Undertown.  They dread what will happen if two such gangs clash, or if someone of consequence to either community dies at the hands of the other faction.  

  The Captain o' the Watch is hiring freelancers of any other race but dwarves and halflings to flesh out his riot force, and prominent figures in the dwarf and halfling communities (who loom large in the guild and information gathering networks of the city at large) are hiring muscle of their own kind as bodyguards, investigators, or even saboteurs or assassins.  Meanwhile, the ruling power in the city wants the source of the problem found and the hostilities ended.

How does the party fit itself into this conflict?  Do they choose a side?  Do they put themselves between the two feuding peoples, or get to the bottom of the problem?  Why would someone set the two factions against one another?  Do they want the watch distracted?  Trade interrupted?  The city's productivity compromised, or its information network disabled?  It's always about crime or commerce . . . right?    
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27. Elections!

Local elections for town council are happening soon and two officials are after the same spot. Each side thinks it would be great to have the endorsement of a well known group of adventurers (being heroes of the people and all). They both offer enticing rewards for the party's assistance (attending speechs, traveling with the candidate, providing entertainment), but after the party chooses a side, the opposing candidate sweetens the pot and offers a significant prize for sabotaging the other candidates campaign. 
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28.  The baker has an embarrassing problem.  See my sig for more details.

29.  A house appears to have been abandoned.  The PCs are asked (by a neighbor?) to investigate inside the house.  They may also be asked to do a records check and contact the owner, if the house was rented.  If the missing resident WAS the owner, they may be asked to locate him and find out why he abandoned the house (provide clues and a story).
For variety, the abandoned house may have squatters.
For more variety, the city homeless are moving in ... and two-or-more of them claim to BE the true owner.
To increase confusion: (a la Ft Worth TX) there is a way to legally claim an abandoned house, and somebody shady has bought a writ ... for their own purposes

30. Home By The Sea, as in the song by Genesis.

31. An old enemy has re-surfaced and is threatening to destroy the town unless the PCs come out to meet him in deadly combat.  Of course his challenge is rigged.  In the extreme case, think Heath Ledger's version of Joker.

32. A known petty criminal has been arrested again, but this time the police have a request for his extradiction to another town.  Nobody knows why the other town is interested in him.  Mistaken identity, or is he more than what he seems?

33. A groupie wannabe decides to cling to one of the PCs, doesn't matter which one.  Does anybody want an entourage?

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Making it up as I go along:

{BRJN} If I was writing the Tome of Lore, I would let Auppenser sleep. But I also would have him dream. In his dreaming he re-activates the innate powers of (some) mortal minds. Or his dreaming changes the nature of reality - currently very malleable thanks to Spellplague &c. Or whatever really cool flavor text and pseudo-science explanation people react positively to.

{Lord_Karsus} You know, I like that better than the explanations for the Spellplague.


{BRJN} If Bhaal approves of The Joker, does he approve of Jack Nicholson's portrayal or Heath Ledger's protrayal more?

{Stigger} That question is utterly classic, and completely on target.


Prepped ahead of time:

I started the 4e thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (now lost in that great electronic goodnight, alas)

{ADHadh} These are all good and make sense! I just can't come up with something that's not covered here and is not completely ridiculous.


(News bulletin: Updated thread to be posted after I review the 5e DMG)


My 5e characters


Erevyn Meliamne, Wood Elf Rogue1/Monk2, AL, inspired by "Radar O'Reilly" from M*A*S*H: Perception(max)

Alavos of Kirauma, Half-elf Ancients Paladin8, HotDQ, Warlord themed

Characters Ready-to-go:

none at present; gotta work on somebody from below !

Concepts I'm kicking around:

Tiefling Bard - party "face", skillful, future business master (using 3e FRCS background material) and patron to beginning adventurers.

Barbarian w/Tough feat, to be nearly indestructible

"Truenamer" cleric - all spells are Verbal

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC / BBEG version is going to become a beetle version of a Worm That Walks.  (See the 4e MM picture of a Lamia.)  Because lichdom is so cliche.


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