Location in motion - ideas for my campaign

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I've been following the Writer's Block thread here and I've decided to throw up some ideas from my campaign which I will be starting up again in about a month.

The first chapter in brief (VERY brief) of the adventure saw the reveal of a Big Bad (still unaccounted for), the infiltration of the starting towns Royal family by monster cultists and revealed the overall theme of the game (The chained god has set his pawns in motion from his exile and seeks to unmake the world.. ooOOOooh).

I decided to take a break from DMing for several months to let someone else run their game, but that is winding up, so I'm planning on starting up chapter 2 soon.

The players know that the Big Bad had been entombed (believed dead) somewhere to the north in the distant past, and it's highly likely they will go seeking that out to get more information about what they're facing (as at the moment the Bads location is unknown, and their home town is no longer in immediate danger). So the town to the north, a relatively small mining and lumber town with natural fortifications, is what I am basing this section of the adventure around.

Below I have outlined three major Dangers:

Cultists in the Town
Impulse: Infitrate and manipulate town leadership, to obfuscate knowledge that leads to their leader’s stronghold, perform a ritual to mentally enslave the townfolk. (Greater Impulse – Free the chained god, unmake the world)
Grim Portents:
-          Historical documents are lost/missing.
-          Bloody spiral graffiti appears around town.
-           An influential citizen is found ritually murdered.
Impending Doom:
-          The cult gains sufficient sway to conceal (or distract from) it’s activities and is able to recruit/mid control the town’s population to work towards its greater goals.
DM actions:
-          Once friendly NPCs seem scared and stand offish around the PCs
-          A caravan accompanied by a group of religious adherents comes to town with many rare and unusual alchemical components, a special order by an important town figure.
-          People remark to the PCs that the well water has a strange sweet taste of late.
-          The PCs are accused of murder/theft of valuables/driven out of town or locked up.

Wildfolk Raiders
Impusle: To drive out the townsfolk and take the settlement for themselves.
Grim Portents:
-          Distant smoke and fires show where the wildfolk are burning the forest/farm/small villages outside distant from the town.
-          Survivors/refugees from outlying farms/mines arrive in town with stories of sudden attacks by wild tribes from the northern hill territory.
-          Savage outriders attack caravans that supply food to the town.
-          The town is besieged by an army of wildfolk.
Impending Doom:
-          The wildfolk break through the towns defences and kill anyone unable to fight/escape. Set up a staging point for attacks into other territories.
DM actions:
-          Wildfolk scouts ambush the PCs if they are exploring outside of the town.
-          The price of food and goods is suddenly inflated.
-          Town gates are shut and none are allowed to enter/leave.
-          A group of foolhardy miners fancy themselves a militia and ride out to take on the wildfolks.
-          A charismatic wildfolk leader seeks to negotiate: “leave the town, and save your own lives.”
-          A number of people desert the town as the horde gets nearer.
-          The Wildfolk have a new powerful secret weapon.

The Altered Forest
Impulse: To expand and devour all living things not already joined with itself
Grim Portents:
-          Frequently used roads suddenly appear overgrown.
-          Sections of the forest are devoid of animal life and freakishly quiet.
-          Lumberjacks and travellers begin to disappear.
-          Over night the tree line moves suddenly closer to the edge of town.
 Impending Doom:
-          The town is overgrown and all its inhabitants are subsumed into the Altered Forest. The forest continues to expand to its maximum range
DM actions:
-          A madman shouts warnings about the silent forest.
-          Travelling in the woods at night/evening, the trees, plants, shadows seem to move when not directly looked at.
-          Sawmill owner complains that many of his lumberjacks are skiving off work and leaving town.
-          PC’s discover a mass grave filled with bodies of people and animals, the trees seem to huddle around the grave...


There are some smaller distractions going on in the town as well (e.g.):
-  A pair of jilted women murder their two timing lover and try to cover it up as the actions of the cultists/wildfolk.
- There is ongoing animosity between the mostly dwarven miners and the mostly human lumberjacks with frequent brawls.

I also want to treat the Cultists in town danger as a mystery style adventure, compared to the other two dangers which will be more apparent (especially the Wildfolk, less so the Altered Forest).

Seeking feedback and ideas to flesh it all out.
I've been following the Writer's Block thread here and I've decided to throw up some ideas from my campaign which I will be starting up again in about a month.

The first chapter in brief (VERY brief) of the adventure saw the reveal of a Big Bad (still unaccounted for), the infiltration of the starting towns Royal family by monster cultists and revealed the overall theme of the game (The chained god has set his pawns in motion from his exile and seeks to unmake the world.. ooOOOooh).

I decided to take a break from DMing for several months to let someone else run their game, but that is winding up, so I'm planning on starting up chapter 2 soon.

The players know that the Big Bad had been entombed (believed dead) somewhere to the north in the distant past, and it's highly likely they will go seeking that out to get more information about what they're facing (as at the moment the Bads location is unknown, and their home town is no longer in immediate danger). So the town to the north, a relatively small mining and lumber town with natural fortifications, is what I am basing this section of the adventure around.

Below I have outlined three major Dangers:

Cultists in the Town
Impulse: Infitrate and manipulate town leadership, to obfuscate knowledge that leads to their leader’s stronghold, perform a ritual to mentally enslave the townfolk. (Greater Impulse – Free the chained god, unmake the world)
Grim Portents:
-          Historical documents are lost/missing.
-          Bloody spiral graffiti appears around town.
-           An influential citizen is found ritually murdered.
Impending Doom:
-          The cult gains sufficient sway to conceal (or distract from) it’s activities and is able to recruit/mid control the town’s population to work towards its greater goals.
DM actions:
-          Once friendly NPCs seem scared and stand offish around the PCs
-          A caravan accompanied by a group of religious adherents comes to town with many rare and unusual alchemical components, a special order by an important town figure.
-          People remark to the PCs that the well water has a strange sweet taste of late.
-          The PCs are accused of murder/theft of valuables/driven out of town or locked up.

Wildfolk Raiders
Impusle: To drive out the townsfolk and take the settlement for themselves.
Grim Portents:
-          Distant smoke and fires show where the wildfolk are burning the forest/farm/small villages outside distant from the town.
-          Survivors/refugees from outlying farms/mines arrive in town with stories of sudden attacks by wild tribes from the northern hill territory.
-          Savage outriders attack caravans that supply food to the town.
-          The town is besieged by an army of wildfolk.
Impending Doom:
-          The wildfolk break through the towns defences and kill anyone unable to fight/escape. Set up a staging point for attacks into other territories.
DM actions:
-          Wildfolk scouts ambush the PCs if they are exploring outside of the town.
-          The price of food and goods is suddenly inflated.
-          Town gates are shut and none are allowed to enter/leave.
-          A group of foolhardy miners fancy themselves a militia and ride out to take on the wildfolks.
-          A charismatic wildfolk leader seeks to negotiate: “leave the town, and save your own lives.”
-          A number of people desert the town as the horde gets nearer.
-          The Wildfolk have a new powerful secret weapon.

The Altered Forest
Impulse: To expand and devour all living things not already joined with itself
Grim Portents:
-          Frequently used roads suddenly appear overgrown.
-          Sections of the forest are devoid of animal life and freakishly quiet.
-          Lumberjacks and travellers begin to disappear.
-          Over night the tree line moves suddenly closer to the edge of town.
 Impending Doom:
-          The town is overgrown and all its inhabitants are subsumed into the Altered Forest. The forest continues to expand to its maximum range
DM actions:
-          A madman shouts warnings about the silent forest.
-          Travelling in the woods at night/evening, the trees, plants, shadows seem to move when not directly looked at.
-          Sawmill owner complains that many of his lumberjacks are skiving off work and leaving town.
-          PC’s discover a mass grave filled with bodies of people and animals, the trees seem to huddle around the grave...


There are some smaller distractions going on in the town as well (e.g.):
-  A pair of jilted women murder their two timing lover and try to cover it up as the actions of the cultists/wildfolk.
- There is ongoing animosity between the mostly dwarven miners and the mostly human lumberjacks with frequent brawls.

I also want to treat the Cultists in town danger as a mystery style adventure, compared to the other two dangers which will be more apparent (especially the Wildfolk, less so the Altered Forest).

Seeking feedback and ideas to flesh it all out.



Hmm, well if you've been following that thread you know I'm just an amatuer at this but I'll try to help.

One thing, I think you are being too specific with the Impulse, it's more of what they try to do in any given situation, generally speaking, what you have is more like Impending Doom.

For the wildfolk the Impulse might be
Impulse: Conquer and kill, expand the tribes influence.      

Just a random suggestion, you might want to give the Altered Forest (Neat idea by the way, I might steal it for my game if you're ok with that ) some sort of limited fire resistance, it would be easy to just burn it all down.
  
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
That's a very good first attempt! It just needs a bit of tweaking. Try this:

dl.dropbox.com/u/21183016/Gaming%20Publi...

I still can't get behind the idea of "specific" DM Actions. Part of the purpose of the location-in-motion design is that you don't really know any of that stuff ahead of time, even as DM. It simply comes out of the shared storytelling as you engage in the conversation of the game with your players, asking questions and building on each others' input.

It's definitely easy to see how "Once friendly NPCs seem scared and stand offish around the PCs" specifically is the DM Action "Absorb or buy out an someone important (an ally, perhaps)." Still, that specificity can get you into trouble because prior to actual play, you have no context. All your DM actions should be chosen based upon context of the game at that moment rather than anything predetermined in your noggin. Thus, I think it's best if you go with broad notions rather than specific things. Keep those specific things in your head, certainly, and if it makes sense when you're in the moment, bring them into play. By making them specific in your notes, you will bring them into play and at that point you may start railroading. (Again, in my opinion.)

If you check out some of the DW material I linked, you'll notice that the DM there has a very specific role which is somewhat different from D&D: Make the world fantastic, fill the characters' lives with adventure, and play to find out what happens. That last one is really important to this style of play. If you're doing it as intended, the DM will have no idea how the adventure is going to turn out and what's going to happen next. It will all emerge from the shared storytelling and in some measure the dice. Thus, I find specificity to be a potential violation of that third agenda which I also find to be the best part of this method. By not knowing the exact things that are going to happen moment to moment, it's like being a player in my own game, an observer and a participant rather than judge and jury.

Make sense? 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

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Make sense? 



Yeah, I tweaked the rat plague DM actions in the Word document I have to be more general.
OP, you  might try saying, instead of

A group of foolhardy miners fancy themselves a militia and  ride out to take on the wildfolk.



You could have.
    

Townspeople attempt to fight the wildfolk.

 
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Hey, that sounds sweet, particularly the forest!  I may steal that for later....
Hey Iserith, did you use a program or guide to generate that? 
Hey Iserith, did you use a program or guide to generate that? 



All of that stuff is taken straight out of Dungeon World. Here's a link to that: book.dwgazetteer.com/

The method I'm espousing is really just a melding of 4e with the principles, agendas, and prep of DW. Some of the best DMing advice I've ever seen comes out of that book. A lot of said advice is not "new," it's just presented differently.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Hey Iserith, did you use a program or guide to generate that? 



All of that stuff is taken straight out of Dungeon World. Here's a link to that: book.dwgazetteer.com/

The method I'm espousing is really just a melding of 4e with the principles, agendas, and prep of DW. Some of the best DMing advice I've ever seen comes out of that book. A lot of said advice is not "new," it's just presented differently.

I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. From what (admittedly small) amount I read through that link  what they say and the refined version you present is fairly different.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Kind of you to say, but read some more.

Especially the GM section. I'll send you a PM with some links as well.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

That's a very good first attempt! It just needs a bit of tweaking. Try this:

dl.dropbox.com/u/21183016/Gaming%20Publi......



Thanks iserith, your tweaking is very helpful.


I still can't get behind the idea of "specific" DM Actions. Part of the purpose of the location-in-motion design is that you don't really know any of that stuff ahead of time, even as DM. It simply comes out of the shared storytelling as you engage in the conversation of the game with your players, asking questions and building on each others' input.

It's definitely easy to see how "Once friendly NPCs seem scared and stand offish around the PCs" specifically is the DM Action "Absorb or buy out an someone important (an ally, perhaps)." Still, that specificity can get you into trouble because prior to actual play, you have no context. All your DM actions should be chosen based upon context of the game at that moment rather than anything predetermined in your noggin. Thus, I think it's best if you go with broad notions rather than specific things. Keep those specific things in your head, certainly, and if it makes sense when you're in the moment, bring them into play. By making them specific in your notes, you will bring them into play and at that point you may start railroading. (Again, in my opinion.)

If you check out some of the DW material I linked, you'll notice that the DM there has a very specific role which is somewhat different from D&D: Make the world fantastic, fill the characters' lives with adventure, and play to find out what happens. That last one is really important to this style of play. If you're doing it as intended, the DM will have no idea how the adventure is going to turn out and what's going to happen next. It will all emerge from the shared storytelling and in some measure the dice. Thus, I find specificity to be a potential violation of that third agenda which I also find to be the best part of this method. By not knowing the exact things that are going to happen moment to moment, it's like being a player in my own game, an observer and a participant rather than judge and jury.

Make sense? 



Regarding "the DM will have no idea how the adventure is going to turn out and what's going to happen next": I understand the value of the shared storytelling and the danger that plot based narrative has in regards to railroading (the reason I'm really interesting in this method of preparation), however I'm also trying to prepare for a longer and grander campaign so I have like to have some idea of what is going to happen at least on a global scale. In this sense my overall arc "Chained god seeks freedom" is an overarching Danger beneath with are many smaller dangers. It will only be right towards the end once many smaller dangers have been negotiated with, that the plans of the Chained God might come undone, so in a sense this is a stable story element (for the time being) and only as the PCs approach this final Danger will it's stability begin to come undone.

That said my natural style of DMing is to be flexible and work with both what the PCs do and how my ideas change, I frequently change my mind about where I think the PCs should go, and what dangers they will be facing, although I tend to have a few 'stationary' dungeons/locations which I design and then can slot into the story when it is appropriate. Regarding DM actions, I appreciate that general actions allow for freedom to make contextual decisions, however I also think that planned DM actions (perhaps they should always sit under Grim Portents?) can be helpful as long as they're not forced into the story regardless of context.

Thanks also Corran and astrobrat. I stole the Altered Forest idea from The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers (readable PDF) although my version isn't exacly the same as the rural doppelganers described there.

@Corran: If the PCs want to burn down the Altered forest to destroy the danger, let them. However there will be consequeces; it's a lumber town, so burning the forest kills their industry. Druids, Elves and other forest fanciers are also likely to look unkindly upon the burning of the whole forest. The fire might destroy other peoples settlements, increasing the number of refugees coming to the town. The PCs might be legitimately charged with arson. So yes, burning the forest removes that threat, but creates all sorts of interesting consequences down the track.
I completely missed the part saying it was a lumber town, brain fart. :P
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Regarding "the DM will have no idea how the adventure is going to turn out and what's going to happen next": I understand the value of the shared storytelling and the danger that plot based narrative has in regards to railroading (the reason I'm really interesting in this method of preparation), however I'm also trying to prepare for a longer and grander campaign so I have like to have some idea of what is going to happen at least on a global scale. In this sense my overall arc "Chained god seeks freedom" is an overarching Danger beneath with are many smaller dangers. It will only be right towards the end once many smaller dangers have been negotiated with, that the plans of the Chained God might come undone, so in a sense this is a stable story element (for the time being) and only as the PCs approach this final Danger will it's stability begin to come undone.



The overall arc would be organized under "Campaign Front: Chained God Seeks Freedom" (with respective Danger(s)) as opposed to the "Adventure Front: Lumber Town" (or whatever you choose to call that LIM). One of the ways the method uses Fronts and Dangers is so you the DM don't have to worry about coming up with any of that stuff beforehand. Dangers that go unresolved by the PCs or that get to their Impending Doom can become Dangers that elevate to the Campaign Front level - they're bigger, badder, and more dangerous. (I gauge that by how much interest the players show in keeping something around.) Campaign Fronts and their attached Dangers are floating around "out there" so that when the PCs are engaged in a new Adventure Front, the Dangers attached to the Campaign Front can occasionaly stick their nose into things if it makes sense in the emergent story. They move and change, generally speaking, at a much slower pace than Dangers in the current Adventure Front. A Danger attached to an Adventure Front has 1 to 3 Grim Portents; Dangers attached to a Campaign Front have 3 to 5.

A Campaign Front is thus normally arrived at this way - you create a couple of Dangers in an Adventure Front, you shared storytell and worldbuild with your players, and then depending on the outcome of the first couple sessions, you decide what "graduates" to Campaign Front status. It might be an unresolved/advanced Danger from your first Adventure Front or it might be something you *poof* into existence because of something the players said or established about themselves, each other, or the world during collaborative storytelling. Done this way, the DM doesn't have total control over where things are headed - it's shared between him and the players. Thus, you're more apt to get a result everyone is excited about. You're really playing to find out what happens. And that's a good thing. Over time, it's easy to see how very little you need to run a great game.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Hey guys, I thought I'd update regarding my campaign.

Firstly, strictly speaking I haven't gone all in on the concept. I still have an over arching plot and I tend to do the majority of the story telling at the gaming table. But the concept worked out really well in the opening game.

I did 'railroad' the characters a little, in that I started the 2nd chapter of my campaign in the Adventure Front town. I had initially planned on roleplaying the end of the first chapter, but as I had 4 new characters coming in (2 people changed characters, 1 person dropped from the group, 2 new people joined the group, so only 2 of the initial characters carried over into this chapter) instead of going through all the awkward 'you meet new people, get to know them!' I simply lumped them together gave them a montage of the last few weeks events and told them they'd accepted the initial adventure hook. So they started the session arriving in the town.

Then they spent 5 hours (real time about 1 day game time) walking around the town, talking to NPCs. I had prepared some combats as the game is 4th ed. and my players tend to enjoy the mechanical aspects of their characters (that is smashing monsters in combat), but we never managed to get around to a combat, as the whole session was spent unravelling the various mysteries and factions in the town. Everyone seemed engaged and they've picked up roughly 5 different threads to follow and are discussing whether they should hang around town to locate the cultists, or should they go into the woods and visit the druids/defend the lumberjacks, or track down and bounty hunt some of the wild folk raiders. They strong armed the overseer into paying them to help investigate a disappearence and uncovered a love triangle that they're still trying to untangle. And they got clues regarding the whereabouts of a tomb they're seeking (honestly the initial hook I forced on them which made them arrive at the town in the first place) and also clues as to the where abouts of the big bad, based on rumours from a travelling merchant. All in all, there was a lot of great roleplaying and the whole session was driven by the players seeking out various NPCs to uncover information.

The most helpful thing I found was thinking about the NPCs in relation to the factions they care about. The list of NPCs made it really easy for me to keep the information flowing. Rather than focusing on a great deal of detail I simply had rough connections a motivations and then played on the fly. I can certainly recommend the LIM structuring of resources, as it saves a lot of time and plays out very freely, even if you don't incorporate all the elements of shared story-telling.

If people are interested I'll post up the adventure town resources I produced (with thanks to iserith for his initial tweaking).
I'm really glad to hear it went well! Isn't it interesting what effect the style has on the group? What sort of feedback did you get from the players?

I wouldn't call what you did a railroad - it's just good pacing. You're putting the camera on the action which is where the focus of a session should be. The only thing I'd do differently is I'd make the "montage" a Q&A between the players and me. Put them in the location, ask them how they got there, and what it was like along the way. The information you get from there is also useful for future emergent story. All of your subsequent LIM's and hooks should emerge naturally just by playing and asking questions. If builds upon itself, you'll see. It's so cool to watch it happen all on its own.

Next session, I'd recommend starting with some tense action. Throw something at them, put them in a spot, let them explain how they got into that mess. Then see what they do. After a whole session of interaction and storytelling, I think they need a little combat reward.

Please keep us posted on how it goes!

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

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The thing with the montage, is that it wrapped up some of the major events that happened in the first chapter of the campaign. Visits from royalty and foreign emmisaries wondering what happened in the town. A funeral for the character that died at the end of the last session and research that led to clue which sparked this part of the adventure.

This is part of my over arching story, and also a way of showing how the world at large is dynamic, and that the player actions have lasting impacts.

As some examples: The Baron's household was almost completely wiped out by a cultist imposter, so the baron refuses to go back and his nephew is now in charge (perhaps the players could have avoided this by acting earlier against the person they knew to be an imposter).

The warlock who is loudly devoted to Bane, has gathered some followers (he is a hero of town, even if he is a drunk Bane worshipper!) and they have been granted permission to build a temple in the town (I have also adopted his desire for Bane to have a larger influence on the campaign by seeding the capital city with a growing community that worships Bane).

The merchant house the players were working for has increased in prosperity and influence, and has gifted the players with farmland (one of my players is really keen on this, so I'm letting him decide how much land and how much income is reasonable).

And one of the old PCs (the player elected to change character because he wasn't enjoying the class) was given the authority and resources to build an order to defend an ancient artifact (that the PCs uncovered in chapter 1) and thus becomes a powerful NPC ally, and it suits the character's motivations to give up adventuring.

These are ideas I had, so perhaps I'm just being selfish by not sharing the storytelling with the players, but I feel this is part of the larger world, and I want it to feel dynamic and responsive. I think the players are enjoying that too, although it is more work on my part that shared storytelling.

However as the campaign progresses now, I can see how the players taking part will shape the future of the game, so I won't have to do so much background work.

RE: Player feedback - firstly they were all very keen to meet up again next week, which is a great sign. One player said "it doesn't feel much like a 4th ed. game." which I'm not sure I should take as praise or criticism. I think he prefers the combat side of things, so I'll make sure he gets a chance to swing his Glaive in combat next session.

I always follow up my sessions with an email to send through a list of NPCs the characters met, and any flavour text that I read them during the sessions, so that they have the info on hand if they care enough to re-read it (some of them do, some of them don't). I always ask for feedback, but they rarely respond. I tend to take no news as good news.
One thing that struck me from reading the initial post is:

Wildfolk invade town and drive out inhabitants
Altered Forest grows over town

The order in which these happen could lead to some interesting results.

If forest overgrows town first, then what do wildfolk do? Do wildfolk still want the overgrown town, or do they seek a more favoable staging area?
If wildfolk seize town first, will they fight off the forest when it encroaches?
If both things happen at approximately the same time -- wildfolk could be pillaging one end of town while trees are overgrowing the other end of town! 
RE: Player feedback - firstly they were all very keen to meet up again next week, which is a great sign. One player said "it doesn't feel much like a 4th ed. game." which I'm not sure I should take as praise or criticism. I think he prefers the combat side of things, so I'll make sure he gets a chance to swing his Glaive in combat next session.



Interesting feedback. You should press him on that point and see what he says, just out of curiosity. After you bloody him in the opening scene next session, of course!

One thing that struck me from reading the initial post is:

Wildfolk invade town and drive out inhabitants
Altered Forest grows over town

The order in which these happen could lead to some interesting results.

If forest overgrows town first, then what do wildfolk do? Do wildfolk still want the overgrown town, or do they seek a more favoable staging area?
If wildfolk seize town first, will they fight off the forest when it encroaches?
If both things happen at approximately the same time -- wildfolk could be pillaging one end of town while trees are overgrowing the other end of town! 



That's an interesting point. It could go all sorts of ways. Could the PCs convince Chief Kaoru to actually help the town? Now that would be amazing.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

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