Suggestions on Intentional Bar Fight Incitement Encounter

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Well I'm looking for a bit of advice on a current campaign I'm running. The players have a ship but no crew to run it and they need to recruit a crew or the captian they are making a deal with won't allow them to use his ship for their adventures. So the party came up with a plan that I though was fun that they are going to put into effect the next session I run. The plan: To find the roughest toughest sailors in the current city they are to intentionaly start bar fights and watch to see who are left standing and offer them the job.

Now, I love the idea, I'm just looking for suggestions on how to implement this on the DM side. Should I go with a skill challenge, or a mix of skill and combat encounter, straight combat, or something else. I though about possibly letting the players actually take control of the guys they covertly instigate into a fight and have them fight each other using these new characters. What do you think? Any advice?

Thanks.
Well I'm looking for a bit of advice on a current campaign I'm running. The players have a ship but no crew to run it and they need to recruit a crew or the captian they are making a deal with won't allow them to use his ship for their adventures. So the party came up with a plan that I though was fun that they are going to put into effect the next session I run. The plan: To find the roughest toughest sailors in the current city they are to intentionaly start bar fights and watch to see who are left standing and offer them the job.

Sounds good.

Now, I love the idea, I'm just looking for suggestions on how to implement this on the DM side. Should I go with a skill challenge, or a mix of skill and combat encounter, straight combat, or something else.

For any of these things to be interesting, you have to have a good idea what failure means. As described, the players basically can't lose: whomever is left standing gets the job.

Frankly I would do none of the above. Have the players come up with some interesting personalities for their ship and collaborate on a handful of scenes that describe how these guys win the fights they get into. To me that seems like something right out of a movie.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I like Centauri's idea a lot. 

Consider also breaking this down into goals and situations. The first thing they need to do is recruit. What kind of tense, compelling, or action-packed situations might come out of that effort? If they recruit really well, what does that look like? What happens if they do a poor job?

Then they need to organize their recruits to accomplish their tasks (start lots of fights). I'm reminded of the line from Fight Club - "Now this is not as easy as it sounds." Especially if you did a poor job recruiting...

Once some fights are started, what about managing the chaos? Complications arise from the fights the PCs might not have foreseen. Are they going to do something about the fire that accidentally started? 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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You could play out a combat encounter in which the PC's were unwittingly drawn in to the fight they started.
For any of these things to be interesting, you have to have a good idea what failure means. As described, the players basically can't lose: whomever is left standing gets the job.

Frankly I would do none of the above. Have the players come up with some interesting personalities for their ship and collaborate on a handful of scenes that describe how these guys win the fights they get into. To me that seems like something right out of a movie.



That is a great idea. I was getting a little concerned that I would have to come up with a large number of interesting characters in a short amount of time. Having them help me come up with them would really help out.
I like Centauri's idea a lot. 

Consider also breaking this down into goals and situations. The first thing they need to do is recruit. What kind of tense, compelling, or action-packed situations might come out of that effort? If they recruit really well, what does that look like? What happens if they do a poor job?

Then they need to organize their recruits to accomplish their tasks (start lots of fights). I'm reminded of the line from Fight Club - "Now this is not as easy as it sounds." Especially if you did a poor job recruiting...

Once some fights are started, what about managing the chaos? Complications arise from the fights the PCs might not have foreseen. Are they going to do something about the fire that accidentally started? 



You could play out a combat encounter in which the PC's were unwittingly drawn in to the fight they started.



Thanks for the advice. It should make things more intersting if I work on dealing with complications. Maybe the town guards get involved if it spills out into the streets.


For any of these things to be interesting, you have to have a good idea what failure means. As described, the players basically can't lose: whomever is left standing gets the job.

Frankly I would do none of the above. Have the players come up with some interesting personalities for their ship and collaborate on a handful of scenes that describe how these guys win the fights they get into. To me that seems like something right out of a movie.



That is a great idea. I was getting a little concerned that I would have to come up with a large number of interesting characters in a short amount of time. Having them help me come up with them would really help out.

Thanks. Not only will it go faster, but they'll end up with NPCs they actually care about - because they partially invented them.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Thanks for the advice. It should make things more intersting if I work on dealing with complications. Maybe the town guards get involved if it spills out into the streets.



I do like Centauri's suggestion better than my own. But if you do go with mine or some hybrid, I'd suggest making the town guards about as good at their jobs as these rough-n-tumble sailors. Reaching for town guards always seems to make the most sense, but it can be seen as punitive. Best to make it clear that they're pretty inept and just there to be a fun complication than some kind of dire repercussions for their unorthodox plan. Make sense? Maybe the sailors, guards, and PCs can even have a laugh over a pint about the whole thing later.

I'm reminded of the movie Gangs of New York where rival "fire brigades" would fight each other over whose turf some street was while the buildings burned in the background.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Maybe the sailors, guards, and PCs can even have a laugh over a pint about the whole thing later.

On board the PC's ship.

I'm reminded of the movie Gangs of New York where rival "fire brigades" would fight each other over whose turf some street was while the buildings burned in the background.

That's fantastic. How can anyone say "This [boring] thing is realistic therefore it must happen," with ideas like that for the taking?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

My son's Battlemind is laughing at you: you can't figure out how to start a fight?  Just have your group's Defender take the lead and swing first.

Even better - if a dwarf (alcohol is a poison for purposes of Resist Poison 5) is available and wants to start a drinking contest...

If any of your PCs are the officious kind, they might pick a few likely people by reputation and press-gang them onto your boat.  One at a time, of course.

In the movie version of "Coward of the County", Kenny Rogers' character locked the door to the saloon from the inside to prevent anybody from escaping.  A word to the wise, for after you start the brawl.

A rogue PC might want to contact the local Thieves Guild to see if they offer ship crewing services, and especially find out if they are about to step on the Guild's toes.

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{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.

 

Prepped ahead of time:

I started the thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (which seems to have faded into 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.

 

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My son's Battlemind is laughing at you: you can't figure out how to start a fight?  Just have your group's Defender take the lead and swing first.

Even better - if a dwarf (alcohol is a poison for purposes of Resist Poison 5) is available and wants to start a drinking contest...

If any of your PCs are the officious kind, they might pick a few likely people by reputation and press-gang them onto your boat.  One at a time, of course.

In the movie version of "Coward of the County", Kenny Rogers' character locked the door to the saloon from the inside to prevent anybody from escaping.  A word to the wise, for after you start the brawl.

A rogue PC might want to contact the local Thieves Guild to see if they offer ship crewing services, and especially find out if they are about to step on the Guild's toes.



Thanks for the suggestions. Although for your first comment it would not be advantagous for this party to be overt with starting a fight. They actually have a court date the next dayTongue Out (related to something else not involving finding crew members) so they probably don't want to linked to any more trouble than they are already.