A fixer upper?

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So ive had this idea for a while and i really have no idea as to how common a thing it is but its still proving difficult.


Haven... let me be a little more clear. It was a refugee camp that blew up into one of the largest points of light of its age, that is until it fell. A sorcerer, powerful on his own, sought more power to protect what had become a large kingdom and was turned mad when he was tricked into turning into a lich.

years later a refugee begs for you to journey into the now dead infested city and retreive an heirloom.

now, what i wanna do is maneuver the players into getting assistance for the raid on the massive numbers of undead, having the survivors of the attack populate and rebuild. I would like to do this early on so the players have a place to base from.

now i'm new to dmming and im having a bit of trouble covering all the angles. can any of you point me in the right direction?
Start small, and work your way up. You wish to use the rebuilt city as a base, but before you do that, you should try to give the PCs a smaller base - not so much a headquarters as a comfort zone, a place where the refugee can stumble across the heroes, or perhaps even arrange to meet them. A small village or a chapel that caters to travelers could do the trick. Create a couple of friendly-face NPCs who will be useful in giving the PCs information about the lay of the land; maybe an ex-soldier who fought against the undead and failed to hold the city, or a poet who fled the city and witnessed the atrocities firsthand. Allow the heroes to familiarize themselves with individuals plagued by the undead; they don't have to go door-to-door to hear everyone's life story, just try to set-up the threat of the undead on an emotional level. Maybe not every PC will be hooked, but it will help develop the atmosphere.


Now, if you want to have the PCs form a coalition of sorts to confront the undead, think about the factions in the surrounding area that would naturally benefit from seeing the undead exterminated. Interacting with just one group is straightforward and simple to pull off; managing multiple groups is trickier but more satisfying in the payoff. You should consider their motivations and think of how the PCs can interact with each of them - obviously, everyone benefits from not having the walking dead ready to overrun them, but what else do they have to gain?

Those factions might include any of the following: a church that considers the undead horde an abomination that needs to be cleansed and wishes to restore the shrine that was desecrated when the city fell, a mayor who has grown tired of undead skirmishes plaguing his borders, a mercenary brigade that was hired to confront undead but has refused to budge until they see more gold or more men to support them, a college that wishes to recover the lore and art that was lost when the city fell, etc.

Try to draw connections between the PCs and these individual factions. Perhaps the church involved is the same one to which a PC belongs. Maybe a scholarly PC will be attracted to the college's goal of recovering tomes and artwork. You don't have to make it so that there's a faction for every PC, but if the PCs are genuinely interested in seeing the factions' goals realized, it makes them all the more invested in driving off the undead.

For now, don't even focus on what will come after the undead have been driven out of the city. Just think about how the PCs will engage those around them and how they will bring together a force capable of succeeding.
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D&D should not return to the days of blindfolding the DM and players. No tips on encounter power? No mention of expected party roles? No true meaning of level due to different level charts or tiered classes? Please, let's not sacrifice clear, helpful rules guidelines in favour of catering to the delicate sensibilities of the few who have problems with the ascetics of anything other than what they are familiar with.
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Just a quick note on the MMORPG as an insult comparison... MMORPGs, raking in money by the dumptruck full. Many options, tons of fans across many audiences, massive resources allocated to development. TTRPGs, dying product. Squeaking out an existence that relys on low cost. Fans fit primarily into a few small demographics. R&D budgets small, often rushed to market and patched after deployment. You're not really making much of an argument when you compare something to a MMORPG and assume people think that means bad. Lets face it, they make the money, have the audience and the budget. We here on this board are fans of TTRPGs but lets not try to pretend none of us play MMORPGs.
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Adding options at the system level is good. Adding options at the table level is hard. Removing options at the system level is bad. Removing options at the table level is easy. This is not complicated.
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56902838 wrote:
Something like Tactical Shift is more magical than martial healing.
Telling someone to move over a few feet is magical now? :| I weep for this generation.
Given the laziness and morbid obsesity amongst D&Ders, being able to convince someone to get on their feet, do some heavy exercise, and use their words to make them be healthier must seem magical.
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D&D definitely improves mental health; Just as long as you stay away from these forums ;)
i love that, the pcs made friends with the dragon in the red box... it helped that we took away a kobold that was being less than helpfull (one of the players wanted to be a kobold ranger, turned into a beastmaster ranger when he helped smiley bob... yeah, i use a lot of the pre made adventures) and thought both the halflings and the dragon would make awesome allies... havent had much in the way of religion in the group tho... stuff to think about
now, what i wanna do is maneuver the players into getting assistance for the raid on the massive numbers of undead, having the survivors of the attack populate and rebuild. I would like to do this early on so the players have a place to base from.

What might be easier is to have the survivors already planning to go, and then they recruit the party to help them.  This way feels more like the party is making the decision (who says no to an adventure like that?), rather than trying to mainpulate them into getting help.

Then during the raid, the party can distinguish themselves as not just a handful of mercenaries, but rather the deciding factor in the success of the venture.  Glory and honor result.
If you have a really rich patron (mayor, church) wanting to get some thing out of the undead-infested ruins, who says the PCs have to be the only group that will try?  A beginning mercenary group, a half-dozen Avengers plus a Cleric, the Wizard Guild apprentices, maybe the local self-defense militia has a few tough guys.  All these groups can go on their own but they would be more powerful if they cooperate.  Don't drown the group in DMPCs, but do let them meet up in a tavern (where else? -grin- ) and bump into each other along the way.  At the climactic battle you NEED everybody - or as reinforcements while you escape with your prize.

Don't clear the city right away, just treasure hunt for a while.  Maybe after 2d4 adventures, the mercenary commander notices that there are fewer undead around, so he builds a fort at the edge of town for the night.  They survive.  Now all the groups feel braver about going in there and doing more long-term things.  Eventually the groups will break off to do their own stuff, but might call for help.  They might also quarrel from time to time, just for variety.

Best complements I have yet received:

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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.

 

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.

 

My 4e characters:

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LFR Half-elf StarLock8 Gondolin Nightstar

AoA Dwarf Guardian Druid8 Narvik from House Wavir

Character Ready-to-go:

Neverwinter Dwarven Invoker / Heir of Delzoun, worships Silvanus (!) "Truenamer" - speaks Words of Creation

Concepts I'm kicking around:

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC version is going to become a Lamia.  Becauae lichdom is so cliche.

Halfling Tempest Fighter - just because nobody else is doing it

Shifter Beast-o-phile Druid - for Nentir Vale campaign

Don't forget the leaders of another nearby city who wouldn't mind having the undead exterminated, but WOULD mind the fallen city coming to life again and competing against it for wealth and power.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
I would love to throw in a steel or silver dragon... mebbe he/she was a powerful nobel in the town and started gathering mercinaries to raid the town?