Adventurers are NOT exceptional

25 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hi there, for my new campaign I would try to drop the core assumpion (see DMG1 p.150) that the "adventurers are exceptionals". Indeed, in my settings - let's do a quick briefing - traveling in search for "holy relics" is highly encouraged by the main religion ("The Faith"), and many people choose the life of an adventurer, expecially people from the lower social classes. The small village of Urlàch (where the PCs live and met) is a popular destination of pilgrimage for adventurers at the beginning of their carrier. There is indeed a famous sanctuary, and every adventurer before getting into this life travel to Urlàch and visit this sanctuary in order to obtain the benevolence of the gods and their protection upon the dangerous life they're going to begin. The "holy relics" The Faith hanker for are artifacts of an ancient and high-tech lost empire (this will lead into a cyberpunk turn of the campaign at paragon/epic), so they try to encourage as much as they can people to start for the seek of them, telling that these "holy" relics must be found before the unfaithfuls do it and need to be secured and sealed in the main temple in the capital (think about the holy graal crusades I got inspired from). The Faith estabilished then a sort of agency called "St.George Union" in order to backup the adeventurers with information flow about holy relics, gathering rumors and lore from all over the kingdom.
The party of course are going to look and find some minor useless relics during the first adventures... The playing group unfortunately can gather only discontinuously, so we agreed to complete the quests during the current session; if not, the mission fails.

Ok, this should be enough... "Adventurers are NOT exceptional" we were saying... I am trying to develope this peculiarity of my setting: I thought to the possibility of find dungeons already emptied, let other parties to break into the play (this can open both to competition or co-op) or viceversa let the PCs to break into another party's mission, or use it for some mission hooks (something like "many parties have left for the site, but no one has ever returned"). What I'm asking here is to help me find some other good ideas. TY!
SpadaBastarda
Follow on SpadaBastarda on twitter SpadaBastarda page on Facebook
I use almost the same premise in my own homecampaign. In my campaign, the party is exceptional in the sense that they're involved in a prophecy, but that's not noticeable to the world at large.

I try to convey this by adding strong and stronger characters to the world that they interact with. Since it's Eberron, this is made easier by the presence of the Dragonmarked houses. There are a couple of high Paragon NPC's running around in the world, which represent their house in various matters. The PC's meet with them and sometimes travel alongside with them as well.
Also, when they encounter evils, they could encounter stronger evils than they can handle. However, the aforementioned stronger NPC's can handle those, while the PC's handle the smaller enemies. I found that this gives my players a better sense of immersion into the Eberron world, which is nice.

Some things you should avoid however are the red herrings. Having empty ruins could be neat, but don't send your party there if they can't find anything useful. Noone likes a wasted session. 
If you want the party to Co-op with another NPC party; don't stat out the NPC party. Just narrate what they're doing. Handling more NPC's makes combats longer. Conversely, don't stat out enemy parties as players. Use monster statistics.
Also, if they manage to anger a stronger NPC, don't send the NPC after them personally. They probably have sufficient responsibilities that they wouldn't handle such things themselves. Instead, their weaker comrades should be the ones going after the PC's. 
Heroic Dungeon Master
There are two ways you can approach "adventurers are not exceptional". The first is that it's an entire world of badasses. The second is that the PCs kinda suck. I assume the former is what you're pursuing since that's the one that's, y'know, fun.

EDIT: I realized my original post was a bit too hostile and distasteful.  On a more constructive note try to not make the PCs feel worthless instead of feeling non-special.  I'd mostly ask them your players for advice on the matter, and make sure you have their buy-in.


There are two ways you can approach "adventurers are not exceptional". The first is that it's an entire world of badasses. The second is that the PCs kinda suck. I assume the former is what you're pursuing since that's the one that's, y'know, fun.



By making everyone else in the world badasses, doesn't that mean that the PCs kinda suck?  Just a little confused about the statement, and trying to wrap my head around it.
By making everyone else in the world badasses, doesn't that mean that the PCs kinda suck?  Just a little confused about the statement, and trying to wrap my head around it. 


Think Hollywood action movies. The hero is awesome, but so is everyone else, especially the bad guys. Last Action Hero put this idea on its head in a funny way.
By making everyone else in the world badasses, doesn't that mean that the PCs kinda suck?  Just a little confused about the statement, and trying to wrap my head around it. 


Think Hollywood action movies. The hero is awesome, but so is everyone else, especially the bad guys. Last Action Hero put this idea on its head in a funny way.



Yeah, but the heroes in action movies are always more awesome then the rest of the cast despite how awesome the villians and everyone else is.  Isn't an action movie how the "The PCs are exceptional" model of play plays out?
SpacyRicochet has given you some pretty good advice on how to make the players in your campaign as not the only big-damn Heroes in the world.

It's not that the PC's suck or aren't exceptional adventurers, its that there are plenty of other exceptional adventurers around too.  Maybe not in the hundreds, but certainly not just these 5 people to save the world or whatever.   Maybe don't have the final focus of the campaign to save the world.  THere are ways to make your players feel like big heroes without them being the only exceptional people in the game world. 

I think it would be good to introduce some rivals, another treasure hunting group that are also exceptional, someone to have to compete with in a treasure hunt every so often.  Sometimes have these bad guys win, but still let your players win.
For example- your group and the rivals are both looking for the Holy Relic Macguffin of the ancients in a temple.  While your PC's are making progress, they see that someone else has gottend there just ahead of them.  The rivals have taken the Holy Relic Macguffin, but in their haste to beat you to it, completely missed the 2 or 3 Rare Ancient Macguffins that win your guys the same amount of fame and gold, or maybe more.

Instead of having high level NPC's around that are way more powerful than your players, have plenty that are about the same level and experience.  Before you think about them having a fight, PC v PC combat doesn't work very well in 4e.  I've seen it done once, and it was one hell of a combat.  But it was one miss away from being a TPK- literally.  If our last guy hadn't hit and killed their last guy, his HP and AC were so low there was no way he'd survive another hit.
By making everyone else in the world badasses, doesn't that mean that the PCs kinda suck?  Just a little confused about the statement, and trying to wrap my head around it. 

 
Think Hollywood action movies. The hero is awesome, but so is everyone else, especially the bad guys. Last Action Hero put this idea on its head in a funny way.

 

Yeah, but the heroes in action movies are always more awesome then the rest of the cast despite how awesome the villians and everyone else is.  Isn't an action movie how the "The PCs are exceptional" model of play plays out?


True. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that unexceptional PCs are more like generic cops or henchmen than like action heroes or BBEGs.

Let's try this again. Not being exceptional means:

a. dying easily
b. always working for/with someone who has a more important role in the story than you
c. missing most shots you fire

This doesn't sound a lot of fun. But after reading the OP again, I think we're misunderstanding something here. The guy's putting forth the idea that adventurers aren't exceptional, but the PCs still are. 

So, a world where adventurers are common needs a reason for adventurers to be common. I think the OP's got that down with The Faith who sends people into the world to retrieve lost treasures. 

This sounds like quite a savage world. I mean, if adventuring is a mainstream job, then there should be a lot of ancient temples and ruins to plunder to keep the demand for adventurers going. Why is all that plunder still there? Maybe the ancient civilization didn't fall as long ago as The Faith would have everyone believe? I like this idea of a young world that's mostly unexplored. 

Oooh!
Maybe the ancient civilization are aliens who, not long ago, populated the world and were then wiped out by some mysterious source, like demons or Far Realm abberations.


Alternatively, adventuring could be so dangerous that only few people survive, which is the reason all the plunder is still there. But why would everyone start adventuring then? Maybe there are a couple of celebrity adventurers (paid by The Faith, of course) who inspire all the youngsters to go on quests? Maybe it's all just propaganda, and these celebrities aren't as special as they're made out to be?

As for interesting stuff that happens to the players, failure is never fun or interesting, so try to avoid that. I would build upon the idea that something is not quite right in the world, and let the players be the people who expose the lies of The Faith.
But why would everyone start adventuring then?


Taxes. Taxes and tithes.

Let's assume you're a farmer. You pay a portion of your crops to your local Lord as taxes. You pay another portion to his Duke. Then you pay yet another to the King. On top of that you are required to tithe to the local temple, tithe again to a regional temple, and tithe a third time to the Mother Temple.

All this keeps you at the watch-your-children-slowly-starve level of income. You might think that people would only put up with this for just so long before they'd form some sort of rebellion, and you'd be right, but rebellion by half-starved dirt farmers isn't much of a real threat. It does cost money to put down, though, so you need to offer some hope to the starving masses so they don't cost you time, money, and effort with their futile attempts to rebel.

What kind of hope? Holy relics, of course. Anyone finding a single genuine Holy Relic is exempt from tithing to the local temple for 20 years. A second find will exempt them from the tithe to the regional temple, and so on and so forth.


Just a thought. 
Boraxe wrote: "Knowledge of the rules and creativity are great attributes for a DM, but knowing when to cut loose and when to hold back, when to follow the rules and when to discard them, in order to enhance the enjoyment of the game is the most important DM skill of all." Keeper of the Sacred Kitty Bowl of the House of Trolls. Resident Kitteh-napper.
Yeah, I think I misunderstood the original poster.  I changed my post to offer something a little more constructive now, and I hope I haven't offended too many people.  My apology to anyone that wasn't too large a fan of the original text.
In my game the characters are not exceptional except for the fact that they are run by the players. In all other ways they may be better or worse than others in the world.

Those characters, however, are exceptional because they have living, breathing, thinking humans controlling them. That is more than enough greatness right there because they aren't restricted by anything that might define their characters personality or motivations where-as the NPCs most certainly are.
I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it. #SuperDungeonMasterIITurbo My blog and stuff http://dmingtowin.blogspot.com/ 100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.
If you want your players to feel less that uber, I would make their roles in the world secondar.

Example: 'See that guy over there, that's Hero McKicksArse, he's going go kill the dragon, you need to see if you can find the head priest that worships the dragon and take him out.'

And then have them moving through the main combat trying to avoid dying as two demi god esque npcs square off and lay waste to everything around them. 
First, let me thank you all for the precious contribute to the thread development. I've seen some good ideas I'll bring to my table for sure.

Before going on with our discussion, I feel there is something to clarify as soon as possible: with "Adventurers are NOT exceptional" I don't mean they are no good at all, neither that the average inhabitants of the world are super-men; "not exceptional" should be intended as "not rare", don't misunderstood as "not that good" or "not that special". The PCs are still "unique" by other ways.

So, a world where adventurers are common needs a reason for adventurers to be common. I think the OP's got that down with The Faith who sends people into the world to retrieve lost treasures. 

This sounds like quite a savage world. I mean, if adventuring is a mainstream job, then there should be a lot of ancient temples and ruins to plunder to keep the demand for adventurers going. Why is all that plunder still there? Maybe the ancient civilization didn't fall as long ago as The Faith would have everyone believe? I like this idea of a young world that's mostly unexplored. 

Oooh!
Maybe the ancient civilization are aliens who, not long ago, populated the world and were then wiped out by some mysterious source, like demons or Far Realm abberations.


Alternatively, adventuring could be so dangerous that only few people survive, which is the reason all the plunder is still there. But why would everyone start adventuring then? Maybe there are a couple of celebrity adventurers (paid by The Faith, of course) who inspire all the youngsters to go on quests? Maybe it's all just propaganda, and these celebrities aren't as special as they're made out to be?

As for interesting stuff that happens to the players, failure is never fun or interesting, so try to avoid that. I would build upon the idea that something is not quite right in the world, and let the players be the people who expose the lies of The Faith.
Wow... Looks like someone just spoiled half of my campaign...!!! The holy relics are indeed high tech gadgets (some of them also weapons) of an ancient empire that The Faith want to find and to hide from the common people, because they will reveal a terrible truth on the deity worshipped.

The reason why so many people leave their homeplace for an adventurous life in my settings is that - as claimed by The Faith's propaganda - becoming an adventurer is the only practical way to seek money, glory or power: ain't no other way to climb the social pyramid of a society really locked in strict caste. Again, do not think that everybody in the world are going to be an adventurer or want to be one of them (I mean... There are peasants  or merchants happy and satisfied with their simple life)
So in my settings will be many adventurer parties: some suck (and they'll die/give up along the way), but few may be as good as the player's. What still make the PCs different is the story: as YagamiFire wrote, having humans controlling their action will be their secret weapon, something that other party can't have. For example, other parties won't start finding out the real plans of The Faith.

What I'm still concerned right now is: for now, adventures will be "find and retrieve" --> how dropping the core assumption can actually affect such adventures?

i apologize for anything about the language but it's freaking late right now in Italy and I'm almost falling asleep...! ^_^'
SpadaBastarda
Follow on SpadaBastarda on twitter SpadaBastarda page on Facebook
But why would everyone start adventuring then?


Taxes. Taxes and tithes.

Let's assume you're a farmer. You pay a portion of your crops to your local Lord as taxes. You pay another portion to his Duke. Then you pay yet another to the King. On top of that you are required to tithe to the local temple, tithe again to a regional temple, and tithe a third time to the Mother Temple.

All this keeps you at the watch-your-children-slowly-starve level of income. You might think that people would only put up with this for just so long before they'd form some sort of rebellion, and you'd be right, but rebellion by half-starved dirt farmers isn't much of a real threat. It does cost money to put down, though, so you need to offer some hope to the starving masses so they don't cost you time, money, and effort with their futile attempts to rebel.

What kind of hope? Holy relics, of course. Anyone finding a single genuine Holy Relic is exempt from tithing to the local temple for 20 years. A second find will exempt them from the tithe to the regional temple, and so on and so forth.


Just a thought. 



Another perspective in the form of questions:

If everyone is being so heavily taxed and tithed, and the ability to avoid said taxes and tithes is by adventuring, then why isn't every NPC adventuring?

If everyone is in fact adventuring in the hopes of finding holy relics how are the "everyday jobs"  (e.g. farming, inn keeping, blacksmithing, shoemaking, even armor and weapon smithing) getting done?

If everyone is not adventuring to locate these holy relics, does that not imply that those who do choose that way of life ARE exceptional?

Just because every Tom, Dick, and Harry CAN adventure, does not mean they are suited to the adventuring life.

I've played in campaigns where the player characters start out as "everyday joes" and they NEVER last very long because quite simply...average is not exciting.

I run campaigns with the exact opposite mindset - that player characters ARE exceptional and heroic.  In fact, I take a page from Myth and Legend: most heroes of Myth and Legend are exceptional but have a fatal flaw.  To this end, I do a generous point buy or dice rolling to give my players a good chance to get at least one 18.  I also highly recommend that my players give their characters a sub-10 ability score.  I do not require it because some players dislike it, but it does make things more interesting because it encourages roleplaying and makes some situations more challenging to overcome.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Here's my problem with the "adventurers are not exceptional", regardless if it's because "everyone's a badass" or "PCs suck" angle: why are we focusing on just one band of adventurers? Why them?

Even if it's as simple as "because we decided that they're the protagonists", that by itself makes them exceptional.  Because instead of just picking any random group and picking any random adventure, and playing the game like a wargame where you can tell stories in, you're actually telling a story where combat is just part of the greater picture.

That sort of defeats the purpose of "adventurers are not exceptional", yes?

If I was playing Recettear or My Weapon Shop or some other game where the protagonist is a non-adventurer (a merchant or a blacksmith perhaps), then I would certainly say that in that game, adventurers are not exceptional, at least until until the story actually focuses on them and their interactions with the protagonists... and even then, they'll likely be more of supporting cast than actual center-stage characters.

Wasn't there at least one movie where the protagonist was trying to lead a normal life while everybody else is playing badass hero/villain, and constantly gets dragged into all the mess those "adventurers" would be making?  If there isn't any movie like that, someone certainly ought to make it.  Likely filed under "comedy (parody)".

With that said, no one stated that the world shouldn't be alive, well and working regardless of how big or small a wrench the protagonists would throw at the cogworks.  Even in a world where the PCs are exceptional, you still have empty dungeons, interactions with (non-exceptional) adventuring parties, etc.  Case in point: Elder Scrolls series, especially Skyrim.  The PC might seem exceptional, but save for one or two things, they're actually quite unexceptional -- take away the Dragonborn's ability to Dragon Shout and he'll just be like everyone else, and if the protagonist at Elder Scrolls: Oblivion wasn't chosen by circumstance to be at the right places at the right times, he would have either rotted in jail or never got any objective past freedom -- and exceptional or not, everything in the world happens to them, with them, and in spite of them.  Which I think is the main reason why the Elder Scrolls series is placed in high regard in addition to graphics, even though you're set up on rails for the main story especially: regardless if you're exceptional or not, the world feels alive... something that a number of notable CRPGs don't really give you very much of.

Well, it's not alive enough, since you have a very limited impact on the world (mostly in the form of killing stuff), but still the feeling's there.

Again, the problem for me isn't what you can or can't do if the PCs aren't exceptional -- the world revolves around the sun and rotates regardless of what the PCs do, and although politics can change and wars can be started or ended by the PCs' decisions, even the decision to not act can change the world's history -- the question is effectively if we're not exceptional, then why us?

- - - - -
Might I suggest that you run the whole thing Ars Magica style, wherein the individual grogs/adventurers themselves might not be exceptional, but the locale where they all come from is exceptional.  There may be dimensional pockets that the nondescript adventurers can explore, or there would be other stuff that the unexceptional PCs can partake in BUT there would also be instances wherein the more exceptional folks -- the VIPs of the locale -- have to be brought in, and this is where the players can stop playing Mr. Adventurer #wossname and start playing their "real" character(s), characters that have a much greater impact in the long run, but have much more to lose which is why they send Mr. Adventurer #wossname and friends to do their bidding.

In Ars Magica, the locale itself is just one of several "special" locales -- special in that unlike normal towns, these locales are headed and protected by the wizards of the locale (and wizards themselves are what make the locale rather unique).  It's the interactions between the wizards, their "right hand men" (companions) and the henchmen that make the locale work (grogs) combined with the story hooks that each locale has that makes Ars Magica an excellent way to exercise this attempt at making non-exceptional adventurers.  Because while the adventurers themselves are nondescript, the locale where they're playing at is exceptional.
Show

You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Here's my problem with the "adventurers are not exceptional", regardless if it's because "everyone's a badass" or "PCs suck" angle: why are we focusing on just one band of adventurers? Why them?



Because they're the ones with the most potential by virtue of being played by living, breathing human beings. Not because of their stats or profession. Someone being special by virtue of stat or profession basically says that the players themselves do not matter because these beings are special innately. I prefer the characters to be special BECAUSE of the players.

Why focus on just one group of Rebels? I mean, one's a crazy old man, the other's a jerk with a generic wookie, and then there's the spoiled princess and the stupid farm-boy.

Nothing special really about any of them. Not until the story develops anyway. They're special by virtue of being focused on and then by what they do.

If one "starts" special, where is the character arc? Where is the development? Oh it's certainly immediately gratifying...but how REALLY satisfying is that? If you can kick the worlds ass by virtue of sitting at the table, why not just say "We win" and be done with it?
I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it. #SuperDungeonMasterIITurbo My blog and stuff http://dmingtowin.blogspot.com/ 100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.
The fact that "adventurers are not exceptional" should not be intended as "adventurers are nothing special" has already been ascertained, and reapeted on several occasions. We all agreed that if there was nothing special about PCs there would not be any fun, and so it would not make sense to start playing.
In my setting "adventurers are not exceptional" (repetita iuvant... better say it once more...) just means that there are several groups of self-appointed adventurers looking for the Holy Relics out in the wilderness. I assure you that this is WIDELY justified in the setting background. Also, this does not imply that all groups are exceptionally strong as the characters. They still remain greately above the average from this point of view, without however preclude the possibility of running into (rare) groups able to compete with them.
Think of the One Piece saga: how many crews of pirates have left their hometowns beginning the treasure hunt? The prologue shown at the beginning of every anime episode clarify immediately how it is not unusual for men to leave on ships dreaming of get their hands on the legendary treasure, confident to make it. How many of these crews are actually able to reach such a goal? Mmm... I would say very few... And how many crews will never return back alive from their journey? Nearly all of them...! At the very beginning we cannot even say if Luffy's will make it! We can just guess that at some point they will find it, just beacuse they are the main characters and otherwise it won't worth to tell their story... I bet you say that Luffy and his friends ain't special adventurers, but still the fact they are starting an adventure group is not a special fact in One Piece world. Until they start to accomplish unbelievable tasks, for the folks they are "just another handful of poor deluded who believe they can find the legendary treasure". This is what happens in my world for my PCs, mutatis mutanda.

But never mind all of these things and please go on about what I really care about and for what I'm asking your help... Just keep in mind that (take as axioms of my settings if you want): there are many groups that go out in wilderness looking for holy relics, but still the PCs are largely above the average adventurers. That's it. Please don't start argue again about "PC sucking" here or "super-folks" there... or taxes...?!
The questions are: how having so many adventurers populating the cities and scouting out there in the wilderness can affect (the first stages in particular) of characters' career? Which adventures ideas that offers?
In the first post (the opening one) I told you what I have thought so far:



  • Dungeons already emptied

  • Dungeons half-emptied (the prev group died in it)

  • Break into another group mission (competition)

  • Break into another group mission (co-op)

  • Another group breaks into PCs mission (competition)

  • Another group breaks into PCs mission (co-op)

  • As suggested at p.151 on the DMG1, minor magic items are easy to find in the cities


What else? Help please! ;)
ALSO REMEMBER:
 nearly all of these groups start their new adventurous life from the village where the story begins (the PCs will start there as well). So the surroundings are more overcrowded of adventurers then the rest of the world. Why don't move away ASAP then? Because that location is their hometown and it is a KEY LOCATION for the campaign.


For the first adventures (until they reach level 4 i think) I was thinking of let the characters to pick what they like most from a pool of possible relics to retrieve for The Faith. What you say?
We agreed that each mission should be accomplished in a single session. 1 mission completed = 1 level up.
SpadaBastarda
Follow on SpadaBastarda on twitter SpadaBastarda page on Facebook
Here's my problem with the "adventurers are not exceptional", regardless if it's because "everyone's a badass" or "PCs suck" angle: why are we focusing on just one band of adventurers? Why them?



Because they're the ones with the most potential by virtue of being played by living, breathing human beings. Not because of their stats or profession. Someone being special by virtue of stat or profession basically says that the players themselves do not matter because these beings are special innately. I prefer the characters to be special BECAUSE of the players.

Why focus on just one group of Rebels? I mean, one's a crazy old man, the other's a jerk with a generic wookie, and then there's the spoiled princess and the stupid farm-boy.

Nothing special really about any of them. Not until the story develops anyway. They're special by virtue of being focused on and then by what they do.

If one "starts" special, where is the character arc? Where is the development? Oh it's certainly immediately gratifying...but how REALLY satisfying is that? If you can kick the worlds ass by virtue of sitting at the table, why not just say "We win" and be done with it?


I see your point man, and I feel the same way ;)
SpadaBastarda
Follow on SpadaBastarda on twitter SpadaBastarda page on Facebook
I think that each dungeon should have some clue that something is wrong with the world. Think Rule of Three: people will figure stuff out once you have given them three clues. 

What would be fun IMO is to introduce a newly discovered dungeon that hasn't been raided by hordes of adventurers yet. That means it's a race to see who gets there first, and to the victor go the spoils. Maybe have The Faith declare it an official race, where the first party to reach the dungeon really gets to go in first and the rest of the parties have to wait until the winners have exited the dungeon? The players should of course get some sort of inside information to give them a head start. And if they get there first, they encounter cheaters who went in after them and also try to find the treasure. 

Another fun ploy could be to have not all adventuring parties adhere to the 'finders keepers' rule. Instead they will ambush other adventurers coming out of the dungeons to steal their treasure. This could be the same group that cheated the players in another dungeon, creating some rivals for them. 

Outside the dungeons, they might be asked to join a union for adventurers. The union looks after the rights of the adventurers and makes sure they're properly rewarded by The Faith for their work. This gives the players some diplomatic missions and allows you to introduce them to 'the system'. If they're interested, they could even climb through the ranks of the union, eventually representing a lot of lower level parties. This gives them true influence in the world and could help break The Faith's hold over them.
Another idea: in a world filled with adventurers, the last thing you want to be is a generic monster like an orc. If your world has intelligent monsters like orcs, vampires, mindflayers, beholders etc. who are smart enough to consider their position in the world, they might come to the conclusion that they need to start working together to face the ever-growing threat to their collective existence. 

This means the players start encountering some very strange combinations of monsters - zombies and wraiths fighting alongside orcs? Beholder-kin and Umber Hulks joining forces? What madness is this? And why are all these adventuring parties suddenly not returning from their quests? These are all clues of course to a growing alliance in the monsterworld.

These events will eventually lead to an collective assault on the PCs village, which the monsters know to be THE starting point of every adventurer's career. If they wipe that off the map, that will surely decrease the influx of new adventurers and finally give them some peace. It's up to the players to prevent or stop that from happening, since they're pretty famous and people start looking up to them. 
Another idea: in a world filled with adventurers, the last thing you want to be is a generic monster like an orc. If your world has intelligent monsters like orcs, vampires, mindflayers, beholders etc. who are smart enough to consider their position in the world, they might come to the conclusion that they need to start working together to face the ever-growing threat to their collective existence. 

This means the players start encountering some very strange combinations of monsters - zombies and wraiths fighting alongside orcs? Beholder-kin and Umber Hulks joining forces? What madness is this? And why are all these adventuring parties suddenly not returning from their quests? These are all clues of course to a growing alliance in the monsterworld.

These events will eventually lead to an collective assault on the PCs village, which the monsters know to be THE starting point of every adventurer's career. If they wipe that off the map, that will surely decrease the influx of new adventurers and finally give them some peace. It's up to the players to prevent or stop that from happening, since they're pretty famous and people start looking up to them. 



I am not suggesting that it is an insurmountable issue, but those strange combinations you are talking about reminds me of the parable about the scorpion and the fox.  The nature of certain creatures makes them ill-suited to working with others.  But then again maybe those alliances are temporary or a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" paradiagm.

I am just saying that you have to think carefully before simply throw different monsters together.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
The questions are: how having so many adventurers populating the cities and scouting out there in the wilderness can affect (the first stages in particular) of characters' career? Which adventures ideas that offers?



Well, there's a critical question: how many is "so many adventurers"?

One new (first-level) party a year heading out from a population of a million people, and four new parties a week heading out from a population of 20,000 people, would have rather different impacts.

Also, once we have a handle on new parties forming, how many higher-level parties are out there? That gives an idea of how lethal the world is, particularly at low levels.

In the first post (the opening one) I told you what I have thought so far:


  • Dungeons already emptied

  • Dungeons half-emptied (the prev group died in it)

  • Break into another group mission (competition)

  • Break into another group mission (co-op)

  • Another group breaks into PCs mission (competition)

  • Another group breaks into PCs mission (co-op)

  • As suggested at p.151 on the DMG1, minor magic items are easy to find in the cities


What else? Help please! ;)
ALSO REMEMBER:
 nearly all of these groups start their new adventurous life from the village where the story begins (the PCs will start there as well). So the surroundings are more overcrowded of adventurers then the rest of the world. Why don't move away ASAP then? Because that location is their hometown and it is a KEY LOCATION for the campaign.

How hard would it be to alter that? If the surroundings are that overpopulated with adventurers, every dungeon that a low-level party can be expected to survive should soon be picked over.

A couple of the best options for the party: go somewhere farther away, or team up with at least one other party and share the credit. (DMG2 has companion-character rules; companion characters are basically built like monsters, and don't do much except during combat; let each PC run one or two, once the party has passed the diplomacy checks.)

However, perhaps the party is from a different village. They get a minor blessing from their local priest for one or two local adventures, there have been only two other parties in the area and one of them has moved on - so they get all the same problems but at a lower level. The party has to bring a couple of trinkets with them the FIRST time they show up at the main temple.
"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 am not suggesting that it is an insurmountable issue, but those strange combinations you are talking about reminds me of the parable about the scorpion and the fox.  The nature of certain creatures makes them ill-suited to working with others.  But then again maybe those alliances are temporary or a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" paradiagm.

I am just saying that you have to think carefully before simply throw different monsters together.


Yeah, ghouls and orcs working together might just result in fat ghouls. But that's funny too 
Doesn't Warhammer Fantasy cover some of this ground? I mean, you start off as a guy who kills rats in basements, or an actual thief, living on the streets and stealing to keep yourself fed. Even the warriors are more like a guy who either could afford a weapon or was pressed into service and handed an axe.

That might be an area of research. It is more of the dark/low fantasy. Also Thieves World works in that genre.
My world is like this. I have one character in particular... any time the players use Gather Information skills, go into a new tavern, or hear a report about something, or make Know Nobility checks... I have this one NPC whose name keeps popping up as having done something majorly heroic... single-handedly defeated a dragon or some such.

Just last night, the powerful wizard seemed to assume that he was more powerful than his father. His father is the King whose sorcerous bloodline helped him control this kingdom for the past 40 years despite numerous uprisings, rebellions, invasions, coups, etc. He'll really be shocked when he finds his older brother, the sorcerer is also his equal.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.