Getting into Location-in-Motion

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Alright, I started DMing back in June. I've been using pre-made adventures just to figure things out, but I feel ready to move on to designing my own adventures, and since even before I started DMing I've been interested in LiM. One of the groups I DM is almost done with Life's Bazaar, the first quest of Shackled City. I'm going to remove Valantru's big appearance at the end of the quest, and ditch Shackled City to move on to LiM, and while talking with my brother a couple days ago I had a fantastic idea. The player's have already heard the rumor about some kind of aquatic monster in the lake, which in the regular Shackled City campaign is true. I'm going to change that. I set the party in this big city and then they just get thrown underground with barely a moment's notice, so I thought it might be good to get them up in the city. This is what I have thought of so far.

General Background: Some political group in the city is spreading the rumor of a beast in the lake to spread unease throughout the city. They plan to then use the fact that the current government is not dealing with "the monster" as a way to run an attack campaign against them and take over. Meanwhile, a small branch of Dagon (as in the demon lord) cultists have entered the city and begun worshipping this monster that doesn't actually exist and sacrificing people to the creature.

Places of interest: Small-ish cave (I feel like the group has probably had enough of dungeons after walking circles around Jzadirune for three months) that the cultists are based in.
Building of the political group's headquarters.
Some sort of back room in a tavern that political figures of the new group have secret(ive) meetings in

Dangers:
Lake Monster Cult
Impulse: To give more power to their "god"
Grim Portents: Random civilian drowned in lake
Important political figure drowned in lake
Impending Doom: Not really any as their god isn't real so giving more power to their god doesn't do anything. Just lots of dead people in lake. Some kind of disease spreading through the city by the water maybe?
Important figures: Some cleric of Dagon who leads the cult. Some younger more redeemable cultists could get some sympathy from the players and create some interesting situations...?

Political Coup Group
Impulse: To gain political power to ______...?
Definite blank to fill in. An idea that just jumped to my head is that some of the higher-ups in this party could have been connected to the underdark slaving operation of Life's Bazaar, creating an obvious connection towards some kind of interconnected plot and perhaps leading the characters to the underdark after this adventure is over? The problem here is that the characters have already heard the rumor about the sea monster before disrupting the slaving operations, so why would this group have been so aggressively seeking to power to get the slaving operation back on it's feet when it's not off it's feet yet?
Grim Portents: Rumors of lake monster EVERYWHERE
Propaganda posted up around town against current party-in-power
Citizens start showing dissent against current political party
The new group siezes control
Impending Doom: Kind of need to figure out more about their basic motivation to get this one down, but potentially something having to do with the earlier mentioned slaving operation.
Important figures: Human leader guy, his body guards, some sort of more shady secretive figure that's advising the leader behind the scenes (most likely something like a duergar or a drow if I go with the slaver thing) 

Non-affiliated important figures: Church of St Cuthbert. The party is working for the church of St Cuthbert for the whole Life's Bazaar quest. At this point they're a familiar group to the party and it would be stupid for me to not have some ideas of their reactions to these events at least in my head in case they come up.
Keygan Ghelve, gnome locksmith who like above is an important figure from life's bazaar who the party might go to for aid.
Bartender of the tavern the political group meets in, he'd probably have picked up a few whispered words, have some inside info.

So basically this thread was the get my ideas down "on paper" and to get some communal brainstorming going, see if I have the right idea here about grim portents and all those shenanigans. Also, I've heard on multiple occassions that dungeon and wilderness LiMs are easier than city ones. I'm not dead-set on this concept and would honestly even be okay with just kind of railroading them out of Cauldron really quick to get them on to new ideas. If this seems like it would be too difficult to get working for a first LiM I have no problem with dropping this idea completely.
I'm not an expert in LIM, but there are a few people who are. Unfortunately they tend to keep off the main D&D forum and discuss LIM ideas away from the public eye. This is due to the trolling and arguing that has run through the website. 

The first thing I would say is don't consider railroading the players. You need a basic location idea and the players fill in the gaps for you. You have some factions working in the location which is a good start. The key thing is that the players select the direction.
Yeah, I've figured a little more out. At this point it's mostly just a matter of writing up stats for the main NPCs and prepping some encounters that are easy to improvise with. I've got the cult pretty much nailed down at this point, I feel like the political group could use a little more fleshing out, but that should come naturally as I detail out individuals within the group. I just need a little more prep time, and the next session isn't until a week from Friday, so that won't really be an issue.
Yeah, I've figured a little more out. At this point it's mostly just a matter of writing up stats for the main NPCs and prepping some encounters that are easy to improvise with. I've got the cult pretty much nailed down at this point, I feel like the political group could use a little more fleshing out, but that should come naturally as I detail out individuals within the group. I just need a little more prep time, and the next session isn't until a week from Friday, so that won't really be an issue.



You sound like you are doing the right things. Build the statblocks or just use reskinned stuff from the monster manuals. You don't need to have everything figured out, just enough to keep the adventure moving forward.

  Never bother cranking out stat blocks for any NPC the party's not clearly going to be fighting in the immediate future... Unless by "stat block" you mean a basic list of the NPC's motivations and personality traits. NPCs should always remain a narrative element until such time as it's absolutely necessary to add game mechanics to them, and then never more than what's necessary for whatever sort of interaction they'll be having with the party. Merchants don't need hit points (assuming your party isn't the type to kill and rob every npc in town) but they may have a skill or two if the players are going to be making opposed skill rolls against them, for example.


 Just a random thought, but who says the slaver are trying to get back on their feet? I don't know the adventure, but it could be that they're trying to expand their operations beyond their current level, and someone or something related to the current political-party-in-charge needs to be removed/neutralized/worked around/otherwise dealt with...

 Another random thought, there should be several political factions whose actions/goals may or may not interact with the party's. You don't need to work out individual NPCs for them at the moment (or even until/unless it comes up in an adventure), but I'd at least set a placeholder for one political group/VIP mainly motivated by idealism or some higher goal, one obviously very conservative group mainly interested in maintaining the status quo and another corrupt group motivated solely by money and power. Depending on the political climate it may or may not be easy to tell which is which on any given day.
You should also posit the existence of one individual somehow involved in the political process to be a former idealist who has given in to the system and become a well-established deeply-entrenched-in-the-power-structure cynical and jaded person mainly believed to be solely out for their own personal gain, but who can actually be persuaded by the party (directly or through their action) to swing things in the party's direction at some point (whether or not the party is aware of it). Exactly who and where this individual is shouldn't be definitively established, although having a list of five or six individuals who may potentially be that person might be a good idea. Even if they never actually appear in the game, simply establishing the existence of such groups/individuals early in the campaign allows for greater flexibility when the party heads off in a direction (narratively speaking) that doesn't have much interaction with their current goals and goings-on.


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