Mini-quests for Professional Adventurers

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Hello, everyone. I'm about to start a new campaign with an entirely new group to playtest the system I'm making, and I'm not entirely sure what to expect. As such, I'm thinking that, to begin the campaign, I'll have the party be part of a professional adventuring group, taking contracts to perform given tasks and getting paid. That way, the players can sort of ease into the system, and I can get a feel for what the group of players is like before getting into a deeper campaign.

Where I'm stuck is ideas for those mini-quests. So far, I have:

-A contract to find and bring home a pet warg (basically a larger, more dangerous wolf)
-A contract to clear an excavation site of zombies
-A contract to stand guard at a shrine, trying to catch vandals

I also have a "notice" where the party would gain the contracts, offering a small bounty for bear pelts for a short period of time.

Any other suggestions? In case you're wondering, this is a fantasy setting.
Having a few competing factions offering different rewards is a good way to go.  Maybe there is also a reward hanging out there from the Necromancer who filled the excavation site full of zombies to prevent the miners from digging up a horrible monstrosity in their gold driven greed.  The Necromancer could be offering a reward to anyone who first, keeps his identity secret, and second assists him in destroying the monstrosity before removing the zombies.  Perhaps the vandals are taking revenge on the local shrine because it was stolen from their hometown, so they seek to either reclaim or destroy it, and are seeking assistance in doing so. 

Having the PC's approached by multiple factions helps to create more tension, and gives the PC's a much greater feeling of self determination.   but it can also be frustrating, so avoid making it to much of a moral minefield.  Especially if you have lawful characters in the party.

...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
Having a few competing factions offering different rewards is a good way to go.  Maybe there is also a reward hanging out there from the Necromancer who filled the excavation site full of zombies to prevent the miners from digging up a horrible monstrosity in their gold driven greed.  The Necromancer could be offering a reward to anyone who first, keeps his identity secret, and second assists him in destroying the monstrosity before removing the zombies.  Perhaps the vandals are taking revenge on the local shrine because it was stolen from their hometown, so they seek to either reclaim or destroy it, and are seeking assistance in doing so. 

Having the PC's approached by multiple factions helps to create more tension, and gives the PC's a much greater feeling of self determination.   but it can also be frustrating, so avoid making it to much of a moral minefield.  Especially if you have lawful characters in the party.



Competing interests? I hadn't thought of that... That's actually an interesting idea, though since I've already worked out the quests I've already mentioned in my first post, I'm not sure how to apply it.

To clarify, the excavation is less a mine and more an archeological endeavor, though there are certainly economical rewards. See, the nation the characters will be in was founded not too long ago by populist revolution against an evil, tyrannical regime. Before the regime lost against the rebels, they decided to hide their vast treasures in hidden or dangerous locations so that the new nation wouldn't be able to easily use the treasure to help build its economy. The zombies are basically the guards of this particular site.

As for the shrine, I was going to have the vandalism be the activity of cultists. The shrine belongs to a small creed of people whose "religion," if you could call it that, claims that the current king of the nation actually has the soul of a phoenix, and that he is actually the reincarnation of some of his ancestors. The cult doing the vandalism, on the other hand, would be a cult dedicated to the worship of devils. The devils in question are actually the former rulers of the regime that was overthrown, and they want to take their land back, using their cultists as spies, saboteurs, and the like.
It is easy enough to rewrite or reflavor something whenever you want, especially if it does not conflict with what the players already know about the world, assuming that what they know is true.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
- Wizard needs the party to find something really wierd... like frog hair. There's a swamp with extremely large frogs; he thinks you might actually be able to get frog hair from such large monsters. He would go himself, but he's got to keep an eye on his potions. Dangers include... swamp dragons (alligators?), big bats, maybe a stirge or two, r.o.u.s. (rodents of unusual size, of course), lizard men (although they might be neutral, offering a role-playing opportunity to gather information or to offer them a big sack of freshwater pearls, one of which radiates magic, in exchange for killing some monster in a tower in the middle of the swamp. What's in the tower? Maybe it's not a monster; maybe it's an old elf ranger who swore to guard the tower (and whatever is in it) 500 years ago until he received word from the elf king that it is safe to leave the tower. The ranger elf may have something to give the party in exchange for finding out why the elf king hasn't returned (maybe the wizard knows?).

Further adventures... the magic pearl contains the soul of a unicorn or pegasus or is actually not a pearl at all, but the white eye of some foul demon... either way, it should talk and invite the party on some other quest... possibly having to do with the elf ranger's dilemma, possibly giving a better explanation of what frog hair is... it isn't actually frog hair at all, that is just what they used to call spider silk many ages ago...

 - A baby fell down the well. Not just any baby... an OGRE baby! The parents are actually polymorphed ogre magi (powerful, smart, magic ogres), but they can't just show off their magic because they have a plot against the townsfolk and people are watching. The ogre family doesn't tell the players this... they discover it if they go into the well and try to rescue the baby. The ogre family will pay the party well (they are wealthy members of the town, thanks to their magic), but if they know the party has found out their secret... they will send them on an dangerous quest in order to be rid of them.


Further adventures... the ogre magi might be part of a larger monster plot. The dangerous quest, though very dangerous, is also very informative, if they choose to go. It leads them into a distant kingdom where the party's information-gathering for the quest gains powerful allies that are aware of the ogre magi/monster plot and give the party items that can help them reveal the ogres and protect them from their powerful magics. Being so well equipped, they are offered even more adventures from the local baron who is grateful that the plot was discovered.

 Try not to overwhelm them, but each quest should lead to the possibility of others. Usually two is good enough; the players have a choice to take one, the other (or neither) or maybe both. If they take neither quest, they can always go back to their base of operations and celebrate their victories awhile as you (or they) come up with their next adventures. Maybe what's left of another adventure party asks the players to join up with them on a quest they left unfinished.
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.
I just remembered an old adventure I DMed that is still being talked about today (15 years later)...

A local farmer has an albino cow. Such a rare cow is considered pure and holy by the people on the other side of the mountain. The farmer can't pay unless the players can get the cow to the temple, where they will shower the owner of the cow with blessings (cha-ching!). The cow is worth a LOT of money... alive!

Obstacles - wolves, maybe an ogre, bandits who know the cow's worth, a flood, a rustic footbridge the cow doesn't want to cross. The mountain itself... keep the cow warm. Make sure the cow is worth a lot of money. Make sure the obstacles are varied... wolves and ogres and bandits are frightening, getting a cow up a muddy hill can be downright hilarious.

You can play up the sacred bit, or make it just silly superstitiousness, depending on how you want to play it, but you can have both very good things happen to the party (just as they realize they can't get across a swollen river... here comes a raft) or bad things (a tree falls and blocks the road). Make it look like the sacred cow has something to do with it. They might decide to keep the cow for themselves, lol, or turn it into hamburger. Whatever they decide to do, hilarity should ensue.
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.