Need ye advice & ideas

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Starting a new campaign after being away from D&D for 5 years or so.  I just have a couple of questions about how other DM's handle certain situations.

1. Travel - If the group is going from one town to another and it's a 10 day journey.  Other than rolling up (or having prepared) some random encounters, do you do anything else?  If travelling by wagon I let my characters work on certain skills and what not.


2. Good vs Evil - How do you handle an evil PC that decides to kill some random peasants?  Imprison them if caught?  New PC time?  Also, if a "good" character is a thief.  Is it ok for him to rob anyone he pleases.

3. Finally I wanted some suggestions at a good opening/start to my campaign.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about the main story, and sides that the PC's will have to pick.  But I'm struggling as to how to introduce them into this world.  To put it briefly the main theme will be a Demon being slowly released from where he's been trapped under a mountain.  Bands of creatures and animals from the mountains have being scared out.  The main players will be the cult that's behind it, the kingdom this is taking place in and the smaller parties of orc/goblin tribes and neighboring kingdoms if they see weakness. 

I thought about starting them as prisoners working in a mine when some of the creatures that are being scared up start to appear in their mine, **** goes down and they are able to fight their way to freedom.  But I'd like to hear other suggestions before I stick to this.

Thanks for any tips!
"Session 0" is the term on this forum for when the DM and players sit down before any actual gaming to decide what kind of game is going to be played: mostly Epic or mostly Episodic, mostly Rules Lawyering or mostly Rules Fudging, mostly Combat or mostly Non-Combat*, how much everybody contributes to world-building, boundaries for what qualifies as inappropriate, and absolutely anything else that people feel could be important at some point.

*which is NOT another word for "roleplay vs. rollplay," because players shouldn't stop role-playing just because the characters happen to be using their weapons at the moment, and it is not bad roleplay to assume that adventurers have trained competently to survive the dangerous world they live in.

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
1. Travel - If the group is going from one town to another and it's a 10 day journey.  Other than rolling up (or having prepared) some random encounters, do you do anything else?  If travelling by wagon I let my characters work on certain skills and what not.



Unless the travel is important to the current or future scenario (such as needing to be somewhere before something horrible happens), we simply narrate it. I may ask some questions of the players as to how they imagine the travel to have been, what challenges they overcame along the way, and anything of interest they passed. I can use that information in this or upcoming adventures.

2. Good vs Evil - How do you handle an evil PC that decides to kill some random peasants?  Imprison them if caught?  New PC time?  Also, if a "good" character is a thief.  Is it ok for him to rob anyone he pleases.



If you're going to use alignment, discuss with your players (and get their buy-in) on what that means, especially as it pertains to evil acts in the game. If the game is not going to be about killing random peasants and taking their stuff, express your desire in this regard and ask the players if they are okay with that being absent from the game.

3. Finally I wanted some suggestions at a good opening/start to my campaign.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about the main story, and sides that the PC's will have to pick.  But I'm struggling as to how to introduce them into this world.  To put it briefly the main theme will be a Demon being slowly released from where he's been trapped under a mountain.  Bands of creatures and animals from the mountains have being scared out.  The main players will be the cult that's behind it, the kingdom this is taking place in and the smaller parties of orc/goblin tribes and neighboring kingdoms if they see weakness.



Assuming your players are bought into your basic campaign idea, start the PCs in the middle of action heralding in some way this demon coming on the scene. Perhaps they're at a remote logging camp having already agreed to investigate disturbances in the forest when the place is overrun with stampeding wild animals and panicked dangerous monsters.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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1. Travel - If the group is going from one town to another and it's a 10 day journey.  Other than rolling up (or having prepared) some random encounters, do you do anything else?  If travelling by wagon I let my characters work on certain skills and what not.

Don't have things happen just to happen. Have a reason for things to happen or don't have things happen.

Travel itself is boring unless it's about something. Classically, it's about explaining to the audience (possibly by way of the characters) what the world is like. I ran a skill challenge involving travel in Athas, and took the opportunity to throw all sorts of Dark Sun description at them. They were never in actual danger of anything but arriving late to their destination, but describing the environment was fun.

If there's nothing to describe or make interesting about the travel, just gloss over it. If it should be interesting, but you don't want to hijack the whole adventure, just have them describe in a few words some unchronicled adventure they had. Conan books always did this: "After travelling through the Kush mountains, where he survived an uncanny adventure with a bizarre tribe of sky worshippers, Conan found himself in...." There's a hint of a whole other story there, but it's never detailed. Another good way to add atmosphere to your game without a lot of prep or time.

2. Good vs Evil - How do you handle an evil PC that decides to kill some random peasants?  Imprison them if caught?  New PC time?  Also, if a "good" character is a thief.  Is it ok for him to rob anyone he pleases.

Do not punish a player through his or her character, by killing or imprisoning the character. If a player is doing something that you're not sure how to handle, ask the player how you could handle it, or talk to the player away from the game.

3. Finally I wanted some suggestions at a good opening/start to my campaign.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about the main story, and sides that the PC's will have to pick.  But I'm struggling as to how to introduce them into this world.  To put it briefly the main theme will be a Demon being slowly released from where he's been trapped under a mountain.  Bands of creatures and animals from the mountains have being scared out.  The main players will be the cult that's behind it, the kingdom this is taking place in and the smaller parties of orc/goblin tribes and neighboring kingdoms if they see weakness.

I thought about starting them as prisoners working in a mine when some of the creatures that are being scared up start to appear in their mine, **** goes down and they are able to fight their way to freedom.  But I'd like to hear other suggestions before I stick to this.

The best ideas for a game your players will enjoy will come from them. Talk to them.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The best ideas for a game your players will enjoy will come from them. Talk to them.



Not an option.  Busy work schedules, they're having trouble finishing their characters.  I just hope to get some character backgrounds before we start.  So I have to come up with this myself.

Instead of backgrounds, you can save some effort and increase the usefulness of your adventure prep by crafting some questions instead. Just write the questions in such a way that it references the elements of your adventure or campaign world.

For example, if you know Bob is rolling up Ragnar the Fighter, and your adventure is in the Dungeon of Lost Souls, ask, "Ragnar comes from a long line of warriors of some renown, including your father, uncle, and grandfather. All of them died in the Dungeon of Lost Souls. What heirloom does your father's corpse carry (if it's still there) that you desperately need? What makes you think you can succeed where they failed? What will it mean for the people of the city from which you hail if you are successful on this quest? Why?"

Ask the other players similar questions about their characters, each one linking in some way different elements of the campaign world and adventure. Be curious. Ask whatever follow-up questions you think will help flesh things out more. Their responses are all valid as long as they don't contradict something you or someone else has already said. (If they do, politely remind them of that and offer an alternative that builds on what they suggested initially.) Write them down and use the answers to these questions to enhance the adventure you have planned, flesh out elements of the world, discuss the bonds between the characters, and imagine future adventures. Everything they give you is a gift to the DM because it represents things they're interested in and have given their inherent buy-in to use.

The issue with character backgrounds in the traditional approach is that they lack the collaborative element that D&D is all about. With this method, you're sure to produce a coherent group of adventurers with ties to the world and adventure. They'll have skin in the game and bonds with their comrades. It can make your game go so much smoother.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Not an option.  Busy work schedules, they're having trouble finishing their characters.  I just hope to get some character backgrounds before we start.  So I have to come up with this myself.



Surely you have the time to ask 3 brief questions to each player: "What kind of magic/technology level do you prefer" - "What kind of a city do you want to start in" and "What kind of enemies do you enjoy fighting the most"?

You don't need to give them a field survey or anything like that however if they are having a hard time finishing their characters, then you should be with them for that process. Spending a first session finalizing the characters lets you use that same time to present world ideas and gather feedback, maybe an introductory battle. It might take "one more week" to start playing, however it will be worth it imo.

I have never used a published adventure, and prefer to use 20% planned and 80% on the go. If your players struggle to make characters, they won't enjoy their characters and even if they like their abilities, they will associate their characters with a burden instead of fun. This will help make sure they pick abilities that you and them understand on the same page, so that you can design situations where their abilities are used in exciting ways.

Within; Without.

The best ideas for a game your players will enjoy will come from them. Talk to them.



Not an option.  Busy work schedules, they're having trouble finishing their characters.  I just hope to get some character backgrounds before we start.  So I have to come up with this myself.

Give yourself plenty of room in the design, then, and ask questions during play about the nature of the threat. Eberron is a good template for that. There is a lot of "information" but any and all of it can turn out to be different from the "truth" that is revealed during collaboration.

Don't start them as prisoners.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

1. for travel i have my players roll a d6 to see how many miles they travel. if any player rolls a 6 i throw a random encounter at them. 
 
2. if my players want to be evil, there will be paladins hunting them. the more evil they get, the less i care if they die. death happens in dnd, just give them a way to be rezzed. usually costs heaps of gold.

3.  id have your neighboring city tell your leader that monsters are crossing into their land from yours, and are willing to declare war if its not taken care of.  forcing the king to send a small group to investigate. i agree with Cent. do not start as prisoners. 
Thanks guys some good suggestions.
2. if my players want to be evil, there will be paladins hunting them. the more evil they get, the less i care if they die. death happens in dnd, just give them a way to be rezzed. usually costs heaps of gold.

If you don't want your players to do something, just ask them not to do it. Sending monsters after them that the DM wants them to lose to puts the DM in the position of having to block their ideas, which no one will enjoy.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Starting a new campaign after being away from D&D for 5 years or so.  I just have a couple of questions about how other DM's handle certain situations.

1. Travel - If the group is going from one town to another and it's a 10 day journey.  Other than rolling up (or having prepared) some random encounters, do you do anything else?  If travelling by wagon I let my characters work on certain skills and what not.


2. Good vs Evil - How do you handle an evil PC that decides to kill some random peasants?  Imprison them if caught?  New PC time?  Also, if a "good" character is a thief.  Is it ok for him to rob anyone he pleases.

3. Finally I wanted some suggestions at a good opening/start to my campaign.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about the main story, and sides that the PC's will have to pick.  But I'm struggling as to how to introduce them into this world.  To put it briefly the main theme will be a Demon being slowly released from where he's been trapped under a mountain.  Bands of creatures and animals from the mountains have being scared out.  The main players will be the cult that's behind it, the kingdom this is taking place in and the smaller parties of orc/goblin tribes and neighboring kingdoms if they see weakness. 

I thought about starting them as prisoners working in a mine when some of the creatures that are being scared up start to appear in their mine, **** goes down and they are able to fight their way to freedom.  But I'd like to hear other suggestions before I stick to this.

Thanks for any tips!



1.  Like others have said, if nothing important to the story is going to happen during those ten days then just narrate and move on.

In order to answer questions 2 and 3, my question is are the PCs supposed to be heroic adventurers or not?  If they are supposed to be heroic characters then why are they prisoners?  If they are not supposed to be heroic characters, then being escaped prisoners, why would they want to stick around to help those who imprisoned them - as a PC who is/was convicted of something (rightly or wrongly does not matter) and who has now escaped, I would want to get out of the area and to H*** with the kingdom and its problems.  Even a LG paladin would have issues defending a kingdom that wrongly convicted and imprisoned him/her.

With these questions and my own DMing experience in mind, to answer questions 2 & 3...

2.  As part of my session zero I make a statement along the lines of, "I generally DM heroic campaigns.  Evil aligned player characters are generally not conducive to heroic adventuring, therefore I discourage evil aligned characters.  That being said, the only alignment I forbid for player characters is chaotic evil.  If you want to play an evil aligned player character, we (player and DM one-on-one) will discuss the character's personality and motivations and why he/she is evilly aligned.  If the whole group wants to play evil characters then we will have an evil campaign, but the decision must be uninanimous.  Furthermore, you the players will come up with some evil scheme and I will place obstacles in your way to overcome."

Basically, this insures that the player really wants to play an evil character (maybe a neutral alignment would work just as well) and I can establish certain boundaries i.e. even though the character might be evil aligned, he/she is still a heroic character (there are plenty of less than noble and vitruous heroes out there to model from) and therefore there will be dire consequences for killing innocent people, or destroying property for no reason other than "I'm evil."

3.  My suggestion does require player buy-in (but so does your prisoner scenario).
a) All the players are in a town affected by the situation (whether the PCs live in the town or are just passing through is not important, they are all there, enough said).
b) player characters can be friends or strangers or a combination.  Again does not matter, they are all responding to the next piece and they have to work together to accomplish the goal.
c) Local authority figure (sheriff, mayor, high priest(ess), etc) wants to investigate but does not have the man-power.  So he/she puts out a reward for adventurers to investigate.  As incentive, traveling equipment will be provided (horses carts, food, etc - things not normally available to level 1 characters due to expense at character generation) to aid the party's journey, and a monetary reward will be bestowed upon completion of the investigation.

FYI, this is pretty much how I started my last campaign and it worked out VERY well for the simple fact that I had not really thought beyond that first "investigation" adventure and the players made certain assumptions after the fact that I used to develop a plot.

 

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The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
asking your players not to do something also blocks their ideas. just because i dont care if they die doesnt mean i want them to die. 
 
asking your players not to do something also blocks their ideas. just because i dont care if they die doesnt mean i want them to die.  



Blocking in this instance is a particular definition from improvisational acting. It's not blocking outside the context of the actual game. If you don't want evil characters in the game, say so outside the context of the game. This is not blocking. Hitting the PCs with in-game consequences to discourage certain choices (like being evil) is blocking.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

You've already got some good suggestions on #1 that I agree with. Just briefly say things like "Your journey was long and hot, but you arrive at X without being attacked."

#2: I'm one of those people (DM / Player) who feels that evil characters have a place in a campaign if their mindset is correct. You can be evil and still be helpful and non-disruptive to the party. Currently, I've played 2 evil characters in my current campaign (Still playing one) and basically my secret to it all is don't do things that you can't survive the concequences for. I dropped a Dragonborn in lava once after one of the other players told him I might release him if he cooperated in telling us information. Could it come back to haunt me? Maybe. Will it? Not likely.

If you (As a player) go around killing people in a town just because, then I think something should come out of it. Paladins chasing said member of the party might be one idea as mentioned above. Perhaps to make it a little more fun, maybe those paladins are really underleveled and the party just stomps them.

But, basically what I'm trying to say here is, if a player wants to be evil, just tell him that keeping party cohesion should be his first priority.

#3: There are sooooo many ways to start out a campaign. You can start in a tavern, you can have them in a tournament. You can have them busted out of jail. There are tons and tons of ideas, both cliche and original that are fun and exciting for the very first couple of sessions. I'd do some google searches and/or browse a website like roll1d12.blogspot.com/ to get some platforms to start off with.
You've already got some good suggestions on #1 that I agree with. Just briefly say things like "Your journey was long and hot, but you arrive at X without being attacked."

If you (As a player) go around killing people in a town just because, then I think something should come out of it. Paladins chasing said member of the party might be one idea as mentioned above. Perhaps to make it a little more fun, maybe those paladins are really underleveled and the party just stomps them.




This isn't evil, this is psychotic and such behavior can come out of good, neutral or evil.

I would start with the Acts of the Mind. Ask the players to define evil in context of their characters behaviors and actions, and get them to illustrate that. There is a difference between "evil" and "psycho". Not all psycho is evil, and not al evil is psychotic or requires torture enacted in the game.''

You might learn that the players don't understand evil. Instead of having a character who is actually "evil", the players might just want to "hack and slash the guards and peasants" and burn cities, disrespect every NPC they are used to "sucking up to".  In this sense, conforming to you is playing lawful good, and playing evil thus is a rebellion against you and the order of the game. All of these could be symptoms of a problem revolving around other things which cause the players to want to trash the game world by "going full tard with evil".

Some characters have "evil beliefs" however commit moral actions. Other characters serve evil causes while working within the ranks of good to achieve them. The best way to keep paladins off your back is to be the priest at their church. Most "Evil" people in the world aren't likely out throwing vulgar hand signals telling everyone to "Go Eff Themselves" at every turn. This is not evil, it is psychotic and sociopathic.

I have a player who almost always plays evil because he enjoys the methodology of evil. He likes manipulating the value conflicts of "good" and forcing others to "sacrifice their morality" to "get what they want". One of his characters was "Lawful Good" in his "belief system" that he "behaved out of Gods Will". However, his actions were evil, like Ted Bundy or Jeffery Dahmer, "I am not evil. I am behaving in Gods Will, thus I am good. Those I hurt are evil, and my evil against them is Justice".

Evil is very fun when the ethical, and moral aspects of good and evil are highlighted in the game. An evil character can be calm, have healthy good relationships, make money, behave orderly, and succeed in their ambitions. They can pretend to be good, or neutral, they can justify their actions with rationality and make the game more interesting for it.

In conclusion, if a player wants to play evil, force them to define evil, and ask them what the "ideal evil game" is like, then put some serious thought into "the good of evil" or "the rationality of evil" or better yet "good is just an illusion of egoism" or "of course the church wants everyone to be humble and obedient while the priests are rich and gluttonous". "Of course those most selfish want to force me into altruism, that would be good for them". Another good one is "Why do you call me evil? Lets take a look at you, in your own glass house throwing stones."

Evil can be fun. Evil characters can work with good characters, for good causes, against other evils and would have no qualms about that. Evil doesn't have a "We don't work with good" mindset, that onus is on Good who refuses to work with evil. However, various philosophies about Good do indeed bother Evil, and Evil doesn't resolve this by impulsively acting like a fool, they let "Good" people do that, while Evil looks to find a "moral high road" to claim so they can appeal more.

When your just "crawling in a dungeon" it doesn't matter what your philosophy is. It also doesn't matter what your belief system about God or Life and Death are. It only matters you have the back of your friends, some of whom you may have vehement disagreements with; all part of the fun.

Within; Without.

asking your players not to do something also blocks their ideas.

No it doesn't. It opens a dialog. Using in-game disincentives to halt behavior is blocking.

just because i dont care if they die doesnt mean i want them to die.

So, if they kill the paladins that are coming after them, what happens? The paladins just give up? Or do they send a bigger force, and have more rulings made in their favor until the evil characters are finally dead?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

You've already got some good suggestions on #1 that I agree with. Just briefly say things like "Your journey was long and hot, but you arrive at X without being attacked."

If you (As a player) go around killing people in a town just because, then I think something should come out of it. Paladins chasing said member of the party might be one idea as mentioned above. Perhaps to make it a little more fun, maybe those paladins are really underleveled and the party just stomps them.


This isn't evil, this is psychotic and such behavior can come out of good, neutral or evil.



I think it's evil. The psychotic portion of it is just an excuse to dismiss it as evil. I can't say I have ever seen a good character killing people in a town just because they felt like it. This sort of situation only comes out of those who are evil, or do evil things.

In my experience anyways.

This sort of situation only comes out of those who are evil, or do evil things.



In my experience, it more likely arises from players with nothing better to do in-game rather than characters with poor ethics and morality. The character and its alignment is just a proxy. It's also frequently a test of the DM's limits, to see what he or she will do in response. How many hapless town guards do you send after the PC(s) before you decide an out-of-game conversation to determine the player's true intent is a better use of the group's entertainment time?

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

You've already got some good suggestions on #1 that I agree with. Just briefly say things like "Your journey was long and hot, but you arrive at X without being attacked."

If you (As a player) go around killing people in a town just because, then I think something should come out of it. Paladins chasing said member of the party might be one idea as mentioned above. Perhaps to make it a little more fun, maybe those paladins are really underleveled and the party just stomps them.


This isn't evil, this is psychotic and such behavior can come out of good, neutral or evil.



I think it's evil. The psychotic portion of it is just an excuse to dismiss it as evil. I can't say I have ever seen a good character killing people in a town just because they felt like it. This sort of situation only comes out of those who are evil, or do evil things.

In my experience anyways.




Refer to the crusades or other situations where people "Kill in the name of God", they think they are doing good. Good people also seek brutal punishment for justice (death penalty, torture, war), and Good people can be extremely irrational (Blinded by Light).

Likewise, Evil people can be intelligent, calm, collected.

Psychotic Behavior can come from Good or Evil however it really belongs on the Law/Chaos aspect. Such behavior is more "Chaotic" than "Good or Evil".  Good and Evil are about moral and Ethical beliefs, motives and consequences of actions. Law and Chaos are more a "Means of doing".

Torturing a prisoner could be seen as "Good or Evil" depending on the context, however acting totally belligerent can come from any walk of life, unfortunately.

I am not going to argue with you because it isn't a fair argument. I have put a lot of time into studying Philosophy, Ethics, Religion, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology... You aren't going to win. The only option is for you to agree or not agree and neither one is winning or losing. I am not going to win because I can either show you that psychotic behavior is different from good/evil or I fail to. You are at liberty to disagree with me, and I respect that however it behooves you to consider the value in what I am saying. These issues "appear" easy to tackle because everyone already has biases and opinions however struggling with really tough issues in these fields can be a migraine at times.

Instead, i will just ask you to consider that in higher level thinking Psychosis, mental illness, psychological disorders, dementia...  can describe "Characters who go Whack", far better than good or evil. Also, good or evil can produce rational or irrational and moral or immoral decisions or belief systems.

That said, in my game, I create occasional situations where the player is informed that a specified choice might impact their alignment. Once a paladin wanted to kill the man who murdered his sister at her wedding to his best friend (another PC). by the way, the murderer was the priest, who poisoned the wedding cake. The player shouted "Off with his head!" upon capturing the priest. However, I started a discourse about "How do you kill him, slowly and painfully? or quickly and easily? Do you do it in the prison cell, or take him out to the Town Square? Do you give a speech for his execution? Is there a worse punishment than death for him?

He started talking on his own about value conflicts with Revenge and being a Paladin of Pelor. He told me he reasoned at the end of it, that a paladin already is a sword of Pelor, thus it is within the right of the Paladin to invoke justice. However, the selfishness and egoism of the act of revenge would be Unjust. The solution my player came up with?  "I want taken by the gallows and executed by a Paladin with no knowledge of this mans evil deeds, that the act be of justice and not revenge". The player was happy because he got the satisfaction of knowing the NPC was dead and he was able to preserve his internal purity.

I could have just let him "Off with his head!" and had an uninteresting scenario; or even mandated an alignment change or something else stupid. Instead, I gave the player an ethical situation to solve. And he enjoyed it.

Within; Without.

1. Thanks for the travel tips, will just narrate most of them.

2. Talked with my players and decided if this campaign goes well, their next party can be evil.

3. I decided the prisoners scenario is better suited if the party "dies" in battle, they'll wake up as prisoners for a new adventure.  

Instead I've chosen to start something like this:
-Caravan wagon broke down and was taken by goblins, party hired to recover goods and a family heirloom
-The goblins are in bad shape, only attacked caravan because they were chased from their caves by something
-Their caves have caravan goods and a piece of a magical item (Essence of Life - a rod a certain cult want to use to raise a demon to life.  The cult and a Lich will try to get this piece of magical item from the party.  The Lich wants to raise an udead army with the rod.)
-From here the party might choose to get this item checked out by a mage (will have to travel to a big city) or might go investigate rumors they've heard along the way.

Thoughs?  Also, I'm new to 4e D&D and new to DC type skill checks.  In the DMG it says to throw non combat encounters (skill challenges) at your players that give as many xp as combat encouters.  Can I get any suggestions at these type of encouters that would take place in the wilderness? 

Thanks!
3. I decided the prisoners scenario is better suited if the party "dies" in battle, they'll wake up as prisoners for a new adventure.

To pull this off, every battle is going to have to include plausible reasons why the enemies won't go for the kill.

-From here the party might choose to get this item checked out by a mage (will have to travel to a big city) or might go investigate rumors they've heard along the way.

Or they might choose something else entirely.

Thoughs?  Also, I'm new to 4e D&D and new to DC type skill checks.  In the DMG it says to throw non combat encounters (skill challenges) at your players that give as many xp as combat encouters.  Can I get any suggestions at these type of encouters that would take place in the wilderness?

Travel through a kobold infested forest. Avoid their traps and avoid running into kobolds.

Flash flood. Keep from getting washed far off track, and help rescue others.

Forest fire. Help fight it, or risk losing help from local camps and caravans.

Stampede.

For each of these, failing the encounter must be at least as interesting, if not more, than succeeding. If you can't set that up, don't bother. Same with combat.

I love skill challenges, but don't do a skill challenge just for its own sake. It will fall flat. In fact, in order to appreciate skill challenges, it helps to be familiar with the problems with non-combat challenges that don't use some kind of framework. If you're not familiar with that, try running some without the skill challenge rules, then re-read the skill challenge rules and see which aspects of them might have helped you. Maybe none of them would, maybe all of them would. Maybe only some of them would.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

For each of these, failing the encounter must be at least as interesting, if not more, than succeeding. If you can't set that up, don't bother. Same with combat.




+2.

Lich: Is there any way at all a good aligned person could be involved? Maybe the Lich was his/her father and ancestral honor culture means the good aligned person who the party encounters, will be "forced to help but not want to"? These situations can be used to have the NPC give the party information on the lich to illicit a response, they might feel anger at the lich or even pity.

Maybe the lich wants to raise a demon for a good aligned reason such as the demon is gaining more power as it rests and the lich is a fallen paladin who was cursed. The paladin wants to raise the demon and destroy it. The Lich is your "middleman" to getting the players to care about "the demon" or anything else associated with it.

What if the players want to sell the rod and refuse any responsibility associated with it? (the above situation gives them a motive to care, by the way).

Wilderness Encounters: I like having these situations:

Tornado. The players must find a ditch, cave or other place to hide. (DC 10-12) and depending on high-low, they find a cave with 2 merchants waiting out the tornado who offer discounted items (good) or a cave infested with a wounded owlbear (bad). First, you describe the storm, then you describe the pounding thunder, the hail, the freezing temperature, then the calm black sky. They should figure it out and be prepared to "make a roll of some kind" (Survival).

Pixie. A tree has 3 pixies: Dixie, Trixie and Nixie. The tripplets are deathly afraid of something, and turn the players into frogs. This is really just a comedy segment if you need to lighten up a moment. It will wear off, maybe they will have to fight a cannibal bullfrog in that form.

Injured Adventurer. An adventurer has ran into danger ahead and faced defeat. He gives the players information about danger north (kobolds with slingshots). He claims they ambushed him and stole his family sword. If they can be bothered to retrieve it for him, he will be happy to give them a good word with the nobility in the bigger city you mention above. Maybe this will be a recurring NPC?

Airship Sighting: An airship can be seen in the sky above. A group of 5 drakes attacks the ship, causing it to crash in the distance. The Drakes fly the opposite direction, not seeing the players. (They scour the ground but you are too well hidden). The airship can contain wounded passengers who need care. The adventurers to provide them help, can make Survival and Treat Injury checks to mend their wounds and help them get food, so they can recover. The passengers are greatful and tell the heroes they will reward them in the future if we ever meet again.



Notice how every single one of my random encounters has a future potential built into it? The players can either pursue that potential which is then woven into the story, or disregard it and keep on going.

Within; Without.

@thadian
There is a famous battlefield where thousands have died.  The lich has plans to use the rod to raise an undead army from that battlefield.  The lich will be a future (at higher levels) recurring villain until they can find his phylactory.  I plan to slowly give bits of info to the party about the Cult and the Lich.  If I know my players at all, they won't give up any magical item especially if they don't know what it does yet.  If they do, I'll improvise.

@centauri
I like the kobold infested forrest idea, easy to fit into any part of my game
@centauri
I like the kobold infested forrest idea, easy to fit into any part of my game

When I ran it, my intent was to showcase the hostility of the world, without also running a lot of fights with the kobolds. I reckoned that kobolds would tend to avoid combat for as long as possible. In fact, it was not my intention at all that they fight the kobolds, something I should have discussed with them in advance, but didn't think to.

It was two concurrent skill challenges:

Navigate the Forest:
Success: The party arrives at their destination with time to spare, and Dealing with the Traps, becomes easier.
Failure: The party arrives late to their destination, and Dealing with Traps becomes more difficult.

Dealing with the Traps:
Success: Navigate the Forest becomes easier.
Failure: Navigate the Forest becomes harder.

I had both skill challenges "go on the defensive" by which I mean I described terrain features, and traps going off, and asked them to roll only based on what they told me they wanted to do about them.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

@thadian
There is a famous battlefield where thousands have died.  The lich has plans to use the rod to raise an undead army from that battlefield.  The lich will be a future (at higher levels) recurring villain until they can find his phylactory.  I plan to slowly give bits of info to the party about the Cult and the Lich.  If I know my players at all, they won't give up any magical item especially if they don't know what it does yet.  If they do, I'll improvise.

@centauri
I like the kobold infested forrest idea, easy to fit into any part of my game



Good, sounds like the lich is the actual enemy, and the "demon" is a way for the lich to divert armies, a "tool", just like the army. Maybe a few NPC's know about him, and have different reasons for working with or against this Lich. What perspectives could people have on this lich? (My ancestor is in the field, I worship this demon, I hate the corruption of the world and want the world to end, I could make a lot of money from war.)

Maybe this Cult has a few NPC's who will encounter the players a few times. Maybe most of them are dirtbags, but there is a friendly NPC who likes the players but is part of this cult for a "higher reason" that "justifies his allegances".

Just be confident in yourself, and keep your players involved. Every so often, your players will make assumptions and through the discourse, you can develop the "next step" or "weave in your works" to their discourse.

Within; Without.

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