PCs as a Child (An introduction to the Campaign concept)

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
I've always prided myself in having memorable starting points for the Campaigns I have ran, and I'm deciding to start my next Campaign where the PCs start off as children.

I'm having them create 1st level characters (using 3.5) and I've created a template where it'll take their stats and transition it to what an 8-11 year old's attributes would be.

My plan is play up the innocence and give reason to why the PCs would know each other in their adulthood.

Depending on what the PCs choose as their classes will depend on who the antagonist in their children adventure will be. For example, if a Rogue is amongst the group, I'd start their introduction out with them getting pummeled by the neighborhood bully for stealing (even though it will turn out the PC is not the one responsible). Perhaps the rest of the group happens upon the beating as they were looking for their friend to go to the creek to play and pitch in to help (if not, it's only subdual damage and the bully doesn't beat the rogue into a coma).

So, I've come up with the mechanics, and the ways I'll introduce the PC's related to their classes/race, but I'd like some brainstorming on what mini quests they could go through. Nothing major, but mini things like Finding Albert's missing cattle and the such.

Also, after the mini quest, I've planned to have an unsettling event happen that would inspire the children to want to be heroes. Such as maybe a band of Orcs and Goblins run into the meadow where the kids are playing and snatch them. The PCs get snatched in the process but are rescued by a Ranger who has been tracking the Orcs for days. Unfortunately, many of the other kids were never rescued and rumors that the Orc clan responsible selling them to slavers would be inspiration enough for adventurers to be born.

Any ideas would be welcomed, not going to settle for the "You shouldn't do it, it won't work" mentality but rather the "Here's how it could be fun"

Thanks!
Use your sig, but dramatized.
Or, you could have a sorcerer who experiments on kids, them have him become a recurring villian in their later life.
1. Stealing apples (or some other fruit) from one of the local curmudgeonly farmers who owns a couple of mean dogs.

2. Assaulting the 'fort' of the local bully. Maybe he hangs out in an impromptu lean-to out in the forest and their mission is to sneak up on him with over-ripe tomatoes (or equivalent), pelt him with them, and then escape.

3. Large rats have gotten into someone's grain barn. The kids have been hired (for a copper a piece) to hunt down the rats... with bows, slings, wooden swords, farming implements or whatever. Turns out they aren't just large rats but baby giant rats and the 'boss battle' is taking out the mother rat.

4. As a test of bravery, the kids decide to 'scout' the 'cave of doom' - an old abandoned copper mine. There could be 'traps' based on the poor conditions in the tunnels - falling beams, holes in the floor with 5' drops, etc. If they are sufficiently tough, they could discover its the makeshift camp of a petty thief that has been stealing baked goods, etc. from locals.
I've always prided myself in having memorable starting points for the Campaigns I have ran, and I'm deciding to start my next Campaign where the PCs start off as children.

I'm having them create 1st level characters (using 3.5) and I've created a template where it'll take their stats and transition it to what an 8-11 year old's attributes would be.

My plan is play up the innocence and give reason to why the PCs would know each other in their adulthood.

Depending on what the PCs choose as their classes will depend on who the antagonist in their children adventure will be. For example, if a Rogue is amongst the group, I'd start their introduction out with them getting pummeled by the neighborhood bully for stealing (even though it will turn out the PC is not the one responsible). Perhaps the rest of the group happens upon the beating as they were looking for their friend to go to the creek to play and pitch in to help (if not, it's only subdual damage and the bully doesn't beat the rogue into a coma).

So, I've come up with the mechanics, and the ways I'll introduce the PC's related to their classes/race, but I'd like some brainstorming on what mini quests they could go through. Nothing major, but mini things like Finding Albert's missing cattle and the such.

Also, after the mini quest, I've planned to have an unsettling event happen that would inspire the children to want to be heroes. Such as maybe a band of Orcs and Goblins run into the meadow where the kids are playing and snatch them. The PCs get snatched in the process but are rescued by a Ranger who has been tracking the Orcs for days. Unfortunately, many of the other kids were never rescued and rumors that the Orc clan responsible selling them to slavers would be inspiration enough for adventurers to be born.

Any ideas would be welcomed, not going to settle for the "You shouldn't do it, it won't work" mentality but rather the "Here's how it could be fun"

Thanks!

I would recommend avoiding stuff like: "Bully beats you up" or "You get kidnapped by orcs" as a way to introduce characters to your campaign.

Regardless of their age, your hook should be about engaging the PCs and interesting them - not about proving how helpless they are, in the main scheme of things.

If you still want to go with the same theme, you can - but at least give them a choice. The bully isn't beating up them - he's beating up their little brother or sister. He, she (or all of them), can step in and will be in for a very hard fight they probably won't win, but at least they chose to fight.

Perhaps the orcs raid their village, not where they're playing, and they see smoke. They get back and see from concealment what's happening. The orcs are looking for children to take captives, but are killing everyone else. they can either go back and help, fighting a desperate fight... or run away.

Later, as the game gets older, you can have situations where the group is incapacitated without too much to say about it... but I'd avoid that as the first thing that happens.
It can be a good way of introducing character background but your players do have to be onboard as well. There has been child aged protagonists in books on a number of occasions but i've found that a lot of times they have seemed contrived. To actually put a child in a situation that would be conceivably considered adventuring seems a bit of a stretch.

In my opinion it certainly gives a good chance to bring some different elements to the game but it must be balanced with player autonomy and not overdone by dm heavy handedness.

I think your only issue is having the players on board. It may be good for some while others may not care for it.
How about having one of them discover that one of the people in town is practicing demon summoning. They seem him in his basement while fetching a ball they accidently shot into his yard or something making a deal with some devil in a pentagram. If they decide to tell the adults, noone will believe them. Their mission is to either stop him from doing whatever it is he's doing or get someone to believe them. This way they can feel that they're heroes saving the world while keeping the childlike innocence (think Home Alone, but good).
I did this in a 3.5 campaign myself. I actually ran it as a flashback.

The game began with the players reuniting after ten years in their home village. They had spent the last ten years training and being apprentices and growing into their classes. And suddenly, something terrible happens...

And I went into the flashback and handed them all children versions of their character sheets. The party sort of naturally fell into two groups of two buddies and one mature loner, so that is how their kids started out. The two groups sort of in competition with each other to explore a local 'haunted' ruin and the mature loner catching up and keeping an eye on them.

It was pretty typical after that. Kids explore the ruin, fight a snake and some spiders, and then they discover a series of strange tablets depicting some simple line drawings. Wow, that's weird, they think, but they can make no more of it and head home. But that cemented their friendship.

Back to the present... investigating the terrible something, they discover the village is under attack by a mysterious force. An airship hangs over the village square, wreathed in smoke from the burning cottages below and ... whoa... that was one of the line drawings in the temple. The heroes help the other village conscripts defend the town, encounter the officer, but fail to stop her before she steals something from the village temple and grabs a rope while the airship lifts off.

After that, the heroes return to the ruins to make rubbings of the tablets. Eventually, they discover that these tablets document past and some future events in the campaign story that gives them a sort of roadmap and some things to start investigating.

EDIT: Actually, now that I think about this, I suddenly remember why I never did anything like this again. One of the players had the very worst luck ever and kept trying to die during the flashback. The battles were a cakewalk, but his rolls were terrible and the snake's was especially superb. He ended up at -9 HP before one of them stabilized him. Had he died, he would have created a time paradox that would have destroyed the campaign world because his adult self had already been in the opening scene.

The Angry DM: D&D 4th Edition Advice with Attitude http://angrydm.com Follow me on Twitter @TheAngryDM "D&D is a world where you are a great champion, and the creator of the universe is frequently disorganized, highly distractable, and alarmingly vague on the rules of the universe he’s trying to run." -Shamus Young, Twenty Sided Tale (DM of the Rings)

Thank you all for your input, it's been helpful in directing me where to take this.

Originally Posted by UMCorianI would recommend avoiding stuff like: "Bully beats you up" or "You get kidnapped by orcs" as a way to introduce characters to your campaign.

Regardless of their age, your hook should be about engaging the PCs and interesting them - not about proving how helpless they are, in the main scheme of things.

If you still want to go with the same theme, you can - but at least give them a choice. The bully isn't beating up them - he's beating up their little brother or sister. He, she (or all of them), can step in and will be in for a very hard fight they probably won't win, but at least they chose to fight.

Perhaps the orcs raid their village, not where they're playing, and they see smoke. They get back and see from concealment what's happening. The orcs are looking for children to take captives, but are killing everyone else. they can either go back and help, fighting a desperate fight... or run away.

Later, as the game gets older, you can have situations where the group is incapacitated without too much to say about it... but I'd avoid that as the first thing that happens.

I agree, it's always best to give the players a choice even though it would be unlikely for them to win a fight against a raiding party of Orcs, it should still be an option to try.

In between the intro & the climatic corruption of innocence, I think I'll have them run a few errands and maybe meet up with an NPC friend of theirs who will play "tavern" with them having juice filled mugs pretending their drunk and the usual games children play. The idea is to make them miss a few of the NPC children that they will encounter in the first session so that when they become adults and encounter these individuals in the future there will already be a connection.
I think it might be doable to have them fend off bullies, though you would first need to be comfortable with them already possessing a decent amount of martial prowess even as children. Despite being only 10-12 years of age, they may be capable of standing toe-to-toe with your run-of-the-mill thugs and riff-raff. You might also need to justify how they are so skilled despite their age.

This is where you can play up their more memorable traits, such as a strong sense of justice without an accompanying dose of common sense (charging headlong to even the odds without thinking about how outnumbered they are). Sense of honour "Let him go, it is me you want". How they look out for one another and refuse to run for safety without the rest.

For example, while they might individually be no match for the bully, they might be able to just best him while teaming up, which I feel is an excellent way of letting them build up camaraderie. Perhaps they find that they work unusually well together and complement one another marvelously. Have one step in to take a blow meant for another PC, ends up being seriously injured or poisoned, and the other PCs may need to find a cure. Perhaps they decide to pilfer a healing potion from the local apothecary because they cannot afford to buy one, and the healer's stance is "Payment up-front"?
Sign In to post comments