I’m a relatively inexperienced DM, and this is my first effort at making a real campaign, so I thought I’d get some help here.
This campaign will by a Play-By-Post that’s focused largely on role-playing with some combat in a homebrew world (albeit a fairly generic one). The basic plot involves the princess of a mixed-race kingdom (who is secretly a warlock with a star pact) who wants to open a portal to the Far Realms. Unfortunately for her, the most convenient location for the portal is heavily guarded under a Dwarf kingdom, and since she can’t just ask to borrow it for a bit, she plans to start a war between her father’s kingdom and the dwarves. To that end, she secretly spreads rumors that the dwarves are planning a war and gets the local goblinoids to unite and attack her city, making it look like the dwarves paid them off. In order to unite the goblins, she has to find an artifact sword called the Hand of Bane, which marks the divinely appointed hobgoblin to unite the tribes and reestablish the empire.
So looking at the plan backwards, the princess finds the Hand, gives it to a hobgoblin warlord who unites the goblins to attack the city, making the city think the dwarves hired the goblins, making the city attack the dwarves, allowing her to access the portal.
At this point, I’m wondering if this plan would be totally hair-brained. If so, how can I make it work?
The first adventure will be loosely based on WotC’s 3.5 adventure, A Dark and Stormy Knight. It involves the party taking shelter from a storm in a recently-opened tomb which shows signs of a grave-robber recently coming through, although he didn’t touch any of the treasure. The path he took lead to the actual sarcophagus, which is empty, save for a clue to where the “real treasure” is hidden.
As I’m typing this, I’m realizing that I could just have them all be hired by a mysterious figure who wants to avert the union of goblinoids by taking the Hand before they can. This figure would be an agent of the princess who plans to turn the sword over to the goblins as soon as the PCs find it. Would this be a better first adventure?
A side-plot that I was thinking of including is a search for a legendary secret to making warforged. A wizard discovered the means of making them and used them with great success, but the secret to making them, as well as the entire army, disappeared when he did. This offers a side quest for a player who requested a secret villain quest as well as a player who would be interested in mechanical things.
hey, I like this idea, you seem to know your players and have thought of the main basic plot lines. I advise you add another major plot line as well, for example what are the dwarves doing at this point? have they heard the about rumors them? if so what are they doing about it. it might add some more player depth and enable the players to pick sides dependant on who they trust.
The secret Villan quest could be the real threat and the PC's might be tasked to unite the world to overthrow this threat. have it indroduced as the side plot idea and don't draw attension too it unless the PC's activly try. just keep throwing bits of infromation/rumors at the PC's and see if they can pick it up. mabey have them recover a worforged and fix it and have it become an ally.
It seems as though you are jsut having trouble introducing the players to the world. i do like the stromy night idea, why not mix the two. i always find a bit of a dungeon crawl is always best to start an adventure it allows you to show the PC's subtle clues about ther story, as well as let them get used to their party's cohesion.
All in all, its your groups campain, you know what they will enjoy. no one will critisise you for a generic world. it probably makes it better as it will be easier to grasp. all i can say is know as much about your world as possible this way you will be prepared for anything the PC's do.
good luck with the game, i can tell it will be good. hope this helped.
That sounds cool, but the risk with a secret plot, no matter how cool, is that the PCs won't catch on or won't really care about it, or will misunderstand it. I've also seen situations in which the DM is in the position of having to block player choices in order to preserve the surprise, or the DM gives away the surprise to early, or the players just figure it out. On the occassions when the secret has be preserved until the reveal, the players have been nonplussed or actually angered at having been tricked (usually when the revelation involves them being deprotagonized, such as learning that they had been working for a villain.)
This could just be a result of the way I and every DM I've seen run such games, but I think it's also go something to do with the nature of the game, and players in general. I think you'd have just as much fun if the players were in on the entire secret, because they'd know what they were trying to accomplish. Some of them would probably deliberately have their characters misunderstand the situation and go off on red herrings, because it would be in-character for their characters not to know or believe any of the real evidence; allow that choice, but make it clear that no one is obligated to bend over backwards not to believe anything and that teamwork and coherence is the watchword.
Basically, be open to the players and get their buy-in, because if you have it then they will help make the plot happen. If you don't have their buy-in, whether they don't like the plot or don't know about it, they will be working against it coming to an interesting conclusion, directly or indirectly.
At the very least, ask yourself what exactly success looks like throughout this campaign. Can the players actually stop any of the events on that timeline? If they can, what if they do? If they can't, what are they supposed to be doing? Just spectating?
[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy
Based on what I know of my players, I think they would enjoy figuring out the plot irl along with the characters.
For the first few quests, success looks like achieving their objectives. The first few levels will be self-employed, and the next few adventures are directed by the benevolent king, who is himself being unwittingly maniputaled.
I suppose that if they figure out that it's the princess behind everything, they can attempt to expose her, the king won't believe them, but the ever suspicious vizier might be willing to help them prove it, so there's a backup plan that I can flesh out if the need arises.
Here is how I think I'll set up the first adventures:
The first part will play out as I described above. The main draw will be the treasure which is left untouched, but by having a clear path to a specific object, I'm hoping there will be an air of mystery, since the tomb robber clearly knew what was their objective. In the sarcaphogus is a text etched in the old goblin language, saying that "the Hand of Bane is hidden in the altar of the demon conqueror", or something like that. The PCs can either make history checks and interpret it themselves, or one of the PCs might know of a historian in the city who can help them. If they go to the historian, he'll send a rival band of adventurers to get to it first.
The clue directs them to Deshterach, the ruined capitol of the aforementioned demon conqueror, which will be a much more extensive dungeon crawl through the kobold-infested city. I recall an adventure called The Slaying Stones that I might draw some inspiration from. I think I would end the adventure with the princess (and possibly a few aberrant minions) taking the sword and sending it away via the Leomund’s Secret Chest ritual. If there's a rival group, they could be involved in the last fight. Here's where I can see a problem: I don't want to make success impossible, but I also need to get the sword into the hands of the goblins. I suppose I could have someone steal it when they get back to the city, but there might be a better way to handle it.
Here is how I think I'll set up the first adventures:
The first part will play out as I described above. The main draw will be the treasure which is left untouched, but by having a clear path to a specific object, I'm hoping there will be an air of mystery, since the tomb robber clearly knew what was their objective.
What if the players don't find anything mysterious about it?
I recall an adventure called The Slaying Stones that I might draw some inspiration from. I think I would end the adventure with the princess (and possibly a few aberrant minions) taking the sword and sending it away via the Leomund’s Secret Chest ritual. If there's a rival group, they could be involved in the last fight. Here's where I can see a problem: I don't want to make success impossible, but I also need to get the sword into the hands of the goblins. I suppose I could have someone steal it when they get back to the city, but there might be a better way to handle it.
Yes, any time a DM "needs" something to happen, there's a problem. There is way to handle this, though. I've tried it and it can work.
[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy
To be clear, all of your ideas sound good, but it's important to be ready for them not to play out the way you expect.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What in the Hell is your problem with taking risks in games?
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
What if no one speaks Goblin? What if they don't, or they fail their checks?
I'm going to arrainge for a PC to know the historian, so that much is certain; they will have a path regardless of the results of their rolls. If they don't take the historian path, it would be because they just don't care anyway.
What if the band succeeds? What if the band fails?
I think I'd just see how it would play out. The worst thing would be if they killed the PCs, but I can do something to make sure that doesn't happen. If things look bad, I can send some kobolds to distract them.
• Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's circumstances, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Abusive (Personal Attack)— Insulting the person, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Tu Quoque— Saying the person's inconsistent, not addressing the argument. • Appeal to Authority/Belief/Common Practice/Consequence of a Belief/Emotion/Fear/Flattery/Novelty/Pity/Popularity/Ridicule/Spite/Tradition— Using emotion instead of Fact. • Bandwagon— Use of peer pressure. • Begging the Question— Assuming premises which haven't necessarily been agreed to. • Biased Sample— Using a sampling which may not properly represent the whole. • Burden of Proof— Shifting it to the wrong side. • Circumstantial Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's interests in supporting their argument. • Composition— Assuming that the whole has the same qualities as individual parts. • Confusing Cause & Effect— Assuming that one thing causes another because they appear in conjunction. • Division— Assuming that the individual parts have the same qualities as the whole. • False Dilemma— Assuming that only two options exist. • Gambler's Fallacy— Assuming the odds have changed because of past occurances • Genetic— Assuming a perceived defect in the origin of a claim is proof of a defect in the claim. • Guilt by Association— Attacking others who agree with the claim. • Hasty Generalization— Assuming a quality based on too small a sample size. • Ignoring the Common Cause— Assuming there is no outside cause of two connected things. • Middle Ground— Assuming the midpoint of two extremes must be correct. • Misleading Vividness— Assuming a colorful anecdote outweighs statistical evidence. • Poisoning the Well— Using unprovable claims about the person instead of addressing the argument. • Post Hoc— Assuming that something caused something else simply because it happened first. • Questionable Cause— Assuming that one thing causes another. • Red Herring— Using irrelevant evidence to divert a discussion. • Relativist Fallacy— Asserting that a claim may be true for some but not for the speaker. • Slippery Slope— Assuming the inevitability of one event based on another. • Special Pleading— Claiming exemption without justification. • Spotlight— Assuming individuals that get the most attention to be indicative of the whole. • Straw Man— Misrepresenting the opposing argument. • Two Wrongs Make a Right— Justifying something unethical/immoral as response or pre-emption to something else unethical/immoral.
Response to those who like to compare 4e to a Video GameShow
Also, I find that the "D&D 4e is like an MMO" argument is often a sign of someone who is deliberately being obtuse and/or is potentially ignorant of actual MMO play. As someone who only ended a 6-year World of Warcraft addiction a year ago, I can say that most of your bullet points actually don't match up to the truth of it.
In D&D 4e, you can choose a hybrid, you can choose to play one class as though it were another (people played Warlords as Bards frequently, when the edition first came out, and Rangers were refluffed to Monks), you can focus your class on its secondary role (a Warlock who is more controller than striker, for instance), you can multiclass, and you can create a particular concept (a mounted lancer, a charger, etc.) within the mechanics via feats, choice of powers, and choice of skills. You decide which set of stats you use--are you a Chaladin, Straladin, or Baladin?--and you have ultimate influence on how your character turns out in the end. Yes, powers require you to be using a particular weapon within your class's available selection, but the powers are not themselves tied to the gear. Powers tied to weapons or armor are typically powers that belong to the item, not to the character class that's most likely to use it.
Yes, there are only so many powers available, and these will be what you do in battle; this is all that the designers created. Yes, there is a time-frame in which they can be used; this has always been the case, even in the days of Vancian casting. Yes, there are suggested builds, but you can routinely ignore those if it pleases you; the only parts of a class you have to take are the class features, and even those have options at this point. But the only way that this can be considered at all conflatable with MMO character building/playing is if you are deliberately ignoring all of that.
In WoW, you choose a class and you're done. No multiclassing or hybridization, no way to mimic one class with careful building of a different one. There is a firm dividing line on what is a WoW class. No secondary roles or creative concepts, either; you're going to be what the class sets out to be, and that's it. You'll always have the same stat allocation as another of your class, because you get set numbers as you level up, and you've got at best four options--and that's only the Druid class--to build, and if you plan on running dungeons, particularly heroic level ones, or raiding, you'd better not even think of deviating from the single defined best build on the talent tree for what you want to do. It was only recently, with the complete tear-down and recreation of talent trees for Mists of Pandaria, that there was a concept of there being anything but the one best build that people who calculated such mechanical advantages (the folks on Elitist Jerks, for example), and the people who did things like achieve "World First" at various top-tier raids set precedent for.
Also, no class will ever not have a specific set of powers; all Priests in WoW have the same baseline, with deviation only based upon their talent tree specialization, where a D&D4e player could take whatever power in their class pleases them. Any Retribution Paladin will be the same as any other in terms of powers, because that is what a RetPally is. Any Assassination Rogue will always have the same powers as another, etc. All powers are always on specific cool-downs, but will always be there when they start a battle, where a 4e PC might enter an encounter with only At-Wills, or without their Daily powers due to what plot has done up until that point. Furthermore, no power that is not already specifically tied to an item will ever "require" you have that item, to my recollection. Classes get all their powers based on class; gear only gives bonuses to stats, possibly cuts down cast times for abilities or cooldowns, grants temporary extra bonuses to stats (the latter two most often on the raid tier equipment), and on rare occassions an extra power that may or may not be valuable, as some are only special effects instead of valuable abilities.
Most honest/open response on why DDN needs to be InclusiveShow
I've always felt it is in the best interests of D&D to be as inclusive across the playerbase as they can be and still have a game. I've never felt though that making a game that was inclusive within a group was very useful or even desirable. DM's and players can decide amongst themselves what options or restrictions they want for their games. I tend to lean to the DM to make most of those decisions but again that is a group specific thing.
Having said that. I get the distinct impression that there are a lot of players on these boards who come from groups that generally ruled against their own desires. It's almost like they are an oppressed minority from a gaming perspective. I also get the impression that they tend to advocate against things that if available their fellow group members might like and vote them down on.
Do a lot of you feel this way?
Just for clarification...here are some examples... 1. Alignment restrictions as an option. 2. Alignment Mechanics 3. Martial healing 4. Races being included or not.
I know my perspective is not that I often play at tables where my likes are not represented. Instead, my perspective comes from the many years I spent being a bad DM. I was a bad DM because my guidance came from the books, and the books gave bad advice. The books told me that alignment was a useful approach to roleplaying, so I went with it even though it felt kind of weird to me. Now I know that, at least in my style of running games, alignment destroys rp. I trusted the books to give good advice, and it messed up my game. Now I'm much more mature as a DM, so I know how to take advice with a grain of salt. And I still learn new stuff every session I run.
I don't want future DMs to go through my problems again. There's a big enough DM shortage as it is. DMing well is hard.
The biggest thing I had to unlearn in my process of becoming a good DM was the idea that the game is a simulation of a world. I understand many DMs prefer a more simulationist approach, although I am always skeptical simply because I would have said the same thing until I learned and grew as a DM. This doesn't mean their approach is completely invalid, but it still gives me a personal twinge when I see a regression back to 3e era sim style gaming.
I also have noticed many groups where one or two old-school players run a whole group's playstyle because the newer players aren't even aware there are other ways of doing things. The newer players tell me stories of things they hated in the session, and I end up explaining to them how those things they hate are very fixable, and in fact are fixed in the newer edition of the game their older players have told them is terrible.
In regard to things like martial healing, I don't think it's necessary for it to be in the game for the game to be fun. However, the attitude that says martial healing is terrible and shouldn't exist is an attitude that, to me, reveals a wrongheaded approach to the game. Therefore, my fight for it to be an option is to help legitimize the more narrative approach that I think is what most players want, but many don't know is possible, because they've never been exposed to it.
I think Centauri is saying prepare to be prepared. remember that your players tell the story not the DM. I would recoment reading the DM experience by chris perkins, its helped me alot, (www.wizards.com/dnd/files/DM_Experience_...) read page 75 about the invisible railroad. It wil help ensure that your players drive the story.
Take a risk if your are prepared for any ramifications, mostly this will be making things up on the fly. but it always halps to have something ready just in case. this is why i sugest knowing as much about your world as possible. what are your NPC's likley to do as these are the only things you can control.
This is turning more into a "DM style" thread, your story is great you seem to have prepared enough to run it and you know your players. there is always room for improvement no matter what you do. only experience will give you that.