UNUSUAL BEGINNINGS TO ADVENTURES, CAMPAIGNS, AND QUESTS
Below are to be found descriptions and entries I have created regarding unusual ways to begin Adventures, Campaigns, and Quests for various kinds of Role Playing and Tabletop Games.
Though they could also be used as the basis and genesis of other types of games as well, for example LARPS and Alternative Reality games.
I intend to provide beginning scenarios for various types and genres of games: Contemporary, Detective, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Science Fiction, and Wargames. To name a few.
I will make such posts on every occasion I have the free time to develop them. Also these scenarios will be different from the scenarios I have developed specifically for my own Setting and World. Those will be listed separately under the Category – The Other World
Feel free to take the names of places and characters mentioned in these scenarios (or even the basic structures of the scenarios) and alter them to fit your own gaming worlds or situations. These are, of course, merely suggestions. I describe these scenarios to give DMs and GMs far better, more original and more unique methods of starting games than, “your party meets in a tavern,” or “you all hear a rumor.”
So modify and use these beginning scenarios as you will. They are meant to stimulate original situations and your imaginations, not to dictate terms and conditions.
Tonight I will begin with Four Fantasy Scenarios for beginning adventures or campaigns: Infiltration of the Fertilands, The Secret Missionaries, The Sky From Long Ago, and The Long Road to Disaster.
Infiltration of the Fertilands – The Senate of Alaria has decided to clear an area of land 7 and ½ leagues north of the city-state (an area called the Losharian fertilands) to provide timber and resources for a proclaimed public works building project, and to establish a new frontier’s garrison and outpost for the city to ward off raiding attacks by local barbarians. However three separate surveying teams and their armed recon in force escorts (at least for the second and third attempts) have disappeared when sent to the location.
The Senate has decided to send an expeditionary force of 1500 men to investigate and clear the area of potential hostiles, but before they can vote on the measure or dispatch the forces the chief architect in charge of the new building program approaches your party and asks you to undertake the task of infiltrating the target area in secret, to see if you can discover the cause of the disappearance of the previous teams. You are charged with secrecy in your mission (you can discuss it with no one) and if you are successful the architect not only promises that you will be richly rewarded in pay but that the Senate will award you tax free lands on which you may establish estates and villas of your own. He also hints at the possibility of awards (Champion of the City), public acclaim, and possibly even junior seats on the Senate.
However since the mission would be kept entirely confidential he can offer you no initial assistance other than to provide you with information on how to find the Losharian fertilands.
But he does offer you two pieces of advice. First, do not drink the waters of the fertiland even if it is rainwater which falls during a storm. And secondly, watch the rivers, creeks, waterways, and marshes at all times. They may hide dangerous enemies and hidden perils.
The Secret Missionaries – Your party is called to the Great Temple of the Sacred Hierophants after nightfall one evening. The Church of Adaltorn, the Last Hierophant, in the city of Ramara Passea has decided upon a missionary program of expansion Eastwards. They wish to convert the rich, independent merchant cities east of the river Venwaldros, which they feel would be very open to their doctrine. However to the south of the narrow strip of unclaimed no-man’s land of the Venwaldros lies the fierce (and some say cannibalistic) barbarian tribes of the Colmar Confederacy, and to the north of the river in this unclaimed area lies the Imperial outposts of the Srechalt. All of which are hostile to both the Church and to Ramara Passea. This narrow strip of land and the thin thread of the Venwaldros which passes through it is called Reedbrake (for its high and musical reeds, which go silent when anything passes through them)) and it is the only safe passage from Ramara Passea to the East.
The church has sent scouting teams of monks and priests along the river which have either had to turn back after being attacked or were simply lost, their true fates unknown.
The church is willing to produce an indulgence in the names of each of your party (meaning you will be free from both local taxes and tithes for a period of ten years), to pay you a stipend for three years, to Bless each member of your party, and to secure you Writs of Absolute Non-Hindrance from the city fathers if you can help them find a safe passage through the Reedbrake so that their monks and priests may travel securely and unmolested from Ramara Passea to the eastern merchant cities. They will also equip your expedition and provide you with river-craft, a barbarian scout (a recent convert) familiar with the Colmar, and three warrior monks as servants and men at arms to assist you.
The Sky From Long Ago – The retired Sage Geirwovan (rumored to have once been the famous Wizard Taleorstir) has sent every member of your party a formal and very decorative invitation to visit his mansion six miles from the outskirts of the Ulorian borderlands.
When you accept and reach your destination you are shown to the Sage’s Tower and observatory where the ancient and bent Geirwovan greets you warmly and feeds and shelters your entire party. After a late dinner and entertainment by a very talented female bard (whom Geirwovan identifies as his personal Bard, the Lady Yurliel) you are ushered back to the Sage’s Tower where Geirwovan accompanies you to the roof. Briefly after sunset (far too soon after sunset) the entire sky is afire with stars but of very unusual constellations that you have never before seen. Some of these constellations seem to come alive, take on weird and fantastical shapes of creatures you have never seen before, and to move about and even battle one another. Stars flare and flash, changing colors or becoming briefly too bright to look upon. The moon rings like a giant gong. The tower itself seems to shake. Comets flash across the sky and explode by impacting one another. Then the entire sky goes absolutely black and a few moments after that returns to normal, as it would appear on any other cloudless and moonless night shortly after nightfall.
Geirwovan then takes you back into the tower where each of you feels weird and uncanny, as if you have just witnessed something unnatural, supernatural, and/or very spectacular and unnerving.
Geirwovan makes no comment and ignores all questions to explain and instead spreads out a series of complex maps upon an antique drafting table and begins to explain how rewarding it would be and how much you would all benefit by reaching a particular destination. One he repeatedly shows on the different maps. (The maps are also all filled with odd glyphs and scripts and indicated locales you have never heard of or seen mentioned before.)
Then Geirwovan tells you of the fabulous riches, both mundane and magical, that can be found at that destination though he will not describe the particulars nor disclose any details about what else may lay at the destination. He tells you that if you will go to that location then you will understand what he means and that you will understand what you saw in the sky. He asks only two things: 1. that when you arrive you do what is appropriate, and 2. return to him all that you find so that he may examine it and then he will keep only one article, a small silver coin of unremarkable design. You may keep all else that you find and there will also be another reward awaiting you upon completion of your expedition. If you agree then he will hand you one of the maps which he says will guide you unerringly to your destination but that you must never venture from the route it dictates for the map is untrustworthy otherwise and you may find yourselves lost in such a way that you will be unable to return. He also offers to allow you to take his bard Yurliel with you if you so wish.
The Long Road to Disaster – The Lord of Merchants and Commander of the Merchants at Arms have called your party to the Tent of Foreign Prizes in the Agora of Kroipos to discuss an urgent matter. They explain to you that they have recently (within the past year) opened up a new trade route to the Far South, through the desert of Samorah, that they call the Elidian Road. (Elidia being what some rumors declare to be a semi-mythical and legendary city of peculiar and unique wealth located in the Far South.)
Within the past six months no fewer than four separate and well-armed caravan trains have been ambushed and destroyed or lost. By what the Commander describes as a well-organized, large, ruthless band of experienced brigands, raiders, and thieves.
Searchers and follow up teams have only recovered small bits of debris or valueless remains from the ambushed caravans and the losses to merchants in the area have been sunstantial and heavy indeed. Armed scouting parties sent by the city have discovered nothing and have been of almost no help.
Only three survivors have escaped thus far, two from one caravan (the first attacked) and one from the second caravan. No other survivors have surfaced or are accounted for.
Both the Lord of Merchants and the Commander of Arms ask if you will entertain shadowing the next caravan to be dispatched along the Elidian Road to see if you can discover who is responsible for these raids and possibly help save the caravan from being plundered and destroyed. If not can you then follow the attackers to discover their identities and base of operations so that a military force can be dispatched to kill them all.
Neither wants you to be part of the armed military and merchant force of the caravan so that if the attackers arrive in overwhelming force you may survive and bring back invaluable Intel on the parties responsible. They only want you shadowing the caravan unless it is obvious you could actually safely protect and rescue the caravan if it is attacked. Both Merchants promise you will be richly rewarded for your efforts. Though neither will describe precisely how or in what form.
After the meeting the Commander of the Merchant at Arms leaves but the Lord of Merchants pulls your party aside in confidence and tells you that his nephew will be accompanying this caravan in order that he may be trained in commerce. As is the custom at his age. This being his Voyage of Initiation. The boy has instructions that if the caravan is attacked he is to flee to the safety of your group or if necessary you are to rescue him and flee after discovering what you can of the enemy. He promises to reward you separately for this action and he tells you that aside from his nephew and the head merchant of the caravan no one in the group will even know of your existence or that you shadow the train. So he says it is imperative that the caravan not discover your presence either. You must also never mention this side deal involving his nephew. Especially not to the Commander at Arms, who would consider such actions cowardly and dishonorable.
He also tells you that he has personally interviewed the three survivors of the previous attacks. One is now dead of unknown reasons, one is in a long sleep from which they will not awaken (coma), and one appears to be mad. But before these things happened the survivors described weird things occurring during the attacks and despite the Commander’s opinions to the contrary the Lord of Merchants is not at all convinced this is the work of brigands or caravan raiders. In fact he says that he does not believe any raiders are involved at all. But he will not elaborate on his suspicions.
He will only say that he once read a passage in a book in the Far South that said that long ago the skies were poisoned by an unknown creature so that ghosts and dead men rained upon the living.
Also, feel free to suggest your own ideas in the comments below, or tell me if you’d like to see Beginning Scenarios for certain types of games, particular subject matters, or for specific gaming genres.
Today I would like to begin a series of posts on my World Milieu for our ongoing Dungeons and Dragons game. These posts will give a brief description of the world I created which my family and other players has been playing for about 10 to 12 years or so now. It is the third world setting I ever created and it is approximately 20 years old. This is my High Fantasy Game Setting (World). I have another setting which is more comparable to a Swords and Sorcery world, with some super-science, and it is my Low Fantasy Game Setting. I may describe it later on. I have been playing D&D since I was about 14 to 15 years old. Beginning back in the 1970s. This setting can be found under the category, The Other World.
I. This is a brief description of my D&D game milieu, and how it works.
Two Worlds: There are actually two worlds (in The Other World/Worlds Apart setting), our world, circa 800 AD, and the setting upon our world is semi-historical. That is most of the things that happen in our world, as the setting for the game, involve real world historical figures, cities, cultures, religions, technologies, societies, military forces, economic systems, and so forth of that era. The exceptions to the historical rule are the introduction of the player characters themselves (who often encounter real people of the time, like Charlemagne, as well as legendary figures like Roland).
In addition there is another world, geographically identical to our own (called Ghanäe by men, and Iÿarlðma by the natives) but inhabited by completely different creatures and operating by different rules. This other world will be described later in this thread but creatures such as Elves and Giants inhabit it (though they do not call themselves that) and only a few human refuges from our world can live there. Most humans who travel to that world do so by accident and become far longer lived than normal humans but most also become sterile over time. A very, very few have over time interbred with the local populations on that other world but it is an extremely rare occurrence when that happens and the offspring sometimes fall prey to strange diseases and fail to mature. Some of the off-spring who do live past adolescence are also naturally sterile or barren. As a result the human population, which never accounted for more than a few hundred individuals is now nearly extinct.
As well as Elves and other such creatures, monsters also inhabit that other world. They sometimes escape their own world and come to ours.
The Setting Upon Earth (Terra): The City of Constantinople is the center of most activity in the setting on our world. It lies along one end of the Silk Road and Byzantine contacts run throughout Western Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe, as well as into Russia, the Near East, Syria, Persia, and into parts of the Orient, and finally down into Egypt, and into Northern and Eastern Africa. As far as sea travel much of the Mediterranean is open to them as well as the Black Sea. Giving the players and their characters a wide area of territory in which to explore and operate.
The Byzantines are at almost constant war with the Persians, and the Bulgars. At other times they fight with the Muslims (becoming more and more frequent), various barbaric tribes, such as the Goths, are at odds with migrating tribes from the East, face occasional rebellions in Egypt, Syria, and in the Holy Land, and still hope to regain some control of territories in the West, such as some of the early Italian city-states (other than Ravenna).
They are also involved in religious disputes such as the early stages of iconoclasm, as well as suppression of heretics such as in Egypt and in Syria (which makes them very unpopular in certain parts of the Empire, and among certain groups of peoples like the Copts). The Patriarchs of Orthodox Catholicism (although there has been no real schism as of yet) are often at odds with the Pope, who the Byzantines sometimes see as an ally, and sometimes see as a problem.
The main group of players operates out of the city of Constantinople, or New Rome, as their home base.
Constantinople (New Rome): It sits upon the Golden Horn (Kera), is the capital of the Byzantine (Roman) Empire, controls the naval trade throughout the empire and into the Black Sea, is the home of the most advanced technology in the world at that time, is immensely wealthy, incredibly well-built and well defended, and is one end of the Silk Road. It is also the center of the Orthodox Church, as well as being one of the most populous cities in the world.
It has contacts throughout Northern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and into India. It is the home base of operations for many of the player parties.
I modified the city somewhat from its true historical analogue. It now includes the Strategion (the Imperial War Offices and College), the Thematic War College (for educating and training Theme Generals and officers), the Stoa Inventi (the official Inventions Laboratory, where Greek Fire was developed, the Inventi being based upon Alexandria’s old Museums of Invention), the Thaumaturgion (the place of Miracles, where prophets, Church Fathers, and Saints congregate and study, and where relics are accumulated and studied), the Palacial Library of Blachermae (containing the official Imperial records, census, texts, and histories), the Academy of Sagae and Holy Art (where Icons and holy art are created), and the Library of Deoklarion (where a number of unique and unusual texts from the ancient world, and holy writings, are stored and copied).
I also slightly modified the Imperial Palaces, some of the churches, like the Holy Apostles, and some of the monasteries, like Studios and Myrelaion.
The city also contains several harbors, the Industrion, the Galatan Naval Reserves and the Galatan Industrion (across the straights), the Garrison of the Imperial Legions, several Forums and markets, Constabularies, Aqueducts, numerous churches and monasteries, several underground cisterns, palaces, the Walls of Theodosius, the Walls of Constantine, the Walls of Septus Severus, the Chalke Gate, numerous other famous Gates and Towers, the Million, several important streets and highways (like the Mese), the shipyards of Caesarius, various public baths, sections of underground and buried ancient city, artwork and statues, obelisks and columns and stelae from all over the world, the Chain of the Golden Horn, the Lykos River, Hagia Sophia (the largest and most famous church in the world), the Great Treasury, the Acropolis, and of course the Hippodrome which also served as a city-wide public amphitheatre. And the city is divided into Demes so on occasion there are Deme riots as well as riots in the Alien (Foreign) Quarter. Of course I don’t really need to mention the political machinations since “Byzantine” is an historical watchword for all things politically devious. Though to tell you the truth it wasn’t really any worse than anywhere else, and often far better and far more civilized than most places at the time, just usually far more complicated because of the immense number of political players and institutional and organizational interests all simultaneously vying for influence. It was a lot like modern American politics to tell you the truth. Far less bloodshed but far more underground corruption and devious maneuver. And strange ambition.
Constantinople regularly sees foreign visitors, tradesmen, merchants, dignitaries and even would-be invaders, everyone from Arab Bedouins to Viking Raiders to Russian Steppemen to embassies from Charlemagne and from other parts of Europe to traders from the Italian City States to diplomats from Ethiopia and Persia and even India.
The official and state language in the Empire is Latin, but the “Lingua Franca” is Greek and most Byzantines (Romans) and almost all residents of Constantinople, including resident aliens, speak Greek.
In addition there is the other world, like ours, but with native populations of elves, giants, dwarves, etc. Whenever these creatures come to our world they often infiltrate Constantinople in disguise. And sometimes monsters that have escaped this other world come to the Empire and ravage the countryside surrounding Constantinople. So it is a very interesting place for the players to live in and adventure from.
For information on some of the adventures that take place in this setting then see this post: Adventure Ideas.
I have recently begun to modify this setting to be used for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons play.