View Full Version : Hep me, Hep me!

2011-08-13, 04:24 PM
Hey guys.

First post here, but I've been reading the forum for a while.

I'm in a bit of a bind. I got talked into starting a campaign tonight for our group, without any sort of idea for campaign world / session plot / whatever.

I've got only a few hours, plus some time while they roll characters, to come up with something.

At this point, I just know how I want to start off, the good 'ol "You wake up in jail" idea.

So, I turn to the good people of the forum for some help. Anything at all you can think of, minor ideas, NPC blocks, it will all help.

Hopefully this won't be a huge disaster. It's been a while since I've DM'd for the group, so they are expecting a little rust, but I don't want to crash and burn.

EDIT: I realize I didn't mention the system. 3.5 Ed.

Thanks guys.

2011-08-13, 04:26 PM
Any particular campaign world or any other information to go on?

2011-08-13, 04:27 PM
The jail they all wake up in is metaphysical... in reality they all died the night prior and are now in limbo for judging to be sorted into their respective eternal resting places.

They of course don't know this and the quest they will be embarking on isn't to save the world.... it's to SAVE THEIR SOULS! *dramatic music*

2011-08-13, 04:29 PM
Any particular campaign world or any other information to go on?

I'm not sold on anything in particular.

I'm planning on keeping things generic enough that I could roll it into a real campaign setting, or a home-built for the next session, if need be.

EDIT: Although I do recall that I liked the look of the Pathfinder setting, from the little I've seen of it.

I'm thinking maybe just a dungeon crawl, easy to run on the fly.

2011-08-13, 05:10 PM
Alright, well, I was thinking they'd be hired for 1000 gold each to escort a small caravan to a village. In actuality, the village is a group of cultists who plan on sacrificing the party to their god/dragon-who-isn't-home/whatever. You get an encounter or two on the road that way.

The caravan leader, Jamal* is a charismatic man with black hair, a tan, and about average height and build. He has a thing against women since one stabbed him in the gut once and almost got away from being sacrificed. Sometimes the old wound still hurts, though it has healed. He sought/seeks out the party as a group of people who can be killed without anyone missing them too much.

Normally the village, though remote, manages to get some travelers here and there on a road about two days ride from the it.. Unfortunately for them, tensions are brewing between this Kingdom and the two other nearby kingdoms. So soldiers are on the move as a show of force and the roads aren't a particularly good place for bandits right now due to the increased scouting and security of the moving armies.

Anyhow, the High Priest of the cult is over 300 years old, so something he is doing is working. Unfortunately for him, he's more flash than bang....

gotta go take care of a baby now

*Yes, evil. Ahh, multi-language puns masquerading as normal names. Umm, I'm not great at names in general though, some come up with the name for the village, kingdoms, and such on your own.

2011-08-13, 05:10 PM
If you could get or already have a short quick module for them while you iron out the world. This way you have something to use on a short notice.

2011-08-13, 05:27 PM
In some ways i'd say a dungeon needs a bit more preparation than a more sandboxy game. I'd want to at least have drawn a map and got an idea of what should go in each room, although there are random generators for that sort of thing.

When I have to start a game in a hurry I generally start off with the PCs in an environment where they can meet a lot of people. They don't know what the story is yet, so they ask for news, rumours and hearsay.

And I make some stuff up off the top of my head.

"oh I heard theres a war over in the Grey Kingdoms"
"the harvests have failed three years in a row and people are saying a demon did it!"
"did you hear about those adventurers who went to explore the dungeon of darkness, no ones heard from them for days..."

they will latch on to one or other of the plot hooks and start investigating it.
they might head for the town where the crops have failed. or decide to track down a priest who would know about demons. or maybe they'll head straight for the dungeon of darkness. it doesn't really matter as it will lead to the same story either way, albeit its a story that no one knows yet, even you. You only have a very basic idea of what their chosen plot hook will lead to but that doesn't matter.

Either way, you can throw in a random encounter while you decide what to do next. they are attacked on route by a... (flick open your monster manual and "try to find the right page") pick something simple and while they're fighting it decide how or if its related to your plot hooks.

by this time you are a bit more prepared. They meet the priest, who tells them some stuff about how the adventurers who went to the Dungeon of Darkness were also following up on the crop failures. they believe that an artefact was stolen

Start linking the stuff you made up off the top of your head into a cohesive story if only in your mind at this stage. I didn't know the dungeon and the crops were linked when I started writing this post. but now they are and so is the war. you're not quite sure where to send them next. they want to check out the dungeon now, but you still don't have it mapped out.

Well... "when in doubt have a man walk through the door with a crossbow in his hand". he shoots the priest before he can reveal the secret ritual to bind the demon.

the PC's have to fight the man, but he dies rather than tell them who sent him or what his agenda is.

they now have another lead to follow. but thats probably your first session over. you then have until next week to tie everything together, draw a dungeon map and keep having ideas.

and so the campaign has begun!

if you are good enough at improvisation the players need never know that it wasn't all planned out in advance. because until you actually tell them something nothing is set in stone.

Gray Mage
2011-08-13, 08:30 PM
I agree with TurtleKing.

Here (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20030530b&page=1) are some small modules from WotC. I've played a couple of them, and they're good, IMO, expecially when you're at a loss at what to do.

2011-08-14, 01:00 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with WildPyre :smallamused:

Another fun one is to have them breakout of the magical prison and be marked by magical manacles which forces *cough railroads cough* them into working with the an underworld like agency until they can get rid of the manacles.

2011-08-14, 02:18 AM
Well, I eventually abandoned my prison breakout thought.

I wound up running them through "The Burning Plague"

They did manage to not-kill both of the named baddies in the module, so I think I've got some ready made motivation for the next set of mysterious circumstances encountered by our intrepid six.

Thanks for all the ideas guys. I wanted to try and wing something, but I don't think my DM'ing is up to it, at this point.

Dr paradox
2011-08-14, 04:24 AM
if you need an idea for a campaign goal, how's this one...

the party's reputation after their first adventurere or two attracts the attention of an eccentric noble and astronomer, who wishes to employ their aid in an... expedition, of sorts. he would like them to accompany his people, an explorer or two, perhaps a scribe, on a journey to find out where the sun comes from/goes. in short, he's proposing that the party go east or west until they can go in that direction no further.

admittedly, this only works as a suitable campaign goal in a world where there actually IS a place the sun goes, but consider the campaign level progression:

Low levels: the party strikes out across Land, seeking to make it to whichever coast is in the direction they're searching for. they encounter some classic low level adventure stock, while at the same ime having to mind their travelling companions. at this point, you have to make the npc's deep, likeable, and memorable, if you don't want the party abandoning them and wandering off. this segment finishes when they reach the sea, and construct or buy the ship on which their further journey will be made.

Mid Levels: the party sets out across the sea, encountering pirates, merfolk, sea monsters, island nations, and increasingly stranger stock until...

High Levels: they reach the archipelago of the Sun. I'm not entirely sure what this place would entail, but I would assume it involves going nuts with the rule of cool.