View Full Version : Ways to make it notable

2011-10-23, 02:23 AM
Ok, so obviously, if you want an achievement to feel 'notable', you can put a climatic battle there that the PCs won't forget for a while. But what happens when you don't want it to be an antagonistic thing, but still notable?

In particular, my players have been questing towards gestalt for a while now, and all they really know at the moment is that the place is called the fountain and that its dangerous. But I don't want it to be dragon-like dangerous, I want it to be more like "meeting Aslan" dangerous, but atm, there's no real NPC involved with the place. Its just a 'place' of ancient magics.

How do I go about making the place a 'notable' experience for my players without doing a massive combat? And by notable, I mean something that's more than just simply reading flavor text at them.

Kol Korran
2011-10-23, 03:48 AM
hhhmmm... perhaps an idea: there is some sort of guardina spirit/ fey/ outsider (whatever fits your campaign) that sort of keeps watch over the fountain (not a combat encounter). it is there to make sure only "the worthy" may have the blessings of the fountain.

however, what does it consider worthy? being brave? being practical? holding to some ideal or another? you need to decide (i'm not sure what you mean by "questing towards gestalt" means... to you mean they are trying to become gestalt characters? i'm unfamiliar with the term).

the spirit could ask them questions, quizzing them about their path- adventures so far, perhaps detailing other choices ("the path not taken" sort of thing) where teh party needs to justify or own up to their actions.

in a way, sort of a trial, but with the accusations unknown, the judge and jury are the same, and the sentence seems severe (there might be clues to what it is at the site. a nice suggestion might be that the characters are allowed to drink/ bathe in the fountain no matter what, but it has different outcomes decided on what the spirit decides...

if you like the idea, i may try and help you with it. if not, i may think of other ideas to try and assist.

hope this helps,

2011-10-23, 03:53 AM
Well, seeing how gestalt is, as far as I know, sort of the merge between two character classes, maybe the fountain is in a big dome, where the air is brimming with small water pellets from the fountain, it is like a jungle oasis, warm and humid, and as the air gets more and more humid, they start seeing the faint outlines of others, like ghosts, but it turns out to be alternate versions of themselves, almost the same, but another class.
The more humid, the more interaction, as they draw closer and closer to the nearby hidden location of the fountain (can't be seen before really close due to all the greens growing in the dome)

Eventually, they can even have brief conversations and ask questions of the others, who might also ask them questions.

Add some more elements to make it noteable; Maybe if some of the other parties are missing members, i.e. if your players make a 4 man party, many of the other parties they meet consist of only 2 or 3, some maybe even consists of more members, maybe those extra members someone they meet who died, maybe even an enemy they killed, but that in the alternate reality became an ally instead, there might even be a good reason why (chance to introduce missed plothooks from earlier in the campaign, that evil necromancer they killed? Well, he was actually forced to work for a lich who held his family captive, oh, they didn't manage to find that out, they just killed the poor sod? Does that mean the lich is still alive?)

2011-10-23, 04:08 AM
Something I've always wanted to do was have either an entire chamber or dungeon just filled with rust monsters. Another thing is have skilled archers basically surf on flying carpets and soar by and snipe. It'd be cool to have the PCs try to get on them and take them out.

2011-10-23, 04:11 AM
You could throw a few sprung (and unsprung) traps around with an unfortunate skeleton or two hanging about Indiana Jones style, especially if you don't have a bona-fide trapfinder. Depending on the party make-up a few wild magic areas (or one huge wild magic area) could put some flair on the setting as well.

The typical benign tension-raisers could make a contribution as well, call for a few random spot checks/will saves/etc. Maybe even toss out a few wandering dearly departed flitting through the pillars just beyond sight.

I feel for you, it's hard to give something a sense of foreboding without making it overly gruesome. Another favorite trick of mine is to set arbitrary rules for the location, explained via an NPC or dusty plaque. Random NPC guide says "Be sure not to speak, and touch nothing in the entry-way" then if a party member tries to touch something the NPC shouts "NO!" and ages into dust before their eyes, or something appropriate...or the NPC "fails his will save" and pockets a trinket/tastes an apple/what-have-you and suffers a nasty fate as an example of breaking the rules leading to something awful.

Hopefully that could give the location a sense of great power demanding respect.

2011-10-23, 02:26 PM
however, what does it consider worthy? being brave? being practical? holding to some ideal or another? you need to decide (i'm not sure what you mean by "questing towards gestalt" means... to you mean they are trying to become gestalt characters? i'm unfamiliar with the term).

Yeah, I'm adding gestalt to an ongoing campaign, and requiring a quest to 'activate' it. And for reference, this is 3.5.

2011-10-23, 11:16 PM
Perhaps the place puts the characters on edge somehow?
I know it's really cliche, but the eerily quiet place usually does the trick.

2011-10-23, 11:28 PM
Good descriptions. Good descriptions are everything. Write up a bunch of one or two paragraph descriptions beforehand to read, verbatim, in session. If you're not a "good writer" (whatever your definition of that might be), find a friend to help. A minute or two of description about eerie silence and static crackle in the air will go a long way towards providing atmosphere.

2011-10-24, 12:14 AM
A highly magical place that is highly dangerous - but which you don't want to use antagonists or fights to make it dangerous?

Sounds to me like its a perfect time to start changing the basic assumptions of the game. Like Gravity, make pockets of the area null-gravity, or make gravity actually flow in one of the cardinal directions - forcing the characters to "climb" the forest sideways.

Make the scenery be "made" out of an impossible element, that reacts like it should only to the PCs (who are not from the fountain). Have chairs made from carved lava, that everyone else can sit in, but which combusts the PCs. Have houses made from crystallized sunlight that blinds the PCs but acts like wood to the NPCs in the village. That kind of thing.

Nothing says dangerous like "by the by, the children in this area play a game called 'the floor is wood' in which they hop from furniture to furniture"

2011-10-25, 12:07 PM
I'd do it by having the environment affect the player characters in some way,
for example, in Tim Power's On Stranger Tides, as they draw near the Fountain of Youth metal heats up until its burning and they have to abandon their weapons and even cut off their belt and shoe buckles to keep from catching on fire.
its not a trap, or a monster, but (in D&D terms) it has a direct mechanical effect on the characters. the loss of their equipment. its not a bit of flavour text they can ignore or gloss over,(although it should certianly be accompanied by a lot of interesting description...) the change happens over some time and they have to go from, "thats odd, my swords heating up", to "actually is this going to set my trousers on fire", and decide when to actually abandon all iron. wait too long and they have problems, act too early and they will be unprepared for whatever still awaits them before they reach the fountain.

I wouldn't advocate directly stealing the idea from that book, it just occured seeing as you're talking about finding a fountain.
prehaps you could have cloying mists that sap their dexterity, or a strange shadow that stalks each character, and at a certain point starts leading them towards an uncertain fate instead.

by keeping the threat supernatural rather than it being a monster or a trap which has a clear physical nature theres potential for it to be a lot more unerving for the players. and by using something which isn't in any book no metagamer or rules lawyer will be able to say, "oh its an x... that means we need to do y"

2011-10-27, 02:31 AM
Sidmen and EccentricCircle, you guys have the *BEST* ideas for this. I've come a lot closer to actually laying out what's going to happen since you guys put up your suggestions, and then I realized, its going to almost wind up playing like the ending of Indiana Jones The Last Crusade, with myriad puzzles that require more than dice rolls to solve, probably forcing the players into separate paths so that each faces a different set of peril. Hmmm, Dungeonscape might be worth a re-read after all.

2011-10-28, 09:57 AM
"Book of Challenges" might give you a few nice trap ideas...as they are mostly interaction traps then roll traps...