View Full Version : Help with some adventuring ideas?

2012-01-04, 10:46 PM
I just started making a world of my own and I'm trying to make it pretty in-depth. My PC's are pretty excited about their characters, but I need an idea for a "mission" just to get this thing rolling.

They're starting out as part of a traveling band of entertainers. A small circus if you will. I have a few NPC characters written up (3 to be exact).
The leader of the group is one. A hard fellow whom the PC's don't actually know much about personally. The other two are a pair (a brother and sister) from a distant desert land who's act involve swordplay and various balancing tricks and such.

There are seven major cities I have set up across the map I've drawn up, but they are little more than cardboard cuttouts at this point. I'll probably end up fleshing them out as the PC's enter them and give them their unique distictions on the spot.

... but yeah. Any ideas at all would be great. I'm not looking for much battle, I just need something that would be suitable for some honest hard working carnival like folk to do.

2012-01-05, 12:42 AM
Maybe the king/mayor/noble need them to entertain at his daughters birthday ball. Not sure what kind of direction you want to go, but the brother and sister could have been planing to kidnap the daughter all along, thus the king/mayor/noble blames the partly for having associated with them. That gets a bit of beginning plot out of the way and leaves room for a larger more comprehensive plot slowly working down to show the true evil. ex: slave ring, random, other reasons to hold a person against their will.

If you want them to stay as performers maybe they are going to go and have a bard off (admittedly this is a more nonsensical direction) but if none of them play bards you could have a *enter class/profession here* challenge to see who is the best, I mean warriors do this all the time in the arena, why not bards or other performers. This could get someones attention and they are on there way to a life of Famous bards, after all it is a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n' roll.

2012-01-05, 05:58 AM

You've got me intrigued, and I'm not even playing, but this can go in a million directions. But in order to help, we probably need some more info:

1. What game system are you using?
2. What classes are your characters?
3. What setting is this in? (Climate/level of civilization)
4. How are you going to start them off?
5. How battle intense is the campaign? Is this mostly skill challenges and RP, or do you want them to get in some kind of danger?

2012-01-09, 07:27 PM
The PC's could encounter a rival performing company wherever they go. Perhaps the company isn't very friendly towards them and is actually involved in some smuggling ring or the like.

2012-01-11, 05:28 AM
Taking inspiration from Axon Viking's idea, here's what I've come up with:


The PCs are part of a small circus. Its led by a hard and enigmatic ringmaster who takes his work very seriously. In the short time they've been with the circus, they've toured several small villages that are little more than hamlets. They made a pittance, but enough to keep them supplied and on the road. At the last hamlet, Aaron the ringmaster suddenly ordered everyone to pack up and get back onto the road halfway through their usual week-long stays. Some of the entertainers whisper of a mysterious rider arriving in the night to give Aaron a letter just before he decided to pick up and go.

The circus is heading towards (enter city name here). The entertainers are excited at the prospect of performing in a city, but some aren't comfortable with the suddenness of the trip, and Aaron is being his usual curt and enigmatic self, not answering any questions.

Scene 1: A real actual City!

* The circus arrives at the city with excitement and curiosity. Once at the city gates, a small group of guards, which seemed to have been expecting them, checks their documents and quickly escorts them through the city. The PCs' first sight of the city is a short-lived one, as they're taken directly to the large palace of the (insert king/mayor/lord etc). If the PCs wish to explore the city a bit, they can try to slip away from the group with a successful DC 16 move silently check. If caught, the guards will sternly order them to get back in line, and although Aaron will give them a deathly stare, nothing else will come of it. They will eventually be found by some of the fellow entertainers 1d4 hours later and be given the tasks set below.

* Once inside, they meet Cedric, the palace's master of staff. Cedric gives the whole band a once over, then talks privately with Aaron. A DC 15 listen check catches a part of the conversation in which Cedric says: "I never thought I'd see you here again." and the ringmaster replying: "I only came here for her." Afterwards, Cedric gives Aaron some papers and leaves. Aaron turns around and distributes the papers amongst the entertainers. They're writs for free stay at any inn in the city, courtesy of the palace. He charges one of the PCs to find an inn close by that can take all of them, or a couple of inns near each other, and hire rooms. He then asks another PC to find a place to keep all the animals safe and fed. If there are more PCs, they are given similar tasks in taking care of supplies. Since they're the newest recruits, they get stuck with these kinds of jobs.

Scene 2: Out and about.

* Here you can have fun with whatever you had in mind for your city. Add encounters with pickpockets, hawkers, criminals, excited kids, cultists, whatever you want. The PCs eventually accomplish their tasks, having a bit of fun/trouble along the way.

An example would be one of the PC or NPC entertainers finding a gambling hall, winning a bunch of gold, and when trying to leave, is accused of cheating and not allowed to leave. The PCs either have to sneak him out of there, negotiate with the owners of the gambling hall, or get the city guard involved, which might be difficult since the gambling hall is illegal and they'll probably ALL be arrested.

Scene 3: Its a party!

* later that night, Aaron gathers all the entertainers at the inn and tells them that they're here to perform for a party being thrown for the lord's daughter. Its her coming of age ceremony tomorrow (graduating from child to woman). They'll be performing inside the palace, and they need to get some sleep to start setting up very early in the morning.

If Aaron is asked about how the palace knew to find him and invite him here, he won't be forthcoming, unless the question is posed in private and a successful DC 18 diplomacy check is rolled, in which case he'll say that "the girl is important." but won't add more.

* If the PCs got into any trouble earlier that day while finishing their tasks, this trouble catches up with them during the night. Feel free to make it as light or serious as you want. Even if the PCs end up arrested, as long as it isn't something big like murder or treason, Aaron will be able to bail them out in the morning with surprising ease.

For example, the gambling hall owners could send some thugs to get their gold back from the PC that was playing there earlier, or to take revenge on being outwitted or ratted out to the guards. The beat down could become a large brawl as all the entertainers jump in to help their friend, and guards could eventually get involved. In any case, anyone who gets less than 4 hours sleep because of this must make a DC 14 constitution check in the morning or take a -2 to all of their performance checks that day.

Scene 4: Showtime!

* The circus goes to the palace early in the morning to setup their show. They find that many tables and chairs have been setup outside for what seems to be a huge banquet. The hurriedly setup and dress up, then wait for their queue. Their entire setup is covered by large curtains that hide all the entertainers and their setup. Everyone waits inside impatiently for their big reveal.

* Peaking from behind the curtain, the PCs see the slow but steady stream of people arriving at the banquet. Eventually the place fills up and, preceded by blaring horns and trumpets, the lord arrives, escorting his daughter Elda to the biggest table in the middle. Everyone gets up and gives salutes and curtsies as the pair pass, with neither giving them any acknowledgement.

A DC 10 sense motive check determines that the lord is not in the best of moods. A DC 15 sense motive determines that his annoyance flares up when he looks towards the curtains. The pair finally get seated.

* Cedric appears and introduces today's entertainers. The curtain is removed and the entertainers all give their best bows. In front of all of them, Aaron takes a deep flourishing bow in the direction of the lord. To everyone's surprise, Elda jumps out of her seat with a squeal of joy and thanks the Lord with a great hug. The Lord looks perturbed by her reaction, but Elda doesn't notice and eventually sits back down, looking excitedly towards the show.

* The show proceeds and the entertainers can't help but feel a bit overwhelmed. They're used to being the center of attention for dozens of farm hands and little boys, but not what seem to be more than a hundred nobles and merchants, most of whom seem to be completely unimpressed by the performance. Any performance with a success DC of less than 20 gets no attention. A DC 20 success gets a few scattered applause. DC 25 or higher gets the attention of all the guests, with solid applause, but even that attention is short-lived.

The PCs can roll thier performance checks, whether they be a perform skill or tumble and the like. They can also roll for the NPC entertainers in their group. Aaron is working overtime to present the best show possible, this translates into a +2 to all of their checks. Let them roll one check per entertainer, including themselves and consult the table.

DC 5 or less = -3 points
DC 6 to 14 = -1 point
DC 15 to 19 = 0 points
DC 20 to 24 = 1 point
DC 25+ = 3 points

Add up the points at the end of the performance. If the circus accumulates zero or less points, say that all interest in the performance is lost by the crowd. If they accumulate 1 to 4 points, they get polite, but short applause when they're done. If they accumulate 5 or more points, they manage to turn things around and get people to really pay attention. 10 or more points will yield all of the guests' eyes glued to the performers, who are urged to keep going even when the show is complete. Throughout the whole show, Elda will remain transfixed on the circus, giggling at the mishaps and applauding loudly even the slightest success.

Scene 5: Show me the money!

* Once the show is over, the entertainers all take bows and the curtains are drawn again to hide them. Cedric comes around the back and escorts them out of the palace, asking them to return late at night to collect their equipment.

* Once out of the palace, Aaron leads the group to the inn. There he gives them a talk depending on their performance. If they accumulated zero points or less, he fires the worst performers on the spot. A DC 18 diplomacy or bluff check by any of the performers convinces him to relent for the moment. If they accumulated 1 to 4 points, he tells them that he expects much better of them if they're to keep performing in cities like these. 5 or more points gets grudging praise from him about the performance and a simple "keep it up". 10 or more points get him shaking each performer's hand warmly and promising that he'll make sure they'll get wages worth this epic performance. In any case, he'll distribute a few coins among them to spend in the city while he goes to the palace to collect their wages.

* The PCs go out for a night on the town with their new coin. They get some more city encounters that may or may not be related to the earlier problems.

For example, they could be approached by some hard looking men that say they want to talk to them. If the PCs go along with it, they're escorted to an inn where they meet a gang leader who says that he has taken care of their gambling hall problems and those folks won't bother them anymore. He asks the PCs to tell Aaron that he helped them. If asked why he did this, he says that he would much rather be on Aaron's good side than his bad side. It seems Aaron has some kind of reputation.

Scene 6: I'm innocent!

* The PCs eventually go to the palace late at night to pick up their equipment.

* Their arrival finds Cedric waiting for them with some guards that seem to be on alert. The moment they're spotted, they're arrested.

* Cedric roughly asks them "Where did he take her? Tell me!" After some questioning by Cedric, the PCs figure out that Elda, the lord's daughter, has gone missing, and that Aaron is the prime suspect. Cedric says he hasn't seen Aaron since the performance, and the PCs haven't seen him since he gave them the coin at the inn.

* Any PC or NPC that succeeds on a DC 16 diplomacy or a DC 20 bluff check manages to be let go for the time being, the rest are arrested and taken in for further questioning. In either case, none are allowed to leave the city.

* If anyone attempts to escape, they'll have to deal with the guards chasing them. That won't be too difficult since the guards are wearing chainmail and are pretty slow. However, they're going to be relentless. If the PCs do run, they need to find a place to hide. An option would be the gang that they met earlier. The gang leader would happily hide them.

Scene 7: Now what?

* The resolution of this adventure depends on how the PCs wish to proceed. Some flexibility is required. Here's the outline of the possible outcomes.

* If the PCs all get arrested, they will be questioned, and eventually be left to rot in jail unless they're exceptionally persuasive. Either way, some of the entertainers will be kept in jail.

* Aaron will eventually come forward and turn himself in, in exchange for releasing the remaining entertainers. He will not have Elda with him and will claim to not know anything about her disappearance. Once what remains of the entertainers leave the city, they'll be joined by Elda outside the city, with a letter from Aaron.

* This letter will reveal that Aaron is the Lord's half brother and that he left the city some years ago when his popularity with the people threatened the Lord's rule. The Lord is ruthless and politically minded and was planning to kill Aaron when he made his escape. The letter Aaron received was from Cedric, who informed him that the Lord was planning on marrying off Elda to a prince of a neighboring city in a bid for an alliance. Elda was very much against it and wanted to escape. Cedric had convinced the Lord to allow Aaron's circus into town for her party under the guise of keeping Elda happy and quiet.

* If the PCs escape, they can either choose to try to find Aaron on their own, or just escape the city. If they look for Aaron, they'll eventually find him hiding out either with the gang leader they met before, or any other reasonable location. He will have Elda with him and will be planning an escape from the city. Meeting him here, he'll finally tell them his tale and why he took Elda.

* If they simply escape the city, they'll eventually be tracked down by Aaron outside the city, Elda in tow, and he'll lead them away as fast as possible. Again he'll tell them his story, and apologize for getting them into trouble.

* In any case, the PCs will either have Aaron and Elda with them, or just Elda. They will have to ensure that they're not caught by the Lord's men, who are undoubtedly looking for them. At the same time they still need to find work to support all of them, including a good hearted, but pretty spoiled young girl.

I kept tinkering with this for a while, not fully happy with it, but I decided to just post it and see if you can glean anything useful out of it. Good luck!

2012-01-11, 05:31 AM
Edit: Network errors are fun.

2012-01-11, 02:52 PM

You've got me intrigued, and I'm not even playing, but this can go in a million directions. But in order to help, we probably need some more info:

1. What game system are you using?
2. What classes are your characters?
3. What setting is this in? (Climate/level of civilization)
4. How are you going to start them off?
5. How battle intense is the campaign? Is this mostly skill challenges and RP, or do you want them to get in some kind of danger?

It's 3.5 D&D.

We've got a half Dryad (male).
Human Bard.
Human Fighter.

I've actually got a fairly large map drawn out. Not near as large a Toril, but still large. So there's variable kinds of kingdoms in it and whatnot that as I said before, I haven't really got a whole lot of Lore yet. I have decided that the population of the world is primarily human. Anything else is rare and far between (making the Dryad character very much an oddity).

I ended up starting them off in a thriving yet small village settled in a mountain pass. Their swindling and entertaining those living there.

A mix of both roleplay and battle is good, but I'm primarily a roleplay GM.

2012-01-11, 03:01 PM
There is a pathfinder module set in an actual carnival that turns out messy, it was called.. carnival of tears? you should check it out.