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Silus
2013-09-30, 11:20 PM
Essentially a "What can go wrong?" thread regarding a campaign concept I have for a group of new (new to tabletop gaming) players.

Here's how I described it to a buddy of mine:


1) Core races
2) Everyone starts as an NPC class and can sub in Character levels upon first level up
3) Everyone starts with an outfit and 50g worth of non-weapon, non-armor gear

Everyone wakes up in some sort of dungeon complex. Like massive underground complexes connected by stretches of Underdark.
In addition to what they have on them, they have a list.
The list contains various objects, about 50 or so.
With the top reading, in oddly shifting font
"Scavenger Hunt"

The characters wake up, examine their stuff, and begin wandering. There are noises in the darkness. Things moving in the shadows.
They're being hunted.
And the only way out
Is to complete the scavenger hunt.

Concept is based off of/inspired by the fic "How I Survived My Summer Vacation, by Tamika Flynn, Age 12 3/4 (http://archiveofourown.org/works/914801)", based off the Podcast series "Welcome to Night Vale".

Players start out with only what they bring in with them, only get what they can scavenge, and survive off of what they hunt. NPCs will show up with similar lists, and it's up to the players to decide whether they help or not. Helping, willingly, nets them allies and support with dealing with the horrors. Magic items will be in VERY short supply, or at least heavily guarded (Like in the heart of the horror's nests).

Monster-wise, I was thinking of using Kythons from the BoVD, as they scale up to where I'm looking to get, level-wise (Campaign is hopefully gonna be 1-10). That, and some cheeky so-and-so wouldn't be able to control them like some casters would be able to with undead.

So in a nutshell:

1) Low supplies, low gear, low magic items
1a) Light, food, water and a safe place to sleep will be very important
2) Emphasis on survival and completion of tasks
2a) Friendship, cooperation and teamwork will help immensely
3) An insistence on avoiding confrontation instead of diving headlong into combat

And of course, the players won't know any of this as they go in (about how teamwork will help them all get out alive or that supplies will be as limited as they are).

Anyway, what do you Playgrounders think? Any glaring faults that need patching up? Any suggestions on what could be done differently or done better?

Kane0
2013-10-01, 05:31 AM
Doesnt seem too bad a concept, just be careful that it doesnt become tepetitive or anything.

Also for people that like story or RP more than hack/slash or survival (and/or horror) you may fall into the standard mcguffin collection quest problems, but more than once.

Just my initial thoughts

Rhynn
2013-10-01, 07:08 AM
Sounds like a great first session for Dungeon Crawl Classics if you ramp down the scale...

If you're going to stretch it into an entire campaign, you'll have to work the ontological mystery angle: why is everyone there, how did they get there, who built the place, who is behind everything, how do you get out, etc. Make sure you know all that ahead of time and work in clues - you don't want to go the way of Lost. The problem with ontological mysteries, of course, is that pretty much every single one is disappointing when you find out the answers.

Silus
2013-10-01, 12:58 PM
Sounds like a great first session for Dungeon Crawl Classics if you ramp down the scale...

If you're going to stretch it into an entire campaign, you'll have to work the ontological mystery angle: why is everyone there, how did they get there, who built the place, who is behind everything, how do you get out, etc. Make sure you know all that ahead of time and work in clues - you don't want to go the way of Lost. The problem with ontological mysteries, of course, is that pretty much every single one is disappointing when you find out the answers.

Any suggestions for reasons why they would be captured beyond "For some powerful creature's amusement"?

Rhynn
2013-10-01, 01:27 PM
Well, the "twist" of The Cabin in the Woods would be easy to adapt. "Entertainment" or "experimentation" is a bit dumb, so I'd avoid those; there probably has to be a very specific reason for these dungeons to even exist.

Silus
2013-10-01, 01:58 PM
Well, the "twist" of The Cabin in the Woods would be easy to adapt. "Entertainment" or "experimentation" is a bit dumb, so I'd avoid those; there probably has to be a very specific reason for these dungeons to even exist.

Well after some pondering, possibly the dungeons are sealed off sections of the world full of magical and archeological whatnot that the surface needs for...stuff? The whole "why" portion amounts to fame, fortune and prestige for the "volunteers" and their families. Maybe.

TheStranger
2013-10-01, 03:02 PM
Any suggestions for reasons why they would be captured beyond "For some powerful creature's amusement"?

The problem I see is that scavenger hunts are, almost by definition, somewhat arbitrary. I mean, you can come up with some convoluted reason that somebody somewhere needs all this stuff, but it's going to seem contrived. Why this stuff, and not other stuff? If somebody's sending them to a dungeon to retrieve valuable things, wouldn't they just want the characters to take everything that isn't nailed down? If it's that important, why send 4-6 strangers with amnesia instead of elite adventuring teams?

I suppose you could say that it's the nature of the magic that sent them there in the first place; they *are* an elite adventuring team, but they go through with no memory of who they were. But that doesn't answer the question of why they need to find random items to get out.

Or you can go somewhere silly with it: the PCs are enslaved spirits, tasked with keeping a random wizard's spell component pouch full. I mean, those things have to be magical, right? How do they never run out of bat guano? Where does it come from? Well, it turns out that creating a bog-standard spell component pouch requires that you sacrifice a handful of commoners, who then spend eternity running dungeons to track down tiny tarts and feathers. Pick obscure components, and see how long it takes the PCs to figure it out. Then when they break free, they have a boss fight against the wizard.

Silus
2013-10-01, 03:32 PM
The problem I see is that scavenger hunts are, almost by definition, somewhat arbitrary. I mean, you can come up with some convoluted reason that somebody somewhere needs all this stuff, but it's going to seem contrived. Why this stuff, and not other stuff? If somebody's sending them to a dungeon to retrieve valuable things, wouldn't they just want the characters to take everything that isn't nailed down? If it's that important, why send 4-6 strangers with amnesia instead of elite adventuring teams?

I suppose you could say that it's the nature of the magic that sent them there in the first place; they *are* an elite adventuring team, but they go through with no memory of who they were. But that doesn't answer the question of why they need to find random items to get out.

Or you can go somewhere silly with it: the PCs are enslaved spirits, tasked with keeping a random wizard's spell component pouch full. I mean, those things have to be magical, right? How do they never run out of bat guano? Where does it come from? Well, it turns out that creating a bog-standard spell component pouch requires that you sacrifice a handful of commoners, who then spend eternity running dungeons to track down tiny tarts and feathers. Pick obscure components, and see how long it takes the PCs to figure it out. Then when they break free, they have a boss fight against the wizard.

Hmm, I kinda like this idea. Possibly mix it up with strange "This isn't supposed to be here..." kind of locations?

Like one of the items on the list is "A golden apple". The characters search around until they find a wooden door set into the cavern wall, something that is obviously NOT supposed to be there. They open it up to find a vast plain with a hill in the center, atop which lies an apple tree that bears the fruit they need.

Then the monsters pounce as soon as they retrieve the fruit. Or something.

Slipperychicken
2013-10-02, 05:14 PM
You don't even have to provide clear answers for why they're there. Each NPC might have his own theories and ideas based off what he's seen. Maybe it's a curse, maybe it's hell, maybe it's a fantasy version of AM from "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (he's basically glados), maybe they're stuck in the Plane of Dream, who knows? Who cares? All that matters is the PCs try to get out alive and sane.

There could simply be some strange occurrences to keep the players guessing, like some NPCs kept in eternal pain without escape, enigmatic/faded messages on important-looking places, some creatures fading in and out of existence, noticing similar entities to those which the PCs killed previously, and so on.

Darkpaladin109
2013-10-05, 06:01 AM
You could make all the items necesary to exit the dungeon, or at least they could provide an easier way out of it.

Sian
2013-10-05, 10:10 AM
You don't even have to provide clear answers for why they're there. Each NPC might have his own theories and ideas based off what he's seen. Maybe it's a curse, maybe it's hell, maybe it's a fantasy version of AM from "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (he's basically glados), maybe they're stuck in the Plane of Dream, who knows? Who cares? All that matters is the PCs try to get out alive and sane.

There could simply be some strange occurrences to keep the players guessing, like some NPCs kept in eternal pain without escape, enigmatic/faded messages on important-looking places, some creatures fading in and out of existence, noticing similar entities to those which the PCs killed previously, and so on.

True ... no need for clear answers on anything, but its highly practial for the DM to at least have it planed out so there is a certain ammount of internal logic in the scenario

Slipperychicken
2013-10-05, 12:56 PM
True ... no need for clear answers on anything, but its highly practial for the DM to at least have it planed out so there is a certain ammount of internal logic in the scenario

I should have been more clear: You ought to know the answer yourself, but there's no need to directly tell the players/PCs what the answer is, because the mystery has the potential to positively contribute to the game.

mig el pig
2013-10-05, 07:38 PM
Any suggestions for reasons why they would be captured beyond "For some powerful creature's amusement"?

Depends on what you want to them to scavenge for.

I like the idea alot, but I had to run it I would go for a more cryptical campaign.

They are dead and find themselves in the Souls Gauntlet, a purgatory where they have one final change on redemption. A second "death" might mean eternal damnation, fulfilling their quest means salvation for their sin. The Pact (party) is all guilty of the same sort of crime against the celestial order and must find their doom of salvation together. The nature of the crime can be something 'vague' like greed, lust, contempt, apostate, murder, ... . The "items" they must find, correspond with their crime and aren't always actual objects, some may be an experience, an emotion or a revelation.

The List might include such things as:

- A Dead Man's Finger (one of their own will do if they realize they are dead)
- Give the Demon his due (they must give a token/gift back to an entity that's bound to do "evil") (in this setting evil would be a part of the celestial order)
- A door that swings both ways (return a gesture/act of someone/thing in the exact same way, an eye for an eye or an equal exchange of gifts count)
- The Eye of The One Eyed King (Remove that what makes the ruler of a domain lord over his fellow beings)
- An enemy's mercy (neither enemy nor mercy must be taken literally, forgiveness from a spurned ex-lover or respect from someone who used to despise you also count)
- The Tree That Bears No Fruit (the most useless thing ever)

The Pact must complete the list together (although I would give each party member one thing only they themselves can complete) but in this Soul's Gauntlet you are not alone. Many more souls are also condemned to this existence, other Pacts with other Lists are also striving for their salvation. Sometimes their are similar things on the Lists and this can turn into conflict or cooperation.

Other souls are called the Wanderers/Lonely Ones/Outcasts/Forlorn/Guides, they were separated from their List or Pact or are merely here to oppose or help a specific soul/idea/party. Some of them are mad, some of them know "the truth" about this Gauntlet, some of them are malicious because the rest of their group was redeemed but they failed, some of them are risking their own redemption to help, some where put here by the celestial order for a specific task, ...

Those who stay too long or fail their List completely become The Fallen, for them redemption is almost impossible an they want revenge on the celestial order. They want to break the Gauntlet, sabotage the Pacts and force a "reboot" of the system by making redemption impossible. Only (true) Wanderers aren't attacked on sight, because given enough time they will also become part of The Fallen.

The Gaunlet itself is a multilayered maze that contains villages (only Wanderes/Lonely Ones actually live in these villages, most Pacts are out scavengingÓ, wilderness, etc ... The deeper you go the more you travel back in to history, as if this Gauntlet was actual layers from the real world that were stacked on each other. The Gauntlet has run for millennia and it still grows and although it still seems to follow many laws of nature most of the time it can still 'shift' and change.

When you enter the Gauntlet you cannot recall your past life perfectly, it feels more like being stuck in a dream/hypnoses and only encounters with fragments/persons/events from your real life can bring back certain moments with clarity.