View Full Version : DM Help Seeking help for encounters for a freedom-fighter group

2014-07-10, 04:23 PM
Hey all,

I've recently been asked to DM a 3.5 Forgotten Realms campaign for a group of players with varied levels of experience. There are five players, one of which has been playing as long as I have (three years), the other who's been playing for about half a year, the rest have never played 3.5 (or D&D, or any other "structured" tabletop system) at all.

I am going to be gray-washing the morality of the realms quite a bit, and taking a few liberties with storyline/timeline, so I suppose you could say this is the "Ultimates" version of Forgotten Realms. I've already talked to the players who are familiar with FR about this, and they're super thrilled; to preserve story-telling integrity, I'll be telling the new players, when I get to sit down with them, that my campaign is only loosely based on FR canon.

The game takes place in the Western Heartlands, in the early days of the Elturgard Empire. The PCs are citizens of Berdusk, a city along the River Chionthar, just south of the Reaching Woods. Berdusk has formed a strong alliance with the cities of Iriaebor and Scornubel, with Lady Ambermantle of Scornubel serving as the head of this "rebel alliance" (everyone in the group is a rabid Star Wars fan, so throw outs will happen...). Her right-hand man is Lord Bron of Iriaebor, with Cylyria Dragonbreast of Berdusk only right beneath.

Because of a sudden shift in Cormyrian rule after illness finally took Azoun IV, Cormyr began to rapidly expand to the west, taking a good majority of the Trader's Road. This expansion culminated in the sacking of Berdusk, when the Purple Dragon Knights, without provocation or cause (as is yet known) came to the city, razed a large portion, and left many for dead. From then, Heartlanders outside Cormyr began to refer to them as the Fell Knights of Cormyr.

No one would have expected the attack, and with Berdusk in a weakened state, Elturgard seized the moment and moved into the eastern Heartlands, taking Scornubel and Berdusk (among others) as its own.

The game will begin in Berdusk, about a year after the Fell Knights attacked. Lady Ambermantle has finally been captured, and has been taken to Scornubel Hall, her former seat of power, where she shall await trial and, likely, execution. Elturgard "peacekeepers" now patrol the streets of Berdusk and the newly acquired eastern territories. Though the leadership of the peacekeepers are Paladins and Clerics of Torm, much of the enforcement are hired commoners, who treat their positions with a thuggish attitude. Brutality and abuse are commonplace when the marshals aren't around to oversee their underlings.

If you didn't read that wall of text (sounds like a 0-level Wizard spell...) know that the players are in an occupied city, and the occupiers are, for the most part, abusive. Recent events have called a majority of the occupiers away from the town, leaving a moderately small-sized token force to keep the town in check.

Here's my question. If my players decide to (and I think it's likely they will) retake the city and expunge the occupiers, what are some cool encounters I can throw in? Bear in mind, I run a RP heavy group consisting mainly of actors and writers, so I'm not worried about a slow pace or lack of combat. Actually, I'd love to keep the game as low-leveled for as long as possible :).

What I'm looking for are ideas for skill challenges, or things they can do to put the advantage in their hands. I already know what kind of combat encounters will happen, should they go that route, I'm looking for some cool RP stuff that will make them feel a little heroic to start their first adventure.

Because I'm dealing with a lot of inexperienced players, I want them to feel like heroes. I want to give them a reason to invest in D&D.

The other thing is, I don't really want this city to take a majority of the campaign. I want to move things on after about a night or two. I'm not setting up a module based solely around retaking the city unless that's really where the players want to go with it. What I'm looking for is enough content to fill maybe five or six hours of gameplay.

2014-07-10, 06:43 PM
Well, low level characters don't really have any business liberating a city by themselves. They would need to rally a fighting force of citizens to resist the occupiers, and probably have a dedicated rebel military force arrive to hold it from being retaken. They may have the task of attempting to bring together the leaders of different factions within the city. Maybe they have to negotiate a truce between a couple underworld bosses so they will agree to put aside their differences and get their gangs to protect the city. They convince some influential citizens use their clout to gather guerilla fighters. Perhaps they need to sneak into the city armory and make sure the guards there are replaced with imposters (perhaps the PC's themselves), so the militia can arm themselves. Or they need to replace the guards at one of the gates, so the rebel alliance troops can sneak into the city to begin the attack.

Make sure the players have some reason to stay together, they are not just random citizens of the city that are brought together by chance. Perhaps they are already members of the rebel militia of Berdusk, and are taking orders from an undercover agent of the Lady and the larger rebel alliance.

2014-07-10, 07:04 PM
Thank you, these are some great ideas.

I should have mentioned that they are part of a larger resistance movement that has been biding its time, so they won't be alone if they want to help retake the city. The players have already decided it would be best to know of each other in some way, so they can start with a common goal, so that part won't be a burden for me.

Other than that, they have complete freedom to choose how to proceed. If they want to, and think it's more prudent to, they can choose to leave and go somewhere else. They may deliver messages to other cities, or strike at enemy caravans along the roads, etc. Knowing them, however, I have a feeling they will want to play hero (and why shouldn't they ;) ).

I've already thought about some encounters involving rallying the people to the cause. I really like that idea about mucking up the armory though.