View Full Version : [DM Help] Penguins, scrolls, and a clueless DM

2016-06-10, 11:36 AM
where I'm the clueless DM. For some value of DM.

I'm running an FFRP 'plot' with one other player. I say 'plot', because in this case I'm really closer to a player myself, who just happens to come up with scenery and NPCs. This means I don't need an actual plot that the player will act on. The opposite in fact; I need to wrap up the mini-mystery ASAP in the neatest way possible, so that the player can resume his own personal plot immediately - the main point of the game. Doesn't help that PbP is slow.

Essentially, I dropped some hints to a mini-mystery, got the player excited, only to realize even I don't know what the mini-mystery is and need to figure out what was supposed to happen. I need the player to be satisfied with the story I will eventually give him, but everything I think of is riddled with plot holes.

So, I need GitP's help to come up with a backstory for these clues:

Earlier on in the story, the player's PC was at a beach with fairy penguins (http://www.theage.com.au/content/dam/images/g/i/s/p/1/j/image.related.articleLeadwide.620x349.gl3qkk.png/1448000165868.jpg) waddling up the shore. One of the penguins stops in front of a scroll that was buried in the sand. He retrieves the scroll, notices that it's in unusually good condition, and tries to untie the ribbon holding the scroll together. Tries to, the ribbon just doesn't come off. So he hands the scroll to the penguin, and the penguin helps untie the scroll. How I described the scroll:

"The paper, slightly off-white and tattered at worst, is covered in what could be described as ancient runes or a magic language. Along the margins of the paper, are little doodles of penguins of different penguin species. Over half of them seem to be of the little blue variety."

"As he examines the penguin doodles in the margins, he'll realize that these are, well, doodles. In sharp contrast to the runes, which had every stroke drawn ever so carefully by a patient hand, the doodles could easily have been drawn by a small child - careless, loose lines sketched out of boredom or amusement, or just to fill up some blank space."

After the PC moved on to something else, the penguin returns and presents him with a spiral seashell (http://puu.sh/pnR5j/cd5fca6c80.jpg). The PC is now taking the scroll to a magic shop for examination.

I'd intended the scroll to be magically protected such that only a penguin could open it. I'd also intended for the penguin to be a polymorphed human, whom the PC will help return into a human at the magic shop. Other than that... well, I have lost my DMing notes, so I honestly can't remember what else I was thinking.

So, dear GitP, how could one tie all of these clues together into a coherent story that doesn't beg even more questions?

Honest Tiefling
2016-06-10, 11:55 AM
Why would a child scribble on a scroll, that only allows the polymorphed penguin to open it? Because a crazed wizard had stolen heirs to the throne and turned one into a penguin because he could. How else do you show a king and queen that you have insurmountable arcane power other then Baleful Polymorph? And it's a penguin because he just felt like it and didn't give the process much thought, look, he's got things to do, people to subdue, you can't expect a busy man like that to pick out the best form for every situation, a magical empire isn't going to build itself! Besides, he was so distracted by all of the changes he was going to make to this little backwater castle.

The ribbon is from the other heir, who isn't all that old. They were given such items in case of capture, or perhaps they just had some prank items on them when they were captured. The child might not be old enough to really write down a message, and the penguin heir can't write due to flippers. So the heir transformed into a penguin decides to take the piece of paper with the magical ribbon on it, hoping that someone will:

Find out that this ribbon is made in a certain region or area, presumably where the heirs are from. The ribbon might be of high quality silk, indicating wealth.
Realize a child is involved from the doodlings
Realize a mage is involved, due to the magical looking paper that the penguin has assumed is important enough to help track down the mage. (Could just be scribbles or a draft, not like the penguin would notice.)
Go to the island where the creatures who make that particular shell are found. Maybe these creatures ONLY live on that island, another hint as to where the rich child may be.

Okay, so it's not the best plan on the part of the now-penguin guy, but he's only got so much to work with! He could also be very young, like the other character. Also, this plot is quite adorable.

2016-06-10, 08:11 PM
After a quick glance, I feel involving heirs might be a bit much for a story. All I want to do is to quickly tie up the knots I left hanging, so that my player would investigate no further.

An idea popped to my head: a wizard who was researching some spells, including polymorph. When she took a toilet break, her child came in and doodled on her scrolls with invisible ink. So when she came back and tested out the scroll, it backfired on her, turning her into a penguin.

Why the scroll would be enchanted such that only a penguin can open it, I'm not sure.

Honest Tiefling
2016-06-11, 11:35 AM
Why the scroll would be enchanted such that only a penguin can open it, I'm not sure.

Childproofing, of course. The child doodled on multiple scrolls, so one backfired but she neatly rolled up another not realizing it was tampered with and secrued it with ribbon to stop the child from using them, a little too late. That's the one she's presenting, to show what she needs, a mage.