View Full Version : 1001 Campaign Ideas

2007-09-02, 02:18 PM
As the title may imply, this thread is for exactly the inverse of the purpose of the "DM Advice" thread.

While the OP of that thread has an idea of what he wants to do with the game and doesn't know the rules very well, I'm quite competent in D&D rules, but I'm having difficulty thinking up a coherent campaign.

As such, I'd appreciate it if the creative folks here on the forums would give me general thematic ideas ideas, BBEGs, and other concepts that I could refine into a workable campaign, as I've been tapped to serve as my group's DM.

2007-09-02, 02:27 PM
Do you have an idea what level you want? or should we just give you ideas, and you'll get the level based on that?

2007-09-02, 02:31 PM
Well, since I'm only just starting to DM, even though I know the general balance issues, I think it'd be best to start at first level.

That said, if someone happens to have a really good idea, then I'll definitely run with it; I'm open to whatever genius you folks happen to have strokes of.:smallsmile:

2007-09-02, 02:36 PM
A group of thiefs and assassins wants to take over the kingdom. For this purpose, they start creating trouble - trouble only their allies should be able to solve. That way they try to undermine the governments authority. (As an example: bandits attacking an important trade route, thus reducing the kingdoms income, sabotage acts in the army, stirring up monsters, burning down hamlets and so on)

Of course, this will offer the PC plenty opportunities to get into the BBEG way. Once they figure this out, they will do three things: 1) Send the PC on dangerous missions. 2) Put a bounty on their heads. 3) Destroying their reputation.

In the end, the PC have to figure out who are the BBEG allies within the palace and take them down, before the showdown with the BBEG themselves. For additional fun, let's have the Churches and Arcane Orders their own agenda on this topic, too and all of the involved groups working against each other.

2007-09-02, 03:01 PM
Gnorosch, your idea sounds workable; perhaps the first adventure that the PCs have would be a stereotypical mop-up of a kobold assault on a little hamlet.

When they confront the source of the problem, the kobold warren is completely obliterated, like that bit from Final Fantasy VII in the Shinra Building slaughter. They find a few clues that lead them to a single, reasonably powerful lunatic (CR 3 or 4) (maybe a trail of blood into the woods, which would themselves have a rather large number of possible encounters, including a druid or something?), who was in a rather large prison break-out, and wore the colors of a member of the original town's guard? He would be intentionally released by middle-ranking members of the guild and taken near to the kobold trap, as a new member of the guild (perhaps they're identified by some tatoo, like a Ouroboros on their palm?)

What could come after that, before the full extent of the assassin menace is revealed? What could I do if they get off the rails (clever suggestions for one-off adventures, fights that would also be involved with this cabal, etc.?)

Perhaps they start as members of the town guard? What other positions could there be that would get them immediately involved, but wouldn't prevent them from investigating this mess to the fullest extent? Maybe just ordinary townsfolk who are forced to contend with the menace when the guard can't handle it on their own?

2007-09-02, 03:11 PM
For a first time DM, I'd start with something smaller in scope than a Kingdom, and I'd turn to one of the greatest Mystery Authors of all time in order to help.

Agatha Christie.

Your group of level 1 characters are in a Village/town. Medium size, rough two, three hundred population. This will give you a small enough area to write out everywhere your players may want to go, and big enough to give them the sense of exploration, and you enough cast members with which to work.

Start killing off prominent townsfolk.

Put up posters/rewards/have an inparty contact like our adventurers with the local Watch. Get them Hired to "Figure out what's going on".

These deaths have been... "Out of the Ordinary". Real Horrorshow affairs, Dismemberment, offal, carnage. Set up a series of interactions both on the characters way into the town, and the time immediately surrounding their acceptance of the investigation, to introduce them to the primary movers and Shakers. Our "Ten Little Indians."

You'll want 2) Totally innocent

2)Relatable Human beings(Pie baking old Grannies, Over-worked mother of seven in the marketplace. Warm, open, helpful individuals. Characters you can quickly make the party react in regards to.)

2)Oddballs(Jester, Rat-catcher, Beggars. Newspaper man. Someone obscessed with a Calzone Golem. Weird personalities, but not repulsively weird. We're shooting for "A little off")

2)Evil Scum.(Heartless Banker, Tax Collector. Unrelateable Human Beings. People the party dislikes, Callous, cold, aloof.)

1)Shifty but endeering(Thief willing to get them information... In exchange for the Barbarian's Ale =D)

1)Shifty, and untrustworthy(Local Pick pocket, Low-ranking Watch corporal...Someone who can leave a bad taste in the party's mouth not because of them being cold, heartless, and unlikeable, but by being kinda slimy and greasy. )

Kill off one a night. Start with one of our Innocents. Then one of the Relatables. Then, to switch stuff up, kill off our Shifty/Untrustworthy.

While you're killing people, You're going to be working to place clues. Hints as to whom is the individual behind the murders. Little stuff. Leaving a specific scent, a specific kind of dirt, non-immediately recognizeable hints that will work to build a picture of whom it may be.

For each two "Actual" hints you leave, drop one "Off" Hint, which is twice as obvious as the other hints. Red Hair, a specific Gold Button... Something that serves to Muddy the waters, and to point your PC's in alternate directions.

As to what's actually perpetuating the murders, I'll leave up to the Discression of the DM himself.

My PERSONAL suggestions would be

1) It's none of the people. An outside force is killing them, Likely an Ethereal Doppleganger(MMII). It's borrowed one of the townfolk, and is engaging in some slaughter, before it brings that person back, to deal with the repurcussions. Award half XP if they figure out "The Real Killer" and full XP if they twig to the fact that it's not actually the person.

2) It's several of our ten. In a (DM REASON) Pact, they've ganged up to take control of the town. This can serve to explain the false clues, and double-backs, it really WAS more than one person.

2007-09-02, 03:12 PM
Well, I would not offer all information on the order in one place but split it instead, so that they can still solve the mystery even if some pieces are missing.

Furthermore, I would make sure that not all adventures are linked to the conspiracy - let them have some normal problems to solve in between. But again and again, they stumble about a certain sign - for example the tattoo you mentioned. That way, you do not have to send them directly after the conspiracy. You can simply let them play an ordinary adventuring group who are sent on different missions as mercenaries and make the players simply hate the conspirators, so that they go after them on their own. If you achieve this, you will have no trouble with missed clues, as your players will simply search for new ones. After a couple of encounters, you can let them stumble about one of the evil's lieutenants and thus give them a face to follow. (For example, that guy catches them in a cave and boasts a bit afterwards that they won't trouble "their plans" anymore or something like that)

2007-09-02, 03:13 PM
they could be framed for it or somehting, and have to escape stop whoever actually did it and is still out there. Espically if you were going with an idea like Bassetking's, just as they find out who perpetuaded the crimes they could be framed, and they might be in a small easily escapable rural jail, and have to break out to hunt the real perpetuators of the crime. i guess the hardest part in this little plot hook would be to provide a reason for the poor security--especially if they were framed as murderers.

2007-09-02, 04:34 PM
There is a third option, the one used in the book Ten Little Indians (though I read the original version that had another title). Spoilered for those who want to read the book (which I really do recommend as a good mystery)
In Ten Little ******* (the original book), the murderer is actually one of the first victims... he fakes his death and then finishes off everyone else, before killing himself. The perfect crime...
Edit: hey, who'd have thought it would be filtered out. Shows why they changed the title I suppose.

2007-09-02, 04:39 PM
Assuming the OP wanted something other than a mystery:

If you want level 1 dungeon crawls that are linked together, try this:

A group of goblins (naturally) kidnapped 2 members of a band of travelling performers (4 of them in all). The players are the only people for the job of rescuing him. First they go to the goblins lair and find the performer about to be eaten. They save him, but also find a picture of the performer with a big cross out in animal blood. Someone asked the goblins to kill him. But who? No matter.

When they go off to rescue the second one, they find the harpist in the woods with several fingers cut off. He says he was a attacked by a large man with a cleaver, who crippled him and left. Then a monster followed him smelling blood, attacked and took his harp. He has to go back to recover his harp, or else he wouldn't be able to play (he's able to use his toes :smallbiggrin: ). The concert needs to go on to soften the heart of the nobleman and reduce taxes. They recover it from the monster's lair.

When they return home safely, the players are treated to dinner with the band, only to have their food poisoned, but thanks to some magic they are all right. It is also good to note that the band's lead singer is quite the fan of women, wooing barmaids and possibly the players. At night, the players attacked by another group of goblins. They find more pictures of themselves with crosses painted in nearly fresh cow blood, as well as someone signing as "The cleaver".

Finally, the day night of the concert, the group is attacked again by several fat wolves and goblins, with one of the Harpist's fingers used as scent. Fortunately, their seemingly semi-docile nature makes them easy to defeat. The goblins are carrying bags of jerky and steak with tags that say "Payment". The players realize it must be the town butcher who's causing all the trouble, because he would have been keeping the goblins hiden and feeding them. but why does he want the band hurt?

If the players do some roleplaying about town before or after this happens, they can learn that the butcher had a sweetheart when he was younger. He was infatuated with the girl. but one day the band came to town, and the girl was seduced by the lead singer. She had a one night stand, and when the Lead singer dumped her, she commited suicide (alternately, she ran away with the band). The butcher has been plotting reveng ever since. He hopes to show the singer as a fraud, relying on his bandmembers to be successful. Thus he's going to sabotage the show in front of an influential Noble who will either denouncce his skills or have him imprisoned or pilloried.

The players go to the butcher shop and find more goblins and wolves running around. Eventually they find the Butcher's journal, detailing the above story and that he plans to work with the goblin chief to dispel the singer's magic cape that makes him a good singer during the performance. The players go and fight them off. End of story.

((BTW, I just made all of this up from nothing)).

2007-09-02, 05:15 PM
A campaign mostly depends on what the players like. It's important to tailor to their wants (as well as yours). So my best advice would be: Talk a little to your players, see what they would like.

Also start with a few adventures that don't need to link together, there's a few on the wizards website that are good. Usually, the players create the campaign. This is what I call an open-ended campaign, because it follows the characters.
"B. the fighter, Z. the mage, R. the thief and L. the cleric band together and travel the land in search of money and adventure... tune in next week for the next adventure!"

There is also the other possibility, a closed campaign, this is done by writing down a initial condition:
"He who saw the Genesis" is mythical creature who bargained with the first gods and freed it's children of their meddling. His children are the dragons, who have each one progenitor of their colour. The white dragon (Auspex the White) was defeated a hundred years ago and sealed away. The black dragon (Kra) is now trying to obtain Auspex' seal to gain his power. The characters will be used by three powers: The dis-incarnated spirit of Auspex who is their main "quest giver" masquerading as a good guy, Kra who will try to oppose them and the royalty of Greypeak the city founded by the heroes who defeated Auspex who will oppose Auspex' plans."
With a defined middle: "Players will free Auspex after defeating Kra's agents, realize it's a bad thing and cooperate with the royalty".
And an end: "By setting up a battle opposing Kra and Auspex, the players will weaken both so that Kra is banished and Auspex re-imprisoned."