View Full Version : Playing D&D while camping - ideas for short side quest?

2019-05-19, 10:00 AM
I'm going to be running a session of my campaign while we're camping. It might be only 4 hours long, but I can put them against almost any random encounter, as they are leaving a big city and following a river through a wooded area to their next destination.

I'm trying to think of a short and sweet random encounter/side quest, something that runs about 4 hours. I think it would be really awesome if I somehow incorporated the fact that we're actually camping in the woods near to a river. Like if I had them actually *do* something. Any ideas?

2019-05-19, 10:13 AM
A young Winston Churchill once dropped his dad's watch in a stream. He wound up paying a crew of workers to build a dam, hired a fire engine to pump the water out of the pool, then took the watch into town to get it repaired. If your party ran into a rich young halfling with the same problem it would be interesting to see how they handle it.

2019-05-19, 11:16 AM
If you were okay with a higher prep time, you might have an evil wizard who's heard of the party put a curse on them as they traverse the road before fleeing. However, as the wizard flees, his spellbook is blasted open, scattering papers about. The party cannot cross the stream they need to cross without hunting down the various scraps of spellbook hidden about the campsite and piecing together a codeword or number or solving a riddle found one word at a time or the like. Essentially, a microcosm of an escape room. It would take a lot of planning beforehand, but it wouldn't be something your players forget soon. In addition, once your players solve the (codeword, riddle, final cipher, whatever), they can cross the stream to get to the wizard's tower and try to defeat them. You can either have them fall then and there or have the wizard escape to become a major antagonist.

2019-05-19, 11:20 AM
You can either have them fall then and there or have the wizard escape to become a major antagonist.

Oh! I actually have a wizardy villain who's due to pop up again, this could work out really well! I've been trying to figure a good way to have him show up again but survive. I could actually do up some workbook pages and scatter then through the campsite for my players to find. Hmmm...

2019-05-19, 11:25 AM
Maybe the wizard got his hands on a major magic item, thus making them a more powerful foe? Maybe instead of a player dealing the killing blow at the campsite, the wizard interposes his spellbook, causing the mayhem? Maybe the wizard curses the players and flees before they get a chance to attack?

2019-05-19, 12:05 PM
Maybe the wizard got his hands on a major magic item...

Funny you should say that. He's been working on getting certain items for a ritual (long story, there). He's got three of the five items he needs. (I need to figure out what item #5 is... Something to represent binding? Like binding a soul to a body type of binding.) The players actually helped him with one item before they knew he was the villain. Anyway, I digress. He does have a couple powerful items that would help him out.

2019-05-19, 12:10 PM
Possibly that fifth item, the one associated with binding, is what he used to curse them? So they're bound to the campsite, but his notes hold the key to undoing that curse. You'd still have to justify him getting the item and figure out what it is, but it adds a sense of urgency for the players to stop him from getting the fourth and final item.

2019-05-19, 12:30 PM
Possibly that fifth item, the one associated with binding, is what he used to curse them?

I like this, too. Or maybe he doesn't quite have the right binding item yet, but he has something similar that he uses to curse the party and bind them to their camp. That way they get a bit of a hint of what he's looking for.

The pages maybe need to be placed in a certain order to break the binding spell? Hmmm. Trying to think of a way I can have them physically find papers in the campsite (ones I've hidden with like, symbols or something on them), and then solve the puzzle in a real life physical manner.

2019-05-19, 12:50 PM
You could have one word or sentence of a riddle or a magic word/phrase hidden about, then have a page that gives clues to the location of each one that ends up sitting out in the open, so the players are following these various types of hints to find parts of the ritual to break the curse. To be nastier, you could have one of these hidden slips have a cipher key on it, then write all of the parts of the final riddle/word in that cipher. Or worse, have multiple different types of puzzle, like various types of codes and ciphers, plus some different types of riddles, guarding these clues, so the players can't use the same approach over and over again.

One approach that I like to use is using steps as a metric to find a clue. Set a clear start point, then record the number of steps and turns it takes to get to the location of the clue. Your players will have to follow in your footsteps to find the clue. You could also just draw a map and have the players have to interpret it. Riddles that reference campsite features work well. Codes and ciphers are an easy go to, as are rebuses and pictograph clues. Honestly, there's such a wealth of option to pull from that the trouble isn't coming up with ways to hide clues, but narrowing down which ones you want to use and which would be the most fun for your players is the more difficult aspect.