View Full Version : Tournament Campaign

2008-06-29, 03:57 PM
Hello there!

Has anyone ever tried a campaign based only on a large tournament? I just had this idea and it sounded kinda cool :smallsmile:

It would probably be a teamfight. The more opponents the characters beat, the harder it would start getting. Even impossible hard. And there are just thousands of cool themes for the NPC opponents, representatives of a church, the strongest warriors of a distant tribe, astral wanderers trying to compete against different foes, bands of monsters, hell, even dragons could give it a try! :smallsmile:

The fights would probably be to the death, with true resurrections beeing cast after the battle ends and would all be happening in a magical arena of sorts.

The basic idea is to have a campaign made out only of boss fights. There could be some RP to in between, bribes, taunts, intimidations, sabotage, but the main focus would me big, bloody, messy fights.

So, any thoughts?

2008-06-29, 04:03 PM
I've played in one, it was a lot of fun but we spent almost no time at all in the arena (infact the last six sessions or so the combatant was a DMPC with us cheering from the sidelines). The focus was ment to be on the fights but we got so into the backfround stuff (dirty tricks to knobble upcoming tough opponents, getting opponents minions boozed up and trying to pry opponents tactics, guarding against other teams schenanigans. etc...). Turned out it was a whole lot of fun to paly in an environment where there was a public face with lots of rules and fairness and influff reasons for a CR system and an "off camera" world where there wasn't anything but a don't get caught rule. Like being a UN ambassador during the cold war:smallsmile:

Zeta Kai
2008-06-29, 04:19 PM
I once tried to run a campaign where creatures were snatched from across the universe to compete in a Darwinian deathmatch, all so an over-pantheon of gods could tell who made the best races. Each player chose a different race, & banded together to survive in a fight to the finish. The only problems were:

Other races were banding together as NPC parties, most of which had powers far beyond the core races.
Once they were done, they would be encouraged to turn on each other, for There Could Be Only One (cue Queen song).

There game didn't get very far (RL issues), but it was fun while it lasted.

2008-06-29, 04:32 PM
As the head ref at the local PvP tournament, I have a good number of suggestions.

First, define what constitutes a loss. If it's just to the death, that doesn't leave much room for alternate victories, which are aot of fun. One of the coolest victories that we ever had at the Arena was when one gladiator used a charm spell to convince a nudist gnome that he should leave the arena to put on a towel.

Second, understand that spellcasters are going to clean up in combat. Arena combat produce the circumstances in which spellcasters can be at their best always. They know exactly what they will be facing, when they will be facing them, in what terrain, and they know just how long they will be fighting. They have plenty of protection when out of combat, so they can rest nearly anytime and without fear.

Third, you will need to mix up the terrain. Fighting in an open pit only intrests people for so long, so have a variety of arenas availible.

2008-06-30, 07:59 AM
At what level do you think the players should start? Would it be better to let them level up and give them rewards for winning battles, or would the campaign be better off if xp was fixed? Are there any systems, where a single defeat wouldn't end the tournament for the party?

Caster supremacy may not be such a big problem for my group, as they are not really good optimizers. But if they were, making characters gestalt could probably solve the problem.

2008-06-30, 09:01 AM
At what level do you think the players should start? Would it be better to let them level up and give them rewards for winning battles, or would the campaign be better off if xp was fixed? Are there any systems, where a single defeat wouldn't end the tournament for the party?

Caster supremacy may not be such a big problem for my group, as they are not really good optimizers. But if they were, making characters gestalt could probably solve the problem.

I would say give XP, and also prize money when characters win a match. The prize money should be minimal, but of course should scale up the higher the PC's go.

That way, if the PC's lose a match they can pay a large entrance fee to get back into the tournament (probably starting at a lower rank than they were before). Alternately, you could say they have to wait to re-enter "next year" and then fast forward to registering at the beginning of next year.

Of course, make sure they don't get to save up all their money or entrance fees. Have lots of people marketing to them all the time. Have a cleric offer to work as their personal medical staff (assuming the tournament only heals them up to positive hits - or doesn't offer healing at all - who wants to sit around healing for days or use their own resources on it?). Have forgers, spies and thieves offer to get info on other teams or even sabotage other teams. "Yeah you could do it yerself but then what if you get caught? Hire me and there's no connection back to your team!"

Don't forget the magic item salesman, the "escorts", the agents, the marketing guys, the fashion designers, etc etc. Have lots of NPCs trying to get a piece of the PC's prize money, and roll a % chance to see if each one is for real, a scam artist, or working for a competing team.


2008-07-01, 09:13 AM
What about having a preliminatory tournament, where the PCs fight 10 other teams, and have to collect at least 7 wins in order to advance(or be in the top 4)? That way they could meet the thoughest opponents at the beginning of the campaign, get beaten sensless, and thus become more eager to win the whole tournament.

Other than that, it would be also nice to get a few suggestions about flavorful opponents, so if you think up something cool share it. Ok, I'll start first:

- A group of gishes, that represent a magic academy(a Duskblade, a Spellsword, an Elderitch knight etc.)
- A group of wariors from an orcish tribe(Barbarian, Druid, Ranger, Scout)
- A red dragon(alone)

2008-07-01, 09:31 AM
Be sure to throw curveballs when announcing who your players will fight.

"This fight will be against a powerful wizard, so we'll do this, then this, then this. Go team!"

All while the wizard, a Dread Necromancer, has assembled a team of undead to fight in his stead. Or maybe Golems. Flesh, Iron, whatever. They're all good.

Maybe have a Paladin who's far too strong for the party to take, who gets everyone down low, but can't bring himself to kill wounded foes. Then see if your party has the gall to kill him after he just displayed mercy. Bonus points if someone reanimates him.

Once they get a little higher up, and the word "Kobold" would never cross their minds, tell them their next fight is against kobolds. But don't tell them it's not a few high level ones; it's actually a swarm of kobolds.

Have some fun. Unexpected enemies are great.

2008-07-01, 10:55 AM
"The next fight will be against the ancient dragon, Sorgoshemon!" The PC's get into the ring to discover it isn't just the ancient dragon, but also all four of her adult children.

"An unusual contender, Murky is only six years old - but that's middle aged in cat years!" An awakened cat Rogue15/Assassin5 with level-appropriate gear.

"The world-traveling botanist and explorer, Doctor Verdeaux!" A human fighter/druid who isn't that tough on his own... but has 6-8 Phantom Fungi with him. Look them up in the monster manual, they're awesome! (The PC's won't know any of them are there until... *bite!*)

"Fat Wide and the Thumpers!"

Fat Wide and his Thumpers by Another_Poet
Gold Medal Winner in Master DM Competition #37 on the WotC forums.

Fat Wide is a true gangster, a monster among monsters, a celebrity, and a very powerful man. Or, not man, exactly. A very powerful ogre. Towering over his foes, Fat built a business around taverns, smuggling, extortion, brothels, and “protection”. He is also well known for his music and freestyle poetry. But like all ghetto stars he has a spiritual side, and acts as a sort of street preacher urging monsters to fight for their freedom—including the freedom to murder, pillage and raid.

When just a whelp Fat was beaten by his father on a regular basis (and that’s good upbringing among ogres). Eventually he couldn’t take it. He killed the old man, ate the last stolen goat in their cave, and went looking for something better.

The rest is legend. There are dozens of stories about how Fat got into the city, why he wasn’t executed, and how he climbed, stabbed, and smashed his way above all the other street thugs. By the time he fully matured Fat was a force to be reckoned with, and has been ever since.

Of course, Fat doesn’t do it on his own. Partnered with his girlfriend Narrow (yes, she is a gnome; no, we don’t know how things, er, work); his best friend and face Torp (there have been nastier thug bards, but not on the Material Plane) and his number one enforcer Garrel, Fat Wide has some bona fide firepower to back him up. When adventurers wander into town, he doesn’t take it lightly. He has henchmen to take care of small turnips like enemy gangs, uppity subordinates and public officials who won’t fall in line. But for so-called heroes, he’ll never miss a date. The Wide Reverend is all heart as long as you don’t have monster blood staining your weapon, but cross that line near his territory and you’re in for the nastiest sort of death an ogre mind can devise.

The Squad
The Thumpers are an urban gang with tall ambitions. It’s hard to say what’s the real core of the operation: Fat’s freedom-for-all-monsters religious message, Torp’s gritty street rhythms, or the criminal empire they built together. They have politicians in their pockets and rule about half of the capital city. They also network with gangs in smaller towns around the country. Fat and his pals could just rest easy at this point, but that’d be no fun. The leadership of the Thumpers is just as likely to be out in the street bashing heads as they are to be drinking and counting their gold. Let’s see their top brass:

Fat Wide aka the Wide Reverend, aka Shadow Giant, aka the Ogre on Top, aka Baron O.
Male Ogre Cleric5 (ECL 11), CE Large Giant
Deity: None. Fat preaches that monsters should be like the wind: strong, free, and wild. As such he is a cleric of Chaos. His domains are Air and Strength.
Languages: Giant, Common
Speed: 30
Initiative: +0
AC: 26, Touch 9, Flat Footed 26
(-1 Size, +7 Natural, +7 Banded Mail of Moderate Fortification, +3 Heavy Steel Shield)
HP: 84 (4d8 giant + 5d8 cleric)
Attack: Mwk Greataxe +14 (3d6+12) x3 slashing
Full Attack: Mwk Greataxe +14/+9 (3d6+12) x3 slashing
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+17
Space/Reach: 10ft/10ft
Fort: +12 Ref: +2 Will: +8
Abilities: Str 24, Dex 10, Con 18 , Int 6, Wis 16, Cha 9
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60ft, Low-light vision, Turn Undead
Feats: Power Attack, Cleave, Weapon Focus (Greataxe), Weapon Specialisation (Greataxe)
Skill Ranks: Spot +7, Concentration +8
Spells/Day: 0th: 5; 1st: 4+1; 2nd: 3+1; 3rd: 2+1
0th: Detect Magic, Resistance, Mending, Guidance, Detect Poison
1st: Enlarge Person, Obscuring Mist, Divine Favour, Shield of Faith, Doom
2nd: Wind Wall, Bull's Strength, Cure Moderate Wounds, Spiritual Weapon
3rd: Gaseous Form, Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds
Domains: Air, Strength
Possessions: Amulet of Natural Armour +2; jewellery worth 1130 gp; huge dyed fur robe worth 160 gp; +1 Banded Mail of Moderate Fortification (chased in white bronze and gold); +1 Heavy Steel Shield (bright blue with a four-wind symbol on it); masterwork Huge Greataxe, 1 potion of Cure Serious Wounds, 1 Tanglefoot Bag.
CR: 6

Narrow: She’s the only girl Fat is ever seen with. Which is good for Fat, because he won’t live past the day he breaks her heart.
Female Gnome Rogue5/Assassin3, NE Small Humanoid
Languages: Common, Giant, Draconic, Elven
Speed: 20
Initiative: +3
AC: 22, Touch 16, Flat-footed 19
(+1 size, +2 Buckler, +4 Mwk Chain Shirt, +3 Dex, +2 Ring of Protec)
HP: 51 (8d6+16)
Attack/Full Attack: Gnome Hooked Hammer +6 (+8 v. humans) (1d6+2) x3 bludgeoning*
*Remember to add sneak attack, death attack, poison, and 2d6 extra bane damage (vs. humans) as appropriate. Poison: Dragon Bile, Contact DC 26, initial 3d6 Str, no secondary
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+2
Space/Reach: 5ft/5ft
Fort: +4 Ref: +10 Will: +3
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 14 , Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 10
Special Qualities: Gnome Traits, Sneak Attack +5d6, Trapfinding, Evasion, Trap Sense +1, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Poison Use, +1 vs poison, Death Attack
Feats: Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Improved Trip
Skill Ranks: Disguise +11, Hide +11 (+4 size), Move Sil +11, Concentr +11, Search +11, Use Mag Dev +11, Disable Dev +11, Open Lock +11, Intimidate +10, Bluff +11
Spells/Day: 1st: 3; 2nd: 1
Spells Known: 1st: Feather Fall, True Strike, Obscuring Mist; 2nd: Spider Climb, Invisibility
Spell Failure Chance: 5% (light armour)
Possessions: +2/+0 Bane (Human) Hooked Hammer, +1 Buckler, Mwk Chain Shirt, Ring of Protection +2, 1 dose Dragon Bile poison (Contact DC 26, initial 3d6 Str, no secondary), Potion of Invisibility, locket with a handrawn picture of Fat Wide (locket worth 30 gp, picture worthless).
CR: 6

Torp: Also known as Gutter Voice, Torp is a force in his own right. He's often thought to be the mastermind behind the Thumpers. He won’t cop to this, however—he prefers his official position as the PR guy.
Male Human Bard 9, NE Medium Humanoid
Languages: Common, Goblin, Abyssal
Speed: 30
Initiative: +2
AC: 18 (+6 Studded Leather, +2 Dex),
HP: 45 (9d6+8)
Attack: +7 Keen Rapier (1d6+1) 15-20x2 piercing
Full Attack: +7/+2 Keen Rapier (1d6+1) 15-20x2 piercing
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+7
Space/Reach: 5ft/5ft
Fort: +4 Ref: +8 Will: +7
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 18
Special Qualities: Bardic Music 9x/day, Bardic Knowledge, Countersong, Fascinate, Inspire Courage+2, Inspire Bravery (1 target), Inspire Competence, Suggestion
Feats: Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Combat Casting, Quick Draw, Spell Focus (Ench), Dodge
Skill Ranks: Perform (Sing, usually chanting) +12, Use Magic Device +12, Hide +12, Bluff +12, Sense Motive +12, Concentration +12, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Knowledge (Nature) +6, Knowledge (Local) +12.
Spells/Day: 0th: 3 1st: 4; 2nd: 4 3rd: 3
Spells Known:
0th: Detect Magic, Mage Hand, Summon Instrument, Message, Resistance, Light;
1st: Cause Fear, Charm Person, Expeditious Retreat, Identify;
2nd: Blindness/Deafness, Suggestion, Eagle’s Splendor, Hold Person;
3rd: Haste, Summon Monster III, Cure Serious Wounds
Spell Failure Chance: 5%
Possessions: +1 Keen Rapier inscribed with cats, +3 Studded Leather Armour, Wand of Magic Missile (9th level, w/ 18 charges remaining), Potion of Shield of Faith +5
CR: 7

Garrel: An orc who was exiled for cannibalising his own tribe, Garrel somehow turned up in the city. He doesn’t have any languages in common with the other Thumpers, but he and Fat think alike in combat. They can communicate as much with a grunt as most people can with words.
Male Orc Barbarian8, CE Medium Humanoid
Languages: Orcish.
Speed: 40
Initiative: +1
AC: 18, Touch 11, Flat Footed 17
(+6 Chainmail, +1 Buckler, +1 Dex)
HP: 72 (8d12)
Attack: Frost Greataxe +15 (1d12+8 +1d6 cold) x3 slashing
Full Attack: Frost Greataxe +15/+10 (1d12+8 +1d6 cold) x3 slashing
Base Attack/Grapple: +8/+13
Space/Reach: 5ft/5ft
Fort: +7 Ref: +2 Will: +0
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 12, Con 14 , Int 9, Wis 7, Cha 6
Special Qualities: Rage 3x/day (6 rounds each), Improved Uncanny Dodge, Trap Sense, Darkvision 60ft, Light Sensitivity
Feats: Power Attack, Cleave, Weapon Focus (Greataxe)
Skill Ranks: Listen +11, Spot +11, Intimidate +6, Jump+5
Possessions: +2 Frost Greataxe, +1 Chainmail, Buckler, Potion of Cure Serious Wounds, dead mouse that appear to have been squeezed to death (worthless).
CR: 6

Tactics & Info
Before Battle: Fat will buff using Bull’s Strength and Enlarge Person. Narrow will add the poison to her hammer and drink her Potion of Invisibility, taking up position to study someone at the rear of the PC ranks. Torp will likewise buff, drinking his Shield of Faith Potion, casting Eagle’s Splendor and chanting to Inspire Greatness on Fat Wide. Garrel will simply wait, hungry.

During Battle: Torp will hold back, continuing to Inspire Greatness while the two melee combatants charge in. Fat and Garrel are almost telepathic in battle, and will use solid tactics together. After three rounds of observation Narrow will use Death Attack on the softest-looking human (hopefully a caster) at the back of the PC ranks. This will end her Invisibility and, on her next round, she will attempt to flee. She’s more than happy to get sneak damage on the way out, though, and won’t flee if it means a lot of attacks of opportunity against her. The two tanks will attempt to give her flank whenever possible.

Being urban dwellers, the whole party generally eschews bows and crossbows. They will stay in melee except for Torp, whose job is to use magic strategically from behind the line. Garrel, Torp, and Narrow will try to run if badly wounded. Fat Wide will only try to escape with Gaseous Form if Narrow has already left. If she in trouble or has been killed, Fat will lay down his life saving or avenging her.

After the Battle: If possible, Fat would like to keep one or more of the PCs alive. Torp knows this and will cast Hold Person on the last PC up and fighting. Fat himself may switch to subdual damage near the end of the battle. Any captured PCs will be used for sport—either tortured in a casino while monsters place bets, or forced to fight in underground gladiatorial matches.

Encounter Level: 11

To Hire the Thumpers: Hey, the Thumpers ain’t for sale! But tip them off that there are “heroes” in town and you might get a freeby. But just remember who did you a favour if we ever need your help, right?

Scaling Loot: You can add as much cash as you like to what the Thumpers already carry. If you want to decrease the value of their loot, replace a few pieces of magic armour and weaponry with masterwork. To increase, give them ability score boosting items; most of them have extraordinarily high abilities as is, so you can keep the scores the same and simply credit the items instead of nature. You can also add charges to Torp’s wand.

Scaling Difficulty: To make the fight easier, decrease HP to average and only let the Thumpers buff for one round before the battle. This will also delay Narrow’s Death Attack. To make the fight harder, increase HP to max and have Narrow fight to the death instead of running after one Death Attack. The tactics described above are figured into the CR’s and EL given here, so adjust accordingly.

"A gambler in life and in death, Sir Renald Dreichtoffhen!" A Greater Shadow from the MM, advanced by HD. His only possessions are a Sphere of Annihilation and a few items to defend against magic. Hope the PC's roll well against that sphere.

"The only contender who wants to marry prize money insead of spending it, Goldstorm!" 100,001 gold pieces animated into a Colossal swarm. As per swarm rules, it is invulnerable to weapon damage. SR 15. Energy immunity to fire, cold, electricity, and sonic. Weakness to acid. The PC's better come prepared. You're welcome.

"Moradin!" It's Moradin. What, gods can't enter tournaments? The PC's will watch all other combatants yield or be obliterated when facing this guy. If the PC's actually fight him, he will destroy them (of course) but later drop out of the tournament and give them each special gifts as a thank-you for actually fighting him. Yep, so I stole it from a Knight's Tale. So sue me! (But seriously, please don't sue me).

"Gruumsh!" What the--? This is getting old! No, actually this one is a gnome illusionist pretending to be Gruumsh. With actual orc warriors for added effect. Curiously, Gruumsh doesn't mind the imposter - he's always been a big fan of con artists, especially those that help orcs win prize money.

"We're used to searching people for hidden weapons, but not searching weapons for hidden people. Introducing Tiny Tim!" Tiny Tim is an 80 foot tall animated tower ballista. A tower ballista is a siege engine with a ballista on each floor. Tiny Tim is 8 floors tall, and that's 8 ballista attacks per round. Give him several levels of Fighter (Rapid Reload, Precise Shot, Point Blank Shot, and Shot on the Run seem like important feats here) and make sure he's built of something more resilient than just regular wood. Tiny Tim has no door on the first floor (or anywhere) because, of course, he is not meant to hold actual troops; but if the PC's can get inside him somehow they could try to disable his ballistas or get rid of his ammo.

Okay I'm out for now. Enjoy.

2008-07-01, 11:05 AM
This reminds me of the Dark Tournament...

Get a squad of warforged that use weapons from D20 Future or Shadowrun. That will look more "Unreal" :smallbiggrin:

2008-07-02, 02:00 AM
Ok, I admit I got a bit of inspiration from the Dark Tournament :smallsmile:

However here are some new teams:

- A geat wyrm brass dragon in human disguise
- A band of monstrous humanoids
- A band of outsiders(a few devils and a rakshasa)
- A druid with some dire animal companins
- Representatives of a church(a paladin, a cleric, probably an archivist and crusader)

2008-07-02, 06:34 AM
Also, bring a team of basketweaving warforged commoners.

2008-07-02, 07:08 AM
Once they get a little higher up, and the word "Kobold" would never cross their minds, tell them their next fight is against kobolds. But don't tell them it's not a few high level ones; it's actually a swarm of kobolds.

Any astute player will never underestimate the threat posed by Kobolds.

*cough* Pun Pun *cough*