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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Skaven's Avatar

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    Default Best ways to start an adventure.

    Hi guys and gals.

    I may be starting a new campaign soon as my current DM is feeling a little burned out and I need some help. I'll either be going for Faerun, Planescape or trying out my currently being worked oin homebrew setting depending on player interest.

    Just want to probe for some good adventure/campaign openers here. My biggest weakness is always starting out an adventure. I have a habit of falling back into the old 'tavern meeting for a job' trope, and I really want to avoid that this time.

    Does anyone have some good ideas for unique adventure openers?

    Bonus points for someone who uses a little creative writing to set a scene and open up! I need inspiration.
    Last edited by Skaven; 2011-04-30 at 07:56 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    - The PCs already know each other and are willing to cooperate. If their race is the same, they can be brothers. This way, you only need a plot hook for one of them to start.

    - The PCs have been chosen by an oracle as champions of that deity. This makes little sense if their alignments aren't compatible (Pelor would hardly choose an Evil character as his champion). Anyway, a party with both good and evil characters is unlikely to work for a long time.
    Last edited by Pigkappa; 2011-04-30 at 07:54 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    -The characters were all involved in some sort of teleport like spell and ended up in a mysterious location.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    -The characters have all, somehow, offended a assassin's group/diety/evil horde of something/any other enemy you can conceivably come up with, and they are all trying to find a way out/way to stop the evil guys that are after them, but since they can't do it alone they have to work together?

    Hmmm, that sounded so much better in my head, looks kind of lame once I've written it down.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    A member or a couple members of the future party is under attack by bad guys of some kind. By luck, the rest of the future group happens by and they choose to save him. Clues found on the bad guys belongings point them in the direction to the new adventure.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    * They all meet in a jail cell, and must escape (I started my current campaign with this).

    * They've had some sort of dream or vision that led them all to come to a certain spot for reasons they don't understand (think Close Encounters).

    * Captured as slaves, or maybe Charmed or Dominated by the villains. If dominated, you can even start them out with an "evil adventure" in which they are commanded to attack innocents or burn down a village or something. When they regain control and realize what they have done, they want revenge.

    * A creature who can see the future is dying. He/she/it was trying to prevent some sort of disaster before perishing, but now it is too late. It knows that the only hope is to bring these specific people together, and must convince them to take up the quest before it goes.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Conners's Avatar

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    Something I've always wanted to try that might work well: Could get the players to coordinate a back-story. IE: The Cleric is married to the Fighter, the Druid is the Cleric's brother, the Barbarian is an old war friend of the Fighter, and the old wizard is someone they are travelling with as of recent.

    You can get something far more complex and interesting than that, with a good group, I'd say. Won't work with everyone, though.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    The small town you're in is attacked. The attackers have religious symbols for a dark god and a map with red X's marked over major cities. Let the adventure begin.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    the player characters wake up in an unknown location with no idea how they got there.

    the player characters are all prisoners who are offered a pardon if they can do one "simple" job for their captors.

    the player characters return from a day burning charcoal in the forest to discover that their farm/village has been burned to the ground.

    the players are summoned by a band of desperate angels who are being attacked by celestial brigands and have used a summon mortal ally spell to get help.

    the players are each delivered a sealed letter telling them to come to a specific place at a specific time. when they arrive nothing happens and they have to work out who brought them all there and why.
    Last edited by EccentricCircle; 2011-04-30 at 10:43 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    Check my sig. The article has 26 decent hooks. If it doesn't have what you need, it should at least inspire you to come up with something better.

    Personally, I've been wanting to start a campaign as a race/scavenger hunt/other competition involving travel. The PCs could all be part of one team, or they could team up for survival when the already hazardous competition is made harder by cheating competitors (i.e. the bad guy disables the PCs' vehicles in an attempt to kill them, but through luck they survive the crash(es) ane possibly meet in the nearest shelster that night to plot retribution. If you can get that to work, it could be the basis for the entire campaign.
    Last edited by Notreallyhere77; 2011-04-30 at 02:06 PM.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    "DM - You are all dead. Or were, before somehow being forced to come back to life.

    Or, truth be told, back to a hellish madness.

    What seems to be what's left of a city is burning in fire. There are elven corpses everywhere. at your left a small group of elven children are being slaughtered by a female human with a greatsword and a maniacal grin. "




    That's how my current campaign begun. At some point, it was revealed that the elf city was a the base of a group of Illithids that mindraped every single elf, and was trying to assimilate the human country. And, or course, the PCs destroyed what was left of the army, opening way for the Illithid to control everything.

    Think PCs stopping Isildur's army before he has time to cut off Sauron's finger.



    Ps.:Sorry for the bad english.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    The PCs are being hauled off by slavers, captured from different walks of life. The campaign opens with one of the PCs getting kicked hard enough in the face to break their nose, and the slavers relaxed and not expecting any sort of resistance from the bound-up PCs.
    This gives incentive to work together right out of the gate, and also allows you to drop the heroes off in a strange land where they can't immediately separate.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    You awake, laying on the cold wet leaves. Your body is stiff and aches and you cant move. Looking around you see (x) people, all laying on the ground their hands and feet bound. Looking at yourself you find you are also bound in a similar fashion.
    You hear guttural voices over there, looking up you spot several orcs squatting in a group, talking amongst themselves. They are next to a large caldron, steam rises from it and you are suddenly aware of the faint smell of stewing vegetables.
    What do you do?

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    The PCs all meet at a wedding, where they are the friends of the bride and/or groom. Suddenly there is a scream- a bunch of masked raiders kidnap the bride! Through clever tactics (and the fact the PCs don't have their weapons) the raiders escape with the bride, leaving behind only a ransom note. Strangely, the parents of the bride and groom forbid any rescue attempt, but you're not going to stand for that are you?
    1. Things are as they seem; the raiders want a family heirloom that supposedly holds the secret of the location of a great treasure.
    2. Things are as they seem: the raiders want the bride herself as she is the key to summoning a powerful and evil god.
    3. The raiders are actually a plot by one of the guests, who wants to marry the bride or groom themself. By disrupting the wedding in this way they hope to cause a rift between the families or the bride and groom.
    4. The family of either the bride or groom hired the raiders. Either they can't pay the dowry/bride price, or a better prospect has shown up, but they can't convince their child to cancel the marriage (or canceling out would be impolitic).
    5. The bride herself arranged her kidnapping to get out of the wedding. Naturally things get out of control.
    6. As any of the above, but the bride becomes or already is infatuated with one of the PCs (extra amusement if that PC is a paladin).
    7. As any above, except that a local fraction has noticed the commotion and has decided to take the bride for his own.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    The players are all in a moderate sized town for whatever reasons best suit their characters. If anyone is outside they feel a sudden breeze and the sun is blotted out. Everyone looks up just in time to see a colossal red dragon swoop overhead. The townspeople scream and panic, drawing the attention of anyone inside.

    Fierce winds hit the town as the dragon flaps it wings and tries to gain altitude. Everyone holds their breath as it looks like it might fly away, when its huge body is suddenly wracked by violent convulsions. It vomits a stream of napalm fire into the clear blue sky as it suddenly falls out of the air.

    The massive bulk of the dragon slams into the towns market district, collapsing buildings and sending dust and debris flying into the air. The players rush to the market and see the dragon lying in the rubble. Most of the villagers flee the area but a few curiously approach the still dragon. It appears dead and if the PCs dont mention it, a local smith mentions that he could butcher the dragon and make dozens of suits of armor.

    One of the PCs approaches the head and suddenly the eye snaps open. They stare at each other for a moment, then the dragon mumbles Run. Suddenly the dragon starts to convulse violently, lashing its limbs and tail into people and buildings. Then without warning the dragons belly explodes in a mess of fire and gore. When the PCs recover they see a dozen strange creatures crawl out of the mess. They are about the size of a tiger and have a mix of features between dragon and insect. They immediately begin to attack both the PCs and the villagers.

    Assuming the PCs survive the encounter, they see that none of the villagers that remained escaped the slaughter.

    The hook can go a few ways from here depending on the level of your group and what they like to do.

    The main idea is that some unknown force has begun to attack all the dragons in the area. It appears to be some sort of parasite that impregnates the dragons while they sleep and grows into the things the PCs battled. The creatures are not natural, and the adventure is to find out who is doing this and why.

    1. If the PCs are motivated by greed, they could band together to try to track down the dragons lair and pilfer its now unguarded horde.
    2. If the PCs are more on the good side, then shortly after they recover from the battle a dozen men on horseback come riding into town. The leader of the men, a man dressed in ornate and expensive robes, gathers the PCs and explains about the strange new dragon plague. He offers the PCs substantial wealth and magical items in exchange for their help tracking down the source of the plague. They may later find out that the man is actually a gold dragon in human form who fears that while the plague is currently only affecting chromatic dragons, it may soon spread to the good metallic dragons.
    3. If the PCs need a more direct motivator, then before the red dragon dies, he casts a Geas on the PCs to find who started the plague and avenge his death.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    My current campaign is starting with the PCs in the middle of a crowd of striking workers getting beaten by Last War veterans and warforged thugs hired by the owner of the factory they're picketing.


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  17. - Top - End - #17
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    They just finished an adventure, and the guy who was supposed to reward them instead claims they weren't doing anything, calls them charlatans, and sends guards after them while leaving. Ideally this provokes a desire to get revenge on the guy, which is where the adventure starts.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    These are three methods I've used.

    The characters are kidnapped by raiders and meet in their cage.

    Some of the characters are hired by a local farmer to work the farm, the others are hired to protect it. They get an assignment to escort a simple transport of goods from one village to the next since all available warriors are away for the ting.

    The characters know each other from before, and a previous employer sends a message to one or few of them once again requiring their assistance.

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    Last edited by Mastikator; 2011-04-30 at 08:30 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    Two I've used and gotten great responses for (though I'm certain a lot of folks here would dislike them):

    Each PC is currently living in a city, it is their responsibility to come up with a reason. Suddenly the city is attacked by elves (though any race works here really), they each must respond with this and over the course of the first meeting they meet and begin planning a way to free their city and start a resistance.

    The noble and monstrous races are finally calling a ceasefire and meeting at the human capital to make finish a treaty. There will be nobles, freed prisoners, entertainers, guards, soldiers, et al present. Each player must have a reason for being there it can be anything really. During the opening ceremonies all the PCs black out and awaken to find the place destroyed with each of the nations leaders murdered before them. They are now forced to find out who disrupted the peace, why, while keeping each of the nations from going back to war after their leaders were killed.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    One of my favorite tricks is to start in media res.

    DM: Ok everybody finished making characters?
    Players: yup!
    DM: Great...roll initiative!
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Troll in the Playground
     
    littlebottom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    The PCs start out dead. yep, all dead. Explain a long winded, beautiful death scene of the PCs as it begins to rain, one by one, they get slain, explain it in exquisit detail "[character name] falls to his knees, his head falls back as the rain trickles down his cheeks, hiding his tears. [character name] keels over onto the cobblestones, the cold, unforgiving cobblestones, and yet, they felt welcoming, inviting even as you watch your own blood trickle past your face with the rain, you slowly accept the innevitable, and slowly close your eyes, ready to meet [diety/lost family member/friend]." sort of thing, i cant do it very well, but really make it feel like a "whoa" moment. make it as atmospheric as possible, you can start off with a "such and such does a sweeping blow to the gut of the enemy" stuff first just before their deaths if you like, but whatever works.

    after which be like "that was how it all ended, but its not the ending thats important, its the journy. And this is the beggining to our journy" and then bring them into it.

    yeah, PCs can sometimes be complete [bleeeeeep]s and intentionally make sure the death scene is impossible by flat out refusing to join the party or some such, but you know, they are the kind of people who dont enjoy a good bit of roleplay.

    it puts the characters in the light that they should enjoy it while it lasts, because they will know it will end sometime. also, it gives them a chill if you are good at all the fancy stuff at the death scene. and of course, they dont have to actually die there, where you explained they died, because roleplays never work out like that, but it can really just set the mood, most of the players will have forgotten how the death scene went by the time it (or their actual possible deaths) come around.

    unconventional? perhaps...

    insane? yes. but i just made that up at 5 AM so of course it makes no sense! i just thought it would be a nice way to set up an adventure for a change.

    EDIT: just as a thought you could throw in one of their last words as "Sorry [NPC name], we failed you." and theres a plot hook right there, whether they have met the NPC yet or not. proberbly best when you start them off properly, you start with their introduction to said NPC. i mean, they could do a favour for him in 20 years time which is the cause of the death, it doenst have to be the first adventure, just it gives the character some resonance already.
    Last edited by littlebottom; 2011-04-30 at 11:06 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    An organization that employs adventuring parties is having a sort of "job fair" where adventurers can network and find people to journey with, whose skills complement their own (the other PCs, for example). Once they've formed a group, they can accept their first mission from the organization.


    Each of the party members is connected in their backstory to a certain retired warrior, whether they be relatives, neighbors, business associates, old war buddies, whatever. The campaign begins at that the reading of his last will. The PCs learn that each of them stands to inherit something from him, but in order to collect they must find his killer (the warrior knew someone would be coming after him but was unable to stop it) and bring them to justice.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Troll in the Playground
     
    The-Mage-King's Avatar

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    From the second campaign I tried to run here...

    Background is kinda nessicary for the basics...

    Long ago, the world was ruled by the four Great Houses, and everything was happy and good. But, of course, that couldn't last long.

    The Elven house Rilynn-Tae decided that the Orcish house Prekarst was too ugly and hated to continue in its existence, and attacked with a full scale assault, killing most of the leaders and forcing the rest of the house to go into hiding. The Dwarves of House Kak'Zrach- the keepers of the truth- realized that the Hobgoblin house, the name of which has been lost to history, was planning a large scale coup, aiming to be the last of the houses.
    And before you could say "Fuster-Cluck", the elves and the dwarves had eliminated the other two houses, and entered into an intense magical war with each other, eventually turning the lands of the Hobgoblin house into a nigh-uninhabitable wasteland that was slowly spreading. As the chaos continued, dozens of smaller city-states and counties as they disavowed ties with any of the houses in order to save their own skins.

    Eventually, the city-states and counties were bound together in several countries, though none as large as what remains of the elves' and dwarves' homelands.

    In one, Twer'pia, a powerful warlord, called simply Cindre the Crimson Commander, has started hiring bands of wandering violent hobos adventurers to conduct raids on the dwarves' slowly expanding supply routes, claiming that it presents a risk to his small but growing nation.
    That's where you come in. Hired to join a squad trekking through the great desert, you find yourself with a group of like minded individuals, slowly making your way towards the dwarven homeland.

    So, basically, tell them what they're going to be doing- say that they're a bunch of mercs, and they've been hired by someone. Then tell them where to go. Then see if they spot the references.
    Last edited by The-Mage-King; 2011-05-01 at 02:35 AM.
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  24. - Top - End - #24
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    I had players be part of a local militia group on patrol.
    The tavern opening, done well, actually makes sense as a tavern was a natural meeting place. I wonder how a market place would do, having players walking around a market when the town is invaded by some enemy. Do they run and panic like the rest of the villagers or do they stand and fight?
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    I started a Science Fiction adventure with the characters flying a routine mission from one orbital space station to another, when the political situation on Earth went downhill and China and Russia had a full scale nuclear war that the rest of the world got dragged into, irradiating the entire globe and killing of several billion people. Since about a million space ships lifted off in about three hours, all ships were required to land on the moon for processing and naturalization, with the moon's government essentially becoming humanity's only governing body.

    My best fantasy opening was "you may be wondering why I called you here tonight. On the night of August 14, Lord Dowdy was murdered, and the murderer is standing in this very room!" Then the lights went out, lightning flashed, and the investigator was dead. Monsters were in the hallway and only entrance to the room, so the PC's had to band together to fight them off.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    *The tavern you are sitting in begins to rumble and quake, spilling ales and wine. With a great sucking sound the tavern falls into the ground, the windows revealing dozens of separate caverns as you fall thousands of feet into the earth. Sploosh! The tavern hits water and breaks apart, and you fight your way to the surface. You see (insert party size) other people paddling in the water, the rest drowned with the tavern. Above you a hole all the way to the surface gives the tiniest glimmer of illumination to the black waters around you.*
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  27. - Top - End - #27
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    Boats or airplanes. It doesn't feel like a railroad opening, and you don't need to have an NPC tell them "go place X" to force them into the adventure setting.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Herald View Post
    My best fantasy opening was "you may be wondering why I called you here tonight. On the night of August 14, Lord Dowdy was murdered, and the murderer is standing in this very room!" Then the lights went out, lightning flashed, and the investigator was dead. Monsters were in the hallway and only entrance to the room, so the PC's had to band together to fight them off.
    The investigator is obviously Investigator Tiger
    Last edited by zorba1994; 2011-05-01 at 11:26 PM.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by littlebottom View Post
    The PCs start out dead. yep, all dead. Explain a long winded, beautiful death scene of the PCs as it begins to rain, one by one, they get slain, explain it in exquisit detail "[character name] falls to his knees, his head falls back as the rain trickles down his cheeks, hiding his tears. [character name] keels over onto the cobblestones, the cold, unforgiving cobblestones, and yet, they felt welcoming, inviting even as you watch your own blood trickle past your face with the rain, you slowly accept the innevitable, and slowly close your eyes, ready to meet [diety/lost family member/friend]." sort of thing, i cant do it very well, but really make it feel like a "whoa" moment. make it as atmospheric as possible, you can start off with a "such and such does a sweeping blow to the gut of the enemy" stuff first just before their deaths if you like, but whatever works.

    after which be like "that was how it all ended, but its not the ending thats important, its the journy. And this is the beggining to our journy" and then bring them into it.

    yeah, PCs can sometimes be complete [bleeeeeep]s and intentionally make sure the death scene is impossible by flat out refusing to join the party or some such, but you know, they are the kind of people who dont enjoy a good bit of roleplay.

    it puts the characters in the light that they should enjoy it while it lasts, because they will know it will end sometime. also, it gives them a chill if you are good at all the fancy stuff at the death scene. and of course, they dont have to actually die there, where you explained they died, because roleplays never work out like that, but it can really just set the mood, most of the players will have forgotten how the death scene went by the time it (or their actual possible deaths) come around.

    unconventional? perhaps...

    insane? yes. but i just made that up at 5 AM so of course it makes no sense! i just thought it would be a nice way to set up an adventure for a change.

    EDIT: just as a thought you could throw in one of their last words as "Sorry [NPC name], we failed you." and theres a plot hook right there, whether they have met the NPC yet or not. proberbly best when you start them off properly, you start with their introduction to said NPC. i mean, they could do a favour for him in 20 years time which is the cause of the death, it doenst have to be the first adventure, just it gives the character some resonance already.
    That's beautiful. I might have to use that myself. You mind if I borrow it?
    Warriors & Wuxia: A community world-building project focused on low-magic wuxia/kung-fu action using ToB.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best ways to start an adventure.

    "Walking down the street, you smell smoke. Looking to your right, you see that the orphanage is burning. What do you do?"

    Introduce one each melee round or two - perhaps one of them sees another having trouble pulling someone out. After several rounds of saving the kids, they should know each other pretty well. Now provide evidence that somebody set the fire as a distraction so they could rob the bank.

    ----------------------

    "Your teacher/mentor/knight/master has been murdered. Your first inclination is to accuse his/her rivals, whose names you know." Each new PC is told that, and attempts to locate those rivals should lead to their surviving apprentices/squires/students (the other PCs). Presumably, they will band together to solve the mystery.

    -----------------------

    Pretty much any serious mutual tragedy works as well as a tavern, and they don't have to pay for drinks.

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