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Plots for DMs

Adventure and campain plots for DMs to use.

  • An alchemist hires the party to recover a shipment of supplies that was hijacked enroute. If he doesn't get them back, he faces bankruptcy.
  • Caught while stealing from a mage, the thief in the party is sent on a geas, to steal an artifact from a colleague as punishment.
  • You are assigned to protect a person, but aren't to let them know you're protecting them. Defer to them in all things, but don't let them know you're deferring to them.
  • An obscure sect of a dark church is seeking the eight necessary parts/items used in summoning a sleeping demon. It just so happens that one of the PCs inherited one of the items (it should be something innocuous like a simple pendant with inscriptions) from a dead relative.
  • The party uncovers a plot to replace high-ranking officials with exact look alikes (shapechangers). Nice little conspiracy theory action. Which one of your trusted patrons is really an evil doppleganger? Who can you trust? Who will believe you? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone ISN'T out to get you.
  • The party is hired by the local Mage Guild to find and capture (and/or kill) a renegade wizard who is breaking Guild laws (selling magic items to criminals, assassinating the previous Guild Master, attempting to assassinate the current Guild Master, etc.). Local law enforcement is not involved because the Guild likes to solve its problems internally.
  • There's a battle going on between a good lich and one or more evil liches. The players have to protect a town that's caught in the crossfire. The lich need not even appear in the campaign; you could just have dark noxious clouds blotting out the sun, undead armies marching back and forth, dragons eating the livestock, and other bits of large-scale magical fallout. Or, if you want to bring the lich in personally, you could send the party on a quest to plead with the lich to stop the war, or to fight elsewhere.
  • PCs get caught in a hole (old castle, cave?) with overwhelming numbers against them. They have some warning and a time period when they will be relieved, if they can hold on. Idea is that PCs improvise with what is around and hold out for siege. Turns the DMing on its head. They have a plan of defenses, not the DM, and DM leads his baddies against it. Players spring their surprises in traps etc. Must have a map agreement on what can be done in time available. Players tend to cheat outrageously, but great fun for all concerned, with a change of pace for both DM and players.
  • Rancher / Farmer hires the party to catch or kill goblins who are stealing cattle -- then they are hired by the town sheriff to stamp out the goblins at their lair.
    Plot 10: Here's a bunch of REAL short descriptions of adventure ideas that work well in a city: Second-story jobs; picking a pocket and finding a map; searching the tunnels under the city for a tomb or catacombs; competing with the Thieves' Guild; smuggling arms into the city; spying on foreign officials; helping an orphan fight against cruel thugs; racing another party in a city wide search for a magical artifact; investigating a corrupt church; wooing a noble lady; searching for your weapons instructor, who has been abducted by a rival; trying to get apprenticed to a truly weird mage; etc.
  • Invert the "bad-lich-turns-out-to-be-good" idea: A really sinister lich would probably love to have people convinced that he's just a kindly, helpful old gent. Suppose one such lich has been working hard on his image for a century or two ...he saves people from natural disasters (which he created himself), gives out magical gifts (which are cursed in some unobvious way), kisses babies, the whole shebang. The players come to suspect him of actually being evil ("Hey ...two centuries old? That's before Third Edition came out! He must be evil!") and have to stop him. But first, they have to convince the locals, who love the old guy, that they've been wrong about him all this time. ("Gandalf? The old coot with the fireworks? Evil? Get outta here.")
  • Go to kill the evil lich, get captured and put at his/its mercy only to have it ask "Why are you bothering me?" Apparently it was/is a good wizard who got kind of absent-minded as he died and sort of drifted off into lich-dom without noticing. Since he's quite powerful, none of the various local monsters that he's geased into serving him have given him any trouble, nor have they pointed out the problem of his lichdom... Play the lich as an absent-minded old british gentleman, sort of surprised that anybody would want to kill him, and having considerable trouble grasping the idea that he's a lich. A few accidental pats on the back while the players are held by some sort of spell should be amusing. P.S. If you can't figure out how to set things up so a lich can capture and hold helpless a bunch of PCs, SHAME on you! Liches are something like 30th level Magic Users/Clerics, not to mention the hordes of followers, servants, summoned monsters, and demons, and elementals, and the like...
  • A caravan is traveling through the desert. The party is hired to capture a man who is in the caravan, and it must be done quietly, so that nobody else knows. They are given the man's name, and the fact that he is a mage, but no other information about him. The catch is that the caravan consists of ten wagons, with at least thirty or forty guards.
  • One of the PC's falls in love with a woman who happens to be a witch ...perhaps she is allied with a group working against the PCs?
  • The PCs are sent with an ambassador to another country to protect him and do his bidding. There may be some espionage, rescuing, downright bullying, etc. Could make a nice medieval, special operations background.
  • After a rash of thefts from wizards in the Guild, the PCs are hired to catch the perpetrators. They could be other mages, three dozen halfling thieves, demons, or even time travelers. PCs need to figure out who might get hit next, how to catch the criminals, who they are, etc.
  • After a fight where all the PC's seemingly died or are captured, they wake up to the crack of a whip, as they have been sold into slavery onboard a galley. They have no equipment, they have to work to exhaustion, they get very little food, but if they play well, they might be able to escape.
  • The Queen's beau (a very handsome knight-errant or something) is missing, and he was last seen in a tavern at the edge of town. The PC's are the people who were determined to have useful information, after a lengthy interview/screening by the Queen's Marshall-General, etc. They set out to find him, since it is thought he is in grave danger.
  • The party wakes up around a table with wine goblets near at hand. They discover that they have forgotten everything they did over the past two weeks. Apparently, as they uncover clues, they were hired by someone to do a job, and when the job was finished the person invited them to dinner. Interesting events abound as the party attempts to piece together the events of the last fortnight...
  • Bonecrusher (an Orc, now a Giant Orc Chieftain) has found the Gauntlet of Grummsh (an orcish Artifact), and is kicking some serious butt, raising an orc army and is about to invade the country to, er, root, pape, and lillage the area (he's powerful, but he's still an orc.) Of course, the destruction of this gauntlet is very important to the players. Bonecrusher could be considered the Guardian of the Gauntlet, and destroying it *will* bring curses from Grummsh onto the party.
  • Four dragons (one blue and three greens) have banded together to increase their wealth. They (gasp) spent it on various magical weapons and defenses and then attacked and took over a port city. Now they've removed all laws, taxing everything. All the good folk have escaped, and some are running a resistance force. Of course, there's a catch. The blue dragon's been possessed by an evil outsider, and is opening a gate...
  • A young drow got 'left behind' after a raid to the surface. He is a mid-level fighter, slightly lower-level magic user. Maybe give him a few pet large spiders for some extra challenge. He could take over a farm house (or two) with charm spells (maybe even charm a few of the animals). He could try and trick the party into finding the entrance to the drow realm for him (or maybe kill some inconvenient big thing). Anyway, as there's only one drow, a party of four or five lower level characters wouldn't really be in too great a danger.
  • In a cave, in an incredibly cold pool of water, is a large round white stone (about 3 or 4 feet in diameter). It feels to all the world like marble, and radiates magic. It's actually a white dragon egg. It stays in stasis, just hours from hatching, until it's heated up... to just about room temperature. Then it hatches. If your players are like mine, they'll take a big white magic rock without thinking twice; it should then hatch at exactly the worst time. My players made it all the way back to their ship, and put it in the hold, before it hatched. Great fun.
  • The PCs, from time to time, run across a particular ship full of really stupid sailors; out in the middle of the ocean and their sails are on fire, etc...
  • "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing": A demon (e.g. Cambion demon) has taken the shape of a respected member of the community (using polymorph self) and, masking his true alignment, shape and abilities, is slowly spreading death and terror in the city. The PC's are hired (as special agents by ??) to find the perpetrator and capture/kill them before it gets even more out of control. The demon is able to change shape easily, and hence occasionally changes to take the form of one of its victims to throw off the scent. Its sole purpose is to cause disruption and Chaos (or was it brought here by someone for other reasons and escaped or was turned loose ?).
  • In a big classy town that the PC's have reason to go to every once in a while, (I have it set in a city near a paladin training center) is an even classier restaurant called Chez Ralph. It's about as nice a restaurant as you could possibly have. Waiters check on you every minute or so, there's a string quartet playing in the background, and glasses of water ("Mineral water, imported from halfway around the world" is what they tell you, and they're telling the truth) cost around 20 gp. Besides being a wonderful place to have players dump some cash, it's also Soap Opera City. The strangest people show up there, at the same time the PCs are there - but since nobody wants to make a scene, the whole feeling is very tense. Old girlfriends, major enemies, spies, polymorphed dragons, you name it, end up eating there - and usually with each other. This requires a lot of continuity in the game. Most games couldn't support the type of background and tension Chez Ralph requires. You need long-term NPC's that the PCs have come to hate - and put them here, where you just can't DO anything about them!
  • "Tower Snatch": A mage returns home after 1 year away and finds that someone has taken over his tower in the city. He wants it back and hires the PCs to reclaim it. He can supply maps etc. of what it was like when he owned it (but someone may have moved "Walls of Stone" and placed whole new trap areas etc.). The PC's can keep anything in the tower which is not specifically his (of course he can claim anything interesting and they won't know) and a cash reward. No-one knows who has it but he suspects someone respected in the community, hence the attack must be done fairly quietly so as not to warn the current possessor (the mage can prove that he is the owner however, he is not setting them up - unless you want this to happen). The tower is appropriately trapped and guarded, mostly with the expectation of killing the mage who owns it when he tries to return. The guards and traps are there to kill (not capture) anyone breaking in. City guards etc. will not take sides unless the conflict ends up outside the tower.
  • This is a nonlinear adventure, good as a sideline for whenever the PC's happen to be home. The PC's are based in a large city. The city is basically composed of three sectors. Two of which are virtually lawless and the other is extremely well controlled. The law portion is extending outward and slowly taking over the other two sections. A faction war is taking place in the city. There are two opposing forces at war with each other (it could be a peasant/slave revolt, or a religious purge, or a supernatural invasion, or whatever.) The war expands steadily, more and more groups getting dragged into it and being forced to choose sides. An interesting twist would be for 2 groups that 2 different PC's belong to, be on different sides. Great chance for roleplaying here! The war could develop while the PCs are away, and upon return they get the opportunity to jump in. Think of it, the politics! The adventure! The intrigue! The danger! The chance to be hunted by one of the most powerful groups in the city/county/country/kingdom!
  • The group has come to a city of which half has been taken over by orcs. The humans still control the other half. This stalemate has lasted for approximately 2 weeks with occasional border penetrations by each side into the opposing half (guerilla raids, party loves 'em, 2sp/head!). But things have changed for the better/worse. An army from the north, in an attempt to make good on the city/kingdom's problems, has sailed into town. They wiped out the mercenaries guild (the only opposing force), and stated that all people were now citizens of the new empire and they would be rid of the orc menace within two weeks. Everyone has been drafted into the militia. What is really bizarre about the army is that it consists of all sorts of races (human, elf, 1/2 elf, etc), all speak a common tongue, they are VERY well organized yet are individuals. (Everyone has personal weapons, armor, etc.) The party can decide what to do. They may not like the idea of being drafted into the militia to be used as fodder (for an empire they don't belong to), to rid the town (that they are only visiting) of the menace. However, it WILL provide for some good roleplaying trying to explain to the new invaders why the group should (or rather wants) to remain together. The plus is that after the orcs are gone, the militia will be disbanded (or so the invaders say) and the members will be free to go on their way as citizens of the new empire (more lands to visit). The other bonus is that the party may be able to get ahold of a little of the recaptured territory.
  • Acquainted With the Night" A group of players *start* by discovering that one of their friends has been bitten by a vampire. They follow through the entire process, possibly killing their friend once he/she has risen again, probably hunting down the vampire that bit their friend. Happy ending. Then the vampire community seeks retribution. Yes, it was clumsy of the vampire to get caught, but it's not the place of the herd to exact justice on the vampires. The complexity of this scenario depends upon how you imagine the entire supernatural community. One possible idea is that vampires -- the cool manipulative Undead -- just don't exist. Vampires are mindless creatures which reek of clotted blood and which fixate on their families because those are the strongest memories left. A vampire is what happens to someone who dies of a ghoul-bite. (Doesn't happen often because ghouls don't usually bite live people. NOTE: these are obviously not _Vampire: The Masquerade_ ghouls.) The image of the vampire is the result of a plot between the ghouls and the werewolves: they wanted a patently false, supernatural image that would distract attention from themselves. In this case, the PCs are under attack because they have a sample vampire to look at and modern science may discover the connection. If you're running _Vampire: The Masquerade_, then the PCs are initiated by a Sire for their own protection. The Sire has some long- standing grievance against the Sire of the clumsy vampire, or has some ideological conflict with those who would kill the PCs.
  • Rescue the good dragon from the evil princess

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