Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Bottom-Left Corner of the Map

Here's a brief summary of what happened during our most recent session: the girls returned to the city, resolved some dangling threads, asked many questions of many NPCs, were offered dozens of plot-hooks and juicy possible goals, and decided to leave the city in the direction of none of them.*

There was a great debate between the girls about which way to go, but in the end, simple wanderlust won out.

They had NPCs saying "Arrrr, to the This Direction there be This Thing!" and "Oh, if it be ____ ye seek, then to ____ ye should go!" and "If nothing is done about____ then a horrific _____ may indeed befall us all!" and they basically went, Ok, well we know what's going to happen in all those cases, so let's do something else entirely.

Despite the fact that it means I've just written a bunch of D&D material to go in all those directions that may never get used, I'm very happy, since it displays a touching faith in the creative powers of their DM. Oh, of course there's something over in this empty corner of the map between Vornheim and Osc Lithicum.

So now I have to figure out what's there. Using absolutely none of the ideas I've already dangled.

Anybody wanna buy some plot hooks?

And no, I will not just re-skin all those ideas and move them around the map. Then what'd be the point of the party choosing not to do them?

*This was one of our filmed sessions, so if you truly crave more detail, you'll be able to see it in about a month.


  1. Obviously, that needs to be the domain of a very subtle evil quietly working towards its master plan hoping to avoid meddling kids. "Adventurers!? We picked this place specifically because there's like ten more interesting things to worry about between here and the nearest city."

  2. What episode number will this be?

    Plot hooks... you could put someone there who will be like "I can't believe you ignored all my red herrings and came here! I'd left no clue to my location at all!" Or you could have a bunch of other people show up, all having come seemingly on a whim, yet drawn to the same corner of the map... Or you could have an orc in a 10'x10' room. That'll teach 'em.

  3. Right, the plot hooks stay where they are...& when a horrific _____ befalls, they'll have to deal with it. Maybe by going to yonder _____.

  4. These are things I have to consider as I am making a loose campaign that my wife and her friends are gonna play.

  5. so they are aimlessly wandering off into the wilderness? hm...

    something that has worked for me when a party doesn't want to get involved in any plots presented to them is to confront them with something at least one of them has personal interest in. family, guild business (a lot of your charcters are rouges so that might work), or something else that might originate from a character's backstory.

    what about kk's barbarian elves? where do they live? maybe down there to the left? and the area they live in is being devastated by some yet unknown evil?

    the local thieves guild might take an interest in whatever the parties thieves have been up to. someone might approve of their actions and want to act as their patron, or they might have made powerful enemies without realising this.

    if the players think your plothooks are too predictable, surprise them. give them what looks like a straight "kill'em and take their stuff"-adventure (or whatever they won't be able to resist), then hit them with a twist. dimension travel, a magic item that turns their desires into a dungeon, aliens. whatever, as long as it's not what they expected! knowing how imaginative you are i bet that could be a nasty twist indeed.

    and the players should certainly enjoy being taken off guard.

    or simply let them wander around the wilderness for a while. to be honest, i would like to see some longtime-improvisation and how you do it.

  6. I worked out for myself that the episode number will be 17.

    Why don't you do a particularly Escapist-friendly plotline like an homage to the plot of The Fifth Element (using your moving opera turtles) or a minigame that has the same rules as strip poker?

  7. I love it when this happens!

  8. "And a dark cloud appears over the head of the party members for not choosing a plot hook."

  9. hey man! what happened to the siege?

  10. Village of the Dopplegangers: A gang of dopplegangers have killed everyone in a small village and now a dozen or so of them have to impersonate the whole population whenever somebody comes through town.

    They find nothing but peaceful farmland... OVERRUN BY GIANT ANTS! Farmers and their families hide in boarded up farmhouses as their fields are turned into mountainous ant hills and their crops are devoured. (But the real question is what evil deep beneath the earth is pushing the ants out of their subterranean climes?)

    Another party of adventurers went to the rumored location of an ancient dragon's lair... Only it wasn't a dragon. It was a hive of dragon wasps. (6 inch long dragons.) Swarms of dragon wasps are now plaguing the Emerald Valley.

    Land pirates are plaguing the trade routes of the plains using their magically-converted sailing ships outfitted with adamantine wheels.

  11. @squidman

    that's the unfilmed campaign. I'm talking about the unfilmed campaign.

  12. i know that this is the filmed and the siege was the unfilmed one. my question comes form me wondering today about the siege. it's not connected to the above post at all.

  13. I always feel bad about the plot-hook not taken. I make these things up because I think the players would enjoy it (Hey, epiphany: I do DnD plots for the players, I did Bureau 13 plots for me. Maybe that is why B13 plots seemed to work better). They have missed out on something that at least I think would havve been a little special to them. I rarely rework these things though occasionally the players will come back and say "Huh. Is that dragon lair we heard about still there?"

    I guess you could tell the players that another group went after (plot hook #164-B) and got plenty of gold and magic for little risk. Likely the players' response would be "Oh, okay. So we kill them and take all their stuff."

  14. I think the bottom left corner of the map is Larp-Land where the girls all have to dress up as their characters and go out and run around outside shouting "Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!"

  15. "And no, I will not just re-skin all those ideas and move them around the map. Then what'd be the point of the party choosing not to do them?"

    Is it crazy what an overwhelming sense of relief I got from that statement?

  16. Rather than reskin them, you should develop them a bit. As suggested above, the horrific _____ should definitely befall somebody. This Thing in This Direction should start doing something else. actions should have consequences, but should failure to act.

    They seem to like surprises and mystery, so keep that in mind when writing future hooks.

    It is kind of nice though when the party decides to wander. It also makes me feel better about taking the time to properly flesh out the world and world map and draw up tables of random x.

  17. "And no, I will not just re-skin all those ideas and move them around the map. Then what'd be the point of the party choosing not to do them? "

    This, Zak, is why I totally dig your style, bro. This is what makes me respect you as a GM without even having played at your table. This is the hallmark of a fucking solid GM, folks. Bow in respect.