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View Full Version : DM Help Story Ideas Needed!



SiuiS
2014-02-10, 02:48 AM
I painted myself into a corner. While in a vaguely heated discussion, a friend mentioned he had never actually played a game of D&D from 1 to 20, and I said I would run one, if he would just show up regularly.

And now I am.

I say everyone down and we worked out what kind of game or story or character they were interested in. What we came up with, somehow, is a Spirit world Chanbara police procedural, with anime influence, allowed room for fiat on both sides of the table, and gestalt rules. The ruleset is 3.5 but doesn't matter, because what I need are ideas on how police procedural stories even work I've got Yu-Yu-Hakusho and some vague spaghetti western and Asian magistrate stories to go on.

The players are;
"An angeletic dragonic bard girl with a double edges sword like ruruoni kenshin", which came out to being a Protectar (miniatures handbook) dragon shaman//dragonfire adept
"celestial archer, one of those whose arrows are the stars at night" that I'll have to subvert somehow. He's gonna hold back becauE otherwise he will rock the universe and no one else can shine.
"the boring normal guy trying to find himself", last I heard a Monk//Psion. Terrible Optimiser.


The world is one I've been thinking of whimsically for years but never solidified. The land is stony, barren and foggy, with mountains, line mountains, literally everywhere. It's a constant battle between two "sides" who spend all their energies insanely battling for supremacy of the valleys so they can eventually storm the mountains. This is a distraction however; the civilizations and such will be on mountaintops, safe from the main effect of the setting.

Every "five days" of relative time, the ocean sweeps in, crushingly fast, a wall of black water. It fills all the valleys leaving only the sterling, snow capped peaks poking out as a swirling white and blue marble becomes visible overhead; the earth. The Black Sea is the nighttime sky, filling in and showing off the stars (the mountains). Every star cluster will be it's own cultural area, so I can rip off different spirit worlds and after lives. The human characters will be recruited to help police these places.

... Now what? I can probably stall for about three sessions just on the novelty of the setup alone, but after that I'll need a definite direction to nudge players. What kinds of stories does this lend itself to? Winter courts, stuck amongst the poisonous and honey-tongued politicians? Preventing sabotage of celestial paperwork which guides mortal fates? Keeping an eye on Zeus as he tries to shake off his ankle tracker and get down with some fly earth honeys? Wrestling primordial constellations that won't lie fallow?

Help a sister out, playground!

ChaoticDitz
2014-02-10, 03:04 AM
I recommend it be a more D&D-flavored version of YYH's sort of plot; perhaps there are devils running around the world making "deals" with people to get more souls to hell, and your players' job is to protect innocent spirits until they overcome their regrets while vanquishing demons, giving people who deal with devils chances to seek repentance and taking their souls into custody if they refuse. Make it all very procedural, with Miranda warning-type stuff.

This opens up gateways into millions of other extended plots once the players get into the groove. Perhaps they discover an almost-coherent organization of demons who are eating devil contracts and the people associated with them to gain immeasurable power? Or the being who decides which souls go where after they die (an Enma, if you will) signs a devil contract of his own for some unknown reason, causing both political and natural calamity as he loses his ability due to falling into evil and both the world and the afterlife start to overflow with increasingly unstable wandering spirits who get more powerful and magical as time passes and the imbalance grows worse, until eventually the three distinct areas (real world, two sections of afterlife battling for control of valleys) all come under risk of spilling into each other, causing mass destruction and the release of primal spirit energy that would probably Positive Energy explode everyone?

Just sone ideas to think on or base your own ideas on.

SiuiS
2014-02-10, 03:36 AM
I recommend it be a more D&D-flavored version of YYH's sort of plot; perhaps there are devils running around the world making "deals" with people to get more souls to hell, and your players' job is to protect innocent spirits until they overcome their regrets while vanquishing demons, giving people who deal with devils chances to seek repentance and taking their souls into custody if they refuse. Make it all very procedural, with Miranda warning-type stuff.

That's actually a really good idea! It would be like a reverse ghost story, where the spirits have to help the mortals deal with their baggage. It reinforces the choices for weirdness, bureaucracy and being spirits, and prevents anyon from trying to just magic it all better.



This opens up gateways into millions of other extended plots once the players get into the groove. Perhaps they discover an almost-coherent organization of demons who are eating devil contracts and the people associated with them to gain immeasurable power? Or the being who decides which souls go where after they die (an Enma, if you will) signs a devil contract of his own for some unknown reason, causing both political and natural calamity as he loses his ability due to falling into evil and both the world and the afterlife start to overflow with increasingly unstable wandering spirits who get more powerful and magical as time passes and the imbalance grows worse, until eventually the three distinct areas (real world, two sections of afterlife battling for control of valleys) all come under risk of spilling into each other, causing mass destruction and the release of primal spirit energy that would probably Positive Energy explode everyone?

Just sone ideas to think on or base your own ideas on.

Hmm. And I could throw in factions, there. Working with the devils would be more like working with the mafiya. Becoming a dirty cop. I think I could roll with that. Plus working the bureaucrat angle means I can draw inspiration from, say, white collar instead of findig old pulp stories which makes old pulp stories fun surprises.

Now I just need to figure out how to get that samurai western feel...

BrokenChord
2014-02-10, 03:45 AM
Samurai western doesn't really mix with ghosts helping mortals, sister. Those flavors contrast each other more sharply than making a cheesecake with cheddar.

Unless you play up the whole ancestor-in-the-blade subversion, but that would be a stretch, imho.

The real-world setting shouldn't be too hard to work out; Oriental Adventures has you covered on the real-world samuraism, and something as centralized and effective as an afterlife prison/police station and planar airport is going to be pretty modern compared to the real world part by necessity.

An interesting idea though... Make the Enma figure a Beholder. "Now, my many eyes will each study a facet of your life and your final resting place shall be determined and judged." Nice flavor there, even if it might be hard to take seriously at first.

hemming
2014-02-10, 01:24 PM
my thoughts are to go classic samurai/western revenge plot w/ supernatural elements - not very original, but fun and serviceable:

As in the old west, the towns are scattered independent hamlets far from a central authority. Powerful feudal warlords maintain strongholds on each mountain peak, but it is frontier justice outside the walls.

The bulk of citizens are just everyday folks trying to get by, but times are hard and even a good man can be tempted by a devil deal when the pickings are slim. And it seems that stories of devils in this realm are becoming more and more common...

Our heroes travel down a long and lonesome road - Ronin of a murdered warlord trying to maintain their honor. They roam from town to town tracking down clues to find the devil responsible, constantly drawn by place and circumstance into the affairs of the men and fiends around them.

Kitten Champion
2014-02-10, 03:18 PM
My first thoughts point towards Soul Hunter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoshin_Engi). It's a late 90's anime with a mythic China setting which is about an eccentric immortal sorcerer capturing the demonic celestials who are running amok in the land of man.

So something like ChaoticDitz concept.

SiuiS
2014-02-10, 03:45 PM
Samurai western doesn't really mix with ghosts helping mortals, sister. Those flavors contrast each other more sharply than making a cheesecake with cheddar.

Hmm. I don't know. My l5r experience says that a game of imperial magistrates can work better than expected, and westerns can be as much about the sheriff or marshals as the outlaws.

Hmm.



An interesting idea though... Make the Enma figure a Beholder. "Now, my many eyes will each study a facet of your life and your final resting place shall be determined and judged." Nice flavor there, even if it might be hard to take seriously at first.

Heh~


My first thoughts point towards Soul Hunter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoshin_Engi). It's a late 90's anime with a mythic China setting which is about an eccentric immortal sorcerer capturing the demonic celestials who are running amok in the land of man.

So something like ChaoticDitz concept.

Oh neat. I'll have to check that out in detail, thank you.

GungHo
2014-02-10, 04:13 PM
Our heroes travel down a long and lonesome road - Ronin of a murdered warlord trying to maintain their honor. They roam from town to town tracking down clues to find the devil responsible, constantly drawn by place and circumstance into the affairs of the men and fiends around them.
The devil should challenge them to a guitar battle.

hemming
2014-02-11, 06:07 AM
The devil should challenge them to a guitar battle.

DM: As you come around the bend, there shines a shiny demon in the middle of the road

SiuiS
2014-02-11, 06:39 AM
I think I can get as far as whippy-crack went his tail before someone catches on, actually.

Sir Pippin Boyd
2014-02-11, 08:49 AM
In my experience working with investigation and police themed games for D&D, I've found that the players who play 3.5 usually have something a little more action-packed in mind than your typical Shadowrun or Dark Heresy game.

With that in mind, the only successful such game I've run in D&D treated it as a Monster-of-the-week type thing where there would be a series of clues being dropped with gradually increasing value until eventually it was impossible *not* to confront the bad. The sooner they caught on to what was happening, the faster they'd catch the bad, the less damage it can cause before they take it down.

On one hand some people feel this method may be a cop-out in terms of having an investigation, I find the model helps smart and investigative players to feel rewarded by completing the mission in a more satisfactory manner (less collateral damage, more rewards), and in those instances where the players just don't catch on to the subtle hints like I'd imagined they might, the increasingly obvious ones help to make sure the game doesn't stall. This would still be less than ideal, however, since this would usually involve some kind of big dramatic show on part of the bad that includes civilian deaths, and the PCs would be reprimanded by their superior officer for their failure to keep a proper handle on the situation.

BrokenChord
2014-02-11, 09:07 AM
...PCs would be reprimanded by their superior officer for their failure to keep a proper handle on the situation.

This smells like moar plot hoox, so I don't see an issue.

The_Werebear
2014-02-11, 02:26 PM
If you're looking for Police/Detective work, there is always the kidnapping angle. Someone comes to the group because a family member never reached them after death. This leads them to the discovery that there are a LOT of people who are not reaching their correct "mountaintop." It could be anything from devil's changing the "road signs" to lead people astray to a Celestial judge taking bribes to route people to incorrect locations (Tommy the Rat just bit it. He got us all sent to the chair in life. Route him to us instead of where he ought to be so we can make him pay.)

Haldir
2014-02-11, 02:34 PM
If you're running 1-20 in a setting like that, then militaries that have access to flight and counter-flight are the only ones who are seriously going to be able to play the game.

The neat thing about this idea is that a spellcaster who is willing to work against the law can create a hideout for himself in crazy places that the flooding makes inaccessible. Rather than flavoring this as a typical tower dungeon full of mooks, flavor them as mafiosi more interested in illicit business than wrecking stuff. If you've already got a ton of police institutions, you've gotta have the other side, and these sorts of institutions can lead to all sorts of fun adventures. Uncover work, busting up smuggling, straight up turf war, tracking down different legs of their business like the prostitution, drugs, etc. could provide a series of long adventures that all progress a larger plot of "taking down the mob."

Should fit your game rather nicely, even as a subplot. If you find a BBEG in need of killing, the Mafia could be an foe-turned-friend for high-level funsies.

Edit- Illegal arms trading would be a huge market for things like that. Say a wizard in Country X builds an awesome spell for his troops, these mobsters might try and smuggle out scrolls or items of it to other countries.

TheThan
2014-02-11, 03:45 PM
The devil should challenge them to a guitar battle.

I think you mean a fiddle battle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6RUg-NkjY4)

SiuiS
2014-03-01, 09:34 AM
Well, that was interesting.

One aborted session, one irritating drop out, and one character complete revision later, and here we are.


Monk//psion staff fighter using sunder, forceful staff and battle leaper with iaijutsu focus. He's a gate crasher.
Fighter//psion who fluffed his combination of buff powers as becoming a giant monkey. He is Nappa the Saiyan, and it totally changed the entire flow of the game.

Needless to say, there's absolutely nothing I can do to salvage the original direction, and I am in fact enjoying the quote novel experience of having my sandbox derailed! So now, a spastic monk and Nappa the Saiyan are in search of tha magic coins reflecting the stars of the Big Dipper for Zordon in order to become rangers of power. So... I am winging it here on in. Thanks, though!

ChaoticDitz
2014-03-01, 12:48 PM
Wow. That was an explosive shift :smallconfused: Your players are stranger creatures than most.

Anyway, have a wonderful time with your game! :smallbiggrin:

Fabletop
2014-03-02, 07:16 PM
Don't your NPCs have goals?

I don't plot games anymore; I focus on my NPC motivations and how they shape scenes around the PCs. Wash your players in deep drama. Drama that feeds hooks.

If you can't run a game with only one central NPC, working the PCs forward and backwards, you aren't having fun as a GM. Each NPC should be their own plot, so if all the others are killed/vanish, you have all you need with the one.

Go deeper. Ever since I went with deep NPC characterization, I'm never at a loss for story.
Check my spoiler for a 100-question character survey. Yeah, it's lengthy, but it creates all the story you need.

Hope this helps and good gaming:smallsmile:

SiuiS
2014-03-02, 07:31 PM
I actually built everything much simpler for a new player who had only done a half-session of any RPG before, who decided when everyone showed up that they weren't going to play and instead wanted to watch a bunch of DVDs they brought with my wife. The NPCs have goals, personalities, and history; none of the remaining players care.

It will be interesting, to say the least. By the time Plot Things are obvious enough to reach them (since with no social graces there will be no rumor mill and no one will think of info gathering), it will be at the halfway point. It's going to be a glorious train wreck! We are currently trying to figure out how Great Oozaru form would interact with a megazord. Out best bet is to have the Oozaru throw the megazord which throws it's javelin which the monk will jump off of in order to reach really distant objects.