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WarKitty
2014-06-19, 08:09 AM
Playing 3.5 here but given that I'm looking for fluff figured I'd post out here.

I plan on having my PC's encounter a caravan of halflings. This is of course going to be an opportunity for them to trade and to get information. But that's not a session, even a short one, and I don't want to resort to just plain attacking the caravan. So what's some interesting ideas that could happen around a caravan?

DM Nate
2014-06-19, 08:18 AM
The caravan...ATTACKS THEEEMMM

*dun dun DUN*

I dunno, half-vampiric halfling jester illithids or something, have some fun.

WarKitty
2014-06-19, 08:23 AM
The caravan...ATTACKS THEEEMMM

*dun dun DUN*

I dunno, half-vampiric halfling jester illithids or something, have some fun.

I'm trying to avoid running yet another combat session...

DragonkingUs20
2014-06-19, 08:50 AM
A couple ideas I came up with. I hope these help..

1) Fortune Telling/Crystal Ball [Halfling caravan of gypsies]
2) PCs get robbed by gypsies
3) Defend caravan from raid of Orcs
4) Find a lost halfling child
a) Fell down a well/into a cavern
b) Abducted by a monster of some kind
c) Ran away from home
5) Halflings are cannibals and attempt to capture the PCs
6) They trade with the caravan and go find something interesting to do

WarKitty
2014-06-19, 08:59 AM
I would like to do a plotline that's more rp and less "yay let's be murderthiefhobos!" type. One where the right solution isn't beat someone up and take their stuff - so no fights and no thievery. The PC's have some specific goals they want accomplished - notably finding someone who can break their curse. I also have a specific goal of delivering some rumors to the party. This is a nomadic caravan rather than simply traders, so I figure it should be much more like a portable village than a merchant caravan. Past that I'm not sure how to do things exactly.

DM Nate
2014-06-19, 09:05 AM
If you don't want fights, then you'd better have some fleshed-out NPCs and a bunch of intrigue.

Or, you could have them do a bunch of skill-based games for potential loot, like I did with a Carnival once.

WarKitty
2014-06-19, 09:10 AM
If you don't want fights, then you'd better have some fleshed-out NPCs and a bunch of intrigue.

Or, you could have them do a bunch of skill-based games for potential loot, like I did with a Carnival once.

That's sort of the thing - I'm not sure what sort of intrigue would be going on that would involve a caravan like that. Especially as my PC's are already in a place where they don't have time to go off investigating a bunch of stuff.

DragonkingUs20
2014-06-19, 09:23 AM
A fortune teller type character or a Seer/Oracle in the nomadic caravan could offer insight into the characters' past/future that they otherwise don't know. Some rumors could be overheard in conversation over a meal with some of the caravan members. If the PCs perform a minor quest for the nomadic group that they would otherwise have trouble with, the nomadic group could offer them insight or just contact info for someone that can help them. Maybe there's a peace-pipe passed around during a meal and the PCs have to make Will checks to not make fools of themselves. Again-Throwing ideas out there :) haha

Airk
2014-06-19, 09:25 AM
This really depends on what kind of game you're trying to run.

Are you interested in a game where the PCs find out that Jenna is cheating on Thomas, and that he suspects something is going on and is starting to get dangerously jealous? Or that the reason Danna hasn't payed her gambling debt to Jess is because she's sending all her money home to her sick child? What do you expect the PCs to do about this sort of thing?

What kind of interactions do you WANT the PCs to have? Do you want them helping people with random personal problems? ("I lost my brooch that's the only memento of my mother! And I can't leave the caravan to go try to find it!") Do you want them to just hang out and 'enjoy themselves'? (Gambling, contests of skill, fortune telling) You need to have an idea of what sort of game you want before you just start throwing ideas out there.

WarKitty
2014-06-19, 09:37 AM
This really depends on what kind of game you're trying to run.

Are you interested in a game where the PCs find out that Jenna is cheating on Thomas, and that he suspects something is going on and is starting to get dangerously jealous? Or that the reason Danna hasn't payed her gambling debt to Jess is because she's sending all her money home to her sick child? What do you expect the PCs to do about this sort of thing? i

What kind of interactions do you WANT the PCs to have? Do you want them helping people with random personal problems? ("I lost my brooch that's the only memento of my mother! And I can't leave the caravan to go try to find it!") Do you want them to just hang out and 'enjoy themselves'? (Gambling, contests of skill, fortune telling) You need to have an idea of what sort of game you want before you just start throwing ideas out there.

Honestly...I want to give them basically a FFRP session. Get their shopping done, learn about their place in the world, and have some chats. Explore their characters a bit, catch up on what's going on in the world around them. I don't want to do anything too major because I'm down a player. I've got about 80% probability they'll find stuff to do on their own, but I want some fun stuff to entice them if they don't and encourage them to think about their characters more.

Edit: I should add that one PC already has contacts with this tribal group, though not with this specific tribe.

Drakeburn
2014-06-19, 09:47 AM
One idea I do have is that the caravan might be having a rough time making a living because of a rival merchants guild that have somehow gained an unfair advantage over them.

Another one is that a thieves guild is after them, and you can do a lot from there. Like.....

1. Have the party find an artifact that the halfling caravan needs to pay off the thieves guild.

1.2. The halflings give the party an artifact to protect it.

2. One of the halflings might have done something that angered the Thieves Guild, and wants to hire the adventurers to protect them.

Etc.

ElenionAncalima
2014-06-19, 09:54 AM
-The gypsy caravan has interesting lore that will help the party. However, in order to get it they have to learn their customs so as to not offend them.

-The caravan has an item for sale that would be beneficial to one or more PCs. However, the caravan is not interested in gold. The PCs must figure out something that the tribe values in order to trade with them.

Of course, the fortune teller route is always an option. That could also tie into my first suggestion.

nedz
2014-06-19, 11:35 AM
A shopping opportunity most caravans are full of merchants.

You could also have a caravan of pilgrims, giving you a religious type encounter.
Likewise, but with more militant pilgrims on crusade.

Also, obligatory post (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtztZz7A4xA).

WarKitty
2014-06-19, 11:43 AM
A shopping opportunity most caravans are full of merchants.

You could also have a caravan of pilgrims, giving you a religious type encounter.
Likewise, but with more militant pilgrims on crusade.

Also, obligatory post (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtztZz7A4xA).

I was planning a shopping opportunity - but I don't think I can take up a several-hour session with just shopping...

I should add that the halflings have a specific culture that's not going to be blended with anything else. We're dealing with nomads rather than traders or anything. So you're not going to be able to have anything like pilgrims because it's just the wrong culture.

Mark Hall
2014-06-19, 11:44 AM
A couple ideas I came up with. I hope these help..

1) Fortune Telling/Crystal Ball [Halfling caravan of gypsies]
2) PCs get robbed by gypsies
3) Defend caravan from raid of Orcs
4) Find a lost halfling child
a) Fell down a well/into a cavern
b) Abducted by a monster of some kind
c) Ran away from home
5) Halflings are cannibals and attempt to capture the PCs
6) They trade with the caravan and go find something interesting to do

These are some good options, here. I especially like the "lost halfling child" one, as its got a lot of potential to turn into a search... depending on the level of the party, you might even turn it into a roleplaying session (say, the child has been "kidnapped" by something... but it's not an evil monster. What if it's a nymph or a dryad, or some greater spirit of nature that they can't necessarily pound down, but will have problems prevailing against them)?

Or, maybe the caravan can serve as a way to drop a plot hook regarding something behind them. Or they can say "Hey, we've got this thing we want you to deliver to the town we left", and you either go with the Lonesome Road (i.e. the package is gonna blow up and kill everyone), have it be something stolen that will get the players in trouble unless they talk their way out of it, or simply have it be a hook for a new adventure.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2014-06-19, 04:48 PM
I do like the "trader has an item perfect for a PC, but wants something special, not gold, and the party needs to figure out what".

The Oni
2014-06-19, 05:52 PM
If you're trying to avoid murderhoboism in a murderhobo group, have the caravan be artisans or service providers, not merchants. They have cool wares for the PCs, but they have to make them, and they can't make them if they've been murdered. If the PCs kill them all they get is raw components for their trouble, most of which they can't do anything with, and standard traveling gear.

So, they could be a magical tattoo parlor. Maybe they're casters for hire, with specializations in divination or abjuration. Or maybe they're stone or woodworkers and can make the party a wagon or a ship. Depending on the tone of your game, perhaps they are prostitutes following a marching army (that's where the business is). Maybe they don't sell anything but know a passage that would cut the party's travel time in half or more or a unique fighting tradition that the party can learn. Basically, just don't set them up in a way that rewards the party for looting them more than negotiating with them.

WarKitty
2014-06-19, 06:04 PM
If you're trying to avoid murderhoboism in a murderhobo group, have the caravan be artisans or service providers, not merchants. They have cool wares for the PCs, but they have to make them, and they can't make them if they've been murdered. If the PCs kill them all they get is raw components for their trouble, most of which they can't do anything with, and standard traveling gear.

So, they could be a magical tattoo parlor. Maybe they're casters for hire, with specializations in divination or abjuration. Or maybe they're stone or woodworkers and can make the party a wagon or a ship. Depending on the tone of your game, perhaps they are prostitutes following a marching army (that's where the business is). Maybe they don't sell anything but know a passage that would cut the party's travel time in half or more or a unique fighting tradition that the party can learn. Basically, just don't set them up in a way that rewards the party for looting them more than negotiating with them.

Actually it's the other way around - I have a remarkably non murder hobo group and am having trouble sometimes coming up with enough world and challenges to keep a group that gets bored with straight combat quickly.

The Oni
2014-06-19, 06:12 PM
Oh. Well then, you could still use the Fighting Tradition or Secret Passage hooks. Alternately, if you want to make the whole thing a big challenge, here's an idea:

The entire caravan's been cursed somehow to wander around directionless for all eternity. They actually haven't seen normal civilization in years. By entering the caravan the party, too, is cursed. You must now discover the precise nature of the curse and break it, freeing yourselves and the caravan.

For added fun you can fluff this by having any direction-finding spells or effects fail, and survival checks give you answers like "Head purple towards the heart of the sun." The characters are otherwise mentally unaffected, they have just lost anything resembling a sense of direction.

nedz
2014-06-19, 08:26 PM
How about having the caravan arrive somewhere just after the PC's encounter it and there is some conflict between the caravan and folk at the location. Could be an Inn, an Oasis or a small town; where the caravan normally resupplies.

Coidzor
2014-06-19, 09:32 PM
Playing 3.5 here but given that I'm looking for fluff figured I'd post out here.

I plan on having my PC's encounter a caravan of halflings. This is of course going to be an opportunity for them to trade and to get information. But that's not a session, even a short one, and I don't want to resort to just plain attacking the caravan. So what's some interesting ideas that could happen around a caravan?

Traveling with them is classic, of course.
(http://youtu.be/UeuXyU4kCkI)
Caravans can be a source of plot hooks or (side) quests. Perhaps they were attacked a day or two back by X critter and they want it cleared out before they are ready to return that way again.

Expedition to Castle Ravenloft introduced the idea of having some kind of strange magic-user type running the show and being suspicious but not exactly an enemy per se. Fortune Tellers (http://youtu.be/xGS-H0ycRYo?t=14s) are always good, especially if you look at the Vistani (Of Ravenloft/Demiplane of Dread/Dimension of Dread/Expedition to Castle Ravenloft) or Pathfinder for some crunch to go along with them.

Slipperychicken
2014-06-19, 11:43 PM
You could have them insist on chatting about their culture (and whining about oppression) all day, with little to no relation to the larger story. Then when the players PCs wander off bored, they can kill some random kobolds to retrieve a necklace one of the halflings misplaced.

Flashy
2014-06-20, 12:05 AM
The entire caravan's been cursed somehow to wander around directionless for all eternity. They actually haven't seen normal civilization in years. By entering the caravan the party, too, is cursed. You must now discover the precise nature of the curse and break it, freeing yourselves and the caravan.

This is a really top notch idea.

Coidzor
2014-06-20, 01:42 AM
Oh. Well then, you could still use the Fighting Tradition or Secret Passage hooks. Alternately, if you want to make the whole thing a big challenge, here's an idea:

The entire caravan's been cursed somehow to wander around directionless for all eternity. They actually haven't seen normal civilization in years. By entering the caravan the party, too, is cursed. You must now discover the precise nature of the curse and break it, freeing yourselves and the caravan.

For added fun you can fluff this by having any direction-finding spells or effects fail, and survival checks give you answers like "Head purple towards the heart of the sun." The characters are otherwise mentally unaffected, they have just lost anything resembling a sense of direction.


This is a really top notch idea.

...I only skimmed over this the first time I saw it but dang. Yeah, that's some good stuff. :smallbiggrin: Might add in a bit of Brigadoonishness to lend them some Urgency.


These are some good options, here. I especially like the "lost halfling child" one, as its got a lot of potential to turn into a search... depending on the level of the party, you might even turn it into a roleplaying session (say, the child has been "kidnapped" by something... but it's not an evil monster. What if it's a nymph or a dryad, or some greater spirit of nature that they can't necessarily pound down, but will have problems prevailing against them)?

Or, maybe the caravan can serve as a way to drop a plot hook regarding something behind them. Or they can say "Hey, we've got this thing we want you to deliver to the town we left", and you either go with the Lonesome Road (i.e. the package is gonna blow up and kill everyone), have it be something stolen that will get the players in trouble unless they talk their way out of it, or simply have it be a hook for a new adventure.

Or even it's a kid that ran away with them that they got tired of or something along those lines. Is the child just a bratling they'll eventually want to sell into slavery or eat? Is there something terrible the kid was running away from that they'll just have to put to right?

Klarth
2014-06-20, 06:38 AM
Players camp with them for the night, and in the morning one of the halflings is found murdered. Players need to prove their innocence.

Prince incognito confides with the outsiders: someone knows his secret and is blackmailing him. He wants the players to covertly retrieve the evidence. Plot twist! The "prince" is actually the blackmailer, who made you do all the work and retrieve evidence for him from the real prince.

The traveling caravan is also a traveling carnival. As part of their freak show they have a captured [monstrous humanoid]. Players either secretly free her, or barter for her release.

Story time. Gather round the fire and let everyone tell a tale.

Edit:

A
5) Halflings are cannibals and attempt to capture the PCs

It's mid winter and the caravan is stranded. Their horses have run off, their wagons are broken, and they've run out of food. It's up to the players to help these friendly folksy people by fixing their stuff, healing sick and hunting to improve their food stores. After a session's hard work the players find out that the halflings are slavers, and the reason that they don't have any merchandise is because they ate it all.

hymer
2014-06-20, 07:35 AM
Some thoughts:

The elder is about to step down and let one of her apprentices take over the burdens of office. However, her two best candidates come from rival families, and appointing one of them could cause trouble, or even split the caravan. She'd like to speak with someone trustworthy and neutral about it, and the PCs meet and speak with the two obvious candidates.
And then one of them goes missing or turns up dead.

The caravan is trying to pass a bridge in care of a toll officer. He's been subjected to one too many pranks from smallfolk, and he is adamant on the caravan paying per head and per wagon. If the PCs intervene, they may realize that the officer is not merely being cranky. Maybe he has orders from high up to stall the caravan, or his grievance is not at all petty.

The caravan's dogs are being lured into the wilderness by a big half wolf half dog, and then they are torn to pieces and eaten by the wolf pack she runs with (gee, where did I get that from?). Why are the wolves so fearless? Why are they targeting the dogs? What can the caravan do to stop this?

Fire Lord Pi
2014-06-20, 11:52 AM
There's some good ideas^

Maybe a mix of the first two ideas. The elder is about to step down, and with no one she can trust as unbiased, she wants the PCs to act as a neutral party to get an opinion on the two candidates. However both of these parties will bribe, threaten, and try to convince the PC's that their opposition should be discredited. They could make up awful stories about each other. Maybe pay the PC's if they can convince the other candidate to step down. So they must choose who is the best to support, and if they don't intervene things get out of hand (e.g. Murder).

And then they reach the toll. The officer dislikes the smallfolk but accepts money from one candidate to harass the other. The PC's could find out and tell people or confront the guard, but if they do nothing, the harassed candidate and the guard will begin a fight that could involve the whole caravan.

Kol Korran
2014-06-20, 12:05 PM
An idea came to mind, it's potential hangs on the particular tradition of the nomads. But perhaps something could be adapted to fit.

The party wants to get a curse removed, right? Well, this group just happens to have some sort of spiritual adviser/ guide (Shaman, spirit talker or whatever). But the spirit's guide days are numbered, and a new guide needs to be chosen. As due to the nomads traditions/ religion (Maybe some sort of a travel god, like farhan-whatchamacallit), a stranger is supposed to come when the spirit guide's time nears, and that stranger will do the choosing of the new guide.

Basically, the party are enrolled to the roll of judge in a contest to be a new guide. You can put up some contestants between the group, but there need not be anyone obvious. Perhaps one that is a child of the group's leader. Maybe a lead hunter, maybe an unruly but talented youngster, and so on. I suggest give 4-5 official contestants, and maybe 1-2 more possible candidates, that no one in the tribe cares for, but the party might.

Wait, what does the party get out of this? Well, first, the new spirit walker can use the old spirit walker last powers to undue their curse. According to whom they choose, they may also gain some side benefit (A reward from their family, or maybe some manifestation of the the new spirit guide's power?) so whom they choose get them different rewards. And also, if this tribe may have an affect in the future, they may get an ally (and possibly a minor enemy?) in the tribe.

How does this work? I suggest quite a lot of freedom of roleplay here, but a few ideas that may help:
- the decision process is orderly, it's not just "So we talked to a few of them, I choose that one!". There may be a few stages the party goes through, such as talking and getting to know the contestants and the character and politics of the tribe. There is getting to learn and experience the main traditions of the tribe, learn what is important. The party may be requested to pose a few tests to the potential spirit guides, like a test of wisdom, respect or whatever. You can guide the PCs in this or better yet- let them come up with the tests, maybe even the requirements. Could be great fun! Another idea could be to have the party maybe access some sort of a spirit world of the tribe, perhaps talk with some former spirits or visions or such.

- There should be some values, secrets and faults for each contestant. The secret part is major here, as this is what the party needs to explore, and decide what denies a contestant being a spirit guide in their eyes, and what is passable.

- Also, there might be some politics in the tribe: parents or interested parties may try and promote their candidate, or besmirch others (With truths or lies), and some may try to gain the favor of the PCs. From simple offers of small bribes, discounts, or other kind of help and more. It might be very very interesting if someone finds a weakness of the PCs, and tries to use it against them! (You know your players best).

- Lastly, this isn't done in a vacuum. The PCs don't have all the time in the world to just talk freely and interview the people in the tribe. They are journeying somewhere, and there is some kind of a stressful pressure on the group- perhaps they need to get somewhere on time. Perhaps they wish to pass some potentially hostile territory, perhaps the spirit guide needs to be buried close to her death in a specific site and so on. Whatever it is, the nomads are trying to move quickly, and through some not-so-easy terrain. This means two things: First, the party doesn't have lots of time to talk in leisure- most have things to do. But also the journey itself provides all kinds of stressful situations in which the contestants character may show (Either their true colors, or what they wish to present to the PCs) Things like a broken bridge, forest fire, possibly needing to split forces for some reason, perhaps things tied with the nomads traditions, like special holy sights, dealing with some other travelers on the road, and the like.

If the idea intrigues you, perhaps we can think up personalities and such to fill the little caravan of yours, eh?