PDA

View Full Version : Please give me advice for my D&Dish campaign



gadren
2015-06-23, 01:57 PM
Here is a description of the campaign I'm currently running, that I'd like some input on

"Imagine you're a party of adventurers in a tavern. You overhear stories of this cave that was once the lair of some great dragon that was slain, leaving its treasure unguarded. Yet, everyone that has gone in to claim the treasure has never been heard from again. What do you do? Go into the cave of course, you're freakin' adventurers!

Somewhere in the cave, your party got lost, and now you're on another plane (more specifically, a demiplane called "Delve") created by Deehem, a god of labyrinths, puzzles, monsters, and treasure. It was - surprise - a trap. The entire plane is a continually expanding labyrinth, constantly creating new pathways and room and creating new traps, puzzles, and a variety of strange monsters that guard mounds and mounds of treasure

But, you're not the first party of adventurers to arrive here. Oh no, not by a long shot. Thousands of adventurers - from Toril, Oerth, Krynn, Eberron, and other places - have been lured here, and the first started arriving nearly a century before your arrival. The adventurers that preceded you have managed to found a city in one of the more stable parts of Delve, a city made up entirely of adventurers, ex-adventurers, and the children and grandchildren of adventurers. 95% of the population of the city of TavernKeep have a couple PC levels. The city's economy is highly dependent on loot brought in, though some items (such as items that create food and water) are worth much more here than back home, while others less so.

Traps, puzzles, and monsters can appear anywhere, even in TavernKeep, and the populace has become somewhat blasť about dealing with them. When they first appear they are pretty weak and easy to deal with. For every day a trap/puzzle/monster is not encountered, it grows stronger. So a trap one stumbles upon on a main road in TavernKeep would likely be a small annoyance, and luckily a puzzle that suddenly locks your bathroom door will be fairly simple. But if that puzzle and trap appeared in an abandoned house or an undiscovered cavern, they'd steadily grow to become very formidable indeed."

The campaign is very meta. The adventurers aren't aware of what D&D is or what its rules are, but the demigod that created this place is basically your stereotypical bad DM. When exploring Delve, a party may suddenly hear a strange disembodied voice describing the pungent stench of mildew emanating from the dungeon walls. Monsters with nonsensical combinations of templates are abundant. When an encounter is defeated too easily, the disembodied voice will say something like "uh, and then there's uhm... a dragon! With three heads!" And it will happen. More than one group of adventurers in Delve have perished because they insulted the disembodied voice and suddenly rocks fell on top of them, killing everyone

I'm trying to create a mix of comedy and horror for this game. Sure, it sounds all silly, until you look at it from the perspective of the adventurers that can't escape this place. The place has driven many to madness.

I'd appreciate input from you guys on how to reflect both the comedy and the horror of the situation. One source of inspiration for this game will be Portal, which has a similar situation (albeit on a smaller scale and is obviously more scifi than fantasy) and similarly mixes humor and horror.

I'd also like ideas for factions and districts to add to the city of Tavernkeep. Here are things that I've already decided:
-Tavernkeep is built within (but does not completely fill) a 700 square mile section of Delve that is more stable than the rest. Random traps and encounters still appear in this area, but its geography doesn't change, and Deehem is rarely heard there.
-The population has been abducted as follows: 50% come from published D&D settings (Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Mystara, Eberron, Dragonlance, Points of Light, etc), 35% come from low-magic/no-magic medieval settings, 10% come from swashbuckling (1700's) settings, 5% come from steampunk settings, 5% come from "modern" settings (D20 modern, Spycraft, Mad Max), and 5% come from space-age settings (Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly).
-Since adventurers show up only with what they were carrying, most high-tech gear is not sustainable due to a lack of suitable power sources. Laser guns and such are basically treated like magic items in many ways.
-The powerful spellcasters in Delve are disproportionately evil. They control some of the major power groups in Tavernkeep like magical mafia godfathers. They take an interest in any new casters that show up in Delve, and pressure them to join their group. Many good spellcasters get taken out for their perceived threat to the powers that be. All magical commerce is regulated by these groups, who want their cut of profits and don't tolerate too much free spellcasting, even of minor spells like create food and water.
-It varies how much power groups from the worlds outside of Delve maintain their loyalty and cohesiveness in Delve. Groups whose main purpose is "protect/reclaim/conquer country x" don't have much purpose in Delve. Other groups still have their purpose, but limited membership, so have combined with similar organizations to form a "new" group. For example, the Knights of the Chalice, the Knights of the Raven, and the Knights of the Silver Flame have formed into one group in Delve called the Knights Viritualis.
-There is a "Church of Deehem" - that is really more of a cult - which seeks to appease the creator of Delve.
-At the center of Tavernkeep is an area called Sanctuary, preserved by a powerful mage that believes in neutrality. In Sanctuary, magic, electronic, and high explosives don't work at all.
-Tavernkeep has a disproportionate amount of taverns. Like, it's worse than Starbucks.

VoxRationis
2015-06-23, 02:08 PM
Does everyone's magic still work the same way it did where they came from? I can't help but notice that some of these settings have magic systems that work in dramatically different ways.

gadren
2015-06-23, 02:13 PM
Does everyone's magic still work the same way it did where they came from? I can't help but notice that some of these settings have magic systems that work in dramatically different ways.
For the most part, yes.

Geddy2112
2015-06-23, 02:14 PM
Since your going for a very meta and 4th wall ignoring campaign, then the town should have all of your standard guilds and factions. A temple(s) to a major deity(or deities) that are mostly good, a shadowy thieves guild with an base near the docks or slums, a powerful mages guild, a fighters guild, a political leading faction with strange family issues, a mysterious area/cave/forest/abandoned castle on the outskirts, incompetent guards etc.

Also, the town should be overly focused on adventuring and finding these challenges and puzzles, not because they get in the way of normal life, but because they ARE normal life.

gadren
2015-06-23, 02:39 PM
Since your going for a very meta and 4th wall ignoring campaign, then the town should have all of your standard guilds and factions. A temple(s) to a major deity(or deities) that are mostly good, a shadowy thieves guild with an base near the docks or slums, a powerful mages guild, a fighters guild, a political leading faction with strange family issues, a mysterious area/cave/forest/abandoned castle on the outskirts, incompetent guards etc.

Also, the town should be overly focused on adventuring and finding these challenges and puzzles, not because they get in the way of normal life, but because they ARE normal life.
I'd like to emphasize again that the god Deehem behaves in a very meta way, but the adventurers (both PCs and NPCs) are NOT meta-aware. They don't know why there's this voice narrating stuff, they don't know they are in a game or what the rules are, and they don't try to behave cliched. In fact the strange occurrences in this bizarre world they been brought to against their will should be unnerving, and I'd like to play that up.

Jonagel
2015-06-23, 02:42 PM
Fantastic idea, I love it!

As for comedy and horror, I have a few suggestions:
1) Don't abuse it, but breaking the 4th wall on some level will be a major piece to this. As a world of adventurers people will be painfully aware of things that may result in more jokes/conversation pieces we find in Order of the Stick comics.
2) Remember music can help set the mood for horror! Also, less control = more scary. The second an adventurer can just cleave or fireball the second it becomes another challenge to overcome.
3) Incarnations/avatars/minions of Delve....perhaps create your own race that lines themselves with him/her? Like Angels, demons devils. This may open up a whole new avenue, but will allow you to really let the God have a mischievous hand in everything, including the politics of guilds, taverns, etc.

Some random ideas:
- Contests. Whether it is between orgs, magic guilds, put on by Delve cultists, etc. Who can get X item first, who can map something, etc. Very quest centric in that sense.
- Other towns/cities. Unless there is a good reason on this front... I would start setting up towns, keeps, communes, etc. that may exist in the labyrinth. Someone must have been hard headed, banished, or way too obsessed with their deity/OCD to live in TavernKeep.

Factions:
- Unless ever group/faction is equally powerful and managed by a level headed rational person (hah!) I would imagine there are constant turf wars or skirmishes between groups. This would allow for a change of pace from dungeon delving should a party want to get more involved with a non dungeon heavy session. (I'm sure you thought of this already though)
- There has to be a general obsession with portals/plane shifting. OR a highly powerful/revered/feared group that handles this kind of stuff. Some kind of designated 'Oz' in a sense.
- Dragons! I have no doubt a number of dragon worshipers came to see this apparently gone dragon that could best every adventuring party sent to claim its lost treasure. There may well be a cult of the dragon "There is No Dragon" "The Dragon is a Lie" ... you get the idea.
- Good and evil teams joining up of course...i.e. good/evil dragon people.
- Speaking of good/evil, some kind of unexpected grouping. Halflings & Giants for example. With an amusing/ridiculous reason as to why they teamed up, and thus had all others of their race follow suit.
- Just like mages, I suspect thieves are exponentially important...who else to be certified Trap experts? They may all be set up as Business (LLCs, Corporations, Mom & Pop shops) that hire out Trap Experts for hourly rates or contingency (like lawyers, lol).
- Dwarves and all terran based creatures may band together. Stonework and such. Probably attempting to drill or dig a massive tunnel down (or in some direction) in an attempt to find an edge. They have their little walled section or keep, and for years now they have been digging further and further constantly reworking the tunnel as its entered the more shifty part of the plane...or they found a way to stop that from happening?
- A web of alliances I imagine...

Sorry for so much text!

gadren
2015-06-23, 03:13 PM
Fantastic idea, I love it!

As for comedy and horror, I have a few suggestions:
1) Don't abuse it, but breaking the 4th wall on some level will be a major piece to this. As a world of adventurers people will be painfully aware of things that may result in more jokes/conversation pieces we find in Order of the Stick comics.
2) Remember music can help set the mood for horror! Also, less control = more scary. The second an adventurer can just cleave or fireball the second it becomes another challenge to overcome.
3) Incarnations/avatars/minions of Delve....perhaps create your own race that lines themselves with him/her? Like Angels, demons devils. This may open up a whole new avenue, but will allow you to really let the God have a mischievous hand in everything, including the politics of guilds, taverns, etc.

Some random ideas:
- Contests. Whether it is between orgs, magic guilds, put on by Delve cultists, etc. Who can get X item first, who can map something, etc. Very quest centric in that sense.
- Other towns/cities. Unless there is a good reason on this front... I would start setting up towns, keeps, communes, etc. that may exist in the labyrinth. Someone must have been hard headed, banished, or way too obsessed with their deity/OCD to live in TavernKeep.

Factions:
- Unless ever group/faction is equally powerful and managed by a level headed rational person (hah!) I would imagine there are constant turf wars or skirmishes between groups. This would allow for a change of pace from dungeon delving should a party want to get more involved with a non dungeon heavy session. (I'm sure you thought of this already though)
- There has to be a general obsession with portals/plane shifting. OR a highly powerful/revered/feared group that handles this kind of stuff. Some kind of designated 'Oz' in a sense.
- Dragons! I have no doubt a number of dragon worshipers came to see this apparently gone dragon that could best every adventuring party sent to claim its lost treasure. There may well be a cult of the dragon "There is No Dragon" "The Dragon is a Lie" ... you get the idea.
- Good and evil teams joining up of course...i.e. good/evil dragon people.
- Speaking of good/evil, some kind of unexpected grouping. Halflings & Giants for example. With an amusing/ridiculous reason as to why they teamed up, and thus had all others of their race follow suit.
- Just like mages, I suspect thieves are exponentially important...who else to be certified Trap experts? They may all be set up as Business (LLCs, Corporations, Mom & Pop shops) that hire out Trap Experts for hourly rates or contingency (like lawyers, lol).
- Dwarves and all terran based creatures may band together. Stonework and such. Probably attempting to drill or dig a massive tunnel down (or in some direction) in an attempt to find an edge. They have their little walled section or keep, and for years now they have been digging further and further constantly reworking the tunnel as its entered the more shifty part of the plane...or they found a way to stop that from happening?
- A web of alliances I imagine...

Sorry for so much text!
This is all gold! Thanks!

NRSASD
2015-06-23, 03:40 PM
Something I would do (as a player) is try to escape immediately. With the level of paranoia/insanity that most surviving adventurers possess, I'm sure there would have been all sorts of increasingly wacky attempts to escape over the years. There might even be a cult based around the very concept, not to mention some death cults about death being the only "true escape" from delve.

Additionally, this lets you put in all sorts of crazy areas around Tavernkeep where people tried to planeshift out (and created wild magic zones), someone set off a nuke trying to blast their way out, and so on.

Alternatively, you could have a huge sealed, indestructible golden gate in the center of town with the words "EXIT" written above it. Deehem could then lure adventurers into the most ludicrous of death traps by offering the key as the final reward.

Thinking about guilds, the paladins are either going to glomp together as one massive group that spends most of its time discussing theology and thwacking anyone who looks funny, or as dozens of little 10 men gangs that each believe they know "the Truth" and spends their time fighting turf wars over religious interpretations with each other.

Finally, you throwing in some authentic earth heroes could be a lot of fun. Knights from the Round Table, Greek Heroes, Pirates, what have you.

Love the concept!

Spartakus
2015-06-23, 04:04 PM
Somewhere in the town lives a human with strange clothes that appears to be insane in a very special way. The chars will agree that he is very strange, but the players will notice, that he is from real earth.

He cannot handle the simplest weapons or cast even cantrips but apparrently he cannot be killed. He insist that this is because of his lack of "stats" although nobody has an idea what that means.

As being genre-savvy he has an idea what happens in the plane and is used as a source of information and makes a living by dealing said informations.
He also has strange magic items with obscure description like "adds +3 to AC" or "reduces THAC0 by 2" (the latter is an ancient magic item from a lost world)

Try to keep a straight face when you have him shouting: "Oh praised be the GM! He has send PCs into my humble shop!"

(borrowed from "Das Panhumoricum")

mig el pig
2015-06-23, 04:19 PM
Thinking about guilds, the paladins are either going to glomp together as one massive group that spends most of its time discussing theology and thwacking anyone who looks funny, or as dozens of little 10 men gangs that each believe they know "the Truth" and spends their time fighting turf wars over religious interpretations with each other.

I really like the turf war paladins.

I think Illusionists would fill a certain niche. Everyone who got here left everything they ever knew behind. Their must be some who visit illusionist to "be" with their family, friends, loved ones.

gadren
2015-06-23, 05:44 PM
I really like the turf war paladins.

I think Illusionists would fill a certain niche. Everyone who got here left everything they ever knew behind. Their must be some who visit illusionist to "be" with their family, friends, loved ones.

Oh yeah. I think I'll have to have a big-eared gnome illusionist named Cork that makes big money on his private illusion sessions.

Demidos
2015-06-23, 10:45 PM
As someone who has personally felt this pain, do not introduce this lightly...

But a magic items merchant who gyps them at every turn, and yet always happens to have what they need. What is more, what seems to be the same shop has an opening into the most incongruous of places (The bottom of a pit trap? Welcome to my shop!)

Your players will hate your guts for eternity.
But hey, it would fit!

gadren
2015-06-25, 11:08 AM
These have all been great suggestions. Anyone else have ideas?

Brendanicus
2015-06-25, 12:39 PM
These have all been great suggestions. Anyone else have ideas?This concept is wonderful. If you want some meta dnd humor, have many different antagonistic groups conveniently have a brooding dark elf included in their goon squad as a running joke. Initially, these Lincoln Park fanboys will be complete pushovers, but each consecutive one has an increasingly "edgy" build that sometimes makes them more dangerous.

You drow progression could be as follows:

Standard rogue -> Drizzt ranger build->
Paladin of Vengeance/Rogue -> Monk/Sorcerer/Death Cleric -> Purposely Lame Anime-based Homebrew Class