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KyleG
2019-02-23, 01:56 PM
I've got a problem of my own making and Im not sure what to tweak to correct. What better place to turn to than a community of creators.

Im preparing a campaign that starts in a truly isolated township. My original idea was this big "under the dome" type scenario with the first chapter basically resolving the dome issue and giving rise to adventures beyond the area. Basically characters appear in town due to a magic occurrence, find out that the whole town/area magically appeared under this new sky maybe 2years ago, and that there's no way out and worse still townspeople are disappearing if they venture in one direction a few kms away...cue adventure hook roughly akin to the LMoP Cragmaw Caves.
In the caves having defeated the occupants they discover a generator which turns off the 'dome', and parties and townspeople can now set forth to explore this world and why/how they came to be in it.

I was also thinking of having a hidden passage from the cave back to a shop/tavern closet or something to that effect. Perhaps the generator was powering some basic devices (lights?) in the town and this was the underground access.

But the logic becomes flawed when pressed....
How was the generator setup? Was it part of the town before it appeared here? How come know one knew about it? how does it connect to the dome? What is with the passage from cave to town? smugglers passage, sure why not...power substation maintenance corridor ok maybe, how it relates to the dome, ummmm.

Perhaps I need to consider a different isolation method?

Any thoughts would be appreciate.

Anymage
2019-02-23, 02:07 PM
A wizard did it.

More detail, for some reason you can make up as the plot progresses, a wizard was messing about with planar experiments, and either accidentally brought a whole town over or else intentionally did so for some experiment. If it's an intentional experiment, isolating them from the rest of the world would help remove confounding factors. If accidental, isolating them would help avoid either having things from outside bedevil the townspeople, or having something they brought over complicate the outside world. You might want your device to borrow from the fantasy props department instead of the sci-fi one, unless you like sci-fi looking magitech, but the point should still hold.

As for how come the PCs don't have to deal with the wizard, presumably said wizard will want to do more than just watch over the town. If the town needs some resources like energy, the wizard could set up some sort of magical power generation for them. Similarly, there might be some reason for certain townsfolk to be working with the wizard, either to help ensure that the experiment runs on track or to keep the rest of the town from going too nuts until the wizard figures out how to fix the accident. Then the PCs find whatever magical macguffin is keeping the dome up, wreck it, and adventure commences from there.

KyleG
2019-02-23, 02:36 PM
A wizard did it.

More detail, for some reason you can make up as the plot progresses, a wizard was messing about with planar experiments, and either accidentally brought a whole town over or else intentionally did so for some experiment. If it's an intentional experiment, isolating them from the rest of the world would help remove confounding factors. If accidental, isolating them would help avoid either having things from outside bedevil the townspeople, or having something they brought over complicate the outside world. You might want your device to borrow from the fantasy props department instead of the sci-fi one, unless you like sci-fi looking magitech, but the point should still hold.

As for how come the PCs don't have to deal with the wizard, presumably said wizard will want to do more than just watch over the town. If the town needs some resources like energy, the wizard could set up some sort of magical power generation for them. Similarly, there might be some reason for certain townsfolk to be working with the wizard, either to help ensure that the experiment runs on track or to keep the rest of the town from going too nuts until the wizard figures out how to fix the accident. Then the PCs find whatever magical macguffin is keeping the dome up, wreck it, and adventure commences from there.

yes a "wizard" got them there absolutely, that forms part of my overall campaign plan. But its more by accident. this is but small town in a vast campaign map. Towns, peoples, etc are all appearing and sometimes disappearing all over and our "wizard" is oblivious. But the 'dome' I don't feel is related.
I tried having another wizard creating it as a 'protected area' type thing but then clearly its not working as the PCs and other townsfolk all haven't been there from the beginning. this town is settled, im picking its been functioning for upto 2 years. stuck within this dome but still surviving. I see the dome as letting water/weather thru even perhaps certain animals. And what would this other wizards motivation be?
Given the whole campaign has a 'time' theme. perhaps my town wizardly figure has seen this before, kinda of a "all this has happened before, all will happen again" type idea and this is his attempt to stop a ravaging horde that destroyed the town and the pcs last time round before they were prepared....that kinda works.

Perhaps I should have given more detail:
1. large 2800km? wide campaign area. A cradle/crater akin to Shangrila.
2. in the centre a not necessarily BBEG is using a device that messes with space/time: Something akin to Stargates Windows of Opportunity/Groundhog Day.
3. Our small isolated township is where we begin, appearing as if from nowhere. resolve isolation issue, begin exploring world.
4,5,6....
#. if the players reach the centre before acquiring 2 magical components each then they are told "you're not ready/not yet" and campaign probably resets with knowledge retained only. if they are carrying 1 of the 2 components, campaign reset but at current level of characters. reset does not mean things are exactly the same this time round. Strongly discourage/hinder access to the centre of map until ready. the 2 components makes them immune to the time/space distortions.
What happens between 3 and # and how they discover that is where this all started is open ended.

Erloas
2019-02-23, 03:02 PM
If I'm getting this correctly, there seems to be some sort of "temporal anomalies" happening all over the world, but this city has been protected/isolated from everything else until the "dome" was shut down, correct? Are those anomalies caused by gods/wizards/outsiders or "random wild magic?"

Either way, the dome could in fact be essentially a magic circle of protection from these anomalies. It could be a test of "does this magic circle actually work?" or it could be "this is my control group for this experiment." A wizard wouldn't want to put himself in the circle until he knows what it will do to him over time. The "time" nature of the circle means that anything living that tries to pass through the dome gets really old or young, hence things disappearing. The cave is a built in door for the wizard because they need to be able to check what is happening in the town to know if their experiment/test is working or not. Any leaves or animals that hit the dome turn to dust or disappear, but things unaffected by time, such as wind and raw elements (such as make up water, or a rock) isn't affected in any noticeable way.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-23, 03:27 PM
I think the biggest internal logic issue you need to address is why the dome exists in lore, and why can it be turned off inside the dome if people want to leave.

I've been on a demon kick as of late, so lets start there.


Mad Mage M'gee (MMM for short) struck a deal with a demon to incite an incursion for trade of some... Lets just say unpleasant... reagents for some powerful magics. Fearing the repercussions of the Demonic Incursion that he could have caused, he sealed the city his summer home/lab was in and hoped that it would blow over. Obviously to the party, it was stopped but MMM does not know that. The town has been living in isolation for decades, but no one knows how to destroy the dome and some people recognize it as the only thing keeping them safe. it could also be a case, depending on how forward you are thinking about the campaign, that the demon incursion was supposed to start and has just been coming to a slow boil all the while. So, the party could release the dome and suddenly, the demon incursion starts like a plague, wiping out the skies with a Demon very unhappy that MMM has tried to back out when the fun was just beginning.

I mean, ultimately when you break it down to it's base components, the dome is just a door, encompassing the outside world, and is locked - if you lock it from the inside, you usually want to keep something out from getting in. There is always a case for needing "true heroes" to complete a complicated task, but if the dome can be undone from the inside, you need to specify why the townsfolk couldn't unlock it themselves.

If it turns out that they just needed to break the generator, then you've made all the townsfolk look ridiculous for not thinking of that. This is where I advocate that you should have people disagreeing with the Domes Protection vs. Freedom (The ties that bind also strangle, and so on). If it is a simple task, then you can excuse the lack of action by saying that it was civil unrest. You can't unbreak the generator. If it was going to be broken, it should be at least popular opinion, or opinion of the ruling class, to break it.

KyleG
2019-02-23, 03:41 PM
I think the biggest internal logic issue you need to address is why the dome exists in lore, and why can it be turned off inside the dome if people want to leave.

I've been on a demon kick as of late, so lets start there.


I mean, ultimately when you break it down to it's base components, the dome is just a door, encompassing the outside world, and is locked - if you lock it from the inside, you usually want to keep something out from getting in. There is always a case for needing "true heroes" to complete a complicated task, but if the dome can be undone from the inside, you need to specify why the townsfolk couldn't unlock it themselves.

If it turns out that they just needed to break the generator, then you've made all the townsfolk look ridiculous for not thinking of that. This is where I advocate that you should have people disagreeing with the Domes Protection vs. Freedom (The ties that bind also strangle, and so on). If it is a simple task, then you can excuse the lack of action by saying that it was civil unrest. You can't unbreak the generator. If it was going to be broken, it should be at least popular opinion, or opinion of the ruling class, to break it.

This is kinda why I thought the generator would be in the cave where a troop of *insert monster race* have made their homebase, perhaps they arrived in one of the early time/space events. now they are praying on wondering homesteaders and have no idea of the passage to the town within the cave.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-23, 03:58 PM
Well, break it down to simpler components.

Do you want the door to be locked on the inside or outside. Is the dome keeping something out, or keeping something in?

Is it supposed to be permanent? If yes, then breaking the dome should require breaking something. If No, then it needs a locking mechanism on the appropriate side of the door.

Is the Dome a good or bad thing for the townsfolk? If it is bad, then you have a clock that is ticking for the party (Starvation, mobs/riots, disease can all be accounted for being enclosed with a large group of people over time). If it's good, then you need to have a reason the party has to break the dome that is superior to the benefit that the dome provides. (Note that this is not a binary question, but you can play with the benefits of the dome and the problems it incurs. IE, It keeps the bad guys out, but people are starting to run out of fresh water and Oozes are starting to form in the cesspits)

The tunnel out is a separate plot device. Think of it as Lock Picks, to continue the analogy of the locked door. It's a tool that allows the players to bypass the door without the key. Instead of a check, they have a few combat encounters and some intrigue to suss out, but they have entry and exit because of that tool.

KyleG
2019-02-23, 04:07 PM
If I'm getting this correctly, there seems to be some sort of "temporal anomalies" happening all over the world, but this city has been protected/isolated from everything else until the "dome" was shut down, correct? Are those anomalies caused by gods/wizards/outsiders or "random wild magic?"

Either way, the dome could in fact be essentially a magic circle of protection from these anomalies. It could be a test of "does this magic circle actually work?" or it could be "this is my control group for this experiment." A wizard wouldn't want to put himself in the circle until he knows what it will do to him over time. The "time" nature of the circle means that anything living that tries to pass through the dome gets really old or young, hence things disappearing. The cave is a built in door for the wizard because they need to be able to check what is happening in the town to know if their experiment/test is working or not. Any leaves or animals that hit the dome turn to dust or disappear, but things unaffected by time, such as wind and raw elements (such as make up water, or a rock) isn't affected in any noticeable way.

The "temporal anomalies" are a wizard/wild magic as per early post. At this stage nothing specifically tied to this particular local.

I just had this thought that maybe someone (not our possible BBEG) was experimenting with the shield when the township and appeared within it, pure coincidence and an obvious answer to whether his experiment was working. With the generator in the cave as it must be powered from within he also established a hidden tunnel so he could get in/out. that seems to cover the basics of the logic. Knowing more about what is happening within the larger world he could act as a disguised guide feeding clues to the PCs....

now im getting a Truman show vibe, what if the whole town are 'actors' what if they are preparing the PCs for the trials to come for 'all this has happened before' will be better than they are now...hmm...ok so don't need to play this up right now but that could be a cool twist.

Deophaun
2019-02-23, 04:09 PM
now they are praying on wondering homesteaders and have no idea of the passage to the town within the cave.
And now I have an image of kythons leaping out of the shadows onto hapless peasants, pinning them to the ground, only to recite an "Our Father" before jumping off and running back into the darkness.

KyleG
2019-02-23, 04:21 PM
Well, break it down to simpler components.

Do you want the door to be locked on the inside or outside. Is the dome keeping something out, or keeping something in?

Is it supposed to be permanent? If yes, then breaking the dome should require breaking something. If No, then it needs a locking mechanism on the appropriate side of the door.

Is the Dome a good or bad thing for the townsfolk? If it is bad, then you have a clock that is ticking for the party (Starvation, mobs/riots, disease can all be accounted for being enclosed with a large group of people over time). If it's good, then you need to have a reason the party has to break the dome that is superior to the benefit that the dome provides. (Note that this is not a binary question, but you can play with the benefits of the dome and the problems it incurs. IE, It keeps the bad guys out, but people are starting to run out of fresh water and Oozes are starting to form in the cesspits)

The tunnel out is a separate plot device. Think of it as Lock Picks, to continue the analogy of the locked door. It's a tool that allows the players to bypass the door without the key. Instead of a check, they have a few combat encounters and some intrigue to suss out, but they have entry and exit because of that tool.

Ok I can work with that...lets see....

Definitely locked on the inside...the dome is keeping our characters in but I don't know its purpose (although my previous post idea that it was an experiment could work). As for its locking mechanism I keep saying generator but im picturing more like a computer, that needs to be bypassed (this is probably more a science fantasy story), I have yet to determine a puzzle for this.
As to good or bad, well its both. certainly nothing harmful is coming in across its borders (save for random temporal arrivals, of which cave inhabitants are causing the grief). They could go on living here but even they want to know what else is out there.

KyleG
2019-02-23, 04:23 PM
And now I have an image of kythons leaping out of the shadows onto hapless peasants, pinning them to the ground, only to recite an "Our Father" before jumping off and running back into the darkness.

I am sooo using that creature..i was going to try for a xenomorph type creature in the future (not for this adventure) and this looks like a good dnd equivalent.

Jay R
2019-02-23, 05:52 PM
Perhaps I need to consider a different isolation method?

Here's the isolation method I used in a 2E campaign, by having them grow up in an isolated village inside a haunted forest. The village was occasionally raided by goblins.

You will begin as first level characters with very little knowledge of the outside world. Your character is just barely adult Ė 14 years old. You all know each other well, having grown up in the same tiny village. Everyone in this village grows their own food, and itís rare to see anybody from outside the village, or anything not made in the village. There is a smith, a village priest, but very few other specialists.

You are friends, even if you choose to have very different outlooks, because almost everybody else in the village, and absolutely everyone else anywhere near your age, are dull villagers, with little imagination.

By contrast, you and your friends sometimes stare down the road, or into the forest, wondering what the world is like.

The world is basically early medieval. You all speak a single language for which you (reasonably) have no name. If you learn another language, youíll know more about what that means.

Itís a really small village. There are fewer than 100 people living there, which is smaller than it used to be. There are chickens, goats, sheep, a couple of oxen, but no horses or cows.

The village has a single road going out of town to the north and south, and youíve never been on it. The only travel on it occurs when a few wagons go off to take food to market Ė and even that hasnít happened in the last few seasons. Very rarely, a traveler may come through, and spend the night with the priest. You have all greedily listened to any stories these travelers tell. Your parents say this isnít good for you Ė whatís here in the village is good enough for you, and all travelers are always liars, anyway.

A stream runs through the village. (This is primarily so you can learn fishing if you desire.) There are also a few wells.

The village is surrounded by a haunted forest nearby. You have occasionally gone a few hundred feet into it on a dare, but no further, and never at night. I will modify this (slightly) for any character who wishes to start as a Druid or Ranger. Nobody gets to know the modification unless they choose one of those classes.

Three times in your lifetime the village has been raided at night from the forest. You were children, and were kept safe in a cellar. Some villagers have died, but by the time you were let out, whatever the attackers were had fled or been buried.

There is an old witch at the edge of the village. Your parents disapprove of her, call her a fraud, and are afraid of her. Everybody knows that the crop blight three years ago was because she was mad at the village.

The old folks in the village sometimes talk about how much better it was long ago. There was real travel, and real trade. Nobody knows what happened since.

You have heard many mutually conflicting tales of all kinds of marvelous heroes. You may assume that you have heard of any story of any hero you like Ė Gilgamesh, Oddysseus, Sigurd, Taliesin, Charlemagne, Lancelot, Robin Hood, Aragorn, Prester John, Baba Yaga, Prince Ōkuninushi, Bríer Rabbit, anyone. The old stories seem to imply that occasionally there have been several Ages of Heroes. Your parents donít think these tales are good for you. Takes your mind off farming.

DO NOT assume that you know anything about any fantasy creatures. I will re-write many monsters and races, introduce some not in D&D, and eliminate some. The purpose is to make the world strange and mysterious. It will allow (require) PCs to learn, by trial and error, what works. Most of these changes I will not tell you in advance. Here are a couple, just to give you some idea what I mean.
1. Dragons are not color-coded for the benefits of the PCs.
2. Of elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, kobolds, goblins, and orcs, at least one does not exist, at least one is slightly different from the books, and at least one is wildly different.
3. Several monsters have different alignments from the books.
4. The name of an Undead will not tell you what will or wonít hurt it.
5. The first time you see a member of a humanoid race, I will describe it as a ďvaguely man-shaped creature.Ē This could be a kobold, an elf, or an Umber Hulk until you learn what they are.

I will answer any reasonable questions about the village and its denizens. You do not know anything that cannot be learned in a backward, isolated village. (And yes, thatís why youíve grown up semi-isolated.)

Your character is way behind the average starting D&D character in knowledge of the world. I am making up for that by giving each PC one unusual starting item you would normally not have at the start of a game. This item must be justified for the character, and must be acceptable to me. For instance, a Wizard could start the game with a familiar. A Bard could have a well-made harp. Somebody with Animal Training could have a trained dog already (but not a horse or bird of prey.) A fighter might have a boomerang as one weapon. Come up with something fun, useful, and unusual, but not outrageous. It wonít be a magic item, but it could be something rare. [It is not armor. Your village can produce leather, studded leather, brigandine, or scale armor, but not chain or plate.]

Specific rules. Reasonable exceptions to these rules are allowed, within certain bounds. I wonít necessarily explain the bounds to you. (If I plan to have you carried off by Vikings, I wonít tell you why your character canít speak Old Norse, for instance.) Ask for exceptions. Your character should be an exception to the general rules in some way, and Iím prepared to modify PC rules to let you play something unique. I want you to have a character you will enjoy, but who wonít mess up my plans or overshadow the other characters.

1. All characters are human. If you want an exception, talk to me. We have to find a way for the non-human to fit into my plans for the start of the campaign, which I will not tell you. (For instance, you donít know what races exist.) To reduce the negative impact of this rule, if your real goal is to multi-class, your human character may do so.
2. It will be possible for your character to get started within the village, so if you wish to be, for instance, a druid, there will be an older druid of some sort nearby. Tell me your plans, and I will arrange any necessary mentor or other resource.
3. You may choose any 2E class. If you want a class from another version, let me know, and weíll try to work it out. (You canít be a barbarian, because you grew up in a village. But if you wish to be a sorcerer, I will create a 2E-compliant sorcerer class.) If you want something thatís consistent with medieval fantasy but isnít a standard D&D class, letís talk. I want you to play the unusual (human) character that youíve never been able to play before.
4. Whatever the character class you choose, your teachers or mentors werenít high level, and can only get you started.
...
...
9. None of you know anything about what happens to high-level characters. For instance, Druids may ignore everything in the PHB about the Druid Organization. There just arenít that many high-level people in the world. We will use most of what the rulebooks say about followers and strongholds, but some of it will be modified. For one thing, not all creatures on the Ranger follower chart even exist. The thief follower table is also inconsistent with the world. Player desires will be encouraged. When we get to that point, be prepared to negotiate for something you would prefer.
10. All starting equipment will be things that can be produced in a small isolated village. You may have a spear, axe, sword or bow, but not an atl-atl, fancy crossbow, etc., unless itís your unusual item. There may be exceptions. Ask for something you want.
11. Your character has (at least) one specific food-producing Non-Weapon Proficiency Ė farmer, swineherd, shepherd, etc.
12. Men and women are different in this period. All women will have at least one Non-Weapon Proficiency of sewing, cooking or embroidery, or some such, and all men will have leatherwork, woodwork, smith, or some equivalent. You donít have to care about it, but thatís life in a small village. I urge the party as a whole to have sewing, leatherwork, and blacksmithing, just to repair clothes and armor. Otherwise, Iíll have to track any damage done. Similarly, if you donít have a fletcher, I will count arrows.
13. All non-weapon proficiencies must be learnable in an isolated village, or from travelersí tales. If you want an exception, come up with a justification. I respect good rationalizations. (Obvious examples include learning Latin from the village priest, astrology from a traveler, or herbalism from the witch.)
14. If you want a non-weapon proficiency that cannot be learned in the village, you may allocate the slot for it, and you will have a very rudimentary version of it, that will grow to the standard level with experience. That slot indicates that itís a skill your character cares about, and pursues whenever possible. For instance, if you take Etiquette, then you will know how to behave in a village. If you get to an army garrison, you will quickly observe and learn military etiquette. Spend much time in a market, and you will learn how to behave in trade. If a noblewoman goes by, you will learn a little about how she acts, and about how people treat her. Skills for which this would be necessary include Spellcraft, Riding, Survival, Etiquette, etc. Feel free to take the skills you want. Iíll see that you learn them soon. This is to allow your characters to learn and grow quickly, and to have the full range of NWPs available. I urge each player to have one or two of these.
15. You grew up in a small village surrounded by an unexplored forest. There are wild animals and worse in the forest, and you have trained with at least one simple weapon. For this reason, your character can use your choice of a spear, short bow or short sword, regardless of character class. (You must choose one. Your character cannot use more than one of them unless both are allowed to his or her class.)

I repeat Ė ask for exceptions to these rules. I want you to play what you want, and to have an unusual character. For instance, if you have a character idea that canít work if you grew up in a small village, talk to me, and weíll try to make it fit in Ė but it might mean that you miss the first half of the first adventure. If you have some cool idea for something your character wants to start off with, letís discuss it. I might say no, or have it replace the Feat or the unusual item, or just grant the exception.

The point was to get the game back to its origins of exploring an unknown and mysterious world. The first adventure was escorting a few wagons of food to a market in the larger village down the road. IOn the way, they were attacked by a small force of goblins. When they got to the village, they discovered that it was gone -- destroyed by a battle and razed.

Over time they learned more and more about the growing goblin/human war.

The players seemed to enjoy it.

Excession
2019-02-23, 06:50 PM
This is kinda why I thought the generator would be in the cave where a troop of *insert monster race* have made their homebase, perhaps they arrived in one of the early time/space events. now they are praying on wondering homesteaders and have no idea of the passage to the town within the cave.

Myconids might be a good option for monsters. As a fungus race you can argue for them being mostly sessile. Perhaps some aspiring "adventurer" in town went down into the cave and either brought back a part of the colony on purpose, or caught a fungal infection that is now turning people in fungus-zombies.

If the generator is inside the dome, does that imply it was locked from the inside? Who locked it, and are they still inside and alive? Having a social option for finding out what is going on could be nice, depending on the party. They could track down the gate keeper, or their descendants, or just a hidden dairy that can tell them how to open the dome without counting on them to break something that looks magical, important, and dangerous.

In terms of what the dome is for, it can serve to keep something out, keep something in, or keep two things separated. I think the third is more interesting. Maybe there was a prophecy about two chosen ones (or their descendants) meeting. To stop this, just killing one of them wouldn't work, because someone else would be chosen. So the dome's creator instead sealed one of the chosen away, with enough population that they can live and breed forever (or at least a long time) with no chance of the chosen status getting out, or meeting the other chosen. That does just move the question to "what was the prophecy?", but it buys you some time to figure that out, possibly based on what your players do or think. Just be careful of "oops, you triggered the apocalypse, hehe." It's a lame gotcha, and will make players less likely to make bold decisions in the future. Maybe have the meeting of the chosen be a good thing instead.