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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    confused Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    I'm trying to cook up a homebrew campaign for my friends. They tend to like the social and narrative aspects of DnD more than combat, but I don't really know how to soak up 2-3 hours with dialogue and NPC interaction. What kind of quests or adventures can you go on that don't involve fighting or delving into dungeons to deal with traps? Are there any guides out there for writing up an adventure like this? Most official adventures I can find heavily involve combat or long periods of traveling and dealing with random encounters. Any advice is appreciated, thank you.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacsAlterEgo View Post
    I'm trying to cook up a homebrew campaign for my friends. They tend to like the social and narrative aspects of DnD more than combat, but I don't really know how to soak up 2-3 hours with dialogue and NPC interaction. What kind of quests or adventures can you go on that don't involve fighting or delving into dungeons to deal with traps? Are there any guides out there for writing up an adventure like this? Most official adventures I can find heavily involve combat or long periods of traveling and dealing with random encounters. Any advice is appreciated, thank you.
    Unfortunately, Dungeons and Dragons is heavily targeted towards combat. You might want to look at another tabletop for something specialized in social environments.

    Ignoring that, you need to give your players goals that CAN be solved with wit, but also can be solved through violence. A few examples:
    • Get the noble to stop the decree to arrest mages (by force, if necessary). He's at a vampire party, so...discretion is advised.
    • The shard of the artifact you're looking for is currently being researched by a group of wizards in their lab. They're a bunch of anti-social nerds who are easily seduced.
    • Thieves have taken the relic of the king. Join the Thieves' Guild, infiltrate them, and recover the relic before it ends up in the hands of the Big Bad Evil Guy.



    Doing things like this provide your teammates several routes to go through. Rather than creating a 3 hour conversation adventure, you can make it a 30 minute conversation, 1 hour of dungeons, half hour of combat, half hour of traps, 30 min conversation. You'll be able to divide the party and better create tension when it's obviously more than just a conversation. They don't have to go the violence route, but having it as an option will cause intraparty interactions, which provides you more DM resources that you don't have to expend (like more NPCs or dramatic events). If they struggle amongst themselves, you'll have to do less work. And players struggle amongst themselves when given too many options.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes while maintaining balance with default options.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    Unfortunately, Dungeons and Dragons is heavily targeted towards combat. You might want to look at another tabletop for something specialized in social environments.

    Ignoring that, you need to give your players goals that CAN be solved with wit, but also can be solved through violence. A few examples:
    • Get the noble to stop the decree to arrest mages (by force, if necessary). He's at a vampire party, so...discretion is advised.
    • The shard of the artifact you're looking for is currently being researched by a group of wizards in their lab. They're a bunch of anti-social nerds who are easily seduced.
    • Thieves have taken the relic of the king. Join the Thieves' Guild, infiltrate them, and recover the relic before it ends up in the hands of the Big Bad Evil Guy.



    Doing things like this provide your teammates several routes to go through. Rather than creating a 3 hour conversation adventure, you can make it a 30 minute conversation, 1 hour of dungeons, half hour of combat, half hour of traps, 30 min conversation. You'll be able to divide the party and better create tension when it's obviously more than just a conversation. They don't have to go the violence route, but having it as an option will cause intraparty interactions, which provides you more DM resources that you don't have to expend (like more NPCs or dramatic events). If they struggle amongst themselves, you'll have to do less work. And players struggle amongst themselves when given too many options.
    Thank you for the advice. I don't think they necessarily hate combat or want to avoid it entirely, I just want to avoid dredging through a dungeon for 3 hours with no one for them to talk to at all, as dealing with NPCs and stuff seems to be their favorite part of the game. I especially appreciate the examples, since coming up with situations themselves are what I'm having the most trouble with, I think.

    Is there any particular official campaign (or good homebrew one, free or purchasable) that leans more heavily on the social pillar, and away from combat?

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    Male

    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacsAlterEgo View Post
    Thank you for the advice. I don't think they necessarily hate combat or want to avoid it entirely, I just want to avoid dredging through a dungeon for 3 hours with no one for them to talk to at all, as dealing with NPCs and stuff seems to be their favorite part of the game. I especially appreciate the examples, since coming up with situations themselves are what I'm having the most trouble with, I think.

    Is there any particular official campaign (or good homebrew one, free or purchasable) that leans more heavily on the social pillar, and away from combat?
    Waterdeep Dragon Heist does a really good job of this. It has a lot of powerful NPCs, all vowing for control over a single city that the entire module is focused on. It has a lot of ways of avoiding conflict.

    The catch is, it's designed to transition into the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, which is a notoriously hard and long dungeon that will have your players struggling for resources, so consider reading up on it and plan an alternate course for your players.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes while maintaining balance with default options.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kane0's Avatar

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    Nov 2011
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    Waterdeep
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    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    I'll use the Sunless Citadel from TFYP as an example.

    The rats and blights are the only things you need to fight (unless you can scare them off somehow). You are encouraged to talk to the kobolds and/or goblins on the first level, and could resolve many of their disputes peacefully. The dragon wyrmling can be negotiated with, and is in the party's best interests to considering how dangerous it is. The hobgoblins/bugbears guarding the way down are potentially too lazy and/or greedy to actually fight you if they can be bribed or coerced. The undead have chores to do and can be completely avoided. The 'big bad' is called out as wanting to talk first (if only to set up an ambush). You as DM can decide if there is a way to fix the previous adventurers' ailment.

    It all comes down to how you DM. Encourage interaction and exploration over combat, make it clear to the players that not everything needs to be (or can be) solved with a sword, don't punish them for not drawing first and reward ideas to navigate challenges in any way that seems halfway reasonable.
    Last edited by Kane0; 2019-02-28 at 05:43 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    I read a thread a long time ago where a DM admitted that the impressive complex narrative he came up with for a political game was almost entirely stolen/inspired by his wife. Specifically he started watch soap operas with her and took notes on the various betrayals, secret affairs, evil twins and, amnesias that occurred and used that storyline as the framework for the actions of nobility in his game.

    If you donít mind trying out new source materials dramas or melodramas can be a great source of inspiration. whatever the era or setting people have the same basic motives.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    Consider looking at things like murder mysteries, police procedurals or conspiracy thrillers for inspiration.
    Remember your players have access to magical means of investigation, so make sure these provide information whilst not solving the plot in one go. (Speak with Dead might let a murder victim say who his enemies are, and that they heard the secret door opening behind them, but they didn't see the killer.)
    Setting up each of your NPCs with a goal, a history, opinions on other NPCs and a secret seems to be a good way to have them both want to talk the PCs and want to be talked to. I think there's solid foundations for a good campaign in which half the people you meet are in disguise, disguised monsters and/or members of secret societies.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2017

    Default Re: Advice for a socially-oriented campaign?

    Quantum Leap and Star Trek are great sources of inspiration for problem solving with violence as the last resort. Might be able to crib some good ideas there.

    My wife is a huge fan of minimal to non-combat adventures so here are a few:

    1. A traveling merchantís wagon containing wizard familiars has overturned and now the creatures need to be returned alive (In 5e these could be awakened animals needed for some special rite or ceremony).

    2. The local king has a grand quest he will give unto the party which can perform the best play recounting his rise to power. He favors boldness, romance, and truth in his storytelling. How deep can the party dig into his Majestyís past, and how far should they go?

    3. The child prince of a shapeshifting race has gone missing. All evidence indicates he may have run away as opposed to being kidnapped. He needs to be found within 24 hours or the shape changing race will break their truce with the ďMonoformsĒ, and start a new Faceless War after 1000 years of peace.

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