I like adding slang into my world. Things like an “UhOh” is what a lot of folks call a heavy crossbow (because it’s what the burglars say when they see one at night). Another is “baker’s hours”. The idea is that in order to make bread for the people to buy in time for their morning meal, the bakers need to get up in the middle of the night and start the dough. It needs to be made, rise, kneed, rise, bake, all by sunrise. Think of the old “time to make the doughnuts” commercials. Yes - This was to be a parody of “bankers’ hours”, but it did take on a life all its own.
So who cares, right? Slang - It’s so role-play! But even goofy things like this can spark missions, and this one sparked a really cool one for me: What if the king’s prized baker couldn’t wake up in the mornings because he was having awful nightmares? That would be the kind of thing they would hire wizards to figure out and correct! But I like missions that can “go either way”. So instead of just laying this one out there, I tried to figure out why someone would have cursed the baker with nightmares. Here’s what I came up with:
The king’s baker is the most celebrated baker in the kingdom. Not only graduating from a famous school, he has shown himself to have tricks up his sleeves that other bakers would literally kill to possess. But this all went to his head. Early in his career as the chief baker at the palace, he tried to woo a scullery maid. Well, he’s an ass, and he wound up raping her, but due to their different positions in the palace, no one cared what happened to her. So he did it again. And she ran away.
Well, she was half Yugsilanti (think gypsy if that isn’t too politically incorrect these days). She returned to her people, and the crones taught her some things. The maid made a deal with a nightmare demon (there are lots of them!) and cursed the baker. Now with the proper magics, it is almost easy to figure this out. You have to wait by the baker’s bedside until he’s having a nightmare, and then have the right type of spell caster either monitor the dream, or detect the “demon”/spirit. Then you have to summon the spirit and question it. This is not a loyal follower of the maid, and it will sell her out for any type of bribe. So then they track down the maid, now a witch and somehow get her to remove the curse (probably without killing her, because then how would she remove the curse?). OK - A little complicated, but a pretty straight forward mission, right?
But how do they play it? What’s the king really like? Does he value his morning pastries over justice? How does his answer sit with the party? This is in many ways a “funneled adventure”, meaning that the party is funneled into one series of actions that should lead them to the maid/witch. But once resolved, what then? Something this silly (a baker and his nightmares) could shake the relationship between the party and their king if he chooses the less honorable path of ignoring the rape.
Forget about role-playing silly slang terms. This is what needs to be role-played. What would these adventurers do in this situation? and how does that affect the king, the palace, and the court? This is when it gets fun! At least for me! Hope it does for you and your crew of players too!