Sunday, June 8, 2014

What’s New in Town?

So the last post was about “walking news” stories and how they can be fun. I think I need to explain something: I think, and I hope you do too, that high experience adventurers should not be hired in bars by random quest givers. Yes - Starter characters respond to wanted posters and rumors around town in order to get hired in bars, but letting established characters do the same is just lazy story telling.

Once characters get into the higher echelons in one of my campaigns, I often make them work to get new missions. Sure - Many of their missions come from established contacts that they have made through other adventures. But sometimes, they need to find something to do themselves. That’s where the news stories come into play. By hanging out in bars and talking to the people they know around the city, things come up. One of my favorite things to do is to have them hear of multiple adventure ideas and have them pick between which one they want to do. This works best if I have a couple of ideas and 10-15 minutes at the end of a night’s gaming session. We can sort of role-play the characters learning the ideas and determining which direction to take.

I am not a masochist! I do not write up multiple adventures knowing that some of them will be ignored. Sometimes it is simply a decision of which one to do first, since the reason for going on the mission will not necessarily expire before they finish the other. Sometimes (when I’m particularly clever), both missions are based on the same actual mission, but they don’t know that until they get into it. For example - If their favorite bartender begs them to rescue his niece who was captured by slavers and their buddy the game warden begs them for help because someone is killing all the game in his region of the forest, maybe it is the slavers who are killing the game (to feed the slaves). Thus, whichever way they go at the problem, they are fighting the same group of bad guys. I have never had anyone complain that they felt railroaded into those missions, even though on the surface it seems like a manipulation. With a touch of role-playing, they feel like the world is an active place where one set of bad guys can piss off more than one contact. It might be the fact that they typically collect two rewards for the same mission that helps too.

Because I force my players to “find their own missions” news stories in my campaigns are very important. Truth be told, when I give clues about upcoming adventures in the news stories during this week’s game, the players rarely pick up on the fact, until they are at the end of the foretold mission and say - Oh, yeah, remember, he told us this was going on, but we weren’t paying attention. You can’t win them all!

1 comment:

  1. Don’t know how many of you play Skyrim, but they use this style of plot device constantly. Nearly every bartender has a rumor that can start you on an adventure; you just have to ask for it. No, I didn’t get the idea from there, but I do admit I didn’t dream this up all on my own. Probably comes from running Keep on the Borderlands so many times when I was a teenager. They had d20 rumors you could learn, most of which were false or kind of useless. I just liked the idea of putting clues into the game to reward players who didn’t just “get in the car and go”.