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I'm once again fishing for adventure/encounter ideas. If this is… 
3rd-Sep-2006 11:45 am
I'm once again fishing for adventure/encounter ideas. If this is getting bothersome, just let me know and I'll stop posting.

I'm currently running a "pirate" type campaign. The PCs have joined the crew of a local pirate captain, who is off searching for a magical artifact (the PCs don't know this yet). This item is located in a buried city in the middle of a huge desert island (more like a small continent really). The really general plan is that the PCs arrive the port city, travel to the Lost City in the desert, retrieve the artifact from the dungeon, and then head back to the port and sail off. The PCs are currently level 2, but are pretty tough (using wound/vitality and armor as DR varients tends to help them out).

And now the questions. I've highlighted the main points in blue for easy answering.
  1. The port city is the largest city the PCs have been to so far. It's filled with exotic stuff including items, gear, and a race of desert people I'm working on stating out (basically humans with a neat regional feat). The PCs will have to aquire some kind of transportation across the desert--whether some animals, a sledge, or even a sand skiff/schooner (Sandstorm pg. 104). As pirates, they'll probably end up stealing it, which creates some encounters. They'll also run into a new NPC who will basically try to bribe them to betray their captain--this could create other encounters. But I'm still looking for maybe one more minor sub-plot, preferably completely unrelated to the rest of the adventure. Something the PCs could accidently get involved in that suggests other things are happening in the city. Any ideas?

  2. The PCs will be traveling across the desert--maybe for almost a week (it's probably 200-300 miles across the desert, haven't quite decided yet). So I would like to have some encounters during these travels. I was thinking the PCs could get attacked by a band of hyena/jackels/desert-wolves one night. Or maybe encounter some kind of desert worm (a la Dune, probably with the stats for the Dunewinder from Sandstorm). They might also possibly come across a group of merchants in a similar vehicle, and possible have some kind of encounter with them. But anyone else have any other ideas for desert encounters? I don't want a string of random encounters, but I want to make the desert seem dangerous and take some effort to get through (all the heat stuff should actually matter if the PCs get into a fight with someone).

  3. I like the idea that the Lost City is buried under the sand, so the PCs have to figure out how to get down there, and then explore it like a dungeon. I'm currently thinking of using the map for Harrax (in Sandstorm, map here) as the basis (though if anyone else owns Sandstorm and would like to explain to me which parts of the map are under and which are above the sand--the "2. This area provides and entrace to the buried portion" doesn't help a lot--that would be amazing). I also like the idea that this dungeon buried under the city is HUGE--much larger than the PCs can explore at the moment. So I'm thinking of adding a layer using the map for Undermountain (info here)--the PCs get themselves into a small part of the dungeon, but are kept from fully exploring it by monsters they don't want to fight or obstacles they cannot yet bypass. Any thoughts about using these maps? If I did use Undermountain, where abouts should I have the PCs be wandering?

  4. What are some encounter ideas for the dungeon in the Lost City? I'm thinking about some kind of undead (perhaps a modified mummy--using zombie/ghoul stats). I'm also thinking maybe some burrowing creatures (smaller versions of the sandworm), or just some hungry animals. I'm also looking for some puzzle/trap encounters (the PCs will probably be heading, possibly indirectly, into the vaults of the temple so it makes sense for some nasty traps to be down there).

  5. The artifact the captain is looking for is intended to provide Flight for ships--he wants to take to the skies. However, the story idea I have involves that just having the artifact isn't enough--he needs to also collect some item to activate it. This item is currently behind held in the treasure vaults of a certain kingdom, so he's going to try and take over the kingdom. I'm thinking the artifact is a large cut stone of some kind, like a crystal. It (or part of it perhaps) then needs to be "installed" in a ship. The activation item could either be a book, or something like a rod that controls movement using the crystal. I could also have the Lost City contain the activation device, and have the artifact itself (which is useless without the activator) in the kingdom. The plan is that after the PCs get the item from the Lost City, they go raid the kingdom, and then basically gain a flying ship which I can then use to run some aerial adventures. Any ideas for this artifact? It's appearance/abilities/function/use? Should I have the activator or the artifact be in the Lost City?

  6. After the PCs leave the Lost City, I'll probably want another encounter or two. I'm thinking a group of raiders have been watching them and try to take the recovered item from them. I really like if the PCs are on a sand skiff and the raiders are own horseback (or perhaps ashworms?) and there is this battle at high speed. Also, if something has gone wrong with their gear, the heat stuff could be fun (I like if they basically stumble half-dead into the port city at the end).

Any help is greatly appreciated! If you need anything specified, just ask and I'll be happy to fill you in. Thank you so much!
3rd-Sep-2006 06:24 pm (UTC)
1. But I'm still looking for maybe one more minor sub-plot, preferably completely unrelated to the rest of the adventure. Something the PCs could accidently get involved in that suggests other things are happening in the city. Any ideas?

- interrupt a chase and save the thief/person chasing and appropriately put a bounty on your pirate's head or reward them with virgins or something.
- stop an assassin during a key vote/crowning (or aid an assassin)

2. But anyone else have any other ideas for desert encounters?

- Send them into mirages. Give them a couple of mirages to chase after and then see if they go for real ruins.
- wandering band of nomads approaches, like the Aborignes in Australia but maybe not so peaceful looking
- have them run across an Androsphinx

3. Why not pull a "The Mummy" and have an accidental "oops, I leaned on it" moment that reveals an entrance? then you could set it around some crumbled rock or something and they "oopsie" the door open?

4. What are some encounter ideas for the dungeon in the Lost City?

- mummies are good. :)
- the Rolling Rock Ball of Doom (ala Indiana Jones)
- spear, dart and pit traps with varying triggers
- exploding rune traps
- a maze in the middle that actually leads to the artifact and two other life-threatening traps
- they could even encounter a garden of Adventurers that's really a basilisk's lair
- roomful of animated objects

5. - magic lamp with a Genie in it but he needs other pieces to open it?
- have it be a huge crystal that needs a specific setting to activate the flgith spell and the setting is in the kingdom's vault.

those are my suggestions..

3rd-Sep-2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
Good ideas all, thanks a bunch :)
4th-Sep-2006 01:14 am (UTC)
You're welcome.. Glad I could help. You'll have to let us know how it all turned out. :)
3rd-Sep-2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
1. It's a city in the desert? What do they use for building materials? I'm thinking rock is hard to find, as is trees/wood, so probably mud... Maybe a small storm destroys a section of town and they need help finding local important people burried in the rubble.

Since you have stormwrack... Maybe a band of Darfellan pirates are trying to negotiate using a portion of the island as a military post to build up their population and military before attacking the Sahuagin, this has a myriad of political implications (What would the Sahuagin think then of these desert people, how would they react to it, would they even know in the first place? Among many more problems). A chance for diplomatic negotiations.

2. Desert, lots of heat. At the end of a long couple of hot days walking, an Oasis sure would look great. And those nice beautiful shady trees during the day would absolutely have to turn into Forestkith Goblins (Monster Manual III, page 64) at midnight.

4. Blue dragons like living in the sand.

5. How about... The magic device looks like a joystick, and the activator is a gem that sits ontop of the stick. Then you can aim the ship up (pull back), down (push forward), etc etc... And then use a propulsion system of some kind to give it the push in that direction. Like say... a wizard who blows wind into the sails, or a ton of slaves "rowing" an eccentric shaft (think something like the crankshaft out of a modern day engine) that's connected to a set of propeller blades.

6. If you make getting back to the port city an urgent matter, they might skip sleeping at night, and be attacked again by Forestkith. Or if that's overuse of a particular monster... What I did, is in my adventurers very first adventure, they pissed off a not-so-local thieves guild. Now I have a band of 4 (1 sorcerer and 3 rogues) who, whenever I need a good ambush, attack the PCs in the name of revenge :) Everytime the PCs advance a level, I secertly come home and advance my band of cohorts a level to match, so the CR is always a challenge. This also allows for me to motivate players to go from one city to the next and explore a bit, otherwise they get stagnant and just sit in taverns waiting for shit to happen - in a tavern. I don't liek taverns much, but I'm thinking of designing a murder mystery in one to try and satisfy whatever urge it is they have to SIT A DRUID IN A TAVERN DRINKING ALE. :P Bah.
3rd-Sep-2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
The city is made of stone mostly, as there is no reason that rock should be that hard to find (the city is the remains of an "ancient civilization" and so on that had magic to do all kinds of stuff).

I really like the trees turning into monsters. I don't have MM3 though so I'll probably just stat out something myself.
4th-Sep-2006 12:11 am (UTC) - I'd give you the stuff for the Forestkith;
but it's rather long and I don't have much patience for typing long stuff these days... :P

Here is the jist though.

They excell at ambushing, and use masterwork nets to trap their prey. They usually aim for the weaker of a group first. The nets are highly valued among hunters.

They have the ability to take tree form at any time they wish; but typically change into tree form during the day because they dislike light. they will automatically go back to being goblins at sunset.

In tree form, they _are_ trees. Druids think they're trees, any other PC thinks it's a tree, no form of magic can distinguish a forestkith goblin in tree form from any other tree. The goblin can also be just a limb on an actual tree. Or several forestkith can make up a single tree. They are very territorial but have no real established home, and no written language. They speak Goblin. Leadership in a Forestkith colony is established by who can provide the most food.

+8 racial bonus on climb checks, can always take 10 on a climb even when rushed or threatened... +2 racial bonus on jumping. Darkvision of 60 feet, base land speed is 30ft. +4 racial bonus on hide and move silently in forested areas.

In melee, forestkith jump around chaotically while screaming; any creature with 2hd or less becomes automatically shaken for 1d4 rounds (DC9 will save negates for 24 hours). melee: bite 1d4+1; ranged: masterwork net +4.

They are too stupid to retreat from a foe that is too powerful, unless lead by their tribal elder who is a 5th level druid or higher. Most raids are lead by a 3rd level barbarian or higher..

4th-Sep-2006 01:09 am (UTC) - Re: I'd give you the stuff for the Forestkith;
Nice, thanks :)
3rd-Sep-2006 08:31 pm (UTC)

How much water will the characters have? Unless they have something big to carry it in then the PCs probably will not have enough water.

So I'd terrorise them at least once with an oasis. They need the water. They find an oasis. Make it a wonderful place - that might some players suspicious in itself. Then hint at something under the water in the oasis pool. Or perhaps just have strange patterns in the sand.

Why was the city lost? People left it because of the sand, perhaps. You can perhaps even do the semi/more advanced tech angle and have mechanised or golem encounters. Small golems.

For the artifact - what about a small device that just emits power. The players are unlikely to find a use for it unless they're clever. If you want something more useful there's the compass cliche to play for.

You can jump them on the way back with local authorities if they did knick anything. Or an ambush from anyone from the port city who they mentioned the artifact too.
3rd-Sep-2006 11:49 pm (UTC)

That's a good question. I'm thinking they'll probably have to hire a guide who can take them into the desert and stop at the local wells (I'm using "Lawrence of Arabia" as heavy inspiration ;p. That and "The Mummy"). So lots of chance for oasis encounters.

I like the idea of golem-type guardians in addition to an undead in the area. I'll probably use that. Thanks :)
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