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DGA Free Intro Adventure

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Status: 
Draft

This is a placeholder for a free introductory adventure that will introduce the setting to new players and bring player-characters from level 1 to 2, ending with cliffhangers connecting it to our first full published module.

Players will have various kinds of encounters highlighting aspects of the DGA, meet Jengar, hear about Willem Analore, and learn about some of the history and current situation of Halag.  They'll create characters who will have small advantages if they choose to connect them to the various NPCs and plots going on in the full adventure module, The Bandit Kings of Halag.

There should be 3 to 5 encounters with a total experience award of at least 2000 experience points.

Difficulty CR Equals Experience
Average APL 400
Challenging APL + 1 600
Hard APL + 2 800
Epic APL + 3 1200

Outline

Encounter/Plot Point Details Needed Notes
The adventure opens with the PCs being chased through rocky terrain, carrying a few artifacts taken from Bal'dawir, a ruined pre-Collapse fortress. Arrows whizzing past, shouts from higher up, and a chase mechanic determining if the PCs can retain their lead. This is the in media res start, with a chase scene leading into either the PCs hiding and hoping the search misses them or a short, brutal combat with the help of Jengar.
The PCs cross paths with Jengar, who was traveling to the same fortress ruin, and overheard the commotion.  If the PCs have a lead, then Jengar leads them to a hidden cavern in the mountainside (he's much more familiar with the area).  If the PCs do not have a lead, Jengar assists them in the inevitable combat with their pursuers. In either case, a strong connection needs to be made between Jengar and the PCs.
  • Maybe a small map of rocky terrain with a few interesting features (high ground, cover, normal and difficult terrain, etc.) included in case the PCs just decide to fight it out, or if they are overtaken
 
In the aftermath of evading their pursuers or winning the combat, the PCs end up describing their brief adventure, during which they were able to find a few of the artifacts they were hired to recover from the ruin - which they were told was uninhabited.  This is accomplished through some improvisation and flashbacks, for which the PCs earn experience. Turns out Jengar was headed to the ruin to scout it out, but doesn't want to risk it now that he knows that it is inhabited and not at all welcoming
  • Need a sub-system for handling the few rolls that might be needed as the PCs describe their flashbacks
  • A side-bar explaining how to manage the flashbacks as simple die-rolls
Starting with the PCs already in the middle of something, and then asking the players to use flashbacks to describe how they got there. Will need some leading questions to help the GM help the players.
The PCs, likely with Jengar in tow, return to the outskirts of Halag where they were first hired.  Turns out, their employer has been killed by Rokinu's thugs, and a tense negotiation starts out, where the thugs want the artifacts, but aren't strong enough to overwhelm well-equipped adventurers.  They're willing to pay, in gold and possibly favors
  • A table of results for the negotiation, and notes on how to portray the NPCs (and their unspoken priorities)

Testudo Fighter 1
Galladine Rogue 1

CR 1
400 XP

Detour: If the PCs kill Rokinu's men, or refuse to negotiate, they can go with Jengar to someone who would be interested in the artifacts.  This person should be a junior member of the Red Currant Syndicate, but the PCs don't know that yet.  This can be foreshadowed by mentioning a currant plant in front of this person's workplace
  •  The artifacts should each be pieces of a whole, and a puzzle-oriented PC might figure this out, realizing that there must be one or two more pieces which, when assembled, would form some sort of winged totem

Definitely need to have these detours.  I like to imagine a PC party that just kills every NPC they come across, and try to allow for that where I can.

Rokinu is assembling the winged totem in order to give it to a witch who, with the totem to increase her powers, will be able to provide far more magical "muscle" to his organization than he currently has

 Whether the PCs figure out that the artifacts fit together or not, the next step is for them to be hired to find the last piece of the proverbial puzzle.  Rokinu hired another group to find the piece, and he believes they have, but they didn't make it to the rendezvous spot.  After some tracking, one of his men found a Gulon kill-site near a camp that  was still set up as if people would return to it presently.  Rokinu needs the PCs to find this Gulon, kill it, cut it open and retrieve the last artifact
  • We should figure out what the assembled totem actually does.  The PCs might have the option of taking both the enmity of Rokinu and the totem for themselves.  Why not make it the Totem of Dun'or?

The Totem of Dun'or could have been stolen from the Crypt of the same name long ago, and maybe returning the totem to the Crypt is what will purify it, and is Jengar's ultimate goal, and what will earn the PCs a number of beastfolk allies...

The Gulon's trail leads to a small crypt that is about 40 feet up a cliff. The path is rough and dangerous to get to the crypt.  

CR 1 trap
400 XP

Falling Rock hazard CR 1
Type mechanical; Perception DC 18; Disable Device DC 18

Effects
All characters in a 10 foot radius make a DC 18 Reflex to avoid. Falls 10 feet for every 5 by which the save is failed. 1d6 for every 10 feet fallen as the target slides down the cliff before finally catching themselves.

The crypt starts as a cave for the first ten feet, but it then becomes clear that it is a special place. The walls have carvings of Egalit Beastfolk walking in groups towards in the interior of the crypt. The passage goes for thirty more feet before stairs go up ten feet. The top of the stairs are twenty feet wide and open into a large pentagonal chamber.   Knowledge (History) or Knowledge (Local) reveals that the clothing worn by the egalit are hundreds of years old in their style.
With labored breathing, the Gulon rests at the base of a large statue depicting an egalit holding a large open book with a quill in hand  - it can't pass the last piece of the totem, and is bloated and unhealthy, unable to eat for a couple days (only fast healing 1). They kill it, gut it, and retrieve the last piece of the artifact.   Gulon
CR 1
400 XP
Looking at the rest of the chamber, the PCs learn about the early history of the Beastfolk, how they were created as slaves and how some like Dun'or gained better treatment. Dun'or is depicted as being among equals with humans and other Beastfolk. There is a large sarcophagus that contains his remains.    
Since it is a two day journey back to Halag, the party has to camp overnight. In the middle of the night, they are ambushed by Boriwog's looking to capture one of the PCs that might be a magic user. While hired to double-cross the PCs for one of Rokinu's lieutenants by taking the artifact and anything else valuable from them, they are also looking to sell the PC in question to Witch Hunters for a profit.   

Boriwog Rogue 1 x2
Boriwog Rogue 1/Fighter 1
CR 2
600 XP

One of them has a badly written message from the lieutenant that hired them that also mentions that he holds Jengar as a prisoner for Red Currant meddling

Assuming the PCs go to rescue Jengar, they need to gather some information about the location of the lieutenant.

Possible methods

Diplomacy - Gather Information

Knowledge: Local

Intimidation of contacts

Depending on the method used, additional information is gained about the lieutenant
Final encounter is with Rokinu's lieutenant. Will need to make sure the party is pretty fresh because this encounter will potentially be very challenging. If they didn't recover after the ambush the previous night, they might want to do so before assaulting the lieutenant. Map of a small building and/or suggestion to use a particular Paizo flip map/map tiles

Lupine Ranger (Beastmaster) 4
CR 3
800 xp

Boon Companion and pair of wolf animal companions

Leading into the next module, the PCs have either kept the artifact or they have returned it to Rokinu.  As written, the Crypt module should assume that Rokinu has the totem needed to purify the Crypt    

 

Related content
Back references from Relationships in Event for Event: DGA Free Intro Adventure
Back references from Relationships in Mechanics for Event: DGA Free Intro Adventure
Title Author Last updatesort icon
DGA Achievement Feats robosnake 09/30/2010 - 15:59

Comments

System for flashbacks.

Since the flashbacks are awarding xp, I suggest treating them much the same as traps. Instead of making a reflex roll, you make an intelligence check. The dc scales with the xp awarded and the difficulty of the memory to recall. I'd suggest easy memories start at dc 5, difficult memories sit at dc 15, and extremely difficult to recall memories *the kind that could change the entire direction of the game, such as revealing the bbeg early* be dc 20+. Since this is an intelligence check, there won't be any bonuses from class levels, and some characters might even have a penalty on the roll. So shoot for dc 15 as the toughest unless there's a really good reason for something harder.

mikeb's picture

I don't think making the

I don't think making the rolls being to remember things that you want them to remember anyway to advance the story would be a good idea. Theoretically they can't fail in a flashback since they already reached the point they are at. I think two scenes - one getting hired and a second actually in the dungeon - solved with a single skill check would suffice. Depending on what DC they beat, they have a different response when they meet their employer and have more or less loot from the dungeon.

That's easy enough to do as

That's easy enough to do as well.

 

int check.

Any roll awards x information

DC 10 awards x+y information (where y is a different response for their employer)

DC 15 awards x+y+z information (where z is more loot from the dungeon)

Yup, score.  I much prefer

Yup, score.  I much prefer story information that you need to make the story move forward, or that is just really cool and interesting, to be free, and then the rolls determine whether you get extra loot, extra color, hints about future encounters, etc.

mikeb's picture

Since there is likely

Since there is likely specific activities that would influence the outcome, why not tie it to something like Diplomacy (bartering with their employer) or Perception (how well did they search the place) or Knowledge: Dungeoneering (did they find the secret passages in dimensionally incorrect passages).

Well, mainly because those

Well, mainly because those are things that they would have done when the event happened. Now they're just trying to remember the event. In the 3.5 stuff, there was a skill called auto-hypnosis which could be used to memorize information and recall it later. It was wisdom based.

 

Knowledge checks, which invovle remembering the odd details, are int based. Since we're lacking a specific skill for this, it would seem to default to an int check. I could also see a wisdom check, or a Perception check working as well. Now, there's no reason you couldn't have them roll for those other checks when they're going through the memory anyhow, to determine how well they did, and possibly how much is there for their memory to recall. Seems like it would get cluttered quickly though.

mikeb's picture

I just realized why this is

I just realized why this is disconnecting for me. I'm seeing it as a flashback where it's a very rules-light actual scene to play through in the past (albeit simplified), and you're talking about how well they are able to remember something that already happened. That's why I was looking for appropriate skills as opposed to just a memory-related check. I'm a bit more inclined towards the flashback scene, but I'm fine with it being a memory check.

It was also intended as a

It was also intended as a cool opportunity for a really creative group that likes more narrative freedom to just say what happened during their adventure, as they describe it to Jengar in flashback-form.

The easiest answer is to

The easiest answer is to write out the flashback scenes, and then leave in the option for the GM to just have a memory roll.  I personally much prefer the flashbacks to be scenes, and for the scenes to contain the usual couple skill rolls, and have that determine things.  When I was writing this up, I wasn't imagining it being all that hard to remember what happened, just a way to justify starting in the middle of the action while filling in the blanks in the flashback style, the way it would happen in a movie or novel.  These aren't long-lost or repressed memories, these are just "How did the PCs get into this mess?", and a cool way to open up a module.

A nice option here might be

A nice option here might be to plan the scenes as flashbacks in the modules, but provide an optional sidebar which allows you to run it as just a memory check if you're short on time, or if your group is less inclined.

Sounds good - noted that in

Sounds good - noted that in the text.

In media res

I've been experimenting in my home game with starting sessions with the PCs already in the thick of some conflict and then establishing whatever facts need to be established through flashbacks. I hope it gets them engaged right off, and avoid the trouble of muddling through how they gather together, who gives them a quest, etc.

I would like to start this adventure in media res, and then give each player-character a chance to have one brief flashback (one or two rolls), if they wish, but otherwise entirely skip the whole "You all meet in the Color Animal Tavern one night..." cliche, or some version of it. I'd like to just assume that the PCs all know each other already, and have already taken the first steps toward adventure, when the play session starts.

Since it's D20, I'm thinking start things in the middle of a tense situation, or even in the middle of an outright combat.

What do you guys think?

mikeb's picture

I like what you've got so

I like what you've got so far. Have you continued to work on it?

I'm still thinking through

I'm still thinking through it, yeah. I fizzled and gave it a week or so, but in my mind this and the Dread Docent (with other monsters) are probably my 2 main priorities in terms of thinking. As a general rule, it makes sense that we'd want to feature a new race (beasfolk, with a few examples), a new monster, and maybe a new spell or feat.

The basics

For the elements to introduce in this free DGA adventure, I've been trying to come up with the basics of the setting. Here's what I have in mind right now:

The Collapse
The impact on arcane magic
The new rise of divine magic
Beastfolk and their basic history
-specifically Egalit, whichever beastfolk we have as pre-gens for the modele
-we'll need to decide which beastfolk we 'feature' in the module - Egalit and two others maybe? Boriwogs are introduced by Bement Prison, so two other than those...
The Sascrian magocracy as early villains

Then things to introduce which are specific to the adventure module:

Rokinu's crime organization
Jengar
Willem Analore (only hint at the Red Currant Syndicate)
Sascrian Witch-hunters?