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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mini-Adventure: Courtship of the Shadowed Heart

Can be scaled up for "Gnarly" PCs as well
Today I'm quite excited to offer you an extension of yesterday's blog, which was about Love in D&D. I have cooked up a "mini-adventure"/outline scenario for a PC on a first date.

The point of this is to illustrate ways to create depth in your game, to engender the elusive "d&d feeling" - to make people feel something!

A couple quick notes/things to keep in mind when making NPCs:

- Don't give your NPCs similar names. Players can't keep them straight to begin with.
- Give your NPCs names that aren't awkward to say out loud! "Torc" is good. "Sae'yaeranuouph" is bad.
- Know when you are giving an NPC a name that can be made fun of. Your players will make fun of it. If your bad guy's name is "Klor'medea" then get ready for STD jokes for about a year.

Giant collar does d4-1 dmg
I used material from The Dungeon Dozen, and material from Donjon.

Behold, our love interests. I made one male, and one female. Nystincea is an "iconic" npc from the 4e Heroes of the Feywild book.


Her Deal: Elf Cleric (of Corellon?)
How She Is Met: While healing the PCs at the temple
A Date? Perhaps a church elder begs PC to take her out, as she is so uptight nobody can stand her. Maybe he orders her to go.
Interests: Loves music, doesn't like foul language
Secret: Growing up, she was rejected by the other elves because she used to stutter. Now she is very shy and prefers to turn people away, but she is secretly very lonely.

Talon Grimbold
Save vs. Swooning

His Deal: Brooding badass dude. Would have been a warrior but has a bad leg, limps.
How He Is Met: Works in a forge, makes elegant designs on swords and stuff. Meets PCs when they buy weapons..?
Secret: His sister was badly burned in a fire and he blames himself. His sister didn't blame him, but his father did. He left home in shame.
How To Pick Him Up: PC stumbles on him somewhere where he is alone, looking at a trinket of his sisters' and holding back tears. He obviously needs a friend and a drink.
Super Cool Detail: Tattoos on body of a dungeon map he is slowly researching. In the dungeon is a cure to his sister's burns
Also: Writes bad poetry kept in a hidden journal

The Stagger Inn:

The Barkeep - Crusty Telchor: He doesn't wash his right hand because the queen or whoever touched it once. His wife is a half-orc and Telchor despises orc-bashing.

The Bouncer - Helvi Flamefist: She's a dwarf of great strength, uses a ball and chain to choke and pummel rowdy patrons. She can out-drink anyone with ease. She used to adventure, but lost a friend to a gelatinous cube and decided to quit while she was ahead.

The Servers:
- Lauren of the Ravens: She has tattoos covering most of her body, all depicting the Raven Queen. She is fascinated with the Shadowfell/Demi-plane of Shadow and has an unrealistic idea that she could happily live there among the shadar-kai.
- Shrimpy Tane: A red haired human teenage orphan taken in by Crusty. He's gangly and awkward. He has a severe crush on Helvi Flamefist.

We don't allow any outside condiments

Customers: (in addition to the d10+10 other customers)
- The Trappers Tane, Cola and Narder: They're middle-aged and they love trappin' talk. They love to hear stories about monsters encountered in the forest.
- Joyce Mason, drunk bard: She tells dirty jokes, she complains about her husband, and she gets mad if you don't buy her a drink.
- Old Ralph: Old guy with a long grey beard who can tell you any local lore. But you have to buy him soup first!
- Gorkil Trollhands: A guy with big muscly arms and a beer gut. He has freakishly huge hands. He claims he drank troll blood that he bought from a witch. He loves to arm wrestle for money, and drink.
- The Gamblers - Aslak Whitelash, Olezka the Cougar, Big Valerik, Kolenka: These people are cool when sober, but once they play Three-Dragon Ante for awhile and get drunk, they end up looking for a fight!

Our Rivals: Pick one! Chart a course for Dastardly, PA!

Foul Temptress!
Audrina Fox:
- She wants to find someone to use for money. She would like to live off of someone with a steady income.

Gunlag of the Dubious Reputation:
- Wants to go out with someone purely to make his ex jealous. They have an on-again, off-again dysfunctional relationship.

The rivals could be after the date, or maybe they want the PC for themselves!

Gunlag, you scoundrel!
Phase 1 - Have A Meal (Sausage, fish, pork, potatoes, etc)

During the meal, the NPC asks three questions:

1. Wants to hear about the PC's adventures. He or she wants to figure out if our hero is "lawful" or "chaotic". Nystincia prefers lawful. Talon Grimbold is more of a chaotic type. Don't try to chain him down with your "rules"!

2. Makes a comment about drugs, to see if the PC is into them. Nystincia isn't. Talon uses polychromatic fungi to work in the dark, has visions where he prevented his sister's accident

3. Wants to know what talents the PC has aside from murder. Nystincia appreciates artists or religious scholars. Talon likes crafters and people who can do tattoos and stuff.

Phase 2 - Drinks

The bouncer Helvi Flamefinger wants to have a drink with our heroes. She really just wants to show off how much she can drink without getting a buzz. She gives the PC and the date a drink - Dwarven ale! Nystincia just takes a sip and is not impressed with Helgi. Nystincia would be happy if the PC declined to drink. Talon chugs the beer and is amused to see the PC drink, too. Talon will tease the PC if they can't hold their liquor.

Phase 3 - Arm Wrestling

Gorkil Trollhands wants to arm wrestle either the PC or Talon. The romantic rival has secretly offered to buy him 3 drinks if he wins and makes his opponent look bad.

Nystincia will secretly be disappointed if our PC doesn't take the challenge

Talon will want to do it himself. If the PC doesn't watch for cheating, Talon is doomed to get beat bad.

If someone agrees to Gorkil's challenge, it goes down like this:

Psyche Out: Gorkil wants to up the stakes! He wants to put broken glass on the table! If PC declines, Gorkil mocks the PC.
Watch For Cheating: Gorkil tries to slip tiger balm on his palm, causing a burning sensation to his opponent!
OVER THE TOP!: Opposed STR checks! The winner takes it all! The loser takes the fall.

* As this is going on, the rival tells the gamblers that the PC has a problem with them. As the gamblers drink more, they get angrier..

Phase 4 - Dancing: Joyce Mason the drunk bard plays a lute and sings lively, slightly rude songs that people can dance to.

Make a dance check! Nystincia dances like an elegant elf or a disney princess. Talon dances like the people in the really long rave scene from the second Matrix movie. There should be jumping, slow motion torso close-ups, and some kind of magic glow stick (a sunrod!).
Does Our Hero Make a Move? If things have gone well, Nystincia may flutter her eyes at our hero - an invitation for a romantic gesture! Talon may move in for a kiss, because he's a rebel who plays by his own rules.
Ut Oh, Our Rival Cuts In! If the rival does successfully cut in and dances with our date, the gamblers have been instructed to drag the PC out of the bar and to beat them up out in the alley (probably results in a bar fight). If the rival is blocked from cutting in, then the rival angrily starts a barfight, aided by the gamblers.

Phase 5 - Bar Fight!: The romantic rival has goaded the gamblers into thinking that the PC has a problem with them. Helgi the bouncer just adds to the mayhem with her ball and chain. She spends the whole time rescuing Shrimpy Tane from harm's way. Make sure to include these classic tropes:

- Bar stool across the back
- Chandelier swing
- Friendly NPC assists by breaking a glass over a jerk's head
- Slide someone chest-first down the bar, breaking every glass
- Throw somebody through the window

By the end of all this, it should be clear as to whether our date was successful. Nystincia will appreciate a PC who watches her back in the brawl, and Talon will appreciate someone who does something cool like a backflip or something.

There you go, your first date. Tomorrow, we'll do a mini-adventure that players seem to always love: A high-class party!

1 comment:

JNHutchins said...

Sean, this is such an underappreciated piece of game writing/inspiration. I love every bit of it! Thanks :)