I’ve never been one to write adventures. When I run games, I either make things up as I go or used published modules. Lately, though, the first has gotten less satisfying, and the second less enjoyable. I want to build stories with my group, in my own world.
This means a couple of things. First, it means adventure seeds. I want to seed adventures for my players to choose from, and see what they’re interested in. ideally, I’d like to seed a few and see what sticks. If they’re enjoying a storyline, I can build a more detailed plot around it, but that plot can be tailored and dynamic. Second, it means building small, portable adventure locations. The “five-room dungeon” is a popular, flexible format (especially if “room” doesn’t just mean “a thing with walls” but “encounter space”). In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to experiment with some seeds and “five-room dungeons.
These seeds are intended for mid-to-high level parties, and take advantage of those characters’ abilities to deal with more powerful foes and larger forces, and to bring more powerful magic to bear on situations. They’re also opportunities to explore the politics and geography of three of the big locations in the Summerlands: Kryesor Madj, Dragon Tyr, and Twilight’s Eye.
- In the city-state of Kryesor Madj, one of the mightiest reven cities on the vast plains, it is election season. The two primary candidates could not be more different: one is a former general who favors reducing the military and directing the state’s resources inward. The other is a scion of a long line of Senators, drumming up public support by promising to regain territories on the border with neighboring city-states, crushing their enemies and driving them out of disputed lands. There is a third candidate who has little support, but revolutionary ideas. The candidates are spying on one another (often using outside agitators), and their supporters have engaged in a number of public brawls. Tension in Kryesor Madj is high, and its enemies are taking advantage of the turmoil. In addition to the usual spies, assassination attempts, and bards sowing dissent, a tribe of quaggoths has been employed to engineer a coup. Have the quaggoths really been hired by a neighbor, or is something more sinister driving their violence? Adventurers are sought by numerous interested parties: candidates, opponents, outside agitators, and townfolk caught in the crossfire. What mischief could an enterprising party get into, in Kryesor Madj, during election season?
- The great wildren moot at Dragon Tyr is coming, and wildren tribes are traveling through the north woods to the gathering site. It is a time of great joy, as friends from different tribes meet for the first time in years. Great trade will be done, territory will be divided, and banishments will be enacted. In the rivers along the roads into Dragon Tyr, however, nereids are gathering and working together to murder wildren travelers. Few wildren believe that the nereids exist, and fewer have the ability to combat them. The tunder in the region are too few in number to save enough wildren, and by the time more tunder arrive, the nereids will have done their work. Outside adventurers are called to combat the nereids, and, if possible, discover why the slaughter began. Why would so many nereids work together, outside of their usual hunting grounds? Have the wildren somehow offended the fey? Some survivors (and there are few) claim that the nereids lack shawls. Has some outside group manipulated the nereids? Perhaps a banished wildren tribe, looking to diminish support among their enemies, or a reven warlord looking to conquer territory in the northern woods? Whatever the reason, the nereids must be stopped, so that wildren can travel safely and the moot can continue.
- The massive lighthouse at Twilight’s Eye is a constant source of intrigue and adventure. The multi-racial city council appears peaceful, but the wildren, sea kin, and reven counselors are always scheming. Amid their usual politicking, the city is besieged on two fronts. From the west, a force of sahuagin is gathering. In between the usual raids and expected violence, however, a large group, consisting primarily of non-combatant sahuagin and children, has requested asylum. They are running from something, and they need a safe place to live. The sea kin reject the appeal, both the other people of the Eye are less certain. Adventurers are needed to investigate the sahuagin story. Is this a precursor to invasion, or is something far worse than the shark-kin coming from beneath the waves? Meanwhile, in the eastern districts, children have been disappearing from their beds, replaced by dolls made of hair, straw, teeth, and other worthless material. The dolls could have been made by children, who may be running away, or there may be something more sinister going on. If the kidnappings continue, the fragile peace of Twilight’s Eye will crumble. Can the children be returned safely? Is some hunger in the eastern forests waking?
Next time: A tunche, a five-room dungeon, and an ancient tunder.