Thursday, May 16, 2019

Random Adventure Generation: The Murderer from PC Connections

I was having trouble trying to come up with the introductory adventure for my Banestorm campaign. More importantly, I was having trouble trying to fit the party together. So I decided that to help cement relations between the party and offload some of the brainstorming process onto other creative minds, I would try out the Connections mechanic from Moment of Truth. In character creation, each player makes two connections involving some event between their character and another PC, and another two with an NPC. There is a table provided to help get the ball rolling, and you can also come up with an event from scratch (which is always preferable but not always easy, especially at the start of a campaign where everything is new and a little awkward). In session 0 we spent nearly three hours establishing connections, and something wonderful happened -- a narrative emerged and I got the seed for the initial adventure for the campaign.
For all but one (or two?) of the connections the players chose to roll for a connection. One of the connections was "Death of a Friend." A short while later, that same connection came up again. The explanation for this became apparent -- a murderer is on the loose! This vile killer had targeted the friends of our protagonists. A number of subsequent events involved tracking down and nearly catching this murderer. Clearly the party is hunting this murderer. I had to goal for my adventure, but I still needed to flesh it out further.
In need of more details for this introductory adventure, I decided to turn to an old resource that has served me well in the past: the AD&D1e Dungeon Master's Design Kit from 1987. It's a very helpful book, even more helpful if you're running AD&D1e and not GURPS. But I've been inspired by its forms, advice, and especially its random adventure generator since my second ever campaign. When my ideas are slow to form, using this tool serves as a great aid for a brainstorming session. I decided that I would showcase this process in the blog to help others judge the merit and worth of the Design Kit or at least to show how I use it.
Since I decided that I would record my thought process in cyberspace, this post will be even more stream-of-consciousness than usual as I go through each result, ruminate and consider. The end of the post will probably have the more cohesive gist of the adventure. This would actually have the entire adventure, however. That's going into a Campaign Document Google Doc, where I will have an Adventure Outline waiting to be filled out. That adventure outline will likely change once it meets the players between sessions. If I am so inclined, I might include the adventure outline, copy/pasted into its own blog post. Applicability for other campaigns may be vary incredibly.
Generation Record
Basic Plot Elements
Theme: Action/Adventure & Mystery
Goals: Clear Name
Hook: Old Enemy
General Setting: On the Sea Lonely Village
Specific Setting I: Ruins
Specific Setting II: Temple/Church
Ally/Neutral: Arrogant Snob
Master Villain: The Destroyer
Minor Villain I: The Corrupted Hero
Minor Villain II: The Hard-Eyed Adviser
Plot: Accumulation of Elements
Climax: Divine Retribution
Optional Plot Elements
Monster Encounter: Nocturnal Predator
Character Encounter: Mean Drunk
Traps: Pit & Pendulum
Special Condition: Magic Doesn't Work Right
Red Herring: Artifact That Doesn't Work
Omens & Prophecies: Innocent Fulfills Prophecy
Moral Quandaries: Respect Quandary
Chases: Horseback
Secret Weakness: Element or Ingredient
Cruel Trick: NPC Turns Traitor
Initial Thoughts
I'm relieved that I did this. I can see the adventure taking shape. The general setting doesn't really fit too well, so I think that I'm going to have the general setting be a newly invented result for the general setting table -- Lonely Village. I should get into this further in. What I really think is going to happen is that the game will open with the PCs hunting down the murderer. They tracked him to this village where the murderer is staying, hiding, and murdering. The murderer may be attempting to stay as a visitor or hiding in the woods, maybe someone's barn. It could be some people are helping him. We'll see; I'll know better once I go through all these features.
I should also note that while i did this, I made the Required Rolls for the Frequencies of Appearance for the PCs. The Patron and the Ally of one PC aren't appearing, though her Duty is. Another PC's Enemy is appearing. I'll be keeping these noted.
Results Examined In Turn
Theme: Irrelevant, obvious. The theme might be a little bit of mystery, as well.
Goal: I already know what the goal of the PC is. Their goal is to stop the murderer and exact revenge for slaying two of their friends. According to the table in The Dungeon Master's Design Kit, this goal would actually be "Encounter Old Villain." "Clear Name" is likely what our murderer is trying to do. The killer may seize on the opportunity by the other killer who's staying in the village. Their blood lust will shatter that chance, however, and the PCs will discover another murder soon after they meet the other killer.
Hook: Encountering an old enemy is kind of the entire idea behind this adventure, so this result is very appropriate -- it's as if the dice gods will it to be so!
General Setting: On the Sea makes no sense at all. I'd had the idea that the adventure would take place near Hidelban to aid with the transition to the Duty-related adventure which transitions with this one.
Specific Setting I: The murderer could be making their home in nearby ruins, or the Arrogant Snob another NPC may suggest to the PCs that they search there for the killer. Since it's Megalos, the ruins are likely an old, abandoned battlement, fort, or castle. It shouldn't be terribly large (to save myself some work), so these ruins may be very old (perhaps dating back to the 12th century).
Specific Setting II: An NPC could inform the PCs in a church -- perhaps the Arrogant Snob is a clergyman. Alternatively, the Church could become a murder scene, where the priest has been savagely murdered in holy ground.
Ally/Neutral: The Arrogant Snob could be someone who aids the PCs, or the one who eventually betrays them. It's probably the landed knight in charge of the village or the unlanded knight errant who is perhaps helping the murderer.
Master Villain: The Destroyer matches very well. He's a fan of destruction, having a lust for blood and a penchant for cruelty. He won't likely be a magic-user, but he will have some supernatural power. Or perhaps he should be a mad wizard. That might help with his having murdered so many people.
Minor Villain I: It might be appropriate if the Corrupted Hero were an errant knight.
Minor Villain II: There's no place for a Hard-Eyed Adviser. What does a wild murderer need a Hard-Eyed Adviser for?
Plot: Perhaps it will be accumulating the clues which could point toward where the murderer is hiding.
Climax: The climax is bringing behave to the murderer. Divine Retribution certainly makes no sense.
Monster Encounter: The Nocturnal predador Is the kobolds vampire. It was made by the vampire Lord Claudius Maskill. He's a rabid, bloodthirsty monster. Along with the primary murderer, this kobold will be responsible for murders in the village. The kobolds will attack the PCs while they're sleeping.
Character Encounter: One of the witnesses of the crimes could be the mean and cruel village drunk. I'll use him for comic relief to pass vague clues. Perhaps I can hint that the murderer has a companion by saying that he saw both of the murderers. I'll leave it in the air whether it's just because he's a drunk who sees double.
Traps: Traps don't really make too much sense in this adventure.
Special Condition: Megalos, where the campaign is mostly set and certainly where this adventure will take place, is a normal mana region. The result "Magic Doesn't Work Right" doesn't exactly make sense here. 
Red Herring: This is not relevant or worth being connected. There aren't artifacts in this adventure.
Omens & Prophecies: There are no omens or prophecies. Prophecies don't really fit Banestorm, in my opinion.
Moral Quandaries: I like the Respect Quandary. I think that it's a great Quandary. It doesn't really fit into this adventure, though.
Chases: If there are going to be chases, I'm going to let them happen organically.
Secret Weaknesses: I don't think any special weaknesses are really useful or appropriate in this adventure. His madness is his weakness.
Cruel Trick: Clearly, the minor villain should be an NPC who the PCs know and who helps them track down the murderer, only to attempt to bring them into an ambush.
Required Rolls
Duty: The Duty to her Patron is sort of hard to fit in here, so I think that I will have it appear at the conclusion of this adventure and have it relate to the PCs travelling to the city/town of Hidelban. The 
Enemy: Let's say that the enemies are stalking the PCs and will strike at their best opportunity.
Concluding Thoughts
This was very helpful. Here's the tentative adventure synopsis: The PCs begin in the village, having tracked the murderer down to this area. They know the murderer is here because the Arrogant Snob, the landed knight who's lord to this land (I gotta figure out who he got the fiefdom from, maybe the Duke himself), is having them help him investigate. There was a murder here that matches with the murders the Party is familiar with. That's the murder that takes place in the church. The Arrogant Snob will be walking the party through the village and detail to them the murders. A landless knight is in the area as well, helping them with the investigation to catch the killers. The Party will search through likely areas with this landless knight and the arrogant, snobbish, landed knight: barns, stables, sheds, a cave each day. Every night there will be death -- a murder of the kind they expect or an exsanguination. During one night the party  will be attacked by the kobold vampire (after this one is slain, the exsanguinations cease). The vampire may disclose the secrets of its sire, or the PCs may not inquire and think this is a random encounter. Tough shit. After this, the landless knight brings them to the ruins, where they have a dope, final showdown and the murderer attempts to ambush them and the landless knight predictably betrays the party.
That's my choochoo train. All these events are probably not going to happen in this order, and may not happen at all. No plan survives contact with clever (or reckless) (or just any) players.

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