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"Starter adventure for Pathfinder/D&D world?" Topic

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bpmasher04 Oct 2019 6:18 a.m. PST

So yeah I'm reading the Forgotten Realms 3e book and planning on building some characters and a starter adventure that takes place near the Savage Frontier.

Just at the treshold of snow-capped mountains and freezing cold, there lies the village of (insert name here), where the adventurers stay for rest and recuperation before wandering out into the frozen Frontier. They are on a quest of great importance, with their orders stored in a magically sealed letter, which dispels when they reach (insert place here) in the Frontier.

Yeah, so I have this village setup, putting some printed out building floorplans/house tops on my warmat, make some roads possibly, or just print out the whole village combined with printed roads. I'll print out some pawns for villagers and animals and make the whole thing look nice before the game.

The village has a couple of dungeons nearby (dungeons, LOOT), some threatening gnolls roaming the area (main quest) for anything they can take, and a few people in need of aid (side quests). If I prep the whole thing, those three paths and such, there should be a mini-sandbox available for the players to explore.

The question is, how would you go about making a scenario like this happen with minimal fuss? Experienced DM/GM folk will hopefull give their feedback on this setup.

Sgt Slag04 Oct 2019 7:24 a.m. PST

To minimize fuss, I only use figures, and terrain, for combat. Otherwise, I use Theater of the Mind (ToM). If you use mini's and terrain for the entire session, the game becomes a miniatures game, which is different than a mostly ToM RPG. The ToM allows things to move quickly, and with great fluidity. Using full terrain and mini's slows the game to a snail's pace. For combat, I want things to move more slowly, and I want to avoid misunderstandings about where each PC is located, and each monster is located, to avoid tedious arguments regarding who can attack who, and such.

It's OK to have the full village printout, pawns, etc. Just leave them be until you have combat, or things become tactical -- then move into more detailed modes, making full use of the mini's and the terrain.

I call it telescoping perspective: I zoom in, when necessary, otherwise, I take a more distant view, from 1,000 feet up, which allows me to be more fluid, compressing time when I can, moving by great leaps forward, when possible.

To be brutally honest, I am a mass battles fantasy gamer. I have plenty of terrain pieces, and more than 1,000 miniatures, including several monster armies. When I play my D&D sessions, however, I use a Chessex Battlemat and Crayola Markers. I employ mini's for the PC's, and I use the correct monster mini's, if I have them (otherwise, I make substitutions which are as close as I can make them). I occasionally will employ proper terrain, again, if I have it at hand. Otherwise, I will just draw it on the Battlemat.

Recently, I deployed full, 3-D modeled and based, treetop guard towers on my Battlemat, to model Gnoll Guardposts in a heavy woods (lines drawn on the Battlemat -- tree models would have been tedious, and wasted a very great deal of time to throw out…). The entire thing was improvised, during the role playing, so I needed to put it together, quickly. It worked great, everyone really enjoyed it! It gave them the opportunity to "see" the tactical situation, employ their tactical attacks, and then we zoomed out, and moved forward, at ToM speed, to the next part of the developing story in the campaign…

The reason for this, is speed, and the ability to ebb and flow with the direction of the game. I run a highly improvisational style of game. My players jump around. A lot. Moving across continents, easily, with a 2e Tome of Magic spell called, Dimension Fold (Clerical, Numbers Sphere). Things can change quickly. I need the versatility of ToM, and the Battlemat.

DM Scotty's style of creating set pieces of terrain, for a dungeon, might work. Or it might not.

I had a chance encounter between the PC's and a group of Green Dragons. I paused the game for five minutes while I drafted their cavernous lair. The PC's only ventured a short distance to a U-pipe tunnel (think, bathroom sink trap pipe), which was filled with Chlorine Gas, exhaled by the Dragons: Chlorine Gas is heavier than air, so it sat in the 'trap', forcing anyone to walk through the gas-filled trap, to get to the Dragons' inner sanctuary.

The PC's declared they could not survive the walk through the gas 'trap', so they turned around, and left. The rest of the cavern lair went unused, and unexplored. I was glad it was not a construction project I had built!

Your game, your choice. By the way, I've been playing, and DM'ing, since 1980. I've been around the block a few times.
;-) Cheers!

bpmasher04 Oct 2019 7:37 a.m. PST

That's actually good advice, what you said about ToM for peaceful situations. That wouldn't be different from prefacing a battle scenario for a wargame with a bit of story and situation report, then proceeding on to the battle.

I'm a beginner DM, and I haven't played many purely fantasy games that much. I've been a ToM player for years, but this kind of game with minis is a first run for me, especially the prep work and GMing.

I have tons of stats to fill out for monsters, conversions to do (to another system) and terrain to prepare, but I'm committed to this game, since I have a vested interest in the system I'm using (hopefully being able to write a supplement detailing this kind of gaming).

Sgt Slag04 Oct 2019 7:49 a.m. PST

I've never played any d20-based game, so take this with that in mind… Only convert the stats you think you will need -- ignore the rest, as you may never use them!

I open the Monster Manual to the entry for the creatures my Players are battling. I jot down the critical details (AC, HP, HD, # of Attacks, Damage, etc.), and then I list the HP for each critter, numbered. I don't roll the monsters' HP, I pick random numbers near their average…

I try to keep things moving, without getting bogged down in minutia… Getting slowed down, or even stopped, by looking up statistics of monsters, or obscure rules, will take the wind out of your player's sails, and the situation will fall flat for them. Combat is exciting, and fearful. Don't let the "rules" ruin that tension and excitement. Cheers!

USAFpilot In the TMP Dawghouse04 Oct 2019 9:01 a.m. PST

Very good comments. Back in the day when I played first edition AD&D, I remember some combats took all night to complete. Fortunately the rules concerning combat have improved with newer editions. Keep as much as possible to "ToM" and don't let the rules bog you down is good advice.

CeruLucifus05 Oct 2019 10:07 p.m. PST

I have sometimes printed out maps at 1"=5' scale, taped all the pages together into a big map. I spread this out on the table and we put the miniatures on it. I start with post-its over everything and peel them off to reveal what the characters see.

Patrick R07 Oct 2019 1:27 a.m. PST

I'm currently running a very similar campaign.

I set up a dozen or so NPC's the players will interact with, mind that not all of them get used up, but do mention them once in a while, even if they have no impact on the game (town drunk, the loner who goes out in the wilderness waging a one-man war on Gnolls etc.

Let them interact with characters and let them build up a relationship, have them help the PCs so that there is a good working relationship.

Then add drama. There is always somebody who wants to profit off the disruption of the status quo. Maybe the town is expanding and they want a stake in it. Maybe the new person in charge is not competent or more ambitious than skilled.

Throw in some threats. The gnolls may be a lesser evil, but something is guiding them, forging them into a force to be reckoned with.

Once the players get to interact with such elements, you can start to build upon that for future reference and continue to set up for the next series of sessions.

bpmasher07 Oct 2019 7:35 a.m. PST

Cool ideas folks.

Patrick R: I think I gotta loosen up my rusty GM skills and take your advice on this.

I'm gonna go ToM with this (combats with minis of course), despite what the newbies will think. I got all the materials for running an intro adventure, now it's just a matter of prep work and getting the group together.

Alas, I caved in and scrapped my conversion idea at the starting line. If I can manage to put together a gaming group, then the work would be justified. Now I just got a couple of RPG beginner boxes (Pathfinder & Cyberpunk Red) to ease my prep work burden and get into actual gaming. I've been working with games for too long, not having any play time. It's about game o'clock at this point.

On the other hand, I have enough character building materials to get a game started, and keep it going. Buy a module or a campaign, and I'll have years worth of gaming material. I can fill in the gaps with my own adventures and whatever comes to mind, then dive back into published materials when I get them.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2019 11:11 a.m. PST

I'm not certain why you have the village as a tabletop setting for minis unless you expect the combat action to occur in that village. Your players will expect this— you've basically made a "game board," and they'll assume the game action (combat, etc.) happens there. If the village is merely for interacting with the locals to gain adventure "hooks," you don't need the layout. After all, it really doesn't matter if the old crone beckons the PCs from beside the well, across the square, outside the tavern, etc., etc.. For me that's more a Theatre of the Mind moment. Why move the minis around just to talk? Now, if you start the campaign with the PCs coming upon a mugging, or a goblin raid, well then the town battlefield makes sense. In fact, that's a good way of getting the players invested in solving the "problems" around the town— get ‘em stuck right in. You can then plant clues in the aftermath of that original encounter moment which point to the various "dungeons," etc. that you have in your adventuring sandbox. (And if you want to keep the town, some of the "dungeons" could be in town or underneath it— hence the problems!)

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