If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen the inspiration, characters, and encounters for the adventure.
Now it’s time to go through and polish everything. Usually, I don’t spell out an explicit script for the flow of the adventure. Instead, I think in terms of the main conflicts and what the NPCs are likely to do, the setup/premise of the adventure, and general narrative flow.
However, with all the preparation set in place so far—I’m pretty much done. The players are going to do whatever they want to do, and there’s only so much you can do to plan for it. If you let them and their interactions with the npcs drive the story, they’ll generally have more fun. It is important to think about how you’re going to introduce the characters, however.
I plan to start this adventure by having the players fall into a portal. How I lead up to this will depend on the characters themselves—it’s often effective to start by asking the players what they’re characters are doing, such as what quest they’re on or whatnot. Letting the players have some narrative control in the beginning and slowly taking over is an effective way of getting them invested in the campaign, and learning what kind of characters they want to play. If they don’t have any ideas, however, it’s fine to put them in a generic scenario like being lost in the woods and chased by a monster.
When the players fall into the portal, or dive in voluntarily to escape the monster, or maybe are grabbed by a Lillithian, they find themselves in a chaotic sea of energies in a dark space, stranded on some kind of tattered boat. They immediately feel like their sense are being drowned by the chaotic abyss. They meet Leonizar, who seems unaffected by the chaos. He sees them and tells them they shouldn’t be here, and disembodied, booming voices call out scary taunts, like calls for the flesh of the innocent. The Lillithians are generally demonic figures—feel free to describe or embellish them however you want. Leonizar binds the players to the ship so they aren’t ripped apart by the chaos, and sends the ship towards a gate in the distance. He then faces the Lillithians alone, surely sacrificing himself to save the players.
When the players go through the portal, they find themselves at half health and in a strange world. They are in the town of Jademeadow, and need to find shelter. Eventually they will find the Inn, and the Innkeeper will offer them money, room, and board if they will stand guard by night against the Skeletons that have been attacking people in the streets at night. That night, the first encounter with the Skeletons will occur.
From there, depending on what the players choose to do, you can either let them go find the NPCs or, if they’re lost, introduce NPCs. Knowing that generally, the authorities don’t care about the skeletons unless it goes on for a really long time, it’ll be up to the players to stop them. If the players ignore the issue, the skeleton problem builds and the scenario will turn into survival horror. They can enlist the help of Janet Splinter if they don’t piss her off, or they can try to help Jerry Escher try to establish himself, which may lead to more fights with skeletons. If the players act as vagrants, get into trouble, or snoop around where they shouldn’t, then they’ll run into the Watchers.
If the players try to save the day, they’ll eventually discover that the skeletons are travelling in the sewers. If they get into enough trouble, they may be blackmailed by the Watchers into dealing with the skeletons. Eventually Leonarraza will find the players and try to help and guide them, and encourage them to help fight the skeletons. And eventually Yixixzizrick may notice them, and when he detects that they are associated with Leonizar or Leonarraza he will start trying to sabotage or manipulate them. He may even try to turn them against Leonarraza.
Beyond that, you can let the story develop naturally. You have the tools to play the npcs, and the players will surprise you somehow so you’ll have to improvise at least a little. But now you have enough to run the adventure—the rest comes with experience and practice. If you feel the need, you can build stats for the npcs, or choose a suitable stat block for them from the Bestiary. Just remember, it’s better to let the players drive the action, unless they’re sitting around unsure what to do. And feel free to put your own spin on things or make things up. And try to encourage the players creativity and ideas.
There’s plenty of room to build from here, with an infinite number of possibilities of how the adventure will play out. That’s one of the fun things about GMing—you set the stage, but you don’t know how the play will proceed.
There we go–blue sky to an adventure ready to go. If you liked this article, please feel free to leave a comment. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.
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