Friday Night D&D – The Dark of the City

Friday Night D&D – The Dark of the City

Welcome back for another Friday Night D&D, where I try and come up with different campaign ideas for myself to run sometime, or for you to run in your game. Today’s idea borrows from Hell to Pay, the 1.5 book of the Ascend Online series by Luke Chmilenko.

The basic idea is that you are all players tied into a thieves guild. Or several thieves guilds in their cities. So it’s a bit of a twist from the standard heroic game. However, I don’t think that this is a straight up evil game. The thieves guilds are going to be more neutral groups, sure they do criminal activity, but they aren’t too brazen about it, and really, they are a sub economy in the world and worried more about their economic status on the black market, versus killing everything that moves.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

This again, might be something you have to pull your players back from, and since it’s going to be a big part of the game, it’s going to be something that you’d want to bring up in session 0. And I’d even lay out the consequences for what getting caught for some of the crimes are. Murder will be a beheading, stuff like that, and possibly even introduce an infamy track or something that tracks where they are in thieves guild hierarchy, and how much they are on the city watch/guards radars.

In this game, I’d have the story focus around a couple big points that are going to be tied together. One should be in the city proper and one should be among the thieves guild. They should be both introduced at the beginning of the game, to at least some level to get the ball rolling. Eventually you’ll tie them together so that the one of the two paths the players have been ignoring now becomes important.

I also wouldn’t do the “B-Team” thing, where the second story line is being tracked by a “B-Team” that, when they intersect with the players, fills them in on what they missed out from that path. I’d keep the two paths separate, and put some specific information on one path only that the players now don’t have. Just don’t make it something critical to the story that they’d need to know to put it all together in the end.

Start with small goings on in both the city proper and in the undercity where the thieves guilds reside. Let the players deal with some sort of summoned creature that is causing issues. Maybe have the big bad as an elemental mage who decided to use their powers to get a hold of one of the thieves guilds or blackmail them, while on the surface they are starting to take out the other noble families in order to get the throne at some point in time. You can start with some small elemental creatures showing up in places and trace is back to the one guild. If he’s taken over the guild, by magic or persuasion, you could even start a war between guilds.

Have the players raid hideouts to find information, have them have to track down drop locations and fight off members of the other guild as well as elementals. Have an attack on the thieves guild that the players are part of. Escalate it to the point where it becomes an issue that’s getting really big and impossible for the players to ignore and just do their own thing. But at the same time, have the players also still have to be pulling a heist here or there and deal with their own contacts and drops.

Or they if they are more focused on the surface, those other things are still happening, but they are having to break into the mages guild, sneak into noble houses to investigate what is going on. Tracking down assassins or having to protect a noble who has ties to your guild.

I think that either of those things can work well, and the other things should be going on in the background. At some point serious fighting will break out on the surface or in the undercity, and that’s when you should start tying things together. This is kind of what kicks off the climax of the game where now the stories are brought together. Eventually the players have to deal with whomever is causing the issues.

Image Source: Wizards

Finally, I will say, this doesn’t have to be a game of all rogues. A thieves guild is going to need a wide variety of things. Even a paladin or cleric are needed, because when other members come back injured, or even are brought back dead, you want someone able to heal them or bring them back to life. So let your players play whatever they want.

What are your thoughts on this game? Does it seem like an interesting game to play in? Do you like the idea of two different paths the players could take or bounce between?

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