I think that this is a very rare thing. I don’t know that a ton of people ever really complete their D&D games. There are multiple reasons for it potentially not being completed. But, is that something that’s okay, or as the DM should you […]
Yes, I am stealing this from Marvel and what I think we’re likely to get in Marvel Phase 4 and forward.
In the Marvel comics, the Secret Invasion happens as super heroes are replaced slowly by the Skrull in a secret plan to take over the world. In Dungeons and Dragons, we have different monsters who can shape shift. These monsters are going to be the focal point of the story as they try and take over the world. This even includes some ancient dragons who might be leading the charge, if you want to go big at the end.
So, how do you make this work as a game?
For me, this campaign opens at some royal event that the players are at. I’d say start the players at third level, so that they have already been doing a little adventuring and might be a folk hero or something like that. I’d then go one of two ways, and maybe even both of the ways. But I’d have some sort of attack happen at this royal event, some sort of assassination attempt or something like that, and someone dies and is revealed as a shifter. Along with that, I’d have, in the panic, someone find a dead noble, who looks like they’ve been dead for a while, but someone the players will know was at the party.
Now, this could go one of several ways, but the the big focus of the adventuring party should be finding out who are the shifters and taking them out. It might turn into the players just killing everyone to see if they are a shifter. If that happens, throw the characters in prison, it’s pretty simple, to show that you can’t just kill a noble or someone because you think that they might be a shifter or a prove that they aren’t a shifter.
When and if that happens, I’d have the players be recruited by a secret organization within the kingdom. Some sort of SHIELD type agency, but that is way more hush hush than SHIELD actually is. The characters would have to sign something, most likely in blood with the characters knowing that just randomly murdering people will end up with them dying in their sleep.
From there, investigating would take place as the characters need to trace the money and figure out who might be a shifter as well. I think it should come out at some point in time that not even all the shifters know who the other shifters are, and that there might besome infighting or at least different factions in there. But I’d have it come out that there are a lot more shifters in the government than they might have guessed.
Now, the players might have the characters just start killing randomly again, but I’d do some sort of subtle reminder, have a contact in SHIELD come to them to see what they have, something like that, and I’d have some sort of arranged meetings with SHIELD so the players are used to it. SHIELD shouldn’t trust the players themselves, we’re going a bit Suicide Squad here (also was done to Venom) with the do what we want or you die.
Eventually, the players should have to fight there way through a bunch of shifters, following the money trail back up high enough to find that there are people in SHIELD who have been compromised and replaced and that someone who is a regular contact also has been taken out. While they’ve been tracking down information, that information has been going into the hands of a shifter who is trying to tie up loose ends after what happened with the noble at the beginning.
Just after this, I’d have the players find out information that shows where the shifters are keeping the people whom they have swapped with. Most of those people should still be alive including a surprise. This will be for you to judge as the DM, but if you think there is a player you can get on your side, reveal them as a shifter with them having been replaced some time in the adventure. Again, showing that the shifters aren’t the most organized. But this will require some buy-in from that player. So figure out who in your group might be up for that, and let them know when the swap takes place, but skills shouldn’t change, personality shouldn’t change much. Or do it as a surprise, to show how good the shifters are and give the player a chance to fight themselves.
Now the players should have a force from the camp of people who have been swapped out. Once they are freed, they can generally arm themselves, and I’d have some sort of confrontation. I’d probably do this as the ancient dragon who is pulling the strings, players should have figured this out by now, if they haven’t, a NPC from the camp can tell them, is walking up to the castle or wherever the noble lived to face off with him and tell him that there are now more shifters in his court than people and that the ancient dragon will now to be ruling. The players will have to take on the ancient dragon, while the other people who were freed are going to take out the copies of themselves.
That’s how I’d run a secret Invasion. I am not sure how you’d want to level this, and I feel like you’d need to flesh out some lower and mid level encounters to bring the players up to a level where they can fight an ancient dragon. I’d maybe even start them at level five so that they can get higher faster. This is also a game that is fairly light on combat, so I’d probably have some distraction missions that the shifters send the adventuring party on. Deal with some orcs, search for clues in some spot where they are going to have to fight.
What do you think of this idea? Does it sound like a game that you’d want to run or play in?
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So a couple of days ago I started building out a D&D Campaign – the first part can be found here. I want to try and write on it and add in more things a couple of times a week at least, might be more often than that.
Now, I will say that this is a bit more granular than I might build, but I do think it’ll be a good exercise for me as I look at getting back into DM’ing after a few weeks off. I also think that a little bit more detailed approach, especially up front, will help me know what to do next in the story.
But let’s talk about Magic!
Where we left off in the previous article was some world building. I had determined that I wanted to play in a smaller location than world hopping adventurers. So it was a trade town known for mining granite for nobles. So the question is, how much magic would there be in a town like that?
I think, starting looking at it, there would probably be a fair amount of magic from whatever temples are there. So there is going to be a fair amount of divine magic, I’d think. So you’d have your paladins and clerics who are casting some spells and probably are there primarily as healers.
I also think, because it’s a fairly remote area, you’d likely have some druids around as well. While they might not be a part of the normal society, they likely would be around the fringes, taking care of the woodland creatures, and probably butting heads with the town in some ways. If the mining starts to displace creatures or destroy groves, they likely would take up issue with them.
Warlocks seem to naturally show up in most D&D and fantasy RPG societies, because as long as there is someone who has a lot of power, there are people who are going to be willing to make a deal with them for better or worse, and the same with Sorcerers because a Sorcerers magic happens more naturally and flows out of them without the training you need to be a wizard.
That brings us to the one that is the biggest question, would there be a wizard in the town? Wizards are generally very learned, and I don’t think even a medium sized trading town, like the one that I’m building, would have a wizarding school in it. That education wouldn’t be something that is highly valued. So anyone who does show that ability would either get limited teaching from some voodoo style of wizard, which there might be one or two in the area, but that would be about it, or they would get sent off to a larger city to learn. Obviously, that would only be the children of some of the richer people in the town, the poorest would likely only get that limited training focused more on controlling the magic than anything else.
However, for this campaign, I think that there is one person in the town who is a powerful wizard, and they have a tower. I see it as part of the towns political structure. There’s the noble who is in charge of the town, but the wizard, who is kind of a recluse has a lot of sway over the town as well, because they are powerful and people are scared of them. This can be a solid starting point for conflict in the story. The wizard says one thing and the noble says another. Do you disobey the person who can blast you with lightning or do you go against the person who could raise taxes or arrest you?
I think that actually is starting to lead us into the next part which will come out next week, D&D Campain Building: The Hook.
How would you have used magic in the society that was built in the first article? Would you have put in a wizarding school? Is magic common in your games?
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