Got back to my D&D game last night. We’re far enough in that I’m only going to do a quick recap of what happened last time instead of everything. Last time they beat the other two teams to the end of their midterm. It was …
Tag: Dungeons and Dragons
You fall asleep and you’re in a world that you never thought was possible, and something is very wrong with it. This Dungeons and Dragons campaign idea takes you from the fantasy world of the waking into a dark world of sleep, dreams, and nightmares, will you survive to see the morning?
When thinking about this idea, I wanted to create something that was a little bit different and with dreamwalking, it felt like there was some interesting ways to handle it.
Firstly, you get to run two different types of games, I’d probably tie the two worlds together somehow, like there’s something in the real world that is causing this crazy dream and nightmare fueled reality to happen when you sleep and if you die while you sleep you die in both of the game worlds. I would build it in such a way that to figure out what or who is causing it in the real world, they need to defeat things and find clues in the nightmares and dreams so that is going to lead their quests in the waking world.
Next, and it depends on your group, if you wanted, you could have the players play two different characters. Dragoth the Dwarven Fighter in the real world might be Dragoth the Dwarven Bard in the dream world with different stats and character sheet. I think it would be fun and could work well for those players who get a little bit bored playing the same character for a longer period of time, they get to play the mix of two characters. While they have some overlap in personality, they would definitely play and be different. I’d have the two versions level at the same pace, it would just make tracking things easier.
So jumping into this you’d look to introduce the players to the BBEG (big bad evil guy/gal) in the dream world. This is the BBEG’s domain so they should be basically untouchable at the start, but they also shouldn’t care about the players because this is their world. Give them someone who they know they’re building up to face at the end of the campaign/at the end of the arc. As they get better and stronger both in the dream and real world, they should show up on the BBEG’s radar and they should see that the dream world turns slowly more into a nightmare world and things become more dangerous and dark. And in the real world when the players get closer to the BBEG’s lair, that should be another time when the dream world starts to double down on the nightmares and monsters, basically a corrupting force in the real world as they near the lair which manifests as more dangerous nightmares.
So, getting to the point where you fight the BBEG, I could see doing some fetch quests, or more so destruction quests, such as having to find amulets or something that weaken the pull of the dream world on the whole of the lands Something that has been set-up or sold by a peddler not knowing what wares they were peddling. So it can be a bit of a chase to find them and destroy them, but also a bit of a red herring because the peddler is going to look very guilty to the players, and while they are guilty of selling these amulets or whatever it might be, they aren’t the BBEG. They maybe would know who the BBEG is, but not where the BBEG is or how to get in contact with them. But the peddler would know where they got the wares so they’d be able to bring the players closer to the BBEG’s lair or at least tell them about it.
In the dream world leave larger clues, totems, visions, something that has to be puzzled through. So in the real world they can only find so many clues or so many people to get close to the lair, but in the dream world, it should be a series of clues that they can put together and come up with something that not only gives them a precise location of where to go but also probably some sort of hints for getting into the lair. Because whatever your BBEG is, they are extremely powerful and would have some sort protection on their lair so that the PC’s can’t just waltz right into it.
For the final battle, I think this should be a two part thing, either start it in the real world and have the finale in the dream world or vice-a-versa. Give both sets of PC’s a chance to shine, but also being the dream world is going to create a more cinematic story. Throw large, impossibly large objects at the players and do a contest of wills to see who can manipulate the dream objects, will they stay in existence and do damage to the players, create barriers, whatever the BBEG decides, or will the PC’s be able to push them away. It’s almost a force battle that you can do for the finale in the dream world. Then in the real world, that’s going to be a bit more standard in terms of the fight, not great illusionary fighting like in the dream world, but this is where I’d have minions and traps and things to wear down the players first. If I were to do this, I’d do get through lair fighting minions and dealing with puzzles and traps, that leads up to the start of the fight in the real world, the players get the BBEG down in health so the BBEG throws them all into the dream world where they have to fight a more powerful version of the BBEG, when/if the BBEG is about ready to die in the dream world, then they drop back into the real world. Give the BBEG a chance to have used a few hit dice but to still be done some hit points and have used up magic. So the final battle then takes place in the real world. Another option would be to divide up the party, especially if you have 4 PC’s, because you could have two fighting in the dream world and two in the real world and have them each fighting the respective version of the BBEG.
So what do you think about this idea, is it a campaign that you’d want to play in or run?
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In D&D, and other RPG’s, fairly often a special item is just something like a +1 sword, yay, you can hit better and do more damage, but not all that exciting. Every adventurer worth their salt has a +1 sword. The same for a ring of walking on water, okay, that one is cooler. But a lot of the times what players want, because of their practicality is the +1 weapon and the +1 armor. Those a great and fine for mechanically in the game, but not that interesting, and a +1 sword gets tossed aside when the +2 sword comes along.
So what can you do to make magic items still be useful but more interesting? There are several different ways you can do that, and it ties some into my Friday Night D&D that was also posted today, but you can name the weapon, make it sentient, make it cursed, give it unique properties, or let it evolve.
The point of naming a weapon is that a +1 long sword isn’t that exciting, but Gregor Falhelm’s Long Sword or The Shadow Blade, those are interesting. Who is Gregor Falhelm and why is this sword known as that? That’s something the players can checkout. The Shadow Blade clearly has a lot of history with it as well. Now, they’ll still probably toss it aside when a +2 sword comes along, but in the mean time, you can have a quest for them to track down the history of the sword. Maybe Gregor Falhelm was a famed adventurer who was known for something and now the player will try and live up to it. Or The Shadow Blade is a weapon from a famed assassin that had belonged to a thieve’s guild years ago but had gone missing, and now that you have it and people have seen it, the thieve’s guild wants it back. The names can generate more story for you to play with and make it more memorable than just a +1 long sword.
Another thing you can do is give the weapon a personality. Allow it to communicate telepathically with it’s wielder. Maybe Gregor Falhelm died defending an orphanage and because of that his soul was attached to the blade and he can tell them about years ago or give advice when needed. Or The Shadow Blade because of all of the assassinations it has helped with and all the blood on it, maybe it has a dark personality that urges that player to kill. Again, only a +1 sword, no extra abilities, but now you have something more for the player to interact with. How do they deal with a sword that is constantly urging them to kill? Gregor Falhelm is interesting to listen to, but very long winded, what does the player think of that. Give it a unique personality so that the players get a memorable experience with that weapon and it’ll be more than just a +1 long sword to them.
Cursing a weapon is always a fun surprise to pull to make it memorable as well. With a curse, make it something that is annoying but not game breaking. Maybe The Shadow Blade thirsts for blood and will cut the wearer if they don’t get blood on it otherwise. Maybe if they get too far away from it the cursed soul of Gregor Falhelm, because he couldn’t save the orphans and now it’s just a constant weeping that only the player can hear from the sadness and they have disadvantage to hit because Falhelm doesn’t want to kill anymore. There are a lot of negative things you could add to a magic item to make it more interesting. A wand of fireballs, but you don’t know where they’ll go. A ring of water walking that walks your feet along the surface of the water, but from the bottom side. Be creative with the negative affects because again, we’re trying to make things more memorable.
Unique properties is one that is fairly tame, kind of like naming the weapon. Just give it something small or as big that it can do as well. +1 sword, well there’s a magical word to make it glow. Now you don’t need more torches, but the sword is more interesting. Or the word for the glowing sword is common so it’s possible that it could be triggered at the wrong time by anyone saying the wrong thing. One idea I had was a sword of reincarnation. If you died by that sword, within 7 days your soul would find a new body to go into, so you really aren’t dead, but you’re probably pissed that someone tried to kill you. That makes for a great story. It could just be that the +1 sword of Gregor Falhelm glows blue whenever an orphan is near. Or The Shadow Blade adds a mark for each person it’s killed on the blade and if it ever gets full something will happen.
Finally, make it evolve. Take what you’ve learned from above and make it get better along with the player. Now The Shadow Blade, which was just a +1 sword will start to grant a bonus for stealth the more the person kills with it, or when the player character hits level twelve, not only do they get a +2 to attack and damage now it gives a +2 to stealth and deception. Gregor Falhelm’s sword glows in the presence of orphans but the player can unlock what is basically the ability the detect evil with the sword once per long rest or once per short rest. The example I gave in the Friday Night D&D was to make Mjolnir. Don’t start off with this amazing hammer that the person can use to fly with and call lighting with, but start out with just a simple +1 hammer, eventually it does an extra 1d4 of lightning damage. Then the player can once per long rest do 3d10 lightning damage on an attack. Eventually at a higher level, at the start of combat the player can cast call lightning and either use it as a one off level 9 call lightning or it can deal and extra 3d10 on every successful attack. Mjolnir, then, which might have started out as at level one as just a regular war hammer could be for the final epic battle a hammer that grants the user flight (though technically it’s just throwing it and forgetting to let go), throwing it and it returning, +3 to hit, +3 to damage, call lightning at level 9 for a one time affect or call lightning at level 3 for an additional 3d10 lightning damage on every attack. You have the weapon evolve with the player and they don’t forget their their awesome weapon.
So there are a lot of interesting things you can do to make it more than just a +1 long sword or a +1 shield, or even a ring of water walking. You can create something unique and create unique situations for them to use it in. It’s silly for Gregor Falhelm’s sword to glow around orphans, but useful if an orphan is lost in a labyrinth and it glows brighter the closer to the orphan you are. So if you create something odd like that, use it in the story. That’s the other and really the biggest thing, none of these things will make the magical item stand out unless you use it in the story. The item being part of the story and important to the world is going to make it more memorable than anything else, so maybe The Shadow Blade is just a regular long sword with a +1, but if the thieve’s guild is coming after the players, it’s interesting.
What are some memorable magical items or moments with magical items in D&D or other RPG’s that you’ve had in a game? Do you use magic items a lot?
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