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I use published adventures differently to most people I know. It’s very rare that I’ll take an adventure and run it as-written. Instead, I cannibalize it for its parts – an interesting NPC here, an unusual combat encounter there, a fun plot hook that works with the campaign I’m already running.
One-shots quite often revolve around an interesting or unusual location, with the plot of the adventure functioning as little more than a framing device to get the players interested in this place. That’s not a criticism; the locations (and the maps that go with them) in published adventures are the parts I use in my games most frequently.
The nature of published adventures is that they present one story, one use for this awesome place that the players are going to adventure in. For a long time I’ve wished that somebody would do away with the actual pre-written adventure part and simply give me an interesting place and a whole heap of different ways to use it. Do away with the monsters and the treasure, and instead tell me the kinds of people that might live here, and the kinds of different reasons that players might find to go here. I want options and inspiration, a whole host of ideas to steal and twist to suit my own ends.
It’s very possible that somebody out there has been creating just such a thing for a very long time, but I’ve never found it – so I decided to make it myself.
That’s what inspired Adventure Seeds, and what I aim for the series to be. I’ll give you a location, a bunch of characters who might be found there, a variety of reasons for the players to want to visit the place, and a selection of new treasures to find. All you need to do is pick and choose the bits you like, drop in some suitable monsters, and start rolling dice with your players.
The first Adventure Seeds book will come out on DMs Guild on October 1st, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it. To whet your appetite, here’s a [very] small preview:
A Brief History of The Wheelhouse
For years the Wheelhouse was nothing more than a simple mill. The same family owned it for generations, passing it down father-to-son over and over again.
Around sixty years ago the owners of the mill fell in to debt. Despite their best efforts, when the time came to pay up they could not. Their lands and property were seized, they were incarcerated, and the Wheelhouse was left to languish.
A few years later the local Lord expressed dismay at having to walk past the town jail so often. Hearing the cries of those inside, having to endure seeing such wretched people being transported through the town in chains, it was vulgar and not befitting of the nice, quiet town he held domain over. He spoke of a desire to build a new prison, somewhere outside of town where those who had broken the law could be sent and forgotten about. Eventually he was reminded that the old Wheelhouse building belonged to him, and he began to convert it to its current use.
The mill was gutted, replaced with machinery that harnesses the constant turning of the waterwheel to allow guards to control heavy iron portcullises that control access to the prison and the lightless cells beneath it. Nobody gets in without permission. Nobody gets out at all.
Adventure Seeds: The Wheelhouse Prison hands you the keys to the prison, giving you everything you need to build a memorable adventure for your gaming group – in whatever roleplaying system you prefer. 3 poster-sized maps, 10 new NPCs with their own story hooks, 7 more adventure hooks that don’t rely on specific characters, and 4 new magic items – plus ideas for continuing the adventure afterwards – provide the inspiration you need for hours of gaming.
Adventure Seeds: The Wheelhouse Prison comes to DMs Guild on October 1st.
Dark Deeds: Dark Character Backgrounds is out now.