I missed Monday’s map post for various reasons that I won’t go in to here. They’re also the same reasons that this post is late (although it’s still up on Wednesday, so I’m counting it as a win). I’m aiming to get the map up tomorrow, and then the schedule should get back to normal (though I’m still trying to figure out a night for streaming that I can actually stick to, since Sunday isn’t working). Thanks for bearing with me while I iron out these kinks.
Last week my gaming group and I sat down to play D&D for the first time in about four months. When we’d last left things, the party had been in the midst of a giant castle. They had just finished clearing the lower levels and were about to climb up into the ruined wing of the castle; first, though, they’d returned to Thorak’s instant fortress to rest up for the night.
I keep good notes of our games, and even though I knew exactly where the party had been and what was still left to do in the dungeon, it felt a little weird to me to pick up exactly where we’d left off after such a long absence. The players could barely remember what they’d been doing, and I didn’t want their first game back to be the remainder of a dungeon crawl that they no longer really cared about.
In trying to figure out what to do next instead of sending them through the dungeon, I initially struggled a little. I could jump the game forward in time, simply narrating what they’d found in the dungeon and moving on to the next thing, but that felt like cheating them a little. Other options were few and far between – since they’re out in the middle of nowhere, and the only point of interest is the very dungeon I didn’t want to send them into. And none of us wanted to roll new characters and start again with a whole new campaign.
So, I decided that I needed a capital-E Event. Something big and game changing that would drive the party in a new direction and open up the campaign to a potentially big story. And, off the back of that, I decided to write up a table of such events. Sometimes we need to get out of a rut; sometimes the game has ground to a narrative halt and we need to reinvigorate it; and sometimes we just want to take everything we’ve built and burn it to the ground to start fresh.
This table will help you do that. See if you can guess which prompt I ended up using.
|1||An enormous fortress carved with flickering blue runes plummets through the sky, bringing fire and chaos with it. The crater where it lands is enormous, demolishing everything in its way, and when the quiet returns a single door in the side of the fortress opens up. Inside, an ancient creature on a crumbling throne bids the party deliver a message across the planes to save his people.|
|2||Overnight, all of the aristocracy and most of the wealthy merchants in the city die in their sleep. As rumours of a magically-aided coup spread through the populace, rioting and looting begins. And in a seedy bar on the low side of town, one man claims to know who is responsible.|
|3||The dry fountain that has stood in the square for centuries suddenly begins to flow with blood and fire as a great rift tears open the air above the castle. The dark, twisted things that pour through the new opening are creatures of unimaginable horror. The tide must be stemmed before the world is overrun with demons; the only way to do that is to step through the rift and face whatever is on the other side.|
|4||The forest always seemed further away – because it was. The forest folk have awoken from their aeons-long slumber to find their kin murdered to make firewood, their homes ravaged and ploughed, their children killed for their meat and fur. The only response they know is to pull up their roots and march on the two-legged creatures who would attempt genocide while the florafolk slept.|
|5||People were so concerned with being afraid of the dark that they forgot to fear the light, too. But this morning the sun rose, and now it won’t set – and with the eternal daylight come strange, flickering creatures of pure energy that want nothing more than to see the world burn eternal and bright.|
|6||The ocean is days away, but the thing on the horizon is undeniably a tidal wave of monstrous proportions. As the miles-high wall of water flows across the countryside, is there anything that can be done to stop its progress?|
|7||The structure appeared with a great rending of stone and earth, burrowing up from the deep places to devour the town with teeth made of centuries-old masonry and a jaw of forgotten tombs. Can anybody be rescued? Can this thing be killed? And if the party venture through the gates of its mouth, will they be able to return to the surface before it disappears back beneath the ground to hunt its next victim?|
|8||A second sun has appeared in the sky, and the world is burning. Tides are broken, crops curl to black before they have a chance to bear fruit, and lakes and rivers have dried to dust. What has caused this, and can it be reversed before too much damage is done?|