DMing 101 – The Campaign pt. 3
Welcome back to the Campaign. Before reading, you may want to remind yourself of the cast of characters here, and the scenario here. Keep an eye out for your chance to shape the future of the campaign down below.
Following the events of our first sessions‘ climactic scene our group has a difficult decision to make, and some very differing opinions on how to make it. With a van disappearing into the distance, Jack and Jonathan may be keen to get onto its’ tail in the hopes of a lead on their own personal mysteries, whereas Sir Isaac and Grace might prefer a more reserved approach, and Frank “Clanky” would likely follow someone else’s lead until something more compelling catches his eye.
So here’s a quick summary of how that conversation might go. [Parts written in italics are out of character]
Jack(Alan): Which way is the van headed? [Dice roll – high result]
DM: West. The city of Bullpen is out that way which is a major province for Regency, but if it goes through Wolf Garden it’ll almost certainly be ambushed.
Grace(Kim): We have to follow it! If we lose it we’ll lose our only clue!
Jack: We have no transport, and I don’t know about you guys, but I have no way of paying for any.
Clanky(Nathan): Do I know anyone who can get us there quick? [Dice roll – average result]
DM: Yes, but it may be hard to persuade them not to mug you along the way.
Clanky: I am ok with that! I know some guys who can get us that van before it hits Wolf Garden. They’re kinda shady, but they’re cool.
Jonathan(Giles): Let’s get on it quick then.
Isaac(Tim):Whoa whoa whoa, I don’t trust his friends already! Are there any survivors? [Roll – average result]
DM: There’s a man still breathing, but he’s not conscious.
Isaac: Look, a witness that we can interrogate… Safely… maybe in a nice room indoors where there are no bandits or anyone who might want to kill us again. We should do that!
Jonathan: We don’t have time.
Grace: Although we might be able to get a better idea of what was going on here, we shouldn’t rush into anything.
Clanky: Doesn’t matter, I can get us a car any time.
Jack: Yeah, but I’d rather not lose the one guy who seems to know everything we need to know on the off chance that this guy knows anything.
As a DM you should already be summarizing how the two potential paths might go. It’s best to try and persuade your group to have this kind of planning conversation before the end of the session or try to prepare for the possibilities as much as possible beforehand. without doing wasted work in case the group find another way you’d not considered. Here’s a quick summary of the possibilities:
The players grab the nearest available vehicle from Frank’s criminal buddies and give chase, hoping to find the van and head it off before it reaches Wolf Gardens.
Being the more dangerous path, combat is a likely outcome. What kind of villains are roaming around Wolf Gardens, and why do they hate the Regency Corporation? What kind of hassle are Clanky’s friends likely to cause the group, if any? And what will happen if the group catch up to the masked man “Gorgon”?
Quest: Find the van before it reaches Wolf Gardens.
Sidequest: Deal with the criminal element without it going bad.
The players interrogate the survivor for information, and consider finding out more before acting rashly.
There are a lot of people connected to the case, and a lot of clues to follow. The group could take their findings back to Governor Idly, try and discover more about the Arlington Hotel by looking through records, or looking for other people who may have gone missing at the same time. Not a lot of combat opportunities, but a fantastic opportunity to build a cast of characters and add depth to the world.
Quest: Find out where Regency takes “missing” people.
Sidequest: Learn more about the man who took the van.
Options R, 8 and %
Inevitably the group will find something else to do. They might decide to run after the van! You may have to fight them not to burn down the hotel! There will be things you cannot prepare for, so here are a few options from this scenario to keep in your back pocket for when the train goes off the tracks and down to the river for a swim.
Criminal Legend: Rumours start flying about a man whose head is wrapped in bandages attacking people in the Arlington, well connected people such as Jack or Frank could get the answers that a lot of people would pay handsomely for. A quest like this could be picked up from a notice board.
The Wannabe King: If the players venture outside of Station to pursue some other self-appointed errand, have a “random” encounter pre-packed and ready to go. What about a bandit who has made himself a crown made of guns, sitting somewhere nearby with a hidden stash of fresh water or a portable air-cycler? Could be worth a lot of money.
Any Other Vehicle But That One: There may be other means of obtaining transport. The Governor may have something that he could be persuaded to trust the group with, or perhaps Allysa Idly had enough friends in the town that someone can offer their services. It won’t be the fastest option, but it may well prove safer. Or maybe not…
With some or all of these possibilities in mind, your preparation time for the next session is quite minimal, and if you’re well practised you may be able to improvise if you’ve not had time to write anything. Your group need not reach a conclusion on where to go next so long as you have a small selection of scenes and challenges prepared ready to pick up and throw in at a moment’s notice.
Keep your cast of characters to hand. You may also want to have a few random people to hand in case you need an emergency NPC.
Here is where you can get involved! Choose which direction the group will take, either from the options above, or throw in a suggestion of your own.
We also need two new NPC’s: one minor villain and one possible ally. Using the “character sheet” below, give us your submissions either in the comments section down below, or through our Facebook page.
NPC NAME – Include in [square brackets] whether this is an ally or villain.
BACKGROUND – Mechanic? Assassin? Spokesperson for a toilet cleaning product?
MOTIVATION – Does this person want money? Love? Or even to be left alone?
DESCRIPTION – No more than a sentence or two describing notable features of the NPC, physical traits, personality, ever-present items or pieces of apparel; any, all or none of the above.
The results of the poll, and the best NPCs you send in will create next week’s article! Check back next Thursday for The Campaign pt 4…
My name is Joel (Terra_Phi most places) and I am an experienced DM of nearly 7 years. I also run a site called Quotesfromthetabletop.net with a friend of mine who’s much better at site-building than I am. If you’re interested in getting into tabletop role-playing, our site is full of good reasons, all the stupid and brilliant quotes and stories that could only ever happen at the table.