Hi, judges. I'd like to propose a very simple mini-adventure, leading into an open-ended series of similar mini-adventures.
The Church of Hadeys (or Lauto) is known to be willing to loan you money if you want to be resurrected and can't afford it. What happens when you can't or won't pay? They send thugs after you. In these adventures, the PCs are those thugs.
The way it works is that there is a thread representing a notice board up for the temple of Lauto in Daunton. Every so often a priest walks out and posts a notice: "Wanted for failure to pay resurrection fees: Algarezh Hoofchew. Reward 500 gold. Inquire within," or some such. Players put together a group and ask for more information, leading to basically a single encounter (the target and his buddies, or traps, or whatever), with possibly a skill challenge or two leading up to it to find the target and/or chase him down. Reward comes from either the church or from items off of the dead guy.
Right now there are 8 players in the tavern, and I imagine they'd probably all pile in if I started this thing tomorrow. The encounter I'd use would be based on one of the hard double line templates from the DMG, with a couple of minions thrown in for fun:
1 Orc Eye of Gruumsh (level 5 controller, leader) -- this is the target
3 Orc Soldiers (mechanically the Hobgoblin Soldier, level 3 soldier)
1 Orc sniper (mechanically the Lizardfolk greenscale darter, level 5 lurker)
8 orc rabble (mechanically Human rabble, level 2 minion)
total XP 200+450+200+8*31 = 1098
I'm intending that to be a moderately hard encounter for a party of 8. Since it's a single encounter, I figure they'll probably use a lot of dailies. Obviously if fewer players come, I'll adjust.
To find and confront them, need to succeed on a skill challenge (level 1, complexity 5, xp 500 (I think... still haven't completely wrapped my head around the skill challenge design thing)), using social skills as primary: streetwise, diplomacy, intimidate, bluff and so forth. Success means the players find out where they're hiding and get to plan the assault. Failure means missing out on the xp, and that the targets hear you're looking for them and ambush you, and they get to plan the attack.
For 8 players, that's about 200 xp each, with maybe 80xp more for time xp (I'm assuming 1 month). That gets them a quarter of the way to level 1, so I'd plan to give a bit more than 1/4 of the treasure they'd get in getting to level 1. Say, 2 magic items around level 3, and 1000g worth of gold and miscellaneous mundane junk.
Meta: Obviously, this hook can lead to any number of similar "adventures" of any level. Part of what I want to do with this series is to demonstrate that it's dead easy to be a DM here, and help people who are wary of DMing take the plunge. So I'd like run two or three of them myself, along with some other simple ideas I'll talk about later, and start a discussion about how to go about creating them. This one literally took me an hour over my lunch break at work, and I expect that with practice I could do it a lot faster. So after I've done a few of them, I hope to "coach" other people who want to DM but don't know how to get started.
Obviously, the series will be open to anyone who wants to DM in it.
So, what do y'all think?