D&D General ‘Witcher’ Style Adventures?

TheSword

Legend
To be honest I don’t think it’s necessary to take the whole setting across. It’s more about style of adventure.

I agree with @Paul Farquhar when he says there are similarities between witchers and a typical adventuring party… mercenary, dangerous and mistrusted.

Pretty much every campaign setting has kings and queens, conflict between nations, monsters, powerful sorcerers/mages, and farmers/townsfolk struggling to make ends meet. It’s about how and when those elements are used.

Im really surprised there aren’t adventures with more of these elements in D&d history or third party products. I’ll check out Symbaroum’s mega adventure though.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Lyxen

Great Old One
Another thing that makes politics hard to do is itinerant adventurers usually aren't invited into the corridors of power. In other media you can cut to a scene between the monarch and their advisers, but in D&D if the PCs aren't there they have no idea any of this is happening.

It really depends on the type of game that you are playing. For me, what started it all was really the Companion Set of BECMI, because there are great ideas there. Of course, the PCs can have a dominion to manage, which is one of the core ideas of that set, I've done that many times with many editions and it works well. But even if they don't they can still have ears in high places, whether through NPC contacts or through a guild, thieves or assassins work well, or a spy network that they have worked with/for before for example. Or it can simply be through magic and spying, etc. If you really want your PCs to play in the political arena, there are many ways to do this, and what they centre about are the NPCs, are well pointed out by @TheSword. Create the right NPCs as contacts and a large part of your work is done. Of course, it only works if that is the kind of game that your players like. In our groups, it works really well, most of the players are delighted with NPCs interactions and getting news about the current intrigues, etc.
 

If you put the PCs in the castle playing politics, then they aren't traipsing round the countryside killing monsters for petty cash. So what I really mean is having both elements at the same time is difficult. I've experimented with inserting "cut scenes", like say Dragon Age Origins, but it doesn't really work. If the players aren't interacting they are not playing.
 

Yora

Legend
How much of a stretch would it be to once again recommend Against the Cult of the Reptile God?
It keeps getting recommended all the time in a number of different contexts, but I think it also applies here.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
If you put the PCs in the castle playing politics, then they aren't traipsing round the countryside killing monsters for petty cash. So what I really mean is having both elements at the same time is difficult. I've experimented with inserting "cut scenes", like say Dragon Age Origins, but it doesn't really work. If the players aren't interacting they are not playing.

Nothing prevents the PCs from alternating sequences, exactly like in books, they don't have to kill monsters all the time or do politics all the time. Two weeks ago, my PCs were generals in the blood war doing politics and alliances with devils, demons and yugoloths and last week, they were exploring a crypt...
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I backed a Kickstarter a while back for a module that describes itself as a "Slavic adventure." From the updates, it's sounding like it should be released pretty soon (they're in the layout stage):

 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Plausibility? People who live in castles and run countries have employees to kill monsters for them.
First, if these employees are powerful enough to kill monsters, they are also probably powerful enough for a nice little coup, assassination, or simply for protection. And note that this happens to Geralt a number of times, noticeably in Seasons of Storm for example.

Second, reverse situations, the PCs are lords, and probably amongst the most powerful people around, then the monsters are at their power level forcing them to do the job themselves, this is the Companion hypothesis.

Or maybe all of that mixed together, which is for me the best as it is way more varied.
 

Plausibility? People who live in castles and run countries have employees to kill monsters for them.
if the idea is to channel The Witcher, or Arthurian Legends, or Narnia, or Game of Thrones, or Wheel of Time, then your statement is just throwing out the intent of the game in question.
The fact is that the literature and other fictions upon which D&D is founded and continues to interact with includes the adventuring nobility -- so much so that it is an official background while being a farmer is not.
 



TheSword

Legend
I real issue, I think, is that people like reading and watching stories of great hardship, distrust and even prejudice more than they enjoy playing in them. That's why WotC doesn't focus on this stuff, as much as I would like them to.
I think people do enjoy mysteries and investigations though. Most of what happens in Witcher short stories is that. The game too to be fair.

The betrayal is actually far more rare. Geralt usually stays at least on acceptable terms with most players.
 

I think people do enjoy mysteries and investigations though. Most of what happens in Witcher short stories is that. The game too to be fair.

The betrayal is actually far more rare. Geralt usually stays at least on acceptable terms with most players.
I'm not talking about betrayal. I'm saying life is extraordinarily rough for most people in these "gritty" worlds, and part of that is distrust and prejudice from nearly everyone toward nearly everyone. This makes the story more realistic to me and I think that feel is part of the draw. WotC's focus is in entirely the opposite direction in that regard, and that, combined with a lack of interest in cultural nuance in favor of scant, inoffensive lack of detail, makes official D&D a poor fit for stories like the Witcher or GoT.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I'm not talking about betrayal. I'm saying life is extraordinarily rough for most people in these "gritty" worlds, and part of that is distrust and prejudice from nearly everyone toward nearly everyone.

I think the key here is the "nearly", because this is for me the reward of playing at least a bit lawful and/or good (which Geralt certainly is), the fact that despite the world being a gritty place, there are still a number of people that you have forged bonds with and that you can rely upon. And it mostly about these relationships / friendships with NPCs (although yes, some might be shaky, of convenience or just actually untrustworthy) that make the story move forward satisfactorily.
 

In order to kill a monster you need to know it's weakness
I think this is the hardest to do in 5e, which leans heavily on the mechanic of killing monsters by hitting them repeatedly over the head until they fall down. It means redesigning a lot of monsters and leaning into research/knowledge skill checks.
Interesting you bring this up, because I was thinking that a NWoD provides a good system for Witcher for several reasons, but this just added another reason: Bans. When dealing spirits, and certain types of monsters, they have vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and compulsions that are often necessary to exploit in order to overcome their otherworldly defenses. Other reasons NWoD works well for Witcher:
  1. Deadly Combat - If you're using a knife you can kill someone in one hit. It changes the way people view combat, especially lethal combat. If someone pulls out a sword you get very worried, especially if you're mortal. In order to avoid
  2. Morality/Sanity - There are systems in place to guide behavior, sanity, and a certain style of play. When you're a murder hobo eventually you'll end up like Charles Manson. The NWoD system has monsters that can use your morality against you. If you have low morals you're way more susceptible to their powers.
  3. Powers/Magic - Lots of different systems to choose from. I would choose Promethean the Created, especially since Witchers change when they use their alchemy. That's precisely what happens when Prometheans use their alchemy, they change and reveal their true alchemical nature, which is quite disturbing.
 

The Book of Tales expansion for the witcher ttrpg is really good, even just for the lore.

I wrote what i liked about it in a previous thread, but some key elements that drive the theme home to me are:

Monsters often have immunities and vulnerabilities.

Monsters are often drawn to an area by a curse or by some sinful actions that seemingly innocent people have done

Not all monsters are bad

Sometimes, the humans are much worse

Besides other aspects of the lore, i feel this sets a clear mood that investigation is rewarded, and in some cased even necessary. It's important not only for survival, but also to know what the moral choice is.

So if a king or a mage employs you for a quest there's always what they say their reason is, but is that the real reason? Just having the threat of duplicity and betrayal makes a big difference i think in theme.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think the naming of things is a powerful way of making monsters interesting and exciting when combined with customization.

The simple ghoul is a great example. It could have many names, necrophage, alghoul, striga, lacedon, ghast, gul, strigoi, or ghole. Or maybe something more euphemistic. Eaters of the Dead, Hungry ones, Feeders, Biters, or Crypt Horrors. Maybe they’re called multiple things adding to the confusion.

What if you added extra traits. It has its famous paralyzing bite, but what if it also had regeneration, or resistance to non-magical weapons, or something more unusual like (hawthorn, or it’s sap).

What if the bite is acidic not paralyzing, or poisonous.

I’d be really interested to see what extra vulnerabilities creatures could be given too. There is definitely design space around the relatively simple monsters in the monster manual to really soup them up with some simple templates.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Beowulf 5e, from handiwork game could be use as a inspiration. You are a hero (like, its your class) and you travel from land to land to find monsters to slay. But, most named monsters have a specific Condition that makes them invulnerable until X. Either you must find their true name, craft a special item or potion, find an incantation, complete a ritual etc. After X is completed, the monster becomes defeatable.

The game uses 5e as a core system, is low/null-magic and use only one class, the Hero. Its made for 1 player and 1 DM, but I think it could work well with more than a single player. Many features of the class boost the retainers traveling with the Hero; retainers are only in the background and once they used thei one Trait, they are unuasable until the end of the scene.

I think a mix of AiME for its classes, social and travelling encounters and the magic list from the loremaste book + Beowulf would fit the witcher perfectly.
 

TheSword

Legend
Beowulf 5e, from handiwork game could be use as a inspiration. You are a hero (like, its your class) and you travel from land to land to find monsters to slay. But, most named monsters have a specific Condition that makes them invulnerable until X. Either you must find their true name, craft a special item or potion, find an incantation, complete a ritual etc. After X is completed, the monster becomes defeatable.

The game uses 5e as a core system, is low/null-magic and use only one class, the Hero. Its made for 1 player and 1 DM, but I think it could work well with more than a single player. Many features of the class boost the retainers traveling with the Hero; retainers are only in the background and once they used thei one Trait, they are unuasable until the end of the scene.

I think a mix of AiME for its classes, social and travelling encounters and the magic list from the loremaste book + Beowulf would fit the witcher perfectly.
Vaesen could be a good source for inspiration for monsters as well too.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top