D&D General Beginning a new campaign advice - foreshadowing and railroading


A suffusion of yellow
If you remove the stowaway and then play a cruel captain and dissatisfied crew then you still get a plausible but not an assured mutiny. Theres nothing to foil except the dissatisfaction of the crew

actually I was thinking on this, if you made the captain enough of an abusive tyrant could you may encourage the PCs to lead the mutiny themselves? Give them a reason to oppose the captain (maybe he decides to execute a crewmember for something petty), the PCs step in, the captain draws his sword - battle happens and ship wrecks

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The other element of this type of plot, a la Mutiny on the Bounty, is that a ship of that type NEEDS to stop at an island to restock its stores. Part of the voyage, pre-mutiny, is also using up supplies. Ships often carried enough to get them from point A to point B. Otherwise, it was belt tightening time.

So the PC's could defuse the mutiny, but the ship still has to stop at the island (fresh water, find food, repair damage to the ship from normal wear and tear, repairs post storm, whatever).

Whatever happens after that can depend on what the party does. I can't imagine anyone staying on the ship for the rather boring repairs, not when there is an island to explore that might hold treasure! Whether they get stranded there can grow organically from there - disaffected crew make off with the ship, fire occurs on ship during repairs - crew stranded too; some crew disappear - time to mount a rescue!; party goes off exploring and disappears, crew search, don't find them, and leave...

I'd play it knowing or not knowing...


Unless the OP's intent as DM is to give the PCs a chance to get to know each other - and to roleplay this introduction process out a bit - before they find themselves in an emergency situation rather than after. I get this, as it's what I'd prefer to do as well.

Yes - this is really what I was after with the setup for running the game the first time. I've been playing a few short games over the last year and having a (relatively) relaxed get-to-know-you session first to rough out character relationships and setting assumptions in play has been enjoyable each time. I've tried to do this in session zeros before but doing it out of character is often not as satisfying. I've found it important for short games as you don't really have a lot of time to work through this in the same way as you would in a long running campaign.

The simplest way to do this is decouple the mutiny from the stranding.

A mutiny occurs and then a storm or monster shipwrecks them. The PCs may or may not stop the mutiny, but can’t do anything about the ship-wrecking event.

You get to start aboard ship, gradually raise tension as the mutiny winds up, give the players a chance to get involved, and then throw them into an entirely different challenge on the island.

For what it's worth the first run of this campaign didn't have the ship getting wrecked - the presence of the HMS Zephyr and her guns (she was based off the HMS Beagle) acted as a sort of "wandering dragon" keeping the players on their toes when near the coast. Recapture of the ship also was the most obvious of the routes back off the island. Having it wrecked or damaged would certainly be another option.

Also, if you‘re into JRPGs @Gimby a game called Ys: Lacrimosa of Dana has a similar setup. By chance have you played it? If not, it’s very good.
I haven't, no, but I'll look it up, thank you

Why couldn't the PCs be on either side of the mutiny? There could still be plenty of paths to follow. Someone still needs to get the map and follow it to the treasure. Then meeting with the other side and chances to defect back to the other side. Throw in a "battle of 5 armies" where both sides need to come back together to fight undead or something. Lots of possibilities.

Still the problem of initially siding when the mutiny starts.

Quite possibly - though this is intended to be quite a short and simple game - the last run was over in ten sessions and I'd like to focus more on the island than the dynamics of the mutineers. It's an interesting thought though, thank you

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