D&D 5E Campaign Idea: Very Rare Magic Items at Lv. 1

aco175

Legend
Giving the players a choice to die or hand over my father's watch- which his POW buddy hid in his ass for years until he could escape and find me to finally give me my birthright, is not a good choice to give in the first hour of the campaign. Unless you tell the players up front. Yes it is a cool twist- for you. It is similar to capturing PCs and starting in a jail with no choice in the matter.

Just start the campaign with all of you are gathered at the local inn because your families have been burglarized over the last few days and family heirlooms have been stolen and you decided to band together to get them back.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Thank you for the welcome! I’m thinking this one over. I think the one confusing thing is, I wouldn’t be taking the item, it would be the BBEG. The players will have an opportunity early along to slay him for what he’s done. They’ll just also see the damage has already been done. The NPCs wasting their time are similiarly vulnerable to attack—they’ll learn that certain problems though can’t be undone solely through violence
But you’re setting out to “gotcha” your players, and even stated in the OP that they just cannot successfully regain these items. Ever. They can’t make new versions without them being corrupt versions, even.

It’s not a campaign, it’s a lecture.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Thank you for the welcome! I’m thinking this one over. I think the one confusing thing is, I wouldn’t be taking the item, it would be the BBEG.
You are the Dungeon Master. You are running the BBEG. Thus you are the BBEG in the eyes of the players. Thus the removing of these magic items in the first session after asking them to choose them is you basically buying them an ice cream cone and then throwing it on the ground before they can eat it. Is it a "twist"? Sure. But not all twists are worth doing. The players would probably rather just not have gone for ice cream at all.
 

You are the Dungeon Master. You are running the BBEG. Thus you are the BBEG in the eyes of the players. Thus the removing of these magic items in the first session after asking them to choose them is you basically buying them an ice cream cone and then throwing it on the ground before they can eat it. Is it a "twist"? Sure. But not all twists are worth doing. The players would probably rather just not have gone for ice cream at all.
Want to clarify something after reading the last two comments (this is a lecture, this is ice cream they can’t have). It’s not just a twist where they can’t “eat their ice cream”. It’s that they chose one specific flavor and that flavor becomes impossible to reproduce, ever. Let me give an example. Say they choose the Amulet of the Planes. The twist (like an ice cream twist!) is that the amulet is destroyed, cannot be rebuilt, and there is a permanent amulet of the planes shaped hole in the campaign world. The players will learn that choosing any other item would have allowed for the possibility of attaining one, but instead their desire has been transmuted into lack, an unrequited love, a marriage never consummated, an “objet petit a” if you will.

This twist creates capability of drama and invention. There will be frequent flashbacks to the first 10 minutes of the campaign where the players held their magic items, stressing their loss and irreversible absence. It also may be a clue in of itself—say the PCs meet a roguish man who says “there are more amulets of the planes out there”—they’ll be able to deduce he’s a shifty character just saying what they want to hear (the truth being there was only one and now it’s gone and can’t be recreated)

Another aspect of the twist is that most everything seems mutable in dnd, even death itself. The novelty is, while players can remove curses, diseases, rise from the dead and be reincarnated, there is no means to restore the magic. The world has a binding eliminationist logic to these items.
 


aco175

Legend
Let me give an example. Say they choose the Amulet of the Planes. The twist (like an ice cream twist!) is that the amulet is destroyed, cannot be rebuilt, and there is a permanent amulet of the planes shaped hole in the campaign world. The players will learn that choosing any other item would have allowed for the possibility of attaining one, but instead their desire has been transmuted into lack, an unrequited love, a marriage never consummated, an “objet petit a” if you will.
Hey paladin- you get to start the game with a holy avenger.
Yes, that rocks.
Psych, I'm going to take it from you and make you earn it.
Oh! I guess that can work. I'll just need to adventure and get it back.
Psych again. I'm going to make it so you can never get it. Ever!
Ever?
Yes, isn't that a cool plot twist?
No, it kind of sucks.
It is your fault for wanting that item in the first place. You should have chosen a healing potion as your family heirloom.
What would have happened if I chosen that?
There would be no more healing potions in the world.
Wow.
 

Healing Potions aren’t a Very Rare magic item so it would be a strange choice. I’d wonder why you went with that, but would probably allow it even though it specifically goes against the earlier stated constraints. As a DM, I think it’s generous to make allowances from time to time to earn the goodwill of the players
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Want to clarify something after reading the last two comments (this is a lecture, this is ice cream they can’t have). It’s not just a twist where they can’t “eat their ice cream”. It’s that they chose one specific flavor and that flavor becomes impossible to reproduce, ever. Let me give an example. Say they choose the Amulet of the Planes. The twist (like an ice cream twist!) is that the amulet is destroyed, cannot be rebuilt, and there is a permanent amulet of the planes shaped hole in the campaign world. The players will learn that choosing any other item would have allowed for the possibility of attaining one, but instead their desire has been transmuted into lack, an unrequited love, a marriage never consummated, an “objet petit a” if you will.

This twist creates capability of drama and invention. There will be frequent flashbacks to the first 10 minutes of the campaign where the players held their magic items, stressing their loss and irreversible absence. It also may be a clue in of itself—say the PCs meet a roguish man who says “there are more amulets of the planes out there”—they’ll be able to deduce he’s a shifty character just saying what they want to hear (the truth being there was only one and now it’s gone and can’t be recreated)

Another aspect of the twist is that most everything seems mutable in dnd, even death itself. The novelty is, while players can remove curses, diseases, rise from the dead and be reincarnated, there is no means to restore the magic. The world has a binding eliminationist logic to these items.

What you are effectively doing is asking the players to pick their favorite item to start with and then ensuring they never ever get access to that item, it's a really HARD sell.

A few years ago I played in a Star Wars game at Gen Con. The description was that of a fun courier adventure and pregens were provided. Wanted to try the system so my friend and I signed up.

6 players at the table and each of us picked the pregens they wanted. Someone picked the face, someone picked the strong heavy weapons specialist, etc.

Ok, everyone has the character they like and is ready.

5 minutes into the adventure there's some kind of disturbance and "something" happens but the GM is vague on what and the courier mission continues.

As the mission continues and we interact with the adventure we realize the PLOT TWIST was that the "disturbance" put us in some kind of "opposite world." Strong characters are weak, face characters can't talk their way out of a paper bag, ranged specialists couldn't hit the broad side of a barn etc.

Essentially, everyone was stuck with the exact opposite of the character they picked/wanted.

Far from being a fun experience it was an extremely frustrating/tedious 4 hours that I would not care to repeat. And sadly, it soured me on the d6 version of star wars for years.

Point is, promising a premise and then yanking that premise away for some supposed fun payoff later? IME, it results in frustrated, disappointed players.
 

PLOT TWIST : The party refuse the offer and kill the BBEG right at the first session.
The BBEG is invulnerable during the first combat, as his hand is on the disintegration wand and he makes it clear that not only is he protected by powerful magic, he’ll reduce everyone to ashes if they attack outright.
This is later remedied when the find him around lv 4, fat and happy, no longer interested in adventuring or defense since he’s already accomplished his goal (irreconcilably destroying the objects the party most loved)
 

This is later remedied when the find him around lv 4, fat and happy, no longer interested in adventuring or defense since he’s already accomplished his goal (irreconcilably destroying the objects the party most loved)
What sort of a goal is that? Who is this guy supposed to be, that his big ambition in life is to destroy a couple of magic items? He needs more personality than that. Right now he only exists to be a deus ex machina, and then get killed in revenge, assuming your players don’t just flip the table and leave after the ‘big plot twist’ stuffs up their character backgrounds.
 

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