New DM: need adventure ideas for kids in Wizarding school

blargney

First Post
I'm starting up a brand new game, going behind the screen for the first time in my life! My two players will be my girlfriend and her sister, neither of whom have ever played any RPGs before.

My initial campaign concept is a wizarding school, based strongly on Hogwart's from Harry Potter. The reason for this is twofold - with the game restricted to a single area, I can make a very vivid and well-populated beginning to the game. Secondly, given that my players are two complete novices, I can actually teach the players the game mechanics while their characters are learning their trade in school.

The initial scope is to take the characters from apprentice 12 year-old human wizards up to graduation, when they will be 17 year-old 5th level wizards, ready for their adventuring careers. It is set in an as-yet-unspecified world that will probably end up being a stripped-down version of Faerun.

The part where I need help is in coming up with mini-adventures, puzzles, traps, and riddles that will challenge their mental abilities without being too physically demanding. For the first year, both characters will probably only have 2-4 hit points, but at least 10-11 Intelligence. I want the players to get used to the idea of using their heads to solve problems before they put their PCs in danger.

I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas! :)
-blarg!
 

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blargney

First Post
Additional information

I'm going to set them up with a bunch of different classes:

- Enchantment, Illusion, Transmutation, Divination (all separately)
- Defence Against Dark Arts (Necromancy, Evil Monsters, Summoning, Protection Spells)
- Care of Magical Creatures and Plants
- History and Theology
- Magic Theory, Spells and Scribing
- Physical Education
- Potions and Alchemy
- Home Economics for Wizards: Crafts, Fine Arts, and Bargaining
- Astronomy and the Planes of Existence
- one or two others I can't remember offhand

There will be various spells, skills, and feats to learn in each of the classes, with some slight overlap between them. I'm going to set up a rough system so that the more hours they spend studying a subject, the more likely they will end up learning it to a point where it becomes useful. I think I'm going to use Wild Magic rules for spells that haven't been fully learned yet, and assign the odd bonus rank to skills that they study a lot. (They are starting with really low abilities that will improve each year, so this should balance out any skill points lost due to low Intelligence.) I will also give them the Brew Potion feat for free at third level, since they will have already spent three years learning how to make the d*mn things! ;>

There will be a village not too far from the school, with several shops and services useful to a school full of mages. There will be a familiar shoppe, a minor wondrous item store, a magical candy store (like under-powered potions with funny side-effects), and, of course, a tavern.

The school itself will consist of one central tower interlinked with four surrounding towers by all sorts of arches high up in the air. (I want the climactic scene of the first year to occur up on one of these arches.) There is a lake to the south, a forest full of beasties to the east, and a sports field to the west. I still have to come up with the rules for the school game, I'm thinking of yoinking some of Sagiro's rope-tossing game from his story hour.

Inside the towers is a chaotic extradimensional space that re-arranges itself semi-randomly, growing according to need, and doesn't resemble the tower structures in the least. The corridors will turn around corners onto arches, basement rooms will be next door to rooms on the top floor, etc!

As far as plots and plans go, so far there will be some house rivalries, bullies, a plague of ghoulish animals, regularly scheduled games of whatever-the-game-is-called, a professor who has been replaced by a doppelganger, and a couple of orcs that invade the library by accident. (I'm also thinking half-heartedly of having some first year with a certain scar on his forehead get his head caved in by a troll... *wink*)

It actually helps me sort things out somewhat just to be writing these things down!
-blargblarg
 

Byrons_Ghost

First Post
I don't have any specific plot suggestions, but you should try and find the PDF (not sure if it's been released yet) for The Principalities of Glantri (Gazetteer 3 for Basic D&D). The setting was a country run by wizards, and it gave details on a wizardry school and a ton of story suggestions. There's even specific rules for child spellcasters botching things and turning the target into a teddy bear or something. While a lot of the book (House politics and the like) would be beyond the scope of what you want to do, I think you'd still find a lot of good material.
 

blargney

First Post
Byrons_Ghost said:
The setting was a country run by wizards, and it gave details on a wizardry school and a ton of story suggestions.

Excellent suggestion! Thank you!

I've been doing research since you posted yesterday, and I've come up with tons of information and ideas! While I haven't been able to find the PDF for Glantri, I have found quite a lot of fan pages devoted to Mystara, and I've also looked into lots of DMing tools.

I've got some ideas that are starting to gel, more input will be hugely appreciated!!!
-blarg
 


blargney

First Post
Esiminar said:

OIC... I hadn't quite realized that it takes the winsplit application and a password that you pay for through the website. Guess I ought to spend the time to read instructions sometimes, eh? ;)

Thank you very much!
-blarg
 

wolff96

First Post
Well, I think it will be quite the campaign.

A couple of quick thoughts and ideas...

Since your characters are so new, make sure they are both playing generalist wizards -- with the option of specializing later in their school career. (It's against the rules, but the rules assume you receive your training BEFORE the campaign starts. :))

I would also either "wave" the familiar fee or have their parents (possibly the school in case of orphans) pay for the familiars. Every student at Hogwart's had a familiar from day one.

As for adventure ideas... Hmm.

1) Lost/Stolen book. One of the members of their house has misplaced a library book. For every day or two that it's late, the house will take demerits. So in between classes, your players need to help the friend look for it. Whether it was actually misplaced or a rival of the house took it is up to you.

Gives a good reason to investigate things, look around the school, and shouldn't have any combat.

2) Spells gone wrong. Your magical school (like Hogwart's) is warded against the students hurting themselves too much, I'm sure. But a spell has gone awry and now there is a creature haunting their house.

I would use a severely limited form of the Ghost Template on a 1HD creature -- Corrupting Touch (lower the 1d4 to 1d2 or even 1), Frightful Moan (DC 12), and Mage Hand (instead of Telekinesis). This makes the spirit much weaker.

I would start this off by having "someone" wreck the common room of their house. Books are scattered, lamps tipped over, etc. Some research (and talking to other house members) proves that no one in the house could be at fault. Maybe have them find some type of evidence (Ectoplasm? Hackneyed, but it could work. Or perhaps a message scrawled on the wall) that leads them to the school library for research.

Once they do research at the library (or talk to teachers, whatever they do to get information), they learn that sometimes a certain type of spell can go wrong. Talking (again) to the people in their house, perhaps they can find someone who cast this spell and didn't even realize it was done incorrectly.

If they have the original caster of the spell and cast some other spell (again, from the library -- get research embedded in their heads, since that's what a wizard is all about), they can force the spirit to manifest. Then they can either defeat it or find some way to unsummon it. (Or possibly even find some way to appease the spirit and get rid of it.)

3) A collection quest.

There are two ways to look at this one. Either a teacher needs some ingredients for a spell (and doesn't want to be bothered) or there is a house scavenger hunt. I would recommend the teacher, personally... or it could even be punishment for something else the students did (Detention-style).

Again, this leads them all over the school. Some items might be guarded by fractional CR creatures -- a Tiny Monstrous Spider with a lowered Strength and Dexterity guarding a needed bit of spiderweb would be a decent opponent -- but most are simply difficult to find. Some, like a specific kind of flower, they will need to look up in the library. When they do, they find out it only blooms at night on one side of the castle... so they couldn't find it without knowing where it will be.

----------------------

These are just off the top of my head.

One thing I'm sure you will note in my ideas are the constant reoccurence of the library. If nothing else, you want them to identify wizardry with studying. The more information you have, the better your chance of success.

Sounds like a fun campaign, by the way. Let us know how it goes.
 

blargney

First Post
Wicked!!!

Those are some AWESOME ideas, wolff96! They're so good that I've got to go and eat while I ponder them!

I'll be back with some more ideas in an hour! :)
-blarg
 

Byrons_Ghost

First Post
Here's some stuff I did in the Glantri campaign I just finished up (can you tell that's my favorite setting? :D ). Not all of it may apply, but you never know what'll be useful:

1. While shopping, the party saw a bedraggled wizard getting ejected from the magic store by a flesh golem. Upon speaking with him, the found that he was a salesman for a new magic company that sells rip-offs and cheap junk. Feeling sorry for him, the arcane trickster foolishly accepted a business card. Now she constantly gets mailings from them, and other salesman come by the house. Returning from the last adventure after a week's absence, the mailbox and door slot were both stuffed with brochures. Eventually, it was my plan to have illusions or mephits start showing up with commercial jingles or special deliveries at inopportune times, ie when she's in class, when she's with her boyfriend, when she's sneaking up to get the jump on the bad guy, etc. I didn't have any cure worked out, but I imagine a remove curse or break enchantment should probably do it.

2. The arcane archer finally enrolled in school when she realized that fighters couldn't get anywhere in a magocracy. This was when the party first arrived in town. While everyone else toured around and saw the sights, she spent the entire day filling out applications and running back and forth between buildings on opposite sides of campus. Before she could get application A filed, she needed Intent form B, which required Permission slip C, etc. For some reason, it was always gnomes that were handing these things out. After all that, she had to go through Aptitude Testing, which was little things like identifying spell effects, casting cantrips (ray of frost to chill the professor's drink), that sort of thing.

3. When a new young lady arrived at school midterm, everyone got suspicious when the headmaster suddenly started treating her as a favorite pupil- she got all the best class times, materials, etc. The party suspected some sort of evil enchantment and spent days following the two of them around, trying to get into quarters to look for clues, etc. Actually, the girl was there on a scholarship and the headmaster was just a little sweet on her, so he was helping her out some. But it was fun watching them run around and get into things.

That's about all I can think of right now. Good luck with the work.
 

blargney

First Post
wolff96 said:
Since your characters are so new, make sure they are both playing generalist wizards -- with the option of specializing later in their school career.

Good call! I'll let them specialize in fourth and fifth year if they want. I'm pretty sure that one will want to be an Evoker:)

I would also either "wave" the familiar fee or have their parents (possibly the school in case of orphans) pay for the familiars. Every student at Hogwart's had a familiar from day one.

I already have a mini-hook planned out where they go to the pet shoppe and buy a familiar. The owner has taken a clipping from each animal, and records the name of the wizard who buys it. Think scrying.. ;>

(Incidentally, Harry had to buy Hedwig, Hermione had to buy Crookshanks, and the show-off rats in the same store cost money. Familiarz ain't free.)

1) Lost/Stolen book. One of the members of their house has misplaced a library book. For every day or two that it's late, the house will take demerits. So in between classes, your players need to help the friend look for it. Whether it was actually misplaced or a rival of the house took it is up to you.

Gives a good reason to investigate things, look around the school, and shouldn't have any combat.

Simply beautiful! I am going to have a rakshasa posing as a teacher, but he's actually spying on the school. One of his goals is to find out why magic use is so easy in the school. Wizards can cast as many spells a day as an equivalent-level sorceror, but only inside the towers. This is sort of necessary to allow the students to cast spells in their courses...

The book in question will be a text on the history of the school, and some hypotheses on its magical properties. He saw it in a student's bookbag and pickpocketed it, not realizing that it was a library book. They'll find it in his office/possession later on, and he'll simply say it was left behind in his class. Case closed! (for now..)

2) Spells gone wrong. Your magical school (like Hogwart's) is warded against the students hurting themselves too much, I'm sure. But a spell has gone awry and now there is a creature haunting their house.

This is great! A student in a rival house was practicing, and cast Disrupt Undead on a student's familiar. Normally nothing would happen, but he botched it and it turned into a half-ghost. It's actually still alive, but trapped on the Ethereal Plane, and has some ghost-like abilities. It returns to the place it thinks of as home (the common room), and scares all the other familiars away with its Frightful Moan. There's an adventure in Traps & Treachery where the PCs have to capture some escaped animals.) It then wrecks the room with Telekinesis and hides in the Ethereal Plane.

I'll plant a couple of animally clues in the wreckage, then the master will ask where his weasel is in a few days. When they manage to make the ghost manifest by getting its master to call to it, they'll see it appear as a ghost. When they conduct some research, they'll find out that it sounds like a result of a Disrupt Undead gone wrong. Further research will find out that if they cast Disrupt Undead on it again, it will break the barrier that prevents its body from coming back.


3) A collection quest.

There are two ways to look at this one. Either a teacher needs some ingredients for a spell (and doesn't want to be bothered) or there is a house scavenger hunt. I would recommend the teacher, personally... or it could even be punishment for something else the students did (Detention-style).

Again, this leads them all over the school. Some items might be guarded by fractional CR creatures -- a Tiny Monstrous Spider with a lowered Strength and Dexterity guarding a needed bit of spiderweb would be a decent opponent -- but most are simply difficult to find. Some, like a specific kind of flower, they will need to look up in the library. When they do, they find out it only blooms at night on one side of the castle... so they couldn't find it without knowing where it will be.

*yoinks*
I'm stealing that word-for-word. Detention-style is best, I was looking for some good punishments! >;>


One thing I'm sure you will note in my ideas are the constant reoccurence of the library. If nothing else, you want them to identify wizardry with studying. The more information you have, the better your chance of success.

I was thinking exactly the same thing! Thank you very much for these excellent ideas! :)

-blargh, you got me!
 
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blargney

First Post
Byrons_Ghost said:
Here's some stuff I did in the Glantri campaign I just finished up (can you tell that's my favorite setting? :D )

I can see why! There's a lot of intrigue and adventure opportunities in them-thar' hills.

1. While shopping, the party saw a bedraggled wizard getting ejected from the magic store by a flesh golem. [...] I didn't have any cure worked out, but I imagine a remove curse or break enchantment should probably do it.

I actually have something very similar in mind! I have an old Dungeon magazine with a wizard that curses someone in the party. I think your curse might make for more comic relief than what was suggested there! (That's a good thing:) ) I'll probably run this as a hook to get the party to visit some ruins where they'll pick up the blessed crossbow bolt to kill the rakshasa.

2. While everyone else toured around and saw the sights, she spent the entire day filling out applications and running back and forth between buildings on opposite sides of campus. Before she could get application A filed, she needed Intent form B, which required Permission slip C, etc.

This could be a fairly funny way to get them familiar with the general tower layout! I'll have to figure out how to play up the comedic side of it...

After all that, she had to go through Aptitude Testing, which was little things like identifying spell effects, casting cantrips (ray of frost to chill the professor's drink), that sort of thing.

This could be a good start for making up the final exams! Thank you!

3. When a new young lady arrived at school midterm, everyone got suspicious when the headmaster suddenly started treating her as a favorite pupil- she got all the best class times, materials, etc. The party suspected some sort of evil enchantment and spent days following the two of them around[...]

I'm SO pulling this on them in second or third year. What a great way to introduce a new NPC!

That was an excellent bunch of suggestions! Thank you, Byrons_Ghost!
-blargneigh

ps - It's funny that you were the first person to reply to my post.. my oldest friend's name is Byron!
 
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Byrons_Ghost

First Post
Glad you liked it- sounds like you'll have a cool campaign. Mentioning Dragon magazine reminded me that the idea for the annoying magical mail-order company came from this article:

http://dnd.starflung.com/bargitem.html

I've never gotten anyone to buy anything, though. Ah well. My favorite is definately the book "Social Advancement Through the Selective use of Charm and Disintegrate Spells".
 

blargney

First Post
Byrons_Ghost said:
I've never gotten anyone to buy anything, though. Ah well. My favorite is definately the book "Social Advancement Through the Selective use of Charm and Disintegrate Spells".

AWESOME.

I'm so going to sell them this stuff! The Social Advancement is truly mindbogglingly funny. That's the kind of joke we could use to kill Germans. *wink*

I haven't heard the name "Bargle" in a really long time. Like since the very first time I played D&D...

-blargle

ps - I'm coming up with one of the games that the students play - it's like a cross between Quidditch, log-balancing, and a tug-of-war (using Mage Hand). I'll post a first version soon.
 

wolff96

First Post
Inter-school competitions would work also.

Set up a series of challenges that can be accomplished by low-level magic... if you have the right spells memorized.

For first years, you could have something like putting a ball through a high hoop (accomplished by a flying or climbing familiar or mage hand), a drink that needs cooled (prestidigitation or ray of frost, and thanks to Byrons_Ghost for the idea), and a well-controlled minor incorporeal undead (disrupt undead, magic missile, or even a physical hit after a magic weapon spell).

Just a few more ideas.
 

blargney

First Post
wolff96 said:
Inter-school competitions would work also. Set up a series of challenges that can be accomplished by low-level magic... if you have the right spells memorized.

Sweet. I'll do this every year - I wanted to give them a way to measure their progress, and this fits the bill beautifully!

I'll include challenges of all types - obstacle courses with traps, scavenger hunts requiring research, puzzles and riddles, competitive games, a monster sparring ladder, and a duelling tourney. I really like the idea of making them realize the value of Magic Weapon against creatures with DR...

More contest/test ideas: fire-walking, maybe a marksmanship contest, obstacle courses with invisible obstacles (I have a fun mental image of everyone running headlong into an invisible wall!), team challenges where co-ordination and timing is essential, like flipping several levers in a specific order, another to retrieve a guarded object with harmless traps all around where the team loses points for every member that is caught.

Off the top of my head, I'll need a few clerics on hand with cure spells pre-cast to minimize the death rate, spectators from all over (adventure hooks galore, especially with the pet shoppe I mentioned above!), a trophy for the winning school, and some nifty prizes to give to the winners of individual competitions. I was thinking a bard-crafted Wand of Cure Light Wounds would be a really good prize for a wizard! (I know it's not on the wizard spell list, but if it's made by an arcane caster, it's close enough for me!) Other prizes could be some masterwork miscellaneous items that could be enchanted later on.

This is fun! :)
-blarg
 
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wolff96

First Post
In conjunction with the pet shop...

The current WotC "Random Encounter" article is on a unique petshop where all the animals are actually permanently polymorphed creatures (with a newly researched spell that converts their minds to that of the creature's new form).

It might be an interesting idea for your local pet store (or the campaign equivalent of Diagon Alley).

You can find it here:
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/re/re20030113x
 

blargney

First Post
wolff96 said:
The current WotC "Random Encounter" article is on a unique petshop where all the animals are actually permanently polymorphed creatures.

Way ahead of you on that one, but please keep the excellent ideas coming:) (It's in the second post I wrote in this thread...)

I really can't believe how much background information we're generating here... I'm already starting to have a hard time keeping track of all the adventure ideas, places, people, their plans, their relationships, the calendar of events, consequences of the heroes' actions/inactions, the list goes on!

So here's the question: how do you keep massive amounts of campaign information organised and easily accessed?
-blarg
 

Silver Moon

Adventurer
As for a wizarding schook, check out my thread on this Plots & Places message board titled "Kingdoms of the Elves". My last five posts concern a city called Ravensgate, which is home of a rather elaborate and somewhat secretive wizard school. I've included quite a bit of detail about the school, as well as the cirriculum for each of the four undergraduate classes.
 


wolff96

First Post
blargney said:
So here's the question: how do you keep massive amounts of campaign information organised and easily accessed?

I keep a notebook.

Moreover, I keep it right next to my bed -- some of the best ideas I've ever had pop into my skull during the middle of the night. If you don't write them down, you'll forget them by morning.

Just a few notes are usually adequate for an adventure idea.

For interpersonal relationships, I make a diagram. Each person's name in one bubble. Lines between the bubbles are relationships, plots, and motivations.

For place description, I usually jot all my notes down on 4x6 notecards so I can whip them out when needed. I also use the same system for enemies and frequently used creatures.

It means I kill a lot of trees, but the ability to lay my hands on anything I need is vital to my game.

---------------------------------------------

By the way, another idea I had recently was the loss of a familiar. Not death, but actual loss. Whether it was an accident or just a creature scampering off, the quest for a missing familiar could lead them into the edge of the woods... just enough for them to see some of the dangers lurking within.

If you run it right, you'll be able to instill fear of the woods, make them realize how important it is to be careful with your familiar, and even get them into trouble (for further adventures) because such new students are seen near the Forbidden Woods. It's a triple threat! ;)
 

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