New DM: need adventure ideas for kids in Wizarding school

blargney

First Post
wolff96 said:
I keep a notebook. For interpersonal relationships, I make a diagram. For place description, 4x6 notecards. The same system for enemies and frequently used creatures.

Absolute gold, wolff96! Those are exactly all of the issues that were beginning to concern me:)


By the way, another idea I had recently was the loss of a familiar. 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! ;)

I like this one!! When the ghost ferret scares off the familiars, the PCs' own familiars will bolt through a window to the woods! If they play it right, maybe they can get a ranger to Speak with Animals to find out who zapped the ferret!

*draws a line on his relationships diagram*
-blarg:)
 

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blargney

First Post
rln said:
Check this thread for another guy that does sort of the same...

Wow, that was a great link! Thank you!

I'm definitely taking that clique/gang idea. I was trying to come up with Houses, and it just wasn't working in my head. This is simply much better. I can add who I want to whatever clique I want, less fuss, less muss, more dynamic. There will be an official buddy system, randomly chosen to put compatible people together. *wink*

I also want to use the item-card idea. There's more preparation work to be done, but it also gives me more options for describing items, etc. When they identify items, they'll be able to write the properties on the flip-side of the card.

Similarly, I want to make the players transcribe their spells into their spellbooks, text and all. I will give them little booklets for this, and strongly encourage them to add their own verbal components, audio/visual effects, etc. Ideally, they should write their spells in a shorthand that is difficult for other people to read!! They'll then keep track of the number of hours they've spent researching, practising, and studying each spell. This will be used for wild magic effects. Once they've used a spell successfully in an appropriate situation, they will know a spell well enough not to have to study it anymore. (This is like Wulf's Lazy Days skill system, which I'll also be using for zeroth level.)

I have been scouring the Net for games to play, and the best one I've come up with so far is called Mastery. It fits well in a medieval fantasy world!

I have a lot of NPC development to do now. I bought a stack of 4x6 cards and alphabetically indexed separators to keep them organized. I'm intending to base the Rakshasa villain that I'm using on the Kzin from Larry Niven's Known Space series. Using cliques I can manage the relationships web fairly easily. Still, I'm teetering on the brink of buying NPC Essentials...

-blarg
 

(contact)

Explorer
First off, I have nothing really directly userful to add-- I just wanted to say, Blargney, this is a great idea. Especially for new players. In fact, I think this game will work well because they're new. What a memorable first campaign!

As a new DM, just be sure that all the hard work and preperation you put in doesn't become too "precious". Sometimes the riddle/quest/NPC that you've decided is "just the best" will bore your PCs to death, and a lot of new DMs will force their players to go the direction he had plotted for them before-hand, whether they like it or not!

The school environment gives them enough structure to be fairly innocuous with their wanderings, but Harry Potter and crew are always breaking the rules! Let them surprise you, it's really more fun . . .

And second, I wanted to pop in to say thanks to Esiminar for the link to the ESD page-- I finally, *finally*, have a copy of the freaking Glantri book!
 



blargney

First Post
Thanks for the praise and the constructive criticism, (contact)! I'll try not to get too attached to my plans. It'll be hard while they're lonely for lack of backup plans!

-blarg:)
 

blargney

First Post
I've lately read Sepulchrave's story hour, and he really makes me want to have a mostly monotheistic human culture. CleverName's story hour is also an excellent example of this setup.

I like the fact that it engenders cultural conflict between proponents of different pantheons. Religious wars within a single polytheist pantheon don't make nearly as much sense to me as actual inter-religion conflicts.

I'd ideally like to have a religious sytem that takes the best monotheistic elements of Oronthonism with the slew of rich pantheons and cultural heroes/demi-gods from Palaestra. Since I'm currently in Quebec, organized monotheism (*cough* catholicism) can be used to spectacular effect on people that have lived here for generations!

I've been scouring the Internet and Dungeon magazines for DMing tips and adventure ideas... I think I'm starting to get a general idea of how to do this. I'm still trying to figure out how to *start* the game though. Once I've done that, the rest ought to flow fairly easily, I think!

Could someone please give me an example of a good campaign opening, and how you would execute it as a DM? I'd like it to happen as the PCs are on the way to the Academy for the first time, and they witness an event of some import. The event should ideally leave some questions running around in their minds...

-blarg
 

Psychotic Jim

First Post
Quite a lot of great-looking campaign idea material in this thread. The clique idea is particulaly good. How about you base a main clique off of each of the stereotypcial personality of the tradiitional wizard schools. The necromancers could be goths, while your evokers could be the paint-ball playing, aggressive, in-your-face jock stereotype. Illusionists could be your elitist drama club or offbeat artist type. Transmuters could be your overly analytical, geeky, scientist types, ect. And you could also have subcliques in each school- like in the Necromantic school you could have your classic Poe type vs. the new, more punkish, leather-wearing type of goth stereotype. There would be a department for each magic school, and the faculty of each would constantly try to vie for power, primarily financial but also social and political, by gaining the favor of the admininistration and the public. Quite a few war stories or opportunity for intrigue exist there.

Another idea is that in a literature class or something the characters fall asleep while supposed to be reading a book, and the characters get sucked into the book and get to muck around with the events inside it. When I ran a GURPS IOU game back in high school the characters were reading Great Expectations in an English literature class taught by a nasal-voiced, prissy lizard woman. They all ended up falling asleep and somehow being sucked into the book and screwed-up all of the story. They talked Joe into murdering his abusive wife, convinced Pip to start doing crack, burned Miss Havisham, and a host of other ghoulish things. When they figured out how to escape this weird world by finding a GURPS IOU book and reading it, they escaped and went back to the literature class. When they got back, they found that Great Expectations had rewritten itself mentioning their exploits and the book consequently got banned, much to the joy of the characters. Everyone in the group thought it was quite funny because none of us particularly liked that book. Your group could do something similar, whether deffending a book you all like or wrecking a book you all dislike.

You might want to pick up Discworld accessory for GURPS and some of the Discworld novels for ideas on how to run a miagical, humorous university game. In the Discworld humorous fantasy book series, there is a strange university for wizards called Unseen Univesity in Ankh-Morpork that you could mine ideas from. Like how they have a librarian who got transformed into an orangutang in a magical accident but wants to stay that way because he doesn't have to wear pants and can scratch humself in public. Or plot ideas like how a girl might have to struggle (or even sue) the unviserity to get admitteed as a wizard or a boy to become a witch in domains dominated by the opposite gender. GURPS IOU is another good resource if you like lots of humor, being a whole world-book dealing with a univeristy that happens to lie on an interdimensional ley-line nexus. Not D&D accessories, but they might be helpful.
 

Byrons_Ghost

First Post
Don't know if you've seen this product or not, but I bought it last week and I love it. It's heavy on the abjuration magic, of course, but there's a lot of other good stuff too. Other schools are supposed to follow. They've got different houses, a demerit system, the whole shebang. There's some especially good stuff on working in various races of spellcasters. You thought non- spellcasting dwarves were cranky....

St. John's College of Abjuration

Man, as much as I pimp other people's products around here I should start applying for royalties.

As for the religion, I'd just pick a few mythological gods you like and assume that they oppose each other for whatever reason. Mainly you'd just have to change the metaphysics around- there's a limited amount of worshippers in the world, maybe a god's power depends on how many he has? I seem to remember something in either basic D&D or planescape where gods who lost their worshippers could effectively "die".

You mention that you want to start out the story with an event of import- what will be important in your campaign? The foreshadowing sort of depends on what you eventually plan on doing....
 


blargney

First Post
I go away for a couple of days, and the thread turns red!

Psychotic Jim said:
How about you base a main clique off of each of the stereotypcial personality of the tradiitional wizard schools.

I've been trying to come up with a good kernel for the cliques, and this is perfect. I'm going to make sure that there is at least one person in each group that could get along with the PCs. I don't want them to feel like a given school is closed to them just because the groupies are all unappealing!

There would be a department for each magic school, and the faculty of each would constantly try to vie for power, primarily financial but also social and political, by gaining the favor of the admininistration and the public.

So far, I've been thinking of it as a large school, but not huge. I wonder if there mightn't be an advantage to having hordes of unmet students and teachers instead... with enough numbers, the law of averages tends to take care of things on its own. That way I could have actual departments of teachers, whereas I was originally thinking more like Hogwarts - a single teacher IS each department. I really like the idea of faculties vying for student and political popularity, all while reporting to a board of mysterious directors. It's a great way of breathing life into the school.


Another idea is that in a literature class or something the characters fall asleep while supposed to be reading a book, and the characters get sucked into the book and get to muck around with the events inside it.

There's some good potential here. It could be a relatively innocuous way to introduce them to the how-and-why of social and political manipulation, especially if they fall into some old-school medieval romance. I need a story that's suitable for a fantasy medieval setting, and then I'm plunking this baby stright in there!


In the Discworld humorous fantasy book series, there is a strange university for wizards called Unseen Univesity in Ankh-Morpork that you could mine ideas from.

*two hours of Googling later*
I have to read that series!! It looks awesome! I'm making the trip to the bookstore on Wednesday:)


Or plot ideas like how a girl might have to struggle (or even sue) the unviserity to get admitteed as a wizard or a boy to become a witch in domains dominated by the opposite gender.

I think they're both going to play boys.. but if one of them ends up playing a girl, I might just do that. Since both of my players are girls who study science, I'd have to figure out a way of doing this that isn't too depressingly similar to reality...


GURPS IOU is another good resource if you like lots of humor, being a whole world-book dealing with a univeristy that happens to lie on an interdimensional ley-line nexus. Not D&D accessories, but they might be helpful.

That sounds like fun! I'll see if I can dig it up in my local gaming store...

Thanks for the input, everything is going into my little blue notebook. :)
-blargOU
 

blargney

First Post
Byrons_Ghost said:
St. John's College of Abjuration

If it were in Canadian money, I'd probably take a stab at it. As it is, I'm still hesitating to buy NPC Essentials. Thanks for the link, though - I'll bookmark it in case I end up needing it!


As for the religion, I'd just pick a few mythological gods you like and assume that they oppose each other for whatever reason.

There is an appealing simplicity to that arrangement. It would probably cut down on my paperwork as a DM, at the very least.

On the other hand, the reason that I want to have completely different religious systems is to foster believable opposition. Historically, people who lived in polytheistic cultures didn't believe that a single god out of the whole pantheon was the only true god. They would invoke the god who had the purview of whatever task they were undertaking. There is no conflict - the gods are there to answer (or not) the prayers of the people who called them.

Now, if I have a group of fanatical monotheists who run into a group of nature-revering polytheists, or even a different group of fanatical monotheists, I can legitimately have the parties claim that they have The One True Religion, and all sorts of silly human bigotries can ensue. Nobody is as arrogant as someone who believes they are the sole owner of The Truth.

On the other other hand, the priests of different polytheist gods would sometimes do funny things to each other. They'd steal a tripod, go after their women, or kill an animal sacred to the other god - it's actually a lot like frat houses, when you get right down to it. ;)


You mention that you want to start out the story with an event of import- what will be important in your campaign? The foreshadowing sort of depends on what you eventually plan on doing....

That sounds like sound advice to me! I've just come up with a new antagonist: the Mad Hermit. I stole him out of The Keep on the Borderlands, converted him to a druid, gave him a whole bunch of animal companions, and gave him a couple of reasons to be ticked off.

The wizard from the Pet Shoppe in the village is capturing animals in the forest and polymorphing them into pets. The hermit thinks that it is the school that is attacking his forest, despite years of peaceful coexistence.

Secondly, and much more importantly, there is a secret group of necromancers in the school that is creating undead. They are taking animals from the forest as well: some for killing and animating, some for experimentation, and some for feeding their creations. They aren't high enough level to create greater undead, so they will acquire a ghoul and study it in an attempt to create more controlled versions. Unbeknownst to them, the ghoul will kill a spider and spawn it as a ghoul. It escapes to the forest, and kills and spawns other animals, growing somewhat as it does so. At the end of the school year, the ghoul animals will attempt to overrun the school.

So here's the opening scene I've come up with. As the PCs are on the way to school for the first time, they are on a well-travelled trail that skirts the forest near the school. With them are other students, some hired guards, and a couple of adult wizards coming from the same direction. The group makes a lot of noise as they travel, but eventually someone hears a rumbling noise. That is getting louder.

And then the stampede hits.

:)
-blarg
 
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Byrons_Ghost

First Post
Ah, I remember the Mad Hermit. Back when NPCs and monsters were the same thing, and didn't really need any reason to attack the PCs...

Well, the stampede sounds like a good opening. Once the dust clears, you could give the kids a glimpse of the Hermit retreating into the woods- maybe with some sort of old school robe or something to connect the two. Then they'd have incentive to poke around the school, find out who the weird guy with all the animals is.

There's always the old "Sorcerer's Stone" routine as well- the wagon train is transporting something that the Hermit (or someone else) wants. Perhaps and item that the necromancers are going to use to step up their studies, and the Hermit assumes that it's going to strengthen the school's "war" against him.
 

blargney

First Post
Byrons_Ghost said:
Ah, I remember the Mad Hermit. Back when NPCs and monsters were the same thing, and didn't really need any reason to attack the PCs...
*lol*


Once the dust clears, you could give the kids a glimpse of the Hermit retreating into the woods- maybe with some sort of old school robe or something to connect the two.
I was thinking of keeping his coordination of the stampede a secret. I haven't mentioned it yet, but I'm going to have several other animal-related events, so they'll have ample opportunity to notice a pattern. If they ask the right questions, they'll get the right answers.

The two events I've come up with so far are:
- A monstrous spider kept in a cage by a teacher will escape.
- A pen that the students often walk by contains a articularly vicious dog. One day the gate will be left ajar.

If I pull these off properly, they should have a fun effect on the PCs.

Thanks for the input, Byrons_Ghost! Keep it coming! :)
-blarg

ps - Can anyone tell me what a Chaos Mage is?
 

Let me put in another pimp for St. John's College of Abjuration.

Good story ideas, neat mechanics, and a good Wizard Academy setting (with adventure ideas).

It will be an incredible campaign setting when Malladin's Gate finally gets all the Academy Handbooks released.
 

Wicht

Hero
A Nilbog that suddenly takes to hanging around a school of magic might make for an interesting time.

Don't forget to add a hospital wing to the school with a high level cleric that can heal just about anything.
 

blargney

First Post
Olgar Shiverstone said:
Good story ideas, neat mechanics, and a good Wizard Academy setting (with adventure ideas).

Could you give me a brief synopsis of what's in the book? Stuff like how many adventures & what level they are, maybe number of feats, spells, story ideas etc...

I just haven't seen any reviews that say anything, y'know? Would you say that it is specifically applicable to the campaign that I have detailed here?

-blarg
 

blargney

First Post
Wicht said:
A Nilbog that suddenly takes to hanging around a school of magic might make for an interesting time.

Don't forget to add a hospital wing to the school with a high level cleric that can heal just about anything.

Umm.. what's a Nilbog? I can see that it's goblin backwards, but even Google is coming up mystified!

I've got plans for having a hospital wing, but I'm having a really hard time determining what level to make the clerics. Their healing capacities are a fairly important issue. I'm currently leaning towards a level 7-10 head medic with a couple of level 4-6 assistants. I assume by default that clerics of the god of magic makes the most sense, but that's just because I haven't thought of anything that oozes cleverness! ;>

On a similar note, I'm thinking of rule zeroing Raise dead out of existence. I want Resurrection to be a really high-level deal.

The level scale in this world is as follows:
Level 0-1: Children
Level 2: Young apprentices
Level 3: Normal adult
Level 4: Competently trained
Level 5: Well-trained (This is the highest level of education)
Level 6-7: Well-trained with significant experience
Level 8-9: A leader in the area
Level 10-11: Amongst the best in the country
Level 12-13: The best in the country.
Level 14+: Legendary

The monsters in the MM are the equivalent of Level 1 for their race. So the average member of any race that advances by character class will have 1-2 levels of some class. Even kobolds and goblins. Other monsters will have an extra HD or two added, depending on the creature. City guards will be 4th level warriors. Clergy will be 3rd or 4th level adepts and experts. The headmaster of the school will be level 12 or 13, while the other teachers are 7-11.

Low-level magic spells are quite common, while high-level spells are seen very rarely. Magic items are quite simply rare. This is due to economic issues: The crafting cost in gp is the same as in the DMG, but the rarity of money is shifted so that gold in this world is worth as much as platinum in the DMG!

As far as maps go, I'm using the petrified worm maps-of-the-week from WotC for a rival school. The tree-dwelling maps will be a village of wood elves within the region of the school. I'm using the Poisson maps for the coastal town nearest the school. I want to have the school on an island, but I haven't yet found an island map that particularly appeals to me.

That's about it for now,
-blarg!

ps - I've been browsing *hard* for adventures, mini-encounters, maps, or anything else that inspires me. I've noticed that the adventures that appeal to me the most seem to be made for a broad a span of PC levels. The more, the better. I think it's because the adventures that are made for Level-X-and-only-level-X tend to be based on the special ability of a single monster. The adventure EL then becomes the monster's EL by definition. I'd rather have an interesting situation brought about by interpersonal tension than one that's incurred because there's some bad-guy-with-a-specific-CR's butt to kick. *shrug*
 
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Wicht

Hero
A Nilbog is a goblin with a strange magical condition that causes people to act strange and backwards to how they normally act. Its a pretty wierd concept but with a little work can be humorous. Willie Walsh had an adventure in Dungeon way back when that used one (Pearlman's Curiousity Issue #32). Birds flew backwards, worms chased chickens, Grocers gave you money for taking their goods, that sort of thing. Nilbogs of course affect spellcasters and can't be hurt through direct attacks (it makes them stronger to take damage). They are described in Tome of Horrors for 3e.
 

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