D&D 5E Questions on how to run a Lycanthropy city adventure

jeckyllgeek

First Post
I have been running my campaign for a few sessions and the players have decided to go into a city that unbeknownst to them has a wererat problem. The players are 3rd level and I have been generous enough to give them two +1 weapons. Any tipis on running this adventure, especially since I am kind of new to city based adventures.
 

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Koren

Explorer
Civilization has different rules than the wilderness, play those up. In a city with a functioning government, players shouldn't be able to go around breaking into buildings, fighting to the death in the streets, etc. without having the town guard come down on them. In some cities, simply drawing a bladed weapon should be enough to get them arrested/fined. If they act like murderhobos, expect the local lord/magistrate to stick them in a dark dungeon cell for a very long time.

Any "adventuring" done should be down in the sewers, or deep in the city slums, where the watch may fear to tread.

On the other hand, if the wererat problem is one the city leaders are aware of, and the watch has not been capable of suppressing, then maybe the PCs get "deputized" or given special authorization to "act on the city's behalf" to exterminate the wererats. Bringing an awareness of the wererats to the powers-that-be may even end up being a big part of the challenge of the adventure. Or with a plot twist, one or more leaders of the city have been infected themselves and if the PCs are blabbing about it to the wrong people, may feel the party needs to be silenced, or locked away in that dark dungeon cell where they can't tell anyone else.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
a part of a greyhawk campaign I was involved in featured a city with an extensive underground where a large group of were rats and a cunning goblin tribe were fighting it out. It was... pretty intense.

We played one group vs the other and managed to escape below (we couldn't return to the surface as we were wanted men). Unfortunately, the under-under city was filled with ghouls...
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I have been running my campaign for a few sessions and the players have decided to go into a city that unbeknownst to them has a wererat problem. The players are 3rd level and I have been generous enough to give them two +1 weapons. Any tipis on running this adventure, especially since I am kind of new to city based adventures.

There should be a rash of thefts and back alley murders plaguing the city. Some of these may be simply "random acts of evil," but some of them should have a purpose. Why are the wererats growing their numbers at this time and what are their aims?

Consider the environmental impact that wererats have. If the wererats are carrying disease, maybe there's a plague epidemic or a quarantined district. Maybe the sewers swarm with rats/dire rats and the Ratcatcher's Guild has more work than it knows what to do with. Maybe an attempt to poison the sewers has tainted the water supply in the slums?

Consider their points of egress/ingress in their underworld lair. Cellars, catacombs, vaults, aqueducts... discovering and sealing these points of egress/ingress can help the PCs define the field of battle.

I'm a sly, avaricious lycanthrope who can only be hurt by magical or silver weapons. Heh! I know! Let's gank whoever makes/sells those weapons in the city. Better yet, let's incriminate someone else for ganking them. Or even better still, let's blackmail them or leverage politicians to require bladed weapons to be peace-bonded or silver/magic weapons to be registered.

They operate like a thieves' guild that is aggressively (and selectively) recruiting. Other criminal organizations may feel threatened and conduct their own investigation into the wererat threat. Maybe rogue PCs can go undercover...if he/she can first survive "The Rat King's Trials".

Lastly, they're Neutral Evil and the MM says that wererats who are accidentally cursed or break free of the "guild" are hunted down. Sounds like a great opportunity for a selfish wererat exile NPC who could become their guide through the sewers below...but whether or not they trust him is another matter.
 

Cyan Wisp

Explorer
I used to dread DMing city adventures because I thought I needed to have every shop and street mapped out and keyed, like a dungeon. Not so. Things tend to be more event-based, or very specific location based. Having played from 1st to 15th level in Shackled City, I kind of like the city-based genre.

There are free adventures out there that you could skim through to get a general feeling, or to "borrow" the city. Death in Freeport

Here are some ideas (which may not be useful, but just riffing here.)
  • It would be useful for the party to have a single reliable contact in the city who can give them missions, or deal with mundane stuff for them (like paperwork). Someone like a friendly sergeant of the watch, or a councilor or even a priest or guild merchant leader.
  • If the wererats are organised into a gang, there may be clues as to their identity based on their crimes.
  • News hits the streets (or maybe the party hears from a smith) that smiths are being targetted - murdered or threatened. The ones that remain operating won't talk, though one may squeal (and later be found murdered) about how they were threatened with violence if they supplied silvered weapons to the public. They were also asked for names of buyers.
  • Burglaries around the city spike, the target seems to be silverware and expensive weaponry. Some victims may coincide with smithy customers who ordered silvered weapons.
  • {Cheekily} A cheese shop was the recent target of a robbery by men in rat "masks".
  • Rat swarms are swelling from the sewers, attacking children in the street. Giant rats have been spotted creeping into houses and making off with babies.
  • Kidnappings of young, strong men have occurred. These are actually destined to be new recruits. The body of a reluctant recruit is found blocking a sewer grate. His body is riddled with silver arrows.
 

indemnity

First Post
  • Have a reference city map, or at least sketch something of a city on a grid with some notable locations. Knowing relative distances will keep the adventure off rails
  • Start with a friendly NPC guide until the players know the lay of the city. Get some rumours started. It skips the tedious step of players guessing what random to do next
  • Prepare generic NPCs in case your players go somewhere unexpected. (Umm... its an elf... called... Melf!)
  • Make it feel like the world is ending for your players. Steal their stuff, overcharge for rooms, make night or day too dangerous to show their faces, give out a disease, burn their rooms when sleeping, make them run a store, get bullied by the guards, murder a friendly NPC, run a chase challenge (DMG p252)
 

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