D&D General What are you prepping for your next D&D session? (+)

Stormonu

Legend
We just finished our Saltmarsh campaign (I ended it with the Final Enemy), so we’ll be doing one-shots for a bit.

For Halloween, I’m running an adventure in Falcovia, in Ravenloft. The 5th-level characters will escorting a work detail to a nearby farm to harvest the last crop and get it back to the capital before the next zombie moon (3 days away, it takes a day each way to reach the farm).

One of the plot twists I’m setting up is that when the PCs reach the farm, they will then play the workers they escorted, who get embroiled in a plot by the workers already there who are plotting an escape to a supposed safe haven known as Queen’s Vale.

Of course, I’m expecting the whole worker’s plan to go to hell - with a final confrontation between PCs, workers, the werewolf guards of the worker camp and the arrival of the tip of the zombie invasion…

Adventure notes, for the curious
Falkovia

Party is to escort a wagaon and their work crew to the settlement ____ . There they will collect the last of the harvest and return to the city for the oncoming seige in 3 days on the new moon. It will take 1 day to get to the settlement, 1 day of collecting harvest and 1 day to return.


ENCOUNTER 1 - Raiders
6 Bandits with 3 trained wolves, led by a bandit captain and his two shifters. They attempt to draw the PCs away from their charges so they can kidnap the workers and take them back to their lair. There are 10 slaves at the bandit's lair, under the watchful eye of an ex-captain of the guard.

ENCOUNTER 2 - Abandoned Wagon
An abandoned vardo on the side of the road. One dead horse lies nearby, half-gnawed to bone. The other horse is still tethered to the wagon and is a zombie. A body lies face down nearby, its face is missing (not torn off or mutilated, simply blank). The vardo has been ransacked; if the inside is investigated, there is a locked chest inside with a potion of healing, a bandana of luck and the knight card from a tarokka deck (turns into a knight if thrown down on the ground). Struck into the center of the vardo is a blood-stained silver long sword. The vardo is covered and provides better protection from attack, but is much heavier - it must either be drawn by the zombie horse or a team of 5 men of STR 12 or better.

If the party investigates the area, each PC makes a Perception check. The PC that rolls lowest (and below 15) is ambushed by a strahd zombie. One round later, a line of zombies appears at the forest's edge, but does not venture out into the light. If antagonized, one per PC rushes from the forest to fight. After three rounds, a hunting horn sounds and the remaineder turn and shamble back into the woods.

ENCOUNTER 3 - The Homestead
The party nears a burned out homestead. Only a few wooden beams and the stone chimney remains. There is a strong smell of bacon in the air, and a thin wisp of smoke comes from the chimney. As the party nears, they hear faint, muffled cries of a baby or child. Hidden behind the chimney is the wife. In the nearby woods is the father, a survivor armed with a wood axe. Hidden under the floorboards is the cellar, where the family stays and the couple's young child stays. There are also hand-crafted crates stored here to gather the harvest hidden nearby.

A passive Perception DC 15 (or searching) reveals an odd blue shade to the nearby green underbrush. Examination reveals it is a bean farm (String beans, lima beans, peas) with enough that it would take a work force of 20 pickers 4 hours to gather.

Characters have to decide to leave the family behind, take them with them as workers, and whether or not to take the child (an extra mouth too young to work).

After the party deals with the family, a pack of starving wolves, led by a dire wolf attack.

If the party decides to pick the harvest, a Hill giant zombie, four ghouls and a ghast attack the workforce, looking to destroy the harvest and kill the pickers.

ENCOUNTER 4 - The Crossing
The party arrives at the bridge an hour away from the settlement. The stone bridge is out, with the supports still in place, and a littering of large rocks nearby (looks like the bridge was deliberately collapses by a rear-guard action). Well-worn wagon tracks lead down the slope to the right of the bridge, and a muddy expanse on the far side, littered with broken wagon parts shows evidence that crossing attempts (not all of which were successful) occur here.

The party must secure the wagon to float it across, deciding who will be aboard and who will swim/wade across. It takes five successful DC 15 Strength checks to get the wagon across. Three failures means the wagon is swept against the rocks and crushed. Any failures indicate that either someone aboard the wagon or a box of supplies is damaged/lost.

Swimmers must make five DC 12 Athletics check to swim/wade across. Three failures indicate that the swimmer is swept away and dashed against rocks, taking 3d6 damage.

Hidden amid the wreckage on the far side is a pack of ghouls, waiting to ambush those who make it across. There are also zombies on the near side if the party arrives at night, who attack as the party investigates the area or as they start their crossing.

ENCOUNTER 5 - The Arrival
The party arrives at the settlement. The workers are tired, hungry and have been worked to exhaustion by the Sergeant-at-arms and his liuetenants, who appear well-fed. In truth, the Sergeant is a werewolf and his lieutenants are shifters under his thrall. He invites the characters to dinner, attempting to turn them to his cause. He intends to use the workers to load the harvest, then abandon them for the return back to the capital. He has been keeping two ghoul horses in the barn to pull the wagon, and will lead the party here and turn on them if they don't choose to go along with his plan.

ENCOUNTER 6 - The Dream
The party awakes the next morning to a scream. Running outside, they see the workers standing around, staring into the distance. A purplish-black wall surrounds the edge of the settlement, and as the morning fog clears it is apparent that the wall is shoulder-to-shoulder zombies, their hellish eyes glowing yellow as they stare at the living within the settlement. With a battlecry, one of the workers rushes forward, hoe in hand and plants it directly into the head of one of his coworkers. As the stunned worker falls, the entire wall of zombies takes a single step inward. A sudden, supernatural realization washes over all within - only a lone survivor will escape and their only chance is to slay everyone else. Full PVP engages, with the zombies taking one step closer each round. Slain PCs rise as zombies the next round (HP restored to full, can't use abilities that require concentration, when reduced to 0 hp again make a Constitution save DC 11/damage taken or destroyed).

When one PC is left alive or the first zombie PC is destroyed, the characters awaken to find it was a dream.

ENCOUNTER 7 - The Others
Switch to the Survivors. The foreman of the workers has put together a plan to escape the work camp and flee Paradise Valley, a place devoid of zombies and with laden orchards and gardens. The PC survivors are enlisted to aid implementing (or interfering) with the plan to escape.

Part I - the Map
Group one must sneak into the Sergeant's office and steal an old map of Falkovia, which shows the location of Paradise Valley. However, the Sergeant keeps his "favorite" zombie in the library, his sister, who will attack if disturbed, and who the Sergeant will severly punish if she is harmed.

Part II - the Keys
Group two must steal the keys to the main gate from the main lieutenant, make copies of them and forge a spare set in the blacksmith's camp. The keys must then be returned without being noticed.

Part III - the distraction
Group three must set fire to the fields in three different areas. They must 1) get brandy from Sergeant's store, steal matches from one of the guards (who smokes) and avoid the patrols to set up the fire bombs and set them to go off simultaneously via signal.

ENCOUNTER 8 - A brush with the horde
As the Survivors get outside the settlement, they find themselves amid the incoming zombie horde. The survivors must sneak, combat or otherwise get past three waves of zombies, and a subcommander who is a former Falkovian legionaire.

ENCOUNTER 9 - Against Authority
The survivors reconvene only to face the Sergeant and his lieutenants, who reveal themselves as werewolves. Just as the slaughter is about to begin, the party's PCs arrive to engage the sergeant. Deadly encounter, all gloves are off.

ENCOUNTER 10 - The Horde
The remaining survivors find the tunnel that leads to Paradise Valley, however, zombies surge from the underground entrance. The survivors are ambushed by ghouls and driven towards the horde. As they get near, they discover a disguised side tunnel across the river-like horde. They must battle their way through the zombie horde to the far side, scale the cliffs (with undead on their heels) and make it to the tunnel, where they find an ancient welcome carved in the doorway that welcomes to the passage to Paradise Valley - and to "please close the door behind you". Once inside, they must seal it shut.

ENCOUNTER 11 - The Passage to Paradise Valley
The survivors must navigate the dark passages (unlit, but the proper path is laced with candles to indicate the path). Eventually, they come to a vast chasm with a single rickety bridge across. They must cross the wind-swept chasm to reach the far side, which consists of a huge carved stone archway and stone doors. The doors are enscribed with a cacophany of names and are fakes, but no other exit is visible. However, there is a pool to one side, lit by a strange light from within. If characters swim to the underwater source, they find it is a long tunnel that leads to sunlight, but within its flooded depths are several drowned bodies. Characters must make five successful Athletic/Constitution checks to swim to the far side. The bodies are drowned ones, but they have been tied to the walls, and only attack to grab a character if they fail at one of the Athletic checks.

ENCOUNTER 12 - Paradise Valley
The characters reach Paradise Valley, where they find a green land with fruit-laden orchards and well-tended gardens. There are houses, but they are abandoned. No one seems to be here, but there are no zombies - the characters have made it!
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
I'm being lazy, but I need to prep for a fight between the PCs and a couple of flameskulls and death's heads in a small, bounded area which is almost entirely shrouded in magical darkness.
 

Running the final chapter of Rime of the Frostmaiden - (MINOR SPOILER) -


and the players have decided to try to assassinate an arcanoloth. So I think I'm going to think out a series of skill checks necessary for a party to get surprise on an enemy who knows they're here and doesn't have a reason to trust them.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Current location: a crappy little town in the middle of nowhere.
Current mission: putting the finishing touches on some scarecrows made of discarded laundry and agricultural waste, in preparation for the animation ritual to occur under the upcoming new moon.

Goal: Hopefully, these scarecrows will prove to be decent players, so I can get a game going.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This week: basically nothing: as the party have just finished a mission and are heading to town the coming session will almost certainly be nothing but treasury division, bookkeeping, training, and maybe item swapping/shopping.

The shopping piece will force the one bit of prep I'll have to do: use a spreadsheet to generate a short randomized list of what magic items are currently on the market in town. As doing this takes me maybe 30 seconds tops, I do it on the fly as and when requested rather than ahead of time.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I am not running D&D at the moment, but I play...

So I am preparing battle tactics! I have realized that the flanking rule means that my rogue and the party paladin can do a weird kind of dance of death around a target, where we maximize getting advantage from flanking, and her ability to impose disadvantage with her protection fighting style.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I dream about prepping a session. My old table went their separate ways at the beginning of covid when our campaign ended, and I‘ve wanted to try and start something new but I don’t want to be online and I don’t want to open my house to strangers just yet (SC being on the worse end of vaccinations/infections).

So I sit and ponder what it would be like….
 

The city has been receiving creepy telegraph messages, as if the lines themselves were haunted. The party, as I expected, discovered that there was a succubus who had learned to turn into electricity while ethereal, which lets her travel down telegraph lines. And they, as I expected, gathered information to locate an old fort in the desert that has a telegraph station, which fits the profile of where the succubus would hide.

What I didn't expect was that the party would want to go to a local inventor's workshop to see if she had the materials to build a giant blessed leyden jar, with which they hope to trap the succubus. Leyden jar - Wikipedia

So now I need to think of an interesting way to involve that in the combat against the succubus.

Plus, since they already did a pretty good job thwomping her in their first encounter with the succubus, I need to come up with some interesting minions to defend her, to make their fight more interesting. Maybe just some charmed people who don't realize that one of the people working at their telegraph station is a shapeshifting demon.
 

JohnF

Adventurer
I just did a 5e Session 0 - descriptive only - with five at-risk young people (4 girls, 1 boy) in the middle school where I coach teachers. Only one student has ever played D&D before.

I presented 5e races and classes reskinned to fit their Latin American and Chinese roots (e.g. duende instead of gnomes/dwarves, guajojo folk in place of aarakocra, huli jing replacing elves, sort of, etc.), and I asked them to describe the adventures that they would like to have.

So, I'll be prepping a few villages in a fantasy Latin American/Chinese area where the PCs - who all decided to all be reformed ne'er-do-wells - will, hopefully, be the local heroes of the region. Can't be too scary - by request - but they want tough challenges. So, I've got a little work to do this weekend, but it's really, really worth it!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I just did a 5e Session 0 - descriptive only - with five at-risk young people (4 girls, 1 boy) in the middle school where I coach teachers. Only one student has ever played D&D before.

I presented 5e races and classes reskinned to fit their Latin American and Chinese roots (e.g. duende instead of gnomes/dwarves, guajojo folk in place of aarakocra, huli jing replacing elves, sort of, etc.), and I asked them to describe the adventures that they would like to have.

So, I'll be prepping a few villages in a fantasy Latin American/Chinese area where the PCs - who all decided to all be reformed ne'er-do-wells - will, hopefully, be the local heroes of the region. Can't be too scary - by request - but they want tough challenges. So, I've got a little work to do this weekend, but it's really, really worth it!

That is fantastic! As a Latino kid who came up in some rough environments through middle school and for whom D&D was an escape and an alternative to risky behavior, you don't know how much this warms my heart.
 

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