How To DM: Fighting on the Fly

This week’s How-To post is by my good friend yourdorkmaterials

So. You’ve meticulously planned your big boss fight, carefully balanced your CR’s and come up with cool, integral roles tailored beautifully for each player. It’s going to be epic! Aaaaannnd…two players can’t show. Or the wizard goes down early. Or what was supposed to be a running battle turns into a stubborn slug-fest to the death. 

We’ve all had this happen, and – for me – it’s one of the most challenging aspects of DMing to deal with. 

So let’s talk about tips on how to adjust our combat encounters on the fly in this week’s How To DM!

Manage the Damage: I use the average damage provided in the stat blocks for big fights. It dramatically speeds up combat and lets me manage how much damage I’m putting out each round (especially critical hit damage.)

Build a Weak Wave: Build a wave of weaker enemies to shave off some of those Moon Druid/Bear Barbarian hit points. Those players tend to be overly confident (for good reason) and tend to be less worried about combat initially. I might plan on a weak wave reducing their HP by 30%. Once they reach that total, you can always have them “fail a morale check” and retreat. Need some more damage? Bring them in as reinforcements or have them rally.

PCs Don’t Have to Know the Roll: I roll everything openly at my table. I always hated it when I figured out the DM was letting up to save us. They don’t have to know what those extra rolls are for; and they make players more nervous as the combat wears on. For example, if they’re fighting something that has a chance to give them a disease, I make those saves for them without telling them specifically what they’re for. Players tend to get really nervous, really quick when they’re making “mystery saves”. I find it makes them invest more in the fight.

Take ‘Em Alive: Let enemies grapple. If you’re using optional combat rules from the DMD (which I do), let your enemies trip them, shove them prone, or disarm them. This gives you “attacks” to use that don’t necessarily cause damage. I always bring this up in Session 0 and ultimately allow the players to decide which optional rules they want to include, but – anything they can do, their enemies can do!

Give Them Their Clues: If your Big Bad Evils fly, maybe foreshadow that a bit. One time, I had a flying enemy swoop in, fail a grapple check, and fly off before the player really knew what was happening. He was more than a little freaked out. If they need to use fire to stop the enemy from regenerating, find a way to give subtle hints about that weakness (and then make sure they have a way of using that information in case the wizards/sorcerers are down or absent).

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

Miniature Painting Spotlight: Finally!

So, dear readers, I finally got some painting done. Of course, some of that painting was done today, thus my late post.

This isn’t going to be a long post, but it will have some cool things I’ve been working on.

First, another dear restoration project.

Finally done!

Next is a Wizard of Thay that I am working on for my Tuesday game (Shhhh… don’t tell them!)

Note that both of these miniatures are, in fact, metal and end up looking a tad different than the plastic or resin miniatures.

Speaking of, here’s the tiefling that I’ve been working on.

As you can see, I have the coat pretty much done. I wanted to the inside of his lapels a different color, gold or copper. Not sure yet.

Next week I will be featuring a couple of miniatures painted by a friend of mine. I don’t make any claims about being an expert painter, although I take pride in my work and think I do a fairly good job. After all, I have had a few people have me do commissions for them. But this guy? This guy makes my work look like garbage! Not going to lie, I’m kind of jealous and have asked him to teach me his ways. Once I have learned them, I will, in turn, teach you all that I have. Sharing is caring and all that.

Until next time, dear readers, keep painting and keep playing!

Feel free to link a picture of your miniature that you’ve been working on in the comments!

Miniature Painting Spotlight: 10/25/2020

Hello, dear readers. Today’s miniature painting spotlight is brought to you by “Unfinished Works”. Unfinished works, were all I’ve done is prime some stuff and paint little else.

In all seriousness I started painting again, but realized a lot of what I needed to paint needed priming first. Remember when I told you that Dungeons & Dragons miniatures aren’t the only thing I paint? Well guess what, I’ve got some inclusions there.

First in our list is Xanathar. I’ve been trying to get this stupid miniature primed for some time now. Unfortunately, I keep finding places where I’ve missed priming. But on a larger mini, I’m not totally surprised about this. I’ll get him all primed before I truly start on him. The biggest problem, as I’ve told you before, is having to paint the inside of his mouth before I could glue on his lips and teeth. Well, I got that done and glued on his lips and teeth. Additionally, I have painted and assembled the base to his miniature.

I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.

Here he is, just sitting on top of his stand:

As you may be able to tell, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, I used liquid green stuff to fill in the gaps around his lips. It’s a little messy, but I got the spots filled in.

Next on our list is one of my restoration projects. You may remember her.

Well, I had a harder time than I had previously thought I would in finding the specific type of green that matches her cloak. It took me two tries but I did get it and I’ve started to restore the back where it was particularly chipped. The staff is already looking very good.

Ashley of our D&D miniatures, is a tiefling warlock that I began. Mostly, I painted his chest hands and tail. He is, of course, largely unfinished, but that won’t last the week.

Lastly, is my attempt at painting my battle tech miniatures of course, they are all plastic and need primer. That’s perfectly fine, but there are a lot of nooks, crannies, and crevices. they send it up being a much more daunting task than I expected, and will likely be using spray primer next time. Priming these things by hand has become the bane of my existence. Thankfully, I’m doing my learning on the two miniatures that came with the starter set. They will likely just augment my normal neck forces so it’s not too big of a deal. That said, I sat next to it and unpainted/primed miniature so that you can see the difference between prime and unprimed in the greys.

If you can’t tell, The one on the left is the one that has been primed. You may be able to notice all the crevices that are still the same color as the one on the right. Part of the problem, was that I didn’t follow my own advice. I forgot to wash the mini before I painted. It’s an important step, but even people who have an idea of what they’re doing can screw up and skip a step once in awhile.

Well, that’s what I got this week. I know you may have wished for more, but so did I. Next week I should have the tiefling done, and my restoration projects completed.

Until next time, dear readers.

How to DM: Creating Memorable Villains

What do you think of when you hear names like, Cruella DeVille, Melificent, Jafar, Scar (other than I can only seem to think of things Disney rolled out…)? They are memorable villains! Who can forget how awesome that fight between Prince Philip and Melificent was when she turned into a dragon? Who can forget the epic fight between an all-powerful sorcerer and a simple rogue? Who, in their right mind, can forget the voice of Jeremy Iron as Scar, his claws in that of Mufasa, leaning in and saying “Long live the king…” while throwing Mufasa to his death?!

What was it about these horrible people that made them so memorable? They had depth and motive. Melificent was evil, but wronged for not being invited to the party for baby Aurora. Jafar was eager to take power over the sultan and take the throne for himself. Scar was similarly motivated, but desired the rulership of the Pridelands to be the ultimate revenge for his brother taking what he believed to be his birthright.

So, how do you build these villains?

Remember how we were building the adventure? Let’s go back there. Let’s say that our adventure is exploring a dungeon with a long buried treasure. Of course there’s going to be plenty of monster encounters, traps, puzzles, etc…You’re an expert now in building encounters, right? Right! But what’s guarding the final treasure room?

This encounter is what is commonly referred to as a BBEG: Big Bad Evil Guy. Of course it doesn’t have to be a guy, but this is the term generally used. The BBEG is the “final boss” of the adventure. In our adventure, depending on the level of the party, it could be as simple as a mummy, or maybe as dangerous as a lich or demilich! The sky’s the limit on this.

One of my favorite movies is The Incredibles. The final villain in the first movie is absolutely awesome, if you think about it. It’s a kid who felt wronged and hurt, who turned that hurt into anger and revenge. His whole goal was to eliminate Mr. Incredible. Also, if you look at it, Mr. Incredible was responsible for creating Syndrome!

Let’s dissect this further. Syndrome obviously had an intimate relationship with Mirage, who turned on him when Mr. Incredible threatened to kill her during his capture. This shows the ruthlessness of Syndrome even in his personal relationships when it comes to his revenge plans. Further, you can see how Syndrome, although he makes the occasional blunder (like making the robot AI too smart), he shows himself to be an insanely smart villain. He planned and executed the death of several of the super heroes. He lured Mr. Incredible to his capture. His technology sales created a mass fortune, enough that he purchased an island, built a huge and elaborate base, and had a personal army/security force at his beck and call.

Then there are his flaws: he believed his plan unstoppable. He monologues enough to nearly be defeated by Mr. Incredible. His arrogance at his belief that his technology was enough to do what superheroes could do. These are all flaws, and some of them fatal.

There’s another school of thought on villains. That of the good guy who is following a path because he truly believes what he is doing is right. I’m not talking about that evil witch “Professor” Umbridge of the Harry Potter universe. She was absolute evil incarnate, and frankly, worse of a villain than that of Voldemort. Fight me if you think I’m wrong. No, I’m talking about those antagonists that believe whose goals are directly opposed to that of the protagonist, but who, themselves, are not “bad guys.” These are awesome and memorable antagonists, because it combines the need to ensure the party’s goals, with the moral and ethical dilemma of defeating a good person. Why are their goals different? Who knows. Maybe it’s a Boromir situation, in which they are taunted by the magical artifact.

Sometimes, and this is a great adventure and even campaign plot, the party are inadvertently the bad guys! One of my favorite episodes of Puffin Forrest involves the party working for a mysterious person, who has tasked them with finding some magic crystals. The only problem? This figure was the BBEG, and the party was inadvertantly putting together his ability to rise to power again!

Then there is this story (beware, wall of text):

I know it’s a little blurry, but hopefully you get the idea. Sometimes the BBEG can be the best good guy.

Personally, I love these kinds of BBEG. The ones you think, “Hmm, I think he has a point…”

When I play video games, especially the ones like Mass Effect or Fable, or even the Fallout series, when I play an evil character, they always have a single virtue (conversely my good characters have a flaw; for example, my good character had a wife in every town, where my evil character was faithful to his wife: Lady Grey). This helps give more depth to the villain.

The other thing I give my villains is a memorable “voice.” Maybe it’s an accent or way of speaking when I, as the DM, speak for him. Maybe he’s got the accent of a Bond Villain. Maybe he’s more “Dr. Evil.” Whatever the case, make your villain’s dialogue unique.

One Villain, the Emperor from my (in)famous pirate campaign was voiced by the player who played him. Beforehand, however, we discussed his cadence, his speech pattern, all of these things when he unmasked himself as the primary villain of the campaign (sort of). Great villain.

So, go out, make a villain, and make him/her awesome!

Until next time, dear readers!

Sunday Game: Rime of the Frost Maiden; Finding Sephek

The ranger, realizing that the creature in the water was a plesiosaurus, quaffed one of his potions of animal friendship and began speaking with it. It responded with a polite “Hello!”

After a short discussion, the party found that this talking plesiosaur was ensorcelled to become sentient by a druid who’s instructions were to terrorize the people of Bremen or else become a dumb creature once again. After some cajoling and convincing, the party managed to convince him that the effect of the spell was permanent and that he did not have to prey on the people of Bremen.

Finding that he did not have a name, the party decided to name him Bob, which he decided was a great name, not having had one before.

Bob towed them back towards Bremen and was asked to wait so they could introduce him to a new friend. Getting Tali, the half-elf whom the journal was for, the party introduced them, much to Tali’s pleasure.

Heading back to the inn, the party found that Sephek asked about them and checked out with the rest of the merchants he travelled with. The ranger attempted to track him, but lost the tracks on the edge of town.

Deciding to rest, the party stayed overnight, and left the next day, heading to Targos and hoping to find evidence of Sephek’s whereabouts.

Arriving in Targos, the party quickly located Torga and her retinue. They found that she and her crew were leaving in the morning.

To kill time, the party decided to partake in a local festival called Liar’s Night. The contest was one of a pumpkin carving contest, of which the monk won with a traditional jack-o’-lantern design. The ensuing chaos over the loss of a ring garnered everyone with a ring that, when worn, imbues the weather with a translucent mask in the design of their pumpkins.

The festivities concluded, the party decided to check out Torga and found that she was a most unsavory character, who engaged in extortion, blackmail, protect rackets, and even murder for hire. The party decided that she, too, should meet her end, and therefore would eliminate all of her retinue.

Setting up an ambush at the fork in the road, a blizzard fell upon the area. The dogsled teams of Torga came into view, led by Sephek himself! The party let loose with a heavy barrage of attacks.

The battle was hard fought, with the balance of advantage teetering one way then the next. After the fall of Torga, Sephek too was soon killed. The remaining four guards followed soon after.

After looting the bodies and disposing of the same, the party took the sleds and dogs, and headed towards Brynn Shander, selling them and splitting the loot.

Deciding not to stay long, the party set their sights onto Caer Dineval, the town on the way to Caer Konig, where they had a search for a missing husband.

Will they find him? What will happen along the way?

Join us next Monday, dear readers, to find out!

Tuesday Game: The Haunt (Part 1)

So, this week, to celebrate “Spooktober,” I decided to run one of my favorite horror-themed adventures, and set this adventure on their path back to Waterdeep.

October is a spook-tacular month in which to run spooky adventures. The brave and dedicated adventurers that investigate the strange and messed up stories are members of a rag-tag group of a B-List group known as “Those Guys.” This is their story.

DUHN DUHN!!!

The heroes began by approaching the house, seeing through the darkened windows a pair of crystal blue eyes. No matter what they tried, the doors to the house would not so much as budge. Deciding to go around back, the door opened, seemingly of its own accord.

Entering the large mansion, party found in the entryway two statues, like that of grotesque demons. Looking around and seeing no sign of what would cause those blue eyes, the party artificer advanced further into the mansion. Once he passed the two statues, they animated and attacked!

The battle did not last long, and the party triumphed easily over the two gargoyles.

Advancing upwards to a landing, the party managed to find a stairwell going up and down, but contained a portcullis blocking the stairs. Tries they might, the parties unable to open it. The party did, however, find a couch with a strange doll laying on it. The party warlock / cleric picked up the doll and tied it to her sentient glass jar of flying mothballs. The artificer found a small statuette with a raised arm of a Griffin.

Pulling down the arm, the party heard a sound as if two doors were opening or shutting. Hearing that it came from the large tea room off of the entryway where they were, the party went down the short stairs onward, seeing an open part of the wall to their right, and another room up a short set of steps to their left.

Deciding to go into the room to the door that was opening and shutting, the party decided to go left towards the door, leaving the bloodhunter by the statue. The artificer crossed to the door when…

CRASH!!!!

…the chandellier above crashed into the middle of the room!

The party waited only a minute before heading onward, before the cleric/warlock realized that the doll was no longer tied to her jar.

That…was not good.

The party called for the bloodhunter to pull the lever, and they observed that the door ahead closed, but they heard two doors move. Deciding that the monk would go in, the monk went inwards, whereas the party stayed outside and had them observe the goings on in the short hall beyond what was likely a secret room. The monk entered and the door behind him was shut as a passage in front of him opened!

The monk stepped through and after doing so, the party, sans the bloodhunter, entered the hallway beyond the secret door, so the party could make their way through. After trying ways to wedge the door and finding none, the party prepared to have the bloodhunter pull the lever, cutting him off from the party and joining them with the monk, who found himself in a large room with a set of double doors to the southeast, and a single door to the south.

The bloodhunter, alone with his thoughts, was attacked, the sound of small footsteps and a girlish giggle predicating it!

The doll, with a knife in hand and claws extended in the other, flew from the ceiling and stabbed and clawed at the bloodhunter, who reeled in pain. The battle lasted only a moment, before the evil doll had disappeared without a trace into the shadows, the sound of giggles and footsteps fading away, as he yelled for the party to come to his aid.

Leaving the cleric/warlock as a companion, the remaining party entered into the room with the monk, who led them to the single door, finding a small wizard’s study. The brittle and ancient remains left only a single scroll tube (containing a spell scroll of invisibility), and a page out of a journal, detailing the descent into madness of the General after a new advisor, Gertrude, had come into the picture.

After seeing that there was nothing left to find, the party decided on heading into the double doors…

What happens next? Join us later for part 2!

Short Announcement

So here’s the deal: I have Multiple Sclerosis. Today has been…challenging and I haven’t been able to finish my posts. Yeah, I know, but I’m symptomatic as all can be, and my pain levels are through the roof.

I am sorry that I couldn’t get content out. I should be good by Monday.

I appreciate your understanding in this time.

Until tomorrow dear readers.

DM How To: Campaign Building

Last week we talked about plot hooks. Remember that post. It becomes important.

Start with building a home base. Usually it’s best to make this a small to medium village where you can flush out a number of NPCs and build out an area from there. All the characters should have a reason for being here. Maybe they are from the area and are starting their adventuring career from here. Maybe they are new adventurers who happen to be passing through. No matter the case, the starting area should have some basic things: and in where they can stay or some other similar place, a general good store where they can purchase adventuring supplies (they don’t have to be able to get everything there necessarily, they just have to be able to get the basics at the least), and usually a blacksmith where they can purchase weapons and/or armor.Now, this is the most common way of doing this, but there’s no reason why you can’t start them in a large metropolis, or a larger town. Additionally, you could start them off as travelers on the road in the middle of a wilderness, or in some harsher environment, like a desert or tundra and their first goal is to find civilization and survive. Just remember, that their home base, wherever it may be, is going to be the basis for where the party will return in between adventures.

Next you want to focus on building your adventures while seating in campaign events. Maybe your campaign is focused on the return of an ancient and powerful dragon. Your first adventure may only have some kind of reference to said dragon or its return. Maybe it’s a kobold cult dedicated to this dragon. Maybe they simply find a shrine or inscription vaguely relating to the return of this dragon. Whatever the case may be, you start seeding in campaign events or minor plot points early, and continue to do so in greater and more blatant numbers as your campaign progresses.

As we talk about campaign progression, is worth noting that many campaigns tend to fizzle out around the tier 3 mark, between 11th and 16th level. Not many campaigns go into the higher levels. Plan your campaigns based on how far and what level you want your adventures to be when the campaign ends. Do you want your campaign to take them all the way to 20th level? This is a daunting task but is very doable. It just takes careful planning.It is always helpful, just like doing so for adventures, to do a rough flow chart or outline for the general direction you want the the campaign to go. Again, don’t forget to plant seeds for your plot as it is being revealed.Next, create a local region. After you have created the home base, you want a local region where, either them majority of the campaign, or the entire campaign, take place. Doing a bit of cartography helps in this. Maybe there is a large forest where the elf kingdom lay. Maybe there is a mountain range where, in our earlier example, the ancient dragon is supposed to be summoned from. Whatever You choose, make sure that you flush it out just enough to give it some structure. If you know exactly what adventures the party will encounter, as well as the level progression you expect, either by milestone leveling or by experience points (this is where doing a flowchart and/or an outline really helps), You can divide the areas out by level. Just remember, players make the decisions for the characters. This is where you’re amazing plot hooks come in, drawing them into the story and keeping them on track within the areas for their own levels. Of course, we don’t want to railroad our players. Maybe we want to give options to where certain adventures can take place. This is why we flesh out the region just enough to give it some structure, but leave us with some flexibility as to where certain events can take place.

Campaign Events

The Dungeon Master guide, as it should, has a lot of good ideas for major campaign events. They refer to them as world – shaking events. It is a good idea to check out that section of chapter one. One of their major recommendations is to have three good campaign shaking events. I highly recommend that you read that section. It should be noted that the campaign does not have to be just about the story you have crafted. Character backgrounds, when provided, offer great opportunities for character development as well as campaign development. Maybe the party has decided they don’t have the strength or power to defeat the big bad evil guy (BBEG). Using the characters backgrounds you can craft adventures that help them gain the power, or maybe find legendary weapons or artifacts, that will help them in defeating the BBEG. Maybe The characters themselves just gain a bit of depth during these adventures. Having your players create a good structure for their backgrounds really helps out here. The podcast/show critical role does a very good job for this in their first season. As a result of the character development, each character also gets an ending/epilogue.

All Good Things Come To An End

It is my belief, that secretly, in the depths of every dungeon master (at least, the very good ones) wants each character to have their “happily ever after.” Of course, campaign events and bad rolls can lead to character death. That said, for the most part, with the exception of a total party wipe out, the individual characters, as well as the party as a whole, should have a nice wrap up with their characters epilogue. These do not have to be elaborate, although they can be, but should provide some sort of satisfying conclusion to the campaign and campaign events. This usually is done by each player, as well as with significant input and inclusion with, the dungeon master.

Well, that’s my counsel and advice on building a campaign. Do you think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below. Is there a topic you would like me to cover, again, let me know in the comments! 

Next week, we will discuss creating memorable villians!

Until tomorrow readers.

Tuesday Adventurers: Catch Up

The party realized that they still owed a favor to the Red Wizards, and were obligated to eliminate a mutual enemy: a fortress cabal of Red Wizard Exiles, survivors of the Red Wizard civil war.

The party found the crumbling fortress easy enough and decided to attack at night.

It was a hard-fought battle, fighting four separate wizards and multiple guards and nights, as well as a small horde of ghouls. One character fell no less than 5 times in battle!

The party fought against an apprentice and an illusionist with the guards at the start. Later, the ghouls joined the fight with a necromancer and an evoker. Before his escape, the necromancer told the evoker that he would hold the invaders off and to warn Khumed that their cabal had been compromised and attacked.

The party had no clue who Khumed was.

After the fight and after looking for more clues as to whom their enemy wad, a shooting star streaked across the sky right over their heads, and landing on the edge of the nearby river. Investigating the crater, the party found a most curious sight: a sort of manhole cover, open, and a man poking his head out. Water beginning to flood the crater, the curious man was helped exit the crater.

After using a helm of comprehend languages to bypass their language barrier, the man explained that he was from, not a different plane of existence, but a different world altogether. In point of fact, the man was an artificer from the continent of Khorvair on the world of Eberron.

The party, still confused at his origins, welcomed the new member of their band, who simply wished to document this, to him, strange, backwards, new world.

Heading back to Waterdeep, the party presented the heads of the renegade Red Wizards to the Red Wizard enclave in Waterdeep, thereby gaining the ability to travel to the elemental plane of fire where Connor was set to be.

The party found out that the tuning fork, which was a material component for the spell, was required to be attuned to a creature who was either a native or itself attuned to the plane of fire. The red wizard suggested hunting down a known red dragon in the hills near the Wyrm Forest, some 500-600 miles away.

The party prepared for their journey and headed south, Southeast. It was an uneventful trip, passing through Daggerford, and giving a wide berth to Dragonspire Castle.

After some extensive tracking, the party found the lair of the Red Dragon known as Ember.

What the party hoped for
What they actually found…

The party fawned over the rather large red dragon, an adult. The dragon fell for the party’s flattery and agreed to attune the tuning fork in exchange for a future favor at his calling. Three members of the party submitted themselves to a geas spell where they bound themselves to the dragon’s later whim.

The party travelled back towards Waterdeep, with members very wary of their new commitment, and what it means for them.

What lay in store for our intrepid band of heroes? Will they ever find Connor and retrieve the Nether Scrolls at the Old Owl Well?

Join us next week to see the continuation of our story!

Just a note, as we are in “Spook-tober” next week’s adventure (and likely throughout October) will be horror-based. Join us for our horror spooktactular extravaganza!

DM How To: Creating Adventure Hooks

So you know how to DM. And you know how to build an adventure. And you know how to build an encounter.

The next question, then, is this: how do you get those @#&$+%! players to jump into your awesome adventure filled with equally awesome encounters?

You give ’em a hook, a PLOT HOOK!!

So let’s go fishing.

There are basically only a few kinds of plot hooks: agnostic/general, background-based, story-based, and Deus Ex Machina.

AGNOSTIC/GENERAL

These plot hooks are the ones you may be most familiar with. These are the plot hooks that involve helping a random stranger, for riches and glory, etc… These ones only work if your players are the kind to do things for riches and glory, or out of the kindness of their hearts with no true promise of reward. Examples of this one would be a mysterious stranger approaching the party about an ancient legend of a dungeon guarding an ancient treasure, or the party coming across a strange house in the middle of nowhere. The possibilities here are endless, but many of them have been overdone and not too many players are willing to bite on these poorly baited plot hooks.

BACKGROUND BASED

These plot hugs require quite a bit more work on both your and the player’s parts. The player, out of necessity, should have a background on how and why they became adventurers and what they were doing beforehand. I’m not just talking about that character trait on their character sheet that gives them a proficiency and languages and maybe some gold. I’m talking at least a paragraph of backstory on why that character is the way they are. Using this, you can craft plot hooks that reel in a single player, who can turn to his party and ask for help. Some examples of this are the family farm is going to be overrun by orcs, or the players uncle is leaving the player a keep on his deathbed, or bandits have captured a character’s mentor. With a decent background, there are lots of possibilities here.

DEUS EX MACHINA

This sort of plot hook should be avoided, unless absolutely necessary. These kind of plot hooks involve someone or something of great power pushing the characters into action. An example of this would be a commandment to a divine caster from their deity, or a powerful NPC threatening the characters with total destruction unless they undertake the quest. These sort of plot hooks make players feel as if their characters are being railroaded.

STORY-BASED

These are easily some of the best plot hooks you can find. These are the sort of plot hooks you find in continuing campaigns. The plot hook from Adventure to Adventure revolves around something left undone or some new information that the characters get from a previous adventure. In this way, the characters are prodded on by their own willingness to be part of the story. Examples of this can be found in so many places and in so many pre-published adventures that they are too numerous to list. Practically, one technique that I use is keeping a sort of “quest log” for the party. I list out all unresolved story points that the players haven’t addressed, that I can later exploit for writing an adventure. A recent example, if you’re reading this blog, is the fact that the party is looking for a magic item salesman / wizard named Connor. Why are they looking for Connor? Because Connor has something the party needs that they previously sold to him by mistake. Therefore, the party is willing to undergo a number of tasks in order to get the information and ability to travel to Connor’s location. The party spent the better part of a month and a half simply trying to find where Connor was and gaining the ability to travel to his location. This doesn’t even include the adventures had along the way while they were traveling. an example of this would be the trip from Waterdeep to Memnon, the trip from Memnon to Calimport, the events that occurred there, and their trip back to Waterdeep. These were all story-based adventure hooks. With the party have willingly escorted the princess to Calimport from Memnon? Maybe, maybe not. but the fact that the party needed to get to Calimport anyways made their willingness to accept the plot hook all the easier. Many agnostic / general plot hooks can be made into story plot hooks.

So there you have it. Now you know how to get your players invested into your adventures.

Next week we’re going to talk about campaign building. If there are any other topics you would like me to cover, comment below.

Until tomorrow dear readers.