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Author Topic: DMs' block - Please help !  (Read 1259 times)
Cheesedemon88
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« on: February 09, 2012, 07:00:12 AM »

Hey

I've been DMing a game for a while now (D&D 4e) and I need some inspiration for the upcoming session. I'll start telling you a little about the campaign :

The setting is pretty close to the standard setting presented in the books, but with a few minor changes. Our heroes are currently traveling the lands searching for an evil blue dragon who is secretly trying to take over the land.

This has happened so far :

     Three young inexperienced orphans set out from a small town called Albathon to prove themselves as heroes to the world, they traveled to the big city of Ironbrough and learned many new things, they battled lowly street thugs, rescued maidens and experienced the falsehood and treachery of the higher societies. Then by a cruel twist of fate the first orphan died.
     Though the youngsters were stricken by grief they battled on, and they soon met a brash paladin and an old friend who both joined their quests. Together they rescued a young elven maiden, she needed help to get back and find her home in the Faywild. While in the Land of fey the paladin played a joke on the on the group, a joke that went horribly wrong and resulted in the death of the second orphan.
     The Paladin was horror struck by his deeds and left the group in shame
     On their way back they ran into a young sun-elf that was running away from her father and on a quest to discover and re-instate the old forgotten art of the swordmages and she soon became a close friend to the remaining members of the group.
     Back in Ironbrough they discovered a cabal of lowly criminals led by an evil winged dragonborn, they battled hard, but she got away. The party chased the dragonborn all the way to the Gap City  where they finally defeated and killed her. They also discovered that she worked for a blue dragon an that she was in league with at least two other winged dragonborn. Before they left the dragonborns' estate, they took an item that turned out to be a sentient artifact bent on destroying chromatic dragons. On the way out of the city they met up with a barbarian who was in dept to the dragonborns' guilds, he decided to join the group after they had defeated her, so that he could disappear in the chaos following the defeat of the greatest crime boss the city had seen in decades.
     They discovered where the dragons lair were located, they set out to the next city. As often happens with adventurers they soon ran into trouble, being hired to search for a missing girl, they followed the trails and found the girl in the clutches of an insane eladrin "artist" who turned out to be a morbid serial killer, helping out the local crime patrol they defeated the eladrin in the end, but not before their fourth member, the ambitious swordmage, was killed in battle.
     A few days later the grief-struck group met another paladin that helped them out a with some things and decided to join them on their way to the next town and ultimately to the dragon's lair.

So, that's the compressed story so far.

Here's the current characters :


Enine :
Drow bard, only surviving member of the original group, adopted a sphinx "kitten" that she is raising as her own kid. She's started to develop a drinking problem due to her losing three of her best friends within half a year

Fea : Moon-elf paladin of Sehanine, she just set out in the world, driven by her lust for adventure and her gods' edict about experiencing new things and living life to the fullest.

Thorak : Wild elf barbarian, makes Torq look like a well educated gentleman

Roan : Wood-elf ranger, favours the scimitar and has a pet dinosaur

About the villains and overarching plot :


The Lady :
The title used to refer to the great blue dragon, she is clever and scheming, she has lots of lackeys collecting treasures for her, her ultimate goal is to take over the land openly when she has massed up enough power

The scions of Tiamat :

They were originally five dragonborn siblings, they believe they are destined to conquer the world in the name of Tiamat, currently they are working in secrecy in the employ of "The Lady". There are only two of them left at this point, concidering that the group killed one of them and one of them rebelled against the rest of his siblings, he and his sister killed each other(out of game). The scions all have wings and different chromatic colours

Averia, the Blue scion : She gained power by intimidating the criminal communities in different cities. KILLED

Balathor, the Red Scion : He gains power by gathering tribes of kobolds and other monsters under his control, the roads have been getting more dangerous to travel due to the rising frequency of kobold attacks and no one knows why

Markira, the Black Scion :
Clearly the most ambitious of the siblings, she keeps to the shadows of finer societies, extorting nobles and threatening goodly leaders. She also drives a slave-ring on the side, so to speak, specializing in raising gladiators and enslaving "exotic" races.


So that's my campaign
The party is just about to travel to the next town, and I have no idea what to do for our next session, I want to introduce one of the other dragonborns as a villain soon. My plan is to have the party defeat the last two dragonborns and engage in small side plots before engaging the Lady in her layer. They are now level 5 and I want them to meet the dragon at level 10.

I guess there is more of an underlying problem too, I've just been feeling really creatively un-inspired lately(for months actually). It may be due to my depression (the real kind where you are diagnosed by  a doctor). I need some general help with "getting my groove back", any ideas ?
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sliksham
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2012, 07:15:02 AM »

Is it possible to tie back the the disgraced Paladin? Maybe he was so overcome with his act he foresook his calling (became a blackguard or something) and has been manipulated by on of the remaining Scions.

He would have an existing toe-hold into the emotional side of the party, whilst also possibly being an easy ( maybe to easy) foil for the new Paladin.
The party could stumble across some of the salve operations of Markira perhaps?
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Cheesedemon88
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2012, 07:35:02 AM »

Well the paladin worshiped Bahamut, so there is a small chance of him cooperating with a Tiamat folower, and in any case I don't want to use the paladin quite yet, he belongs to a player that may or may not come back, so I'll be holding on to him for a while longer.

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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2012, 12:04:44 PM »

I think Sliksham's idea is good.

If not the Paladin then maybe someone connected to the second orphan that was killed? Although the character is an orphan, he or she had parents at some point.

Could there have been someone looking for the orphan and found them but not until after they were killed. This person blames not only the Paladin but the entire party (probably a misunderstanding f the situation) and has sought a means for revenge. Thus enters the next scion and its new accomplice.
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Forresst
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2012, 12:13:29 PM »

Ok, so... your party is grieving, but right now they're on the sort of overplot thread that will take them onward to track down the dragon and scions.  They're equipped with a sentient artifact that has a serious hate for these dragons.  

You could slowly start to introduce Balathor the Red while the party travels, by having the travel compound attacked by a lot of kobold raids between towns.  Surely if you have them ambushed over and over, at least one PC is going to wonder "how this road get so dangerous?", right?  Then have a final ambush gone wrong where instead of hitting the party in the middle of the night a band of Kobolds, desperate to make sure the party doesn't actually make it to town, lays siege to the last piece of road running up to the town gates.  You could turn this from a simple combat to a skills challenge where the object of the challenge is to basically get through the horde of kobolds to a place where the town guard will see, hear or otherwise be alerted to the problem and come help.  As this resolves you can have the kobold leader either captured or dying and wheeze out Balathor's name in a death rattle.  How they come to hear the name is less important but make sure to plant that seed.

As for side quests you could probably do at least one where the party settles down to figure what the artifact is, and why it's so hell-bent on destroying the chromatic dragons.  That one could take a few different forms, depending on how you see your artifact and what kind of abilities you ascribe to it.  Maybe a dreamwalk sequence?  Where they try to ask the artifact about its own story and end up in a dream world where the artifact shows them what happened by making them recreate it?

Another potential for some roleplaying would be to take any trinkets or personal effects of the dead and lay them to rest, and sort of allow the party a little bit of downtime where they can grieve and settle themselves out.  You could also build in a little time to RP a little around the Bard's developing drinking problem.

As for a side quest to at least introduce Markira the Black, you could have someone hire them to find their missing $random_lovedone who's gone missing and has possibly been kidnapped.  They could follow some clues, and bust up a slaver camp.  Here again they could overhear someone mentioning "Markira's not going to be happy about this" and maybe have a couple of the slaver lieutenants scuttle off into the ether to be recycled later as information points when the party gets 'round to pursuing her directly.  OR, given that Markira has a double portfolio of slaving and manipulating high society, you could have them find some scheme or something and find out at the end that it was her all along.

As for the whole "feeling uncreative" thing, I can definitely relate.  One of the things that's kept me at least thinking about many different idea threads is occasionally I'll talk to one of my gamer friends and we'll fall into just sitting around brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other.  Maybe if people are interested, we could form a loose association of GMs, and maybe do like a skype call once a month to just sit around spouting off crap and see where it leads?  I think if there were 4 or 5 people involved, every one of them would benefit.  And hell if there were even more it'd be awesome to maybe just have a giant round robin every once in a while.   Would you be interested?
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Navarre
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2012, 12:19:32 PM »

Personally, I think a DM round table is a good idea.

The biggest hindrance (except for scheduling) I see though is I expect each DM would come in with "Let me tell you all about my game and then you give me ideas."

It might be difficult to get everyone to be as collaborative as you hope when each has their own agenda.
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sliksham
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2012, 12:27:54 PM »

it might be more productive / helpful to have a set scenario / problem / plot point up for discussion, then rather than the 'this is my game' chart you might get a bunch of creative solutions or hooks that could be used.
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Navarre
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2012, 12:29:44 PM »

Agreed.

A good moderator could lead the group with a specific topic. Then the members make effort to focus more on the topic discussion and development than 'Here's what I do in my game..." stuff.

That kind of topic development could then be used by the DM later on their own to work into their own campaign.

But why use Skype, where everyone has to schedule it? I mean, c'mon, the MS Forum is right here!   Cool
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Strifeter
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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2012, 12:47:33 PM »

PLus in the forum other people not in the DM circle could provide an outside perspective.
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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2012, 01:02:29 PM »

I know I would be interested in doing this
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Navarre
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« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2012, 01:09:31 PM »

Maybe I'll start a new thread in this section so this very thing can happen.
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Forresst
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2012, 01:29:25 PM »

I'd mostly suggested skype because talking back and forth offers a chance to quickly and dynamically bounce off the people talking, whereas forum posting is a little slower.  Not that it would be a bad thing, and would offer the chance to really polish up some of the ideas people have, but in the case of Cheesedemon, I figured it might be helpful to get into that fast and fun brainstorming mode, you know?
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2012, 01:31:23 PM »

Hey, we can do both. I won't be in on the skype thing but maybe you can run that.

Any way you slice it, it's great when people come together to improve the quality of something for everyone.
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Forresst
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2012, 01:37:30 PM »

You know, maybe we could join forces!  Sort of work in concert to get the best of both.... hm.  I will have to think about this a little bit, and get back to you.  Mind if I pm you once I've formulated my thoughts?
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2012, 01:44:42 PM »

You know, maybe we could join forces!  Sort of work in concert to get the best of both.... hm.  I will have to think about this a little bit, and get back to you.  Mind if I pm you once I've formulated my thoughts?

Any time!  Smiley
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