KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

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kitenerd
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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by kitenerd » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:29 am

Speaker in Dreams - a GREAT 3.5 adventure that has purple worms in the middle of town!
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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by jackattack » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:31 pm

Look at all of the critters (real and mythological) we find in modern cities -- roaches, rats, pigeons, squirrels, birds of prey, feral cats and dogs, the occasional snake, alligators, gargoyles, and so on. Apply the fantasy monster filter and you can come up with a variety of monsters (or swarms) that will challenge your party. And that doesn't even take things like otyughs and slimes/oozes into account, nor creatures from movies and other fiction.

What if all of the people in the city aren't people? There could be doppelgängers slowly taking over the city, and only your party knows it is happening. The locals clear out when the party attacks one of their own, but if they win the doppelgänger is revealed and no one has to go to jail.

The city might change tone drastically when night falls. Everyone hurries home at dusk to lock their doors and shutters, because at night the gangs or the CHUDs or the were-rats take over the streets, looking for anyone foolish enough to brave the night.

Finally, the city might be under siege by semi-interplanar creatures. The party has been entrusted with a magic staff and matching amulets that allow them to have their combats in the city setting, but one plane "over" so that the civilians don't get freaked out.
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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by Law » Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:32 pm

DungeonBuilder wrote:
Beating a dead horse here, but work is slow.
Amen to that! Nothing slows down work like a cool new toy, either. ;)

I think part of the issue is that DF seems to lend itself to combat gaming so much (because that's where you really need visual/tangible representations of the game more) and combat seems more likely in a dungeon than in a city. Other than one or two basic skirmishes in a tavern, which was possible with the MBS, what kind of combat takes place in a city? Another problem is population control: most of the classic fantasy settings are abandoned or nearly abandoned, so other than a few denizens specifically there for combat, your players are left alone in the space and you don't have to manage the movements of hundreds or thousands of NPCs. In a city that probably ain't so. What are you supposed to do to make a city playable, spend time actually moving around and playing all the other people in the city? And how are they going to react if something dramatic, i.e. bloody, happens?

Those are the challenges. Here are a few ideas I had for urban campaigns. You'll notice that they're all basically variations of exactly the same theme, which is an exploitation of what is UNFAMILIAR and UNKNOWN about a city. These are all ways to make an "Explore the city" campaign with the same excitement as an "Explore the dungeon" one.

1. Your players are new in town. They are investigating something, and they have to stick around long enough to make progress. That means they have to find things like a place to stay, a place to work from, and the object of their investigation (a person, place or thing). And while they're exploring, they have to figure out what everything is and map it out, just like in a dungeon. Is the tavern across the street from the archive of any particular importance? The abandoned temple one block over from town hall? The brothel by the city gates?

2. Alternatively, your players aren't new in town, but someone else IS. There is a new cult or guild or criminal mastermind in town. While the players are familiar with their environment, they don't know where this foe is hiding or what he or she is up to. So the players can investigate -- just as above, go to the market at noon, enter the archives, visit the local guilds, ask around.

3. Finally, put the players on the defensive. They are in their home city, and something is chasing THEM. They're preparing for a campaign, selling off or trading treasures from their last adventure, looking for healing potions and new weapons and armor, finding a place to store their wealth securely while they're away, maybe looking to hire some followers to help them fight and carry the load. They're attacked in the town square! Ambushed at the moneylenders! A mysterious fire is started at the inn! Something is after them!

All of these invite the possibility for exploring the town, confronting bad guys and finding out information. All classic adventure tropes. Exploring would take two forms:

A) Finding their way around, especially if they're the ones that are new in town, and being familiar enough with the layout that they can maneuver quickly when the inevitable chase happens at some point in the campaign ("We've been tricked! Moriarty led us here so he could destroy the Casket while we were away! Quick, back to the Gallery!"), and

B) Actual searches, which could be done in all sorts of ways. Inhabited buildings could be searched while their inhabitants are out, making a row of residences just like any other dungeon rooms to be searched (let the players figure out how to orchestrate this search to ensure they are undisturbed while carrying it out!). And there are always uninhabited buildings -- abandoned row houses from condemned neighborhoods, failed taverns and so on. Having the players, in the early parts of the campaign, make their way from tavern and guildhall to shop and gallery, asking questions and looking for whatever, while various foes seek them out... and if they make enemies of those in power, doing all this while evading capture.... And then in the later parts of the campaign, actually having to stage climactic confrontations and go through the aforementioned climactic chase... lots of potential there.

Plus, the city denizens are all unfamiliar. The population density adds to the mystery. Every round the GM can move a handful of figures around near the players, but the players don't know if they're watching people simply going about their lives, or if they're being followed. They can't tell who's a threat and who isn't. The mere representation of the city's life becomes a possible veil for sinister activity. What good are your Listen skill checks and your Check for Traps if the danger is hiding in plain sight?

There are ways to hide key objects -- clues to a mystery, stolen-and-discarded treasures, hidden goals -- in a city just as in a dungeon. Obviously a city is less easy to turn into a hack-and-slash adventure - if your players simply want to kill everything they encounter, it will be hard to explain how they can last that long in a city without being mobbed and killed, if not arrested. But by making sure the players are looking for things and keeping them anxious about which of the city's inhabitants is after them and which are just innocent bystanders, I think a city can make for a thrilling adventure locale.

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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by GardenDM » Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:07 pm

We're playing Hoard of the Dragon Queen right now and (no spoilers) all the action so far has taken place in a town and a keep.

BUT, putting that aside for a moment, the mix and match nature of the tiles lets me pull my "city" stuff in to play in all kinds of unexpected scenarios.
  • Oh, look there's an abandoned building next to the mines.
  • Neat, let's explore this ruined manor and the caves below it.
  • Woah, someone built a nice wood lined chamber (made of city parts) deep in this dungeon. But, why?
  • A:"Hey, someone pass me a XXX piece for the dungeon. " B:"Sorry, we're out of XXX pieces, but we've got a YYY from the (City|Sewer) packs that's close enough."
I love that, like Legos, DF tiles drive imagination for new ways to combine.

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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by AnimeSensei » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:54 pm

For good examples of adventures that can be had in a city, go read up on Order of the Stick. Lots of settings there and if it were a real campaign, a very large portion of it would have taken place in cities.

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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by DungeonBuilder » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:21 pm

LordDust wrote: I can respect that they may not fit a given person or group's play style. I've just seen a number of people use wording that suggests that you just can't do anything interesting in a city. Just about any place can make for awesome adventures (even sewers, despite my relative lack of enthusiasm for them).
I think a city just implies more of the "known" whereas a dungeon/cavern/sewer implies more of the unknown and the undiscovered.

I get more mileage out of, "you're standing at the entrance of a long unvisited cavern... what do you do", than I do "you're standing next to the sign of the local blacksmith, what do you do?"

I agree, everyone's mileage varies dependent on playstyle.

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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by LordDust » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:10 pm

DungeonBuilder wrote:Regardless, I'm not for one or the other. I'm for both! But with equal attention to each.

If I buy into city, it would likely be only for terrain to play Song of Blades and Heroes, or like I said to have the occasional town assault or tavern brawl. They just aren't as functional for me as they are for others.
I can respect that they may not fit a given person or group's play style. I've just seen a number of people use wording that suggests that you just can't do anything interesting in a city. Just about any place can make for awesome adventures (even sewers, despite my relative lack of enthusiasm for them).

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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by DungeonBuilder » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:31 pm

LordDust wrote:Political intrigue can be fun
I enjoy it in my reading, not so much in my gaming. Just personal taste there, I understand why people like the city building, it's just not much for me. I'm also gaming with young players, where endless bits of dialog and see-if-you-can-locate a-NPC-in-a-mess-of-NPCs storylines don't get much favor (the same thing that plagued me as a player...). Dungeons, caverns, sewers, ruins, etc we can, and do, plop down each and every time and never lose their luster. Cities seem more scenario/story driven.

Regardless, I'm not for one or the other. I'm for both! But with equal attention to each.

If I buy into city, it would likely be only for terrain to play Song of Blades and Heroes, or like I said to have the occasional town assault or tavern brawl. They just aren't as functional for me as they are for others.

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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by kitenerd » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:07 pm

Here is a dumb idea that is kinda fun.

If you swap the plain floor in the cottage level for a trap door floor, it becomes the Sewer House. Get the stone cottage, open the trap door and go down the ladder wall into the sewer.

There is your sewer pledge level!
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Re: KS3 - Wanting a 'Sewers Only' entry point

Post by LordDust » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:55 pm

Firstly, I do love what they're putting out. I do agree that this KS is a bit sprawling though. I would have liked for the castle stuff and the town stuff to be fully separate from one another so we could get more of the city, then more of the castle. I haven't been as interested in sewers from the beginning. They do look good and I would consider the monster set, but I don't really see myself using them as much. I may change my mind if they add something else that really grabs my attention. I do think it would be a good idea to include a sewers only option even if it is without stretch goals. So long as they can make the numbers work that would probably help them draw in some fence sitters.

I'm a bit mystified by folks that see cities and towns as exclusively places between adventure. Political intrigue can be fun, the old ruins of adventure (was done as the Pool of Radiance goldbox on PC as well) where you retake and rebuild a ruined and invaded city, rival thieves guilds, pulling off and preventing assassinations, etc. The list of adventures that work great entirely in a city are pretty extensive. If you've ever played the Quest for Glory games, there was one in the series that was almost entirely in a city. I understand that this kind of play isn't everyone's cup of tea, but every player I have run through these kinds of adventures has had a good time and liked them. Downtime happens between sessions for me, if we're in a town its because there is adventure afoot.

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