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36

Thus far, the party has tended to follow up more on smaller leads, like interesting caves, a village with a plague, etc., rather than major leads, Why do those leads end up being minor? Can you turn an interesting cave into a major lead? Maybe the cave leads into the massive underground dungeon that was rediscovered. Or maybe the cave has a family ...


25

In Sandbox campaigns, what the players are doing is the centre of the campaign. If they do not investigate and stop the fire falling from the sky, then there is a consequence and you should play it out as if real history is unfolding before them. I find that the best way to do this, is to image what the major characters of the world are doing (in shells ...


20

Even though the players are the center of the campaign in a Sandbox, they are not the only cause of action in the world. They want to investigate the village with plague. Let them. Meanwhile the fire raining from the sky continues (and unlike videogames, does not go into a static point of no extra destruction until the players show up). Maybe the Fighter ...


20

First of all, start with a different game (system.) Using anything Lovecraftian (CoC, ToC) would be a dead giveaway. Pick a (very) easy, generic system, preferably something your players are not familiar with. You'll want to tell them you read an interesting review about it someplace and would want to give it a few shots, to freshen up your gaming. ...


16

The answer about turning the small leads into bigger leads is great, but may not fit what you want to do with the game. I've dealt with this in several ways, usually escalating: Just have boring answers to the leads. "Sorry, the caves turn out to be not that interesting," or "the caves are frozen over and would require weeks or months of work to chisel ...


15

I tend to use something like Tarot cards for things like this. One to three cards for a location, major npcs or sometimes even player characters. One just to give a general feel of what might happen. Different decks normally have slightly different pictures. Sometimes looking at the card will give me inspiration, sometime the reading of a card. The suit of ...


14

People sometimes claim to like pure sandbox play, but then they get bored or easily distracted for this exact reason, not knowing what to focus on. Really they want a little railroading. Some groups are self-aware enough to come out and say this, some aren't. But if you're starting to get that kind of feedback, it may be time to make some of those leads ...


11

Clues and Map scraps. First they need a clue to point them in the right general direction. That's fairly easily accomplished by the usual methods, whatever works in your game. Next: if the party finds, buys, is given a partial map (mapscrap), that gives them the essential tool to go find the objective (macguffin). But don't think in terms of classic maps, ...


10

I just read Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World RPGGeek, and like all of his games it contains more than one brilliant thing. But for this case, the brilliant thing I'm going to suggest that you take a look at is the Countdown Clocks he created. Without directly stealing the clocks (which I intend to do for my own games, even outside Apocalypse World), you ...


10

It may be that the types of characters that your players have created are not suited to this style of adventuring. Zak wrote an excellent blog post about this: Sandboxes And The Roguish Work Ethic A hook isn't automatically a hook for a bunch of lovable rakes: "A cleric has been found dead in the town square." "Well why should we care?" ...


10

Converting monsters up or down by 5 or fewer levels is straightforward and listed in the DMG (I think around pg 190, but I'm not positive). You can also swap out monsters pretty easily with premade monsters from the DDI compendium. Skills are going to be a bit tougher. A ladder has a consistent DC. If there's climbing to be done you can't just say the ...


8

Give them a map or turn-by-turn directions, but make them slightly unreliable. Maybe an old adventurer tells them the story of the tome he dropped in the pit in the lower level: "If you go down to the crossroads--you know the one I'm talking about, right?--it's the right passage, which you take for a while till it hits the kobold warrens. On the other side ...


8

If using a 1e/OSRIC group with an LotFP adventure, no modifications should be needed. The challenges are often not connected to character stats. The adventures should work equally well with any traditional ruleset. If using LotFP characters with 1e/OSRIC modules, since those are usually more combat-heavy I would make sure the LotFP characters are one level ...


8

If the creatures in a location are of all of one faction, the following are some possibilities: 1) They renew their control over the location, and beef up their defenses. 2) They abandon the location, and go cause trouble elsewhere (new adventure hook!) 3) Some new, stronger faction moves in and wipes them out (or absorbs them to use as cannon fodder ...


7

I'm running a sandbox campaign where there are a few major events taking place, but not set expectation that the players have to take part in them. ... Major leads like fire falling from the sky or the rediscovery of a massive underground dungeon. Have the major events advance while they play around with the side quests. Have effects from those events ...


7

Tone In my reading the Shadowfell isn't evil nearly as much as it is dark and a tad corrupt. As such I'd draw upon imagery from writers like Poe or Yeats for my flavor. Perhaps the English graveyard poets. The Shadowfell is the goth part of the new D&D cosmology. Inhabitants The inhabitants of the Shadowfell don't have to be non-human or humanoid. ...


6

The simplest method is the in media res mode: "You finally arrived at the rubble pile beneath the opening, rubble which is relatively fresh. This seems to be the place the patrol mentioned. Now, it falls to you to explore and pacify it. As you look, you notice that the air inside is fresh..." The second is to have a map of the major central area, the "safe" ...


6

I was just pondering this the other day. There is an old adventure I once ran that has a great maze in it, but playing it out as a mapping exercise made it rather un-fun. I've been wanting to run that adventure again, and I've been thinking of ways to make the maze part as much fun as it deserves. The solution I came up with is only good if: you're okay ...


6

It's not geared specifically towards two players, but The Big List of RPG Plots is my first stop in similar situations. Any Old Port in the Storm, Don't Eat the Purple Ones, Recent Ruins, and Stalag 23 would all be fairly easy to set up, and well-suited for a single player to handle.


6

Restat monsters, check pacing, and reflavour the environment For all adventures, except for maybe the most recent, the monster design reflects "Pre MM3" design philosophy and therefore... sucks. You'll want to redesign the monsters for the new levels or re-skin modern monsters to match the story. I strongly recommend taking monsters from the MM3 or monster ...


6

Start by changing the period and the location. Classic Cthulhu periods are the 1890s, 1920s and 1930s (for Trail), so avoid those. Try an Edwardian, Regency, Elizabethan or 1950s adventure, for example. And, as you suggest, keep out of New England. With Trail, you could easily keep Sanity and Cthulhu Mythos to yourself, until the Investigators see something ...


6

Here is what a typical (small) encounter produced by WOTC looks like. Notice what the monster stat blocks look like. They provide some basic information and all that a DM needs to run the module. So it includes Top Green Bar Name of Monster Level of Monster Monster Fighting style (Soldier, Brute, Solo, etc) XP provided by Monster Monster type ...


6

RPG.net has a wiki that includes two areas that you might post such adventures. There is a listing of various free adventures to be found on the internet. This is useful if you want to post the adventure on your site, but get a large community linked into finding it. There is a separate listing for short adventures hosted directly on the site. It is ...


5

Part of the captivating ideas of a maze is the dead-end, choosing between going different directions, the backtracking, and the uncertainty if you are making progress toward the end point. So I'm finding it difficult to think of how that doesn't involve navigation of some sort without hand waving most of it. Rather than requiring mapping skills, use a ...


5

I think you're good, for two reasons. First, Raggi's adventures are much more about the ambiance and the mood than the rules. I've been planning on using Death Frost Doom in a 4e campaign sometime, in fact. Second, the conversion between Lamentations (or any other OD&D variant) and AD&D is pretty straightforward anyhow. And, yeah, they're intended ...


5

You need to give the PCs some context in which to make decisions. Basically by defining their character backgrounds. Work with them on a one on one basis to craft the background to fit the campaign and to give them reasons for the party to be together. By doing this they have a way of relating to the larger and smaller events of the game. If it came out ...


5

I ran a Serenity game with a Cthulhu basis, and I ran it like @OpaCitiZen said. The first four or five adventures had almost nothing to do with the Lovecraft mythos -- only one of them dealt with the Lovecraftian monsters, and only one character actually saw anything odd. Be patient, and have the first few adventures be traditional crime, ghost story, or ...


5

Most adventure locations are not 'standalone' adventures, there should usually be a few links in each location that can help you determine how they evolve when the PCs are away. Some examples: Your heroes only explored half of a dungeon before getting distracted. Were they sent there by an NPC who has an interest in the dungeon, and are there any local ...



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