I just pre-ordered The Tome of Adventure Design. So what’s this ? A 308 page book of random generation tables. Besides an amazing cover, doesn’t sound very exciting does it ? Well it made me want to grab dice and roll an adventure immediately (I have the pdf already). So let’s give it a shot :
First table I’m rolling on is to get a cool location name : The Diamond Sanctum of the Loathsome Daughter. Tell me that doesn’t sound cool already !
The next tables I’m rolling on should give me an idea of the mission the party is to undertake. The results : An individual mission, to bribe or negotiate with, a kidnapper (accused but innocent). Hmm, ideas already start floating through my brain. Let’s what else I can roll up.
The Patron of the mission : a mercenary (leader). His/her motivation : Self-protection from a detective, investigator or one who asks too many questions. Well, that’s certainly a twist I didn’t expect but that is exactly what all these tables are for. They stimulate creative thinking.
Next up : What might motivate the players and how they learn about the opportunity for adventure. First roll : They receive useful information. Second roll : Friend, relative, or mentor of a character informs party of the opportunity. That sounds a bit standard so I’ll have to see how to give that a twist. The fact that they receive useful information also seems to imply that this adventure is not the main thing on their agenda, but could be a search for something else, to which the mercenary leader has information.
Let’s head over to the Villains plan : Political Power – the villain seeks to gain direct or indirect political power at some level of government. More detailed tables reveal the following : Political power sought over a Humanoid tribe, the method being Behind the Throne – Military. Villain has enough forces to influence the leader’s policies already, and is directing the organization’s activities behind the scenes to his own advantage. The villain threatens (subtly or not) that if the leader does not accede to the villain’s demands, the villain will use his troops to usurp authority.
Well that certainly took my thoughts into a complete different direction. I was first thinking of the Loathsome daughter being someone who was deformed by some accident and cast out by a superstitious crowd of scared villagers. Now this makes me think the loathsome daughter is actually a half orc. How about the mercenary leader’s wife was violated by an orc during the aftermath of an ambush or something. The wife was kidnapped by the orc tribe, the mercenary leader spent years looking for her. Then he finds and rescues his wife and it turns out she had given birth to a half orc child. A stain, the proud mercenary captain would want removed of course. The loathsome daughter however, has a group of orcs under her command these days so the mercenary leader doesn’t want a face off on the battle field.
Now how to get the rest of this in ? The motivation of the patron is self-protection. He doesn’t want anyone to know his wife has a half-orc offspring walking around. To make things worse, the loathsome daughter is raiding villages using his wife’s last name to identify herself and build up a reputation. This has lead some of the mercenary leader’s troops to start wondering about the situation and the leader wants these rumors squashed.
Then the kidnapper part. The mercenary leader has devised a plan to get rid of the loathsome daughter. He has arranged for his own son to be kidnapped and is now blaming his wife’s half orc offspring for the kidnapping. He wants the adventurers to enter the half orc’s lair, an abandonned diamond mine, and to bribe or negotiate the release of his son. He will send along a trusted mercenary captain who will carry along a number of gems as bribe fee. The trusted captain’s mission however is to kill the half orc at any cost.
This makes me think about how the characters will react when they don’t find the child in the half orc’s lair. How about the half orc’s mother isn’t alive anymore. In fact, when the mercenary leader finally found his wife during a raid on the orc tribe and found out about her half orc offspring, he ordered her killed. And it was the half orc daughter who was actually defending her mother against the mercenaries. The troops were too many to fend off and she had to flee. This could be an explanation on why she would want to take on her mother’s name.
On the half orc’s person the party will also find a silver medaillon displayed very prominently. The medaillon was given to her by her mother during her stay as the orc tribe’s prisoner. It’s inscribed on the back with : To my love (insert mother’s name), from (insert mercenary captain’s name).
It could still be explained as something the half orc had stolen from the mercenary leader’s wife. So the character’s wouldn’t find out that the mercenary leader is actually the villain of the story unless they get a chance to talk to the half orc. The half orc however, being hunted down by the mercenary company for years, and seeing one of their members among the party will respond violently at first.
All this from just a few dicerolls. I love this book ! And just to top it off, let’s create a minion to be the half orc’s lieutenant or something. An insane (schizophrenic) thug, who’s using villain for his own purposes. Well that seems like an interesting character to flesh out. I could head over to the villain tables again for that one. And so on and on.
Now this was created using only Chapter 1 of the book. Chapter 2 is about designing monsters, Chapter 3 is about designing a dungeon, and Chapter 4 talks about non-dungeon adventure design.