Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fortress In The Eye of Time or How to Host A Party

"...There have been now ten attempts on my life, of which the south gate is witness save the last, where we lost good men in my stead, and yet Lord Heryn swears the district under his control - ah, what else of gossip have I forgot? Armed bandits in the countryside, of which there now are fewer. Perhaps you have had such difficulties, my lords. If so I earnestly pray you advise me." (p. 242 hardcover sci-fi version.)
It's easily possible for a group of players to meet numerous factions and gain from them information. One way to allow the players a wider degree of control in what they may seek out in terms of adventure, is to have a gathering of like minded friends and allies and have them speak of their recent adventurers, issues, and potential problems. This allows the Dungeon Master to throw out several plot lines and see which ones the players are interested in before working fingers to the bone on something that the players may have no interest in.
Players have characters that are generally not the standard citizen of a fantasy realm. They go out and risk live and limb for treasure if not for personal reasons. Have them meet wagon masters who gather together and speak of the trouble on the roads. Have them meet nobles from different corners who gather together to tell old tales and speak of problems yet unsolved. Have them gather together with rival adventuring bands and share tales of woe.
The larger the DM can make the setting ahead of time as the players travel through it, the more options possible when presenting adventurers from those different venues. The trick is to have something that brings all of these elements together and adventurers being far from the normal citizen, can be that. Mayors they've helped in small communities may call for a feast in their honor. Warrior Kings whose aid they're secured may call for a show of might, allowing the players to show off their abilities while gathering new information.
And don't forget, during any such meeting, the chance for adventure is always there. Do all of the assembled like the characters? Do unfriendly forces know of the assembly and have the means to attack it? Are there any poisoners in the crowd? Any assassins?
Don't limit the danger to the dungeon. Provide the characters opportunities to use the world as a springboard for further adventurers and this will give the world more depth and character then only allowing the players meeting time with NPC's during mission hirings.