Thursday, 9 January 2020

Adventures On The Margins

Here are ten very basic adventure seeds for Uud, specifically for the Margins of Blackwater.

1. The Memory Thief

I imagine this as maybe the classic or essential Blackwater adventure. PCs are villagers in some marginal and forgotten place. One day they discover that something from the surrounding swamp has been through the village and stolen many of the important memories of the people they love. (Maybe even the memories of their parents, lovers or children). They work out what happened and then the mission is to go into the swamp and track this thing down, kill it, (or trick it somehow) and get back those memories and be - HEROES OF THE VILLAGE

Stuff - need generator for stolen memory relationships. Clues around village telling what happened but also contextual stuff telling what kind of creature and *how it works*, maybe a mild loremaster character. Then swamp generator. Maybe a goblin PC or "enemy" group after the same thing because the Goblin tribes memories got stolen too  and maybe you could team up? Hmmm.

Creature itself needs highly deductible as in, you can work out what it is, strength which makes it seriously dangerous - probably too dangerous for just the party alone, and a weakness which can be discovered and exploited.

Then the surveillance/fight/trickery at the end.

2. The Waste Wanderer 

Lets see.. This feels like its built around a single, strong central character. Someone like a high powered adventurer. A Wanderer who knows the Waste and who goes out there into danger and comes back alive a lot. But the Waste has fucked them up and the people of civilisation fear and hate them.

Something happens which brings the PCs into contact with the Wanderer, maybe some Orcs or something, the 'main threat' isn't really the main adventure. The real thing is that the PCs have to go off into, or end up in, danger with the Wanderer, and this is someone powerful and dangerous that you really can't work out. And it may be that they are the main monster at the end. Maybe the Wanderer has a thing where they are doing a deal with the Orcs, so it seems like they are a traitor, but it could be for the Right Reasons. Maybe they are a Half-Orc themselves?

This might seem like a doomed mission but could be instead it’s a situation the PCs can peacefully resolve - if they perceive that they should or could.

3. The Monsters Dream 

Another swamp and/or desert situation. There is a super-dangerous Hyperpredator in the wilderness hunting people from the local culture. Seems impossible to beat. Maybe some high-level adventurers try and all they find is their corpses.

One (or more?) of the PCs is swapping dreams with the Monster. Once they work out this is what's happening, they can try to use this knowledge to track the beast, but the monster is smart and since its dreaming of their life it can use the same process to try to find them. Hunter/Hunted.

Possibly the monster isn't the real villain and there's a cackling wizard or something behind things or some other conspiratal stuff about the dream swapping. Maybe it lairs in a fallen voidship or its a transformed human or something.

4. The Bandit Knight 

This is another dominant complex character situation. In this case the antagonist is a bandit threatening the PCs culture or home, but they are a former (or current) knight, and are known to have an iron-shod sense of honour (though also being unforgiving and super ruthless).

The PCs end up captured by this person (maybe there's a captured Princess or high-status vulnerable there as well) and to get out and/or get the Bandit knight away from the village, they need to make a promise or oath to do something either super-dangerous or somewhat immoral.

Will they give their word? And if they do, will they keep it? There's a lawman and his posse about who's job is meant to be protecting the village, but this is one Gaston motherfucker, just a gross, deceptive lying scumbag. Will the PCs sell out the honourable baddy to the dishonourable "good guy"?

5. The Inquisitors Bequest

A PC inherits a super-dangerous thing from a strange relative. Maybe this is an uncle or something they didn't know about or who disappeared. This person apparently joined the Tolerance and became a High Agent and a bit of a scary badass. Now they are dead, and they have left their effects to their closest living relative, which is you.

But, as they were a badass secret agent Inquisitor, these effects include some scary stuff, some Tolerance stuff that young people really shouldn't have, and possibly information about their last investigation.

So now the PCs have to work out what they are going to so with the secret agents cool stuff, while the subjects of their last case are coming at the PCs because there's some evidence or a tool or artefact or something disguised in there, and the Tolerance themselves are doing the same thing. Because Inquisitor X wouldn't just leave that stuff to some rando would they? There would have to be some special reason....

6. The Armour of the Sun - The Stolen Hope

A village on the margins has been slowly and painstakingly assembling a suit of plate armour. This has been patched together from bits and pieces, some found, some bought over years, or even generations. The Suit occupied a central place in the village and just stood there like the shell of an invisible hero, growing slowly over the years.

Like a lottery ticket really, the Armour was probably more important for the possibilities it presented; freedom from corrupt power, from predators and Orcs coming in from the Waste, the idea that one of them might be the hero they were waiting for.

Then someone steals the suit?

It disappears one day, the PCs are asked to do what they can to find it and bring it back. Not much to offer, but the PCs are lvl 1 anyway.

Aaand, it turns out the Suit was taken by someone from the village, to do something really heroic?

Or the fact that it could be divided up makes a fetch-quest relatively simple, with say a den of thieves and monsters who split it up with each taking their part to a different place, and the PCs will have to trick, steal, persuade or just kill a whole range of local baddies in order to get the suit back together.

I am still not sure what this one *means*.. There's more there than the fetch quest itself I think.

7. The Small, Strange Hole

This one seems pretty simple. A small strange hole has been found, or has opened up, somewhere nearby, and everyone is quietly terrified about it, though no-one can say why. Every time someone tries to block or obstruct it, by the next day, the blockage has gone, and the hole is a little bigger.

Then some children disappear and everyone thinks they went down the hole.

So the PCs are asked to squeeeze themselves into the hole to bring back those kids, and, if possible, to find a way to make it close up.

Think this one would be a good introduction to Marginalia. Whats inside the hole is not a dungeon but a different realm, like a Labyrinth/Fairyland situation, and what the PCs will have to do in order to get back these kids and shut the whole will be more like Dream Logic, or an Alice in Wonderland thing than a standard D&D challenge.

The place is under the control of a sad goblin King and threatened Cheese-Wyrm - a Cheese-obsessed hyperdimensional Cheshire-cat dragonish thing, but thin and slender. The Wyrm insists on being paid in cheese and since there is none to be had it has become aggressive and unpredictable, boring holes in reality and letting all kinds of random crap drop through.

The Goblin King has these children endlessly stirring milk in a effort to make cheese for the Wyrm, but the milk curdles beneath a green gackling goblin moon which flies about unpredictably. The moon itself has some thing that it wants and something it is scared of, etc etc.

Ok this one got weird. And 'Realm of the Cheese-Wyrm' is a better title but gives away faaar too much of the contents.

Could do this one almost as a series of personal encounters; The Goblin King, the Moon, the Cheese-Wyrm and others, with say two or three strong desires and strong fears/weaknesses and some randomisation to decide how they will relate to the PCs. You can get bits and pieces of info about each NPC from different encounters and the play-area has a range of strange elements which could be re-purposed in order to start solving the web of interlinked problems (i.e. the Goblin town has huge pots of unsellable yellow paint for sale and the PC's could use this to paint a huge sun on the ground to convince the Moon it is trespassing at the wrong time etc etc.

8. The Tax Collectors Crime

This is more of a 'real world' one where the village or small polity is threatened economically by an evil Worghast Tax Collector. This individual is slowly crushing the people out here with unjust taxes (the government would be crushing them anyway the same way, but much slower, this person is really pushing it).

The PCs are hired, or asked, to 'do something about it'.

If they investigate they may discover that the Tax collector has actually done something illegal, like made a deal with Orcs from the Waste, broken the Worghast Laws, or something else. In that case thier challenge might be - do they do things 'right' and try to gather evidence and prove the Tax Collector is guilty and get them removed? Or do they get edgy and decide to be bandits, effectively and take them out? And if they break bad, are they now outside the law?

Problem here is dealing with someone who has a LOT more institutional power than you, and who is seriously corrupt, willing to lie and manipulate, so doing the right thing becomes very difficult and risky indeed.

Elements - the villages the Tax Collector visits, the Collectors personal security, the Collectors connections and a map of the legal stuff that would need to be done to bring them down. Also some kind of external foe, maybe the Orcs they are dealing with or an illegally made Worghast gang.

9. The Shape of Fear 

Here the threat is a very mediocre individual, like a Goblin or a very poor bandit or wastrel, someone who would barely be dangerous on their own and who is very clearly driven by fear, rage and low self-esteem.

So they have this thing, maybe its a magic mind-control ring, a lantern which brings nightmares to life, some demon sword which is clearly piloting them around, a false eye which sees lies and fires lasers or something.

Anyway, its made them super-dangerous, much too much to challenge them directly, so the only way to win is to get close to them and work out the patterns and weaknesses of the Thing, and the psychology of the person in question in order to trick or defeat them.

Or, make this a larger problem - maybe some kind of demon box has been opened or some dark traveller is going around handing these things out to low-level scumbags, and someone wants the PCs to deal with it. Possibly an Agent of the Tolerance, like and Inquisitor, is on the case but can't give away their involvement as the mind behind this whole thing is a Major Power? And you can't (or shouldn't) use the things because they get you mind controlled, or mutate you or are obviously radioactive in some way obvious to anyone not using them. (Though PC's will of course be tempted to take them and use them).

10. The Silence in the Ash 

Another "real life"-ish situation. Out on the Margins, the great Ash dunes blowing in from the Waste have sent fingers deeper into Blackwater, separating two villages where communication used to be relatively stable.

Now the road between them leads over the Ash Dunes, and with the dunes have come bandits. Now anyone travelling between the villages is preyed upon. (Maybe the Bandits have some kind of ‘silence engine’ which stops anyone calling for help so all their attacks take place in a creepy silence). Calls for help have been either ignored, or someone from the polity has gone in with 'big battalions' and the bandits have simply fallen back into the Waste, only to return once the heat dies down.

How will the PCs find the Bandits? Tracing their intel source in the villages? Tracking them in the Waste? Using trickery to get themselves attacked? Pretending to join them?

And how will they fight them? Openly using terrain and cunning tactics? Set them up to be attacked by something even more dangerous? Lead them into a trap? Use scheming to set them against each other? And if they stop the bandits, will the dunes start to recede? Is there something even worse either puppeting the Bandits, using them or simply so dangerous that it drove them to this position?

Only three major elements, the Villages, the Dunes and the Bandits, though each would be pretty complex. The villages would be mainly social and political networks, the Dunes largely a map and generator and the Bandits a complex Tactical/Social matrix with their plans, habits, methods and social and other weaknesses coded in.


  1. For #6 I was hoping it was going to be revealed that the empty suit just got up and left on its own. Then the dilemma would be whether the PCs "capture" it or just let it go free.

  2. "The Inquisitors Bequest" is the most appealing idea to me as it might include social situation, fights, quasi-forensics, and general sense of paranoia. In a similar mood is "The Small, Strange Hole" only with more crazy plans and probably less paranoia.