~stick/campaign

Writing a D&D Duet Campaign
clean up cities; episode 7 work; episode 8 start
clarify episode 7 notes
create dungeon for episode seven

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#Duet Campaign

A duet (DM + player) campaign written by a virgin DM, in the Greyhawk setting

#References

#Rules and Content

A Visual Comparison of Several 5e Races

#Duet Combat

#Greyhawk Setting

#Maps

#Flanaess
#Cities

#RNG

#Soundscape

#Translations

  • Dwarvish = Hrvatski (Croatian)
  • Elvish = Suomalainen (Finnish)
  • Gnomish = Cebuano
  • Halfling = Magyar (Hungarian)
  • Orc = Bānlā (Bengali)
  • Thieves' Cant = Esperanto
  • Undercommon = Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole)

#License

©2021 Stick. Where not otherwise specified, this repository is licensed under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

#Initial Setting

Greyhawk

  • Crossroad thorp at fork of Kisail-Attstad and Kisail-Littleberg roads, Duchy of the Reach, Kingdom of Furyondy.

  • Post-war period (10-15 years). While the southern Reach did not actually see the war, many men were conscripted or joined the military. Some did not return. Some of those who did return bore physical and emotional wounds. Area farms almost uniformly led by men whose fathers were either drafted or branded cowards. Many suffer from PTSD caused by child abuse caused by their fathers' war PTSD. Others grew up hard because they had no father to protect them. Casual misogyny rampant based on example of war-stricken previous generation and in reaction to over-prevalence of older women in rural society after the war. Commerce is still depressed; war followed by drought and crises have not allowed rebuilding and export demand has still not returned.

  • {Character} is the oldest child of a widower farmer on a meager homestead north of village. They are too young to remember the war, but grow up in its aftermath.

    • If human:
      • Mother died in childbirth; younger brother survived.
      • Father passed away during the winter; older man who could not be drafted because of his slight frame and weak constitution.
    • If half-elf or half-orc:
      • Elvish or orcish father killed in the war.
      • Human mother passed away during the winter; frail woman whose beauty was elven but lacked their immortal strength and constitution.
    • If halfling, dwarf, or other race:
      • Mother died in childbirth; younger brother survived.
      • Father passed away during the winter; older man considered an outsider in the village.
    • Younger brother ran away years ago, rebelling against his perceived unworthy lineage.
  • Homestead farm is failing. Once upon a time it boasted tall corn, laying hens and attendant roosters, and a few swine. Only a few chickens remain; no other animals. (There was a pig, but now there is just salt pork.) Minimal crop yields and a hard winter mean there is no grain left to sow.

  • Minimal possessions at home (form starting equipment from the list below):

    • Several sets of worn clothing: common and travelers' clothes for summer and winter seasons
    • Farm tools (flail, handaxe, light hammer, sickle, shovel)
    • Religious texts given by itinerant bands of various religions (Heironeous, Rao, Cuthbert, Mayaheine, Zilchus, Trithereon, Fharlanghn, Beory) over the years, some of which have pages torn out for other uses
    • Enough food for one person for a few weeks: hard winter corn biscuits, salted pork, shriveled apples (forms 10 days' rations)
    • Cups, spoons, bowls, knives
    • Iron stewpot (large, on a tripod over the hearth) and iron camp pan (with dishes and utensils, forms mess kit)
    • Small lamp and a few flasks of oil
    • Blankets and straw bedding
    • A pair of waxed canvas ponchos (with blanket, forms bedroll)
    • Rough wooden table and chairs
    • Backpack and small pouch (can become component pouch)

#Planned Leveling Table

Episode Level
1 0 -> 1
2 1
3 1 -> 2
4-5 2
6 2 -> 3
7-9 3
10 3 -> 4

#Episode 1: The End

Hooks:

  • Long lost brother
  • Conspiracy theories of local village qultists

#Encounter 1: Drunken Foreboding

{Character}, wondering how long their food will last one early spring evening, interrupted by drunken neighbor Emon Yardleh banging on door. Emon is yelling that {war cowards/the unfit/{Character race}/women} should not own property, especially if they cannot run a farm properly. The man is spoiling for a fight; he has a dagger at his waist but seems to have forgotten it and comes out punching wildly.

Possible resolutions:

  • Kill neighbor (self defense?)
  • Neighbor passes out, what to do then?
  • Neighbor persuaded to leave
  • {Character} leaves

#Encounter 2: The Fire

Note: fighting is not meant to be an option.

The next evening, soon after sundown, a group of 9 men with torches show up outside the house. They yell for {Character} to come out. All but one man are from the crossroads village; another is unknown. They demand {Character} leave, and take the influence of their family with them. There is no taking no for an answer; the thatch will be on fire momentarily.

Possible resolutions:

  • Persuade them to let you grab things out of the house, then run away
  • Grab'n'go while the thatch is on fire

Note: what do you take with you?

#Episode 2: The Road

Hooks:

  • Faerie Death Drop
  • Spirits of the departed beasts

Encounters in this session should happen in whatever order makes most sense.

#Encounter: A Ruined Hovel

The Ruined Hovel

When looking for a spot to rest, {Character} comes upon a small valley with a central stream, and the scene above: a ruined stone hut. Inside, a skeleton... roll for initiative!

On a DC12 investigation check (or DC15 arcana or insight check, followed by DC10 investigation check), a loose stone in the wall near the hearth reveals a small bag of gold and one small gemstone of a sickly pink color.

If {Character} takes the gem, this sets them up for future encounters with fey or necrotic elements.

#Encounter: New Life, Axebeaked

Pass by a small herd of {antelope or similar} with new young.

Nothing happens.... or {Character} does something. Eventually {Character} moves on.

Later, near {Charater}'s path, they notice a young axe beak tearing into the body of a baby {antelope or similar}. The prey animal shudders its death spasm, with a low strangled cry, as {Character} watches.

A druid or ranger character might feel the presence of the animal's spirit as it departs. What other spirits might be just beyond their fingertips?

If {Character} gets to close, the axe beak might attack....

#Encounter: Clergy Con

2 clergypeople with a tent near the road, each extolling a different deity in friendly rivalry. Each attempts to convince {Character} to join them in a brief moment of worship. DC14 insight, DC15 religion, or DC16 perception reveals it's all a sham....

If {Character} is a paladin or cleric, be sure one of the scammers chooses to support {Character}'s chosen religion.

Possible resolutions:

  • If {Character} fails/does not attempt the checks, and accepts the worship moment with one "clergy", the other attempts to pickpocket {Character}
  • If {Character} makes the check, do they call out the con? Are they willing to start a fight?

#Encounter: Nighttime Visitor

If {Character} takes a long rest too near the road, the visitor is a thief looking for valuables. If they move far from the road, it's a giant badger looking for aromatic food.

#Episode 3: The Town

Attstat

#Encounter 1: Guards, guards

While the city is not walled, there are a few soldiers and city watch around the town, some of whom habitually loiter around the roads on the edges of town. Two such individuals are engaged in conversation as {Character} approaches. One turns and, with a slightly over-the-top polite smile (and intimidating mirth in their eyes), asks {Character} for 1d8 silver as a "city entry fee". A DC14 insight check will reveal the guard's deception; a DC15 perception check will remind {Character} that no one else entering the city seems to be being asked. {Character} can pay the fee, in which case the asking guard turns to his friend in triumph, or refuse, in which case the guard's friend breaks out in mirth. It was a bet, played on an obvious country bumpkin.

#Encounter 2: Odd Stares

This encounter can only occur if {Character} has a Faerie Death Drop (or some other necromantic focus).

In a crowd, a person dressed in shabby but striking black and red pauses awkwardly and stares at {Character} after they pass closely. Subsequently, {Character} encounters this person multiple times, always at a distance and awkwardly trying to escape notice. If approached, the person will flee. If caught or cornered, they will stubbornly lie. The person is a necromancy adept.

#Encounter 3: Not My Cabbages

As {Character} enters a market square, a cabbage merchant is losing their mind because a beetle swarm has descended and is eviscerating his produce. Nearby sellers begin swinging quarterstaffs, clubs, and other simple bludgeoning weapons against the swarm, fearing it will spread to their own wares.

#Encounter 4: Hot Market Blacksmith

As {Character} passes the Rot Irons smithy, two customers flee the establishment. There is a crash and some swearing from inside. The smith --- a short, burly man in only an apron, cotton breeches, and hobnail boots --- stomps out, blowing out a sharp breath and pressing a damp cloth to his forearm. "Another bloody ooze," he exclaims in frustration to no one in particular. It is obvious he is hoping someone will volunteer to help. His name is Rot Smithers.

#Encounter 5: Bad Bard

{Character} finds an inn near the river (the Boatman's Harpoon) and goes in. An elven woman is playing the lyre in a corner, surrounded by human men and women in rapt appreciation. As {Character} listens for a few minutes, they begin to find the song ...unsettling. The music becomes more and more emotional; the singer speaks of the beauty of the land, freedom, the valor of the king, and honorable sacrifice in war. Then the tone darkens. Carefully worded lyrics dance around the idea of threats and traitors. More and more of the listeners begin to glance at the lone dwarf at the bar (and if {Character} is not human or elven, at {Character} too). Many begin to drop coins into an open purse on the bard's table.

Before the song ends, the dwarf gets up, drops a few silver on the table, and heads for the door. A few of the more emotionally affected listeners give each other knowing glances, and follow.

If {Character} does not follow, they hear the sounds of a fight starting in the street outside.

If {Character} is not human or elvish, the listeners also attack {Character}.

If the fight goes too long, city watch or soldiers might show up.

#Episode 4: The Outcasts

This session's direction is almost entirely player-driven. The DM should have options available for {Character} to move away from Attstat in any possible direction. The expected option is for {Character} and Stari to continue southeast along either the Att River or along the south or east roads. If qultists die during the bar brawl, it will be dangerous for Stari to go back into the city. If guards die, it will be all but impossible. If {Character} joined the fight, the same danger will apply to them.

#Basic Travel Plan

Stari is a nice travel companion (and handy in a fight), but not interested in adventures and only able to teach dragonchess (with which he will be delighted) or great weapon fighting. If {Character} asks, he will be happy to start teaching them Dwarvish. He's not going south to Veluna, though... no interest in the constant proselytizing.

Does {Character} forage? Do they feed the birds or other animals? Do they spend time practicing skills? Meditating? Observing nature?

#Encounter Plan: East Road

The east road flows across the grassland; more axe beaks, antelope, and the like. Eventually there is an intersection where the party needs to turn south at the edge of a forest. There could be a thorp (with more qultists?) at the crossroads. Some good village encounter ideas here. There could be lumberjacks.

Once the party turns south, they're in the woods, and end up at Stalmaer on the border with Verbobonc. It's a smaller city than Attstat, more of a large village; there are several other villages within a few hours' walk. Once in Verbobonc, the party is quickly in the woods. Could they meet druids? Wolves? Lumberjacks?

#Encounter Plan: Att River

Houseboats! Gypsy gnomes! {Character} (and Stari?) will get picked up by Madato and Mamatay Sa Pagsulay, a pair of gnome women floating a shallow-bottomed barge with a wattle-and-daub house built on the deck. The group floats down the river for two weeks, with nothing untoward occuring except that on one occasion M&M pull into the shallows and disappear for several hours. When they return, Madato pulls a crossbow bolt from Mamatay's shoulder, heals the wound, and mends Mamatay's clothing.

Throughout the idyllic float, the party forages for fresh food, but subsists mainly on M&M's store of ale ("the Margrave's choice"), candied pecans, and smoked venison.

The river goes to Stalmaer, just like the east road. As the city comes into view, the gnome women point out that they have been very generous, and ..."request" that {Character} and Stari pay up by helping M&M to "re-provision" the houseboat via a small heist in town.

#Encounter Plan: South Road

The south road handrails woods to the west for a while, then crosses the grassland. There's a crossroad near the border with Veluna, and a bridge over the Velverdyva River. The village there, Stone River, should probably have a small garrison of terrible (fat, slow, dumb, etc) soldiers and maybe a bored administrator. Veluna is a Theocracy; probably the administrators are clerics. More woods here too.

#Episode 5: The Border

Stalmaer

The city of Stalmaer sits on the border between Furyondy and Verbobonc, near where the Att river terminates into the Velverdyva river. Smaller than Attstat, it is nonetheless more cosmopolitan due to its crossroads nature.

M&M want to find some spices, exotic fruit, smoked meats, etc from the customs warehouse. They demand Stari and {Character} assist in the heist. They disguise themselves as twin elf merchantwomen and work to snatch a customs order, then forge their own. Stari and {Character} are to be the muscle, carrying found items out of the warehouse.

Possible resolutions:

  • Caught (well, Stari and {Character}; M&M escape)... and taken to the customs officers. They are offered a deal: assist a certain elf lawman in apprehending a dangerous bandit on the loose outside of town, or sit and rot until the next time a Knight of the Hart visits Stalmaer to render judgments.
  • Success? Stari waves goodbye to M&M --- does {Character} do so too?

Either way, Stari no longer wishes to travel with the gnome boatwomen, preferring to remain on the right side of the law (though he has enjoyed the good ale and candied pecans).

If {Chracter} remains in Stalmaer, there are several inns and taverns, some artisans, and the Merchari household has recently been prevailed upon to ...acquire assistance for a certain elvish paladin. Not exactly interested in spending their personal guards (or the customs officers who may or may not be on their payroll), the Merchari have their agents post notices near the inns requesting any available adventurers report to the Merchari residence near the center of town.

#Episode 6: The Bandit

Inspired by Dungeon-a-Week #2: The Bandit Hideout

An elvish paladin, Älä Tuomitse Ettei Sinua Tuomittaisi represents one faction of the government of Celene and is tracking a murderous bandit and his group of ne'er-do-wells. With Älä is Riittävän Kehittynyt Tekniikka, an elvish sorcerer whose services he has already engaged. The elves believe that their quarry has holed up in the woods to the north of Stalmaer.

If {Character} (with Stari) volunteers for the stated reward of 1,000 sp, Älä wishes to depart early morning the next day. The party should venture north on the road, attempting to either escape the bandits' notice or draw the bandits out by seeming a rich soft target. If they don't manage to draw any attention, Älä's intelligence indicates that there is a ruined priory north of the road near the Velverdyva river.

While moving through the forest, the party will be ambushed, first by 2 scouts with a mastiff, and later by at least 1 ettercap.

The priory itself consists of a small chapel (40 ft. by 70 ft.) with a few smaller rooms connected to the sides and rear. Some of the external doors are locked; the main sanctuary doors are not. Standing watch outside the building are thugs and bandits, 1 near each external door. There are also two more mastiffs outside. The rest of the bandits and thugs (4 of each in total, inside and outside) are inside, along with Ḍākāta Cā'i (the bandit captain Älä is looking for), an acolyte (the group's healer) and a commoner (the captain's ...squeeze). If pressed (majority of thugs and bandits dead), Ḍākāta Cā'i will flee with whatever members of his group are available... leaving his chest of treasure behind. If he flees, how will the party capture him (or will {Character} take the treasure and run)?

Tracking (DC12 Survival) the fleeing bandit captain will lead the party back to the road (failures in tracking will lead the party to an ettercap's nest instead). The party may also come upon Ḍākāta Cā'i's female companion, injured and abandoned (or left behind as a decoy). The trail will turn north; after some time, the party arrives at the bandits' preferred ambush area, where the remaining members of the bandit party lurk in wait....

#Episode 7: The Crypt

Inspired by Dungeon-a-Week #3: The Crypt and Forsaken Labyrinth of the Golden Baron

At some point before they depart Stalmaer, {Character} and Stari (and Riittävän, if {Character} asks her) are met by an exceptionally graceful woman in a tantalizing purple dress. She introduces herself as Ardor Merchari. Conspiriatorally, she shares that there is a Merchari family crypt underneath the Stalmaer fortress, and offers the party another 100 gp if they will retrieve certain items from within. If persuaded (DC 10), she is willing to pay as much as 200 gp per member instead of a flat rate total. (It's a trap!)

If the party assents to the woman's offer, she leads them around to the northwest side of the Stalmaer fortress walls, near the river. From a safe distance, she points out a cleverly hidden burrow entrance. The burrow is large enough for a small creature to walk into, or a medium creature to crouch. The party's employer explains that the burrow has breached a wall in the tomb, and warns that the tomb is probably well-trapped. If the party does not have thief's tools, their employer helpfully provides them.

As the party descends, they find two rough chambers off the main tunnel. The first is the lair of two constrictor snakes; the second is a camp with three kobolds in residence. Beyond, the tunnel looks crudely shorn up (as if by the kobolds); then it breaches a thick stone wall (of the tomb complex). Just inside the stone wall is the body of a dwarf man, recently deceased (DC12 Investigation or Insight: less than a week). His pockets are empty and he carries no equipment (DC13 Investigation or Insight: looted), and it appears (DC10 Medicine or Insight) that he was killed by daggers in the back.

"Merchari" Tomb Map

The party makes their entrance through the corridor at the northernmost side of the map (above room 3). Traps and features are as described in the generated writeup.

  • Room 2 is the actual target room; it contains an alchemy jug on a small pedestal in the back of the room. This is the item requested by the party's employer.

  • Room 3 is inhabited by 5 kobolds.

  • Room 4 includes a large clay pot (5 hp). Inside the pot, the kobolds have trapped a giant centipede. If the kobolds in room 3 manage to chase any characters into room 4, the kobolds will target the pot with ranged attacks in an attempt to loose the centipede among the party.

  • Room 5 is inhabited by 3 kobolds. After every other round of combat in room 3, one of these kobolds will join the fight there.

  • Room 6 is a family tomb; there are 6 sarcophagi in the room, one of which is broken open and empty (there are a few bones on the floor). Unless the ghost in room 7 has already been sated, opening any of the other sarcophagi will unleash a skeleton (5 skeletons total), and inside each there are various items of jewelry worth 4gp.

  • Room 7 is the main tomb, and contains an elaborate sarcophagus as well as the features mentioned in the writeup. Opening it will release the ghost of a long dead noble, who will converse with the party (unless they reveal that they are looting the tomb). If it becomes hostile, it is not able to chase them beyond the limits of its room. In life, the ghost spent their effort, fortune, and time in perfecting an alchemy jug --- the same one as is found in room 2 --- but they died before seeing it complete. The ghost may be sated by a drink of wine from the jug; if so, it will depart. However the party deals with the ghost, there is an empty vial and an amulet in the now-uninhabited elaborate sarcophagus.

  • Room 8 is inhabited by a black dragon wyrmling. The kobolds serve and venerate this wyrmling; the dragon sees the kobolds as target practice when more interesting prey is not available. When the party enters this room, roll a D20.

    • 1-10: The dragon is in the room.
    • 11-20: The dragon is out of its burrow; the party meets the dragon on their way out, near the kobold camp cave.

    Regardless of whether the dragon is in its room or not, the room contains a meager treasure hoard:

    • 12 pp, 259 gp, 961 sp, 75 cp
    • 14 gemstones worth 10 gp each (4 banded agate, 1 eye agate, 1 malachite, 4 obsidian, 4 tiger eye)

#Episode 8: The Capitol

The party ({Character}, Stari?, Riitavan?) decides to go somewhere. Is it Verbobonc? Is it somewhere else?

The party should execute a skills challenge. They must successfully complete 4 ability checks to pass. Every two failed ability checks results in a wandering monster / random (hostile) encounter ambush. The player should narrate at least 1 ability check scene for each party member.

Eventually the party arrives at their destination. They should find a place to stay (Stari will expect this, if he's there). They might want to go shopping. What about some rumors?