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Comments: 15
Ideas: 12
Rating: 3.5714
Condition: Normal
ID: 3670


February 20, 2007, 7:39 pm

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The Scene is Set...


“While traveling you stumble upon…um…you stumble upon…”

Every now and then a GM, diligent as he may be in his preparations, comes to an impasse. The PCs have strayed too far or into uncharted areas on his map. Now what?

This Codex is home to scrolls filling a common need, back-up plans and quick side-quests!
It is also an exercise in improvisation…

Every scroll will lead off with a visual scene, a simple description. Immediate things like “the smoldering remains of a campfire, a thin tendril of smoke still rising from the ashes” or “blood soaked bedding and a pair of new, clean boots at the foot of the bed”. Then, from the description it is up to you to explain what is happening. Details hidden from the first glance, what has transpired in the scene already and plot hook or minor side-quests are the object. Be descriptive!

(As usual, short & sweet description for the scene and all scrolls submitted for each scene should have a plot hook or two. Please


to each scroll to add a description, or

Submit Scroll

to submit a scene to be described by others.)

Additional Ideas (12)

"Coming over the rise of the hill your senses are assailed by a horrid sight and even more horrid smell. Hanging before you is the rotting body of a young man. His clothes are torn in several places and he is wearing no shoes. His feet are tied to the post and his arms are nailed up above his head. By the smell he's been dead for a week. There is the remains of a campfire and a small stack of wood and kindling close by. Scraps of gristle and gnawed on bones are scattered near the fire."

2007-02-18 11:07 PM » Link: [3670#25203|text]
The young man was part of a bandit clan, but after getting caught trying to steal from the clan's leader his punishment was brutal and quick, though his death lingered. If the PC's are chasing this clan for some McGuffin or another, the fact that the boy is a week dead should be enough, but if they summon his spirit for information, it will tell them of its death and urge them to avenge it.

2007-02-19 03:39 PM » Link: [3670#25232|text]
"Crawling through a rather tight bend in the tunnels you are exploring the area ahead begins to brighten. Reaching the end of the cramped passage it has opened up into a large room. Racks of rusted weapons line one wall, cots the other. A table with two chairs is set with cheap ceramic plates and rusted utensils. The food that was on the plates are now dust. There is a lantern on the table, still burning. The dust in the room has not apparently been disturbed nor has the door, which is barred from the inside."

2007-02-18 11:21 PM » Link: [3670#25204|text]
"After a good meal and a few too many pints of mead, you stumble up the stairs of the inn to your room. Loosing your balance you fall against a door breaking the bar locking it and onto the floor of the room next to yours. As you try to lift yourself from the floor your hand slips on a warm, thick liquid...blood. There is blood everywhere;the walls, the floor, even the bed. Gaining your feet you survey the room. The heavy lock on the window is still set and the bar locking the door is now in splinters on the floor, thanks to you. A backpack is sitting in the chair and a spilled pouch of gold is lying on the bed."

2007-02-18 11:33 PM » Link: [3670#25205|text]
The forest ends past the next few trees, beyond there is a wide open field of tall grass which waves in the breeze. Jutting out of the grass is a ten foot obelisk, weathered with age, the writing on the top, above the grass, is hard to decipher from this distance.

It is a marker of
A. Something that happened here
B. Someone buried here
C. Distance to a town that no longer exists
D. A warning
E. A prophecy

2007-02-19 12:51 AM » Link: [3670#25210|text]
Taking a bit from C. How about a town that never existed...

2009-10-07 11:13 AM » Link: [3670#72617|text]
Stopping by the riverbank to fill your waterskins, you see the skeleton of a wooden boat is slowly rotting between the willows and the reeds. The wood looks burnt and unsalvagable but under the water you see something shiny. Reaching into the cold water, you feel around until you hit something solid and pull up a locket.
"Save that for later"

2007-02-19 01:36 AM » Link: [3670#25213|text]
That night the PC's dreams are rife with turmoil, dreams of death and fire.

"Burn the witch!" The mob screams, pulsing from within with a hatred rarely seen in the world. No longer composed of individuals, but as one organism devoted entirely to hatred the bound her and beat her, tossing her back into the small boat she'd been trying to hide in. Filling it up to the gunnels with tinder and wood they kicked it out into the current, tossing torches onto it as they did.

Upon waking the PC notices that the locket, which was once in their pocket, is in their hand and seemingly coated in tears. The character, if motivated to try and part with it, will find themselves unable to, having become in the short time they've owned it, emotionally attached. They might have a few nights good honest sleep after this, but eventually the dreams will resume.

A faceless man, with a dark hood drawn over his head, is crying over a stream, though you can't see his face. The willows around him seem to be in mourning as well, even more than a willow is normally, the tree seems to slouch with a feeling of defeat. The man, still crying, rises out of the crouch he was in and hold out a necklace with some sort of silver pendant on the end, and then tosses it into the water whispering to something unseen, "For you, my darling, I'll never forget."

The PCs eventually make it to a town, to restock and the like, but as they're walking in they pass by a grisled old man, shackled to the wall. He seems to be within steps of Death's Gate, but as the PCs walk by he looks up, and locking his eyes upon the locket that the PC had unconciously put on, he started.

"Child, where did you get that? The trinket you wear round your neck, and the tears it carries in its heart?"

Seeing his sudden movement the guard starts, and suddenly his crossbow is pointed at the PCs, and the trigger is all but pulled.

"Calm yerself, Crombie. Just cause I killed you dear old man, and burnt his damn house to the ground for what he did to Ansonia when we was both kids, doesn't mean everything I do around you is out for your death."

As the PCs and the chained man, who eventually names himself as Abner, talk about the locket the story comes out about how it was his girl, his lovely Ansonia was burnt to death by the locals for fear that she was a murderer, demon-worshiper, and necromancer. Fueled by his hatred Abner proceeded on a campaign against the locals, killing and raiding, and was only recently caught by a group of adventurers. All he asks for from the PCs is that they give him the locket.

2007-02-19 11:12 PM » Link: [3670#25245|text]
"As you make your way out of the forest, and the town on your map comes into view, you see the walls are painted in bright, sickly shades of red, green, and blue. The houses crouched outside the walls are clearly abandoned, and the city gate seems to have been battered down."

2007-02-20 01:23 PM » Link: [3670#25257|text]
"As you walk through the seedier part of town, trying your best to ignore the piles of refuse you step over, you see a man on the side of the street. He's leaning against the way watching you, and as you look closer, you see that he has a knife sticking part-way out of the side of his head."

2007-02-20 01:29 PM » Link: [3670#25258|text]
Calling on the town medic, you find his study in disarray, blood on the operating table, and tears in the floor leading to the basement door which is bolted shut.

2007-02-22 02:53 PM » Link: [3670#25307|text]
You actually made it out alive, ha, no one in your party died and you made out with some loot. You return to town victorious, ready to celebrate in the local tavern with any barmaid you can.
As you walk through the streets, the city seems quieter, more solemn and stark. Old ladies close and bar their windows as you pass. Where are the flowers, ribbons, and fireworks, you wonderer as a child cracks the door to his home only to have it shut forcibly by his mother. What has befallen this town in the last 3 days while you were gone, weren't they just in the middle of a festival when you left. None of the decorations are up...

2007-02-22 03:47 PM » Link: [3670#25310|text]
"Entering the clearing, you see before you a massive cauldron set upon a broad cairn of small stones. The cauldron, a vessel of ancient, verdigrised bronze, is not deep, but is quite wide, perhaps over seven feet across. As you draw closer, you can make out that the bowl-shaped vessel is filled with coarse, white crystals, some of which show rusty, red bloodstains. A bloody handprint is clearly visible near the edge of the cauldron."

A two-piece cover for the cauldron is hidden in the brush nearby; its battered oaken face covered with ancient Druidic glyphs. Those digging in the salt that fills the cauldron will find the remains of several teenaged girls, each desiccated corpse clad in a bloodstained linen robe.

2007-02-22 03:48 PM » Link: [3670#25311|text]
"At a wide spot on the trail, sheltered by two rocky outcrops, you see the remains of a burnt-out campfire. Several items litter the ground nearby: A tangled set of reins, a torn bedroll, a battered dutch oven with the remains of a berry cobbler spilling from it, a bent pewter spoon, and a scattered pile of firewood. Hanging in a nearby tree is a large wicker backpack, swinging in the capricious breeze from a rope thrown over one of the tree's solid boughs."

The party camping here was interrupted by one of the area's more powerful predators and ran for their lives, leaving their dangling pack of provisions behind.

2007-02-22 04:02 PM » Link: [3670#25313|text]
"As you walk this odd corner of woods, you notice somewhat different plants, but they look familiar. The trees are of slightly different types as well. A grey hare with black stripes darts into the undergrowth, at least that much is normal. Different place, different colors, nothing to worry about. There is a bird, kind of like a pigeon, chirping a lovely song on the tree nearby, seems to be following you. Not such a bad place after all."

"What is that heap... moving, or... you made a noise, and a flock of birds flies in panic. It is a dead deer, half-eaten, the flock settles on the trees around and waits until you leave. It is the same kind of bird, that you have seen, following. He is waiting on you."

Every now and again the heroes enter a 'different' area. This is one way to let them know how unsafe it can be. The birds are basically harmless, but the predators have some exotic features as well.

2009-10-12 05:11 PM » Link: [3670#72639|text]
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Comments ( 15 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Scrasamax
February 19, 2007, 0:50
Not a bad idea, but it seems a bit too open ended.
the Wanderer
February 19, 2007, 8:26
That's the scrolls to see how many different ways a "scene" could be "painted". Great exercise and a good repository of "quick plot hooks" when it grows...
February 19, 2007, 0:56
I like the fact it is open ended
kind of a starter idea dump, any of these things could evolve into something else with some work.
Voted valadaar
February 19, 2007, 10:16
I think this is quite a useful idea. Although many who frequent this site are excellent GMs with wonderful pre-planning, others, such as myself, tend to rely on ad-libbing instead of preparation, and sometimes I draw a blank. This type of sub is a great way to jump-start and carry on.

There are a number of these types of subs - such as Tales of the Road,Where the Road May Take You, etc.

Perhaps adding 3 possible next steps would be useful, ALA Tales of Adventure.
Voted Cheka Man
February 19, 2007, 11:35
Only voted
the Wanderer
February 19, 2007, 23:20
Updated: This is taking a great turn! Not only plot hooks, but side quests too! Updated to include this new development...
Voted Murometz
February 20, 2007, 9:49
Great scroll! Fun, creative writing, working off of other's ideas. Me'likes! Will be adding to it this week.
February 20, 2007, 11:28
There should be something at the start of the scroll, or a table of contents to differentate the general area of the sub. If this grows as it should, it may be difficult to quickly find a sub for your needs :)
February 20, 2007, 11:31
Also, should be able to add XP to a reply on a scroll!
Voted Pariah
February 20, 2007, 13:21
I've helped an not voted till now, shame on me.
Voted Jarons20
February 22, 2007, 14:54
I like these "distraction" quests
Voted Wulfhere
February 22, 2007, 15:51
Not a bad idea. I like to have a few "seeds" handy, especially when I'm running something after several days without enough rest...

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Strolen

A basin type hole in the middle of the plains. Once every so many years the rains come very hard and flood this place. Maybe that is where the tribes congregate for their tribal meetings.

Ideas  ( Locations ) | December 31, 2001 | View | UpVote 0xp

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