DM’s! Have you ever been in a position where you needed a quick break but your players were too ancy to break as well? All you want to do is heat up your pizza, get some fresh air, or maybe even bang your head on the wall? Give your players a silly and fairly useless problem that the team can discuss or deal with themselves or a situation that forces the roleplay to pause.
I present to you Ways a DM Can Stall an Adventure:
- Party member’s familiar or companion ate the party’s map.
- The party’s horses all go into heat.
- A felled bridge forces the party to find an alternate route.
- A hole in the raft or boat forces repair or a new boat to be bought or built.
- A party member is mistakenly thrown in jail.
- Someone put way too much spice in last night’s meal so no one is traveling today.
- Someone in the party didn’t realize that s/he just used poison ivy to… clean up.
- The party’s campfire starts to spread into a wildfire.
- An unforeseen eclipse occurs.
- The players wake up and all discover they are all missing one of their shoes.
- A special merchant or trader greets the party on the road (Provide a pre-created listing of equipment and cost).
- A fog bank rolls in.
- A barwench starts hitting on one of the party members.
- An ominous bird (raven or whatever fits for the society) begins to stalk the players.
- City guards start following you.
- A strange mist engulfs the group silencing everyone. No checks.
- A bizarre rainshower drenches the party causing everyone to suddenly be caught in slow motion. No checks. It’ll take 15 real minutes before they can thoroughly dry off.
- A parade fills the streets: floats, jugglers, fire-eaters, candy-tossers, the works.
- One of the mounts gets stung on the nose by a bee.
- An array of fireworks suddenly shoot through the sky. Look at the pretty colors and shapes! Ooooh… ahhhhh…
- Automatic doors have jammed.
- Plumbing in Captain’s Quarters has backed up.
- Main bridge depressurizes.
- Main computer has decided to play chess instead of going into auto-pilot
- Food generator serves only beer.
- Garbage disposal clogs up.
- Air conditioning goes out and heater wont shut off.
- Hyperdrive system obtains a philosophical AI and challenges all commands.
- Cockpit’s lighting system has been wired with the music center’s equalizer.
- A pressure crack develops in the cargo bay.
- "Check Engine" light turns on.
- Batteries die on gravity boots while washing windows outside.
- Movie theater robot attendant becomes obsessed with Uwe Bowle films
- Submarine’s telescope is stuck.
- Oxygen tank gauges are broken.
Additional Ideas (9)
22-Weapons jam/get stuck in sheath
23-Sudden attack of tiredness
24-PC steps on an iron spike
25-High winds in the opposite direction to the one the PCs want to go in.
26. Buckle securing a saddle releases.
27. Painful migraine headache arrives, temporarily impeding spells and most skills.
28. Important item dropped while in precarious position (while looking over bridge, etc).
29. Horse rears, startled by a figment.
30. Critical component (key, spell component, spare bowstring) misplaced.
31. Muscle spasms kick in, making precise efforts difficult.
32. Meat spoils, possibly causing food poisoning.
33. Beverage spilled upon something non water-resistant (books, tinder, small fire, etc).
34. Bug swallowed or enters ear.
35. An attempt to gauge direction or distance fails, badly.
36. Laces on footwear comes undone.
37. Buckle on armor releases or ceases up.
16. AI is sulking and angry (like Ancient Gamer when he feels wronged)
17. AI is lecturing everyone (like MoonHunter on a roll)
18. AI develops an intense fascination with geometric shapes and starts displaying them on all screens (like Kevin Cook on dice)
19. The cryobay is powered down and the power reserve lasts only a couple of hours, but does not have enough power to awaken the sleepers. After a couple of hours the sleepers will die so the PCs have to regain power somehow.
20. The autodoc has a minor bug and a female PC is mistakenly diagnosed as pregnant. Possibly it identifies someone truly ridiculous as the father too.
21. An incident has occurred and hazardous biological material is exposed in some parts of the ship. There is a lock down until the ship has been thoroughly disinfected. For some harmless fun you can throw in some mutations among the crew. Always fun to go a blasting.
22. A police vessel carrying customs officers dock beside the craft and the customs officers prove to be truly thorough. Lets hope the PCs can sit properly afterwards.
23. A refuge is identified aboard the vessel, but no one can find him. Even worse, in his stuff are some highly illegal drugs, and it seems he has stowed many kilos of the stuff in hidden places.
24. While docked at a space port they visited and had a party at earlier, one of the male PCs is faced with the beautiful girl he slept with... and her triplets. Seems like he is the father...
26-One of the PCs eats some dodgy food and gets the runs
27-A PC's gun/bow accidently goes off at the worst possible time
28. The entire ship's mainframe crashes. Cue five days of hairpulling as all software is reinstalled from disk. ("Damn, I'm missing disk 4/7!" "Whaddyou mean, incompatible drivers. It worked last time!")
29. The custom officials at starbase epsilon-11-alpha are on strike.
30. Work on the space lane is ongoing. when queried, the workers are playing 3D pinball and drinking beer. No-one seems to be in charge.
33: Cloud formation in the shape of a giant hand giving the middle finger menaces the PCs
34: For a day, it rains from the earth to the sky.
35: Forrest Fire
36: PC gets caught in a particularly hard to escape snare
37: PC horse gets spooked and runs off
38: PC's horse loves apples and refuses to follow any commands while they are nearby. Of course, the PCs have to go through an apple orchard to reach their destination.
39: PC cuts themselves in an accident
40: Signs leading towards their destination have been vandalized to give false directions.
41: Signs leading towards party destination are destroyed and/or missing
42: Rare bird tries to nest in a character's hair.
43: Character falls into pit.
44: Player receives 'prophetic' vision.
45: Water supply nearest to the party's camp causes vivid hallucinations.
46: Large explosion a good distance away- alchemedial experiment gone wrong.
47) I keep rolling dice, shaking my head, and telling one or two players that, "you think you hear/ see/ smell something". This slows play down to a crawl as everyone gets cautious.
48) I give an NPC with a bombastic personality over to one of the players to play, who will intearct with the players - give them a bread crumb of a clue, with the secret instruction that the player's normal character gets experience points based on how long they can entertain the players. (Usually good for a quick bite to eat and/or an entire scene played out for a character doing something else).
49) Bats. A swarm of them.
50) Unseasonable weather. Usually Rain. Lots of Rain. Buckets of Rain. Negative Mods to vision and motion rolls, with a roll for "catch a cold" kind of rain.
51) Fish - a school of them - falls from the sky. (Fortian Event or OOP objects)