Building a Campaign from the Ground Up Part 7

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

DMs, GMs, and other interested parties, welcome back.

Last week was a short post, but we talked about the big escape from slavery. The overall plan was basic enough: climb over the wall in the wee hours of the night. We left out a lot of details and I received your much appreciated input to help give some sense of structure. We’ll pick up with Minni Torre asking the adventurer’s for their help.

The morning comes after the long restful night. Your body aches in every nook and cranny. You may as well have not slept at all. Guards come by and let each cell of prisoners out to a wide open area. There are a few tables with other slaves eatinggoop.  Many guards patrol the sand floor space and there are stone walls the height of three men. Across from the path to the slave quarters is a hole in the wall where people seem to be getting the ’food’. Off to your right is a training area where some slaves practice for their inevitable deaths in the arena and to the left a well-guarded gate. There is also an unknown hut in the far left corner.

From here, we’ll let the characters mosey around a bit. They can talk to other slaves, check out the hut, get food, whatever. The point is for the DM to gather what peaks their interest and make note of it. This can then be used by the DM to help craft the rest of the escape and such.

If your paladin is super curious about the hut, then we’ll use that to feed their story. If the fighter wants to spar with other slaves, let him; this is key. Why? It lets the players do what they want and allows their actions to choose the important aspects of the story. EVERYTHING the players do that isn’t “part of the plan” should be noted by the DM. If a player decides to skin off the face of a kobold and wear it as a mask (yes this happened in my last game session) then the DM has to make use of that detail.

Why? It’s simple if you think about it. At its core, it’s all about player engagement. Let’s take the mask example; if your player does that and you’re just like ‘ok’ and the player then walks up to an NPC and the NPC doesn’t have any reaction what-so-ever or doesn’t even notice the mask, then you’re essentially ignoring your player. You’re saying ‘That’s cool, but nobody cares.’ You’re not giving them any repercussion to their roleplaying. This is dangerous territory. Your player will start thinking their actions don’t matter, or feel like their character has no influence on the story at all. You begin to lose that player’s engagement and they begin to become less invested. Getting players invested, truly feeing and caring about the world and their characters, is one of the hardest things as a DM and unfortunately it can be lost through the smallest things.

So, we prompt our DM to take a minute and see what the players do. What ways/items they find interesting or seem questionable about. Make note and use them as fuel for the fire later.

While the players are doing their thing, Minni Torre will approach them in some sort of sneaky way. We’re not going to define this but rather allow the DM to utilize the player’s actions to figure it out. We will provide some examples though. For instance: if the players decide they want to spar, Minni can challenge one of them and begin conversation while they’re grappling, shoving, wrestling, etc. Or if they  are interested in getting slop, we can have a message written in their food to meet her behind the hut. Different play groups will find different things interesting, so we really want the DM to take advantage of that.

However the players meet Minni, we’ll prompt the DM with how to role play her and provide her details as per the usual.

Minni Torre is a wiry Halfling woman with white streaked black hair. She’s got an air of wisdom to her and comes off very confident. She has accepted life for what it is. She doesn’t enjoy slavery, but instead of moping about it she’s adapted and this has earned her the trust of fellow slaves. Unlike the party, she does not get thrown into the arena for battle but is sold for sexual pleasures. She’s been in the camp for almost 5 years last she counted. Her and some fellow slaves have been working on a plan for quite a while, but need some muscle and thinks the party will be perfect. She’s very open about her past life; she used to be a baker. Her husband got into some gambling trouble with the wrong crowd and the two of them were kidnapped in the middle of the night. They strung up her husband and dragged her with them for a week before selling her to Janu

After the DM interacts with players a little bit, he’ll bring up the big plan.

Listen, we’re planning an escape for tonight at 1 A.M. when the moon begins falling over the west wall,          we’re going to scale it. We’ve been scouting and planning for over a year now, and the wall is left                    unattended for a good hour. We’re going to need some muscle, like you, just in case there’s any trouble.        You in?”

    “Good. It’s not going to be easy. You’ll need to find a way out of your cell. Some of the other slaves are           digging their way out; personally I stole one of the guard’s keys.” She pulls a key out of her pocket to show     the players. “We also need a way to hinder the guards if they come after us. Late at night, most of them        will be out beyond the gate and they’ll come hurrying in through it. We need to set a trap of some sort, or        barricade it to slow them down. I’ll leave that up to you guys.”

   “We’ll handle the rest, just be sure to meet us here (wherever she’s talking to them) when the moon starts       to fall.”

From there, she can answer a few questions but suggests the party hurries before they’re locked back in their cells.

You’ll notice I said 3 objectives last week and I’ve only talked about 2 here. Well, I’ve decided to change it up a bit. Mainly, I’ve decided we’d let the players show their creativity. The DM can come up with a trap for the guards if they need to help move their players along, but I like the idea of leaving it up to them. I think it’ll help give the players ownership and investment of the plan. They can literally implement whatever they think up. This could be too open ended, but let’s reward them for being creative if nothing else. The DM can always aid them in deriving the plan if need be.

After the players plot and scheme, they’ll need to take action. This, again, will be a bit of improvising by the DM. We can’t possibly plan for every which way a group of players may approach this, so we have to leave it on the DM. If they want to use a vat of slop to make the ground slippery for the pursuing guards, let them. The DM just has to figure out what they have to do to get it.

So, I think that’s going to be it for this week. Hopefully this will cover the leading up to the big escape. I plan on working on the actual campaign document on the GoogleDrive today. It will have any tweaks and such that need to be made. As usual, I look forward to your feedback :D.

The plan for next week is to pick up at night when the escape plan happens.  Until next time…

Your Bus Writing Chimera Enthusiast


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