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Have heroes, need quests...

by Jesper Andersen

'So', Gersaphrion said, 'we've beaten the armies of the Sultan of Shadows, defeated the dragon hordes of Umboria, stolen the crown of the Lich-King of Dusk Land and retrieved the artifacts of all twelve Elder Gods to keep the sun from going out. What's next?'

Are YOUR heroes running out of challenges?

Does it seem like they raced to 20th level without breaking a sweat while all their childhood friends remain 4th level fighters and wizards?

When was the last time your heroes heard of a heroic deed NOT performed by themselves??

And really, what IS keeping them from just taking over the Known World?

I have a recurring problem in my campaigns. We play all of these great, epic modules and somehow the campaign world always seems to have trouble "keeping up". Every significant challenge, every heroic quest, every daring deed is solved by my PCs leaving very few epic adventures for all the other adventurers that must surely be out there - starving for a note from some baron asking them to rescue his daughter from a dragon or something. Anything!

The problem is that when my PCs don't ever hear about other adventurers doing other adventurous stuff, they get cocky. They get megalomania. They get, well... obnoxious. It's not their fault, really, it's mine. Again and again I fail to give them the experience of living in a real, breathing setting where stuff happens -even if they are not there! I find myself too busy preparing game sessions and storylines for the PCs that I neglect all the NPCs in my campaign world. What are they up to? What kinds of challenges do they face? Who picks up the sword and defends the weak when the PCs are not around?

Let me give you an example: In the next 11/2 years of game time IMC my PCs will be playing though the adventures "Saga of the Shadow Lord", "Crown of Ancient Glory" and "Master of the Desert Nomads/Temple of Evil/Red Arrow, Black Shield" - three epic adventures in which the future fate of several nations are decided for years to come!! But the fact that all of these earth-shattering events depend upon my PCs to solve them, gives my players and their characters this weird feeling that they are the only heroes around...

So! What I would like to do with this thread is to collect a series of basic ideas for quests that NPCs can solve and the PCs only hear about! They don't need to be very detailed. Just the where, the when and the how, if you know what I mean.

Hopefully, hearing about the exploits of other heroes will give our PCs a more nuanced picture of the Known World

1. Lord Daegandahl won the yearly tournament at Luln for the fourth year in a row!

2. A band of adventurers calling themselves The Stormwalkers successfully remapped a lost pass through the mountains. Already, Darokin merchants are bidding thousands of gold for a copy of the map, hoping to be first through the pass when the snow melts.

3. An Ethengarian adventurer named Jin Tsui and his companions rallied several tribes of horsemen and defeated a small goblin army invading the steppes. The Golden Khan has rewarded them generously.

4. A Heldannic Knight named Sir Narn succeeded in his quest to find a cave in which Vanya stayed during her quest for immortality. Sir Narn recovered several items allegedly belonging to his immortal patron and brought them with him back to Freiburg. The church now considers organising pilgrimages to the cave.

5. Once every generation or so, red dragons fly out of the Wendarian Range in search of a mate. For several months they wreak havoc and destruction in the countryside as they look for food and battle potential rivals for gold and territory. Last fall, during the Flight of the Dragons, a mysterious wizard from the Great School of Magic and a distant relative of the Ritterburgs named Gerhard Grossmaul and a band of dragon-hunters succeeded in slaying three of the red-scaled beast! Gerhard Grossmaul was in Glantri City two weeks ago, announcing the auctioning of half a dozen dragons eggs to the highest bidder. The auction is to take place in about two months and the Great School of Magic is expected to bid for at least two of the eggs.

by Sheldon Morris

Thought provoking thread here Spellweaver. One thing that came to mind is an adventure scenario in which the PCs were beaten to the location by another adventuring party who tote away all the precious loot, gloating and all! So many variations in the application of this too!

Good idea Goldrak. That's something I should do as well. Right now, I do something similar but place them in the News & Rumours section of our campaign newsletter.

Another use for this thread could be to give as a summary of a tale, song, or epic poem the PCs hear while in a tavern. This is something I've really emphasised to my players; song, dance, ballads, etc., are some of the most common forms of entertainment and are shared frequently. Any of these NPC adventure stories could be used as such after they've happened.

Now then,

6. Last spring in Karameikos, the Foamfire River became dammed up with ice and debris. The collecting water that built up became a strengthening doom, waiting to strike the village of Verge. A group of brave adventurers en route to Threshold aided the village by skilfully relieving the dam.

7. Vacchin has been caught by a company of hired men (who call themselves The Oglarri) in an attempt to kidnap the youngest son of Mundel Callister, head of "Toney House", in Darokin. It hasn't been determined yet what the motive or purpose for the attempt was at this time, but Toney House is confident that both Vacchin will be found guilty, and The Oglarri will uncover the plot's details.

by Jesper Andersen

8. It is widely known that one of Mystara's most skilled explorers of the Elemental Plane of Water is the wizard Dardagast. Trained among other places in Seashield in Alphatia, he can often be encountered between adventures in the Shady Dragon Inn in Darokin City. It is also rumoured that he has a house in the capital of the fabled Undersea Kingdom between Ierendi and Minrothad Guilds. Supposedly, Dardagast is a close personal friend of the king and queen there.

9. A band of adventurers, including the hero of the Northern Campaigns, Murrugan Strongheart and the dwarf sell-sword Minem Glittercopper, has disappeared in the town of Sulba in the Ylari Emirates. Apparently, they were investigating rumours of a conspiracy against the sultan. Rumours say they have fallen at the hand of a mysterious brotherhood of Alasiyan assassins, but Rollo, the younger brother of Murrugan, believes they are alive and were sold as slaves to a caravan headed for Kuznetz.

10. In the spring of 1001 AC, heralds announced that Duke Stefan Karameikos had awarded Court Lordship to Vaught of Dmitrov, Olivia Zistrani, brother Fransico Lambert of the Most Holy Church of Karameikos, Feuderot (a Darokin national) and Abiretan Greybear (an elf). Officially, Vaught, Olivia, Fransico, Feuderot and Abiretan are just adventurers who put a stop to a group of Iron Ring slavers near the town of Penhaligon. However, the fact that it was the Duke in person and not Lady Arteris Penhaligon who granted the status of Court Lord or Lady to the adventurers has sparked conversations all over Specularum of whether the royal family was somehow involved in the affair? Young Lord Valen has been away on his shearing for over six months now and evil tongues talk of the Iron Ring attempting to capture or kill him...

11. The Duke of Kerendas has announced a prize of 10,000 Thyatian gold pieces to the one who wins the archery competition at the annual Kerendan Summer Festival in 1001 AC. The final contest will be to shoot through five metal rings no larger than a few inches in diameter, past five interfering moving targets and then hitting a bullseye one foot in diameter strapped to the chest of the archer's companion! Several months before the contest people are already talking in taverns everywhere about who could make such an impossible shot. Only six people in all the world, most agree. The first is Debenham Farflight, champion in archery 985-991 AC and again in 993 and 996 AC. The second is Ribalsun Hawkeye, royal archery champion to His Royal Highness King Doriath of Alfheim. The third is 'Mad' Kelly McRoy but the last thing anyone heard of him was that he was wandering the wilds of the Isle of Dawn a few years ago... The fourth is Elanor Joyce who has moved to Alphatia after her husband died. The fifth is Cyrus Townsend, master bowyer and fletcher of Corunglain but everyone says he is retired. And finally, the outlaw known as 'Black Phoenix'. Gamblers and bookies are betting heavily on whether or not the Black Phoenix will show up or not...

12. A band of adventurers in a hamlet south of Elstrich in Darokin have put a stop to a terrible hag. She posed as a grieving mother urging the adventurers to venture into the swamp to search for her lost son. However, once in the swamp, she sprung her ambush on them and a deadly battle ensued. The hag killed two of the adventurers, but the remaining four managed to slay her. In gratitude, many of the villages and hamlets on the borders of the Malpheggi have started a collection hoping to raise enough money to pay the church to raise the two heroes from death.

13. A bandit leader named Andura and her gang has been granted an Imperial pardon for past crimes in Thyatis because of their involvement in the exposure of an Alphatian spy network. In the old days, Andura and her gang of bandits hijacked several Imperial transports of gold passing through the barony of Biazzan from Markrast to Kerendas and from there to Thyatis City. Following her pardon, Andura has opened a tavern called The Snake in Hillfork with several of her men working there.

14. Something had caused the famous apple orchards of Wereskalot to wither, the apples rotting on the branches of the trees. The halfings sent for help from the druids in the Achelos woods, who gave them three bottles of antidote to cure the trees. On their way home, the halfling party was attacked by a terrible Hill Giant living in the stony hills west of the Cruth River. He grabbed the Hin and put them in his giant bag, but there was no room for the last one, a halfling named Roland, so he tossed him into some trees and left him for dead.
Roland managed to return to Wereskalot and crying told his story just as a band of human and elven adventurers arrived. They were: Tassis, a warrior from Darokin, Ormine, a cleric from Thyatis, Skelaldo, a Glantrian wizard on the run, and Tathindra an elven girl from Alfheim. Together, Tassis, Ormine, Tathindra and Skelaldo managed to track the giant and kill him, free the halflings and return the potions to Wereskalot in time to save the trees and the apple harvest. They also managed to capture a wooddrake, who was responsible for the poisoning. He admitted to have been hired by a human apple farmer near Riverfork Keep, who was depressed that the halflings' apples were always better than his own.

15. Last winter, the brave adventurer Jacques Tavanier died in the village of Les Hiboux in Glantri. Mourners had come from far away to pay their respects for Jacques Tavanier was a hero of his time, having battled monsters in the Glantrian Alps for nearly two decades. However, during the final ceremony before Tavanier's body could be placed in the crypt along with the other distinguished members of the local community, Les Hiboux was suddenly and ferociously attacked by zombies. Nobody knew where they had come from, but as the terrified villagers and funeral guests tried to barricade themselves in the stone building where the ceremony was being held, the undead Tavanier suddenly rose from his coffin and started killing. Chaos ensued as villagers and guests tried to flee only to be met by bloodthirsty zombies in the streets.
A young boy escaped on a horse and made it to Touraine, from where a party of adventurers were dispatched immediately. Lionnel Alliaume, Conrad Duval, Firmin Lafitte, Edmond Carré and Fleurette Perrault arrived at Les Hiboux two days later but by then there was nobody alive in sight. After several encounters with the flesh-eating zombies they managed to track down Jacques Tavanier's undead form in the crypt and slay him. Before that, however, Firmin had been bitten by a zombie and an hour later he turned into a zombie himself! Stricken with panic and grief, his friends put him at peace.
No more than 36 villagers from Les Hiboux survived those winter days when the Dead Walked, but new settlers, along with a small force of men-at-arms paid for by Touraine, have since arrived.
The Great School of Magic has offered a substantial reward to anyone who can provide evidence as to where this new type of "contagious zombies" came from. In Glantri City, people whisper fearfully of an experiment to create a new breed of soldiers gone horribly wrong...