As a reminder, the idea here isn’t necessarily to use all of the events I’m posting. In fact I didn’t when running my game. Just highlight the tone, NPCs and problems that you and your players will find most interesting.
I’ve had a couple people ask me, “So why bother prepping them at all?”
Well… because I’m not that comfortable with that level of improvisation yet.
It is something I am working on, but these little planned scenes help me feel confident before and during the game. They are concrete scenes for me to use if necessary. Could you just use the prompts from Justin’s original article and make these scenes up as you go? Sure! Could I? Not yet… It would just be too overwhelming for me to run. Perhaps you feel the same, in which case hopefully these pre-planned scenes will help you too.
Today’s scenes are bonus content I hadn’t originally planned to include. I ended up passing over them on my own campaign, as getting everything in a single session was important to me at the time. However, if I were to run the campaign again it would definitely be something I’d do over two sessions to really highlight the distance between Elturel and Baldur’s Gate and to juxtapose city life to wilderness and rural life.
Any: Bad Fortunes
Things start to go wrong with the journey. Food has spoiled unexpectedly, harsh weather causes a miserable days travel, a wagon axle breaks.
These are a series of mini events which you can spread out and place on pretty much any day, or you could group them into a single day if you prefer making for one very bad day.
Pal has carried out his check on the supplies, under the meticulous eyes of Ippon. One of the food stores have spoilt. There’s just not enough to last the rest of the trip. How will the PCs handle the situation? There should be a small village nearby (Groatfield), woods with game to hunt, the Chionthar has fish to catch, and so forth.
Thunder clouds loom on the horizon and within an hour are hanging dark overhead – the clap of thunder and lighting fills the sky.
Safe travel is almost impossible in such weather and it may force a day of camping out. Vision is obscured beyond 20 feet due to the downpour and unprotected flames are likely to go out.
A Wagon Breaks
The mud from yesterday’s downpour causes travelling the main road difficult, yet trying to skirt it proves risky too. One of the wagons slips into a ditch, breaking its axle in the process. It will need to be dragged out and then repaired.
This probably involves some sort of Carpenter’s Tools being used, or a spell like Mending. Ippon could provide some tools and supplies and Wellum might be able to assist with the actual repairs.
Optional Combat Encounters
Spoilt Supplies: The enemy type depends on what your PCs choose to do to locate food – they might split up, allowing you to run simultaneous combats but in entirely separate places and even times. Consider 1 boar per PC in the woods, 1 sahuagin per 2 PCs by the river or 2 bandits per PC after exiting Groatsfield with supplies.
Harsh Weather: A nest of stirges, 2 per PC, descend and attack. They drop down, attack and then fly up into the air if they fail to latch on. Ranged attacks have disadvantage due to the heavy rain and limited visibility of the thunderstorm.
A Wagon Breaks: Churning of earth heading straight for a wagon erupts as an ankheg bursts forth. This may be quite a difficult encounter for a level 1 party so consider having it initially burst out and surprise attack a horse and try to drag it back to its larvae, only fighting the PCs if they attack it. It will flee, preferably with prey, by burrowing underground and retreating as fast as possible back to its nest.
Each of these scenes is designed to provide some sort of complication and level of mundanity. After all there are lots of problems that can arrive on such a long trip.
Really the problems aren’t about mechanics and complex skill checks to solve them. It is a matter of player creativity. Pretty much any proposed solutions could work!
If you have an exceptionally long session, or are having the journey play out over multiple sessions, then these elements could be expanded into ‘campfire’ style scenes with in character roleplaying if that sort of thing interests your group. Simply grab a handful of Dara’s Refugees and throw them into the scene with the PCs.
Maybe Ippon (and a bemoaning Pal) want to head to the village of Groatfield to ensure the correct provisions are purchased? Or Hasterine and would like to join the foraging party? Perhaps Dara wants to try her hand at fishing?
Conversely you could easily add some enemies encountered while out searching for food, who attack during the thunderstorm or ambush the group while they struggle with the wagon.