Running The Adventure

Dungeon of Demon Strata is a tale about betrayal in which the young Baroness and her new-born child become victims of the Baron's deal with a devil. The adventurers believe they are attempting to save the child and the Baron but the child is dead before the adventure begins, murdered by her own father. The characters' real goal in the adventure is to save the Baroness and punish the Baron for his crimes.

The Game Leader's objective is to make the players care about the fate of the Baroness by using emotive language and bringing the non-player character to life. Unless the players care about the Baroness and her child there is little to motivate them. The adventure offers almost no treasure to reward the characters, so when the fate of the child is discovered there is only the prospect of justice and vengeance to drive the characters deeper into the dungeon.

Players Briefing

Read aloud before the players select or generate their characters.

The Dungeon of Demon Strata is a traditional fantasy adventure which involves an encounter in a tavern and a dungeon to explore. It is not, however, an adventure where characters simply slaughter room after room of monsters. There will be combat but the ability to find clues and investigate mysteries will also be important. The characters will often discover more by talking to the strange denizens of the adventure than by killing them.

The characters need a range of skills and abilities but they should also have a range of personalities and motivations. The adventure asks moral as well as practical questions of the characters which provides plenty of role playing opportunities.

The adventure begins with the characters arriving in the town of Fenlay on a cold and wet night. Their plan is to travel onwards the next morning but events intervene. The intended destination of the characters is unimportant and each character can have their own reasons to be on the road. The characters will need to know each other and be willing to adventure together but they may be virtual strangers who have been simply been travelling together for mutual protection and company. Players are encouraged to build a suitable back-story which leads their character to Fenlay.

Characters

Six pre-generated characters may be found at the back of this book. They are 70CP characters created using the standard rules and a combination of paths from Generic Modern Character Paths and fantasy paths included in this book. Players may also use paths included in the Savage Island adventure or any of the pre-gen characters from that adventure.

The characters are assumed to be fully equipped for their adventure. Each pre-generated adventurer has a single item of mundane equipment called Adventuring Gear which covers all the usual dungeoneering tools and supplies. Additionally Game Leaders should allow characters to have any mundane equipment which is appropriate for their background.

Notes on Subject & Style

The setting for this adventure is deliberately vague and could exist in almost any fantasy world. Game Leaders and groups should adapt it to their needs as required. The author has placed the adventure in the same world as Savage Island and they draw on a shared history though this is not important to the adventure.

The subject matter of the adventure is not contentious but does involve the kidnapping and murder of a new-born child. This topic may be upsetting to some people and it is recommended that this is discussed before starting the adventure. This is especially true in groups where players have not known each other for long and may be unaware of aspects of other players' lives. If one or more players are uncomfortable with the subject matter the author suggests playing a different adventure, as infanticide is an essential part of the plot.

The adventure does contain elements of horror and Game Leaders are encouraged to 'go to town' in describing the events in the temple [2.7 - 2.9] and the Great Hall [4.10]. Some consideration should be given to the age group of the players and where the game is being played. As always, the group is encouraged to have a conversation about what is acceptable behaviour and language around the gaming table.

Maps, Mapping and Battle Mats

The Dungeon of Demon Strata is a massive complex of tunnels, caves, mines and living quarters. It has been made by natural geological processes, primitive creatures with crude tools, burrowing monsters, great technomagical civilisations and artisans of the highest quality. No attempt has been made to map the entire complex. Instead, the rooms and caves described in the dungeon are merely the interesting ones. Between them lie mazes of rooms and miles of passageway. Traveling from one location to another takes at least minutes and sometimes hours.

Game Leaders should emphasise the scale of the dungeon to the players but reassure them they have no chance of getting lost. It is assumed the characters are carefully mapping their progress and that they are using all their skills to find the important parts of the complex. Players may wish to map the general relationship between locations as shown on the route map. This may facilitate discussions about chosen routes and give players peace of mind that they have not missed any locations.

The isometric map provides the Game Leader with a visual representation of the dungeon and each location but the exact dimensions of rooms are not provided. Game Leaders using miniatures and mapping out the rooms in 5' squares should ad-lib based on the illustrations provided and the space they have on their gaming table.

Locations

There are 46 unique locations within the dungeon and each contains clues the characters may find through discovery actions. When entering an area, the [Automatic] information is what the characters first notice. The [Easy], [Moderate] and [Hard] information should be handed out by the Game Leader based on the players' questions and the characters' actions. Game Leaders should reward good role playing and intelligence, and place little emphasis on the results of dice rolls.

Generally [Easy] information provides the characters a hint of what is important, [Moderate] information gives the players what they need to know and [Hard] information contains additional details which will be useful to them. Not all information within a particular level needs to be given out and Game Leaders should provide information in tune with the nature of the characters' actions. Generally, Game Leaders should err on the side of providing too much information as players enjoy the adventure better if they have a good understanding of the plot and feel in control of the situation.

Each location also lists all the possible exits. These avoid specific compass directions and instead include a fragment of flavour text, e.g. "Into a series empty corridors and rooms [2.2]." Game Leaders should use these to describe exits rather than compass directions as it helps to give a sense of the scale of the dungeon and the discrete nature of each location.

Social

Game Leaders should seek opportunities to encourage social interaction between the adventurers and the denizens of the dungeon, or simply inter-character discussion. Not all locations have social aspects to them and some are simply fights, but most locations have role playing opportunities. Depending on the players and the situation, social situations can be purely role played or addressed though a narrative action. As with discovery actions, social interaction is a tool the Game Leader can use to provide the players with information.

Challenges

A few locations have specific challenges, e.g. crossing a chasm or picking a lock. Some will provide specific target numbers for actions or extended actions while others will simply identify a task as [Easy], [Moderate] or [Hard]. Both approaches are guidelines to the Game Leader who should use their judgement as to the success or failure of a character's action. The purpose of these challenges is to stretch the characters' abilities and encourage lateral thinking from the players. Do not let the challenges turn into frustrating obstacles by slavishly requiring a particular result on a dice roll.

Time & Healing

The adventure takes a loose approach to time consistent with the Time Scale described in the 6d6 Core. Each location within the adventure will take at least a scene to explore, and often longer. The distance between locations is not defined (with a couple of exceptions) but the complex is large and the characters must explore many dead ends and featureless rooms as they travel. This will take at least a scene and possibly longer at the Game Leader's discretion.

The characters are not working against a specific time limit to find the Baron but if they are gone too long the townsfolk will assume them and the Baron to be dead. It is perfectly possible for the characters to return to the town partway through the adventure, especially if they are near the surface, but Game Leaders should put the players off commuting to the dungeon.

The healing throttle should be set at daily and exploring the dungeon should take a real toll on the characters. As they push further into the depths they should carry wounds in the form of discarded Life advantages, making fights more dangerous. Try to avoid situations where the characters can start each day's exploration completely healed. Game Leaders should discuss the pacing of the game with the group and feel free to adjust the healing throttle mid-way through the adventure if it suits their style of play.

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open/oneshots/demon_strata/theplot.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/03 12:22 by darth_tigger
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