A friend of mine and I were discussing his campaign when he noted a lack of “things” for his players to do around town or while traveling on the road. Now sure, there are no dearth of random encounter tables of all shapes and sorts and sizes…but what kind of gamer would I be if I didn’t eschew all those years of painstaking writing and playtesting to jot out my own ideas? Unsolicited I started weaving together a list of “incidents” for his players to run into while en route to bigger and better things.
Don’t get me wrong, I like 4th Edition D&D a great deal. But I sometimes feel that the organized and structured streamlined sexiness of the system leaves out a lot of the excitement of not knowing that is part of why tabletop games are so great. Random tables don’t exist so DMs have an excuse to throw unreasonable challenges at their players – they exist to add a little mystery and suspense to the game. And after all, D&D is in part about exploration, which is all about mystery and suspense. Combat encounters and Skill Challenges are great ways to keep scenes moving smoothly and resolving them in a satisfying way – but sometimes their rigid structure doesn’t account for all the possibilities, or doesn’t encourage the players to really stretch their problem solving muscles. This is primarily where I wanted the “Incidents” to head. Somewhere between a full on encounter and a simple plot hook was where they would dwell.
Well I’ve been sitting on a few pages of them and I got antsy. Not to mention the fact that I feel a tad guilty leaving you all hanging for so long while I penned a fairly rudimentary (if complete!) adventure last month – So I decided to start posting these Incidents halfway through the week as a regular segment, to tide you over till the usual full encounter.
They are a little sparse, and will rarely have much in the way of game stats (making them useful for other editions and other games) but will hopefully give you some inspiration to get your characters involved in the game world beyond “I hit the monster with a sword, then History the crap out of this talking statue.”
The PCs are traveling overland, and near a river.
The players hear loud shouts from upstream. The noise is coming from two dwarf scouts, calling out desperately to their friend. The trio was panning for gold when their partner fell from an escarpment and banged his head, leaving the dwarf unconscious as he is washed down river. The dwarves are shedding burdens and hustling after their companion, but time is short, and the PCs are much closer to the wounded gold hunter.
Though the emphasis should be on problem solving and how to safely remove an injured person from a raging river with the tools available, this situation could also call for a short skill challenge. Given the dire circumstances, you may elect to allow only one failure, or raise all DCs to hard. Regardless, a challenge of Complexity 1 or 2 would be all you need. Suggested skills are:
Leader classes should also be allowed to use their minor action heal power or other “healing” keyword capabilities to contribute somehow.
Possible Rewards and Experience
The dwarves are grateful for anyone who could save their friend, though a failed attempt, no matter how valiant, might be met with their distraught admonishment.
Grateful dwarves would solemnly part with some of the gold they found, or perhaps even some gems that came up while searching for minerals. Since they have been camping in the area for a while, they likely know rumors about the region. If your campaign has any major organizations who might employ dwarven scouts, this rescue could be used to curry favor with the group.
This Incident should be worth EXP equivalent to a single monster of the player’s level.