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TorteStone
11-28-2013, 03:32 AM
Hello all!

I was reflecting on a Planescape D&D 3.5 game I ran roughly 2 years ago, where I had built a sidequest into my weekly campaign.

The PC's ran into a strange man who wanted cursed magic items, and had gate keys that lead to specific locations where a specific cursed item was. He then paid the party some gold (the market price from the DMG) to put the item in a silver pouch (most certainly not influenced by Warehouse 13 at all!) and bring the item to him. We made it through roughly 6 cursed items before the end of the campaign!

My question for the forum is: Have you ever tried to add a sidequest into your campaign (as is done in most videogame rpgs)? What did you do and how did it work out? I will also accept ideas that you haven't actually put into a campaign yet!

-Will-

TheWorldRiversGame
11-29-2013, 02:34 PM
I prefer to build the entire game out of sidequests. I like to think of my world as an open world experience much like the Elder Scrolls series of video games. I ask the players to create subplots for their characters which I then use to weave new stories. I try to create story archs that combine multiple subplots which adds twists and helps the characters bond. it becomes more personal for the players if they had a role in creating the plot. I still have main story archs I can run if the players have no immediate ideas or if they run out of places they want to explore. but, ultimately if I present a few ideas and all they want to do is go and build a castle in the swamp, a la Minecraft style, then I am ok with that too.

nijineko
11-29-2013, 10:13 PM
ah, the sidequest. i had a recent unexpected success with my party i'll share. this party is average of 18th going on 19th before too long, which makes the game a whole lot of fun for everyone. =D

i'll start from just before the party enters the area where the side quest is, just so that the lead-in is clear, though it will make it a bit long:

We join our intrepid adventurers as they have just recently escaped from an otherworldly (extra-dimensional? extra-temporal? alien? they don't know...) prison complex with the sole prisoner that was being guarded - someone who is healed by negative energy and damaged by positive energy, but doesn't seem to be any sort of undead. They were forced to trust a very shady and creepy fellow for getting out the rest of the prisoners they found and rescued from a most unsavory fate too vile to be put to pen. (it was bad enough having to describe and allude to it as the GM. the party was certainly grossed out.) They managed to reach the prisoner before time ran out, but could not escape before someone arrived to check on the status of the prisoner after the temporary blackout which allowed the players to get into the complex in the first place. That someone being a greater power of evil, the party fled in a panic.

Their frantic escape though a transportation mechanism of unknown properties or destination stranded them in the Dry Steppes, but fortunately near the valley where the Crystalmist, the Jotens, and the Sulhaut ranges join. (hex A6-136 for those following on their maps of the Flaaness....) Thanks to the ranger's geographic knowledge, and the ghost's ability to teleport (who says death is the end of the adventure, or of a player...) they were able to LOS their way across the narrow part of the Crystalmists and end up in the country of Sterich, just outside of Istivin; they make a temporary base at an inn a half-days journey away from the city proper. Entering Istivin, they found the city under an unnatural pall and atmosphere, the Marquee is sick and no one has seen him for a few months, his foreign wife is running the country despite all the rumors about her unnatural background and of plots against her husband, strange inexplicable things happening amongst the populace, general unrest increasing, key political figures either missing or suddenly changing sides, and the threat of war from the giants of the Jotens looming. Plus, the people of Sterich are mildly xenophobic towards the more exotic races (ie: other than the standard humanoids; and being a typical adventuring party non-standard is the norm: the party includes a full dragon and a ghost amongst others, after all), being distrustful and very wary.

While all of that was interesting background to the party, they were quite focused on their next step goal of getting to the city of Greyhawk in order to mount an expedition to the Bright Desert to find the tomb of Acererak, which is where their informational sources place said tomb. (Un) fortunately, the teleport rules clearly require that one have at least seen the location to which they are trying to teleport (they don't have access to greater teleport), and none of them have ever visited or been to Greyhawk. Oddly, none of them can scry either.... They try finding paintings or maps of Greyhawk, but nothing which could give them a teleport locate is to be found. They are also avoiding coming to the notice of any in authority as they do not trust the rumors of what they hear of the Marchioness, as well as trying to keep the more exotic types out of sight for the nonce.

They are eventually approached by a priest of cuthbert asking their help to find a young missing niece. He needs outsiders to the city as he does not want to be reveled to the local thieves guild as being involved, whom he suspects is involved in the kidnapping. At first they turn him down, but he finally persuades them to tell him their goal and errand. Once learning of their desire to teleport to Greyhawk, he reveals that he knows of something that should work perfectly for their needs... in exchange for a little help? The party reluctantly agrees. Using magic to find the location where the niece is being held (cleverly worded use of find the path) leads them to a mansion in a ruined and abandoned part of town and then down into the sewers. a few giant crocodiles later, they find a large group of people under some spell or thrall, joined together by insubstantial tentacles of shadow-stuff coming from a great cloud about them.

The party discovers a method for severing the people (which causes screaming, weeping, wailing, seizures, and comas... variously) from the cloud, which eventually rouses the cloud to try to attack them. being unable to discover a method of effectively attacking the cloud, the party flees with the rescued people back to their inn-base. the innkeeper agrees to host the people, even with a large gift of money for only a few days - after all, he only has so much in supplies, and they have to last him through the upcoming winter, and supply trains have been scarce lately what with all the uncanny goings on and he is doubtful of being able to feed so many and still have enough for travelers in the upcoming months.

One of the rescued individuals turns out to be the niece, and another the Marquee - who is supposed sick and locked in the castle. The party decides to split and one group tracks down the priest and in typical PC style simple crash into the room where he is staying without warning, whereupon the "priest of cuthbert" reacts with a startling display of defensive magic and manages to escape the party (using all low level tricks - irked the rogue in particular with that. heheh!); the other group confronts the palace guard with this information (no more hiding the dragon, she flies right up and lands on the wall demanding to see the Marchioness... and an interesting conversation with the captain of the guard (aka mr. shiny pants) ensues. )

Unable to convince the guard that she is anything but insane or up to some tricks, that group retreats, but determines to bring the Marquee and present him at the gates... literally. The other group finally manages to convince the priest to accompany them, after much exchange of mutually accusations of suspicious behavior. The priest shows a proper concern for his niece and asks a bunch of questions, which eventually puts the party off their guard... whereupon he promptly disappears with the girl leaving only the typical thunder-crack of a teleport effect. this really ticks off the party who then determines that as soon as they prove to the palace that they have the Marquee, and dump the care of the remaining invalids onto the Marchioness, they are tracking down that priest, whom they now consider in default of their agreement for the teleport locate to Greyhawk.

The palace confrontation goes about as rockily as expected, but they manage to achieve their goals of dumping the invalids onto her, proving the Marquee is in fact the Marquee, and not accepting any more obligations - whereupon she grants them a reward and lets them go with an open "invitation" to help her out with some things. They also take note of his insane mumblings about a demon priest and an oddly named ritual that is the source of the troubles of the city, and ask the Marchioness to have court wizard to look into it.

Now it so happens that there is a person of note in this city who has a reputation as a sage. It also happens that the party has this mysterious artifact that they were given in secret by one of the enslaved creatures in the prison complex. It shocks them whenever they try to hold or manipulate it. And they want to know what the deal with this prisoner-not-undead-woman is. So they try the sage. Sage says three days for each question. The Marchioness contacts them urgently - the Marquee has escaped and has apparently been repossessed by the cloud-shadow-thing and is fleeing to points unknown, along with almost everyone of the rescued peoples re-disappearing. They also receive a ransom message for the sage who hasn't answered their questions yet....

The party is all the Marquee escaping 'invalidating their hard work and previous rescue', and 'no way the sage is going to get kidnapped without us getting our answers!'. So they split the group. One half of the party manages to find the Marquee in the castle dungeons surrounded by all manner of shadow creatures and the missing group of people who deliberately throw themselves in front of the player's attacks, and finally capture the Marquee and escape before the shadow things gain too much power (each one dying empowers the rest). The other half takes on the mysterious kidnapper, getting taunted about their lack of knowledge and understanding, and being offered obscure hints. They finally defeat the kidnapper and get the sage back... and then have to cure him of insanity.

This time they put the Marquee in a permanent circle of protection. A short while later, they find out that the Marquee pulled a mind swap trick and is escaping in a carriage, which they put a stop to.

Finally, they track down the "priest" who turns out to be a drow infiltrator and demand their payment, which he promptly coughs up in exchange for slipping off. the payment turns out to be detailed model of the city of Greyhawk in an old abandoned ilithid stronghold deep underneath the city that the drow had been using as a staging area for their operations in Istivin.


now, i've skipped a few details and glossed over some things, but here is where the party really upped the game on me. they have the teleport locate they have been after and can now freely leave on the next stage of their quest whenever. but the players discuss it amongst themselves... and the plight of the people of Istivin has managed to get to some of them, plus they've been irked by whatever the thing is that has been undoing all their hard work. (probably mostly the latter.)

they actually decide to forego using the locate and put off their journey to Greyhawk and finish the entire side-quest. awesome right?

in the end, i sprinkle lots of thread ends and leave them like crumbs and see which ones the party decides to pull. i also be certain to apply the natural consequences of both what the players do, and what they don't do. wandering bards are great for spreading news.

TorteStone
11-30-2013, 05:13 AM
@ TheWorldRiversGame (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/member.php/20960-TheWorldRiversGame) : The open world sandbox hasn't worked so well for me, glad it works for you!

@ nijineko (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/member.php/1336-nijineko) You gave the party a "sidequest" by giving them any entirely new quest! (By the way, I love hearing about other peoples Planescape type adventures! You are now the fourth person I've heard of to run one!)

I've done something similar, but I usually don't have any intention of having the party continue the old quest (I ran a campaign that started in the North in the Forgotten Realms, where the party got side trekked to help Khelben hunt doppelgangers in Waterdeep.)

So far we have: Fetch my Specific! (my Warehouse 13 sidequest), All the world's a side quest (Elder Scroll's style), and But that begins Another Story (1001 Nights style).

Has anyone (or youse two guys) done any other side quests in your games? I'm thinking in the style of video games, like Dragon Warrior's "Tiny Medals", or maybe Message Board hunts (FFXII, Ni No Kuni, etc).

Also, so far it seems like sidequests are a good thing...are there any bad examples?

-Will-

TorteStone
11-30-2013, 05:25 AM
Wait...I can answer one of my questions!

I was running my Serpent Kingdoms campaign recently (ended Sept 2013), and it was negatively side trekked by a side quest!

The party was hunting dragons and bringing their intact bodies for the Yuan-ti prince of Hlondeth in the Forgotten Realms (for all the right reasons, but does it not seem like a bad idea to bring fresh corpses to any person, really?) when I decided to put the Heart of Nightfang Spire into the world near the party, and they went for it!

The party was roughly 7th level, and in going through the Spire and fighting through the monsters there (trying not to spoil the module, it's worth a playthough!) and they gained 4-5 levels apice before defeating the side quest, spending almost as much time in the tower as in my campaign!

This could be a bad example of a side quest, since it took over the entire quest for a long time (and we ended after that, too) even though it was fun for the party.

-Will-

nijineko
11-30-2013, 06:07 PM
@ nijineko (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/member.php/1336-nijineko) You gave the party a "sidequest" by giving them any entirely new quest! (By the way, I love hearing about other peoples Planescape type adventures! You are now the fourth person I've heard of to run one!)

I've done something similar, but I usually don't have any intention of having the party continue the old quest (I ran a campaign that started in the North in the Forgotten Realms, where the party got side trekked to help Khelben hunt doppelgangers in Waterdeep.)

So far we have: Fetch my Specific! (my Warehouse 13 sidequest), All the world's a side quest (Elder Scroll's style), and But that begins Another Story (1001 Nights style).

Has anyone (or youse two guys) done any other side quests in your games? I'm thinking in the style of video games, like Dragon Warrior's "Tiny Medals", or maybe Message Board hunts (FFXII, Ni No Kuni, etc).

Also, so far it seems like sidequests are a good thing...are there any bad examples?

-Will-

really? i've never played planescape.... didn't know that sort of thing was called that. ^^ that's just how we always gamed.

TheWorldRiversGame
12-01-2013, 02:03 PM
in general a bad example of any game would be one where the players are limited in their ability to choose their own path. if you and your players enjoy doing the "side-quest" style of gaming then keep doing it. I guess another example would be if you have so many side-quests that the overall feel of the campaign just felt disjointed and haphazard. this can be mitigated with reoccuring things like reoccurring villians, NPCs or themes (like in Planescape, the number 3 is a reoccurring theme).

and another idea is that you could plan a bunch of quests that at first seem like sidequests until the PCs finish the last one and realize that it was all part of greater plan.

TorteStone
12-02-2013, 03:04 AM
Oh my, Nijineko, you need to check out Planescape then! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planescape

Imagine if you could start traveling to other worlds at low levels? Greyhawk to the Realms, Heavens and hells, etc! Bought the 2E Boxed Set and didn't sleep for a week. Literally. Had a central hub city called Sigil (updated in this 3.5 product http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expedition_to_the_Demonweb_Pits) where people spoke in Cant (Slang based off of British slang) and people learned the Dark of things (The REAL Truth about the planes). It had so many good points for role-playing that I still use today.

-Will-

nijineko
12-03-2013, 12:13 PM
oh, i'm familiar with planescape, fairly well read on the setting, actually - i use the official 3.x version planescape material all the time. i've just never played a game set in planescape specifically. ^^

TorteStone
12-05-2013, 03:52 AM
Ahhh...well you need to do it, nijineko (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/member.php/1336-nijineko)! Excellent setting.

Well, let's talk about my upcoming campaign, which will be set in Numenera (post apocalyptic discovery game) give me some sidequest ideas!

-Will-

nijineko
12-05-2013, 04:54 PM
hmmm, you know, someone above commented that i gave a whole quest as a side quest... but compared to the actual campaign, that really was a side quest! it was a three part adventure which i dropped in (among other threads). the campaign has been going for over 3 years now, and this group has gotten further than any other group that started it. they started at level 16, are level 18-19 now, and will probably hit 30 or so before it finishes, depending on their choices. they actually finished chapter one. ^^ this adventure was a side quest available in the beginning of chapter two. =P

in any case, i usually comb old adventures for ideas, mixing and matching bits here and pieces there, thread them together with stuff from books, movies, and anime, and garnish with my own creations for that extra spicy kick.

you should have seen the players scramble and freak when i introduced garthim into one campaign!