Mad Libs for Side Quests
As a Dungeon Master, I'm happy if I can plan one side quest that seems interesting. Besides that, pretty much every side quest has to be off-the-cuff, and my brain is too quantitative for that.
So I'm playing Oblivion (PS3) and appreciating how every town or larger has at least 10 side quests in it. Since I love the idea of players living in a world where there is Too Much going on, I want to be able to recreate Oblivion's depth.
The first solution I think of: whenever a potential side quest pops up, ask the players themselves for the details. One chooses a location, another chooses a person, one person an object, and one an event or organization. This info should be enough to start a completely random side quest, as I use my limited improv skills to fill in the blanks.
Has anyone tried this? Or do you have other side quest ideas?
hmmm. i recently managed to sidetrack the pcs with a sidequest where they wound up getting lured in bit by bit.
Creative. Worth a shot at any rate. Maybe write down the rolls they'll be dictating on some index cards and make them draw from a deck?
I.E. you have cards that read "Villain, Ally, Contact, Item, Landmark" etc and whatever they draw they have to contribute to the "mad-lib."
You could even duplicate cards. So two people draw "Villain" cards could mean there are two minor villains about to have a showdown and the PCs have to intervene somehow. Or they draw Item, Item, and Landmark and have to assemble broken pieces to a key or relic that initiates some ritual at a specific landmark. Three landmarks could even be a pilgrimage style side quest.
I think you have something there.
almost as good as having the players draw from a deck of many things... why not use just that? i was thinking of converting the three dragon ante deck into the deck of many things.
Three Dragon Ante sounds like a prescription for endless Dragonlance adventures. But there's potential...
Mortals: Cleric, Archmage, Druid, Thief, Princess...could be a protagonist, antagonist, or the concept behind the side quest.
Chromatics: used to establish location details - cold, desert, swamp, forest, or red(?)...
Metallics: um...treasure involved?
Bahamut or Tiamat: Performing good or preventing evil.
Asking the players dramatically increases the potential for variety/diversity, but it also reduces verisimilitude by giving the players a potentially too-large hand in fate.
i have both decks, the original and the emperors gambit, i'll have to take a look over them and see. i like your initial direction.
metallics could establish the allies, treasure, and other positive aspects of the quest.
chromatics would establish the enemies, traps, and other obstacles.
you could set up a tarot-like matrix of houses where each house (location that a card is laid to rest in) represents a particular aspect of the adventure: location, possibility for treasure gain or loss, allies, opponents, traps, puzzles, obstacles, sites of interest and so forth. each card could have a meaning or association with it which when combined would yield a complete adventure-quest matrix. the card being upside down could flip the meaning or instead apply the meaning to an npc instead of the party.