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A Little Experiment In Thought

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posted on Feb, 9 2020 @ 07:36 PM
As a few members know, I found ATS while doing some online research for a potential Pen and Paper RPG and just never left. From time to time I have half an idea for an adventure, or at the very least a good start. Just recently had one and thought I would share, which could have went into any number of forums. And then I thought, why not allow for contribution by those that would want to participate. As a collective, we might inspire each other into a story for a sizable module or perhaps even a campaign.

As such everything here is open for use or manipulation for our home groups. Even for those that just read without participating. Genre/world setting so much as the idea is to write a story, rather than an actual module so things should be fairly malleable whether you are playing Star Wars, D&D, Rifts, d20 Modern or what have you. So DM notes shouldn’t really focus on system rules/mechanics but could make a reference to a Rogue. Wizard, Goblin or Orc in either notes or the story itself. That is okay because the reference may be easier to describe a kobald’s den/warren versus a cave full of Jawas with meandering tunnels or a crack house with secret passages in the walls and between the floors. I have faith that people can read and adapt just fine to their game.

All that said, format should be italics for author notes, bold text for DM notes and plain text for the story.

posted on Feb, 9 2020 @ 07:37 PM
Use whatever means you need to get a single character isolated. Bored at the tavern and needed a walk. Beginning adventure before the party gets together. Use your imagination. You can use a spot hidden or passive perception to notice the boat or DM fiat if nothing else.

Walking a path by the riverbank you happen to pause and notice a small toy sailboat in the weeds by the river’s shore. The boat is well crafted and watertight. The sail is of an unusual material (silk, Tevek, etc) and the paint is old, chipped and faded. Other than the paint, it appears to be a little too nice for just a child’s toy.

Upon close examination, it appears considerably heavier than it should. And something sounds like it is in the hull.

The boat is a puzzle box that is trapped. There is a vial of Greek Fire (or grenade) as appropriate that will be set off if it opened improperly. Destroying the boat, contents and possibly the player in the process. The player is hopefully smart enough to get help. Or you can drop a DM hint here.

Opening the boat requires observing that a pice of the railing lifts up but springs back into place. The hatch to the hold is locked in place at this point but looks like it would move if unlocked. The wheel and rudder on the dock works and so does the compass beside the wheel. To unlock turn the wheel and the boat until the compass aligns North and lift the railing. The player can hear a small click as though a pin was moved into position. For laughs let the combination be to repeat east, west and south to spell out NEWS. And the hatch to the hold springs open. The boat can freely be slid open revealing the contents. Closing the boat back up resets the puzzle and the trap. BONUS: you can allow the trap to be disassembled and the vial/grenade recovered for later player use.

Upon safely opening the sailboat, you find three gold coins that are not coins of the realm with a few scratches lightly gouged into them and a leather parchment sealed in red wax with a signet. The seal can be broken or carefully opened to preserve the signet symbol. Leading to more research or make things harder. DM Hint: Copy the symbol before opening to be safe. The ink was an expedient ink of crushed berries similar to the deep magenta of poke berries. Written on the leather parchment is a series of symbols that any Rogue would recognize as symbols from a written Thieves Cant, but the message is a jumble of words that really doesn’t make sense.

Give a handout. Groups like handouts to puzzle over. You can use Hobo symbols here. The signet symbol should be a spiral and here is why. Set your message up to start in the center and spiral out counter-clockwise in squarish shape to “hide” the message. You can even do a second handout for the Rogue in plain English to see why the note makes no sense.

Here the message should be vague directions to go to some location. This is just the adventure hook to set up the story. I have several ideas from here but thought this would be a good place if anyone wants to present the message and advance the story a bit in the format established here. Comments in italics please.

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