Game Masters often borrow from stories they have heard before to create adventures for their players. That’s a fine way to get a head start, but some stories just don’t work in a land of wizards or super-technology. Lean into that and surprise your players and make something they haven’t seen before in these three easy steps.
- Start with a familiar plan
- Smash that plan with magic
- Immediately smash the new situation with magic again
Here are some examples:
- The players go to a high-society function in an isolated compound. When the party is underway, a heavily-armed groups storms the compound, taking everyone hostage!
- As the leader of the terrorists gives his speech from the balcony, people in the audience start teleporting away, because they are rich and paranoid enough to have magic items for just such an emergency.
- The terrorists appear to give up and leave, but as they go, one of the heroes overhears them say that the teleport trap worked. All the rich people who fled were re-directed to a place of the terrorists’ choosing, and now they’re really in trouble.
- In a mansion full of suspicious characters, someone has been murdered! Everyone had a motive, and nothing is as it seems!
- Instead of interviewing suspects, the detective downloads the last video from the corpse’s cyber-eyes.
- Footage shows a party member do the deed, and the timestamp is three years in the past.
- It’s the maiden voyage of an unsinkable ocean liner. No doubt the party is staking out a lifeboat, preparing Create Food and Water, and keeping a close eye on their favorite NPCs.
- The captain intentionally steers the ship towards an iceberg, and the heat knife built into the prow cuts the iceberg in half! This ship is the most dangerous thing in the water.
- The Mer-folk won’t stand for this destructive behavior. Even if the ship survives their assault, there will be political fallout and danger to all mariners who use these shipping lanes.
Two Twists Are Harder Than One
If you can’t think of two different twists, you can still thrill with a single twist, but it must be different from the twists described above. Imagine the scenarios above with only parts 1 and 2. They are basically solved. The party has little to do. Instead of destroying the setup with a magical twist, you must transform it.
- All party-goers are strictly screened for weapons and magic items before entry. There will be no fighting here, just schmoozing and politicking.
- Lack of weapons and armor doesn’t degrade the capabilities of the Monks and Sorcerers who infiltrate and attack!
- A plague is sweeping through the Hobgoblin town of Durnhold.
- The plague does not affect Kobolds. Will the nearby Kobold village help, or could they have started the plague themselves?
Protect the VIP
- Protect your client from assassins until the important event is over.
- The client is an AI. Assassins are coming after her in cyberspace, but also attack the physical infrastructure that supports her existence.