Monday, February 12, 2018

A New Way to Craft a D&D Story: Part II

Disclaimer:  This is Part II of what is turning into a much longer series than I had originally anticipated, with the first part post on Friday February 9th can be found here.  There might be three or four parts, but who can know for sure with these things.  I had planned this only to be a single article and now we're talking about a three or four part series.  Bloody hell.

In short, Part I dealt with my idea to use the pre-painted D&D miniatures that come in random booster packs as a writing prompt for a quest.  In the Monster Menagerie II booster pack I received a Clay Golem, a Bullywug, a Human Wizard, and a Human Cleric.

I should also warn you that there are spoilers for quests that I have previously written, so when I become and big famous writer over at Wizards of the Coast and they publish these quests, just know that I warned you first.

So I left off last week with all of the parts in place for a story that ended up being quite different than what came to me after opening all of the miniatures from the Monster Menagerie II line of Dungeons & Dragons miniatures from WizKids.  

That initial story started out that a pod of Bullywugs, with the help of a human wizard, had unleashed a Clay Golem on an unsuspecting town and that the PC's had to stop the rampaging creature.  One problem with this idea was that  I wanted to get the PC's out of Baldur's Gate as they had been there for some time, and the nearest town was roughly 325 miles away to the east; at least on the 5th Edition maps it is, as apparently Beregost, Nashkel, are not present or included in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, so who knows for sure?  So how would they have heard about this attack in order to make the quest makes sense, if not by word of mouth.  Think about how fast information would take to get from San Francisco, CA down to Santa Barbara, CA with only foot and equine traffic.  So that means that the PC's would need to leave Baldur's Gate under one set of circumstances and then come upon the destruction of the Clay Golem.

[Side Bar here.  Something that Conklederp knows about me when I write quests for our D&D group, is that I like to steep my stories in and around locations in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.  In our The Taking of the Dawn quest I wrote, I made sure that the island I was using actually existed on all maps going back to 2nd Edition (as the backstory started sometime around 1367, or thereabouts partly because I needed knowledge of events to not be currently known, and I had a trap that required the use of a Continual Light spell, which hasn't existed since 2nd Edition).  So I could have created a village that was closer to Baldur's Gate than Scornubel, but because I was currently in the mindset that I wanted an established village/city, I was sticking to the "real" world.]

Once I had this idea of a rampaged town, I needed to have a reason how the PC's would even find out about the Clay Golem.  Perhaps there were chunks of clay around the village.  Dead citizens with clay residue perhaps.  Maybe they would have to track bits of clay across fields and trails, other attacked settlements until they finally came to a swamp where they found the Bullywugs and the Clay Golem and a large battle ensued?  While that idea technically works, I ultimately did not feel that there was much to do in that quest.  That was when I decided to include Cruenthas Chorster, a wizard whom I introduced the PC's to in The Taking of the Dawn, and who turned out to be the antagonist.  The group has had a beef with him after his betrayal, but had been caught up in other events.  I felt that now would be a good time to reintroduce him, especially since two new people (Stone, and Beardsnbourbon joined us), and I loved the idea of a number of the group members getting riled up about a nemesis of sorts with two people who did not know much about him.  It seemed semi-realistic and I liked that possibility.

So now Cruenthas was included in the story, but how?  I liked the idea of him being involved, but more like someone who influenced events as opposed to the one who is causing them.  Cruenthas is not the type of person who would create a Clay Golem to attack a small village.  Since the last time the group saw him, maybe he was trying to do something with the Phlyactery of Bellamon Anthander (he was a Lich long since killed when The First Order of the Ever Dawn attempted to destroy the phylactery which lead to their organizations ultimate destruction; events included in the backstory for The Taking of the Dawn) that had been the purpose of them working with and being betrayed by Cruenthas?  Maybe the Bullywugs had some kind of relic or artifact, not knowing of its true potential, that could help Cruenthas repair the phylactery?  

So at this point, the story was that Cruenthas befriended a pod of Bullywugs to direct him to another pod that for whatever reason he could not locate himself, convinced the Bullywugs to attack another pod (and since Bullywugs are aggressive towards rival pods, this line of reasoning made sense), and during that battle, he stole a relic that he felt/knew would help him to repair Bellamon's phylactery.  The attacked pod (by this point I started calling them Pod A, and Pod B, to keep things easier to remember which pod attacked whom; this in turn became Pod Agerloschoug, and Pod Blofferocktokkinalochinac since Bullywugs are all about having grand and complicated sounding names, especially in their own tongue) with the help of the female human wizard (what's her story by the way?) creates a Clay Golem (because the clay came from the swamp) to attack Cruenthas who was resting in a town, but ultimately escaped and eventually the Clay Golem had gotten out of control.

I was still running with the idea that the PC's would not have an actual run in with Cruenthas, mainly because a male human wizard was not included in the booster of miniatures, but I also like the idea of the antagonist working behind the scenes.  But the PC's would have to run into the female wizard Bara Gol'iza since her miniature was in the booster, so I needed to have a reason to have her with the Bullywugs; it almost would have been easier and far less challenging if she had been a druid.  So why had Bara Gol'iza taken in with Bullywugs?  Did she start referring to herself as Boarzigala, or was that how the Bullywugs pronounced her name and she accepted it as part of her new identity?  I do not actually recall how the pieces her backstory fell into place, but I decided that she had been a Red Wizard of Thay, or at least in training to join their ranks.  There had been some sort of magical accident 17 years past that teleported her across the continent and left her insane/mad/mentally wounded.  What exactly happens still remains a mystery, so I left it alone, but whatever happened gave her the ability to create a swamp or marshland wherever she went; the land would return to its normal state within a week.  Somehow she came across a pod of Bullywugs (or did they come across her?), quickly learned their language (or did she know it before?) and still exerting magical powers to some extent combined with her "ability" to create a swamp like environment, the Bullywugs began to deify her (think the Ewoks and C3PO) as an emissary of Ramenos.

So now that the main story, or what I thought was going to be the main points of the story, how and where does Gauntlet Charles and the PC's fit into this ever complicating story?  Why can't my brain just come up with an easier to follow story that doesn't rely so heavily on background information that the PC's can figure out?  Well, that section will be covered in Part III on Friday February.


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