“What happened to the plan?” “They happened!”


It’s a truism of roleplaying games that no well-conceived plan survives contact with the player characters. And it doesn’t matter if they’re planning them ahead of time with a set objective, as in the James Bond method. Or if it is the combined plan of two DMs who saw an almost flawless way to get the players on the road to the main quest.

A meandering path

As I said in an earlier post, I was co-DMing with the last one who felt a little burnt out and suggested that we do something together. I was rather impressed with his last campaign, and as he wasn’t interested in stepping back into the party just yet I thought it might not be a bad idea.

In fact, it was a better idea than either of us had anticipated. I came to him with the skeleton of a campaign, the outline of a city, an idea for a boss and quite a few unanswered questions. And in the space of an afternoon we had something viable, viable enough to last at least four sessions with a tentative final encounter waaaay into the distance.

After all, it is good to have a plan in mind for the end, but plans that far ahead tend to be tentative as so many things can happen between then and now.

There is one thing I need to relate though, as I’m the DM in charge of the Tomb of Horrors campaign, there are certain story aspects that I am keeping under wraps. Such as the details of what Acererak’s actually is (his overall plan has always been the same: become a god, it’s the details that matter).

I have let slip certain things though that will link this dungeon to the overall quest, as that is what this side-quest and (it is a side-quest, or a grind) is all about. Once this is complete, players will have some idea where they need to go. How they actually get to that place is a beholder of a different colour.

That bell at the end of the bar isn’t just for happy hour

So, several months (and a level) from the last campaign, the players get a sending from a very familiar Eladrin wizard. Emberric needs help with a few locals that he pissed off in a town called Ironmere, a few weeks journey north of where they are.

After the first encounter, in which they were supposed to be saving the trial judge and instead almost got his guards killed and put the judge himself in mortal danger, they arrived at the town. And, of course, went straight to the tavern the Iron Blow.

Now we had anticipated if they asked around town enough they would learn where Emberric was, then talk to him about what happened and most importantly get the quest. Instead, two of the players tried to star a bar fight and another got himself arrested for setting fire to the school and he ended up in a cell right next to Emberric. It does need to be said that the latter involved a trial which resulting in some quite good roleplaying.

And off into the mists…

The session ended pretty much where I thought it would, with the players on the boat going across the lake to the dwarven city where the undead seem to be coming from. It’s going to be an interesting session next time, and there’s still a chance to bring in the players who could not make it that week.

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~ by katanageldar on February 13, 2011.

2 Responses to ““What happened to the plan?” “They happened!””

  1. Somehow this does not make me at all confident in my ability to become a GM. lol. I’m aware of how bad my group is for throwing off GM plans, but it’s pretty daunting.
    And coming from a writer background plotting something where I’m not in control is scary. Still, amusing how your players still managed to head on the right path.

  2. […] now that Tomb of Horrors arrived in my mailbox? To date, we have finished the first chapter, had a joint campaign and started an online campaign (which is still stuck in the first dungeon). And now, as of a few […]

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