Daily Adventure Prompts
A repository of free inspiration for all your Fantasy Tabletop Storytelling. Every day I share adventure ideas, artist sourced images, and other story inspiration for YOU to use in your games. Check the sidebar for our tagging system if you want to find something in particular, request an adventure, or support the blog.  P.S.- Call me Dapper
856 posts
dailyadventureprompts · 14 hours ago
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Monster Hunt: Pulzo, Prince among ghouls
The dead of centuries are set before him, a feast fit for a king.
Setup: On the edge of the desert, like a distant mirage, a forest of towering stone spires known as the Zulisi act as the ancestral burial grounds for the expansive nomad peoples that dwell in the surrounding dunes. Carved over long centuries by hand and wind, these spires bare sarcophagi like recesses to house the dead during sky burial, and are linked by thin walkways that make the pillars something of an open air, three dimensional maze. 
Though the Zulisi towers have long been the haunt of scavengers in one form or another, none have proved so dangerous or as elusive as a newly emerged threat, predatory carnivorous undead that those who have survived encounters have christened “Pulzo”.  The beast appeared little more than a year ago, after a scornful heir among the nomads broke sacred law by defiling the shine of a foreign god while raiding an unaligned settlement. This divinity was harsh with its retribution and struck the prince down soon after with a wasting sickness, one that none of the nomad’s own healers could stem.   The prince was interred in the Zulisi as was tradition, but thereafter no bodies could follow, for the paths through the spires were guarded by a corpse eating beast that seems immune to mortal steel. 
While some among the nomads are convinced that the ghoul is a punishment set upon them by their own gods for burying such a blasphemer in their holy ground, others insist that the ghoul is infact the fallen prince himself, transmogrified after death. Regardless, the nomads are willing to pay handily for any brave enough to face the beast, who has already killed a handful of their clansfolk who wished to see their relatives interred within the Zulisi
Adventure Hooks: 
While out on a desert trek towards some destination of great import, the party has employed a desert nomad as a guide, a seasoned and trustworthy woman to hear those at the trading post sing her praises, but she seems to be leading the party on a roundabout path that repeatedly leads them dangerously close to one desert hazard or another. Questioning her about the delay, she informs them that they’re being shadowed by several nomad outriders, likely from a clan that has a quarrel with hers due to an “onging incident”. Pressing her more, she’ll explain the situation with the prince of ghouls, and that escalating tensions between the clans may just lead to war on the sand in coming months, a battle that will likely spill over into civilized lands as caravan routes and oasis’s are made battlegrounds. 
Driven partially mad by grief, the prince’s father has become convinced that his son is still in there somewhere, and that by finding the foreign priest or sorcerer and getting them to remove the cure, his son will be returned, or atleast be able to sleep easier in his graves. The party may receive this fruitless quest during a visit to the nomad camp, or may encounter it from afar,  as a temple in the settlement they’re staying in is infiltrated by a reckless group of bravos looking for someone vaguely mystical they can press for information. 
While up in the pillar-tombs, the party encounter a woman picking through the scattered bones, neatly sorting them into piles and conversing with the remains as if she was trading gossip over brunch. The woman seems   unperturbed by the harsh desert winds, despite appearing severely burned and being naked save for a ratty feather cloak and a number of nasty looking brass claw rings. After conversing for a while, perhaps giving them directions, she disappears while none of the party is looking at her, leaving the heroes with numerous questions and the feeling of being watched. 
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Villain: Ahmyyaih,  Disaster’s Edge
Battle not going so well, eh hero? why don’t you remove those pesky bindings and let a real warbitch show you how its done~
Setup: The practice of binding elemental entities to objects is one of the most ancient magical arts. Granting the object power, or animation is a common purpose, but some other traditions use object binding as a means to imprison dangerous spirits that would otherwise run rampant but might be too difficult to destroy.  
Such was the case of  Ahmyyaih, she who drives the wind to frenzy. A mighty iffrit famed for her bloodlust and love of battle, she was eventually subdued my a smith-priest, a mystic, and a princess who each sought to avenge the wrongs she had done to therm. Ahmyyaih was forced into the form of a blazing fire, around which the three constructed a rudimentary forge. Alchemical bronze was poured into the furnace, and as the metal drank up the heat, so to did it drink up Ahmyyaih’s power. The metal was then cast into an idol and so the iffrit’s ire was sealed away. 
So would it have remained had not one of the princess’s descendants been looking through his family’s treasury, looking for bronze to refashion into weapons to wage a war his people were loosing.  When the smiths began to melt the vessel down, a fraction of the iffrit’s essence was released, enough to whisper to the descendant about the power she could grant them, if only he would wield the sword she would become himself. . 
Adventure Hooks: 
Since her reforging Ahmyyaih has passed through the hands of warlords and conquerors, seeking the magic that will undo her binding and allow her to manifest fully in the world once again. Often urging them to raid temples and kidnap holyfolk in a way that may be counter to their ongoing plans. The party may also find her in the possession of any number of opponents, or lost in some dusty vault after being taken for plunder before she could claim a new wielder. 
A caravan that the party guards is attacked by a rabble of overly ambitious bandits, who leave a weapon identified as “ Disaster’s Edge” for the party’s taking after their defeat. These bandits were upstarts from a much larger outlaw clan, who’s leader was tempted by Ahmyyaih’s whispers to steal her from her then complacent owner, a would be bandit king and make their own way. This owner held Ahmyyaih for years and used her power to create a sizeable following, but little indulged the weapon’s desire to pursue mystic means to free itself.  The iffrit knows ALL of the bandit king’s secret caches and hideaways, and will whisper them to the party claiming to be able to detect where valuables are hidden. All the while the bandit king will pursue his lost weapon, so the party can expect successive tangles with the outlaw clan throughout their adventures. 
When first discovered, “Disaster’s Edge” Is a +1 falchion (d8/d10 versatile slashing) with a unique ability called Momentum: Every time the wielder misses an attack, this weapon gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls ( max=to the attuned creature’s proficiency bonus) until it succeeds on a hit. After the weapon becomes Awakened, it gains the ability to perform a Reckless cleave: a single attack roll that targets all creatures within its reach and gains momentum as normal.  A character wielding disaster’s edge can perform a reckless cleave as a reaction whenever they roll a 1 or a 20 on their attackrole, or when they suffer a critical hit. Thereafter, the attuned creature also gains an awareness of how to Exalt Disaster’s edge, seeking a powerful dispelling magic. This is of course a trap, and the iffrit will at that point be able to manifest at will, still bound to the blade but freely able to move about and affect the world
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Hi! Semi-related to last week's question on "how this miraculous site works", I'm wondering how in the nine hells you manage to come up with names for characters and places. I know names are a huge part of worldbuilding but I've never quite managed to get the hang of it and am wondering if you had any advice. (PS if you just use a generator that's cool too, you do a hell of a lot of work!)
I will confess, names are one of the things I have the hardest time with, and most of my attempts are just repeated mouthsounds until it felt right to slap on the page.
Alternatively, I like to take a word that describes the thing (possibly in another language but that's risky) and deform it till it sounds like some fantasy nonsense. Wordhippo is great for that as you can get WAY more synonyms than most other thesauruses, some of which are pretty obscure
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dailyadventureprompts · 2 days ago
I’d like to report that I finally have my audio setup to the point where I can record and I am excited/terrified. I’ve wanted to do a podcast for so long and now It’s actually possible. Pardon your humble scribe as he has a minor breakdown. 
Love you all, this is going to be BIG. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 2 days ago
How do you make so many of these so consistently? Do you have a patreon?
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Drafting the Adventure: My Process
I was jokingly going to leave this blank because writers block be like that sometimes, but then I realized the question of consistency in writing is actually something a lot of DMs and other creators who follow this blog can benefit from. Appeals to utility have always been the way to get me to do anything, so lets crack in and see what people can learn from the messy inner workings of my process. 
Step 1: Inspiration
While I often describe my work as “writing down stories inspired by cool fantasy art”, my process actually begins long before I sit down at my desk to actually write anything. Though trial and error I’ve determined that I’m at my creative best when my brain is swimming in stories, even if they have 0 relevance to what I’m going to write about. I’ve almost always got an audiobook or podcast on while I’m doing mundane life upkeep, and I keep a phone note app or actual notebook within easy access at all times.   These last two are essential, as sometimes an idea or story snippet will come to me and then linger around for years, just waiting for some other concept to magnetize to and create something amazing. Every time I get a quarter of a way through a notebook, I transpose the content to a google dock, that way I can have easy access to anything I’ve written down over the ages. 
Step 2: Subject Matter
Choosing the right image is an artform in and of itself, as you need something with enough thematic richness to communicate an idea, while at the same time being vague enough to be flexible, in case I have a particular idea in need of an image. Early on I also made the mistake of just collecting images in my drafts folder, leading to a several thousand image backlog that I had to sift through whenever I knew there was ONE PARTICULAR image I wanted to use for a thing.   I’ve since rectified my mistake and keep a separate blog specifically for art, which I can specifically tag to search through easier.  I also use the “post to tumblr” browser extension to make image acquisition just that much speedier. 
Step 3: Story Seeds
After I’ve got my subject in front of me, I study the image to generate a few base ideas: what’s the mood? the vibe? the unstated tension? where would this image fit in a larger story? these things provide the raw material for my writing and help me fill out details that I never would have dreamed of. I also figure out if any of my several years worth of idea backlog would fit into this in any way, and if changing a detail or two could massage a previously good idea into a great one with accompanying art. 
Step 4:  Gamifying
This is a d&d blog after all, so once the story starts to take shape, I start thinking about how I can turn these narratives into actual adventures. Is there a dungeon involved? a dare to test the party’s skills? maybe a mercantile opportunity to take a gamble on?  The best adventure formulation is about dangling a reward out of the party’s current reach, then figuring out what challenges, twists, and pitfalls they’ll need to navigate to get there, while simultaneously setting them up to go on another adventure with a different reward after they’ve achieved the first.  
Step 5: Actually writing. 
Putting actual words on the page is perhaps my biggest hurdle, both because I suffer from chronic brainfog and because life can so often be too hectic to write. I’ve found that making a habit of writing ( every day for half an hour while I'm having my morning tea) is enough to generally get past my initial hurdle. I triage my projects, focusing on small light ideas when I don’t have the energy saving the big ones that’ll require a lot of work for good writing days or bitesized chunks. Some sessions are about limping along with as much as you can manage, while others are about riding that flow wave and getting as much done as you can. As for making that writing good,  I’ve got a whole tag full of different ways to improve your adventure writing, so give it a read and take what you need. 
As for a Patreon, I do indeed have one https://www.patreon.com/Villain4hire, and a ko-fi at https://ko-fi.com/villainforhire. I'll admit, I've left both of them on the backburner for quite some time both because I had life stuff ( moving etc) and because my ever looming podcast project would necessitate an overhaul of both.
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dailyadventureprompts · 3 days ago
Hi Dapper, This is more of a game mechanics advice question, if you have any thoughts... You’ve suggested a few naval themed, or at least travel themed adventures. How do you run Ship based campaigns (either naval ships or air ships)? I guess, focusing on combat or encounters, rather than just travelling.
I know there are various official and unofficial rule sets, but none of these feel “right” to me. I think because, in all other respects, 5e is so individual-character focused. Most ship rules tend to remove “the character” and focus on the ship or crew as a single mass. Players aren’t rolling for their character anymore, and in some rule sets, the “captain” is singularly rolling for everyone.
I understand ships are big, and historical naval combat involves hundreds of sailors spread over hours, but this runs counter to the general vibe of the game (most rpgs, actually) that focus on a handful of PC heroes as “stars of the show.” As a result, jumping over to these more anonymising rules always feels awkward to me.
How have you navigated this discrepancy, and what things have you found to work (or to avoid)?
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Drafting the Adventure: Naval Combat & Encounter Design
SUCH a good question, so thanks for writing in!
I think the discrepancy you've pointed out actually underlies a lot of what's wrong with 5e combat, in that the simple mechanical systems we are given tend to be boring when they're left to their own devices. The thing that the developers really should impress on everyone learning to run 5e gams is that these systems AREN'T supposed to be left on their own, they're supposed to be a simple framework over which you place challenges of batshit bravery/ skill and epic setpieces, which is apparently a thing we need to all learn on our own through trial and error, sacrificing the fun of our sessions in the process.
First, a note on encounter design:
Think of a default "at sea" naval encounter like a fight in a generic 20x20ft dungeon room: yes the party gets to show off their abilities, but once you've gone through one of these sorts of combats, every other "vanilla" encounter is going to seem almost rote, an exercise in tedium. Likewise, if you throw your party's vessel against another vessel in a generic void of sea/sky/aetherspace, you're going to run into the same problem: relying on a less than stellar mechanical system until it breaks under the pressure of trying to maintain the fun at the table all on its own.
It all comes down to encounter design, you as the DM picturing what you think would be a fun/cool/exciting action sequence, and then setting up the narrative stakes, mechanics, and enemies to facilitate that. I'd say that there's a lost art to encounter design, but it's not so much lost as untaught: when the prevailing wisdom is that the party should be having 5-7 encounters PER DAY, then gives us little in the way of rules or ideas about making those encounters spicy, its no wonder we end up churning out a bunch of boring filler content.
Think of it like a movie production team, be it a writer, director, actor, or props department: anyone would struggle making 5-7 unique action scenes, when that energy could all be focused on making one scene 5-7 times as good. Translating that back into DM relevant information, focus on making fewer, more interesting encounters rather than trying to cram in as many as possible, you only have so much time and creative juice to utilize between sessions so make sure it goes where its most needed. These encounters don't need to be biggest, most epic things ever, they just need to be unique and push the story along regardless of whether your party wins or loses.
My thoughts on building those unique encounters and how to really Jazz up ship to ship combat under the cut.
How to choose the right encounters:
The first thing to do is throw out every notion given to you by the DMG about how many encounters an adventure needs to have, and anything regarding rolling for random encounters while traveling. Random encounters are an artifact of grindheavy JRPGs and the earlier editions where fights were simple, deadly, and over in a few dice throws. 5e breaks if played like that, so you shouldn't attempt to do so. Instead, have an encounter whenever it's right for there to be an encounter, when you think you've prepped a good one that fits with the rhythm of the story, something that feels like it will challenge them, and something that will have a bearing on the plot regardless of what the final outcome is.
Next, when plotting your encounters you need to consider the different goals involved in the narrative you’re spinning:  what are your party attempting to do and how does this encounter impede them? Sure you can have a generic “pirates/seamonsters attack because we haven’t had a fight in a while” sort of encounter, but those are just as boring narratively as the fight in the 20x20ft room is mechanically. Such generic battle should only be the setup for other, more interesting mechanical scenarios, such as the pirates having a strange artifact in their hold, or the seamonster’s venom poisoning somebody and potentially forcing the party to divert course in favor of seeking aid. 
Variety is your friend here so consider implementing chases, stealth runs, standoffs, and navigation challenges to frame your usual combats. These can be spaced out with social encounters to provide exposition and tension, or vignettes of how the crew is managing. I’ve actually been fond of using a “captian’s log” style framing device to breeze over repetitive maritime travel, highlighting scenes and detailing their aftermath without having to repeatedly describe the routine process of working on a ship. 
Improving Naval Combat
You’re completely accurate in that most tabletop systems are very bad at portraying naval combat, but mostly because they tend to try to run ship-actions in the same way they’d run a multi-character skirmish.  Instead, do away with your traditional initiative system and have both (or all) side stake their turns simultaneously in the following rhythm: Planning, execution, resolution. Which make the early rounds of naval combat work out sorta like a game of rock paper scissors, all chance and intuition
Planning: During the planning phase, have your party talk freely about what they should do, representing your crew feeding information back n forth and adapting to the situation at hand. At the end of the planning phase, they agree (or the captain decides) what to do, which is executed during the next phase.  Simultaneously, you as the DM determine what the opposing vessels are going to do during their execution phase, without any foreknowledge of what the party might be about to attempt. 
Execution: the ships move, and the actions chosen by their crew trigger. This prevents all the weirdness brought about by trying to run constantly moving vehicles in turn order. 
Resolution: Damage is tallied, the results of skillchecks are meted out, and the party gets an ongoing report of what the hell is happening. 
I call this system “ the Approach” and it represents the actions of the vessels involved in a more zoomed out time frame and scale that allows for actual positioning, or navigation around reefs, atolls, or inlets, as any good fight should have a proportionally interesting backdrop, if only for variety’s sake. 
Once one vessel has closed with another in a step I call “The Engagement”, you can use the d&d naval rules, with characters either acting as their role on the crew or their player character. rolling initiative and carrying out the fight as normal. Here’re a few tricks I’ve learned for making these closing segments interesting: 
Keeping things interesting during a naval fight is a matter of juggling the fight between the ships themselves and what’s happening on the party’s vessel. A LOT can go wrong on a ship, and its up to those characters without primary ship roles to deal with things like fires breaking out, holes punched in the hull, vital equipment like cannons malfunctioning, crew being injured and needing to be escorted to the infirmary. Throw at least one of these complications at the party each time they have a close engagement, and you’ll give ‘em more than enough to chew on every time they have a fight on the high seas. 
Just about every ship battle outside of a seamonster attack or massive military engagement is going to involve a boarding action, which can transition the fight from one of positioning and potshots with cannons to an impromptu siege. 
Again, its important to consider motivation: Loot hungry pirates may send a secondary looting force into the ship’s cargo hold while keeping the defenders busy on topdeck, forcing the party to divide their attention. Privateers or slavers may focus on attacks that prevent the enemy ships from escaping, encouraging the party to run around putting out (sometimes literal) fires.  When enemies are working in groups, their initial goal may only be to slow the party down while waiting for reinforcements to arrive in a separate boarding ship, overwhelming them with numbers. 
Just like with every other encounter, its important to consider what happens to your party when things go badly. Stress that Surrender is an option, but consider that happens to your party and their crew when that happens: are they imprisoned? marooned? left with no cargo and just enough supplies to get to the next port?  What are their patron/creditors going to say when they come back with an empty hold and excuses? Perhaps the most dramatic thing you could do is have them shipwrecked, killing off the majority of their crew and leaving them stranded somewhere to figure it all out. This should be saved for the turning point of a campaign, as it kicks them back do zero and may sour them on ever venturing out onto the seas again. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 4 days ago
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Ally: Scroungerfriend, the Vulture Spirit
Can I have that when you’re done with it?  No I don’t really care what “it” entails, I don’t consider myself to be very picky.  
Adventure Hooks: 
While exploring a tomb or hopelessly lost in the badlands, the party encounters a most bizarre woman, heavily burned over most of her body, seemingly unperturbed by the elements despite only wearing a ratty feather cloak. she sorts the remains of a number of desecrated graves/ fallen animals, cheerily chattering to herself while stacking them in neat little piles like she was  gossiping over brunch. After receiving directions and maybe a cryptic riddle, this bizarre woman will disappear, leaving only bonescraps and a foul smell behind her. 
Time’s running out for the party to discover the location of their quarry, be they villain on the run or hidden bandit camp. Just as it seems like another day is closing on their failure, the heroes discover a vellum scroll hastily inked with a map to where they can find those they seek, delivered to their quarters sometime before dusk. Just who left it? Can they trust this sudden windfall or is it a trap? Do they have time to ask these questions before the moment is lost? 
Getting to town after surviving a monster ambush on the road, the party is greeted with an unusual mystery: one of the taverngoers reports seeing the old lord’s huntmaster about the market earlier that day, despite the fact that the huntmaster died fourty years ago after being caught out in a lighitng storm. The taverngoer reports this imposter buying butcher meat, sugar cakes, and numerous other sundries, which only makes the mystery deepen after the party checks into their room(s) and finds these items delivered as semi-personal gifts 
Careful hunters and scouts know to look for vultures as a sign of where something might have died, and adventurers are known to seek out the birds for hope of finding something to loot. Lately however the observant members of the party notice an uptick in the number of vultures following them, possibly hinting at some dire omen. These portents do not limit themselves to mere bird sightings however, as the party may discover themselves dreaming of goreslicked bones and old tombs, or the persistent fluttering of heavy wings. Even oracles who seek to peer into the party’s future will see hints of vultures, though it will take one truely insightful to be able to tell them WHY. 
Setup: A minor psychopomp that has long haunted the wilderness, the death spirit that calls itself Scroungerfriend has long contented herself with feeding off scraps, overseeing the deaths of animals or swooping in after a war to pick over a few of the lingering souls of the fallen while helping herself to the choicest bits of corpsemeat. 
Chance encounter leads Scroungerfriend to cross paths with the party and she stalks them thereafter, trying to remain unnoticed while feeding off their kills as she pleases. As the party grows in significance and their deathcount climbs, so to does the vulture’s involvement, simultaneously looking out for her new friends while steering them gently towards slaughter.  That’s what friendship is, right? She helps them here and there and they leave lots of cloven souls and juicy corpses for her.... what are friends for after all~ 
Almost always smelling of piss and rotten meat, this spirit takes the form of an overly large vulture, unnerving woman ( sometimes calling herself Griselda), harpy, or feathered drake depending on the location. On rare occasions when she has to “pretty up”, Scroungerfriend will take on the appearance of someone she’s eaten, often a lost traveler, soldier, or someone who’s culture practices sky burial. 
Further Adventures: 
The each member of party only starts having the dream-hints at the psychopomp’s presence after they get knocked down to 0hp, and will thereafter receive flashes of wings and bones and whispering voices whenever they go unconscious. These ominous hints become a face to face confrontation when one of them dies, and Scroungerfriend swoops down to collect thier lingering soul. After the party is done mouring their friend’s fall and is deciding what to do with their fallen comrade, play out a scene where the psychopomp introduces herself and offers to take the departed to their chosen afterlife.. Scroungerfriend is delighted at being able to talk to one of her favorite new people face to face, but is disappointed that they’ll be going soon... so disappointed that she MIGHT just sneak their soul back into their body, before the other death-spirits notice, but just one time favor, right?   This gives the party a chance to save their friend all over again, as they briefly revive and then instantly begin dying of their wounds once again. Scroungerfriend is hesitant to perform this scavenger’s miracle again, as each time it risks drawing the attention of ghastly scavengers or powerful creatures that oversee the mortal coil. 
 Centuries of mucking about in corpses has led Scroungerfriend to develop an affinity for grisly forms of divination ( bonecasting, haruspicy) , which the party can request that she can share, on the understanding that she does her best work when provided with a fresh death to power her insights. The death of an animal may provide enough power for a simple yes/no augury, where as a full battle will fuel a proper divination or speak with dead. The death of a powerful creature or significant individual will provide even more insight into the future, allowing the party to benefit from a contact other plane spell. Each of these true readings tires Scroungerfriend out, and she must wait a day between each or risk exhausting herself, though she’s more than happy to cast her collection of bones and do a bit of baseless fortunetelling for her friends whenever she’s asked. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 5 days ago
A challenge to the imagination and writing skills of the author. You have posted a great deal of scenarios including the corruption of political and religious leaders. As an exercise in stepping out of creative comfort zones, could you create an adventure featuring a truly kind and just religious leader or noble. They seem to be awfully under-represented in these series of writings. Thank you.
Funny thing about that  Justin Kind (I'm calling you that because despite being on anon I can tell it's you because nearly all of the requests you send in have the words "kind and Just" in them), is that I have quite a lot of adventures with positive authority figures, though none of them putting down "rebels" who are complaining too much about their own oppression:
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Just for you, lets do a compilation of them and how they use their power and the structures they govern to enrich the lives of others, rather than being petty authoritarians. 
The Lord of Wardenrock is a retired adventurer who wants what’s best for his family and his realm. A beacon of positive masculinity, he sponsors and tutors younger heroes and sets them on errands to keep peace in the realm so he can spend more time with his gaggle of grandkids. 
 Morrigan Minos is a crusading lawyer and necromancer who holds the power of life and death in her hands, using her authority to ensure the guilty are punished and the innocent are returned to the ones they love. She also understands that the law and the practice thereof is a complicated, often morally grey process, but she always lets justice be her guiding star. 
The Jarl of Jhavator’s Keel is a powerful woman who understands that that the authority of any ruler comes from the approval and wellbeing of her people, and so offers them (and the party) hospitality and the hearth of her great hall during the chilling northern winters. 
Nazzaphine Zane is the royal spymistress, and mutual lover of the now long departed king and queen. Despite working from the shadows, she does what she does for the good of the realm, undercutting the graft and corruption of her peers with. 
Deridis, is an architect and military leader chosen by the goddess of law and civilization herself.  He works to bring about a golden age not by conquering nations but by battling the scourges of hunger, sickness, and petty cruelty, building wells and founding well governed towns 
King Erdalf, ruler of a nation caught in the fallout of a disastrous war between empires, choses to open the borders of his kingdom to those fleeing the fighting, regardless of their nation of origin. He knows that new cultures and new ideas can only benefit his lands, even if some traditionalists in his court scoff otherwise. 
The Verdant Order of St. Tormid were a knightly fellowship  who followed the example of a legendary folk hero, protecting the common people and the beauty in the world even after persecution by the powerful forced them to begin operating in secret.  
Lady Keiva Marzanna meets the party on the worst day of her life, having just watched a giant attack her friends and traveling companions and turn her brother into a red splotch on the snowy ground. Fighting through grief and broken bones, she does her best to distract the monster and give those others around her time to escape. 
The monks of the Nacrebright Sanctum offer rest and respite to travelers and pilgrims from across the multiverse, doing their best to provide a safe place in a chaotic maelstrom of existence and help others find their way back home. 
Consider for a moment the irony of asking someone who writes a different story EVERY DAY to challenge their “imagination and writing skills”, when you’ve requested the same adventure multiple times with the only variation being how much you show your hatred of progressive politics and your love of bootlicking. If my writing shows a predisposition towards showing people in positions of authority to be corrupt it’s because a) most people in positions of authority ARE corrupt b) the foundation of heroic narratives is punching UP against villains with more power than you c) I’m lawful good, and MY powerfantasy is replacing systems that are broken and oppressive with ones that are ACTUALLY “just” and “kind”, rather than you who seems to be fixated on finding a way to be morally justified in attacking people who are actually doing good IRL. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 6 days ago
Hello there! Huge fan, thank you so much for all you do!My players are about to finish their adventures in a modified version of The Vault of The Lilies - again, thank you so much, it was perfect for my campaign! Since they are currently stuck in a rather large desert, I’d like to give them a home base where they can rest. Preferably there’d be a tiny oasis or creek nearby, maybe even some lilies for continuity reasons?
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Settlement: Greenbank Caravansary 
 Even past the harshest of horizons, people still find a way to be kind to one another. This is the miracle of hospitality
Setup:  Settled by a group of adventurers who defeated a bandit prince encamped in a nearby set of ruins, the Greenbank Caravansary and its adjoining oasis has just a generation later blossomed into a thriving waystation for pilgrims, travelers,  and traders in the heart of the desert.  
Unaffiliated with any empire or sultanate, the Caravansary opens its doors to all, if only to draw more commerce to it’s bustling veiled market and liven up the stories told around the tables at the old teahouse. Visitors can expect lively company from merchants laden with goods bound to the nearest port, treasure hunters seeking a mythical lost city, or  nomads on their way to conduct rites at an ancestral necropolis, along with a shifting cast of other oddballs who all have tales to spin. 
Overall, Greenbank is a place of peace and healing, a place where the party can get back little by little what the desert has taken from them, whether it be strength of the body or mirth of the soul. 
Adventure Hooks
Though most of the adventurers who slew the bandit prince have returned home, passed on, or left for more welcoming landscapes, their leader Grey bearded Taiwo remains to oversee the settlement they began together. Still retaining a sparkle of his swashbuckling charm into his sixties, the scarred old man now relies on younger folk to do the running around for him. If the party is amenable and eager for a little action during their stay, Taiwo is happy to compensate them for settling disputes, guarding caravans, and generally solving problems around his village. If they endear themselves to the old veteran with hard work and good spirit (possibly while sharing good spirits) he may just entrust them with his old dueling spear, a weapon that contains a spark of potential that may one day blossom into vestige level power. 
Before it was a Caravansary, the old imperial buildings around the oasis played host to an army of bandits, who scoured the caravan routes through the region drawing the fear and ire of many. The most prominent leader of these bandits was a woman named Banewind, who wanted to set herself up not just as a petty thief, but as a warlord to be respected and paid tribute. To that end she began having her raiders take captives en-mass forcing them to quarry stone from the surrounding foothills and build her a palace. After her death, this edifice of ambition remains incomplete, just outside of town, providing a refuge for thieves and desert beasts that the local garrison never quite gets around to dealing with. Exploring this unfinished ruin may become the party’s next persuit, as rumors persist that the Bandit Prince’s enchanted sword and other undiscovered treasures still remain somewhere within. 
If the party would seek to make the Greenbank their home, there’s a better alternative to the tent-pavilions or rooms above the teahouse favored by travelers: An old watchtower, originally built to guard the entrance to Banewind’s worksite referred to as “The Overlook”, spacious enough to act as both guardpost and the party’s home base, Taiwo is glad to give it to them provided they pay for its upkeep and garrisoning cost. Conveniently located next to one of the springs that feeds the oasis ,the overlook is conveniently situated between the bustle of the settlement and the lure of the nearby dungeon, catering to any mood the party may have.
Upgrades and Amenities for The Overlook
While the sunworn walls and scaffolding will do for now, it’s pretty clear the overlook will not function as a fortification as it was originally intended. Perhaps cutting a deal with the few quarries in the foothills ( no longer staffed by captives) will allow the party to get their clubhouse up to muster. 
A mechanically minded individual may notice the steady steam flowing beneath the Overlook’s bridge would be a great place to build a waterwheel, opening up the possibility of an advanced irrigation system and the potential of creating more arable farmland around the oasis. In addition to allowing the settlement to maintain a larger population, this burst of verdancy will set the party up with the perfect place to plant a garden, cultivating all the strange plants and herbs they gather through their travels. 
Once the party has advanced past the point of guarding caravans for chump-change, a friendly merchant floats them the idea of sponsoring their own, investing their windfalls in cargo and drivers and buyers to act on their behalf. Greenbank makes the perfect place to collect their profits, stop as it is for so many potential markets. This buyin may lead the party to yet more wilderness adventures, this time protecting their own assets rather than those of some distant patron. 
Should the party eventually become strong enough to mark themselves as a threat to the true powers of the world, they may want to consider making good on Banewind’s dream and finishing her fortress, so as to better protect themselves and the people of their chosen home.  This move from sellswords with a clubhouse to masters of a castle is a major step in their legend, and will likely change their relationship with neighbors and other settlements. Warriors will begin flocking to ride under their banner, merchants will start offering tribute for protection through the region, and the surrounding settlements will treat them as a potential ally or threat to their borders.   Old Taiwo will have concerns over this, he and his friends rallied against someone trying to establish themselves as a tyrant in the region, and he will do his best to try and ensure the party is set on the right course. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 7 days ago
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Monster Hunt: Vigex, the Scroungerwyrm
Finders Keepers
Setup: Drawn by the remnants of an overgrown battlefield, an adolescent dragon has made a lair nestled in the outer edge of a lord’s holdings. Using its treasure scent to ferret out the choicest spoils of that antique slaughter, the dragon has already begun to build its hoard out of the mislaid heirlooms and broken armaments, amassing quite a collection of arms, armor, and other errand valuables.  Obviously the lord in question wants it gone, but for the time being the dragon is content to prey on sheep and leave travelers be, though it has savaged quite a few of the lord’s best knights who dared to try and drive it off. 
Such a stalemate is a golden opportunity for a clever band of novice adventurers, who may rely on either their wits, their bravery, or their idiot luck to turn the situation to their advantage.  
Adventure Hooks: 
Despite the preying on their flocks and the threat of reptilian rampage, the common people turn out in droves whenever some knight or another decides to try and challenge the Scroungerwyrm, hurling jibes and encouragement and betting on the outcome.  The party encounters one of these would be champions at the local tavern, having intended to drown his sorrows but only succeeding in fueling his anger and shame. On the edge of picking a ( potentially lethal) fight with a couple of hecklers, this encounter with the drunken knight could go any number of ways:  the party could earn a rival for life by shaming him, or win some great reward by wagering that they could do what he failed to, they could also try to placate the hotheatded cavalier, promising to return the ancestral sword he lost when the dragon decided to take it as a chewtoy half way through their battle. 
Vigex is jealous of his collection as any dragon could be, but has a particular interest in the historical context of his finds. He instinctually knows that some things are more valuable having belonged to others, but he lacks the age or education to know any of the stories of those who died on the battlefield so long ago. A party who approaches the dragon with a knowledge of past glories and noble heraldry might be able to win a few small prizes out of the horde, or pick out something that a grateful noble would like to have returned to them. Storytime with the dragon may be a great way to win his favor, but the party will earn his lethal ire should they try to too obviously cheat him out of something valuable by claiming it to be worthless. 
While slaying the dragon and taking its horde along with the lord’s reward may be the most direct option, there is another that might benefit all parties without the need for (as much) bloodshed. Should the party be able to lay their hands on a treasure map to a particularly enticing dungeon, they may be able to rehouse the wyrm far away from civilization. Such a process will not be without difficulty, firstly because Vigex will insist that they bring him a very large rock to roll infront of his lair to guard it incase this venture does not work out. Next, they’ll have to survive an ambush from a group of knights intent on slaying the beast and its newfound allies. Finally, they’ll have to negotiate with Vigex over their newfound treasure: The dragon has enough sense to let them leave with as much as they can carry in order to avoid a fight, but if lied to or disrespected prior will demand all of the treasure stay with him. 
A party that leaves Vigex on good terms may seek him out later for aid. Depending on how long its been, the dragon may have gone through a bit of a growth spurt, but could be sufficiently bribed into aiding their cause once again. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 8 days ago
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Dungeon: The Mournhold of Igryr Ironmaul
You can’t take it with you, but you can say around to sure no one else tries the same. 
Adventure Hooks: 
While haggling with a traveling merchant, the party has finds an old scrollcase that has a hidden compartment overlooked by the seller and perhaps a few previous owners. The map seems to lead up into the mountains, depicting some kind of long abandoned dwarven fortress. Just what they could be guarding up here no one knows, but who could possibly resist such a temptation? If you were looking to start the party off on something simple, this lucky break could be an excellent first adventure, gathering together prospective partymembers and traveling through increasingly harsh wilderness on their way to the vault. 
Along their way, the party discovers a snow covered cairn with a finely made sword used as  a gravemarker. Do they disturb the dead for the sake of wealth? ( that’s what they were doing anyway). If the party does take the sword, it may serve as their very first magical weapon, a steadfast edge against the many challenges they will face, at least until  several levels later when a frostbitten revenant begins to stalk them for the sword. The undead is seemingly indestructible and convinced the party are its treacherous traveling companions, having left it for dead in the cold winter snows. Now their only hope of defeating this inexorable pursuer is to find the lost adventuring party, or perhaps pilgrimage to a shrine of Tyr and seek a blessing. 
Supplies are limited while climbing the mountain and exploring the dwarven ruin, so the party will need to be purposeful of where they search. Multiple trips up and down may be required, so it may be wise to seek out the nearest mountain settlement and get yourselves on good terms with the locals. 
Setup: Many cultures employ necropoli, “cities of the dead” to store the remains of their ancestors, creating temple complexes that serve the needs of both sacred and practical attendants.  Mournholds hold a similar place in dwarven culture, save that they are fortresses for the honored dead, places where those who have served the clan or crown may be rallied from beyond the vale of death for some great puprpose. 
Most of those not raised as part of a dwarven clan would easily mistake a Mournhold for just another dungeon, full of traps and doom foretelling inscriptions, which is exactly the situation the party has fallen into, their luck and untempered greed  landing them in the central treasure valult. 
Ghostly dwarven warriors phase through the walls, locking blades with the alert warriors or sinking axes into the backs of the unsuspecting. These ghosts were called from their eternal rest to defend the bounty of their ancient kin. Even as our heroes retaliate,  spirit warriors seem endless, and the party must now make a fighting retreat, either surrendering their loot or weighing themselves down with ill gotten goods
Challenges & Complications: 
The passageways down to the treasure vaults are a convoluted labyrinth, requiring an advanced skill check to navigate through without getting lost or falling into some kind of trap. On the way back out, with a surging tide of ghosts behind them, the party may need to retrace their steps but this time under much more pressure. What’s worse, the spectral guardians are unhindered by the winding walls, meaning their pursuit is inevitable. 
The crumbling bridge the party edged across earlier in their adventure will not hold the weight of  an entire fleeing party, to say nothing of the added bulk of two people hauling a treasure chest. One person would likely make it, slowly dragging their loot as the rest of the party defended the bridge, but this becomes a matter of trust
As it turns out, the entrance to the lower dwarven halls, a decent down a vertical pit turns out to be the the most difficult challenge the party must face in their flight. How to get all the treasure up the rope before the guardians close in on them.  The ruin did contain a secret entrance that could be walked out of, concealed behind a nearby waterfall.. But that would have required the party to do its due diligence in scouting.  
By kin-rite, the dwarven ancestors are unable to harm anyone who has not touched their treasure. This secret can be discovered if the party successfully explores a dilapidated library within the ruin.
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dailyadventureprompts · 9 days ago
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Dungeon: Throne of the Foresworn
The cruelties of this world can be buried, but they are never forgotten. 
Setup:  In the days of the old empire there was a prison known as the Green Hell, a great subterranean mine so vast and so deep that one could travel through it for days without seeing the sun. Generations worked and died there, laboring to wring forth precious copper from unforgiving stone, and generations more grew up there, the children of laborers conscripted from birth to work off the sentence of their forbearers. When the empire fell, those that held wardenship over the prison knew that they could not feed or guard their charges any longer, so they chose to bury the entrances to the cavern rather than set the slaves free and risk being overwhelmed by a vengeful mob. 
Centuries later one of the lost entrances to the Green Hell was unearthed, and rather than sealing shut that obviously haunted and terrible place, those who oversaw the region decided on a dreadful punishment: tossing those charged with banishment down into the pit, letting the ghosts or whatever else lurked in the shadows carry out the appropriate vengeance for them. Not all of these accused met with a sudden end, and now after a century and a half their population has grown into a veritable army, all the while growing in strength and preparing  for retaliation against the realm that forswore them. 
Adventure Hooks: 
The Foresworn have turned their prison into their fortress, excavating out the old imperial tunnels and finding new ones through fissures in the rock. Using these lost passages they escape into the surrounding mountains, acting as raiders and capturing food, goods, and captives to take back and reinforce their stronghold. Few in the few in the realms beyond pay much heed to highland tribes or foothills settlements, content to let the problem fester and the Foresworn to grow unchecked in their power. 
These raids provide an excellent origin story for a prospective party: captured from their villages or clanholds in the mountains, dragged down into the underworld, and forced to work together to escape. Such a party would have friends and loved ones among the captives in the Green Hell, and would be torn between trying to rescue them and alerting the placid lowlands to the danger looming on their doorstep making for all manner of adventures. One could also have one of the partymembers originate from among the numbers of the Foresworn, possibly an escapee looking to make right their dreadful exile to the pit, or an outcast among outcasts who got caught up in the brutal politics of the cavern prison. 
Some precious artifact or scrap of knowlede the party needs to complete their quest was in possession of someone exiled to the Green Hell, forcing them to plan an expedition into the depths in the hopes of retrieving it. While there they discover that a) those exiled to the caverns are far more organized than anyone on the surface knew about b) knowing this information means that none of the Foresworn can let the party leave alive c) the person they were looking for temeporarily became ruler of the foresworn before being murderously replaced, meaning the item/information they seek is likely somewhere in the heavily guarded imperial ruin that now serves the exile’s leader as a palace.  
Further Adventures: 
The Ruler of the Foresworn is known as “Lord among the Bones”, owing to the dragons teeth decorating their throne. This wyrm was said to prey on the exiles who were first sentenced to the Green hell, and was slain by a hero who united the condemmed under a common cause of revenge. What none save the ruler knows is that the throne is haunted by the ghosts of each previous occupant, who possess the current Lord among the Bones, ensuring the Foresworn do not waver in their task. As long as the throne exists, no matter what internal treachery claims the ruler, no matter how many prospective champions the party cuts down, there will ALWAYS be a Lord among the Bones, retaining the skill and malice of all previous holders of the title.  
In the depths of the Green Hell there is a foreboding lake, poisoned by mineral runoff and whispering evil to any who draw near. The collective remains of those thousands doomed by the empire came to rest in this pit, putrefying into a sort of psychic gestalt that refers to itself only as the Hunger. Those who drink this water either die or are riven with psychic trauma, granted psionic powers but irrevocably broken by the experience, and over time the few of the sorrowful and the power-seeking that have survived this process have formed into a sort of priest caste for the Forsaken, whipping them into a frenzy and interpreting the nightmarish signs about how best to proceed with their revenge. The Lord among the Bones is infact counted among this number, the first among them having taken the title from the dragon itself, who’d dwelt in the pool and had itself long been made mad by the ghosts.    
Open conflict with the Forsworn will see them unleash their arsenal on the lowlands: Salvaged artifacts of the old empire, made to cow and control their workforce.  Dragons descended from the original wyrm of the Green Hell, hatched at great sacrifice and brought up as warbeasts over decades. Cages of bones dredged up from the poison lake that inflict psychic torment on their victims, possibly instilling a spark of the Hunger’s will into their psyches. These last weapons are perhaps the most terrifying, as the party may face their own allies or loved ones turned against them, even as unwitting spies and infiltrators, or as hollowed out vessels for the Hunger itself. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 10 days ago
do you have any resources or guides for worldbuilding and reimagining the feywild? not looking for adventure prompts or npcs just your thoughts on setting and how to make the feywild feel dangerous and mystical
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Planescape: The Feywild
I won’t lie,  the introduction if the feywild is one of the best additions to the default d&d cosmology in a while, not only from a thematic perspective, but gameplay aswell, as it allows any podunk patch of land to act as a doorway to wild adventure. That said, too often this wonderland is treated as a place where things are just wacky, without real attention paid to the narrative possibilities introducing the feywild into a story can have. 
To that end, I’m going propose a few different aspects of the feywild, different visions of how things could be drawn from different mythologies and storytelling conventions:
The feywild has no geography: like the notes of a song or the lines of a play, the reality of faerie is reinterpreted with every visitation, Coloring itself based on the expectations and emotions of those exploring it. This is why a child can stumble into a mushroom ring and have themselves a whimsical romp full of talking animal friends and life lessons, whereas adults tend to find themselves ensnared by echoes of their deepest desires and why adventurers ALWAYS find something to fight.  If you want to go anywhere in the feywild you don’t need a map, you need a thematic structure that will carry you to your destination: whether that be staying on a yellow brick road through a number of distractions and tribulations, or winning a game of riddles against a talking bird who’ll swear to drop you off at your destination. 
The feywild is a place of stories:  When a peasant family leaves out milk and performs small acts of thanks for the brownie, they are unwittingly inviting the primal energies of the feywild to fill the space they have made for it, creating a creature that had always been there, looking out for them. Likewise, when folk tell of wonderous places just beyond the edge of the map, the feywild becomes those places, taking solidity from repeated tellings of the tale and incorporating different interpretations to give themselves depth. This is not to say that the translation is perfect, as one can’t simply make up a story, tell it to an audience, and expect it to suddenly become true as it takes a powerful and engrained sort of lies, embelishment, or folktales to give shape to the otherworld.  When populating your local fairy-realm or those areas near enough to it, consider what sort of stories people tell about that place, whether it be about monsters that gobble up wayward children or treasure hidden there by bandits long ago. 
The feywild responds to your emotions: When your party takes a rest, ask them how they think their characters are feeling. Consider whether they are frightened or foolheardy, adventurous or avricious, and then sketch out some random encounter to spice in along the way as the realm of whimsy responds to the vibes they’re putting out.   A party that’s feeling hungry may encounter a friendly fey teaparty or a dangerous lure disguised as a snack, a group that’s feeling pressed for time may hear the horn of a savage hunter stalking them, or a parable about stopping to help others can actually speed you along your own path.  In this way, the fairyland is in diolog with the party’s desire to press their narrative forward, and will test or reward them according to its whim. 
The feywild is everywhere: one of the underutilized aspects of having the feywild in our games is that a portal to the “shallower” areas of the otherworld can pop up anywhere overtaken by nature, allowing fey beings and other oddities to cross over in a way that creates all manner of adventure hooks. If I’m building a dungeon in the wilderness, I’m personally fond of having a mounting fey presence the deeper in you get, replacing the normal ruin dwelling hazards with troops of hobgoblins, odd enchantments, and various tricksters. For smaller dungeons, the closed off fey portal can be an adventure hook for later, encouraging them to come back when they need to delve into whimsy, whereas for the larger dungeons,  a non contiguous fey realm connecting multiple points can serve as a combination of fast travel AND bonus stage. Even for non dungeon locations, consider how much fun of an adventure it’d be if someone discovered that their cellar had been replaced with a fairy’s larder, or that the vine-covered lot where neighborhood kids play during the day transforms into a vast battlefield for sprites during the night. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 11 days ago
Greetings to Dapper. There is a villain I have for a campaign and I'm looking for ideas on how to introduce her to the story . The villain: a charismatic sorcerer or druid with a very "woke" philosophy and many devoted followers who feel the world has failed them. She selfishly believes in her own power and freedom - If you have the power to do something, why let others stop you? Woe to those who tell her she can't or shouldn't do something. She is rebelling against the kind, just ruling family.
I find it very interesting that you use "woke" to describe what amounts to a "might makes right" philosophy, especially because you bring up how this druid and her followers have been let down by the world, despite the "kindness" and "Justness" of the ruling power.
Sounds to me like you're asking me to create a proxy/punching bag for people you don't agree with politically, especially because in your second message on this topic:
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You describe these followers as " Gleefully Lawless" , and the leader has HATING the royal family for in any way infringing on her ability to do what she wants, and this very much strikes me as someone who's so pro-establishment that they've missed the entire point of what d&d and heroic narratives are about.
To address the IRL politics you're clearly referencing: BLM, Antifa, and so called "woke" policies are not about hating anyone*, they're about opposing systems of power that hurt the many for the benefit of the few, systems so old and ingrained into our society that their oppression can be confused for the status quo. As someone who is clearly pro-system, you should want that system to run as efficiently and equitably as possible, and that means hearing the voices of those who say the system is broken and are showing you clear evidence as to how. The only other option is that you prefer the system remains flawed because it benefits you, even if that benefit is just that you don't have to hear about how other people are suffering.
* Except hating fascists, but we should always bash the fash
Now onto why your request doesn't function from a narrative standpoint: Rebellions don't come from nowhere, they occur because there is a fundamental disconnect been those in power and those they govern, with a critical difference between rebellions of the oppressed vs their oppressor, and one power group upsetting the social order to replace another.
In the scenario you set up, the followers of the druid are having their "natural magic" curtailed, which automatically makes their rebellion against authority justified no matter how nice the political figureheads happen to be. I could believe that a powerful faction might want to cease power from the ruling authority by using "restriction of traditional practices" as a rallying cry, but you've deliberately positioned the druid and her followers as the underdogs. A "might makes right" philosophy like you mentioned is held by those who already have power, not by people who are excluded from power by virtue of their birth.
How does the scenario you presented even end? With the party stomping out the rebellion and proving that the persecution of the druidic group was justified in the first place? No matter how corrupt or angry the Rebel leader might be, your kind royal family still allowed their people's plight to go unaddressed in the first place, meaning that the problem isn't solved by quashing the rebellion, it's just put off in favor of protecting the status quo.
Just because I can, I'm going to write an adventure using your framework but do it properly, so you and anyone who might also write adventures with an uncritical eye can see how much better it is when you educate yourself on the politics you take inspiration from.
To anyone in the comments who might take umbrage with me going off like this, I want to remind you that I'm a queer socialist who's dedicated to decolonizing this hobby every chance I get. There's room at the table for everyone except those with hate in their hearts, and I will pry this game from the hands of bigots and authoritarians with a battleax if I have to.
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dailyadventureprompts · 11 days ago
Love this addition, the whole reason I started this blog was to help people spark ideas!
Also as a minor explanation for why drow are chaotic evil is because back in the days of tabletop wargaming, the “armies list” divided creatures into the “law” as the goodguys, neutral creatures, and “chaos” as the badguys. The idea of darkelves as the nega-versions of the others came from this, and as the game introduced evil/good as a separate alignment axis, the drow were such an Iconic monster of the “chaos” faction that they kept on being described as that despite the fact that their lore painted them as increasingly more authoritarian.
You can see an echo of this back in 4th edition’s alignment chart where it was a single axis of: Lawful good, good, neutral, evil, chaotic
Yet another Monsters Reimagined ask- this anon would love to have your take on drow! Both the breakdowns of what’s a problem and the retention of what makes particular monster-folk interesting have been really good!
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Monsters Reimagined: Drow
It's no big surprise that drow would end up being a popular request for monsters reimagined, as they're one of the most common "enemy" creatures for the fandom to try and rehabilitate, with this campaign going all the way back to the late 80s.
It's fascinating to watch this change happen in slow motion, as the rogue drow Drizzt spawned so many imitators within the fandom that it actually ended up with the writers specifically creating a goddess for " rebel drow that have decided to turn good." The drow in the Eberron setting ditched their evil spider cultist statist for being tribalistic scorpion worshipers instead (we'll get into the spider thing later), and right now the biggest most popular drow in the fandom is a hot-boi gravity wizard from an empire culturally focused on reincarnation, a far cry from the slavers of old.
WoTC has even gotten involved in the last couple years, making elves capable of shifting their physical sex at will, and using that as a springboard for a lot of interesting worldbuilding regarding the previously gender essentialist nature of the drow.
That said, there’s still a lot to unpack about the drow, and while different cultural templates now exist, there’s plenty more left to be explored. which I’ll do under the “read more” link. 
TLDR: If you want drow to occupy the space of antagonists, ditch the spider cultist nonsense and model them after the roman empire: a socially rigid society that’s merciless to it’s foes but exalts the rights of its citizens. This lets you keep most of the drow badguy things ( slavery and human sacrifice) while not having them motivated purely by evil. 
Alternatively, paint them as the counterpart to the fey-loving woodelves, and align them with the unseelie court: tricksters and riders of the wild hunt, 
What’s wrong: Like a lot of other things from early d&d, the drow as they exist have a lot less to do with any fantastical roots and more with whatever pulp adventure magazines the original creators happened to be reading. Specifically s/m dominatrix archetypes, the “ planet of women” trope, mixed in with just a dash of “journey to the center of the earth” exploration for flavor.  Much like the pulp archetypes they’re based off of, the drow are custom built to both indulge in that original male audiences’ prurient sexual interest while also attacking their insecurities. 
To engage in some laughably shallow psychosexual analysis: 
Drow are FAMOUS for being slavers, launching raids specifically for captives from the surface world. The idea of the heroes being reduced to chattel and “broken” feeds into a larger fear of being “unmanned”, of ripped from your rightful place in the hierarchy. 
The matriarchy is likewise meant to be alienating, since these evil women are supposed to be “unrelatable” it creates an entire society where the only way a man can advance is by objectifying himself in a way that he’d traditionally do to women in his own life. 
While the drow matriarchy is explicitly presented as cruel and exploitative, the assumed patriarchal authority of every other civilization ( monstrous or otherwise) is never questioned. The fact that their society is female dominant is one of their monstrous characteristics, evidenced by the fact that none of the player ancestries have such an assumption. 
Drow fight with debilitating poison, ranged weapons, and restraints, negating the inherent strength advantage that the male heroes would have over their female captors ( seriously, look it up). 
Their entire culture is built around the worship a black widow spider goddess and if that doesn’t shine a light on just the sort of Freudian anxieties that sit at the core of the default drow, I don’t know what will. 
  I think it’s also worth noting just how sexualized the drow are. It’s not a coincidence that they’re the only female led “enemy” faction, and also happen to be the only pretty ones out of the whole rogue’s gallery, AND be the ones who happen to have a society based around a bad understanding of BDSM dynamics. 
What’s worth saving:  Personally I think it’s worth leaning into the mythological roots of drow being “ dark elves”, relating them back to the aos si or the unseelie court; lords and tricksters who live under hills and in caves, and come out on darkened nights to hunt, and revel and strike deals. Treating them as you would woodelves, save for strange landscapes, or the echoing halls of the underdark fixes 90% of the problems with default drow culture.  These elves would deal in the wonderous riches of the world below, and treat the lives of . Hell, if you wanted to tap into some pop mythology: having a version of Hades and Persephone as darkelf patron gods would be a perfect thematic fit.  
If you wished to include antagonistic drow that perform the same actions as their monster manual counter parts, I’d advise: a) treating lolth and her spider worshipers as you would any other sinister cult, including spreading their membership to other races b) looking to the model of historical civilizations that also engaged in sacrifice and slaver raids, I’d in particular suggest Rome, in no small part because it fits in with the default drow’s whole ego/politics/poison/ hedonism VIBE without being exploitative. 
While I could go on a full rant about the hypocrisies of d&d painting its monsters humanoids as slavers while at the same time excusing feudalism ( news flash, just because you call it selfdom doesn’t mean it’s not slavery), if you DO want to include the grim reality of slavery into your campaign, I’d recommend having a good long worldbuildig session regarding it. Slavery is evil, and just about every civilization has engaged in it in one form or another. Acknowledging that the culture that your party fights for might be guilty of it to some degree is one of the unpleasant tasks we need to do when breaking from the “always chaotic evil” model of things. 
Also as a side note I wanted to just offhandedly mention how hard it was to find art for this post. When it comes to the "problematic enemy" forms of monsters reimagined, I try to find pictures that show the people in question just chilling, going about their lives. Sadly most pictures of drow "at rest" tend to be either spider themed or undeniably horny
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dailyadventureprompts · 12 days ago
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Adventure:  Rebels in the Rimebough 
No matter how cold the north wind blows, the pain of old injustice burns hotter. 
Setup: The Frontier kingdom of Volskolt sits on the edge of a vast wilderness, the last bastion of so called civilization against the vast territories where no sovereign save winter can rule. Given that the kingdom was only established and its populace converted to the dominant faith less than two centuries ago most on the continent regard the Volskoltans to be little more than backwater heathens, feigning piety in polite company while practicing barbaric rituals while at home. This attitude is reflected by the urban Volskoltan population towards their rural neighbors, and by those rural neighbors towards the migratory tribes that live in the hinterlands. 
It is this tension that sits at the heart of the kigndom’s current troubles, as the elders among their people remember that their now sedate nobles came to their land as militant holy orders seeking to crusade against their heathen neighbors, burning what villages they did not take for their own and building stout stone walls as a sign of their dominance. While the elites now consider themselves one people with the “common Volskoltan”, few who keep to the old ways have forgiven them for the bloodshed, or the merciless suppression of their ancestral rites in favor of the continental faith. 
And so we come to the crossroads of fate, nearly two hundred years of injustice and resentment reaching a boiling point during the coldest winter in generations. Rebels gather their power, giants stir in the mountains, and the destiny of a kingdom may hinge on a single life. 
Adventure Hooks: 
After rescuing a waylaid caravan of holyfolk out in the hinterlands, the party arrives in a village just in time to interupt a group of villagers being burned alive in their home by a priest and his mob. Though there is no secular law against worshiping other gods in the kingdom, the church takes folk worshiping both the new and ancesteral ways as the greatest affront. Now the party must decide between preserving their in with the church and doing the right thing and saving the townsfolk from a mob that could just as easily turn on them.  
The party is called together by noble allies who have become aware of a grim secret. The young heir to the throne of Volskolt has been kidnapped while hunting near the Rimebough forest. Some ready themselves for ransom, while others cultists are behind the dead, others are worried that political dissidents are behind these actions and expect him to be used against the royal family some time soon. All that matters now is that the boy be returned home unharmed, a deed that will require the party to brave the harshest wilderness, but will see them royally rewarded. 
While everything else is happening, a normally sedate clan of giants have decided to start marauding down into civilized lands.  Is this mere chance? A plot by a faction of the Rimebough rebels? or do these giants answer the call of something even more ancient? 
Further Adventures: 
While most of the holy orders who first founded Volskolt dissolved after their crusade was done, the Knights of the Cloven Shield ( or “Clovers” as they are often called) decided to rededicate themselves to ensure the godly governance of the newfound kingdom. While this pledge largely consisted of being an order in service of the newly established Volsoltan crown and faith-preaching to the masses, the Clovers also considered it silence to launch inquisitions against those populations who might be reverting to the old ways, as well as secret terror raids against the pagan nomads to ensure they did not settle in the newly created feudal territories. Since Volskolt came into exitance, they have been whispering honey into the ear of the colonizers and salting the wounds of the colonized, and they will gladly capitalize on the death of the prince to launch a new crusade, even if they need to do it themselves. 
Narivaine never longed for the life of a revolutionary, instead dreaming only of growing old in her village on the edge of the great Rimebough forest, learning the ancestral arts of a hearthkeeper passed down from her grandmother in secret.  That all changed the night the Clovers came, to root out every trace of heathenism in advance of a royal tour of the outer counties. Narivaine can remember little of that night save for the smoke and the screams, but as she wandered the ancient woods her terror and sorrow spoke to the ancestral spirits who dwelt there who stoked a bonfire within the young hearthkeeper. Now Narivaine is a beacon to those dispossessed by the cruelties of the Volskoltan state, and the longer their plight goes unacknowledged, the hotter her fires burn.
The royal family of Volskolt have been the puppets of the Clovers for generations, kept in a bubble of luxury and courtly distractions, ignorant to the secret operations of the militant order. This bubble did not protect them when a group of Rimebough rebels kidnapped their young prince on a hunting trip to present to Nairvaine as a hostage, sending the royals into a state of shock while the rebel leader is forced to do some very quick moral calculous. How to make best use of this sudden tactical windfall while trying not to remind herself that the prince is the age SHE was when she lost her family.  That spark of mercy is the hope for the future, as the party may be able to negotiate with the rebel leader into releasing the heir, and using his return to lay her grievances at the ruling family’s feet. 
Neighboring Volskolt is Jattibaine, a theocratic state founded in the same series of crusades that led to the kingdom’s formation. Perhaps even MORE rigid than the Clovers, the Bishop of Jattibaine commands the nominal fealty of both the holy order and the Volskoltan royals, and will be most distressed should the former be ousted and replaced with a heathen spiritual leader. Rebellion will seem the least of Volskolt’s troubles when a legion of eyeles enforcers come to restore the faith to the kingdom at the point of a sword. 
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dailyadventureprompts · 13 days ago
You’ve noted your distaste for the alignment system before, and I was wondering what you thought about using Magic the Gathering color identity in place of it. I’ve started using that in my own game and it feels much better
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Inspiration Station: Magic the Gathering
TLDR: I really like the color alignment system as it can communicate a lot about a character's moral outlook and general vibe a lot clearer than regular alignment can. I like it so much infract that my drafts blog uses MTG color combinations as a sorting system so I can find things that go together easier. That said, its an extra level of game knowledge for new players to understand/have to do be taught. Alignment is supposed to give new players an idea how their character might act, and it's a lot easler for someone who's never roleplayed before to wrap their minds around acts that are "lawful" or "good" than for them to try to guide their character in a particularly "Blue" direction.
While I'm going to go on a bit of a ramble about this, I'm going to start with an explination of what "Color Identity" is for all the members of my audience that haven't lost years of their lives and chunks of their disposable income to a particular trading card game.
In Magic the Gathering (MtG from hereon out), there are five "elements" of magic that encompas the bredth of existance, all with their own emotional and thematic cores and endless interpretations of what they and their combinations represent.
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Anything from creatures to magic to places to civilizations can be found in some combination of these one to five colors, which in turn have relationships with eachother ( harmonizing with their neighbors while conflicting and complimenting with the ones across from them). This makes it a great shorthand from a design perspective, as it links together ideology, iconography, and gameplay into a palate that you can use to paint your characters and settings. There are quite a few "Using the color-pie in d&d" videos on youtube which I encourage you to check out, as they can do a much better job explaining the basics than I could do here.
Advice on how you can use this framework in your own games below the cut:
1: MTG colors as character alignment
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If you take a step back and consider the colors not as basic pokemon elements ( wood, water, fire, life, death) but as embodiments of different outlooks and philosophies, the color pie system suddenly becomes a radically efficient tool for summarizing how a character or culture carries out its beliefs, with the understanding that individuals within that culture will mix in new elements or lean away from others depending on their personal predilections. A character who relies on luck and wits (Blue-Red) may be tempted towards story beats that indulge either of their color synergies, but chafe against systems that would deny a part of themselves ( Such as the rule of a Black-White Authoritarian noble or the simplicity of Green-White peasant life).
2: MTG colors as writing tools
The fun in understanding how characters in your story fit into the color wheel isn't only in assigning them a static position, its in testing to see how they evolve and grow when exposed to external stimuli. Will the Blue/Black spymaster veer towards duty to their state (white) or personal power (red), will the righteous Red/White paladin give up their honor for vengeance ( becoming only red) or achieve some level of enlightenment ( white) after suffering through a crisis of faith.
Through the colorpie, and understanding your characters, you can make narrative arcs easy, or at least pencil some interesting questions as you develop the rest of the story.
3: MTG colors as setting design
The different colors have historically been tied to different types of terrain, and while I tend not to do a 1:1 conversion for all of my settings, its very easy to see how thematic throughlines can be made between setting and environment ( yes, necromancers probably would hang out in places full of shadows and rot, but those that embody Black's aspects of ambition and manipulation probably live in settlements infused with some form of social or infestructure decay, or perhaps a dark history concealed just beneath the surface)
To that end, I like to think of small to medium settlements as possessing a dual color identity made up partially of their land and culture, while larger settlements and nations tend to be two or three colors as they are a composite of diverse groups and interests. By looking at these combinations, finding contrasts between them and synergies with outside elements, you can easily begin to set up political and social dynamics: A White/Red/Green kingdom may have contrasting demographics between a warrior nobility ( WR), a traditionalist peasantry ( WG), and nomads who live on the frontier (RG). The kingdom could be threatened by an invading lich (UB) or by an alliance of nomads and peasants who resent the warrior nobility for their conquest generations ago (BRG)
4: MTG colors as game design
Bo yourself a favor and every time you're struggling to make a dungeon, try to figure out what color identity it has. Instantly you've given yourself a massive dose of inspiration for monsters, traps, hazards, and iconography for you to mine simply by visiting the gatherer and scrolling through the visual spoiler. Generally you can do this by thinking about where it was built and by who, with further richness added by thinking about what sort of creatures from the locality have crept in during the meantime and how their color identities harmonize and contrast with the dungeons own.
Likewise, if you're trying to think of abilities/gear to give a player or npc, think about how the different colors play:
White wants to bolster their allies before clashing head on
Blue wants to be tricky until they get in position to outplay their opponent
Black wants to fight dirty until they can really twist the knife
Red wants to go recklessly and blow their opponent away before they can retaliate
Green wants to level the playing field before getting really strong and stomping their foes into the floor
These playstyles ( and their combinations) can guide you in everything from what loot to give your party to the way monsters behave during an encounter: A (GR) barbarian would probably never want to pick up a (u) wizard's staff, but they might be tempted by a (UR) flaming arcane blade that let them expand their usual toolkit by going ethereal. A pack of hungry (BG) ghouls would lurk in the shadows of their crypt until they could ambush their prey, retreating to let their fetid bites weaken the party before sweeping back in with more numbers.
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