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Old 02-19-2020, 08:23 AM   #1
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Quick, self-contained encounters

Tomorrow I'm launching the spring session of the ongoing DFRPG activity at my middle school. (See this or this thread or this Daily Illuminator for background.) We will have about 40 minutes per session (after setup and cleanup). This semester, I may be running a table for some players who are entirely new to RPGs.

It's been a few years since I've run a table at the activity, but my recollection is that the best format was to have each short session feature a single encounter. The encounters might be loosely connected in some sort of hand-wavy story, but we skip over most of the in-between stuff (town, the journey, etc.). I usually select things that will showcase different aspects of the game (social encounters, traps, puzzles, melee combat, ranged combat, magic, etc.). I'm looking for fresh ideas to add to the mix.

I'd appreciate it if you'd toss me some gems from your games: self-contained situations that can be resolved in <45 minutes. (Doesn't matter if you used DFRPG for the encounter... conversions are easy; I pull a lot of material from D&D and other RPGs.) Here are a few ideas beyond regular melee combat that I used in the past to give you an idea of the flavor:
  1. A battle with undead or other monsters that regenerate or respawn until the Evil Thing is destroyed. (This one is always popular; it's fun to play with people who have no sense of cliché!)
  2. A platform dangling from a chain in a cavern with a lake or something below (they either teleport onto it or climb down the chain from above). The goal is to get to a ledge on the side. They can use magic, ropes, or set the platform swinging so that they get close enough to jump. Season with some aerial critters and something(s) in the water to chomp on fallen heroes.
  3. Rust monster or other creature that destroys equipment. (Even when we're hardly tracking resources, I've found that players just don't want anything messing with their imaginary stuff.) Requires creative tactics to defeat while retaining prized gear.

I'm also thinking of this as a way of trying out ideas that I might showcase at the summer workshop I'm offering for kids who want to delve more deeply into the art of game mastery.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:46 PM   #2
Tom H.
 
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Central Texas, north of Austin
Default Re: Quick, self-contained encounters

If you haven't seen it already, Steven Marsh posted an interesting little encounter for The Fantasy Trip.

I already posted this about it in the Collaborative Dungeon thread:
Quote:
In this free content named Encounter: The Skeleton Bridge, the bridge can be several hexes wide and more long. The gimmick is indeed that skeletons spawn from the bones of the bridge to fight the party. As the fight continues, the bridge becomes weaker and hexes will collapse. Fighting on Swiss cheese becomes increasingly perilous and fantastic.

It should be fun and easy to port this to DFRPG.
I also like your "pit crossing" encounter. Sometimes I like to take the time to play out the nuances of something basic rather than rush through something very elaborate.

Do you have anything of interest to report from you activity launch?
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Old 02-22-2020, 12:11 AM   #3
bocephus
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Default Re: Quick, self-contained encounters

There is a youtube video from Matt Collville where he lays out a simple dungeon encounter, I think its called a 3 room dungeon, or 5 step or something like that.

Its a good simple story, lure the PCs to an old mausoleum where some goblins have taken up shop and have brought the maguffin the PCs seek. Theres a guarded entrance, a room/encounter, a trap, a boss and potential treasure if they find the secret (and another potential encounter if you like).

Easier to look at his video, its one of his first in "running the game". Its D&D centric but easily converted to GURPS or DFRPG. I have used it several times in ongoing campaigns just to have a quick side bar or interesting diversion.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:33 PM   #4
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Re: Quick, self-contained encounters

Some of the rooms in the mega-dungeon thread might work.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:39 PM   #5
GMJer
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: a flyover state
Default Re: Quick, self-contained encounters

I did the old bull in the china shop two weekends ago. Only replace bull with karkadann and replace china shop with alchemist shop.

Everyone wants healing potions or alchemist's fire before they go dungeon crawling right? Connected to alchemist's shop there is a tower with a summoning circle (for spell components maybe?) and a green house (I was using VTT and had a cool green house map available). Outside the green house are children tending the lawn. PCs are shopping. Summoner screws up, ends up with angry karkadann. Kardadann kicks door and is now on scene with PCs. It first strikes a book shelf and over turns that. It then bumps a shelf with bottles of wine - shattered bottles and wine splatter. The idea is that it becomes obvious the karkadann is mad and not too graceful on the wooden floor. If it isn't stopped soon it will hit a shelf or two of potions. That could mean poisonous clouds or fire or frost etc. PCs need to stop it from doing that. If it heads to the green house, PCs might worry about the children outside.

I picked karkadann because of hooved feet, one PC had musical ability and one was a swashbuckler. Coincidentally it is worth something to alchemists. Also a third PC had Naturalist. The Swashbuckler engaged with the karkadann before it hit the potions. The naturalist identified the creature and told the others it liked music. The musician sang to it to calm it down. Oh, helps if the karkadann is uplifted a bit so that fencing ability is a little on par with swashbuckler.

If you use it - have fun!
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Old 02-24-2020, 08:04 PM   #6
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: Quick, self-contained encounters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
If you haven't seen it already, Steven Marsh posted an interesting little encounter for The Fantasy Trip.
Thanks for this tip. I like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
I also like your "pit crossing" encounter. Sometimes I like to take the time to play out the nuances of something basic rather than rush through something very elaborate.
Yeah, for this sort of activity, the basics are ideal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
Do you have anything of interest to report from your activity launch?
The first session last week was very introductory. All of the students were new to DFRPG and most were new to tabletop roleplaying in general. They were very excited about it, though, and a bunch of them have already signed up for my summer workshop. (Yay!) I gave a brief overview of how RPGs work in general (imaginary worlds, heroes, players, game master, rolling dice) and then we formed groups and selected pre-gen characters. I then ran the whole room through a few quick skill rolls (a basic skill, an attack, and a defense), just so everybody understood the "roll <= target" idea. There were enough people that someone rolled a critical success or failure each time, which allowed me to explain how that works. That was as far as we could get. The next session (this Thursday) will be the launch of actual adventures (or encounters). Since everyone was pretty new, I think I will share my notes (if I manage to write any) with the other two GMs. They can follow my lead or come up with their own material instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bocephus View Post
There is a youtube video from Matt Collville where he lays out a simple dungeon encounter, I think its called a 3 room dungeon, or 5 step or something like that.
Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
Some of the rooms in the mega-dungeon thread might work.
Duh. I forgot about that thread. It has some great material.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMJer View Post
I did the old bull in the china shop two weekends ago. Only replace bull with karkadann and replace china shop with alchemist shop.
That sounds like a lot of fun. It fits with my current amorphous plan of basing the string of encounters in a city rather than a traditional dungeon. Thank you!
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Old 02-24-2020, 08:08 PM   #7
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: Quick, self-contained encounters

I just remembered another trap I've used in the past. I think it was from White Plume Mountain originally. It's a stretch of hallway where anything made of metal heats up until it is scorching hot. It basically requires PCs to remove armor or try to sprint through without taking too much damage. Then, of course, there is an ambush at the end of the hall. It's a fun one after the knights have had a few battles to showoff their heavier armor. Now, suddenly, they're in their skivvies.

Heavy-handed traps like this work well for newer players.
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