19 June 2024

Actual Test: Fictive Fantasies Adventure Generator

After trying the Oracle RPG adventure generator and finding it a bit sparse, I had more luck with Fictive Fantasies version (link to pdf).

Working through the elements in the adventure generator we get:
Quest contact - rumour overheard
Quest - prevent something - interfere, only you can stop
Something = capture/kidnap someone
Location - island: In the seas they appear randomly and many have never been properly cataloged. Undiscovered islands yield many unknown threats and unexpected surprises.
Victim - Royalty
Mcguffin - Secret: Something hidden, which somebody wants to keep hidden. Kingdoms and royalty have plenty of secrets they want nobody to find out about, and people are always willing to pay for those secrets.
Opposition: Guild or Horde: A group of people with one common belief or oath of brotherhood. Their numbers are great and their intimidation mighty.
Twist - Dodgy ally
Dramatic conflict - Truth: Ultimately the players will have to suppress some great truth, or find a way to tell everyone about some great lie. Either way they’re on the side of deception.

Good stuff to work with from OFTHEHILLPEOPLE - a few more random elements and it all feels slightly more defined and targeted for some reason.

From random rolls to adventure draft

Thoughts on a first brush through how this all might fit together:

This feels like treasure island - overhear a rumour of a plot to kidnap a prince at sea - drove their ship aground - now hunting prince on an island. Its on an island so we get a nice voyage out.

The opposition is some sort of brotherhood - for conservation of NPCs there are a bunch of rival groups of knaves floating about - I'll go with a bunch of villains that really do not like the PCs. Villains are Pietro Maganza (wronged in Petechin Heist) and Butterati (wronged in Good, Bad & Marionette)

We have a kidnapping to stop, a royal secret, a truth the players will want to keep hidden - I am getting big man in the iron mask energy here, a royal killed and their place taken by some sketchy retainer. I am going to make the prince a dwarf

Considering I am going to use this for Brancalonia and aiming to amp up the wild shenanigans side of things then running this as a 'rescue' that turns into setting up an 'inside man'

Thinking through this a second time and looking to fit it to characters, I think the reward my PCs are looking for is a pardon for their mounting bounties - which a royal rescue would serve nicely. This also gives reason for why they would support a switch and putting a fake royal on the throne.

The specific locations need a bit more spice so lets throw in some terrain from Frog Factory.

Chunking that down into a sequence using a fluffed-up five-room dungeon we get:
0. Potential 'raid' start if a bunch of high-bounty players have returned
1. Overheard rumours - friendly ship crew sets up the opportunity
2. Voyage out - spot rivals at anchor, wreck of princes ship
3. Opposition - track Butteratti through Spiky Rocks after the prince - confront/divert/otherwise deal with them
4. Social challenge - the last of the crew of the princes ship need to be convinced, bring them to an old elf ruin - a semi-floating tower
5. Puzzle - drifting elf ruin over a bog - how to get up there - find prince is dead, lookalike retainer - what to do
6. Big bad - have to fight past the rival ship crew plus grudge-bearing villain to extract
7. Reward - return the body for some small gratuity, implement long con to get their pardons

Adventure meets players

At the actual table things immediately went sideways when I ended up with *zero* repeat characters as the two repeat players brought new characters - this meant no major bounties, step zero scrubbed. Step one also kind of squeaked but in a survivable way as the friendly ship crew came to the place they usually find their friends and shrugged and took this bunch of 'known associates' instead. People bought the rescue hook, which worked.

The voyage went smoothly, established the ship crew as competent cowardly smugglers, happy to do sneaking about, no help in a fight. The wreck and the opposition ship were spotted and a bunch of aquatic recon and lucky searching uncovered a bonus treasure cache of documents on the dwarven wreck before the party snuck ashore.

Following the trail and dealing with the spiky rocks worked well, encountering the Butterati had a little less punch because these were strangers to everyone but they were tricked to follow a false trail before the party sprinted for the tower. There they climbed aboard the tower, convinced the dwarves of their good intent and then found the dwarf prince dead. This being an elven mages tower an adlibbed ambulatory tea set became a focus as they were convinced to abandon their posts and leave with the party. A 'divine sense' picked up a faint fiendish presence - the typical imp filing clerk that elven mages had. Continuing to explore the party negotiated with the imp and arrived at 'what if we bargained with them to animate the corpse just enough for us to get paid?'

The imp agreed to to doing this in return for the seals on the library being broken then the party convinced the dwarves they had cured the prince, high-tailed it back down to the coast, sneaking past the Butterati and heading for a different beach before summoning their ship with a smoke signal. A long chase around the island ensued and they escaped to the open sea after setting the pursuing ships sails on fire.

En route home the documents in their possession were used to convince the princes last servant to take on the mantle of ambassador and carry on his dead lieges mission. They brought him to his original destination and won payment and pardons.

All told this was a fair chunk of improvisation around the generated foundation - the rest of the elven tower, adapting the players tactics, the lack of need for secrets and scams when they *had* the documents and seals to legitimise things - but the foundation was plenty to work with. The improvisation was 'world' stuff and implications of the players actions - which I would never expect an adventure generator to cover - while the core actions and locations all got used even if a lot of the opposition was scouted and avoided, old-school style, instead of being engaged directly.

Fictive Fantasies adventure generator (link to pdf) - used it, liked it, would recommend.

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