I am about to run a game. This is my 20 minutes of prep before hand. THe post mortem should be interestign

I need to run an adventure tonight. I have nothing on hand, so I consulted the tables in the old DM's Design Kit and rolled up this.

Theme: Action/Adventure
Goal: Settle a Debt
Hook: Legend & Rumor
Setting: Exotic, Distant Land
Site: Tavern/Inn
Site: Catacombs
Allies & Neutrals: Gibbering Madman
Master Villain: The Agent Provocateur
Minor Villain: The Avenger
Minor Villain: Misguided Moralist
Plot: Geographic Progression
Climax: Prevented Deed
Monster: Assassin Beast
Character Encounters: Inquisitive Official
Traps & Deathtraps: Animal Pit
Special Condition: Stolen Identities
Red Herring: Lying Rumor
Omens: Totem Animal
Quandary: Honor Quandary
Chase: Special Terrain
Secret Weakness: Holy Symbol
Complication: Heroes must work with Villain

Now, note that I have no idea what the characters will be yet, so I'm going to take these and build them up loosely, noting where the hooks might lie. For example, I'm going to offer one or more of the the players the opportunity to take a totem animal (as a distinction) and how that hook comes up depends on them.

By and large, this doesn't obviously hang together, but there are definitely a few stand out elements that suggest things. First, I'm just going to arbitrarily go Arabian for the Exotic, Distant land. I have no good reason for why I should do that, except that it was the first thing that popped into my head.

Given that, Agent Provocateur, Misguided Moralist, Stolen Identities and Heroes must work with Villain all suggest a sort of theme to me, one where the heroes start out at odds with what would be an allied organization which the Master Villain has penetrated and turned against them to his own end (perhaps as cover for his own agents, the stolen identities hook).

The next image that really popped for me was the Catacombs. I imagine a Necropolis, one which this NPC organization is sworn to protect, one which thinks the players are tomb raiders, intent on stealing their greatest treasure. Red Sash's is in my head from Lords of Waterdeep, so I'm going to call these guys Black Sashes, a priesthood that serves the good of Death (Raven Queen?). They perform funerals and similar rites, and they patrol the Necropolis, protecting it from Grave Robbers and the undead alike. They also are the keepers of lore abotu the Catacombs, including things like how to actually get into it.

I think the Tavern in question is probably the Sealed Urn, and is a secret entrance to the Catacombs. Maybe it's a Black Sash hangout. Maybe it's a backdoor. Haven't decided yet.

So, if I step back to the villain, what does he want? Something sealed away in the Necropolis - the heart of a lich perhaps (Sufian Alaw). He's (She? Yes, she - Lamia Merei) killed one of their members (Kawkab) and taken her place, and is trying to create the sense that the players are gathering the tools necessary to steal the heart, to convince The Black Sash to move it (at which point, he'll steal it). Ah, and there's the false rumor - the rumor is that these three artifacts (Yo Joe!) can crack the seals and restore Alaw. Totally bogus, but it's what the sashes think the heroes are up to.

(I am, BTW, stealing names from members of the Syrian Government. I tend to get names form random membership lists)

This also suggests a better use for the assassin monster. Since that's something sneaky, smart and magical (because I'm lazy, some manner of djinn), it's not killing the party, it's killing other people and framing the party. I still have no idea how I'm going to introduce the animal pit. May jut have to keep that one in my back pocket.

Ok, so the player's arrive in Ghazallah, big city, lots of white stone, tall towers, all that. They're there because of the debt....the debt...the debt...that doesn't immediately suggest a hook into the plot, hmm. unless, ah! Ok, the villain's in disguise in one place, no reason she couldn't be doing it in two places.

Ok, let's set up a shameless frame. Players arrived for (REASON TO BE FILLED IN IN CHARGEN), big party, much celebration, wake up and they all have a new magic item, but are also spun some stupid-foreigner bullshit about gift-created obligation to sucker them into doing 3 favors for Lamia Merei. The favors will probably be innocuous seeming, but go horribly wrong.

Oh, bonus, since the catacombs go all under the city, I can actually have the entire mission stay within the city, just corresponding to the "dungeon" locations underneath. Hell, that may also be the grounds by which I bring in the Animal Pit.

Ok, let's look at the remaining threads for the favors: Madman, Animal Pit and Inquisitive Official.

Madman's easy. He's in jail. He was a Black Sash but touched the Heart of Alaw and went mad. Nominally, he knows the secrets of its hiding place but in reality, he just gibbers. He's in an asylum, and the favor is simply to deliver him succor (food, wine) and a private prayer. When they leave, the Djinn's goign to kill him (Poison), but that's just an aside. They'll also get threatened by the Black Sashes. it'll start social and antagonistic, and if it doesn't get violent on its own, the Djinn will help make it so.

Animal Pit is just an errand to Bury a cat. This will raise the dead in this slaughter pit and get the player's a black necklace that's VERY MYSTERIOUS.

Last is the nominally dangerous/illegal favor. They need to steal maps (of the underground) from an official. Will totally play that by ear.

That leads to climactic confrontation and the realization that both sides have been played, and a desperate run to stop/catch the (now more powerful) villain.

OK, I can work with that.

(Note to self - Am I feeling mean enough to make language an issue? Maybe)
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