Using this past episode as inspiration I thought it would be great to build a small town together. Using the power of donjon I got the seed of an idea for a town that should be fun to build off of, and here it is:
Kidwe: Population 60, mostly human, some halfling. The village is built around a ring of ancient stone monoliths. It is governed by an arcane sorcerer, a male human named Midhi. Kidwe is infamous for the ghost which haunts its streets at night.
From here it is figuring out who all lives in this hamlet and what else is there. Think up an npc that lives in the town, or a place that an npc would fit into. A butcher, a baker, candle stick maker? What are the stone monoliths? What is this ghost all about? What quests do the Npcs have? Just the pieces and parts that help make the town interesting as a long term location for players.
So if we are thinking 3-5 people per family... then we can go - - 3 families of 5 (1 halfling family) - 4 families of 4 (1 halfling family) - 5 families of 3 (2 halfling families) = 46 people in families and 14 individuals. (3 Halflings)
If there are Stone Monoliths then they would need some solid ground (not in a swamp or sandy soil), and not too far from hills or mountains. So i'm thinking a village with hills to the east and valley to the woods to the west, with river flowing from the hills to the valley.
Non logistics thought - Maybe the Ghost is different during full moons or high tides, like she? becomes a trickster or frisky?
Also two of the families grow corn because it is delicious and amaizing!
I like the idea of hills. I would say there are some long deep ravines in some of the hills. Home to large chameleon-like lizards that can climb along the vertical surfaces and have developed antennae that they use to communicate to each other.
Goliath alchemist named Anthy Nighthistle Blintshorn near the outskirts of the hamlet and the rolling hills, she is quite friendly and after introducing herself will say you can just call her Thistle. Her hut is set apart and easily recognizable as unlike the rest of the buildings is just massive slabs of rock in a box shape with a simple wooden door to make it a house. The stone roof has fertile dirt on top of it growing various alchemical reagents as well as in a radius around her slab house. Thistle herself is dressed quite simply, brunette hair cut short with the left side of her head shaved exposing some old scars of deep slashes.
She will provide a few quests. One of which to get a rare mushrooms, called sunbled mushrooms that excrete a bioluminescent orange substance, which are located from the deep ravines in the hills to the east (Dont know the effects of a potion made from sunbled mushrooms or what it would be used for). Only reason she needs the help of a party of adventurers is because the lizards indigenous to the area are mostly benign and keep their distance or try to disguise themselves against the stone, however some are trained and ridden by a small colony of Thri-kreen inhabiting the deep caverns below the ravines. The ravines can be treacherous as the Thri-kreen and lizard mounts can communicate through antenna and bodily movements, along with both rider and mount being adept at camouflaging themselves. Adventurers are advised to bring climbing equipment as the ravines can be completely vertical in places with few hand holds, and to be careful about disturbing the lizards and Thri-kreen.
I was thinking that a more powerful psionic Thri-kreen can show itself, however possessing few ways of expressing itself other than through some emotions, it will express sadness and empathy. Granted it is a thri-kreen riding a weird lizard so if the party spots it in hiding or feel threatened they may fight it and a few thri-kreen riders hidden in the area and venture down eventually reaching a place to get some sunbled mushrooms. However If the party does not hostile the situation up, they may be shown that the thri-kreen need help below and the party will be offered lizards to take them down to the cavern below. When arriving at a more solid surface in the caverns below the thri-kreen psionic will draw on a wall a picture of sunbled mushrooms and a picture of a large monster with goatlike eyes and huge pincers, crudely drawn with an x through it, but aptly showing that the thri-kreen need help defeating the creature this picture depicts and you will get many sunbled mushrooms in return for the help. If they agree will be led by a few other thri-kreen through some caverns on lizards and have a fight with a dangerous Umber Hulk that surprises the hunting party. It has been attacking the Thri-kreen village and while they usually attack intruders the party looked like they could be used to help rid them of this problem. Then if the hulk is taken care of the party will be given a large amount of the sunbled mushrooms that look like little patches of fires around the abodes of the Thri-Kreen in the cavern, and be led back up to the surface with lizard assistance. If done this way Thistle will be blown away and indebted to you. If looking for information or good standing in the hamlet you will have a well known and respected person on your side. Even though Most of the population is human or some halfling, Thistle is more of a gentle goliath and has helped the hamlet numerous times. I don't mean to have thri-kreen seem kind, it was more of a both parties needed something sort of a deal.
If the party slew the psionic and surrounding thri-kreen maybe the hamlet would get night raided a bit later on taking livestock and ranchers to feed them on a nomadic expedition to a Savannah or other new area. The Umber Hulk was killing many of them even after they sent a party to stop it and lost the whole party, leaving them the only option to relocate and a nearby settlement would provide the living nourishment on their journey.
It could be that an ancient power was sealed with the monoliths and the ghost is the soul of the archmage who lost their life sealing the power in, forever cursed to be an incorporeal being bound to the location, and if he was to ever be slain the seal of the Monoliths will be broken. The reason the hamlet is governed by an arcane sorcerer is because they were tasked long ago to protect the monolith and ghost. After the ages most of that knowledge is lost and it is just custom now to have a person of magical means to rule the hamlet and the ghost became a tourist attraction as it is not openly hostile unless a person tries to tinker with the monoliths. It could be something as insane as a Tarrasque bound underneath the ground. Maybe there are very slight quakes that the village can feel very infrequently, which is the terrasque fighting against the monolith's power over the centuries. Maybe the monoliths are believed to be stone because they are small teeth torn from the Tarrasque and used in the binding ritual, given time and being worn down exposed to the elements they just appear to be a weather worn type of marble.
If you are truly devious and rude to players you could have the party sent from another city after a researcher was killed by the ghost of the ancient archmage while inspecting and finding out what the monoliths were for, tasked with the killing of the ghost. However if the party is successful the destruction of the ghost will cause great tremors splitting the earth. After the players flee they see a titanic horn emerge from the ground rending asunder the entire hamlet eventually birthing an extremely angry, hungry, and powerful Tarrasque. However that wouldn't work well for a small town scenario as the town would be destroyed and it would be more of an apocalyptic scenario.
Instead the quakes could get worse and the party could find ways to make the binding stronger (maybe concoctions from the sunbled mushrooms could have a part), assisting the ghost instead of killing it as they were sent to do and keeping the hamlet from being instantly destroyed by a slumbering almost unkillable titan awaking beneath it. It would be a little more pressing of an issue to stay in the town for the players imo, as letting a tarrasque loose might be world ending depending on the parties level.
Another Idea could be that the Ghost that appears at night could be the work of a ghostwise halfing that works as the hamlet's Soothsayer. Could be a family of Ghostwise halflings and the relic called Skull of Soulmist has been passed down and this hamlet just figures they are good Soothsayers because of the psychic abilities and such. Could be a large hollow crystal skull that exudes a whispy white mist from it. It can be worn by the small ghostwise folk and they have an out of body experience becoming an ethereal mist, they use this to keep tabs on all of the townsfolk. Unable to physically interact or cause damage they float through structures and around the hamlet gathering information to better perpetuate their comfortable way of living as a Soothsayer. Extended use of the relic turns the eyes a milky white but vision is unaffected except for having random bouts of losing vision of their current surroundings for a few seconds, and viewing random distant places while not even near the relic, the family calls it far vision.
The residing soothsayer is Balari Renorin, a lil ghostwise halfling about middle aged, has only been Soothsayer for about 5 years. It was enough time with the relic to have his eyes become almost completely white however, and has recently stated having an episode of far vision, lasting only a few seconds but leading him to fall down a short hill. He now sports a medicinal wrap from Thistle healing his foot which was fractured from the unexpected drop. He has unassuming features other than the traditional robe of the Soothsayer and milky eyes. He could have a wife (Remoa Renorin) and child (Porinth Renorin) as one of the local families.
A quest he can offer other than the crazy possibilities of his far sight episodes is that he was in the skull acting as town ghost and witnessed a member of the hamlet get in a heated discussion with another member and brutally murder them. In the morning the whole thing was blamed on the Ghost and could be the reason the party is brought in. Balari, not wanting to give up his secret will try and incentivize the party to believe that the ghost was not to blame and investigate a few members of the hamlet. Ideas on what the two were fighting about could lead to other threads grand or mundane, along with other threads Balari might give from his escapades as the ghost or bouts of far vision. Maybe the party would fight the ghost eventually, killing Balari who's soul is linked to the ghost having his family become overwhelmed with grievance and discovering the Skull of Soulmist along with the secret of decades or centuries of Soothsaying really being spying by this family line.
Midhi Pilth is a jovial and eccentric sorcerer in his late 40's. Usually seen dressed in unassuming fineries he has brightly colored shoes that are never of the same color. These shoes are not colored naturally and change colors throughout the day and some seem to believe they reflect the current mood of Midhi, when in fact Midhi just loves to cast spells throughout the day and being an eccentric loves or hates different colors at random points throughout the day using his cantrips to change the color at will. Midni also carries around an ornate golden coin with one side depicting a coiled snake with an emerald in its mouth and the other depicting a silver stag with a ruby in in its chest. Midhi usually flips the coin when making decisions or mulling over ideas, when he is struck with an idea the coin usually illuminates in a bright light, showing his discovery or insight.
Midhi is not an especially powerful sorcerer comparatively, Midhi's talent has always been in perfecting the small spells that most spellcasters take for granted and consider spells for child apprentices. Mechanically Midhi would be considered a Cantrip Master, He would know most cantrips and have more powerful versions of them. such as mending instantly, or having a minor illusion with both audible and visual effects at once. Midhi uses these powers with his jovial nature to try and improve and liven up his hamlet.
Midhi would offer quests in a boisterous fashion. making his hand into an illusion of a dragon head and throw out confetti sized pieces of parchement as its fire, mending the parchment in mid air to land or be caught by the adventurer, this parchment would be the details of the quest (pay, objectives, that sort of thing).
What kind of eccentric quests would this eccentric sorcerer give everyone?
(seeing as it is a hamlet there would probably not be an insanely strong sorcerer in charge of the town unless they are the type that would use the residents for sacrificial magic, such as using the stone monoliths to gather all of the residents and sacrifice them with the intended purpose of making each of the monoliths a phylactary and only posed as a lowly hamlet leader to conduct this scheme with little resistance)
Dear ibplunderin you are a beast, and these are awesome! I don't even know where to begin, haha. Everything for Anthy the alchemist is awesome, and well done. Love the potential for things seemingly like they go well, but they could not be as well as the players think. Also, Umber Hulk's don't get quite enough love!
Tarrasque a day ghosts, and intrgue oh my! Great stuff right there. I like the feel of the tarrasque idea a little bit more because it make me think of Cabin In The Woods. Play your cards wrong, and the world is going to be in a sad state of affairs. I wonder what other cool things could be done with the stones if they are the teeth of the tarrasque? The friendly, or not quite evil, ghost is tons of fun too though.
Midhi is my favorite for sure though. The Cantrip Master idea sounds so freakin cool. I want to build that class out, and see what can come of it. The first thought I had was to send the players off to get increasingly rare spell components to increase the power of his cantrips. Or maybe the hunt for new cantrips to begin working on making them better. Too much fun!
Also, because of the epic workout you did, and me wanting to test things out I am awarding you the badge of Broseidon for the lifting you did on this one!
I think a Cantrip Master could be pretty fun. In 5e Cantrips scale with your level so they will at least get more powerful even if you don't get many spell slots. It seems like it would be a class that is more consistent but less bursty than an actual mage. I feel like they would have a bard-ish type of spell list with things like Knock and Rope Trick and not as many things like fireball, so they would have spell slots but just less of them with a weird spell list, but gaining more cantrips/level and maybe having cantrips that only a cantrip master could cast. Dunno, I looked around and some people have made some "cantripologist" classes.
I feel like the Tarrasque would be the best way to keep the party involved in a small town, especially if they had to find ways to boost Midhi's power to strengthen the seal. Even on a failed quest if the party escapes there is a clear villain that they could have a long term goal of trying to defeat. Also the idea of failing and being like level 4 and just seeing an entire hamlet that you had been in and knew everyone in just getting ripped asunder like nothing would be a pretty insane.
If we have a terrasque around I like the idea of a secret order of cultist who worship it call of Cthulhu style. There are 7 cultists hidden among the populace (one for each of the greater stones in the stone circle). They meet in secret once a month or so; and don't know who each other are, but things are afoot and the PCs discover that at the next meeting there will be an astral alignment with the elemental plane of earth, allowing the cutlist the best chance they've had to awaken the Great Beast. PCs have to kill all the cultist, but how will they do that? If the time is coming close do they just slay everyone in the town and face the horrors of what they did to avoid the end of the world?
- "the DM is a mystical figure from another plane of reality that can only communicate with us through the magical program known as Skype" - Nasim "Knifey" Val
Excellent work as always from everyone especially ibplunderin (and here I thought I go on a bit ).
I'm going to carry along the lines of the Halflings, because they can be far more trouble than a big eldritch beasty if played correctly
Porinth Renorin 'child' of Balari has recently taken to using the skull for short periods without her parents consent, still considered a child by her parents eyes despite being almost 19 she has grown restless with the quiet town life especially since she is one of the few knowing the only real trick to the towns fame. She has taken to using the skull to play pranks on a handful of the other halflings and humans of the town though mostly just sticking her head through mirrors to make people jump -though that has lead to one or two more embarrassing encounters when she forgets to check the rooms first. This in itself is harmless enough, however she has found a rock very similar to the monoliths just a little ways outside of town that she cant approach, it seems to dispell the ghostlike form throwing her rather rudely back to her own body. A quick stealthy inspection of the area and she can't seem to see the rock at all and so if you have anyone with magical aptitude (spellcaster, bard, cleric, etc. anything will do) she will request aid with a simple task on the condition she gets to tag along. Upon reaching the site anyone who has affinity for magic will feel very unwell, as if magic is literally leaking out of the ground nearby. Further checks and the players can ether temporarily unmask the hidden and very broken monolith, or they can determine that this area is some sort of 'broken' zone, somewhere that magic has gone dangerously wild and may attempt to 'fix' it (spoiler: they can only make this worse and much more spectacular XD ).
The damaged Monolith is actually one of the original remaining outer-wards, the whole area used to be littered with them for miles but over the years nature has reclaimed, destroyed and/or disabled them, this one however is still actively absorbing magic but can no longer contain it in order to suppress the hidden beast far below. If tampered with it will light up the sky for days with arcane fire -pretty but very loud, this will also cause the other Monoliths to act strangely, shuddering and creaking loudly as ghosts appear all over town -echoes of the previous skull users, now walk the streets in small crowds...How will the party ever fix all this!
-on a side note: Balari is fully aware of his daughters late night shenanigans and has been keeping a close eye on things, if the players consult with him about his daughter first (first of all why he gave her a boys name to begin with among other things) he will give them a job of following the ghost (her) around that night, telling them that small zaps of electricity would deter it from peoples households, he will then hand the party small wands of minor discharge -let the chase, and good ol' papa's giggling begin! The wands cannot harm her but they will give her a good kick in the backside.
I have Dyspraxia -please bear with my spelling and grammar ^^;
For ways that the place can potentially have the PCs make this a long-term location is that there is a large abandoned keep on a cliff next to the ocean. The local Duke might be willing to part with the deed for it if the players are willing to preform a dangerous quest...