Less hackneyed ways of introducing RL ...



May 06, 2004 10:02:18
Given that I'm looking to introduce players to a weekend in hell type scenario, I need something rather less well-worn that the usual "strange clammy mists arise around you, you walk for what feels like hours, then the mists part onto a dark, dread forest".

Have posters had experience with other forms of transfer?


May 06, 2004 10:16:38
I generally don't do "weekend in Hell" adventures, but with that said, I suppose I can come up with some transitions.

First of all, the mists can appear as almost anything, and the transition can take place in a matter of seconds. Consider these options:

1) The PCs walk along the coast, just relaxing and having a good time. Unfortunately, a storm is building up, and the waves begin to grow. As the PCs head back home, the waves break on the shore, showering the PCs in a spray of water. Lightning streaks across the sky, and the situation is generally bad. But wait! What is that? A house? How come they didn't see it before? They run to the house, finding it abandoned. Still, they need shelter, so they go in. While nothing is wrong in the house, this is still a nice time to creep them out with the storm causing the wood to creak spookily (is that a word?). Then, as the storm calms, they go back out again, only to realize that the landscape is different. Where is the road? Why are the stars all weird? Should trouble them quite a bit.

2) This one is not my idea, I took it from Rotipher over at the FoS, and I really like it (although you may want to downplay the hunting critters a bit):

Originally posted by Rotipher
Hmmm. Here's a cute idea I had for a RL "domain-jump", but haven't had a chance to put into practice:

The PCs are riding between towns on a seemingly-innocent road, when they hear the screams of terrified horses and at least one young human girl. Clattering up behind them at a breakneck speed is a Vistani vardo, racing out of control. No one is on board but a terrified 11-year-old gypsy lass, who's frantically and unsuccessfully trying to catch the dangling reins of the panicked team; the flapping traces hang well out of her reach, and the horses appear too frenzied to heed their signals anyway. Beyond the careening vehicle, the howls and snarls of something fierce and horrible -- krenshars or howlers might be appropriate, or perhaps a pack of zombie wolves that wandered in from Forlorn -- can be heard, driving the horses onward in their suicidal flight.

Whether it's because they're heroes, because they like the idea of putting a Vistana in their debt, or simply because the vardo will run them down if they don't, the PCs have to stop the gypsy's wagon and fight off its bestial pursuers. You could play this up like a classic stagecoach scene from a Western, with the addition of ferocious jaws snapping at the heels of her would-be rescuers. (Note that many magical solutions won't work here, as a Hold spell would only make the horses stop and get hit by the vardo, and they're soooo scared of the monsters behind them that any Charm-backed command to "slow down!" would qualify as a "suicidal" order.) Eventually, after several rounds of action, the PCs bring the wagon to a stop and drive off the pursuing beasts ... only to realize they're no longer where they thought they were.

The poor Vistana girl, you see, is just barely on the brink of mastering the gypsy art of Mist navigation: in times of great stress, she can cause herself and others near her to travel from place to place, but she can't navigate the Mists on purpose or control where they take her yet. In her terror, she unconsciously moved herself, her vehicle, and her saviors to Liffe, not by any deliberate choice, but as a simple reflexive attempt to get away from the monsters. Now, unfortunately, she doesn't remember precisely what she did or how to do it again; until she grows older or can find others of her tribe to travel with, she's as stranded as the PCs.

Once they've had as many adventures as you were planning for them in Liffe, the gypsy girl's family finally arrives via the Mists, having tracked her down with Tarokka readings. If the PCs have been treating her well and keeping her safe, that combined with their original rescue is enough to convince her parents to take them back to Barovia (or wherever) as a freebie.

Of course, this is for movement inside Ravenloft, but it should work well from the outside as well.

3) While staying in a house/castle/mansion/whatever (preferably one that is well known), one of the PCs find a strange door. Hmm... why is there a door here? Well, I suppose it leads into the room on the other side of this wall, he thinks. It doesn't. Instead, there is a dark, mouldy-smelling hallway. As they move down it, the door slams shut behind them, and eveything goes dark. If they run back to the door, they find themselves in a completely different place, with a completely different view, than they had earlier. An old, Mordentish, cobweb-covered mansion would work very well here.

Hope I was of some help.


May 06, 2004 10:32:27
Many thanks ... I am racking my brain for new ways to handle the transition via other forms of "doorway" as hinted in the RL DMG but am really intrigued by any way I can build any PC/NPC interaction into the process without breaking the mystique of the Dark Powers or introducing convenient minions or whatever.

The Vistani example is interesting but is intended, as indicated, for transfers between domains ...



May 06, 2004 16:10:47
The 'mists' can take many forms. Blizzard, fog, sandstorm, etc.
I like the sea storm one with the house that was missed earlier. But it would be even cooler if you didn't emphasis the difference of the stars until the players actually asked about them or looked up.

Instead have a micro-adventure in or around the cabin/hut. Have the players think that's the reason for the storm, drive them to the cabin.

The fun bit comes after. When they try to go home but can't find the trail. "we must have run farther than we thought." They quickly find the road, but a few dozen meters from where they expect it.
Of course it doesn't lead where they expect it too. And so on. That's when the horror begins.:D


May 06, 2004 19:56:29
Hmmmmm.... really depends on whether or not you mind them knowing that they're about to go somewhere *else*. Some thoughts

(1) The PCs need to go through a "gate" of some kind. They know they're going elsewhere. Maybe it takes them to RL instead of where they want to go, or maybe their business is in some part of RL (though the PCs and players may not recognise that). Chasing a fey into a fairy ring could transport the PCs to the Shadow Rift or a realm along side it like Tespest as one example. Likewise a gate to the Plane of Shadow could land them in a dark creepy part of Ravenloft, imagine being transported deep into the shaded forrests of Verbrek and the players surprise at dawn. Or a villian who flees from the PCs ducks into a large painting that acts as a transport between RL and the PCs world (off course the process of getting home is never as easy as getting into RL). How about RL as "dream/nightmare" where PCs have to enter the mind of some dreaming/comabound NPC to rescue it from some magical effect/curse.

Or if you don't want the PCs to know they're going elsewhere

(2) How about while spleunking underground they come to a branching passage that leads them out "elsewhere". Of course the old trail in to the cave complex no longer goes back the way they want it to. Forrests and alleys work well to. All you really need is an area with limited perceptions for the PCs to draw upon. They can't be aware of more than their immediate area for this to work.

How about the PCs dream of cries for help. Some oppressed shmuck somehow reaches out through the plane of dreams (no doubt with the blessings of the DPs) and brings in heroes (un?)willing to help.

Hope soemthing there helps!

-Eric Gorman


May 07, 2004 14:03:38
Again, I don't do the short-term adventures often... I've moved people via snowstorms and on one occasion having people walk through a waterfall into Ravenloft...


May 07, 2004 20:46:29
They could just get lost.

Compasses fail in an unfamiliar section of wood and they enter upon a new valley that had previously been unexplored.

Or they wander in a trackless desert to Har'Akir.

Or they get lost at sea and ground in Lamordia.



May 08, 2004 2:31:13
It could be fun to have a character look one way, turn around, and then when he looks back he isn't where he started at all.

Just something off the top of my head.


May 08, 2004 4:28:42
> It could be fun to have a character look one way, turn around, > and then when he looks back he isn't where he started at all.
> Just something off the top of my head.

I did think about one character leaving his house, into the main square, turning to lock the door and turning back into a completely different town square somewhere in RL.

BTW thanks to you and all the other posters for replying !



May 17, 2004 21:25:17
Dream sequences are fun.
You throw in a few strange dreams prior to this point, then just start running a "dream" as if it were the continuing campaign. What the PCs don't realize (at least not initially) is that they are now in the Nightmare Lands. Characters who die might wake up, or be truly dead. When the adventure ends, the surviving characters awaken.

Alternatively, they could just go to sleep to awaken in any Domain. Sometimes the simple tricks are the best.

Alternatively, they could enter any secluded and somewhat evil area - a dungeon, ruins, forest, etc - only to emerge in Ravenloft. Depending on your preference, they could exit a completely different structure than they entered, a similar but altered structure (such as one that seems centuries older than the one they entered) or an identical structure (meaning that perhaps the Mists abducted the entire area).

For a real kick, you could have an enemy mage banish them there.