Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tales from the Inn

The last blog post was all about randomizing your adventure by creating lists of objects. In the post I went and created a bunch of lists that were related to each other. In this case it was items that you might see in that standard of fantasy gaming, the inn. I then took out a d10, rolled on each list to get a handful of elements and posted the element list to my stream on G+ to see what people would come up with.

I love this kind of brainstorming because the adventure hooks/writing exercises that I end up with are all different and cool.

The Elements:
Name: The Flying Pony
Occupants: A bard and the Captain of the Guard (I decided to roll twice to have a few more elements)
Innkeeper Description: Tall and skinny with a long scar down his face
Notable Items: In the corner are two large bookcases full of books
Secret: You know that the innkeeper is the leader of a gang that kidnaps people and holds them for ransom.
Special of the day: No special, but the pie is half off

Along with the elements I came up with a handful of questions that needed to be answered. Why is the inn named The Flying Pony? What is the Captain doing there? Is he part of the gang, or is he there to investigate/arrest the innkeeper? How did the inn keeper get his scar? Why does he have two large bookshelves? Does his gang have a name? How many people are in it? Who are their primary kidnapping targets?

The Creative Geniuses

Laston Kirkland:
the flying pony? why It got it's name back when Johanson was doing all tha' alchemestery stuff.. well, seems he was collectin' tha' white stuff you find at the bottom of old manure, an' mixin' it with charcoal and brimstone, and makin' bags of powder.

well he had three big sacks of powder stored on tha' cart, and some damned fool dropped a candle... well we all ran fer it... but Shem the Pony was still hooked up to tha' cart,

The bags all made a trurrible racket when they went up... and pushed that cart straight down... well, seeing as Shem was hooked up to tha' other end in front of the wheels... well, he went straight up...

Landed on tha' roof of this here building, not a hair harmed on him... Took us a hell of a time gettin' him down... 

B'for that, the place was called the dancing cups... but, tha's another story.

My response: Why was the place called The Dancing Cups?

Well you see The Captain over there knows we got some side business going on... Doin’ a little trade on things the Captain would rather we din’t... So he thinks he can slow us up by parking his fat on top o’ tha’ stool by the fire, and watchin’ us like an owl watches a snow bank... just waitin’ fer tracks he can pounce on.

Y' see. One of them things we do a little tradin’ fer is elf-wimsy powder. Put a little bit in wine, and yer drunk in two sips.

So, we got a couple wimsy cups we hand out to people we don't particularly like, and no one particularly watches out fer. who’re about ta make fine sailors on an outbound ship for a year or two, whether they like it or not, after we seen what they have in their pockets.

So anyways, the captain one night sees us givin’ free drinks to a farmer or two, and starts to put tha’ wheels on the cart in his head. He comes over demanding to taste whats in the farmers cup....

Well woudn’t you know it, that’s when alla sudden Johanson thinks fast, and does a little hand trick or two, and now the cup in fron’ of the farmer hain’t the one that was there before... and the one he had is behind Johansons back.

The Captain catches a little in the corner of his eye, and wants to know what in hell Johanson’s got behind ‘is back... and tha’s when I skipper the cup over to Jimmel. Soon enough, them farmers start to think somethin’s fishy, and want to know what the hell is in the cups too. and so we start swapping cups all over the inn... back and forth, back and forth. The farmers and the Captain on one side, and us on t'other.

Till finally, turns out WE forgot which ones was the wimsy cups ourselves. and the Captain know it.

So he makes us all sit at the long table, an’ hes got ever’ full cup in the room on that table... and he starts makin’ us drink from ‘em one atta time...

Ands wouldn’t ya know it... THAT’s when that table there starts to shake somethin’ fierce. knocking ev’ry cup right onto the ground, dancin’ 'em all empty.

Now some say it's a trick that Johanson knows that made the cups dance.

And some think it was me and Jimmel with a knee under the table bobbin up and down.

And some say it was an earthquake.

But I’ll say this right now... There hain’t been a time I was so thankful to see a cup dance than at that there moment.

And right then and there I changed the name of tha’ Inn to The Dancing Cups

David Reichgeld:

The Flying Pony - It often happens, that the Inn keepers does not get his ransom for the kidnapped travellers (picked the wrong victim, nobody pays,...). If that happens he organizes Fights to the death in a small arena under the tavern and sells tickets to shady people to watch. A small golden winged pony is placed on a pole in the middle of the arena, and the first combatant to reach it has earned his prize to survive another night. Possible story point: The heroes are kidnapped and placed into the arena to fight for the flying pony, or they are offered tickets and recognize a familiar face in the arena (Is that your long missed brother fighting down there?). People can enter the tavern and say the words "I want to see the pony fly" to buy tickets.

My response:
Love the idea of death matches being held underneath the tavern. The bookcases are really a secret door that leads to a stairway down to the arena. Maybe the scar on the innkeeper's face came from a kidnapping gone bad, where the would be victim managed to get in a nasty slice and then escaped.
What's the Captain of the Guard doing there though?

Quinn Conklin: So what if the innkeeper is not the bad guy. Instead he is part of a secret society that is fighting a war against doppelgangers who are trying to invade the city.

The people they kidnap are individuals that the doppelgangers (or other shapeshifters) have taken prisoner while they emulate them. They are leaving them alive so they can be returned if the doppelganger is caught. The real person can stand trial for the crimes they have committed while being duplicated.

The ransom that the gang charges is little more then what it costs to keep there war going, while at the same time does not alert the general populous to the shape-changer threat.

The captain of the guards is part of the society.

The party is there to stop the gang. (possibly hired by a doppelganger with out knowing it)

The inn is called the flying pony because the innkeeper likes ponies but felt that a tavern named the pony would be to forgettable.

The books belonged to his wife, who died recently, she came from rich family and was well educated. She was a champion of literacy for everyone and would teach reading and writing classes at the pony. The books are also used as a code between members of the gang. The placement of books on the shelves indicates meeting times.

The pie is half off because a new target was located this morning and the innkeeper was distracted while backing. The bottom is burned, but the filling is quite tasty.

Humza Kazmi: The Captain of the Guard is there because they've got his niece hostage. To avoid her being tossed to the death matches, he's got to cooperate, and that means looking the other way when the kidnappers are hitting somewhere.

He's in the inn right now to get new places to have his guards avoid.

As for the pie being half off - well, you've got to do something with those corpses from the pit fights...

Ernesto Ivan Ramirez : The Flying Pony got his name due to a famous party/fight that happened in the hall. Some of the patrons were so intoxicated that they swear the fight was stopped when a blue-pink flying pony jumped into the room. To this day some of them still swear that it happened. The truth is that a girl, an apprentice for bard was so afraid for her life that she used her magic to bring an illusion of something to help her... of course ebing young and still dreaming of cute things the first thing that came to mind was the blue-pink flying pony. After the fight the Captin of the Guard closed the place, but soon enough it reopened when Duran bought the place and as a way to bring customers back he renamed the place in honor of the rumred flying pony.

Originally, Duran planed to use the place as form of retirement, but men like Duran only know one way to retire, and that is 6 feet under. Slowly he meet some of his old associates and organiced them, then they brought over some of the shaddier individuals in the district until they numbered at least 13 and chose the name "black hods" as they used to wear black executioner's hoods for their works, they planed to racketeer, to smuggle, to intimidate the neighbours, but in the end Duran decided not to act against the surrounding populace, not only he had taken some endearement to the locals, they thrusted him, and that... well that was something he liked for once. So what they do is attend the local populace with good food and drink, but when some rich patron came to the inn, the make an assessment: how rich? how dangerous? who would pay for them? if they could just kill them and dump the bodies?

Three more people from the band work in the tabern: both serving wenches, both the blond and plum girl from afar, and the redheaded beauty that everyone can get her affection for the night (if the price is right), both check the new patrons, check their interest and weakness, assess how dangerous and rich they are, then they egt information back to Duran who decides what to do. If they are completly forgettable, they kidnap them in the middle of the nigth, with the help of the guys takin care of the horses and the manure, and the cook ( a master of both cooking and poisoning) and when the deed is done they took their prey to the secret unde rbehind the bookcase (which being a town of ignorant is almost seen as mockery or a place pwople better stay away, everytime anyone ask about the books, he only says that his babydaughter loved to collect books, which is a lie to the point of im never having kids).

When the prey is to dangerous or people in the town will miss them Duran sends with one of the guys in the stables a message to his right hand, Merill, a dangerous bastard that has the rest of the bands in a cave in the woods, with his knowledge of magic and of the woods few of his preys have any real chance to escape or resist once Duran sends Merill the signal of his prey.

The Captain of the Guard has been investigating some dissapareaces, but being an old friend of Duran has never thought his old friend was the main cause of them, instead he came every third night for a pin of beer a bowl of stew (which the cook always spices with sleeping herbs so those nights are the safest for the band) and few hands of cards (which he almost always lose, except when Duran let him win so he won't be a sore or bitter loser).

But after so many years away, the girl who studdied to ebcome a bar, and who was the sole children of the last's inn owner, is coming back, but she has become more than a bard, she seeks for the truth, and she had heard of the dissapearance of one of her briends after visitng the town and more specifically "the flying pony" and she is sure to discover what is happening, whatever the cost.

Richard Lorenz: The bard is married to the Captain of the Guard's sister. The Captain doesn't really trust him or like him, and prefers it when he travels out of town so the bard isn't around his sister.

The bard is actually part of a secret organization investigating disappearances in the cities and brings the info back with him. The Captain is his handler, but they don't really like each other.

The innkeeper is part of the gang of kidnappers. His code name in the gang is the Flying Pony. Two of his partners are the Pink Elephant and the Grape Ape.

The target untrained magic users and sell them to necromages who drain their inherent power. The book case is full of blank books, each of which is covered in human (or elf or dwarf, etc) skin, taken from the corpses of the drained unfortunates.

Other members of the gang kidnap for ransom, or slavery. They are specifically paid for young magic users.

Quinn's question: Why the blank books
Richard's response: To sell. They still have some inherent residual magic, from those whose skin they took. Perfect for mages.

My question: Are books made from the skin of a human more valuable than those of say an elf or orc or some other intelligent creature? Is there a hierachy? What about intelligent beings that aren't demi-humans?

Richard's reply: I guess the answer concerning value would depend on the magical ability in each race in your system versus the talent of each individual that was harvested. Stereotypically speaking, elves are seen as magical by humans, but not so much by themselves, whereas most orcs are barely literate, let alone magical. But, an orc shaman's skin would be more valuable than that of a blighted elf who was born without the spark necessary for the most basic spells.

As you can see this simple exercise came up with a whole bunch of different options for running adventures. You could actually have a whole host of adventures out of this inn. You could rescue the captain's niece, or put down the evil gang that's skinning magic users and having death matches. There might be a doppleganger running around that needs to be put down. All from a few simple elements and some brainstorming. 

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