Unused D&D ideas

Unused D&D Ideas: Monster Mash

These are some of my favorite ideas. I will run one of these someday.

Monster Mash

What motivates intelligent monsters? Do they simply lie in wait in dungeons and tombs so that some brave adventurers can come along and kill them? Of course not. They do things. They have goals or instincts. This adventure is about what monsters do.

Each of the PCs is a monster. I’m thinking classical monsters, so a vampire, a werewolf, a ghost, and flesh golem (Frankenstein). It will probably take some level magic to make them all relatively equal. They’re all some alignment of evil, but they’re drawn together (bound by magic, maybe?) to reach a distant castle for a macguffin.

Along the way they’ll have to pass as people, terrorize a village, and (of course) fight heroes. This is the kind of adventure that would probably play well in Ravenloft. Really, the monster PCs won’t be that much different from regular PCs in a Inner Sea or Forgotten Realms campaign, and that point should probably be driven home.

Monster Mash 2

I’m a funny person, so this is a play on words. Everyone is a barbarian with a giant hammer, and the whole adventure is smashing tons of low level monsters to death. Just mountains of skeletons, zombies, goblins, orcs, giant spiders, anything you can throw at them in large numbers. Really stretch the limits of CR increasing with numbers. Make it a point to describe the heaps of dead monsters. Make them really question where in the hell did all these monsters come from. Keep a kill count, give a prize to whoever smashes the most! Give them lots of locked treasure chests to smash with hammers, and make one of them a mimic, so, for the first time ever, the players surprise the mimic.

So while Monster Mash was about playing monsters, Monster Mash 2 is about mashing monsters. Ha ha.

Super Monster Mash

Okay, we know what player sized monsters do. But what to big monsters do? In Super Monster Mash, each of the players is a Huge monster. So uhh what do they do? Eat smaller things. Trash a town. Fight. I didn’t have many plans for this one, except that it should end with some kind of kaiju battle.

And that’s that! Those are my unused D&D ideas. I hope they inspired someone, and I hope someday I can do something with them myself.

Unused D&D ideas

Unused D&D Ideas: The Hive

This is a dumb idea.

Party composition and level is irrelevant. The party is called to a small village to investigate a string of burglaries and disappearances. Upon investigation, the items being stolen are sweet things. Sugar. Candies. Syrups. And the disappearances are all male villagers. People in the houses near those affected report hearing a buzzing sound in the night.

The party finds a trail. It’s not hard to find. It’s footsteps. The footsteps lead to a cave. Entering the cave, the party hears a buzzing sound. As they get deeper into the cave, the buzzing grows louder. The party comes across a river. It’s a river of sticky, sugary substance. They soon encounter the source of the buzzing.

It’s bees! Giant fucking bees! Except it’s not actual giant bees, but men in bee costumes. They all buzz. None of them talk. After a few fights, they come across the “worker” bees. They are also entranced men. They just buzz and make bee costumes. Or ‘honey’. You can feel free to determine how ‘honey’ is made.

To break the trance, the party has to fight the queen bee. The queen bee can be whatever you want. It might be a dude who managed to charm all of these other dudes into being bees. Maybe he’s high on drugs.

This is a dumb fucking idea, but you can run it as a comedy thing or as a serious/horror type thing. I just thought it was hilarious in Castle Crashers when I came across the dudes in bee costumes. Who put them in bee costumes?

Unused D&D ideas

Unused D&D Ideas: All Four of Us Are Dying

What is a hit point? Losing hit points abstract injury. Gaining hit points abstract healing. D&D has no real system for broken bones or failing organs. Everything is boiled down to either hit points (95% of all damage), or ability score damage (rare at best).

The DMG is full of rules for stuff like starvation, dehydration, forced movement, and all sorts of environmental stuff that would kill a normal person, that no DM ever, ever, ever uses. When was the last time you couldn’t get enough sleep? When was the last time your mount died because you rode it to death?

This adventure is intended to explore both ideas. The party are seasoned adventurers afflicted with a disease. Healing magic in any form is no use. No potions, no prayers, no spells can reverse the disease. The party has a short amount of time to make a journey to the cure.

While you can keep the length of the journey a secret, I think it would be more fun for the players to give that to them upfront so they can plan. You throw the wrenches in with your choice of encounters, but the terrain should be at least knowable. They should be expected to traverse deserts, tundras, rivers, grasslands, etc. Use all of the environments. Make starving to death or dehydration a possibility. Force them to scavenge and use survival.

The entire time, secretly track their hit points. In fact, don’t let them know their hit points from the start. If they die, let them keep playing. When they reach the cure, the cure works for the living. The dead find out they’re ghosts. Maybe it’s a shitty thing to do, but this adventure is about the journey more than the destination. Whether they survived or not is kind of irrelevant.

Most of this idea was shamelessly stolen from a video game.

Unused D&D ideas

Unused D&D Ideas: The Betrayer

This is one of my ideas that didn’t get much development. I’ve never run a game with secret actions, and I like the idea in certain contexts. So in this context, one of the players is working toward a secret goal. The problem is, how do you act in secret through a DM? So instead of telling everyone that one person is working against the group, I’d give them all secret goals. They’d all be harmless or promoting teamwork, except the betrayer. To make this work, the DM should be periodically polling everyone for secret actions. It becomes pretty obvious who’s trying accomplish what if you just allow anyone to give the DM a secret action, but polling everyone reduces the chance of them figuring each other out.

The framework for this mission is that the group has been sent to a dungeon to retrieve an artifact. The artifact is useless to everyone except the betrayer. To the betrayer, it’s an item of ultimate power. The game isn’t over until the betrayer escapes with their artifact leaving no witnesses alive, or everyone is dead. The dungeon should be a slog to the artifact, so that the betrayer doesn’t out themselves immediately and has to rely upon the rest of the party to get to the artifact.

Even after the artifact is in the party’s control, the betrayer needs to get their hands on it and then get out of the dungeon. Ideally, the other players are completely in the dark that one of them ultimately wants to leave them dead in the dungeon. This gives the betrayer the option of either exploiting the artifact and fighting their way out on their own, or slyly using the party to help them get out of the dungeon and then sticking the knife in their backs.

So let’s say the betrayer decides to go it alone after getting the artifact. Does everyone else just watch as they walk out? Of course not! The dead players possess the remaining creatures of the dungeon. Maybe new monsters are summoned by the activation of the artifact. Maybe another party of adventurers was in pursuit of the betrayer and blocking the exit. Regardless, it should not be a cakewalk for the betrayer, even if they’re juiced on artifact power.

I have to admit, this isn’t a particularly great idea now that I spell it out, but it’d be interesting. Probably hard to pull off without giving it all away on accident, or pissing everyone off and turning friends against each other.

Unused D&D ideas

Unused D&D Ideas: Four Bards

This is the one I got the closest to actually running, so I’ve got more than just a handful of ideas. It was meant to be an introduction to D20 games, as well as an exploration of the bard class. Bards get a bad rap. The bard is either found useless by people who haven’t read the class specs, or they’re admired by people who have but ultimately not used. This adventure was my idea to do fun things with bards. Bardy things, but even more than that, demonstrate that they’re a versatile class.

First, you need four bards. I pre-rolled four 10th level bards with different focuses. A fighting bard, a spell casting bard, an sneaky bard, and a skills bard. Race doesn’t matter, but I tried to make each of them a different race that complemented their focus. They should each have a different perform skill as they’re all members of the same traveling troupe. They have a mobile wardrobe that is carried by two hirelings. The hirelings are worthless, as they’re not part of the story, but the wardrobe is important. The players should know that hirelings are not fighting anything and run at the sign of danger.


When the game starts, the bards should have to complete a series of skill checks. Perform, disguise, appraise, sense motive. From the results of these checks, the DM will relay how the bards are leaving the last town they performed in, and the disposition of the people and royalty they performed for. The idea is that they should be either ushered out, beloved by the city, or running for their lives because they’ve insulted the royalty. Something to get them out of town and moving on to their next destination.

On the Road

As the troupe is traveling, they will be ambushed by 12 goblins and 2 trolls. Being 10th level, the goblins are much less of a threat than the trolls, but these goblins are special. They’re sick. As in, they’ve got the goblin flu. But they still need to eat, so they’re still ambushing travelers with their charmed trolls.

The trolls are distractions. When combat starts, the hirelings (predictably) drop the wardrobe and run. While the party engages the trolls, the goblins engage the wardrobe. When the players figure out that goblins are rifling through their costumes and equipment, that’s when the fun starts.

The goblins are sick as hell, and they vomit everywhere. In the wardrobe, on the players, on each other. Make it real gross. The goblin flu isn’t contagious but it should certainly nauseate some of the players. The trolls are unfazed.

When the party wipes out the ambush, they should take inventory.  Anything covered in goblin vomit should elicit a negative response from anyone else they come across until they can clean up. But it should be stressed that they need to keep moving to their next engagement.

A Stop at Larnwick

Larnwick is your standard tiny crossroads town. An inn and a couple dozen houses. Rural, but not unaccustomed to travelers. The bards should arrive at night, and go straight to the inn. The innkeeper, though disgusted, offers to give them free board and clean their wardrobe if they’ll find the macguffin. I didn’t have much plan here, except that it should be an opportunity to roleplay, and it should lead to a barn, where the bards should encounter a pair of mysterious, cloaked travelers.

These travelers will quickly reveal themselves to be nimblewrights, and engage the players in combat. Nimblewrights are quick, dexterous constructs from D&D 3rd edition Monster Manual 2. They’re cool as heck. They should fight until they’re badly injured and then attempt a hasty escape. No big deal if one dies, but one should get away. What are expensive, carefully crafted constructs doing in Larnwick? That should be a mystery for another day. But the bards recover the macguffin, and receive their free stay at the inn and clean costumes.

The Big Performance in Sorvong

The second leg of their trip should be fairly uneventful, until they arrive at Sorvong, their intended destination. Based on how they left their last town, this town’s royalty should either immediately capture them with overwhelming force and imprison them (bad exit from last town, mad royalty in this town), or they’re so thrilled to have them, they immediately put the bards up in the goldenest cages in the castle (good exit from last town, royalty so in love that they won’t let them go).

Regardless, the bards can win their freedom back in only one way: a spectacular performance. They’re going to perform The Saviors of Sorvong. It’s a musical well known by the town, but unknown to the players. They’re given some simple directions. They must perform, give a display of magic, fight, and have a big ending. None of this will require any forethought by the players; it’s all built into the musical.

This is where you give them their verses. They should read the verses out loud, and the crowd finishes it. That’s when the fighting begins, because the town was either prepared for this performance, or some royal wizard is a great summoner. Regardless, here’s verse one:

On the seventh of Moondawn, we looked to the stars.

From the mazes below, out came the _____

2x Minotaur fight

Verse two:

Though they trampled and crushed and destroyed all of our wares

We will never forget the hooting of the _____

2x Owl bear fight

Verse three:

But the worst of it came from an enemy who would accept no treaty

From out of the lamp came the fiery _____

1x Efreeti fight

At this point, the players should be made aware that dazzling pyrotechnics are available. If they think they’re going to survive the fight against the efreeti, the pyrotechnics make a spectacular finish. If the performance is going badly and they need to make a quick exit, the pyro makes an excellent distraction. If they stick around, they get the fourth verse:

Chaos reigned that night until the arrival

Of four brave heroes who ensured our survival

They fought the monsters with sword, spell, and song

And so we celebrated for the Saviors of Sorvong

The players, now the figurative and literal saviors of Sorvong, should be showered with praise, and gold. If they made a quick exit, at least they lived to play another day.

Personal Nonsense

Notes from Pathfinder session 30 MAR 14

Let’s be honest: it’s been a while since I chucked dice, so half of what I know about Pathfinder is barely remembered rules from my last D&D 3.5 game. I played a couple sessions with a group last year, and some 4th a year or so before that, some sporadic games while I was enlisted, and the longest running campaign I played in about 10 years ago. So I’m a little rusty, even if I’ve got the basics down. To make matters more confused, Pathfinder is only a little different from D&D 3.5, so I’m constantly checking myself to make sure nothing changed. About 75% of the time, I’m right.

I had a plan to run my players through a one-time adventure where everyone would play a 10th level bard. It was to be kind of an introduction to the game, and an exploration of the bard class, because bards get a bad rap. After making the short adventure and the characters, however, I realized that with all the spells and skills a 10th level bard has, it’d probably be way too much for an introduction. Everyone seemed to want to play their own character anyway, so I shopped around for an adventure path I could run with.

There are a ton of Pathfinder adventure paths, and they all sound awesome. I went with Rise of the Runelords. It is a nice collection of all six modules compiled into a hardcover book with bonus encounters and post-release enhancements for only $40, which is as much as two modules alone. Scrapping my bard adventure meant I didn’t have as much time to prepare, and the game suffered a little for it. However, the first part is mostly combat, so I managed to get by.

Speaking of combat, jumping into it with four brand new characters is a great refresher on all of the little details that need to be remembered! I overestimated how much of the stats would be in the campaign book, so I was quickly looking up goblins in my 3.5 Monster Manual. Then I got a reminder of how many little details and numbers need to be crunched when a sorceror or cleric casts a spell. Range, effects, saves, resistance DCs, all of that.

I also got a reminder of how brutal this game can be at low levels. A goblin managed to score a critical attack on the cleric, and dropped him with one hit. I felt a little bad for that. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to bail anyone out when their number comes up. I feel like the game is less interesting when the DM is constantly bailing out dying PCs. There’s no threat of death. But the cleric was a guy I just met. Thankfully, he stabilized right away and I managed to interject a brief respite for him to get him up to 1HP so he could at least heal himself a little.

The rest of the session went fairly smoothly. The PCs survived some strong hits but no more crits. For the first time, I had to consult some riding and mounted combat rules. I simply never touched them before, but one of their encounters involved a goblin ranger on a goblin dog. I wish I had remembered that I had the reference guide in my phone, because I didn’t have a stat block for the goblin dog. I had to fudge a combination of a standard dog and a riding dog, and I missed out on all the little details of a goblin dog. Whoops.

Of the mistakes I made that I think can be easily fixed, I’m going to start withholding loot and XP until the threat is over and those things matter. I started doling out both after the second battle, even though there was no opportunity to spend either. That was kind of a waste of time, as I could’ve combined all the previous encounters at the end of the session.

But all in all, I think the session went well and I’m very excited to get back into it next month.


Nordak – Male half elf sorceror 1

Ironhouse – Male dwarf cleric 1

Tragehon – Male dwarf fighter 1

Groob – Male half orc rogue 1