View Full Version : Abuse My Players!

Geek King
05-02-2012, 02:19 AM
Tonight I'm working on the Pathfinder game I'm running, and I'm designing some "random" encounters for the party. Party is 6-8 (depending on who can make it) first level characters in a wild, undeveloped wilderness area on a wide penensula.

A couple of my ideas so far:

A] An ancient cauldron that cannot be moved in any way, shape, or form. Will even hang in the air if the dirt beneath it is moved. It sits directly on a ley-line convergence, and can offer a bonus on potion making--shame they can't do that yet. :devil: Too much mucking about will catch the attention of a bored brownie...

B] A river that needs crossing that has flooded due to the dam downstream recently built by a family of giant beavers. No tricks. Just something wierd to see how they manage.

C] The party finds a goblin hunting party still fighting over the poor rabbit one of them actually managed to hit with a rock. The party will be outnumbered, but the goblins will still fight over the rabbit carcass while fighting the party the party.

So here's your chance to abuse my players. I'm looking for low-level encounter ideas that my gamers can have some fun with. No need to know the system--just throw up a good idea, and I'll do the grunt work to stat it out.

One last note: Due to everyone making their characters apart from one another, only one character in the whole game is taller than five feet, and no one is playing a human. I've threatened to up the challenge by hiding treasure on the top shelf. :lol:

05-02-2012, 02:41 AM
Do you know what classes and alignments everyone is? I had some great fun (in a Pathfinder game I'm currently running) generating some animosity between the LG Paladin and the CN Barbarian recently.

The party came across what, at first glance, appeared to be an abandoned wagon. It was on the side of a highway connecting two villages, and next to an old graveyard. The wagon itself was surrounded by mindless undead; I think I threw at them 3 skeletons and 2 zombies (this was a very easy battle for them, you could easily up the number of undead or maybe throw something like a skeletal champion in there to increase the overall CR of the encounter if you want it a little harder.)

After dispatching the undead, the party -- largely the paladin and the barbarian -- argued over what they should do with the wagon. See, it was filled with a lot of good stuff. The best items were a +1 weapon, several low level potions and scrolls, and a partially charged wand of CLW. The barbarian was absolutely convinced that the owner of the wagon was one of the zombies they just killed, and that the party was now the rightful owners of the loot. The paladin, however, thought they should take the wagon back to the nearby town to see if the owner had managed to escape. The paladin was partly backed up in his argument because the ranger had successfully identified horse tracks leading into the direction of the town, and the tracks weren't very old, only a few days at most. So the paladin figured the owner had managed to escape on horseback.

They almost came to blows. I don't have an in-game rule when it comes to PvP and it has come up in other games before...but in this case, more of the party was agreeing with the paladin than with the barbarian, and they convinced her to at least take the wagon back to the town and ask around for the owner (they got his name from an inventory list found inside the wagon.)

Turns out the owner was alive and in the town and very grateful to get his property back. He did give them one mid-priced item (they picked a piece of MW armor) and allowed them to buy anything else from him for 20% off.

I was going to have the party run out of town (which none of them are from so they're already seen as outsiders, but they are using the town as their homebase for the moment so it would have been a real setback for them to get railroaded out) if they had kept the merchant's stuff even after finding out he's alive.

Since you're out in the wilderness, it doesn't have to be connected to a town...it could be a band of nomads, or a small village of some kind of fey, or a couple of other adventurers/travelers. Someone drops a bag while running from something nasty and there's enough evidence for the party to decide that the owner might be alive, and anyone who is lawful good (or lawful neutral or even neutral good) would probably have a hard time keeping the goods without at least looking for the owner first.

05-02-2012, 05:43 AM
Weeping Angels.

That is all. (yes I'm feeling devious, why do you ask?)

05-02-2012, 06:14 AM
A treasure trove. Something too heavy to take easily but too valuable to leave. Some low yield silver ore or a huge chest of low-denomination coins, for example. Use encumbrance rules. Watch your players' greed and self-preservation instincts wrestle.

A camp with a few hunters, who may or may not take kindly to a "bunch o' furriners" barging into their camp.

A PC loses a small but valuable object while wading across a stream, and must find it.

05-02-2012, 06:57 AM
Well, there's always the option of cursing one or more of the surviving players with shrinking... Curse 'em with a Silver tongue, perhaps- like the Midas touch, but only applies to the tongue, and turns things into solid silver. Including food and alcohol, but not water or potions. I mostly find this amusing because I can imagine a PC trying to exploit this in combat with licking their foes.

05-02-2012, 07:16 AM
Don't forget to make them loose things when they fall asleep on watch. Our wizard fell asleep on watch and lost his wand. When we went after the goblins that took it the one with his wand fell through the ice on the lake and the wizard dove in after it.

05-02-2012, 08:15 AM
Party comes across a village that has been recently attacked by orcs and destroyed. They find signs of prisoners being led off.......signs indicate the prisoners are children.

05-02-2012, 08:31 AM
Well, if you don't insist on staying strictly within the system and can pull it off, drop a kender on em. *giggle* If you do that, remember, there's no telling WHAT a kender has in his or her pockets... My favorite character of all time was a kender girl who was carrying around a vial of alchemists fire and a djinni bottle and had no clue what either of them was. They were just pretty bottles to her. The djinni was sincerely pissed and more than a little insane by that point; he'd been forced to listen to her prattle for several years. I kept waiting for that bottle to come up in a random pocket search roll.

05-02-2012, 12:24 PM
Someone is in imminent danger. They encounter a being with the information they need to end the danger. This being fanatically refuses to divulge the information, and cannot be bribed, cajoled, or tricked into telling. The gamers must decide whether they are going to use torture (either magical or mundane) to get the information. How far would they be willing to go?

Sorry if this suggestion is too intense, I've been watching the second season of 24 on DVD. :devil:

05-02-2012, 02:46 PM
Weeping Angels.
Eeek. A Ghostbusters RPG I'm in has resurrected those, and the GM is being evil by (so far) predicting and sabotaging how we think we'll get rid of them :help:

05-02-2012, 04:39 PM
Rod\wand of fireball with "the" as the trigger word

05-02-2012, 04:58 PM
A wagon full of general goods, weapons, and armor possessed by a living animate objects spell. It can then animate the wagon to move around and all the objects inside to fight with. Have the spell be keyed to a destructable object inside the wagon. It offers you a way to give them all sorts of random stuff if they find a way to defeat it. You can also pull totally random items out of the bag to throw at them.

Goblin Suiciders: goblins marked with a contingency spell that causes them to explode upon death. (This one is particularly mean to do to veteran players, or a high level fighter that charge in and can kill multiple goblins with one swing)

The case of the missing MacGuffin: Insert important expensive magic item or other object that has been stolen. Of course it will be assumed a thief or guild of thieves has taken it to sell or whatever. The actual culprit is the owners child crying out for attention and he just hid it. This carries the potential to have the item actually be stolen later if you want to extend the adventure.

The annoying ass dungeon: Every. Single. Door. Is. Trapped. in the end nothing overly important was inside. Or alternatively a dungeon whose door will open only if the players put their weapons in a magical holding chest. IE they must complete the dungeon on wits, spells, and special abilities alone.

Geek King
05-02-2012, 08:09 PM
Wow, quite the response for a post I threw up when I needed a break! Thanks for all the input.

I will also say that some of you are devious bastards, and I mean that in the best possible way. :D

I've also re-read my copies of Grimtooth's Traps!; Traps Too!; Traps Fore!; and Traps Ate! this week. Also some of Tracy Hickman's articles on extreme GM-ing for inspiration.

Sometimes it gets hard to remember that they're still low-level characters. Hee!

Salted Grump
05-02-2012, 08:35 PM
Oh; the most classic trap possible (harmless variety)

40x40x40 room, big red button on the far wall. Party enters, all doors into the room close, lock, get barricaded with portcullis, and so on; room's pretty much made to defeat knock, passwall, etc. spells.

Soon as the doors close, a large timer and magic mouth starts counting down from 10. Hit the button, timer resets. Have the party go NUTS trying to find an exit, until they give up and stop resetting the timer. Once the timer hits zero, there's a pleasant 'ding' and the doors open.

Try not to get chased from the room.

05-02-2012, 09:21 PM
Rod\wand of fireball with "the" as the trigger word
I did something like that once. While the trigger word wasn't quite that simple it still had a good chance of coming up in normal conversation, and I had worked it so if you were very observant one could figure it out and avoid it. The Mary Sue character (predictably oblivious, and everyone else wanted her gone at that point) was the one who finally set it off.

El Pollo Guerrera
05-02-2012, 11:45 PM
The best books I've come across for gaming ideas are the Kenneth Hite "Surpressed Transmissions" books.

The DC superheroes set in Renaissance Italy, the true reasons behind the sinking of the Titanic, the truth behind fairies, Project Dora, mirror worlds... and how to turn them into great storylines for RPGs.

05-03-2012, 02:50 AM
as a GM I was big on curses....or rather items the players needed(and were found in the dungeons), that transferred a fitting curse to the player(item cannot be destroyed or disposed of until curse is lifted). curse could only be broken by rolling 7 or higher on a d20 10 times during battle(as in during battle player had to roll to overcome the curse to fight, if done 10x in a row, curse broken, every failure to overcome resets the counter)

Palidin-cursed blade-demonic possession
+20 to attack if demonic possession was overcome
-10 to all other members of party if not

reward: +15 to attack after curse lifted

Theif-cursed bag of holding
wracked with pain and hand tremors when attempting to disarm traps or pick locks
-10 to dexterity(also anything put in the bag will vanish until the curse is defeated)

reward: you got a bag of holding what else is necessary for reward

Knight/fighter-cursed Armour-weakness/frozen in place
-20 to strength/speed, or inability to move(GM choice or dice roll)

Reward +30 defense

Mage/healer-cursed amulet-opposite or random spellcasting, unable to target

Reward: +10 Damage for spells, 2x damage for weakness spells( fire spell will do 2x damage to creatures weak against fire, etc.)

why yes my players hated me.....a lot....

05-04-2012, 12:42 AM
One bear cub running up to a PC and starts to hug his/her leg, when the party is occupied with the scared and cute bearcub the very enraged mother bear shows up (thing berserker rage) ^^

El Pollo Guerrera
05-04-2012, 07:11 AM
I do remember a magical trap from an old issue of Dragon Magazine... the players find a scroll with a single spell called "(fill-in-the-blank)'s Magical Wall of Arrows". Casting the spell causes a 10' x 10' wall of arrows to appear.

The problem is that the spell's creator never quite figured out how to get the arrows to appear pointing AWAY from him... or to appear farther away than 5 feet...

05-04-2012, 12:02 PM
Oh; the most classic trap possible (harmless variety)

40x40x40 room, big red button on the far wall. Party enters, all doors into the room close, lock, get barricaded with portcullis, and so on; room's pretty much made to defeat knock, passwall, etc. spells.

Soon as the doors close, a large timer and magic mouth starts counting down from 10. Hit the button, timer resets. Have the party go NUTS trying to find an exit, until they give up and stop resetting the timer. Once the timer hits zero, there's a pleasant 'ding' and the doors open.

Try not to get chased from the room.

Baaaaaah. :roll:

That's quite epic. :D

Salted Grump
05-04-2012, 04:53 PM
Have a more brutal one in a similar vein; The 'Maypole of DOOM'

30Lx30Wx60H room, slate-grey stone walls (this is important) with a 40' Maypole made out of metal, with 35' metal chains attached to it. Pools of some slick substance all over the floor.

Door's pressure-plated so once there's no pressure on the outer plate, the door slams shut and locks itself; big thick steel door, too; looks nice and expensive.

Soon as the door locks, the maypole starts spinning; have the players roll dex to avoid getting creamed by a heavy metal chain as it gets up to speed, while more of that strange liquid gushes from the top of the maypole, coating the chains, the floor, and everything else within 25' radius of the pole.

Of course, once the chains are at full extension, they'll be bashing against the walls, raising sparks. The chains are Steel. The Walls are Flint. The Liquid is Oil.

05-04-2012, 07:19 PM
You want to know how to abuse players read the Dresden Files.

Geek King
05-04-2012, 10:58 PM
You want to know how to abuse players read the Dresden Files.

I have.

If I really wanted to abuse my players, I'd drop them in Nightside (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightside_(book_series)). Or just put them between Susie Shooter (AKA Shotgun Susie; AKA Oh Christ, Its Her, Run!) and a bounty. ;)

05-09-2012, 04:13 PM
NSFW: Questionable Content has what you DON'T need! (http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=2183):D

El Pollo Guerrera
05-10-2012, 06:00 AM
I'm not sure where I got the link for this website (it might even have come from someone here), but The SCP Foundation (http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/main) has a lot of... strange things to build stories upon.