Last year our regular D&D game fell on April 1st, so I decided to try and see if I could con my player’s characters out of some gold.
I’d been reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, a worthwhile read which features a number of con tricks. The book inspired me to head off to the internet and research the art of hustling. This is what I came up with, I hope it inspires you to do something similar this year!
Missing, One Glass Eye
The Glim Dropper is similar to the more famous Pigeon Drop, or Fiddle Game cons, and relies on the mark being convinced that something of no value has much greater value. In this case a glass eye.
Today an example of how a hurried handout can generate plot hooks and choices for your players. A handout such as the one below need not take more than a couple of minutes to create. Most of the time goes into the content. See my previous post for a tutorial on parchment making.
If you quickly make a good looking handout then players take it more seriously, even though you may have only spent a couple of minutes on it. When writing this letter I had not planned out in detail what might happen if the players chose various paths, it’s fun first to watch your players decide what they are going to do with the information.
In the case of this letter, the players had discovered it in a sword-case that they were supposed to deliver to an obviously fake name in the next port.
Some players wanted to ignore it and not deliver it, or warn the Mayor of Copperbottom. Others wanted to do the job themselves and claim the 2000gp. After postulating faking the assassination and claiming the cash, they for some reason decided they’d deliver it and see who collected it.
So they sat and waited and tailed the woman who collected the sword-case, she came to the docks and asked around for any ships heading for Copperbottom. So in the end they offered her a lift! Because they could make some money out of it!
When they got to Copperbottom they did warn the Mayor, but did nothing about stopping the assassin. Which leaves me with the future possibility of her finding out and coming to seek revenge.
All this from a couple of throw away sentences on a handout that took five minutes to make.
The work of building a world is usually left to the DM. DMs can spend large chunks of their life building the perfect world for their players to play in. They create maps, histories, classes, races, continents, nations, power groups, and plots.
It’s a lot of work, and often thankless as well. Even once you’ve handed out the condensed campaign introduction document, the players will never be as deeply immersed in your personal world as you, as writer of it, is.
Build a bare-bones world
In our last campaign I tried something different. I wrote a very quick bare bones history of the world. Here’s the original entry from my design notes. This campaign was following from a failed Shackled City campaign, where a gate to hell was opened at the end of the campaign.
The Great Gate opened and Demons enslaved The World That Was. The powers of the Astral Sea won the millennia long war, at great cost: The world was catastrophically flooded, and the population decimated. Now, a few generations later, the people of the New World are recovering, spreading out across the vast archipelago that The World That Was has become.
This led to a map, upon which I slapped some hurriedly invented names. I then presented this to my players as a post apocalyptic pirate infested archipelago.
Now it was time to get the players to join in…
How the problem arose
In a game of 4e D&D recently, the topic of sunrods brightly burned in our groups close scrutiny for a short while.
We’ve just started a new campaign with a new DM. The first time someone used a sunrod the DM seemed suddenly taken aback by it, we guessed he was a little bit worried that it was ruining whatever he had prepared to surprise us with.
In 4e sunrods burn for 4 hours and shine out with a bright light to a radius of 20 squares. Potentially that’s lighting up 1,681 squares!
“How many squares!”, he did quoth.