Rescue from Darklands

Author: Ray A Reaux <>
Length: Long
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Startup, Quest
Setting: Rural

The Plot

I started a campaign where the PCs were people from the same home village, and all were young and inexperienced (1st level). The PCs were a magic user, a cleric, a fighter, a druid, a bard, and a ranger. Four PCs had families in the village, and the ranger had friends. The Mage and Cleric were brothers with the normal sibling rivalry. All were about the same age and were friends, or at least friendly to each other. The first game day was spent on light bantering and role-playing to develop the relationships among the characters.

Twenty miles from the village was the Darklands, a huge monster-infested region continuously enshrouded from the sun by darkness. The Darklands was the home of a malevolent intelligence which had goblin armies to command. The goblins often raided the frontier villages for slaves. At the end of the first day of gaming, I had a large overwhelming force of goblins (about 60) raid the village. The PCs had to try to react from their daily chores to fight for their lives and family. All the PCs were knocked out (NOT KILLED, and they later woke to find carnage around them, and signs that some people, including family members and neighbors, had survived the massacre but were slaves of the goblins and were being taken into the Darklands. Every character except the ranger had a family member taken as captives. The Mage and Cleric had their mother and sister captured. The Mage's girlfriend had also been taken. The fighter had a brother captured. The ranger wanted revenge since his teacher and mentor had been killed by the goblins. Besides, his duty was to rescue and protect the people. The adventurers had to find useable supplies from the ruins of the village, and work together to pursue the goblins into the Darklands.

The adventurers pursued the goblins deep into the Darklands, fighting roving, hungry monsters until they came to the keep which was the destination of the goblin raiding party. The PCs had to find out how to get into the well-guarded keep and rescue their family. A frontal assault was out of the question, so they had to rely on stealth. They also had to contend with a "thin man" a low-level lich-like creature that was commanding the goblins, but who answered to the malevolence that inhabited the Darklands.

The PCs rescued their family and friends and 30 or so other odd slaves, and escorted them back out of the Darklands, while being pursued by the goblins. Once they got out of the Darklands, they had to find a place for the people. Some of the people that they had liberated had been slaves most of their lives and did not know how to care for themselves as free people. The adventurers had to get money to build a new village for them (the old village was destroyed, and was too close to the Darklands). They had to raise money to actually purchase land and get building materials. Since their was no convenient gold-laden dungeon laying around into which they could fall into, the players had to be creative and come up with their own money-making schemes. Their money making ventures included beast- catching and running a small travelling circus, of course with the encounters with brigands and other hazards of the road. Once they purchased the land, they had to clear it of some monsters, and also deal with the local Baron who demanded a tax to "protect" the village. The PCs later ran afoul of the Baron when they accidentally killed one of the Baron's men. They had to leave the village, but not until they had made sure the village was firmly established. The success of the campaign hinged on role-playing and real NPCs. These NPCs gave the PCs motivations for what they were trying to do. I gave the Mage and Cleric's mother and sister personalities. The mother was strong willed and became the village matriarch. The sister started openly dating the Fighter which brought out the brotherly protective instincts of the Mage and Cleric. The Mage's girlfriend made the Mage jealous by spending more time with the loud-mouthed boastful, but cowardly, obnoxious village jerk that the Mage, Cleric, and Fighter despised (they had grown up hating him). It was her ploy to get the Mage to quit stalling and marry her. The despised jerk had the gift of gab with women who thought he was the next best thing since the invention of baked bread. Even the Mage and Cleric's mother often took sides with him. I had several other women chasing the "heroic" Cleric and ranger, after all they needed husbands.

I had other NPCs help, since I generally add one or two adventuring NPCs to assist in the PCs with some skills that they do not have or as an avenue for me to provide suggestions or information to the PCs. For instance, a grizzled mountain man they encountered and enlisted said, "Yes, I know about this creature. My grandpappie once told me about a hippogriff that he saw this Church Knight ride. He said that it was the dangest thing you could ever see. Bigger than a horse, and ..."

Remember that when you are creating campaign, pay as much detail to the environment as to the adventure. And by environment, I mean factors such as NPCs and local politics. They add spice and motivations for the PCs and bring out the role-playing in the players.

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Email: Alexander Forst-Rakoczy