Content of the article: "Help! I gave my players a major plot hook, but I don’t know what the plot is yet!"
If you know anything about the adventures of a gnome paladin named Bixby Buttonwhistle, a psionic sorcerer named Reginald Hawkscreech, or a dragonborn druid named Drew, avert your eyes!
I started running a campaign a couple weeks ago for some friends and got really excited about the major plot hook I dropped at the end of the first session, but I'm having the worst time figuring out what comes next. I keep changing my mind about the lore of the world and where the main plot should go. I'm hoping you kind folks can look over my ideas and help me flesh out a path forward. I'd love any feedback you can give me on how to turn what I've got so far into a real campaign!
What happened: As a reward for completing their first quest, the party members were each given a magical item by a shopkeeper. One of the PCs chose the Outlander background with the bond "I suffer awful visions of a coming disaster and will do anything to prevent it." Knowing that, I made one of the items in the shop a dagger that triggered that vision. When they looked at the dagger, they saw a vision of one man stabbing another with it, which seemingly caused the floating city they were standing on to crash to the ground, along with hundreds of other floating cities. The party doesn't have any further details yet about the dagger or what's happening in the vision.
What the party doesn't know: The floating cities of the vision were part of the Netheril empire, a magocracry that ended over a thousand years ago when one of the society's archmages cast a spell so powerful that he was able to take over the powers of the goddess of magic. The raw essence of magic was too much for him to control, so he accidentally let slip the magic that was keeping Netheril's floating cities aloft, causing them to crash. One archmage was able to save one of the cities by sending it to the Shadowfell, where it's been ever since. The dagger was sent from the Shadowplane city to the Prime Material Plane; the party doesn't know yet that the archmage can bring the Shadowplane city back to the Prime Material Plane if the players use it to cause significant harm to someone or something.
What I can't figure out: The PC's bond says that the vision is of a "coming disaster," but the vision I described makes a lot more sense in the history of the Forgotten Realms as something from the past. If it's a vision of something that's going to happen, then it makes sense to me that the returned Shadowfell mages might raise the cities again, only to have them collapse once more. I keep changing my mind about the reasons the Shadowfell mages have for trying to bring the city back and what it would mean for the world if they were successful. I haven't been able to come up with a good reason that the cities would be raised again, why that would matter to the mages from the Shadowfell, and how the events of the vision trigger the collapse of the floating cities. I'm not even sure at this point if stopping a second version of something that's already happened would be satisfying to my players.
I also can't figure out what sorts of quests my party can do that are related to this plot hook. I haven't given them any objectives other than "get more information about the dagger" so far, but they're going to need some kind of adventure structure eventually. Maybe there are objects of some kind that they can find which can stop the city from returning? Maybe there are monsters at the sites of the fallen cities that they can defeat?
TL:DR, I'm a new DM running a campaign for the first time and I have no idea how to write a story or give my players meaningful things to be doing in their adventure. Please help!
- Campaign coming to an early end – how to go out with a bang. (AKA how to run a battle royale game in 5e)
- So I rolled on the “Feywild Time Warp” table for my party…
- “Emergency plot”: A term I made up
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