Sup fellow DMs! Hope you're safe and doing fine.
It's been a while since I wanted to do a one shot with my friends in the Ravnica setting since Im a long time Magic the Gathering player and both games have a nice flavor when added together.
I'll run the one shot this weekend and Im here to share my session designs with you in case you also want to try it out with your friends. Please feel free to give advice and thoughts. Depending on the feedback, i might create a one page summary to people who want to run this just in case. Since i dont have it ready at this momment, ill just write it down below. Please note that this one shot is not intented for children as it has gore, drugs, sex and violence as subthemes for a dark and twisted session that could lead to uncomfortable gameplay.
Ill not provide DCs and stat blocks as each DM can fit it to set appropriate difficulty to their players. Ill be running a lvl 4 session.
The one shot was designed in a way that it could continue into a campaign depending on player's feedback. Their "main character" will not be at stake (not created at this point), but they will send a subordinate (played character) in a dangerous mission for collecting intel. This way, we can help them develop the idea of a character to play in the future without removing the intended brutallity of the one shot that is set in a Rakdos Horror Theather. The premise is the following:
Synopsis: The word has spread around Ravnica that several entry-level guildmembers have been missing. The rumors aren't reliable and stories being told don't match, making it hard to know exactly what is going on. Since the ones who vanished were not proeminent people, it took a while for the higher ranks to notice a pattern in this incident. An Azorious Senator has called a meeting with several guild superintendents (players) to help acquire further information and coordenate an effort to investigate. In this meeting, it was agreed that each one of the superintendents would assign a champion (characters for the one shot) to investigate a bar where a few izzet scientists were last seen. The premise is that each one of them wants to send their best subordinate to solve the incident faster than other guilds (or other same-guild superintendent) so theyll gain renown and rise in their ranks. Each of the champions goes to the crowded bar and are offered food and (too much) drink, which makes them feel dizzy.
The one shot: The characters were drugged and find themselves in a twisted circus spectacle that has them fighting for their lives. More often than not, they will be thrown against each other for amusement of the audience and to prevent them from teaming up against the Rakdos cultists. This also can set the beggining of a tension between guilds if this turns into a longer campaign.
The characters wake up feeling dizzy and sore and find themselves locked in cages that are hanging in the air through a chain. They are amidst of a Rakdos Spectacle, and are announced as the main attraction. They wear electric collars that will help them "behave" in case they do not cooperate for the spectable to be entertaining. While hanging, the locutor explains to the audience that those "volunteers" will entertain them this evening in a series of challenges that will sum them points in a twisted show. The one who gets more points wins (lives) and the others loses (DMs discretion for characters death).
The first challenge: As the spectacle starts, the cages (30feet high) are opened by imps and the goal is simple: the last one to arrive in the ground wins 2 points. The objective here is to put one player against the other, forcing them to knock other character's cages. If the challenge takes too long, the cages are set on fire, dealing damage over time to them.
The winner is brought to the ground without suffering fall damage, and has to choose one of the fellow "volunteers" to be part of a mini challenge called Fiery Session (the happens between main attractions): walking on the high wire. This high wire requires an acrobatics check of DMs discretion. Upon succeeding, the chosen pc wins 1 point. If fails, the pc falls in a tank of tar, unharming but making them vulnerable to fire damage.
The second challenge: Also worth 2 points, the pcs need to "survive" an attack of an aroused giant/ogre. The pattern of attacks is pretty simple: grapple and fellate. Whoever does not get fellated by the end of a time limit, gets the points. The players can cooperate here to defeat the enemy faster but might be incentivated by the crowd to hold/trip over the other contestants. The only damage the ogre will deal is the fellation. He is not interested in killing the pcs. Upon acchieving his goal, he will change targets to another pc.
Upon finishing this task, the leading pc in points will chose another player to the Fiery Session 2. (By this point theyll notice that they might give additional points or might harm whoever they choose so keep the scoreboard fresh to the players). The chosen player will be tied to spinning board. The leading player will be blindfolded and will have to throw 3 daggers into the board: 3 disadvantage attack rolls. If all of them misses, the tied player gets 1 point. If it hits, then it shall deal normal damage.
The third challenge: Before the 3rd challenge starts, the locutor will say that the volunteers are very entertaining and for this reason they throw another fiery session in place. This time chosen by the person tied in the board. A fanatic rakdos cultist will show up juggling chainsaws and will start throwing them to the chosen pc to take part in this attraction. The goal is to see if the pc can keep juggling them of if it will fall, dealing more damage. Acrobatics/dexterity check. Upon passing:1 point. Upon failing: damage.
At this point the pcs will be harmed and the last attraction comes:
They will release a fire spitting imp into the circus, that holds a Rakdos Keyrune (or other artifact). Whoever ends up holding this artifact by the end of a 5 minute period gets 2 points. The goal here is to make them cooperate to defeat/catch the imp and then fight for the artifact of choose who will keep it.
At the end, whoever gets more points is the winner and gets to keep the Rakdos Keyrune and is invited to join the Rakdos Cult. Several pcs might die and other get to roll for dst.
The session ends with the survivors bonding over a traumatic experience that even other guildmembers wouldnt understand and makes them cooperate in the future if needed. They might go out for a drink weeks later, where a shady patron approaches them and proposes a deal: the rakdos keyrune in exchange for further information on who is coordinating the circus attraction and their methodology on abducting "volunteers".
Tl;dr: party abducted by rakdos cultists to perform in a shady circus event that requires them to inflict pain into each other for survival. Alongside that, they get points for doing this horrendous actions and are forced to believe that only the person with most points will survive the spectacle.
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More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Rakdos Horror Theater – OneShot for Ravnica Setting [18+]" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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