Need quick lvl-up advice without killing my party...

Sutek

Mongoose
They are starting at 3rd, but I want to get them up to 4th or 5th pretty quickly. My instinct is to just do it completely artificially and out of the blue, but I really would rather come up with something rational and fun too.

What I have in mind is that the Nord Barbarian woman is enslaved and the other players realize they need to free her in order to get to the meat of the adventure. It could be as simple as freeing slaves, but I really don't think I can trust these folks to be that altruistic. (lol). I plan on working them directly into Tower of the Elephant, and with just the four characters it may be tough unless they are 5th or level up while they are there. However, I do want to start them at 3rd so they have some since of the game before they get in the middle of an actual dire adventure.

I suspect a scenario will develop where they have to free some slave, fight with the slaver's henchmen, but I don't know where to go from there to get them into the opening of Tower.

Any seeds?
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
My idea would be to have them travelling to Arenjun on the Road of Kings, and at a crossroads they meet up with a caravan going their way. The caravan master asks them to become their guards, because he has heard there is a large group of Kezankian hillman robbing and killing travellers on this road.

This is an easy scenario, doesn't put one particular player at risk, and gives the players a chance to be prepared for action. And at the end, they get to Arenjun, and quaff some ale at the tavern to wash away the dust of the road (and heal up any damage).
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
I understand you don't want to kill off any players, but in Hyboria, getting killed is always a risk. Remember, you also have the caravaners you can use to throw into the fray, if the players have trouble with the Kezankian raiders. But if the players do well, the caravan master might give them a bit of gold for their trouble, and that is a good thing.
 

MadDog

Mongoose
Make them work for it. There is nothing better than hearing the lamentations of the players having to work for XP ! HAHAHAHA !

DANCE MY PUPPETTS !

Mad Dog
 

Sutek

Mongoose
Ermmm....right.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not at all afraid of the getting killed...eventually. But these players are just starting to get into Conan and I don't want to turn them off, but I also want to get them prepped for Tower.

Maybe that's what I should have askedf for: Adventure seeds to get 4 PC from 3rd to an appropriate lvl for Tower. I like tha Caravan idea, and it would work into the slaver idea, but let me hear more. Nothing too fancy, mind you - I don't want you folks doing all the work here, just tossing me some tips.

Thanks...
 
My advice is to never give them any xp for FREE. However, if the party does not fit into your campaign plans because they are too weak, here are a few ideas:

1.) Run single evening adventure that gives them a level. Good sources for this would be the Conan comics. Not too tough to convert. Pick a story you like and go with it.

2.) If you are having a tough time getting everyone available but you have some free time, consider #1 above but run solo or split party groups to achieve your results.

3.) If you absolutely have to level them up, write some very creative storylines explaining what the characters have been up to for the last year. Your idea about becoming a slave is a good one. Also, consider stories that may never see your campaign. Have them become pirates, gladiators, pict hunters, or live the life of a noble. It may be fun to give them levels in their non-core classes rather than just add to the main class. That would also encourage multi-classing which is essential for the true flavor of the game.

HLD
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Cynthia, a very beautiful noble girl from the House of Percyasis (per'sie'ah'sees) in Corinthia, implores the patrons of the Spider's Lair (the tavern the PCs are getting sloused in), to help rescue her brother from kidnappers that are demanding ransom. Problem is, she is penniless, due to being robbed by Kezankian raiders on the Road of Kings, and it would take months to get back and bring the ransom they are demanding from Corinthia. She promises to pay the ransom to anyone who can rescue her brother Tyrone before the kidnappers decide to kill him, but they will have to wait until she gets it from home. A couple of ugly thugs are learing at her from a nearby table, while whispering and nodding to each other. Except for a dumb looking lout, that seems to be her body guard, she is quite alone.
 

DasClay

Mongoose
MadDog said:
Make them work for it. There is nothing better than hearing the lamentations of the players having to work for XP ! HAHAHAHA !

DANCE MY PUPPETTS !

Mad Dog

There is a fine line between starving your PCs for XP and rewarding them for there accomplishments. Fighting 20 picts is a lot different than fighting 20 goblins.... especially when the DM is deploying tactics... :)
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
I meant to ask. Why did you want one of your players to be enslaved? Slavers are a hard lot to deal with, because they have such a low disregard for life and freedom. They chain their slaves, put them in tiny cages, whip them constantly (maybe not the pretty girls, there are "other" ways to make them behave), and generally do many things to the slaves that I don't like to role-play, however realistic it might be. Also, slavers are very heavily armed and armored, and employ huge thugs with very heavy bladed nastily curved swords that would leave your little party of naive adventurers gutted and left for the night watch to find.
 

MadDog

Mongoose
here is a fine line between starving your PCs for XP and rewarding them for there accomplishments. Fighting 20 picts is a lot different than fighting 20 goblins.... especially when the DM is deploying tactics...

Jeez, you just get 4th level, and you want fifth ? When will madness stop ? : )

Mad Dog
 

Sutek

Mongoose
dunderm said:
I meant to ask. Why did you want one of your players to be enslaved? Slavers are a hard lot to deal with, because they have such a low disregard for life and freedom. They chain their slaves, put them in tiny cages, whip them constantly (maybe not the pretty girls, there are "other" ways to make them behave), and generally do many things to the slaves that I don't like to role-play, however realistic it might be. Also, slavers are very heavily armed and armored, and employ huge thugs with very heavy bladed nastily curved swords that would leave your little party of naive adventurers gutted and left for the night watch to find.

Because she's the only Nordheimer in the party and it's easier, more in line with the feel of Hyborian mindsets and it gets the game rolling with an instant dilema. Starting with "You're all sitting in this tavern" is too easy, and I want to strt these players off with the system as soon as possible. That scenario just works also to explan what this huge Nordheimer Barbarian chick is even doing there, but it also gives all the players an idea of the world they're in.

Scenarios with that in mind would be great.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
That's a good point on why she is there at all, but why would the other players want to rescue her? Did they know her before? Other than her being a player, why rescue her? The Hyperborians enslaved many (maybe just a few) of the Nordish folk, and just like the Apaches Indians of North America, they probably shipped them south as quickly as possible for much of the same reasons.

I'm just interested in your story line. I can use a few plot twists myself, and if yours is good, it might help the rest of us out, also.
 

count_zero

Mongoose
Sutek said:
dunderm said:
I meant to ask. Why did you want one of your players to be enslaved? Slavers are a hard lot to deal with, because they have such a low disregard for life and freedom. They chain their slaves, put them in tiny cages, whip them constantly (maybe not the pretty girls, there are "other" ways to make them behave), and generally do many things to the slaves that I don't like to role-play, however realistic it might be. Also, slavers are very heavily armed and armored, and employ huge thugs with very heavy bladed nastily curved swords that would leave your little party of naive adventurers gutted and left for the night watch to find.

Because she's the only Nordheimer in the party and it's easier, more in line with the feel of Hyborian mindsets and it gets the game rolling with an instant dilema. Starting with "You're all sitting in this tavern" is too easy, and I want to strt these players off with the system as soon as possible. That scenario just works also to explan what this huge Nordheimer Barbarian chick is even doing there, but it also gives all the players an idea of the world they're in.

Scenarios with that in mind would be great.

OK, how about this for an idea... Place them at a country close (but not too close) to where you want them to travel. They start off right after a battle has been fought and their side lost. They have to escape the doom of most vanquished fighters (summary executrion). They are all mercenaries (even a scholar might work there, as the "magician" of a noble commander or such. A huge barbarian chick would definitely work as a mercenary (or a bodyguard). They dodge patrols, scale up hidden paths, fight some small skirmishes, use skills to survive in the wild without much in the way of provisions... Lots of adventuring experience that would not necessarily kill them, but would make life interesting for them. I am planning to start my new Conan campaign with this plot hook. My players are mercenaries in the service of some robber-baron in the Border Kingdom and Nemedia decide to flex its muscle in the region. They can try to make it to Brythunia, deeper into the Border Kingdom, or north towards Hyperborea. Anyway they might go, plenty of low level adventure will abound and it will give the party a chance to bond.

Just my 2 cents...
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Starting with "You're all sitting in this tavern" is too easy, and I want to strt these players off with the system as soon as possible.

If this was so easy, then why ask us? Besides, the Tavern is an excellent way to start and end an adventurer. Conan did so frequently. Rumors and news can be had at many Taverns. This is the place where the villian comes to gather up some of the ne'er'-do-wells he needs to carry out his nefarious schemes. Did you forget that Conan started his adventure in the Tower of the Elephant at a Tavern? I figured you had meant for the players to eventually end up at the tavern (can't remember the name now), so they could start their vaunted 4th level adventure. Many difficult adventures start at a tavern in so many of the RPGs I have played, so you might want to revise your premise that it's too easy.
 

Sutek

Mongoose
lol...

I don't need to revise my premise. I've been GMing for 20+years, man. The starting point of "okay, you guys are all in a tavern" is overused and far too simplistic a way to begin a campaign*, although it is totally legitimate at the beginning of an adventure. I just dislike relying on that easy a solution unless it fits the party and the directio nthe campaign is going to take. In this case, the party is quite varried ethnically, so I wanted a more dynamic means of getting the party together than starting out drinking or getting ito a bar fight.

They'll end up in town and possibly at that tavern, jsut like Conan did, but for the most part I'm re-writing the intro portion of TotE to fit my campaign. Luckily my players aren't overly familiar with Conan lore, so they won't know how it all pans out, but I wanted to establish an interactive dynamic differnt to just meeting in a bar.

As it was, the Shemite Nomad/Soldier became a scout investigating bandit raids along the Road of Kings. She road north to track those villains and cam accross a caravan in which some thieves had already attacked and usurped the guise of Vendyan trader, having also kidnapped another PC playing a Noble, daughter of the Merchant Lord who had sent the caravan. The other two PCs were the Zingarian and the Nordheimer are sort of a mediocre bandit duo, unascociated with the raiders of the caravans being sought by the Shemite.

The reason those baddies have been so hard to catch is because they kill the caravan regulars, steal thier clothes and wagons to complete the trade deal themselves, palming small valuables in the process, and making a killing.

Currently all the PCs think they are there for entirely differnet reasons, but really they are all there because of the caravan bandits who've disguised themselves. In this particular case, the bandits also took a prisoner (standard practice for them) to hold hostage, but whom they intend to kill anyway (the Vendyan Noble). She was freed from thier clutches, and what the PCs will eventually discover is taht the bandits were working for a mysterious sorcerer who really wanted sacrifices brought to him in his bizzare magical tower to the north...

8)

*This is totally my opinion of course, and do the tavern thing myself from time to time. I jsut hate doing the same thing over and over, and so wanted to steer away from the usual this time.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Sutek, as a fellow that has also GM'd for over 20 years, I appreciate your thoughts on starting out in a bar, and I think your right about it being overused, this still does not make it "too" easy IMO. But for those who haven't the amazing imagination that you have, starting out in a bar is the simplist method, in my book.

I love your scenario starting ideas, and plan to steal the idea and give you no credit whatsoever! :D
 

SnowDog

Mongoose
So have your campaign already begun? If not, then why not just put them all into a filthy prison cell for various reasons. Everyone has their own reasons for being in the starting town and it probably was the cause why they were put to jail (and wait to get a death penalty or something other nasty). Maybe they already got their own agendas filled and are now free to go to other adventures. In any case they know that they are doomed unless they escape and to do so they have to co-operate.

If/when I will have a chance to try to run Conan I will use this approach to get the party together.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
I try not to put players into starting situations where they are already in some kind of trouble I caused for them. I let them decide on their own to get themselves into trouble. But that's my way.
 

Strom

Mongoose
There's a part of me that finds it very cruel to watch a player meticulously pick out his gear and weapons only to have me say "You wake in a prison in only a loincloth." :lol:

I'm with dunderm - I don't mind putting them there if their actions warrant it but I have rarely used the prison start - it kind of puts the player on the defensive right away since he usually has a mental image of his character and that is stomped on with the prison start.
 
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