As we go through the Senate, many of us have the desire to lead events. While classes tend to be easy, lecture, a bit of show and tale, and everyone comes away from it a bit more educated on the subject, doing an adventure or military event tends to shift things to a new direction. So the adventure needs a bit of structure, thresholds, and chances of success or failure. It needs all the elements of telling a good story, even if you are having 15 people tell the story.
The Story: This is likely the most important element of the event. With a good story, even failure and setbacks, the people can still have fun. A story should generally be a backbone, with a firm beginning and an open ending. While you do want a satisfying ending for the players, or at least one that denotes an ending, forcing them along to one set ending in one specific way may not get them there, or feel like you are guiding their hand too much. Remember that while we are the storyteller, they are not our pawns to tell the story through. The story is for the players, not the storyteller. Letting them decide how best to use their skills and abilities to achieve the goal you’ve set them out to do can make for some interesting endings.
That being said, don’t be afraid to say no. This is a guild where magic is common, rather than rare. Where people can bend space and time, reverse time, create something from mana, and do just about anything creatively. But, that doesn’t always make for the best story. Sometimes we can let players shine and do creative wonderful things, but we can also put in barriers to prevent a short cut to the ending.
Some examples may be, if you don’t want flying, perhaps strong winds, or even magical winds prevent flight. Perhaps a spell in the area keeps them leaden, grounded, unable to jump more than a foot. Or if there’s darkness, perhaps it’s magical darkness. Not every spell can be dispelled, and ones that can be dispelled might need to meet a threshold of a roll. Even a strong party of adventurers can come across a door that is too difficult to break down, or barred from the other side.
To do a full example of an adventure, we could do a simple magical fetch quest. The Senate must gain an item that has been located, but it remains in a dangerous crypt. The door to the crypt has been magically sealed for a thousand years, and the key has not been located. Now, it becomes the DM’s choice if the magical seal can be broken, if the door can be kicked down, lock picked, transmuted into something else, or if there’s a riddle or spoken word that opens it. The players however, are free to still try all of these things. Maybe leave a few options open however, instead of just picking one single way. There’s a ton of ways to open a door!
They go into the dungeon, fighting monsters, triggering traps, and they get to the end. The ending of the dungeon should be clear. Get the item and go home. And sometimes it is that simple. But a story can go in lots of ways! Perhaps the item is locked behind a barrier that requires something of the Senators. Perhaps they need to do a mass channeling spell to open it. Or perhaps if they fail to open it in a correct way, the item is lost, and the dungeon/adventure has failed. While the players in your campaign desire to win and have positive outcomes, that is not always the end result of a successful story. This also gives back to the element of control, allowing the adventure to be shaped. And of course, we can deviate as players give us creative new options, or roll really well.
Rolling: In the Senate we generally use a d20 system. We do /roll 1-20, and the DM picks a threshold. They can pick a new one each roll, or have a set standard. Depending on the difficulty, the threshold might be higher or lower. And generally, we use 20 as a crit. This of course, is up to the DM. Now, people complain about their rolls from time to time. Quoting being an archmage, or a master of this and that, but we always must gently remind them that everyone in the world has bad days. Even Dadgar says oops. Failure does not always have to be the player’s mistake either. They can cast the best spell in the world, but perhaps the monster dodged, blocked, parried, so on. People miss sometimes, or a lot of the time, depending on the day.
Modifiers: Sometimes as things progress, or if things aren’t happening in a timely manner, or lastly, if someone focuses on buffing their fellow party members, we give modifiers to their rolls. Sometimes it helps them beat a threshold, sometimes it just lets them do some extra damage when they wouldn’t have. Healing in Events: The Senate has a few healers, doctors, or part time healers. And sometimes these Senators will use their rolls to heal a person instead. But to prevent this from spiraling into invincibility for the Senators, (negating the chance of failure) limiting the heals or giving healers a higher threshold to meet is an option. Partial damage, or the healing not fully healing the injury in an instant is also an option. We try to keep healing for the trip back home, rather than negating that injuries ever happened to begin with. Challenge is all part of the story, injuries happen, scars happen. Saving rolls: Sometimes during defending, a Senator critically defends, so they use their roll to save someone else who failed. This is fine. People like to save one another from a terrible blow sometimes.
Dealing with a large party of adventurers: This is difficult. Sometimes your events will require whispering everyone something small, and when you have 8+ people, that task becomes a race against the clock so that people aren’t standing around forever. Having a bunch of pre-typed things helps tremendously. If an event is larger than you expect and feel comfortable hosting, talk to an officer! We can help. We are here for you. We can Co-DM, or do whatever it is you need done, and we are happy to do so. With more people, upping the challenge rating of your monsters is a requirement. You can either add more monsters, or give boss mobs bigger attacks, ones that deal with more than one person, or AoEs.
Keeping it interesting: This is often a challenge, because as the DM, we feel like we are entertaining people while guiding them along on a story. Throwing in a bit of random or surprise can keep the attention going, or putting in a bit of a mystery or a riddle to progress. But don’t be surprised if the Senators blast through that! Our guild members are clever people, always looking for the reason behind something, or dealing with twisting reality into another. Event Timing: While there’s no set in stone time that events can last, most of our events are at eight server. That’s as late as nine on the East coast, and as early as six on the West coast. Having events that stretch into the night makes it difficult for those on the East Coast, even if those on the West Coast might not have to sleep anytime soon. Therefore, we generally keep events from 1-2 hours. If it goes later than that, do expect some heavy drop off around 10pm, as people need sleep!