I recently just saw a fellow blogger write about getting inspiration for adventures from a very odd place. So I just had to try it myself. Well what is this odd place you say. The suggestion was to draw 4 cards at random from MTG (Magic the Gathering) and from there build your plot. I thought how interestingly novel but it can’t really work can it ? So I gave it a go. And here is the result of my attempt. Now I imagine very often this will not result in anything you can work with but just pull another set and plug away. After all its inspiration you are looking for not the story itself. Give it a bit to sink in as well. I would think if in two or three minutes you can not come up with something then try again.
Now as I pulled my 4 cards the first card I drew was a Land. And then the Irony of that set me to thinking that from now on if I do this I will pull a Land and 4 cards at random. Giving me a the backdrop of the location. So here we go !
I used the Random card generator found HERE.
(You can find that post that started me down this rabbit hole Here.)
The Avian Shrine
In the Mountains to the north a there is a secluded mining community. Each day the miners greet the sun knowing it could be the last time they see the sky above as they venture deep into the mine to dig out its riches. These are a simple people but deeply religious. And their religion is directed to the heavens above and all things that live there. So much so that they pulled crystals from the earth and fashioned a beautiful eagle with wings of crystal and placed it at the top of their church at the highest point of the city. They call this church the Avian Shrine.
Recently the regularly blessed town has fallen on hard times. The shrine has been vandalized and the great crystal eagle has had one of its crystal wings broken and taken. The city folk believe their hard times are due to the anger of their gods at the theft. There have been several deaths in the mine over the years but now people are dying in town as well. The Mayor and his council members are desperate for the Shrine to be repaired and the guilty brought to justice. The party is on the clock and with each day more miners go without the blessing of their gods fearful that they will not return from the depths. Time is of the essence and the Mayor and his lackeys will be breathing down the party’s neck for results every step of the way.
The Party only has a few clues to get them started. A file from a set of Thieves tools was left at the site as well as a few strands of red hair were caught in the claws of the Statue. And the body of one of the thieves that fell to their death from the church tower to the cobbled stones below. The Thieves Guild Is insistent that they had no involvement in the attempted theft of the priceless relic.
But it does know of a young rouge with red hair. Who runs with a crew of two others that might be behind the theft. Shortly after learning this, one of rouges behind the theft is found dead. But not before being seen by several people babbling incoherently about being chased by monsters trying to kill him and eat him. His body is found decapitated in a dark ally. Clutching in his hand a key and a coin. The coin is a free drink coin from one of the taverns on the lower side of the city. The key unlocks the back room of the tap house of the same tavern. This is where the rest of the crew hideout between jobs.
The party arrives just in time to encounter a robed shadowy figure slipping away. (The figure slips around the corner and activates invisibility and levitate on its next action)The figure was interrupted and was not able to finish his work. The body of the Thief left behind has had his brain removed. Leaving more questions than answers. If the players search the body they find in the corner of the room under the bed is a holy symbol worn by the priests of the Shrine. But there is a sign carved in the wall to the god of thieves in the room. Also in a loose floorboard they find the missing wing that was stolen.
As the party now begins to shift their eyes back to the church the High priest invites the players to sit with him and discuss the possible involvement of one of his members of the cloth. Even if the party did not disclose this information to anyone. He seems to already know why the party is here. He informs them that he has been conducting his own investigation and wold like to speak with them in private. If the party enters the meeting with suspicion he will immediately attack at the first hint of accusation of his involvement. If they sit and speak with him he will attack after they all have been seated. He will open with his Mind Blast and follow-up with confusion. From there he will Mind Blast every round it is refreshes. If pushed and death looks like a reality for him. The Mind Flayer will cast Wall of Force and leave out the closest window. Then cast invisibility and return to the mines where he came from.
Over the next few days after everything is done if the party has survived and the Mind Flayer arcanist has been slain or chased away. The mayor rewards the party with a purse of gold and the priests give gem of true seeing carved to look like the eye of an eagle as a reward for saving their flock and restoring their church to order.
In time it is pieced together that for some time now the miners were being preyed on by an Illithid . The Mind Flayer would kill miners and then hide the bodies making it appear to have been a mining accident with his ability to use Hallucinatory terrain. Having grown bold he ventured into the city and found the place the poor and homeless congregated at the church. Using Disguise self he took up the roll of the high priest. From the comfort of the church he would regularly feast on the homeless. Until one day he was seen as he was in his true form. Two thieves managed to get away. Thus everything that came to pass was because of the greed of man.
So do you like it ? Will you try it ? Pass it on !
This could just as easily be done for other settings like Numenera as well. Here is a brief example with the same cards.
At the base of a mountain. There is a lost temple at the bottom of a lake.
The entrance to the temple is sealed behind the wings of a great crystal eagle. To gain entry one must find a way to make the great bird close its wings.
Learning of the possible wealth that might be within a group of rouges steal or copy the location of the temple in hopes to reach the location before the party. The race is on.
The Temple is protected by a Mindslicer a great horned beast with Bladed bony arms.
Level 5 (15)
Damage: 6 from its huge arm blades and 5 from gore attacks
If the explorers are able to make it into the depths of the temple they find a disk that glows and has numbers and symbols spiraling along its surface. Once a day the user may tap into the data sphere.
Artifact level 2
Depletion: 1 in 6