Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Monster Hunters Campaign idea & setup.

This is kind of inspired by the graphic novel "The Marquis".

The idea is to run a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign about monster hunting in a large and decadent city.

Again this is just a bunch of ideas that I wrote down in my note book.
I never really intended to play such a campaign (but it could be interesting to try).
Maybe some parts can be salvaged for other uses.



SETUP

A decadent but "normal" city full of sins and vices.
The city is old, decadent, large and sprawling. Life is harsh, people are sick and have many vices.
But the everyday life is mundane, the supernatural is not present, well except for the monsters.
There is no half human characters, only humans and monsters.

Monsters can hide in the city.
The thing is that only those who have been hurt or abused by a monster can see the monsters.
But when you kill a monster the illusion vanish and everyone can see them for what they are.
So people know that there are monsters out there but they don't dare to speak about it.
Some think that seeing monsters is a sinful delusion that can be cured.
Some other work for the monsters.

Monster Hunters are kind of a know "profession".
Monster hunters are people who have been hurt by a monster and who are now earning a living by hunting them.
The city guard tolerate the monster hunters but they don't trust them. (So you don't always need to hide from the law, but it wise to avoid them).
Some people like their money and need their services. A few respect them and give them donations.
But like for adventurers, everyone kind of fear them for the troubles that come with them.

People invite monsters in.
Desperate people summon monsters by wishing for them. This is why people don't like to openly admit that monsters exist because people know from where they come and are ashamed of it.
Not too secret and kind of commonly know rituals can help to summon the monsters and to obtain some services. But it is the wishing that really do the work.
Sometime adventurers bring monsters hidden in the treasures they bring back in the city.
Sometime monsters simply come from below the city, but those have a hard time hiding themselves.  

Monsters have lairs.
Every monster have a lair that no one can perceive, except those that can see them.
The monster need their lair to maintain their existence.
To create and maintain their lair, the monsters need a victim or a item linked to them.
The goal is not to hunt the monsters in the streets, but to find and to destroy their lairs.
To destroy a monster lair you need to rescue their victim or to steal or break their linked object.

Monsters have family and know each others.
The monsters are networked together and know each other by fame and reputation.
Cleaver monster hunters can uncover their network to find bigger targets to hunt.
Often a monster will snitch on it bigger and nastier relatives in exchange of it life or to keep it lair.


GAME PLAY

Overall game play.
The player characters form a group of monster hunters. The referee present them a weird crime of the week. The characters investigate and try to follow the trail of the monsters. Their goal is to find their lair to rescue their victim(s) or to steal their linked object(s). Monsters will venture out of their lair to try to acquire new victims or objects and to ambushes the hunters. The players can track the monsters by following the referee's clues or by consulting their contacts network. Sometime the characters will get paid or rewarded by victims, they can also find some treasures in the monsters lairs. The player invest this money to upgrade their contact network (magic users do their usual money spend stuff).

Experience Points.
Normal low experience points rewards are awarded for fighting the monsters in the streets.
A small part of the experience points that you would normally award for treasures is divided between the victims to rescue and/or the linked objects to steal. The big final XP reward is awarded for destroying the monster lair. If the victims die (or the linked objects are broken) the lair is destroyed but you don't earn the extra XP for the rescue/stealing rewards).

So avoiding the monsters is still a viable option.

You can maybe also award some XP for finding clues without using the contact network and for finding the monster lair.

The Monsters
You can create your own monsters but you can also use monsters from monsters manuals if you remix them and link them with victims or objects.

All the monsters have those common traits:
  • People see them as normal humans, animals or objects.
  • Only people who have been wounded or been affected by their powers can see them as monsters.
  • When you kill a monster the illusion vanish. 
  • When out of their lair, monsters can be turned like undeads.
  • Monsters with no lair slowly die and loose hit points. 
  • Monsters without lairs can get refuge in other monster lairs or deep down below the city. 
Monsters are linked to their victims or to objects:
  • Monsters wished by people are usually linked with the object of desire of their summoner (often a person). But often their summoner is also their victim.  
  • Monsters brought in by adventurers are usually linked to a cursed treasure or to victims related to their ancient history. 
  • Monsters from below the city are usually linked to victims reflecting their own desires or to a ancient object from below the city.
  • Linked items can be treasures or even coins if it fit the origin of the monster.
  • Monsters often have needs and desires tied to their linked victims or items.
The Trail of Clues
The referee prepare a trail of 3 clues that lead to the monster lair.
Something like: Strange Crime > Clue 1 > Clue 2 > Clue 3 > Lair.
The PCs should be able to find a clue just by interacting with the environment.
A clue should clearly point toward the location of the next clue. 
The PCs can also consult their Contacts Network to find clues.

Note that the goal of the clues is to have steps to let the monsters react to the actions of the PCs.
So don't obfuscate them, it ok to nearly give them to the PCs. What is important is to make monsters reactions test when the PCs find a clue.

EDIT: I tried to write a clue trail example, but it not that easy to come with. So now I am thinking that maybe it would be better to to a list of 3 new linked victims or items that the monsters are going to acquire. Like each new victim or item point toward the next one and the last one point toward the lair.

Contact Network
Each hunter have a contacts network of relations, old hunters, past victims, etc.
Each character begin with a contacts skill of 1 on a d6, just like the other skills in LoTFP.
Specialists can spend points in their contacts skill. (And a streetwise can replace bushcraft, but streetwise only work for non-monster related street stuff).
Any PC can raise their contact skills by investing money in it between hunts.
The cost in standard coins to raise your contact skill is based on your class leveling XP chart.
For example if you play a fighter to raise your skill to 2, you need to spend 2000 standard coins.
You can only raise your skill once by level. (As a option you can maybe also raise other skills this way)

You can use your contact network to:
  • Find the next clue in the trail.
  • Get info or special access to a know clue location. 
  • Get info or leverage on people linked to a know clue. 
  • Get rumors on the monster weakness and abilities (you receive 3 rumors, only 1 is true). 
  • Get services, money or equipment to help you hunt the monsters. 
  • Get henchmen for a hunt. 
Each character can use his or her contact network two time during the day.
  • The first use take you the beginning of the night.
  • The second use take you late at night when the street are more dangerous. 
When someone choose to consult their contact network other characters can also test their network. This just count as one use for the group.

If the group is split between characters consulting their network and characters doing other things. Resolve the other stuff first. The consulting characters can always forfeit their network consultation to join the rest of the group.

On a fail test you don't get what you wanted, but the next group member to test his or her network skill receive a +1 bonus to his or her skill to try to accomplish the same thing. This is cumulative until someone get a successful test.

Monsters Reactions
Each time the group find a clue or get a fail test during a consultation of their contact network, the referee check if the monster react to the PCs actions. These monsters reactions or reprisals replace ordinary monster encounters.

The chance of monster reaction start at 1 on a d6. But this augment by 1 for each attempt until the referee roll a success. After a success the chances of the monster reacting reset to 1 + the number of successful reaction test made during this hunt.
(So it reset to 2 the first time, then to 3, etc... as the monster get more and more active.)

On a successful monster reaction test, consult the monsters reactions table:

d12 the monsters...
  1. investigate on the PCs and learn about a location or a relation linked to one of the PC. 
  2. trail the PCs but try to remind hidden and will run away if spotted. The next time you get this result the monsters will try to ambush the PCs at a know location or if they are spotted during the trail.  
  3. Monsters warn the PCs or make indirect intimidation (like acts of vandalism or sending a victim's body parts). The next time you get this result the monsters will physically harm the PCs as a warning. If they learned about a location linked to them, they will burn it down. If they learned about a relation they will inflict nasty physical harm. 
  4. use humans agents to try to hinder the PCs, the group get -1 to their contact network skill until they find the next clue in the trail. The next time you get this result they get -2.   
  5. augment the security at the next clue location. The group get -1 in their skill for each first skill tests they make at the location of the next clue (locks are better, people are watchful, etc). The next time you get this result the monsters set up traps at the next clue location.  
  6. bad mouth the group. The PCs get a penalty of 2 for their next reaction test (a NPC reaction test, not a Monster reactions test) (If you reroll this result the penalties cumulative until a reaction test is made). 
  7. pull strings and send the city guard to investigate on the PCs. The guards will be present at the next location. They won't arrest the PCs for no reason, but they will be a pain in the ass. The next time you get this result the guard will use false evidences to arrest the PCs. 
  8. spend some money and send human thugs against the PCs. The next time your get this result, they send more thugs or better murderers, maybe even a group of adventurers. 
  9. ask for help and receive d6 worth of new monsters HD. Each time you get this result they get 1 extra HD of help. 
  10. will be present to protect the next clue location. Their goal is to indirectly hinder the PCs or to steal or destroy the clue (but only while using stealth or special ability). The next time you get this result the monster will directly involve themselves to try to steal or to destroy the clue. 
  11. try to ambush the PCs with ranged weapons or abilities but will try to avoid hand to hand combat. The next time you get this result they will be willing to get into hand to hand combat.  
  12. try to make a new victim or to get a new item. Their first attempt will fail and will leave a new clue. Their second attempt will be successful unless the PCs are present to protect the target. In this case, play the confrontation. 
Monster activities take place in the streets or at the next clue location. 
If the monsters investigated or trailed the PCs, their next activities can also target locations or relations linked to the characters.

Once the lair is found, reactions that refer to the clues locations now refer to the monsters lair.

Once the PC steal a linked victim or item from the monster lair, depending of the rolled reaction, the monsters will try to steal back their linked victims or items instead of protecting clues locations.

Monster Lairs
Each monster or group of monsters have a lair. A monsters lair is a mini dungeon that only the monster and the hunters can perceive. The first room of the lair coexist with a mundane location, but the subsequent rooms only exist in the monster lair and don't exist for those who can't perceive the monsters.

A monsters lair have a number rooms equal to the monsters highest HD + the number of monsters inhabiting the lair (not including allies) +1d6. So six 2HD monsters have a lair of 2+6+d6 rooms.

It up to the referee to create the dungeon and to stack it. But note that many of those room can be empty. 

Once the group enter the monsters lair, as for any dungeon, the referee start checking for monsters encounters. Except for some key residents, I guess that you can consider the lair to be empty until a encounter is rolled. You can say that on a successful encounter roll, the monsters are coming back.

Monster Interrogation
Monsters often beg for mercy when they fail at a moral test. Usually they beg for their life or for the hunters to leave their lair alone. They can offer to release a linked victim or item if they have a extra one, but more often they prefer to snitch on their relatives.

When a monsters snitch on other monsters roll on the monster snitch table to see who they snitch.

The monster snitch on it:

d12
  1. bigger (+1HD)
  2. richer (+d6 rooms in the monster lair)
  3. stronger (step up the monster damage die) 
  4. smarter (clues are harder to find) (monster know more about the PCs)
  5. darker (a lot harder to turn at night) 
  6. prosperous (the lair contain 1 more monster or d6 more lesser monsters)
  7. more vicious (+1 chance of reacting, +1 to ambush)
  8. more powerful (-2 to save VS the monster special abilities, harder to turn) 
  9. more careful (+1 clue to get to it lair) (harder to ambush) (more traps in lair) 
  10. more lustful, greedy or hungry (have more linked victims or items)  
  11. well respected (well infiltrated in the human society) (don't want to blow it cover)
  12. distant and feared (live in a other town or is not yet summoned, but is coming soon) (roll a d10 two time on this table to give it two traits)
d12
  1. grand father or mother
  2. father or mother 
  3. brother or sister
  4. cousin 
  5. uncle or aunt
  6. nephew or niece 
  7. spouse
  8. spawn 
  9. neighbor (don't really know this monster, it mostly tell wild rumors) 
  10. friend
  11. rival (linked to the same kind of victims or items) 
  12. enemy (will be willing to give up a extra clue) 

Note that monsters can be of the same family and be of different "species".

A monster that snitch will reveal the first clue to that lead the lair of the monster that it snitched on. Monsters will never directly a other monster lair.

Leaving the monsters alone 
When the group fail to destroy a monster lair or decide to leave a monster lair alone the referee roll on the monster activity table to see what the monsters are doing between two hunts.

When left alone the monsters:

d12
  1. grow and get bigger (+1HD)
  2. profit and get richer (+d6 rooms in the monster lair)
  3. kill a NPC hunter and get stronger (step up the monster damage die) 
  4. learn and get smarter (learn more about the PCs) (make new monster allies) 
  5. perform dark rituals and become darker and a lot harder to turn at night) 
  6. breed and prosper (the lair contain 1 more monster or d6 more lesser monsters)
  7. cause pain and suffering and become more vicious (+1 chance of reacting, +1 to ambush)
  8. feed from their victims or items and get more powerful (learn a new special ability) 
  9. move their lair and become more careful (lair harder to find, need +1 clue) (more prepared, harder to ambush)
  10. find more victims or items and get more lustful (or greedy or hungry). 
  11. infiltrate society (have a new human role and appearance) (earn new human agents)
  12. leave the city (leave bad thing behind) (will return later with more traits) or are taken over or chased by a monster with more traits. 

4 comments:

  1. This whole thing could work really well as just a single city in a campaign world. I've been looking for shticks for a bunch of unvisited cities on my map and this looks like it'll fill one out nicely. Good Stuff.

    If you wanted to run this as a full campaign, by the way, I would suggest you have a look-see at Esoterrorists/Gumshoe System. It has an investigation system that's been designed to be lifted out and inserted into things without any trouble. Might save you some effort and form out this idea into something you could run.

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  2. Yes the 3 clues would be core clues that you can find with a simple search. But like I said the clues are only there to let the monster react.

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  3. I like this idea quite a bit and with a little tweak here and there it will make a great campaign.

    Kudos

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  4. Yes I guess that there will be a lot of adjustments & tweaks to do after a first play. :)

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