Beaten to the punchline

Tonight I wanted to follow on with the theme from last night where I had a random set of folk heroes that could work in any adventure. Tonight I want to throw out there a random twist that can work in nearly any adventure – the party is beaten to the punchline. Now the inspiration for this twist came about from me exploring what my first Soulbound adventure would be for the new year. But it definitely isn’t anything new or anything super special its just something that could be useful to drive a sudden change in the plot.

Beaten to the punchline


The Basics

To implement this twist is very simple. You have something bad which the party oppose and before they can stop it, it is stopped by someone or something else. This works for any of the four basic adventure types that I explored over a year ago; Learn, Stop, Escort or Fetch.

Let’s explore that a bit.

D&D 5e – Fetch

“Are you sure this is the place?” Arien asked the halfling not for the first time.

“Yes yes, it’s the right place alright. Just hurry up and keep watch. The Wand of McGuffin is not to be guarded lightly…” Darrel responded as he went to pick the lock in the shadow of his ranger companion. “oh that’s odd.” he mumbled as the door swung inwards with the lightest of pressure on the door. The scratch marks and strange powder on the doorframe told the halfling master rogue all that he needed to know. “Quickly. Walk away. We were not the first people to search for the wand and its gone.” Darrel was already blending into a nearby troop of performers by time he finished his command.

“what do you…” Arien began before she managed to peer through the opened door… “good gods.” she managed to squeak as the frozen form of a dozen guards stood around a magical device that thrummed with power in the centre of the room. A large chest that would have been hidden under floorboards lay opened and empty near the guards. “D. What do we do now?” she asked as her long strides make short work to catch her companion.

“That’s easy Ari. We have to out burgle another master burglar” Darrel replied with a grin as his cloak, moustache and pants shimmered as a powerful illusion changed his appearance.

Soulbound – Stop

The rivet gun’s clattered echoed off the stonework of the tower as the magazine was emptied into the locking mechanism. “Primitive locks are nothing against Kharadron ingenuity” Hank Geldenhammer said through his aether helmet.

“Well if these mages didn’t foresee our arrival and prepare for combat they are well aware now. Good job duardin.” Eros Witchblade sighed as she took her hand of her hips and strode forward unsheathing a pair of wicked looking blades.

“Now Eros, there may be no need for that. These are men of learning. Surely we can reason with them. The Realm stone of Chaos is cursed and evil. These wise men and women would surely know this and will see that their attempts to harness this stone to retake Barak Zundabarg is folly and dangerous” Tinxao the Lumineth Scinari Cathallar said as she walked calmly through the doors to the hall beyond. The tower itself was made of dark stone that seemed to absorb all light from around it, all light except for the glow from the Warpriests warhammer.

“This place is cursed. I can see the tolling of a great bell. Lord Sigmar’s light does not pierce this blackened stone. We should be all aware of ratmen.” Torval Brighthammer said as he gripped his warhammer tighter and strode in behind the Cathallar.

“Ratmen!? Do you even hear yourself talk Torval? I thought you too old and wise to believe in the tales that are made up to scare children” Eros laughed at the expense of the warpriest. Torval just gritted his teeth and began the trek up stairs.

“Remember we are here to relieve these mages of the realm stones of chaos so they can be destroyed. Hank I know you have a fondness for powerful stones and metals but this is…” Tinxao began looking distrustfully towards the Duardin who she was soulbound to. Hank turned abruptly, the lenses flashing.

“Shh!. I have detected something. Now is not the time for your nonsense Aelf.” Tinxao remained as devoid from emotion as ever. The clatter of steel on stone quickly broke the party into a rush for the last few stairs. Bursting through a door they arrived at the main deck of the observatory where a gruesome sight greeted them. The mages lay dying or dead. Wicked looking throwing stars and knives riddled their bodies and large glass canisters lay smashed on the stones beneath them. Evidence of magic being flung around the room was everywhere. Scotch marks from lightning and fire lay across the meagre furniture and as they looked around the room a flash of lightning from outside drew their gaze to the open window. A large man-sized rat bundled in dark scraps of fabric squatted on the window sill. The lightning illuminated its silhouette but the candles and lanterns from the room where the party stood highlighted the sharp chiselled teeth and bandoleer of throwing blades. After a heartbeat it flung itself over the side of the window and into the darkness beyond.

“Still don’t believe in Ratmen Eros?” Torval asked as he ran towards the window summoning a beam of light to blast out the window. A second later a screech followed as conjured bolt of lightning struck a creature outside who fell from its perch. “They have the stones” Torval roared before he hurled himself towards the door to give chase down the stairs. But as he looked down the winding staircase he was greeted by dozens of pairs of glinting eyes, chittering teeth and rusted blades.

Tonight we had a look at an easy and fun twist to any adventure. The key with this one is to make it so that hope is not lost – to give a hint (blatant or obscure) to the party so they have a way forward. Once they have this then there its full steam ahead to either uncover or confront the rival group. Are they on the same side or something worse than what they were trying to stop or take? Don’t forget to come back the rest of the week where I have more content in store and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe