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SSAI: Deathmatch Academy

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

There is a terrible, possibly unbeatable threat to all the world. Anyone who faces the Boss Threat (feel free to generate a name for it using the chart below), or even any of it’s (prime number between 3 and 17) evil Lieutenants, and fails to defeat them, is absorbed by them and used to create even more powerful spawn. So fighting them is worse than useless if they defeat you.

So far, a few strongholds manage to both keep the Boss Threat and his Obvious Minions away (but doesn’t stop collaborators or other kinds of threats), and have a bigger area where the Obvious Minions can operate, but not the Boss Threat or his Lieutenants.

While anyone can help protect the stronghold without making the Boss Threat stronger, eventually the strongholds will fall. To defeat them, only the most powerful heroes can be trusted. Every effort to find, train, equip, or build such heroes using humane or reasonable methods has failed disastrously. In desperation, all the remaining free lands have turned to:

Deathmatch Academies.

Each Deathmatch Academy gathers groups of a few young potential heroes, and pits them against other such groups, and local threats much too powerful for them. Most die. Those that do not, grow stronger. The theory is that the strongest will, someday, be able to defeat an evil Lieutenant, and then in time the Boss Threat.

Players make 1 1st level PC each. They then fight a group of an equal number of 3rd level characters drawn from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game NPC Codex, Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Villain Codex, or any other NPC repository. Players know this will be fight #1 (in a ruin designated for it), and should make characters that will work together.

When a PC dies, the fight stops at the end of that round. The player who lost a PC gets to replace him, and all PC characters (including the new one) go to 2nd level.

As soon as the PCs defeat an encounter, they all get to pick a bonus Teamwork feat. Each player that picks a feat must meet it’s prerequisites, but ALL the characters gain ALL the teamwork feats they select as bonus feats (even those they DON’T meet the prerequisites for).

Then their next encounter goes up by +2 CRs. About half to a third should be classed NPCs, the rest can be whatever the GM likes the idea of.

Of course the campaign can also have regular school, rivalries outside the deathmatches, political intrigue, crucial patrols in the nearby semi-safe lands, and so on.

Or it can just be a series of tougher and tougher feats, with PCs having to relay on teamwork to survive.

Boss Threat Name Generator
Roll 1d10.
On a 1-4, take one name from column A and one from column C
On a 5-8, take one name from column B, and one from column C
On a 9-10, take one from each column.

Feel free to add “The” anywhere it seems useful in the title.

  1. Lich                 1. Dragon       1.King/Queen
  2. God-               2. Emperor    2. Grave (or “of Graves”)
  3. Archdemon  3. Prelate        3. Slayer
  4. Last                4. Sorcerer      4. Vortex
  5. Witch             5. Storm           5. Lady/Lord
  6. Deathless      6. Elemental   6. Evil (of “or All Evil”)

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SSAI: Eve of Hallows

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

The Sanctiweald is a crucial strip of land, one of the only passes between the Basalt Mountains that doesn’t freeze over early in winter, a crucial farmland for wheat in a rocky land where such is rare, and the route the Saint’s River takes to reach the Great Ocean. Trade, travel, borders, food, war… all are impacted by who controls the Sanctiweald.

As a result, great horrors have been committed here. The Te Essar empire beaheaded it’s Birthright Cavalry unit en masse. The Necrothurges of Kasath brought the Elephant Crypt Army through from their underground fasthold. The Mad Mayor burned wheat rather than let bandits having it, leading to starvation and the Autumn of Roasted Children. The Horned Shadow sold black seeds so the Peacekeeper legion would grow food that ate them in dark nights.

Bad stuff.

As a result, every year, echoes of those terrible moments arise. Locally known as Hallows, this mix of undead, shadows, illusions, wild magic, and demonic influence either re-create or emulate some of the worst moments in history on the longest night of the year. Hallow’s Eve.

There are wards, of course. Rituals and runes that keep hallows at bay. Some include costumes to parody the worst events, so the forces wishing to spread the memories of the evil committed here choose different sites. But throughout the mountain valley, from pass entrance to broad seaside fields, 666 Hallows WILL appear on this one, long night.

And they have treasure.

It’s nearly a festival now. Adventurers and mercenaries arrive in the weeks before Hallows Eve. And when the sun first goes down on that longest night, they move AWAY from the rituals and the runes, and SEEK the Hallows.

It keeps townsfolk safe. It promotes inter-kingdom trade. It can be very lucrative.

But it’s a long, long night, and there’s no holing up and taking a break.

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SSAI: The Siege of Notebookia

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

This works best with pregenerated characters that exactly match miniatures you have on-hand. Warn players this is a one-shot.

Every PC awakes to discover they are standing on a vast smooth plain. There are grooved indentions filled with dark stains. These are letters roughly the height of each PC.

The letters spell out how important the following ideas are to their creator, and how much succor the author gains from them. They then begin to describe a campaign world.

About then, a voice tells the PCs that they should step aside, and allow the words to be destroyed. If they refuse, it warns then that their entire existence is, compared to the voice, fleeting. It will destroy them.

The put an open notebook on the table. Place the PCs’ figures on it. They are literally a young gamer’s ideas, and they are standing on the notebook that has all his favorite ideas. Some force wishes to destroy them. They are rpg miniatures brought to life, they are one inch tall, and some force in the room wishes to destroy this young gamer’s hopes and ideas.

Attack them with anything else on the table. This can be other miniatures, or some pencils, soda cans, and dice. Use appropriate monster stats, but grab apparently-random objects.

Eventually let on the PCs determine that something like an old Jack Chick tract is the source of the force that wishes to destroy the gaming notebook, and it is animating the things the PCs fight. It’s also somewhere in the room, and the PCs characters are free to jump off the gaming table (with appropriate skill checks) and search for it. (Microsized Adventures might be helpful for some of this.) It keeps through challenges at them to stop them.

But when they find it, and see how ridiculous it is, it loses all power. The PCs save the young gamer’s campaign notebook and ideas forever, and they will be grand heroes of legend or demigods within the setting in the notebook. The game ends.

For bonus points, make those PCs major grand heroes of legend or demigods in the next campaign you start.

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SSAI: Finder’s Keepers

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Have the players all make 5th level characters. Tell the players you want to know their character’s favorite possession, worst enemy, and the most heroic death they can imagine.

The characters all wake to total silence and darkness, and a strong sense of annoyance. They eventually each discover they are in a stone sarcophagus. Allow any clever plan to demonstration of strength successfully free them.

They are all in a tomb of heroes. They are all mummies. And they are all suddenly flooded with the sure knowledge that they had their heroic deaths, were buried with honors, and now their worst enemies’ descendants have stolen their favored possessions from their tomb.

And its payback time.

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SSAI: A Fist Full of Quarters

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Tell players to bring as many 1st level characters as they want for a special event. Create a short adventure of CR 5 to 6 encounters, but with no one monster above CR 3.

Tell the players you EXPECT them to die. even to have TPKs. But they are playing their characters as a cross between PCs in a MMORPG and an arcade game. The group has a number of total extra characters equal to twice as many encounters you’ve prepared. When someone dies, they bring in a new character (their own or someone else’s) and expend one extra life.

If you want, you can also ask them about the fictional normal people playing this fictional arcade MMORPG. Then, when they finally beat the adventure, tell them that the fictional players they discussed are now trapped in the bodies of their fictional MMORPG characters, and begin a WarQuest World campaign.

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SSAI: Change!

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Any level PCs, but the players must never have played them before. Specifically tell them not to worry much about character backgrounds, just have a name and description with 2 visual details.
The PCs are all guarding a nobleman. Tell the players not to worry about why.
Assassins burst in… and try to kill the PCs, screaming for the nobleman to run.
The first time each PC is injured, that PC is revealed to be a doppleganger.
The doppleganger PCs literally don’t remember their past, or why they were standing around the nobleman…
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SSAI: Summoned!

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Take 1st level characters.
They don’t have to know each other, or even be in the same kingdom.
Without warning, they are all gated to the Astral Plane, where a lantern archon cleric has summoned them (using the spell Hero Summoning I) to protect it and the rest of its lantern archon adventuring party from astral goblins (or whatever).
They only stay 3 rounds, because the lantern archon cleric is only 3rd level.
If a PC dies, they return to their home plane, uninjured.
The same PCs get summoned, 2-3 times a day, by the same lantern archon cleric. The PCs begin to realize the lantern archon summoning them is trying to save their world, and it’s not doing so well. Of course, the PCs have lots of free time to research its problems, and buy gear to help them deal with the lantern archon’s enemies when they get summoned…
Fun ensues.

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SSAI: Sharks!

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Take 1st-4th level characters.
Put them on a map of a inn, fort, town square, or whatever.
Suddenly flood it to a depth of 4 feet.
While the PCs move to high ground, add sharks.
Explain how this happened later. For now, they must deal with sharks.
Fun ensues.

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