My group was short one player for our D&D game this weekend, and our GM, Sam, pulled out a one-shot with an awesome twist: The three of us played wildly different — and very powerful — alternate PCs.
Our regular characters are a druid, a dread necromancer and a cleric/psion; our alt-PCs were a roper fighter, a medusa/vampire thief and a beholder. So not only was the one-shot itself a nice change of pace (as one-shots in ongoing campaigns always are), getting to cut loose with crazy characters and no consequences was a lot of fun.
The adventure was set in the fairly distant past on another plane, and while it was challenging there was little chance of the beholder — the character who had to survive to be sharing the flashback with our real PCs — biting the dust.
If you ever get a chance to work something like this in your game, take it. Sam’s approach made for a great session.
That sounds like fun. Here’s a semi-one-shot idea. If you have a buddy that’s not part of your party around when it’s game time, you can have him play a character for one game.
On the plus side, you get that change of pace and you don’t have to skip a week of gaming if, let’s say, you have a friend from out of town hanging out with you.
On the minus side there’s always the risk of the extra player acting crazy or stealing the spotlight because it’s a one-shot only for him.
I did that once, but it was a “crossover” from another game, where the party was thrown through time and space to the past of the other ongoing D&D game. They had to, basically, start the big war from the D&D game’s past to move on.
That’s a great idea.
I’ve sort of done that with time travel adventures. They’re usually “days of future past” type adventures where the PCs get to check out what happens if the bad guys win, and I get to do some wacky impromptu setting design. I’m sending my PCs back and forth in time to find out what kind of magic they can use to literally plug a hole in the prime material plane.
That’s such a great idea.
What I have done is go back or forward in time (a few weeks usually) and play sidequests with the usual characters.
These adventure are usually to advance key points in the player-specific plot-lines and are usually light on loot. If the adventure was a step back in time and a player get his hands on some significant loot, well it just appears in his hands when we return to the usual quest…. That’s what a Ret Con is all about! 🙂
Just this past weekend we did a flashback game. The character in question had a “mysterious past” where a bit of his memory was fuzzy. The person responsible for that fuzziness showed up and unlocked the block.
“Mr. Elensar, you have something of mine that I would like back now. You may recall my image, but not my details. This may help.” *click*
The players then proceeded to play out the forgotten memory as characters from a thieves guild that were trying to determine why the market for secrets was drying up. Along for the ride was the PC with the fuzzy memory, as a potential recruit. In the end, the PC was the only one that managed to escape.
The session ended with, “As Daeron stands from the debilitating pain, Moro continues. ‘As I was saying, you have something of mine, Daeron Elensar, and I would like it back now.'”
I dropped this on the players without warning, so I was concerned that they might have been upset about losing control of their normal characters, but they said they had a lot of fun playing a bunch of ne’er-do-wells instead of their normally heroic characters. I think flashbacks can work really, really well when the characters are very different from normal.
I did this for my players in Monte Cook’s awesome Planescape adventure Dead Gods. Spoilers may lurk ahead, so beware.
The PCs find a magic item that lets them live out someone else’s experiences. The trick is, the experiences recorded in the item are those of its former owners, who delved into a mysterious locale the PCs are trying to get to.
So, when they activate it, I have the players all pull out the character sheets for the PCs I had them roll up (without telling them why they were doing it). The flashback PCs go through a little mini-dungeon and die in an appropriately dramatic way.
It makes it more dramatic when the PCs later explore the same area if they know all the history and the big-deal events that have happened there, and the DM doesn’t have to bore them with a “MANY, MANY YEARS AGO…” monologue. Plus, when they eventually meet the same immortal NPCs that the flashbackers did, it makes for greater emotional impact.
My tip: Give the players any XP that they earned with the flashback PCs. They did earn it. They get the goodies that come as a result of playing the game.
Michael Beck- Fancy seeing you here on this DMing wiki 🙂
Dave T. Game, I must use this chance Internet encounter to inform you, once again, that it was I who won The Game. Did you ever find the tube?
To contribute to the topic: I did award the normal characters XP for the what the flashback characters did. As to treasure, the present time characters will be awarded appropriate treasure when they beat the villain responsible for the flashback.
Mike- yes, it was a year after I moved that I uncovered it, and I keep forgetting to pass it on whenever I make a trip to Ohio. I lose.
Martin- sorry for the threadjack, but at least you can say that TT brings old gaming buddies together!
I once ran a Victoriana campaign and got a copy of the “Dragon in the Smoke” adventure. Since it didn’t quite jibe with my current campaign and I was in a bit of a dry spell, I tried something different. I had the PCs invited to their employer’s home for a dinner party. In the parlor afterwards, the NPC looked up at a painting of a woman. He started to reminisce as I handed out pregens.
The players had a blast, especially since I embellished it with some “prequel” material. One of the PCs had his pocket picked by a child that turned out to be one of his previous characters.
I was also first introduced to this idea in Monte Cook’s Dead Gods. I’ve used it in similar formats now and again, but I’ve also found another use for this device as an improv aid.
About a year ago in a 3.5 campaign, my high level PCs ran off into a dungeon (that I hadn’t prepped) to fight what they perceived to be a great threat (when, in fact, it wasn’t and they were putting off a mission that was much more important to their characters). I hit them with a few hard combats until they decided to hole up and rest and then told them to make 2nd level PCs: no multiclassing, PHB only, keep it super simple. I then used those PCs as part of a dream sequence to give them insight into what was going on in another portion of the campaign world. I ran one scene, showing them events that were relevant to their main quest and then I had them pass their sheets to the right and ran another scene.
I think I did it about three times, just showing them what was going on around the world and impressing upon them the importance of their quest. Much more fun than just having a god come to the PCs in a dream and say, “Hey! Stick to the pre-generated path!” The PCs didn’t know that I was ad-libbing, and I didn’t have to run high level D&D 3.5 off the cuff.
reasure and XP are good points for D&D. Our party is at par for treasure, and Sam does XP by fiat — he just tells us when we level. That gives us the freedom to do stuff like this flashback without worrying about the mechanical end of things, which is definitely nice.