The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Turning Clichés on Their Head – Part 1

For the most part, using clichés is looked down upon in DMing almost as much as it is in writing; we have all heard groans when we’ve gone used one a few too many times. But there can be times that using clichés can be a great bonus. One of those times, which I am going to be exploring in this series, is to elicit a particular expectation from your players, with the intention of breaking that expectation; make the players think you are going the cliché route, only to take a different path entirely.

“So you’re In an Inn\Tavern\Bar…”

Perhaps the best known, most over used and most despised cliché in all of role playing is starting an adventure in an inn, tavern or bar. But it’s not just the location itself that is the cliché, but also the type of adventure start that comes with a story beginning in a social setting. Understood by all when you start an adventure this way is that either someone will approach the party with the adventure hook, or someone will let in slip out. So in order to break the expectation and take the players by surprise keep the tavern, but introduce the adventure in an unexpected way.

The local tavern is about as cliche as you get.

The Uneventful Night

One really easy way to break the expectations is don’t plan to offer the hook in the bar, but still start the session there. Allow the players to role play to their hearts content. Then, when the evening is over, the bartender will tell the characters to go home or to their rooms, and the players will be left wondering if they missed something. I know some players that the angst from this would kill them.

The Tavern is the Adventure

Another manner which a tavern could throw players for a loop is if the adventure is actually set in the tavern. One manner this could occur is if the basement has some sort of nasty connections and after a few minutes of frolicking, the players are drawn down by noises or screams or whatever. Another way this could play out is if the players already know who they need to contact at the bar for the hook, making them the ones searching for the right guy instead of the NPC searching for them. For example:

“So you’re sitting in a bar, the Red Dragon Inn. You came here tonight because you heard that someone called the Red DM has been quietly offering a small fortune to various parties to help him with his ‘goblin problems’. You don’t know if he has had any takers yet, but you have heard that he often frequents this establishment….”

The Hijacked Adventure

If you really wanted to start your adventure with a bang, you could begin with the typical “in a bar” beginning, complete with an NPC needing help. Then just as he is telling his problem to the players the tavern explodes, hooking players into the real adventure. (the NPC needing help was a red herring)

Have any other ideas on how to use the “So you’re In an Inn\Tavern\Bar…” in an original way? Let me know.

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.

Advertisements

November 22, 2010 - Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs | ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] For the most part, using clichés is looked down upon in DMing almost as much as it is in writing; we have all heard groans when we’ve gone used one a few too many times. But there can be times that using clichés can be a great bonus. One of those times, which I am going to be exploring in this series, is to elicit a particular expectation from your players, with the intention of breaking that expectation; make the players think you are going the cliché route, only to take a different path entirely. (In case you missed part 1) […]

    Pingback by Turning Clichés on Their Head – Part 2 « The Red Box Blog | November 26, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] Turning Clichés on Their Head – Part 1 from The Red Box Blog ” RPGs (theredboxblog.com) […]

    Pingback by Evil Machinations » Blog Archive » Why and How: Using Adventure Seeds/Hooks/Starts/Ideas, pt. 7 | December 31, 2010 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s