Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Magnificent Weathermen: A Waterdeep Adventure

When I prepared a series of prospective adventures for my home D&D game, I had not expected what my players would make of them. Some of them seemed very much like typical D&D fare but a few of the prospective "episodes" were a bit off the standard tracks. One in particular that I want to focus on was the adventure that I originally titled "The Lost Weatherman" that would eventually be known as "The Magnificent Weathermen."

Background of the Weathermen

One of the players in my home game originally came to the table with his hometown weatherman (Vince Condella) as a weather predicting bard. This character eventually inspired a nemesis, the mad gnome Chet Doppler who threatened Waterdeep with elementally-infused weather. Chet was captured and placed in the Waterdeep Adventurer's Guild (WAG) "dungeon," left as a sort of reoccurring joke. Eventually, that player decided he was done playing weatherman, so Vince accidentally left on a transport ship bound for Luskan.

Chet Doppler!
During all of this, we established that there was a Meteorologist's Guild in Waterdeep. We never spent too much time explaining how that worked, but it clearly involved Arcanists who predicted the weather and promulgated that information throughout the city. Vince and Chet had been weathermen who, for somewhat unspecified crimes of "weather speculation," were stripped of their authority and kicked out of the guild. The only other character in the guild we really defined was Winston Cloudstorm, the head of the guild. Cloudstorm had been implicated as a conspirator in the attack on Waterdeep and stabbed outside of the Lord's Hall by a Thayan assassin, but the adventurer's eventually cleared his name.

The relationship between Chet and Vince was one that continued to pop up in play. When we ran a "Turn Left" session (It's a Wonderful Life, for those of you are not familiar with Doctor Who), we tried to return to as many iconic moments from our previous play. The elemental storm attack on Waterdeep returned and the characters engaged in a slightly different battle with Chet Doppler. Mid-battle, to the surprise of most of the table, Vince Condella joined the fray, now Chet's ally in the attack. Of course, as this was an alternate timeline, it had no greater impact on the story.

From Inception to Reception

As we began the "fourth season" of our D&D game, the WAG was arrested, found guilty of treason and murder, and sentenced to life in the Waterdeep Prison Authority. Our first adventure involved the "big breakout." One of the monkey-wrenches I threw into the mix was the presence of the two former residents of the WAG prison: Malvolio Guildenstern and Chet Doppler. These two (former) villains now aided the party in their escape, ostensibly joining the former Adventurer's Guild (in exile).

I thought it would be interesting to have an adventure where we find out what happened to Vince Condella so many sessions ago. Chet Doppler, now changed by his time living as a prisoner of the WAG, wants to find his old friend. I had originally intended this adventure to feature Chet Doppler and an arrangement of other adventurers. There would be some pirates, a couple of battles, and somehow the party would be reunited with their old ally.

Ridiculousness ensues.
No adventure idea survives contact with the players. One of my players, on reading my original adventure premise, interpreted it as "bring your own hometown weatherman to the table." Suddenly, this went from a standard rescue adventure to something resembling the iconic Deep Space Nine episode "The Magnificent Ferengi." Accordingly, I changed the official title of the adventure and told all of the players to start thinking weird weathermen.

Of course, this changes the entire nature of the episode. From out of the woodwork, crazy ideas started surfacing. One player wanted to play his local Hawaiian meteorologist, a jilted lover of Vince Condella that wanted to "rescue" him (without explaining what that might entail). Another player immediately went to Brick Tamland for inspiration (Brick, where did you get a hand grenade?). Other ridiculous characters came up: the Underdark weatherman (Today's weather: cool and damp); the psychic weatherman (who steals other people's forecasts); and so forth.

The Buddy Story

Having all of my players get into the ridiculousness of weathermen got me really thinking about what I wanted to accomplish out of this adventure. Most of these characters were intended as one-offs. Whether they died, survived, turn traitor, or whatever else didn't especially matter. With that in mind, it occurred to me that the focus of this adventure was the relationship between Chet and Vince. This made me re-think the "rescue attempt" as a concept.

Although I am not certain what tomorrow's adventure will entail, I know that in one way or another, its resolution will be about the relationship between old comrades and later nemeses Vince Condella and Chet Doppler. Maybe they will both end up dead. Maybe Chet will discover that Vince has established himself as a pirate king and join him. Maybe Chet will find Vince a prisoner of his own power and rescue him. Who knows.

No comments:

Post a Comment