Nuadha's latest Wednesday Weird is Illness. How can we make an illness weird and unusual?
Okay, I'm going to use a D20 world, and tie in ideas from Requiem for a God and The Primal Order
The party's cleric and/or Paladin winds up contracting a mysterious illness that defies curing, either by the players or any other healers. Pockmarking their face, and making them see unnatural old and withered, there seems to be no good explanation--until the PCs visit a temple of the cleric's faith.
The clerics of the temple, to a (wo)man are also similarly affected by the same disease, and the same stubborness of its incurability.
What's happening? The PCs' goddess is under attack by an evil deity whose portfolio includes disease, and so the reflection of that battle is affecting the PCs.
So what can they do? They can help, of course, and the beauty is that no matter what the PCs level, there is something they can accomplish
--Low level PCs can be sent to take out an evil wandering cleric of the evil deity and his minions
--Higher level PCs can be charged with purifying a temple of this evil deity. This purification would be probably best accomplished by razing it to the ground...
--Even higher level PCs can take a more active role in the actual fight, journeying to the scene of the fight and aiding their deity by taking on equally matched minions of her foe, or raiding the evil deities' home plane in order to weaken and distract him.
Nuadha's return to Wednesday's Weird is: The Disappearance.
Someone or something has gone missing. It's a basic scenario that has jump-started the plot of many gaming scenarios as well as many works of fiction. As the protaganists piece the cluse together to try and find where a missing friend or item has gone, some of the clues could be completely weird....but when the mystery is solved it all makes sense. This is the weird challenge of the day: In the setting of your choice, something or someone has disappeared and there is something weird about the way the disappearance occured or where the missing item or person has disappeared to. How does it get weird?
I am going to give some details to a one shot that I did which fits this perfectly.
I've run a short scenario one-shot for a couple of friends involving a disappearance of something larger than just a item or even a person.
In One of Our Shadows is Missing I had an entire shadow disappear. Shadow paths to the Golden Circle shadow just don't work or are blocked. No one can seem to get into this shadow and no one knows what could have done this.
So, in the scenario, the PCs are sent by Random to solve this problem. (Elders are either unwilling or unavailable to deal with this, or prefer to use the PCs as direct agents).
And the agent responsible for the disappearance? In One of Our Shadows, the agent turns out to be a Great Dragon, which has encircled the shadow and taken up residence in it. (Think of the Great Dragon in stories like "The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter").
Needless to say, negotiation and diplomacy and smarts work better in this case in coaxing or tricking the dragon to get out of the shadow, rather than brute force.
Nuadha's latest Wednesday Weird is The Party.
A dark and lonely road.
The PCs find themselves, by storm and circumstance, on a deserted road and finally at an old house, full of light and sound. Drawn inside, they find themselves admitted to a birthday party for the 7 year old son of the parents. Complete with parents, two older siblings and grandparents, it seems like an idyllic birthday party that the PCs have inadvertently crashed.
But just why is everyone so excited to see the PCs? And why do the Pcs find the other family members urging them to give presents to Anthony out of their possessions even if they are by comparison to the lavish gifts he is already getting is not much. And why, except for when they talk to the PCs, does everyone seem to be saying lines by rote? Why does it feel like a scripted event that the PCs are intruding upon?
The answer. The only real person here is Anthony, everyone else is a chimerical illusion. A powerful, but lonely psychic, he has created these eidolons of his family, and of his birthday party to keep himself occupied. The PCs are the first ones in a long while to stumble across this house, and to get out of this intact, they will have to treat Anthony with care.
Take a fantasy realm of some sort, be it Amber, D20 or what have you.
The PCs have been hired to extract some choice items from the house of a powerful, vanished sorcerer. They are expecting traps, wards and guards, and there are those in plenty.
The fun begins when they get inside and go for the boodle. Visions, thoughts and other things plague their minds, especially when they grasp and touch objects. At first they'll think the house is haunted. But, slowly, gradually, the awful, incredible truth comes to the fore.
The House, and its contents are mapped onto the mind of the sorcerer. She has taken the idea of a memory palace and made it a physical reality.
Now, if they do try to remove their targets, bad things happen. Items with memories of spells are dangerous and might actually fire off if manhandled. Worse, the sorcerer will be unerringly able to find them, and isn't it unethical to steal memories anyway?
A week or so ago, Nuadha's Wednesday Weird was: The Barbarian
Role-Reversal. To be done with care.
Characters are inhabitants of a low-tech world, possibly with psionics. They have journeyed a great distance because of talk of strange demons who have come out of nowhere to live among the members of a nation.
When they get there, they discover the green skinend demons came to the world in a ship of metal, and have "magical" toys and tools far beyond the artifice of people on this world...
Its a reversal of the De Camp Krishna novels. This time and in this campaign, the players are the lower-tech natives and are considered barbarians by the aliens.
Nuadha offers up a Wednesday Weird this week: The Mobster
Lots of things one could do with this...
In this instance, the PCs have a meeting with the local capo at his favorite Italian restaurant. But there are peculiarities.
None of the food, none, has garlic, which is unusual for Italian food.
The Mobster does not drink wine.
The meeting is after dark, and in point of fact, no one generally sees this mobster between sunrise and sunset.
You're thinking Giovanni style vampire from White Wolf, yes?
But you would be wrong.
The mobster actually has an allergy to garlic and similar herbs. Being seen after dark? He has photosensitive eyes. Besides, much of his business is conducted in the evenings anyway.
Oh, and he lost his parents to a drunken driver when he was young--and so never, ever, touches alcohol.
And, the topper of them all, the capo has brought the PCs TO deal with a vampire that has decided to horn in on his action. Imagine the shock when the capo starts calmly handing out holy symbols and the like, having his lieutenants explain their use.
Okay, so I know I am doing #2 before doing #1. Deal :)
This week, Nuadha asks us to consider that bugbear of a spell, Charm spells
I, too, as any D&D GM, have had to deal with this issue, and I came up with a creative discouragement that should fit quite well.
Setup: The PCs were exploring a revealed section of the Underworld (basically, my version of the Underdark). Seismic activity (which is another long story) opened up a long forgotten route to this realm, and the PCs didn't take much coaxing to trapeize into this new realm.
Problem was, a small kingdom of humans and Drow sat in the way of their deeper explorations, and the Baron refused to let them go through without some pledges and a "donation"
The Player characters decided to charm the Baron into letting them go through. The Charm worked, all too well. Since this was a high mana zone, the charm continued to work and work even beyond the initial purpose
--The Baron kept sending soldiers after the PCs to make sure "they were all right". On one occassion this disrupted their plans to attack a small group of Kuo-Toa.
--The Baron's Drow wife, Lady Meleieve, was not pleased by the drain of funds and resources for this, and so when the characters came back, the party was attacked in the night by Drow nightstalkers (basically a non lethal variation on assassin)
I finally let the charm lapse as they ran back to the surface, one paralyzed PC in tow (the nightstalkers work, and not curable by anything short of temple healing).
Funny, the characters were careful about charm spells after that!