In our previous outings, we established our plotlines and fleshed out our primary antagonist. Today, we'll move onto Act 1, where the PCs will be initially dropped into our scenario and introduced to the story (though they may not know the scope of the mystery). Act 1 is less "plot-driven," and more "character-driven" as the PCs snoop about to get a feel for the story. Subplots may also surface during Act 1. In Act 2 (to come later), the PCs should have discovered the plot that's afoot and will be taking steps to confront and overcome the challenges they face. But, at this time, let's bring the PCs into the tale and give them some events to ponder.
Two things we need to establish in Act 1 is, of course, why are the players here? What prompts their involvement? The Adventure Creator suggests that we come up with the "Initial Oddity" (What's so odd about the location that it initially makes the PCs curious enough to check?) and the "Inciting Incident" (What single event throws our PCs headfirst into the scenario?). The Initial Oddity has already come to me, so I'll be using "A series of suspicious deaths attributed to 'dog attacks' has been plaguing a small town in Kansas." The Inciting Incident may form as the PCs move through Act 1, so it's something to keep in the back of our head as we design it.
According to the Adventure Creator, Act 1 should consist of 10 or more "Event Scenes" in a full-scale adventure module. For this exercise, I want to keep it smaller, so we'll only have 5 Event Scenes for them to investigate. So, taking our Act 1 worksheet and rolling on the random tables, we'll begin designing the investigatory scenes that pique our PC's curiosity about the sleepy town of Coldcreek, Kansas. (As before, we're encouraged to pick and choose the results we determine randomly depending on how they "fit", so some elements may not be used as we progress.)
ACT 1 EVENT SCENESEvent: Something Good Happens to a PC
Action: Cover Up
Plot: Screams in the Night
Scene 1: Our PCs are sent to Coldcreek, Kansas, (Plains) to investigate a series of dog attacks that have left a few of the townspeople dead. The townspeople seem to be surprisingly tight-lipped about the killings, muttering something about "damned coyotes", but not willing to give the PCs much more information. (Outsiders) One of the PCs will have a chance encounter with Louise Farmer, who IDs herself as a monster hunter already on the scene working undercover. (Something Good...) She explains that the townspeople seem to be terrorized by these attacks and that they seem to occur only at night. (Screams in the Night) She also says that any time she uses legal means to get information (autopsy reports, police records, etc.), she hits a dead end. (Cover Up Butchery) There's a conspiracy afoot, and the town isn't talking...
Event: The PCs Run Into Trouble
Plot: Until the Devil Knows You're Dead
Opposition: Dark Cult
Scene 2: When the PCs begin investigating, they'll hear of a local legend that supposedly haunts a decrepit house on the edge of town (Cabin). This "ghostly coyote spirit" attacks those who trespass upon its land. (Until the Devil...) This legend is false and is just a wive's tale (Pretend Breakthrough). However, once the PCs realize they've been chasing a red herring and abandon that line of investigation, a large, surly townsperson (a member of the All-Seeing Eye) corners the PCs at the house and "suggests" that they should stop poking around and leave town (PCs Run Into Trouble...Dark Cult). The conflict escalates...
Event: A New NPC Is Introduced
Thing: Dog Catcher
Plot: Powerful Artifact
Opposition: Human Collaborators
Scene 3: Fortunately (?), the local sheriff arrives before the fight gets out of hand (A New NPC...). The townsperson is driven off/arrested (depending on how the fight goes) without incident. (Pratt is using the Eye of Anubis to calm his minion down and to force him to cooperate -- Carry Powerful Artifact). Sheriff Pratt apologizes for the trouble the PCs have encountered in town, and he asks if there's anything he can do to assist them, hoping to gain their trust. (Human Collaborators) If the PCs are forthcoming, Pratt confirms (in a misleading way) some of the PC's suspicions as he feels them out. He hopes to learn their business in town, what they know, and gain their trust so he can subvert them later.
Event: Something Bad Happens to the PCs
Plot: Mass Delusion
Scene 4: When the PCs get back to their hotel (Inn), they find signs of a struggle and Louise is missing! (Seize...Something Bad Happens...) A small All-Seeing Eye pendant is found, pointing to the social club's members as being behind Louise's abduction. The full moon is coming up (Eclipse...close enough), and the PCs can hear the howls of a werewolf in the distance. This must be a creature responsible, and the reason for the terror of the citizens! The townspeople have taken refuge behind closed doors and will offer no help to the PCs (Mass Delusion). The PCs are on their own to fight their way to the All-Seeing Eye Temple to attempt a rescue, and in the streets, a werewolf lurks to stop them! (Guardians)
Event: Unexpected Turn of Events
Plot: This Is *****!
Location: Town Hall
Scene 5: Arriving at the Mystic Order of the All-Seeing Eye (Town Hall...close enough again), the PCs must try to sneak their way in to attempt a rescue. (Follow) There could be members roaming the halls on patrol. If they come across the Great Hall, they'll see a handful of townspeople milling about -- and one of them is the NPC who accosted them earlier. When the moon reaches its apex, every club member transforms into a werewolf! (Monster...Unexpected Turn of Events) It's not just one werewolf, it's an infestation! The PCs should be able to find and rescue Louise, who also now realizes the scope of the problem. One or two lycans are difficult, but eight of the beasts? The PCs will need to escape and try to come up with a way to deal with the mass werewolf conspiracy that has infected the town of Coldcreek! Perhaps that nice sheriff can lend a hand... (This is *****!)
And Act 1 comes to a close. Our PCs now have their hands full as their investigations have now revealed a "werewolf conspiracy" is at hand! And we now have our Inciting Incident: "The PCs realize that the entire town is being transformed into werewolves by the Mystic Order of the All-Seeing Eye."
When we return to this adventure, we'll begin constructing Act 2, where the investigation ends and PCs are tasked with stopping the horrific plague that is starting to engulf the citizens. And, perhaps, the identity of the mastermind behind it all will come to light...
TO BE CONTINUED