Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday Quick Adventure Idea #2 - Professional Cartography

This week's Thursday Adventure Idea is quite small. Inspiration for any DM's looking for a fun campaign hook, or a quick adventure. Let me know in the comments if you end up running something like this, or if it inspires anything in you, I'd be excited to hear it.

Some DMs love making incredibly detailed maps for their players. Some hate it. Many in both groups don't know when to provide players with maps, and what sort of geographic information should be fed to the players, and when. This quest is an interesting take on how to deal with that.

Your players, during downtime at some established port or trade city, are approached by an entrepreneur named Kurnwell Sixpenny. It has been discovered that current maps aren't very accurate, and it's time for an update. Magic calamities, new towns, raiding monsters, geological shifting, and wars could all have contributed to the maps falling out of date.

Kurnwell will pay handsomely for the adventurers to explore the area, in the company of his cartographer assistant. Basic census records are to be taken from any inhabitants, monsters are to be spotted (or their heads returned for a small reward, to be placed in the local academy along with the new maps). This task can take any amount of time, or cover any size of area, that fits your campaign.

You can either handwave the map making, or you can have one of your players actually record what they encounter, and attempt to draw it into a map. If you are playing in an existing campaign setting, feel free to make it your own in this way, maps are drawn by hand and many of them may be hundreds of years old, and incredibly out of date. Forest sizes may have changed, new caves and lakes may have appeared. This is a magical world, and the geography may change must faster than the real world. Mad wizards may create or destroy mountains, entire villages may have been wiped out by barbarians. 

Cartography is a fun idea for a campaign. It can cover a very large area and take years if necessary. Ocean travel can be added to spice things up. Local villages might ask for help with a small monster or raider problem before handing over census information.

Kurnwell Sixpenny will pay the adventurers what he promised. What they don't know is that he will take full credit, making himself the protagonist of all of their adventures. Along with the maps he will attempt to release a best-selling book chronicling his heroic adventures.  The money he stands to make from the map, any monster trophies, census information, and book sales is many times that of which the adventurers were paid, not to speak of the immense fame, and opportunities for public speaking engagements that he will have for the rest of his life. Sixpenny hid in his small apartment, reading cheap adventure novels, while the players made his maps.