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Starts in a bar, has a minor monster BBEG, involve a bard telling a story or singing a song, throw in some missing townsfolk, add a mine for where the Bad Things came from, toss in a graveyard for the red herring, give some of the townsfolk useful information.
Would it really be wrong to work these up without mechanics? Wouldn't it be more useful for a new GM to have the story information and advice on how to plug the monsters in without handing it to him on a plate? Sure, it would take longer to jump in, but we don't have a problem finding people who just jump in without prepping around here. We have problems finding people who can plan and follow through on those plans. Most people are more invested in things they've contributed to themselves, after all.
I can help stat out beginning characters for new players in 3.5, and I can help playtest. I'm a big fan of this idea; I love running adventures with new people. I want to ask, are we targeting people who are new to pbp, or new to pbp and the system? I can see not statting out monsters, etc, for people who are only new to pbp, but if they're altogether new to the system it seems like two versions (the kiddie version with generic mobs, and the fill-in-the-blank version) might be necessary. Maybe two adventures, the first of which has stats, the second of which doesn't, to sort of ease people in?
An idea for the characters: Each has some starting knowledge as to the storyline / what's actually going on, jotted down in their character's notes, representing what they've found out pre-adventure.
Idea for the adventure: The party is in a town of reclusive Dwarves. The inn is hospitable enough, and if they can get the dwarves drinking, it looses their tongues, but otherwise, all the non-dwarves are viewed with suspicion.
I'm going to suggest based on other comments the first quest is an escort quest as suggested by D, the idea being to get the party to the dwarven town in the first place. This will explore the basic system mechanics and let players have their first combat, low challenge rating, pretty simple, then when they get there they discover this adventure. Once both are completed the next adventure lines up for a bigger adventure. Each of the 3 adventures becoming less detailed for the GM allowing them to improvise a little more, and increasing the game in complexity of plot. Once the third adventure is done the GM can then expand the world and run a campaign if they wish or start a home brew or w/e.
I think that's a good set up for the first module.
That covers the first two as rouch outlines, the third adventure seems to very obviously be that the lizard man was entering the cave to find some underground taboo mcguffin (magic device or w/e) that would give him power, only when the characters find out it turns out to be far more than the lizard man was even prepared to deal with as the resting place of the Macguffin is an actual dungeon style set up with some good RP opportunities.
next we need some character outlines:
some suggested ideas:
Male Dwarven Axeman
Female Elvish Bowmen
Male Human Cleric
Female Human Cleric
Female Human Mage
Male Human Mage
Male Human Fighter
Male Human Thief
Each character needs:
chest-up profile picture roughly 250x250 (we'll get an artist for this)
2 paragraph background to include motivation for becoming an adventurer and a reason to join the plot
Once that is done and the adventures are written in full we'll develop bits of information each character will have as an advantage to the plot, making each character have a unique experience and role, but lets start with that.
I would prefer to have the pics first from the artists as inspiration for the character backgrounds.
If you're going to use preset characters, can you try and aim for slightly less cliche than dwarf with axe and elf with bow?
We want to encourage people to be more creative than that, surely. No problem in having a couple of 'traditional' characters for the presets, but not solely. Male Dwarf Cleric, Female Elf Fighter, Male Elf Brawler... anything to show people that race/class combos aren't necessary.
Just a thought, like the idea you've got going here. (Also, might I suggest a Fate conversion once things get to mechanics? Should be fairly easy, plus thinking up Apsects for the preset character will likely help define their character.)
The initial goal here is to make it without mechanics, such that it can be applied to any system that supports fantasy gaming. That is a smaller scale and significantly easier project than making one for every system people use on the Weave.