Burst of Insight—Weird Adventure Seeds

GenCon is fast approaching and with it Pathfinder’s second edition rules. It seems like an ideal time to revisit the weird prompt concept, after all, we’re all going need adventure ideas either for pickup games at the con or to just jump right into the new rules.

Not in Kansas Anymore

The PCs are whisked away to an unfamiliar land either intentionally or by mishap. It could even be that the party all died and are in the land of the dead. Where they are matters far less than getting back out. They will have to treat with the locals make new allies and face off against dangerous new foes if they’re ever to make it home.

The Halfling’s Offer

Halflings are not normally considered great threats, but when the halfling is an underworld crime boss things may become a bit more serious. The PCs owe the crime boss a significant debt, so when offered a chance to clean the slate the PCs reluctantly undertake a seemingly simple job. Unfortunately, the job sets off a powderkeg in the city and an underworld mob war seems inevitable unless the PCs can stop it.

A Magical Mishap

A magical accident polymorphs most of an entire neighborhood in the PCs local city into a variety of farm animals. When heroes restore the resident’s bodies and minds the PCs discover a friend is missing. And the pig everyone thought the friend remains unchanged. The PCs will have to track down their friend. To do it they’ll need the help of a few NPCs who in turn need help.

Unbeknownst to the party the friend suddenly human again has fallen in love with the farmer who mistakenly swapped pigs in town when his pig escaped. When the PCs show up the new couple has one more task that needs addressing. A band of brigands who have been demanding more and more protection money (the reason the farmer was in town to sell his pig until the accident closed trade in livestock) has arrived to harass the farmer…

A Magical Misadventure

The same setup as above, the PCs find themselves on a farm in livestock pens with no memory of how they got there just after the brigands head into the dangerous wilderness with the farmer’s savings and a cart of stolen goods. The PCs must brave the wilds to face down the brigands in their camp.

If you want a little more fleshed out adventure seed, try this:

A Dying Wish

Setup: A onetime ally of the heroes, is dying from a terrible curse. They have acquired a stolen relic with a terrible burden any who take possession of the relic eventually begin to fall under a wasting curse. The only cure is for the relic to be returned to its rightful resting place in a distant lost city.  The PCs must return the relic before their friend dies…and more importantly, before one of them begins to waste away as well. The PCs are given a crude map with ancient markings not easily read.

This is a pretty tried and true narrative but I think you can get a lot of mileage out of familiar stories by presenting them in new ways. In the scene structure below I outline an atypical order of events. Also, the nature of the relic, its curse, and the location of the Lost City can be tweaked to create a unique session.

Villain: A powerful immortal or undead (likely immune to the relics negative effects) wants the relic for its other powers.

Complications: The PCs must seek out aid in interpreting the map. When the PCs arrive agents of the villain are already there waiting in an ambush this is just the first of several such attacks on the PCs. Other complications could include dangers of the road and Traps and denizens of the lost city and the temple. Depending on the length of time you have to run this adventure and where you want your focus to be I’d consider narrating much of the travel and really start the adventure at the gates of the Lost City.

  • Scene One: The PCs arrive at the Sage’s and are ambushed by minions of the villain.
  • Scene Two: Flashback to the Setup and the ally on his deathbed.
  • Special: Introduce short cut scenes especially during scenes 5 & 6 that showcase their ally’s worsening condition.
  • Scene Three: Travel montage mostly narrative but possibly punctuated with a skill challenge or two.
  • Scene Four: PCs arrive at the gates of the Lost City and fight the guardian at the gates possibly an elemental or a draconic wyrm of some sort.
  • Scene Five: Exploration of the ruins. Keep it evocative utilize skill challenges of some sort or just focus on the narrative. If you have plenty of time you may be able to sneak in additional combat.
  • Scene Six: Confrontation with the powerful villain.
  • Scene Seven: Putting the relic back.

Burst of Insight







Andrew Marlowe

placed in the Top 16 of RPG Superstar in 2012 and 2014, one of the few contestants to get that far in the competition twice. Since then, he has contributed to many Paizo and third party Pathfinder products, including one of the network’s favourite releases in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, the Dirty Tactics Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, he will be sharing his Burst of Insight, with design tips for would-be game designers from a decorated freelancer.