My usual D&D group is between campaigns so I decided to run a one shot last night to fill the void that would have otherwise been Tuesday night. I also decided to make all the characters for the adventure and have the players draw them randomly. I thought that this could be an excellent opportunity for them to try some odd characters, the type that you may not commit to for a full campaign. Plus, I had a fun little scenario in mind that I thought would work well for one night.
The approach I took to making the characters was that they were essentially D-List adventurers. Not quite good enough to make it in a real party and not likely to live for more than a couple of levels. I also thought it would be cool if they all had pretty opposite alignments, kind of going for the dysfunctional party thrown together due to circumstances. The characters wound up being a half orc hexblade (LE), a goblin rogue (NE), a half elf bard(NG), and a dwarf paladin(LG). There was also a fifth character I created that was not used, a CN elf swashbuckler. The setup was simple; they were all moments away from being combatants in an arena. Various circumstances landed them in the position they were in, but they had a common cause to bond them initially. Moments after the adventure started a huge minotaur was charging at them while a bloodthirsty crowd cheered on the prospect of death. They were also equipped with totally crappy weapons; a trident, dagger, light pick, and a whip. Oh, and no one was wearing anything better than leather armor. It was quite a crew.
Though wounded, they survived the melee and while being led back to their cells an opportunity for escape presented itself. The rich Lady that the Paladin was in service to had arranged for a boat to wait for her in the harbor. Bribed by the Lady, the guards showed the party an entrance into the sewers beneath the arena and told that it would lead out to the harbor. And the escape was on! Eventually the party wound up bickering with one another, fighting amongst each other, and going their separate ways. Most of them wound up being killed by a rat catcher who worked for the city and lived in one of the passages they were traveling through. He had a pet dog that killed the bard. The paladin did manage to make it to the harbor and onto the boat, safely sailing away from the ugly situation she had left in her wake.
I love the character development and relationships that develop over the course of a long campaign, but there is something very fun about disposable characters and simple plots. I think that in the intense world of power gaming and min maxing that simple games like last night’s somehow get lost, which is a shame. It’s okay to be a hexblade with a 9 AC or a bard that can cast Magic Mouth and not much else. And as a DM it’s a very nice, stress free type of game to run. I don’t have to worry about hooks for future adventures or the PC’s missing key plot points. I’m into it.