In preparing to DM for the first time in many many years, I am setting up some background for the adventure, even though it is a one-shot (Labyrinth Lord Core rules).
I made a city, a port on the north shore of a cold sea. The country further inland is a Norse-flavored kingdom that has just ended a war with its southern neighbors. The PC’s are returning veterans of that war, part of a seige unit. Think of it as the original Oceans Eleven (with the Rat Pack) delving into the dungeon.
Fighters were obviously the soldiers and archers.
Mages were there for ranged combat and magical support.
The thieves were drafted from prison and made into spies and recon men.
Dwarves set up and operate seige machinery (and of course undermine fortifications).
Clerics are chaplains and medics (and spy for their church).
Halflings are taggers on who owe a debt to the men in the unit for saving them.
Elves are uneasy allies (they are opposing the common enemy, the Melnibonean-ish elves of the Onyx City of Tnetennba) on the losing side and are seeking asylum in the north.
They are returning home to this port, which would normally mean a great deal of business for the merchants there, except that the King is broke and has paid his army and navy in paper money (the “King’s Mark”). All their spoils were confiscated and the soldiers were paid “fair value” in King’s Marks. While the King has decreed that his script must be accepted throughout the kingdom, merchants have devalued it to 1/10 its face value.
The human PC’s are mostly from the area and were able to fence some smuggled loot to relatives for real coin, but now they must find a way to make money.
Thus, they are told of a lonely mountain a day’s ride north, where fabulous riches were abandoned after a long-forgotten evil was uprooted. No one in the city would be foolish enough to go there, but our players are 4th level veterans of a war and they know how to take care of themselves…
That’s how we’ll get to Death Frost Doom.
I’ve added two religions for the clerics to choose from and decided what things they characters will have. I also took away all raising of the dead (has never been heard of). If PC’s die, they can bring in a new “war buddy” or someone else from their past in the war. This could also allow me to establish them at 3rd or 4th level without them having any experience whatsoever with actual dungeons or monsters. Perhaps most of their fighting was against men and elves. It could also lend itself to some good flashback episodes.
One of the real pleasures of these games is how they get your imagination going. I’ve already imagined far more background detail than will be needed to run this one-shot. When I have the players create their characters next week, I’m sure they will add to the background with their stories and ideas. I’m going to post some of it as I go along and post a play report afterwards.