The Future is Cloudy but it Involves a Door

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 14 May 2010

Much of my session planning starts with a focus on a little tidbit, usually an event I would like the PCs to participate in. Then I work backwards to figure out why they might be there and also try to tie it in with the rest of the story. For instance, when I wanted to do a play on Rumpelstiltskin, one of the NPCs asked the party to deliver a baby blanket to her niece. When they delivered it, the niece was obviously upset and the PCs were able to figure out that she had promised her first born to a goblin. From there, they were able to explore further and learn about the oni, C. C. Clementine, and her business procuring hard to get items.

Recently, the Shadow Army introduced itself to the PCs via a raid on the Tower of Lilith. But, to be honest, I wasn't really sure where to take it from there. This morning I started playing with words and created a poem[1]. I'm finding it a great jumping point for filling in the info about the army and the motivations behind those creating it. For me, the nice thing about planning this way is that the end event isn't defined but its flavor is. This allows me to adjust things according to player wants and desires while still being able to give out hints and move the story forward.

Beneath the earth in rock so deep
lies a shadow bereft of sleep.

Yet he dreams of the day,
when he'll be free and minds will sway.

Shadow legions will hear his call.
The good will turn, and their cities fall.

Oh, how great the feast will be.
When the door opens and he is free.

Since I'm not sure how much information I'll give the players at the next session, I'll have to leave it there for now. But I can't wait to see what unfolds.

[1] Oh gosh, a footnote. There are some issues with the poem structure but it's for a game and doesn't need to be perfect.


Don't apologize for the poem, it's good and serves it's purpose. I like the concept a lot.

Agreed, don't apologize for the poem! I'm a fan of anything that can quickly add some lore and weight to a setting, and what's better than a tolkien-esque prophecy rhyme? Nothing, that's what.

Yeah, if monsters could get meter down, they would be sensitive souls writing great tomes of poetry and not eating cities.

Not sure if you are a big fiction reader, but sounds very lovecraftian/cthulu-esque to me...

I like it.. will definitely use it in my next campaign when my PCs stumble upon some corrupt, degenerate fish-men/naga type cult of the deep...

- Josh

Thanks everyone!

@The Hope Gamer Prophesies are great in games, especially when characters put their own spin on them.

"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"

"But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter."

@Elderac Yeah, why work on meter when you could be feasting? :)

@JAHatch I haven't read Lovecraft but a number of my friends have. I guess a number of my story lines tend towards that sort of story. Let me know if you use it in a campaign, I'd love to hear about it.

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