Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Non-Violent D&D Scenario?

The paradox boggles! Smoke pours forth, tape reels jam and spew brown ribbon, lights flash in crazy patterms and a monotone voice croaks "DOES NOT COMPUTE ... DOES NOT COMPUTE..."

Yet this weekend I may have an opportunity/challenge to run a small D&D scenario with someone who (for personal and spiritual reasons) abhors the practice of violence.

What kind of scenario would you run that would be fun for a Buddhist pacifist? Assume about 3 pre-gen characters and a short, evening long scenario with some sort of resolution. No kung fu monks please ;)

I'll post my solution whether or not the run actually takes place.


  1. Theft. Theft is the way to go. A treasure sought. A bad guy too tough for the heroes employer to tackle by force who him/herself isn't particularly venal or violent. People to contact for info and tools to make the theft easier.

  2. I think theft is good. Tricks too, if not too frustrating (you could rip some rooms out of my alabaster tower).

    Interactive environments could be interesting. (I posted those pools of the ancients and my angel "monsters")

    I like piecing together clues of what happened to past occupants of a place. Maybe signs of past violence.

    Interacting with interesting npcs, even if they are non-human (I'm thinking that big turtle in the neverending story) or maybe negotiating between two factions to prevent them from resorting to violence.

  3. I would get a copy of B1: In Search of the Unknown. No monsters are stocked in the dungeon at all! Just sprinkle some treasures in, and you are ready to go. The environment is magical, mysterious, and fascinating. I could easily imagine spending hours of fun game time exploring the dungeons with no violence whatsoever.

    Magic-user PCs would really come into their own in a nonviolent game. No armor, no weapons, and few hp suddenly matter a whole lot less. Plus the spells selected would be a whole lot more interesting than magic missile.

  4. I would run a mystery of some kind — especially a mystery where die if it isn't solved (give the pacifist incentive).

  5. Interesting. In a few weeks, I may have the chance to do a dungeon for two 7-year-olds and my wife, bless her is worried about character death and its impact on the kids. Will it put them off D&D? Will it all end in tears? The suggestions above have steered me towards some very intriguing possibilties. Thanks!

  6. I was also thinking theft. Having just reread the Hobbit, I was reminded that until they found the trolls' stash, none of the party of 15 were armed (although one is a wizard). Even after they find the trolls' stash, only the leader, the wizard, and the burglar get weapons.

    Later, they're given bows, but waste all the arrows trying to hunt or shooting at phantoms. And the wizard leaves, and the leader's sword gets confiscated by elves.

    When Bilbo and the Dwarves get to the Lonely Mountain to confront Smaug, Sting is the only weapon they have on them. Yet they're trying to root out a dragon!

    I'd say a similar site-based adventure, without lots of weak monsters, but with a BIG guardian sitting on the best treasure, would be a very fun and non-violent type adventure.

  7. I'd go with the classic save the world from the giant monster. The characters must find the mc-guffin in the deadly temple of traps and puzzles and make it out in time before the Diakiaju smashes the temple, all while being dogged by hoards of unkillable parasites /mutant offspring of the dire beast.

  8. It sounds like it doesn't have to be non-violent, just that the PCs can't succeed by violence. There can be violent monsters. So you could do a Bunnies & Burrows / Call of Cthulhu style scenario, where every monster is more powerful than the PCs and they have to succeed another way.

  9. There was a 2nd edition adventure called Night Watch in the Living City that had the adventures patrolling the streets of Raven's Bluff encountering all sorts of weird things, including a fake wizards duel, an out of control carriage,star crossed lovers, etc.

    I'd look to some fairy tales, and Shakespeare's comedies too.

  10. Maybe do something based on Monkey / Journey to the West, where an NPC priest puts a magic headband on the characters which he can cause to painfully tighten if the characters act violently.

  11. I might be late to the party here, but I think there is plenty of opportunity for non-violent play, even in D&D:

    1) The fence got knocked down and the farmer's dairy cows have escaped! It's time to saddle up and round up the little dogies. Unfortunately, they've scattered into the quicksand filled swamp. And Bessie is pregnant!

    2) Also bovine related, the local culture requires ritualized cattle rustling to display the bravery of it's warriors. The PCs must help the clan before they loose all honor - and their rights as free people. Plenty of ability/skill rolls here.

    3) On a competitive vein - REN FAIRE HIJINKS. Uncle Bob lost the farm whle playing dice. The players must compete against a batch of cheating carnies at the Regional Spring Carnival to win back the land.

    4) After five days of rain, the Damn Dam broke. A ten foot tall wall of water is headed toward the Orphanage. Can the players save Little Sally and her rag doll in time?

    Ad infinitum. :)

    - Ark

  12. Diplomacy and Intrigue. I don't remember D&D very much, but surely there are non-combat skills? I can't recall how they are resolved, however...

  13. Wow, such an outpouring of great ideas ... It doesn't look like the D&D run is happening, having great times in other ways with our friends. However, I did come up with a framework for a nonviolent adventure that I could improv off. Borrowing from CAS, it's "The Egg of the Gazolba Bird." I'm hoping to post on that later this week.

    Perhaps I should hold a group jam on a pdf for one-page nonviolent/creative adventures?

  14. I've been thinking about this since you posted... all I've got is:

    1. Capture - a dangerous criminal (or suspected criminal) MUST be taken alive and face justice!

    2. Rescue - a sage specializing in the local river valley was gathering samples on a raft and got swept downstream into the rapids!

    3. Construction - can you negotiate or assist with the problems that a local lord is having with the dwarven labor meant to build onto his existing keep?

    4. Race - an over land yearly contest pits multiple groups against each other on a great hiking/running/climbing race. To ensure that teams don't snipe on each other, the local wizard places a geas on each contestant group to prohibit violence. The path of the race is near the legendary Troll Hills...

    5. Spy - a mission is put before you to gather a map from a neighboring lord's outposts. Any violence will cause outright war, and the map might be in the form of a tattoo on a messenger's back or engraved on a very heavy piece of stone...

  15. Ever watch the old He-Man or Thundarr cartoons. High adventure without any killing or even any injuries. It's a bit hokey in places (waving a magic sword around but never hitting anything with it? LOL) and it does replace violent killing with violent WWF style body slams, but it's an idea anyway..

  16. @Mike - Yes, the ultimate option is to "censor" the violence like on He-Man or the A-Team (where a truck would get hit by a rocket grenade but the driver would always jump out in time, and bullets are for ducking.)

  17. So, I've been away from the gaming blogs for a long time...sorry this is so late...but my favorite non-violent adventure is UK1 Beyond the Magic Mirror - lots of opportunity for roleplaying without necessarily killing a single creature (once they get to the garden).