by Phoebe Wood-Wheelhouse
The PCs are given a quest to hunt down the mysterious Gem of Huna. Little do they know the twists and turns that await them.
This adventure begins in a standard fantasy realm and then halfway through shifts to the real world, which the PCs know as the Realm of the Gods. The PCs will be mind swapped with the “real world players” that are playing the game of their life. I chose to set the second half of the adventure in the town that we (the actual players & GM) were playing to give it an extra layer of humour.
I would, however, strongly advise against basing the “real world player” characters on your actual players as that can lead to feelings getting hurt. Instead, I made up a bunch of random people that you might find playing a game of D&D.
The start of the adventure should feel very cliche’d (but still fun!), with all of the standard tropes of a D&D adventure making an appearance: a mysterious quest giver in a tavern, insane cultists, mystic gems, gobbos, caverns etc etc. Feel free to add in any others I’ve missed!
The point is that your players should feel like they know exactly what is going to happen so that when the Twist occurs and they are transported to the real world, having to play normal people, it has the most impact.
Set Up: Backstory [GM knowledge only]
Nuggins, a farm boy, found the true Master Gem in a pile of pig crap. Being a bit of a klutz, he broke it but this brought him to the God Realm with one half of the Gem. He began selling the fantasy objects that spawned out of the half-Gem on the magical marketplace eBaydotcom, accessed through a magic mirror, which made him rich beyond measure.
He has actually stolen the identity of an already famous celebrity (I chose Nic Cage but choose anyone you feel like) who was, in turn, sent to the PC’s world (and is secretly the quest giver). Bored and rich, Nuggins then decided to set himself up as Dark Ruler of the Universe in Midford Castle (using various powerful artifacts that had spawned through the half-gem).
[Author note: Midford Castle is a castle near the town where we were playing. Feel free to use any large and imposing building near you.]
The displaced celebrity turned to the local witch, who realised what had happened through scrying. The celebrity then contacted the nearest adventuring party, having been told by the witch that, once they touched the other half of the gem, they would be transported with it into the God Realm. In the meantime, as often happens, an evil cult had found the half gem and begun using it to bring their evil elder god through.
The Adventurers set out and defeat the cult but, when they touch the half gem, they are warped into the bodies of some Gods, who appear to be playing with their fates. They must then investigate and find Nuggins before the two worlds begin merging into each other any further.
Set Up: Characters [GM Knowledge Only]
You may either allow your players to make their own characters for the initial part of the adventure or make some for them. Either way, you will need to make them some “God” characters for when the adventure switches to the real world and assign them to the players. The God characters should be as realistic in their stats as possible to emphasise the change for the players and the PCs.
When your players switch to God characters, their PCs’ minds will remain the same but they will now be trapped in the bodies of the people that were playing them. Make sure that your players will be comfortable with the new characters that you have selected for them.
|Durdin||Dwarf||Fighter||Greg||Tall, blonde, skinny man||Household Axe|
|Durdin’s entire colony was slaughtered, including his wife and daughter. He was sold into the fighting pits and left to rot. His gruff rudeness rides a deeply sentimental nature. He still mourns the loss of his family and his battlerage is an expression of that. Part of him wishes to die but his sense of honour and duty to the group keep him alive, if reckless.||Durdin is now in the body of a human called Greg. He is so much taller and skinnier that his arms feel like noodles. He’s wearing a bright red leather jacket. There’s an odd helmet that also appears to belong to him and a wedding ring on his finger. Durdin feels a lot more casual and relaxed, no longer so haunted by his dead wife and child, as though they have been abstracted for him somehow.|
|Moonflower||Elf||Mage||Cassie||Short, dark-haired woman||Wooden Spoon (wand)|
|Although she comes off as haughty and aloof, Moonflower has a sensitive and loving nature. She was groomed from birth to be the oracle of her tribe but, when they were all slaughtered by an evil dwarf clan she was forced to make her way on her own. She is beautiful with flowing platinum hair and piercing violet eyes but believes she is ugly. She dresses immaculately to make up for this perceived fault. Because of her past she has a deep mistrust and hatred of dwarves.||Moonflower is now trapped in the body of a short human with bad posture called Cassie. Her raven, Grim, is now in the body of a short, pudgy man with a half-beard. She feels a lot less confident than she did before and has a bewildering urge to chew on her fingernails. She finds it very hard to look anyone in the eye, which she finds ridiculous. She has a wedding ring on her finger and feels a deep, confusing affection for Durdin (although she knows he is still the same untrustworthy dwarf underneath).|
|Bibkin||Halfling||Rogue||Simon||Good-looking young man||Kitchen knives|
|Bibkin is wily, fun and carefree. He likes making new friends and travelling to new places. He’s always ready with a quick joke of pratfall to make his friends laugh and he can talk himself out of anything. He joined the circus at an early age and loved it. He only left when bigger adventures called and he knows he’ll always have a loving home to go back to. He painstakingly writes letters back to them, detailing his exploits.||Bibkin now inhabits the God body of a man named Simon. He still feels totally at ease with everyone and is enjoying being taller, although that will take some getting used to! Not much has changed for Bibkin and he remains his happy-go-lucky self.|
|Giffon always strives to do the right thing in a world of muddy morals and grey areas. He would sacrifice anything for his friends and will always try to find the path that does the least damage. When moved to anger, however, he is a mighty foe. Caring, strong and just, Griffon has dedicated his life to helping others. He formed the adventuring party with the express purpose of saving people. He is kind and tolerant with a wry sense of humour (which his party often wears a little thin). He’s often underestimated because of his boyish demeanor.||Griffon now has the body of a God named Sam. He is somewhat shorter and less muscular but has a sincere, friendly face. Griffon feels a lot more anxious than he ever did, worrying about his friends a lot more. He is wearing a wedding ring and has a picture of some children in his pocket. He always feels like he is forgetting something now and has an extremely strong and confusing attachment to a rectangular, black stone which he found in his pocket.|
|Kayden||Shifter||Ranger||Brad||Handsome, cool guy||Tights (sling)|
|Kayden (or Kay) never knew his birth family and was raised by wolves. He eventually learned to shift to his human form and travelled the forest seeking word of his clan. Quiet and stoic, Kay believes in getting the job done and getting out. He doesn’t like to get involved in messy emotions and prefers viewing life from the safety of the forest. He prefers animals to humans but knows that he craves company when alone.||Kay is now in the God Body of a tall, handsome, muscular man called Brad. He feels much more chilled out and happy than he ever has, as though all of his insecurities and fears have been washed away. He is much taller and stronger with a tidy beard. He is amazed at the muscle definition and health of his new body and very pleased that people seem to automatically like him much more.|
|BRUFF HAMMERFIST||Human||Monk||Josie||Tiny, blonde, teen girl||FISTS|
|Bruff normally works alone, dispensing justice from the shadows. With his fists. Now he must learn to work with this new team. He is the hero they need. The dark avenger who the people cry out for.||Bruff is in the body of some girl called Josie. She’s pretty and has less cool stuff but it doesn’t matter. She’s dressed properly in a ninja costume. Nothing has changed that counts. She’s still Bruff, just shorter.|
- The Grinning Dragon Inn
- Riddle in the Ruins
- Statue Puzzle
- Evil Cultists!
- The God Realm
- Mirror Mirror on the Desk
- The Christmas Horde
- Storming the Castle
- Ladies and Gentlemen…. Nuggins!
- The Grinning Dragon Inn
You are approached by a hooded figure while you drink in your favourite tavern, The Grinning Dragon, celebrating your latest victory over the Chupacabra terrorising the neighbouring village. The hooded man says that his name is Alhafiz and informs you that he has a job for you that will pay very well indeed.
GM Note: the hooded figure is actually the celebrity that Nuggins has replaced (in Nuggins’ body) but will shy away from any revelation of this and will try to ensure that the PCs never have a clear view of their face.
The hooded figure says that his patron, the great prince Alealam, has been robbed. The cult of Tamziq stole the mystic jewel “Huna” from the treasury and have taken it to be part of their great summoning of a demon prince. Alhafiz begs the party to stop them and recover the jewel, offering generous payment from the great prince. He needs it back by the full moon, which is tomorrow night, to ensure that the prince has time to cleanse the gem before their Winter Festival.
The PCs can haggle with Alhafiz at this point but if they get aggressive or try to unmask him, he will throw a smoke bomb and start the bar fight to get away. If they successfully haggle with him then he will bow and gift them with a map of the “real world” town that they’ll eventually go to (although he won’t explain it at all) and then leave, starting the bar fight to cover his exit.
The hooded figure melts away into the crowd, [PC with the highest perception] notices that he trips a nasty looking half-orc on the way out. As you watch a chain reaction of stumbling transforms the happy tavern into a brawling sea of fists and fights.
Skill Challenge: Bar Fight.
GM Note: Any grievous damage (i.e. from weapon attacks) to the crowd will draw the attention of the guard and a combat encounter with them (unless the PCs surrender). The guards must be much higher level than the PCs so that it is an extremely difficult encounter. If the PCs are knocked unconscious (there would be no TPK as the guards would not kill them) or surrender, then they will be taken to a cell for the night and you should boost the final Boss (Nuggins) as he has had more time to prepare.
The PCs start the challenge at the Bar, which is 2 moves away from the door.
- Round 1: All around you, the bar heaves with drunken patrons throwing punches at the nearest face. Just another Saturday night at the Grinning Dragon.
- Athletics/Acro: low. You dodge and dive around flying fists and kicks, heading towards the door.
- Endurance: medium. You pull in your limbs and shoulder your way through the throng.
- Intimidate: high. You put on your most malevolent glare and will the fighters out of your way.
- Bluff: high. You tap one patron on the shoulder and then duck under their legs into a clear space on the other side.
- Perception: medium. Using your keen senses, you spot an opening amongst the crowd and deftly slip into it.
- Perception: high. The PCs may use a higher Perception DC to spot a way through the crowd whilst also keeping track of Alhafiz.
- Special: PCs may use appropriate spells or talents as well.
Fails: The PCs take small damage from being buffeted by the crowd.
- Round 2: To your horror, you watch a bottle of extremely expensive brandy go sailing over the crowd (thrown by some over-enthusiastic brawler, no doubt) and hit the ornate candelabra behind the bar. Within seconds, that end of the room is wreathed in flames and the now-panicked crowd flee to the single door.
- Athletics/Acro: Medium. Your innate grace and athleticism help you to keep your feet as the mob pushes you to the door.
- Endurance: High. You toughen yourself, breathing deeply and shoulder the hits and bashes from letting the mob push you to the door.
- Perception: High. You keep your eyes on your immediate surroundings, sensing where the next hit will come from and avoiding it as the mob pushes you to the door.
- Special: PCs may use appropriate spells or talents as well.
Fails: The PCs are pushed to the floor by the mob and trampled for medium damage.
GM Note: At this point, if they have succeeded on both rounds, the PCs will be at the door and can let the crowd stream around them into the night. Any PC that has failed either round will be trapped inside the bar for the next round. If they failed the second round, they will be prone. PCs should stay in initiative but now it’s a normal encounter, rather than a skill encounter.
As the last of the crowd stream out of the door, the dusty roof timbers ignite and, weakened from decades of neglect, crumble, filling the doorway with burning timbers.
GM Note: Any PCs that are trapped within the bar should take medium damage each round for smoke inhalation. The PCs can either destroy the beams in front of the door, or attempt to climb out of the hole in the roof. Both tasks should be reasonably difficult. If the PCs are knocked unconscious, they are rescued by the guard and kept in a cell to recover, with the same results as if they were arrested.
Once the bar encounter is over, the PCs can supply up and head out to the ruins, healing or buying extra equipment.
- Riddle in the Ruins
In the middle of temperate hills the ruins stretch up to the sky like the broken, skeletal hands of some ancient god begging for mercy. The setting sun casts the crumbling ruin in abstract and dramatic silhouettes. A giant wall of stone stretches before you, with an intricate design etched in the shape of a doorway. Around the door, crumbling ruins block any view into the pathway downwards.
The doors loom before you made of some ancient wood. They glow slightly and give off a faint vibration. There is a legend on the door:
I made it, I don’t want it.
I bought it, I don’t need it.
I need it, I didn’t know.
GM Note: the answer is a coffin or tomb. If they can’t answer, then they can try to destroy the door, which has a medium HP, they take medium damage every time they hit it as the ancient magical defenses lash out.
GM Note: If they destroyed the door, the PCs are straight into combat. This combat encounter should be easy but satisfying, making the PCs feel like effortless badasses.
The sound of your destroying the door has drawn enemies. As you stumble into a grand, decaying hall, a tide of goblins rush towards you, brandishing homemade weapons. You ready your own, waiting for the horde to descend.
If a gobbo is captured they will tell that they have been taken to see the great gem. “Touching it will show you the land of the gods, it will take you to heaven.”
If they didn’t destroy the door:
A grand, decaying hall stretches before you. In the center, gathered around a strange plinth are a group of goblins. On the plinth is a giant red button.
The PCs can ambush. As soon as the first gobbo sees the party they will run straight to the button and smash it, causing 20 more gobbos to enter unless the PCs prevent them or disable the button.
- Statue Puzzle
The next room is a perfect cylinder. The walls are lined with six enormous statues of dragons and a ruby altar, carved like flames and as tall as a dragonborn, lies in the exact center of the room with steps leading up to it. The altar is topped by a large stone bowl. As you enter, the door slams shut behind you and the walls begin to spin. When they finish, you cannot see any doorway.
Before you have time to adjust, a booming voice rings out, echoing through the chamber. The language is alien to you and you have no idea what it is saying.
GM Note: The PCs can now make checks and explore the room. They cannot translate the voice but, with a high Insight roll, they can realise that it is making a demand. If they check the bowl, they will see the remnants of some bones, ash and stains in the stone. They should only have a few minutes before the next section.
In order to solve this puzzle, the PCs must make an offering in the bowl of something organic (food, blood, hair etc etc). Once they have made the offering, however, they will not feel any different but they will now be immune to fire (although they’ll be unaware of this until they encounter it).
The alien voice rings out once again, sounding angrier and more demanding than before. In its wake you hear the grinding of ancient machinery and the statues begin to shake.
GM Note: The PCs should now have one more action each before the next action begins.
The dragon statues let out a roar and their mouths open, belching smoke. Slowly, lava begins pouring through their maws, pooling on the floor.
GM Note: Roll initiative. There will be 2 rounds before the lava reaches the altar then 1 turn before it reaches the bowl. Once the bowl is at the lava, it will stop rising.
The PCs who have made an offering in the bowl will feel no heat and will be able to touch and swim in the lava as though it is water. With their head underneath the surface, they will be able to breathe and see. They will also be able to see the exit door. Any PC who has not made an offering in the bowl will take high damage each turn that they are adjacent to or touching the lava.
The exit door will open onto a portal which teleports the PCs who touch it to the antechamber of the next room.
- Evil Cultists!
Inside this room, a group of robed figures huddle around a multi-sided gem, chanting. An eldritch monstrosity rises from a pool at the back of the room, lashing its tentacles and gnashing its beak.
GM Note: The PCs can defeat the cultists and monster but as soon as they get within 1 foot of the gem, they will disappear in a giant crackling ball of light and black out. The cultists and the monster should be fairly challenging and encourage the PCs to make a dash for the gem, rather than go for combat.
- The God Realm
You wake up in a strange body.
GM Note: Give out the new character sheets to the players. You should make it clear that the PCs still have the same mind and personality, only with some changes due to their new bodies.
I chose the setting from the room and house that we were actually in. However, you could use any real-world setting for this as long as it is in a town and there is an appropriate “Castle” for Nuggins to set up in.
You are in a smallish room. The floor is wood and there are cream walls around you. there is a plain wooden table with weird papers and odd stone artifacts around you, some labelled with numbers and some carved in your own likenesses. In the corner a black square mirror hums with arcane energy. You look around and see strange people around you.
[If Goblins talked to: This must be the realm of the Gods that the Goblin spoke of.]
[Religion/Arcana: medium: This must be the realm of the Gods. They seem to be playing the game of fate with your life.]
GM Note: PCs can roll insight on themselves (DC: Medium) to try to gain flashes of memory from the God body they are within. This should give them hints on how the modern world works and how they can find the master gem.
- Mirror, Mirror… On the desk
On the table is a glowing gem, carved with twenty numbers.
Arcana/Religion on the gem: low. This is part of the gem that brought you here. It’s like the gem exists both here and in the real world. But here it is broken. In order to get back home, you’re going to have to get both halves together.
Arcana on “Mirror” or Insight on God Body: low. You sense that this black mirror holds the answers you seek. As you fiddle with it, it fills with light, bathing the room in brightness.
GM Note: The PCs must use the magic mirror (laptop) to search for the gem. They will need to successfully roll insight on their God Body or use a spell that allows them unusual skills/knowledge (i.e. summoning a demon and asking etc). However, this is really a chance to roleplay and so it shouldn’t be difficult with their rolls, more a chance to have fun with the humour of the concept.
Alternatively, the PCs can just follow the vague feeling that the gem is somewhere to the north if they investigated the gem successfully.
Before you leave, you search the house for weapons and get yourself as prepared as possible for whatever horrors will face you in this strange place.
You exit the house and step into the heart of the God’s Realm. Beautiful tall buildings made of yellow stone lead down towards a city. Metal beasts with vacant glassy eyes prowl along the roads and gods wander around in strange clothing.
- The Christmas Horde
As you make your way into the town, the crowd thickens until you can make almost no progress. The horde of Gods shifts and swells. There are more people than you have ever seen before. Even the metal beasts can make no progress through the sea of bodies and they scream out their frustration in a series of wailing honks.
GM Note: PCs can do anything they like to empty the crowd. The crowd won’t respond to anything that isn’t utterly spectacular and terrifying. The crazier the better.
[Author’s Note: I wrote this in the midst of christmas shopping and so this is a little bit of catharsis for anyone that know the horror of fighting your way through the crowds. You don’t have to set it at christmas, just anytime the town would be overrun.]
With the town cleared, you can make your way in the direction of the gem.
You seem to be heading uphill now, away from the city and into the countryside. Every now and then, one of the metal beasts roars past you, heading out of town or into it. As you crest the hill, more and more beasts roar past you until they are a constant, noisy stream. You come to a meeting of roads in a giant circle. Metal beasts whirl around it in an endless stream.
GM Note: PCs must cross the stream of beasts. You could frame this as a skill challenge or simply ask each PC to make acrobatics/athletics checks to run. At this point, I liked letting the players really have fun with the silliness and cast some outrageous spells to make the traffic come to a standstill.
As the adventure is ramping up to the endgame, now is the time to keep the momentum going, rather than get too picky with skill challenges or things that will slow everything down. That said, the players will likely enjoy roleplaying this section so keeping it improvisational and flowing would be best.
- Storming the Castle.
Now that you are past the circle of beasts, you can see the valley stretching before you. The gem vibrates and then shoots out a beam of light into the darkness. You see another, echoing beam shoot up from further down the valley.
As you approach, you see that the gem is pulling you in the direction of a castle. As you walk closer, you start to feel the prickling of great magic. You see a shadow of a dragon passing overhead. Down by the castle gates, you see 3 guards keeping watch.
GM Note: PCs will have to talk or fight their way into the castle. I made the guards into a mini skill challenge with each of the three having to be persuaded in different ways, given through clues in the dialogue:
- Guard 1 can be bought/bribed or intimidated
- Guard 2 is stupid and can be convinced that the PCs are his superiors
- Guard 3 is very honourable but very tired and can be lulled to sleep/distracted.
- Ladies and Gentlemen…. Nuggins!
You enter a long throne room. The chandeliers glitter with jewels and the walls are hung with rich tapestries. At the end is a magnificent throne, draped in rich silks.
On the throne sits an imposing figure.
GM Note: Nuggins looks like the celebrity you have chosen that he is imitating. You can play this up for humour with impressions, if you like. The only way for the PCs to return home is for them to defeat Nuggins, who should be the boss encounter for the adventure. He can monologue the plot to the players to explain what happened to him.
The half of the gem is on his crown and, once they re-unite the pieces, a blinding light will engulf the room and transport all PCs into their real bodies (give back the original character sheets). They should then be able to defeat Nuggins, who was dragged through with them back into his farm-boy body (which they will have met as “Alhafiz”), if they haven’t already. This should be very easy as he should be extremely weak in this body.
They now have possession of the gem, which seems exhausted magically but will be worth a lot of money, and any loot from the cultists.