Brainstorming: Low Plot Effort Quests


Since plot resources are a major limiting factor regarding how much plot can be run, a way to increase the amount of plot run and thus provide more opportunities for players to participate in plot is to come up with mods and scenarios that are interesting but can still be run with minimal effort on the part of Plot. Thus, I have created this thread to brainstorm ideas for plots of this type.

For the sake of this thread, to qualify as a "Low Plot Effort Quest" the following must be the case:

- The quest cannot require any Plot involvement except to set up and give out the quest at the beginning, and then to accept the completed quest (and possibly give out a reward) at the end.
- The quest must be not be solely of the form "Find such-and-such items and turn them in". It's easy to come up with quests of this form, but they tend not to be very interesting. Finding items can be a major component of the quest, but there needs to be something more to it: e.g. there's a specific way to find them that's not just "notice them on the ground" or "wait until they show up in loot", you might have to do something with the items after you find them, and so on.


- The quest may require OOG honor from players: e.g, it is permissible to give PCs a sealed envelope and say "you're not allowed to open this until X conditions are met", even though there won't be a Plot member there to enforce that condition. (I've see other mechanics, such as certain lair cards, that also require this type of honor from players, so it's not a new thing.)
- The quest may require interacting with Plot/NPCs to complete provided that no (or only trivial) additional effort from Plot/NPCs is required above and beyond what would have been happening anyway. For instance a quest that says "To complete this quest, you have to deliver a killing blow to 10 monsters" is permissible, even though it requires interacting with the NPCs (monsters), because one can work toward this quest while participating in other battles that would have already happened: Plot doesn't need to send out monsters specifically for this quest.

The following criteria are not necessary but are ideal:

- Ideally, the amount of set-up effort would be low: e.g. a plot where Plot just had to give out one sheet of paper would be preferable to one where Plot had to hide a dozen items scattered around the site.
- Ideally, this would be a quest that lots of people could participate in; it should not be restricted to a specific player or group of players
- Ideally, it would be easy to generate multiple instances of the quest or similar quests in order to provide an ample supply of such quests to anyone who wanted them.


For example, consider the following quest:

An NPC merchant approaches the PCs and states that he is planning a trip to another land, and wants to visit every city in that land while minimizing his travel costs. The NPC provides the PCs with a map of the land, with all the roads listed with their travel costs. The NPC agrees to reward whichever PC comes up with the lowest-cost route. The NPC hands out several copies of the map, and at some later tie he goes back to the PCs and will reward the route with the lowest travel cost.

This quest satisfies the conditions above:

It only requires Plot intervention initially (to prepare and distribute the map) and at the end (to see which route is the best). Note that Plot does not need to know what the "true" optimal route is: Plot is simply comparing which of the routes given by the PCs are best.
- It gives the players an interesting puzzle to figure out - trying to figure out what is the best route. (One could "spice it up" by adding additional conditions on the route.)
- Any player can participate in this quest. It does not require any specific IG skills.
- It is easy to generate multiple different maps to run this or similar quests multiple times, in case someone missed the first quest but still wanted to participate in similar quests.