D&D Next Caves of Chaos Character Relationships

by Mike Shea on 28 May 2012

On 24 May, Wizards of the Coast released the first playtest of D&D Next, the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. This playtest includes five pre-generated characters, a basic set of the rules, and the mini-adventure, Caves of Chaos adapted from the classic adventure Keep on the Borderlands. This adventure is still available used and I highly recommend picking up a copy.

While the adventure includes enough ideas and seeds to get the adventure rolling, there's room for more options. This article begins a series of additions to help you build out the Caves of Chaos into a full mini-campaign. We will begin with a series of Fiasco-style inter-PC relationships.

How to use these relationships

Once your players have selected their pre-generated characters, have each player roll 1d20 and consult the list below. This roll represents the relationship of the player's PC and the PC to the left. The player on the left then rolls for the relationship between his or her PC and the next PC on the left, and so on. By the end, each PC has two relationships, one with the PC on the player's left, and one with the PC on the player's right.

Here's the list of relationships. These relationships applies to both PCs and ties them together.

  1. Guards of the keep.
  2. Former guards of the keep.
  3. Travelers ambushed by goblins on the way to the keep.
  4. Former thralls of evil cultists.
  5. Hired as spies of a rival city.
  6. Survivors of a former adventuring company.
  7. Veterans of a recent war.
  8. Apprentices of the local blacksmith.
  9. Bodyguards of a local jewel merchant.
  10. Escaped slaves of hobgoblins.
  11. Adopted children of a destroyed farmstead.
  12. Employees of the local tavern.
  13. Seekers of a lost treasure.
  14. Bounty hunters seeking outlaws.
  15. Protectors of a lost heir (see the Find the Heir seed in the playtest adventure).
  16. Orphans adopted by the local chapel.
  17. Historian students seeking lost artifacts.
  18. Members of a thieves guild.
  19. Members of a nearby barbarian tribe whose leader went missing.
  20. Hunters hired by a church to kill an evil priest.

Integrating these relationships into the story

Once the players have determined their relationships, let the players discuss the details and add in your own ideas to help use the relationships as guides for the story. Don't railroad it directly into adventures in the caves, but slowly see how the stories they come up with might eventually lead them there. It might help to have an entire gaming session devoted to discussing the rules, working out these relationships, and maybe having a skirmish or two before they attempt a full adventure. Once the details are worked out, you can do a little more planning to build out the adventure.

Build your own mini-campaign

The Caves of Chaos adventure is very lightweight and open ended. An unprepared DM won't find a lot of help in it when it comes to building a full on mini-campaign. If you can, I highly recommend picking up the Keep on the Borderlands adventure which has quite a bit more in it, though it will still need a bit of your support.

Next week, we'll look at building a few NPCs for the Keep to keep your players engaged in the area.

If you enjoyed this article and still have a few 4e games in you, please take a look at Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips and Running Epic Tier D&D Games. This adventure works very well with the blank Gamemastery flip mat, an acrylic sheet, and some orc and goblin minis from Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.

Send feedback to @slyflourish on Twitter or email mike@mikeshea.net.