DM's Mark adventures are a new part of Dungeons & Dragons Campaigns, starting with the Eberron: Mark of Heroes campaign. A DM's Mark is an adventure that you write, or modify from another source, and run. We provide you some basic guidelines for linking the adventure into the Mark of Heroes campaign, a special session tracking form, and some story objects for the adventure.
What Do I Run?
The simple answer is: whatever you want! The DM's Mark adventures are a chance for you, the DM, to let your creativity shine.
This might mean creating an adventure or a group of adventures totally from scratch giving your home group an exciting sub-plot within the Mark of Heroes campaign where they can affect the outcome in ways not possible before in campaign-style play. It might mean that you just have an interesting adventure idea to run at a show. Maybe a small sub-plot using NPCs or events detailed in published Mark of Heroes adventures inspired you to build an adventure that will dazzle players and add depth to the campaign as a whole. Even still, it might mean that you have a favorite adventure from a published source that you twiddle with to fit into the Eberron setting and Mark of Heroes campaign to create a fun and exciting five-hour session without hours upon hours of work. The choice is yours. The story is yours. Have fun with it!
When Do I Run?
A new DM's Mark packet shows up in the RPGA ordering database almost every month. You can run DM's Mark adventures at any kind of RPGA event: conventions, game days, retail events, or home events. At the end of the month, the DM's Mark retires, and you can start making plans to run or play the next one.
Each DM's Mark adventure is its own unique scenario in the database. You can run numerous DM's Mark adventures each month, but players can only play a given DM's Mark once. For instance, when DMH2 was released in March, as a DM you could run DM's Mark adventures associated with that packet throughout the month of March. As a player, you could only play one occurrence of DMH-2 even if your DM prepared a number of different adventures or you know a different DM running the same DM's Mark.
Starting at Origins 2005, the RPGA area will host a number of DM's Mark tables every slot where DMs can show up and run their own DM's Mark adventures for anyone willing to play.
First and foremost, some of the standard rules for RPGA adventure hold true for DM's Mark adventures.
- A new DM's Mark packet shows up in the RPGA ordering database almost every month.
- DM's Mark adventures have to be ordered and sanctioned just like other adventures, and thus must be played at RPGA-sanctioned events.
- Design the adventure to run in a five-hour time slot – this is especially true if you are running it as part of a public event.
- The adventure must be reported to the RPGA. Reporting the adventure not only earns four (4) points for Dungeons & Dragons Rewards, it also allows players to earn experience points and gold pieces for their Mark of Heroes character.
Level of Play
When you create your DM's Mark adventure, you should design it for characters of the appropriate campaign level. Each DM's Mark packet provides you with and optimized character level and alternate character level to guide you in your design.
How Many Encounters?
Some of this depends on your style as a DM, but Andy Collins lays out some general guidelines specifically for RPGA adventures in his Craft (Adventure) article series. These guidelines are included below for low-level adventures. You may want to check out all the Craft (Adventure) articles on creating adventure for RPGA events. The columns offer a wealth of good advice. Links to those articles are provided below.
"On average, a single player’s turn in low-level games, takes anywhere from a half-minute to a minute, including making decisions, rolling dice, and recording the results. That 30 to 60 seconds typically includes a single attack or spell, maybe a move, and maybe a saving throw or two for the opponents. Some turns are quicker (“I do nothing.”) but others are longer (“I move past the orcs, provoking three attacks of opportunity, jump over the chasm, and sneak attack the blurred wizard.”) That’s a lot of rolls. As he usually runs more than one character, the GM’s turn take longer than the players' turn: on average, maybe twice as long. All told, an average round of low-level combat lasts somewhere between 4 and 8 minutes. Assuming an average encounter length of 5 rounds, and adding in another 10% or so for pre-fight preparations and post-fight healing, searching, and the like, that’s a total of 22 to 44 minutes per encounter. Over the course of a 200-minute session, you could expect to fit in somewhere from 5 to 9 encounters. Seven is probably a good target number, particularly if most of them are combat-oriented.
"Some encounters break these guidelines. A trap or role-playing encounter doesn’t usually take nearly as long, since it’s usually only one or two characters taking the actions. In that case, you can estimate the “time value” of the encounter by dividing the number of characters you expect to take part by 6. A trapped chest probably involves only one character (the rogue), and thus would take one-sixth the normal time, and count as about one-sixth of an encounter for time purposes. If the group has to talk a city guard into letting them pass after dark, you can expect that no more than a couple of characters take active part in that discussion, and thus the encounter shouldn’t take longer than one-third the normal time, and maybe even less. A trapped room that seals all characters inside while the room fills with water probably involves all six characters, and thus would count as a full normal encounter. At the other extreme, a really tough encounter, particularly one that features lots of opponents, might count as one-and-one-half or even two encounters."
Two Hundred Minutes and the Bonus Encounter
The Adventure Framework
The Adventure Comes to Life
Going Through the Paces
It's All About Style
At the end of the adventure, all treasure is converted into gold pieces and split between the PCs. Each DM's Mark packet includes a treasure value appropriate to the current campaign level. This treasure number includes any rewards paid to the PCs, or any other wealth they picked up during the adventure.
The Mark of Heroes campaign offers a lot of options to play with. Currently, all the characters are members of the Diggers' Union, once a semi-autonomous organization entirely devoted to gathering and supplying Morgrave University with adventurers to find and obtain treasure for the university vaults. With the end of the Last War the organization has emerged as a full-fledge adventurers' guild, with chapter houses throughout the Khorvaire continent and outposts on far-off Xen'drik and even Aerenal. This gives you vast range when deciding where on Eberron to set your adventure. Diggers' Union members are at home in the wilds of Eldeen Reaches, the unholy landscape of the Mornlands, or the dangerous fighting pits of Droaam. They could be treasure hunting for Morgrave University, on a mission for a dragonmarked house, or even aiding local authorities in the investigation of a crime, when the circumstances become beyond the pale for the local constable's expertise. Eberron is open to you.
That said, you might want to link your DM's Mark adventures with the main campaign storylines. Each packet includes ideas that tie into the storyline presented in the campaign's adventures, creating sequels to those plots. Also give are some general notions of where those plots are going, with out giving many if any spoilers.
Dungeons & Dragons Campaigns (of which Mark of Heroes is part of) tracks character progress digitally. At the adventure's end, you report what the character did, by answering a number of questions. The answers to those questions are tallied and determine not only what happens in the campaign, but also the experience points (XP) and gold piece (gp) value increase each character gains.
At the end of each adventure (including DM's Mark adventures) you'll find the RPGA Session Tracking form, tailored for the adventure. On the section titled "Adventure Questions" fill in the bubble that corresponds to the best answer for the questions listed in the specific DM's Mark packet you are playing.
With each DM's Mark packet, we include a couple of story objects. It is you choice whether or not to use the story objects, as they are tools for you to add depth and some extra reward to your adventure.
And that's it. DM's Mark adventures give you control to play that extra game your burning to squeeze in, flesh out the corner of Eberron that your crazy about, or track down that lingering clue from a published adventure that's just screaming for attention. So take control and make the world your own.