d12 Forgery Adventure Hooks

d12 Forgery Adventure Hooks

Let’s commit some forgery in our campaign. Here are d12 ideas.

But before we get into that, why would we want forgery in our game? What benefits do we receive, and how can we wield forgery as storytellers?

Easy Hooks

Little Phingers goes to shake the noble’s hand. Almost too late he spots a blotch of blue paint on his thumb and twists it to avoid contact. The forged painting was barely dry and it already sold to this chump who says it contains a clue to the location of a priceless treasure. Whether that’s true or not, Phingers’ still has the original he can inspect when he gets back to his room at the Grinning Boar. Suddenly, the noble touches the painting. “It’s still wet! What’s going on here? Guards!”

A discovered forgery instantly creates a situation. And that’s what we want more of: situations for our adventures and encounters. The authorities might get involved. The victim might launch an investigation. There could be retribution. News and gossip spread.

An undiscovered forgery known to players creates juicy dramatic tension. Will they get caught? Will the ruse work? Will the heist go down as planned? Regardless of what the characters are doing with the forged thing, players will feel dramatic tension until all signs indicate they’ve gotten away with it or they have received justice if the victims.

Epic Begins Small

I received an email recently from a GM afflicted with plots always too grand. It gets staid saving the world every session. Forgery as a game mechanic, world building piece, or story element ensures you start small.

We begin with a minimum of two for our Cast of Characters:

  1. Victim
  2. Criminal

And we can add more to our cast based on the scope we want:

  1. Forger
  2. Fence or middle man
  3. Gatherer of any special materials
  4. Defense and protection

Each NPC brought into a role above builds out your conspiracy nicely. And suddenly we have specific people doing specific things, culminating in an encounter with the PCs in some fashion.

That’s small with no barrier to the road to epic.

Villain Tie-In

Speaking of plots, if you connect the forgery to the villain in even a small way, you’ve just used forgery as a hook into your main story. Well done!

Perhaps a flunky runs a con without the villain’s knowledge. At the opposite end of the scale, maybe forgery is a Power Base for the villain.

d12 Examples of Forgery

Summing up the main benefits, adding a bit of forgery to our games helps with generating hooks, grounding our adventures, and possibly enhancing our main plotline.

Now let’s check out a list of forgery ideas for world building, situations, and mechanical inspiration:

  1. Counterfeit coins land in a PC’s purse and get noticed when used to pay the city gate fee.
  2. An artist hires a PC to to secretly sell “illegal” copies his work to make himself more famous.
  3. The treasure map, signed by renowned sage @Celeste, says the loot should be at this spot. But the only thing here is this deadly 5 Room Dungeon….
  4. The deed to an ally’s base of operations turns out to be a fake, and now the ally is homeless. Who actually owns the property?
  5. The imposter’s signing of the declaration of war, down to hand used and the way he held the quill, was perfection.
  6. Fake love letters put the Queen in a bad light and resulted in an innocent man being hung. Can the characters get to the bottom of this crime?
  7. A loan shark brandishing a signed loan agreement demands payment from the party. If the party refuses to pay, the loan shark sells the contract to a devil who has many ways to collect….
  8. An invitation, with a forgery of the mayor’s official seal, sends the party at night to the wrong side of town into a deadly ambush.
  9. The party finds general ledgers of the villain’s business but the numbers don’t seem right.
  10. A character anticipates a bequeathment during a will reading. But at the event, a loathsome servant inherits everything. Many of those gathered start shouting that the will is a fake.
  11. Forged correspondence leads the party or an NPC to wrong conclusions, and perhaps false accusations, about the villain’s identity or wrongdoings.
  12. A fraudster has been crafting fake magic items with false magical auras. Rumor has it that even a Thieves’ Guild leader was conned into buying a cursed dagger. The party has been hired to find the culprit, but they best check their recently purchased items first….

It’s Your Turn

Take five minutes and think how you might use a forged document, piece of jewelry, work of art, or special item in your campaign.

Use it as an adventure or encounter hook. Are the PCs victims, hired to find the forger, or caught up in some great scam?

Try it out and let me know how it goes.