Thank God it is them and not you!

That is one of the lyrics from the Band Aid/Live Aid song “Do they Know Its Christmas?”

Even first level characters wield more power than your typical villager and the party even more so. The typical party is an independent group with a broad skillset and more often than not magical support.

There are a whole class of adventures that start with the characters trying to assist with some kind of humanitarian disaster, fire, flood, disease, and so on.

Frequently, the adventure then progresses to the party finding the root cause, normally a villains nefarious plan, and defeating it. Adventure solved.

Some of these adventures can dispense with the dastardly villain. If you have an evolving or degenerating situation, a town or city wide fire is a great example, the disaster itself can up the drama and risks and challenges.

As a GM, we can plot a timeline of probable events. If the disaster was a fire you could plot in the start of an organised bucket chain as the towns folk try to fight the fire, a stampede down narrow streets from animals that had spooked and are fleeing the fire. The collapse of the main temple roof sending burning debris high into the air and starting food fires all over town. The burning and collapse of a bridge cutting off the escape of half the town. You can have set plays you can apply anywhere or any time to action flags, a child cut off in an upstairs room, an person pinned down by a burning roof beam, nuns or priestesses trapped in a burning church.

You can build an entire dramatic adventure around this sort of scene. There are many challenges, opportunities for skill checks and magic use but no need for combat, you still get to inflict burn criticals and fall crush attacks (with secondary burn criticals if you want to be mean) so you can have an existential threat to your characters but no need to have an actual fight.

We could now set this entire disaster in a town during a winter religious festival, which is why so many people are crammed into the town, no room at the inn…

You can end the adventure with the characters being praised as being real heroes, assuming they deserve it. You can top it off with the surviving townsfolk giving the characters gifts as a thank you for their efforts. Maybe Tiny Tim, the child rescued from the burning house, has carved a little wooden action figure of his benefactor and wants to give it to him or her as a thank you.

Who would have thought you could make the medieval version of Towering Inferno into a nice little ‘feel good’ Christmas adventure session?

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