I have two ideas for role playing games (RPGs) to share. The second one involves railroading the players to follow my plot a bit, and might be better for a video game RPG than a tabletop like Dungeons & Dragons, but it doesn’t matter a ton.
The players are based in a single town for the entire campaign. Sure they may travel, but this town is the only place to really get quests, so they’ll keep coming back there. The town has an inn, though the players will probably want to buy a house or something to use as a home base. There’s a shady store that sells magical items like scrolls and wands and such run by an NPC (non-player character) mage. There’s a store that sells adventurer’s goods like 10-foot-poles, run by an NPC with quests to give. And there’s a weapons/armor shop, run by a crotchety old NPC with no quests, who is hard of hearing and always wants to tell long, boring stories about his glory days. The party will probably not bother learning these NPCs’ names, but they’ll get to know them nevertheless. Eventually, they’ll think of the town as theirs, and will fight to defend it. Could be fun.
The party is seeking to stop an impending invasion of Orcs, or some such, by killing their fiendish leader. The leader is literally a fiend, a demon, and the only way to kill him is with the famous Sword of Sir Thumim.
Now Sir Thumim, the party learns, was a general in the last war, some 50 years ago. He was a famous warrior of surpassing strength, who forged his own magic sword of incredible power. He became infamous for the way he ended the war: by calling upon the power of his sword to erupt a dormant volcano near the enemy’s capital city. Thousands of innocents died from the act, and a surrender was signed a week later. When Sir Thumim returned to his homeland, he was booed by the crowd, who had heard of his atrocity. Distraught and overcome with sorrow, he broke his sword in two, hid both pieces, and then drowned himself in the Great Sea.
That sword is the only thing that can slay the evil leader of the Orcs or some such. They track down an old wizard who lives in a nearby mountain, who claims to know the location of the sword’s blade, but not its hilt. After a bit of adventuring they get to his magnificent palace of a home. He tells them his name is Sir Aramat, and brags that he was once Sir Thumim’s closest friend, and shows them the only portrait of him that anyone has. The aged wizard explains that he will tell them where to find the blade of Sir Thumim’s sword, but they must do something for him first. Sir Aramat wishes them to go and retrieve some water from the Fountain of Youth. He tells them where the Fountain is, and also gives him a purified crystal vial, which is the only thing that can hold the water. The water, explains the wizard, will evaporate if transported any other way. It is also dangerous to drink if you’re already young, which of course the party is.
So the party sets out, and enjoys a nice little quest to find the Fountain. Eventually they get there, fill up the vial with Fountain of Youth water, and return to Sir Aramat the wizard. Unfortunately, it turns out they’re too late: he’s been slain by an advance wave of Orcs Or Some Such, some of whom are still looting the mansion. There is a battle, which of course the players win. In searching for any treasure the OOSS didn’t cart off, the players discover that the old wizard was keeping a blade with no hilt in a locked treasure chest. It could be Sir Thumim’s, but a weapon specialist will know for sure.
The party heads into town, but the advance wave of OOSS is there, too. In particular, they’re attacking the weapon/armor shop. The crotchety, old shopkeeper is hard of hearing, but he’s clinging to life and fighting desperately, telling the party when they arrive that he handled tougher situations when he was their age, and they should be able to help him. The players, of course, join the fray. But there are just too many OOSS for them to beat, they’re way outnumbered!
They’re getting overwhelmed, even with the crotchety old shopkeeper fighting on their side. The shopkeeper complains that he’s getting too old for this. He whines that if he were a bit younger, he could be more help. In fact, if only he weren’t so old, he could probably handle these guys, no sweat.
At some point the party should get the idea of giving the vial of Fountain of Youth water that they’re still carrying to the shopkeeper. He drinks it without thinking, and is suddenly 50 years younger, and in the prime of his life. Picking up two battle axes from a display, he joins the fray in earnest, and now fights at a much higher level than the rest of the characters, winning the battle quickly. When all the OOSS are down, the shopkeeper looks at the players, who find his young face oddly familiar. Before they can say anything to him, he realizes what has happened, and flees by teleportation. The players, as players always do, will search the area for treasure, and realize that the shopkeeper was keeping a hilt with no blade behind his desk. Then they’ll realize where they saw his face before — the portrait in the mansion! The crotchety old NPC shopkeeper whose name the party never bothered to learn was Sir Thumim himself!