Cruising the WotC boards a while back I came across a new DM struggling with the notion of all the work they’d need creating a starting town for their players. Thinking up locations, inns, and NPCs all seemed like a daunting task. I was happy to point out however of a fantastic starting town right in the DMG, Fallcrest.
First off you have a decent starting delve to get the players going that is high on action and low on plot, Kobold Hall. There are a lot of resources online to help with running that adventure including a great starter kit from Newbie Dm. It’s a decent one shot adventure to allow the players to get a feel for their characters, gain a little wealth and notoriety around town, and give the DM a little time to formulate a more intricate campaign story.
But after they clear out Kobold Hall, what’s next? They won’t have to travel much out of Fallcrest to find excitement. The town has a ton of potential ideas and possible avenues for adventure right within the town walls.
Barstomun Strongbeard and Kelson - Both are unsavory guys with their hands in the underworld. Barstomun has the porter guild under his control. Kelson has his criminal gang in the lower quays. It’s only a matter of time before they butt heads. Clearly the elimination of one group is highly advantageous for the other (not to mention merchants that would be happy to see both go). Or maybe some sort of negotiation needs to be brokered between them before a gang war spirals out of control leading to open murder in the streets? A great opportunity to get your players into a gritty criminal underworld adventure for certain.
Armos Kamroth - Jerk noble? Check. Secret cult leader of Tiamat? Check. Guy for the players to handle? Absolutely.
What makes this guy work wonders as an NPC is that he stays within the law and his suspicious activity is secret. This could easily be played as a noble with the political connections, wealth, and decent reputation in town to be a difficult adversary. A tough reputation to smear publicly, so the ‘he said/players said’ game can easily shift in Armos’s favor. A decent villain for the characters to face off with for sure. And where would his secret cult meet? Why in...
The Catacombs - Yup. A network of old tunnels running right under the bluff. Just what a DM needs for a little dungeon action. How else could the River Rat gang transport stolen goods through the city? Not to mention a few secret areas where some evil cultists could meet (and move some poor sacrificial peasant to a ritual chamber). Clearly some sections would be unexplored. Sealed off sections with secret passageways leading to unknown horrors and wealth. Fun stuff indeed.
Tombwood Cavern - A nice wooded location in the middle of town with a series of old crypts and entrances to Moonstone Caverns. Most have been explored, but there are rumors of some tunnels that lead to the caves. Who knows what lurks in there or what treasures might be found? Tombwood is a fair size (about 200 x 300 ft across) so you could easily have a decent dungeon jaunt right within the woods exploring a few old crypts or a network of caves.
The Tower of Waiting - Still not enough dungeon ideas for you? How about an old abandoned tower (spoiler alert at link)? How about a cool looking map to serve as more inspiration. Yeah, another spooky abandoned place for the players to dig around in. This place might be haunted by ghosts. Or maybe the players could be employed to investigate and find some clues to a secret dark past of Lord Markelhay’s family? After all there is that dubious guy hanging out in the Nentir Inn...
Serim Selduzar - Maybe the tower of waiting might hold some evidence that the father of Lord Markelhay was really not quite that nice ruler everyone remembers? Evidence of torture and human remains locked away behind a secret wall might do a lot of damage to the public reputation of Lord Markelhay, something Selduzar would love to take advantage of. Could the players end up being duped into helping this evil tiefling? (insert soap opera music here)
Yeah, Fallcrest has a lot of neat NPCs, locations, and potential stories right within its walls. Not to mention if you dig around you can find a ton of material out there like this wonderful map I lifted from D&D Doodle. Did I mention he even has a DM friendly version?
Nentir Vale was going to get some support from WotC, but long ago that official campaign setting was dropped from the upcoming products listing. Still with the published adventures already available, not to mention the free Keep on the Shadowfell, there is a lot of potential for a long campaign in the area. With some wonderful maps of the area and specific regions over at D&D Doodle, you won’t be short on sources for inspiration.
All of this can be kicked off with a group spending a little time in Fallcrest, building up their chops at being local heroes. If you’re a new DM struggling to think of a place to start. Don’t turn your nose up at this great location right in the DMG.