Welcome all of you to Freestyle Friday. Today is 3/3, and so we’re going to discuss a magical number today.
3 is one of the most iconic numbers in mythology, representing the Trinity of the Christian faith, the three most important aspects of Brahma in Hinduism, the number of brothers that ruled the heavens, sea, and underworld in Greek myth, and it occurs frequently among fairy tales of various cultures, as well as being seen as the tripartite portion of human aging, (both unisex and in particular to women.) And it also represents the number of known continents to most far-ranging cultures before the discovery of the Americas.
With all that plethora of 3’s in the real world, you can add a number of 3 references in the Realms and other worlds as well.
3 gods worshipped as one by the Rashimi in the Realms
3 alignments (both on the law/chaos scale and the good/evil scale)
Hags are most powerful in groups of 3
3 planes including the prime are reflections of it.
And many more.
So, how to bring the number 3 into your game. Let’s discuss some options.
- 3-way struggle: the battle your characters or players are fighting is a three-way struggle. This can allow for intrigues, temporary alliances either in favor or against the players, or can make getting a treasure or goal accomplished simply that much more complicated.
- 3 foes: Why have one face behind the evil threat when you can have 3? This can lead to again intrigues and backstabbing, or it can also lead to making stopping the threat a more daunting challenge when you can’t simply cut off the serpent’s head. Much can be gained by a DM by making these villains far more varied, making the game a real challenge as a foe might be a devil, while another is a genie, and a third is a rogue.
- 3 pieces: It’s a classic, but can lead to multiple adventures in a chain or render a seemingly easy task in a single adventure more complicated. If one must just get the helmet, all together and fine, one really doesn’t get the same sort of experience with several fragments. These fragments could be in 3 places around the dungeon or they might be scattered across the planes.
- 3 allies: This is actually very similar to 3 foes, except presumably all of these allies are on your side. This can actually make a social encounter that much more challenging. You can’t just war pick the nobleman to his face if he doesn’t agree with the archdruid as you might be able to with an enemy, so this can always make for fascinating role-play.
- three locations: In this case, the goals of the party can’t be met unless they visit 3 different, but inherently connected places. These could be anything from varied ruins to entire planes of existence. Such a number keeps the players from being overwhelmed but can lend coherence to an ongoing campaign and weave interesting narratives for the game.
- 3 truths: These are bits of information that are more or less useless on their own but serve a purpose once the party knows all 3. This could be used for a mystery set-up, or perhaps something involving espionage or thwarting a villain ahead of time.
- 3 tiers: Villains might not always work as equals, or perhaps there are tasks the party must perform of various difficulties, the easiest leading into the next. Like other 3’s. this set-up of the number is small and manageable, but also lends a degree of coherence or structure to a campaign. It also gives the players goals and purpose to what they do.
- 3 events: trouble comes in 3’s and that might be true for players on a large-scale campaign. Chances are the monsters aren’t going to come at the heroes or their allies one at a time. Try dumping 3 events on different locations, thus giving the crisis a real feel of danger and also driving home the seriousness of whatever the characters are doing.
- 3 triumphs: One of the greatest rewards to a group of players is a triumphant, massive victory over the foes they encounter. Perhaps have something the players do, particularly at a pivotal moment in the campaign do something that solves three of their pressing problems. Only do this when either the players are so-hard-pressed that they need some help or when they do something amazing that warrants an amazing reward.
There you are, it is 3/3 and I gave you 3×3 ways to use the number in a campaign. Hope some of these appeal to you and I hope to see you next time on Freestyle Friday.
About the Author:
Zachary Is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check.” He likes bad sci-fi and horror flicks and classic lit and lives with his 2 rats and 2 dogs. A lich told him he ought to go out and live a little saying, “You only live thrice.”