I had a brilliant D&D idea this morning in the shower. Instead of heroes searching high and low for every scrap of gold, let them go meet the big bad.
The heroes can then hire "The Seekers Guild" to come in after they clear out the dungeon.
This guild is hired to trip every minor trap, and collect all the stray pieces of treasure. They get to net 10% of their findings, and the players can go forward in the storyline. Brilliant! Yes?
...I hate (boring) filler.
The PCs are going on a fairly lengthy riverboat journey in my Iron Kingdoms game with very few stops. For those of you familiar with the IK, they're on a steamship heading upstream from Five Fingers to Caspia, only making stops in Tarna and Point Bourne. All in all it's gonna take at least 3 weeks. The PCs are escorting/guarding a rather important (and rakish) to Caspia (and beyond.)
Now, I don't really want to handwave over the trip ("You guys leave Five Fingers, three days later you dock in Tarna, the trip was pretty quiet and boring") and I really don't want to have the standard RPG shipbound encounters too ("Oh look, a giant river monster is attacking the ship!"... two says later "Oh no! River pirates!"... "Look out! another giant monster!") There will be a couple of off ship obstacles/encounters, but I think two for the entire journey is enough.
To spice up the trip, I need some interesting passengers. Now, they're leaving a notorious pirate/smuggler haven full of scum and villiany, and headed to a city very near the warfront. So we can have all kinds of unsavory types or people with hidden secrets or running to or from danger or whatnot. The ship is largely a comercial vessel, but there are a dozen or two other passengers. The Iron Kingdoms is kind of a steampunkish world, with less victoriana and more of an industrial revolution vibe. There are elves and dwarves and goblins and trolls and ogres in addition to our normal humans, and there's a giant war going on right now.
My girlfriend already suggested a black widow/femme fatale type, which I think is a great idea.
Any suggestions are welcome, be they IK specific or more generalized. Thanks in advance.