Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tim's Campaign

Campaign Code: FAGCDBD

Tim has been playing both longer and shorter then any of us. I believe 'old Methuselah' started playing first edition when I was still in preschool. However, he stopped playing before anyone had even thought of second edition. We brought him back into the fold. Granted we are back tracking to 3.0, but that's neither here nor there. He's kinda traditional in his views, but he's taken to the later editions like a fish to water. His preferences stand in stark contrast to Tom's. But that's what makes roleplaying great. It takes all kinds to move the world. So let's take a look at his top picks.

Humans as primary villains.
More Arcane
Serious RP
Low (2-4)
Any Humanoid

Well, this is pretty traditional. It fits in with almost any type of setting. Which is great. So without further ado, I think that I'll delve into it.

Background: Humans, elves, dwarves, and other demihuman races rule the world. However, in dark corners of the world, forces are gathering to help defend themselves from extinction. Orcs, goblins, giants, and others have gathered in the underdark as a final bastion of existence. The surface world is equated to death. However, in the United Underdark, the elders of various races have decided to try to sue for peace. The PCs, which can have up to 4 HD or character levels (or a combination), have been selected by the Council of Elders to take the peace treaties. They were selected because the PCs were not powerful enough to be considered a threat, but not so weak that they can't defend themselves. Especially valued are arcane casters, because they can cast spells that will help with the diplomacy.

Adventure 1: The trip upstairs. This is a fairly basic adventure in the traditional underdark. Lots of mapping and trying to find a way out. There should be a few stereotypical underdark beasts that the PCs have to contend with. Maybe some darkmantles, phantom fungi, other things along those lines. But those are just some warm ups so that the PCs can get used to their combat capabilities. The real challenge is a role play challenge. When they finally get to the surface, they have to find their way to a settlement. That's where the real challenge lies, the PCs need to get into the settlement without causing a panic and speak to the local leader without being attacked. If they manage to do this and turn the local leader from a potential enemy to a friend (or even someone who won't kill them), they should receive an Ad Hoc xp story award equal to about half of the way to their next level. Repeat as needed.

Adventure 2: Having made a tentative agreement with the local leader, the PCs need to find lodging in the city to help craft the initial treaty between the monsters and the locals. Unfortunately, the only place that will give them lodging is in the less reputable part of town. There are dangers there, mainly the humans that are not as liberal as their leader. While it would be easy for the PCs to harm or even kill the local troublemakers, it would not gain them favor with the local leader. The PCs have to deal with the unsavory members of society, including thieves, cutthroats, and other various criminals. This is another roleplay intensive session. However, it can be made easier, if the PCs have memorized spells to incapacitate the criminals and send them to justice. If the PCs manage to talk their way out of encounters, then they should get an Ad Hoc xp story award equal to about a quarter of the way to their next level. However, if they manage to capture the criminals and bring them to justice, they not only get the regular xp, they also earn the respect of the local lord for helping with the criminal element and proving their basic 'humanity'.

Adventure 3; Having gained more experience with dealing with humans. The PCs should leave the human lands having made the initial arrangements for one of the elders to come to finalize the initial peace talks. Return through the underdark provides an outlet for some combat, and when they get the elder, who is a Illithid, they return to the surface. The conflict in this adventure should be between the PCs and the elder. Who by nature wishes to eat the brains of all the humans. The elder will be on edge having so many delicious brains around. They have to convince him NOT to eat the humans and concentrate on the treaty work. This should be fairly difficult, especially since the humans will be suspicious of the elder who they assume (rightly) that he is desiring to eat their brains. So the PCs have to pull double duty to help the Elder, and to put the humans at ease. If they manage to keep the Elder in check until the initial peace talks are concluded, then they should gain an ad hoc xp reward equal to take them up to their next level.

Adventure 4: The initial peace talks being finalized, as the representatives of the United Underdark, the PCs and the Elder are invited to the capital of the human lands. They will be escorted by a contingent from the local leader. However, not all of the humans are keen to have peace restored. Someone in the escort group will try to kill the PCs via sniper fire of a crossbow. While the Elder could just read everyone's mind, he is hesitant to do so, since it would cause a rift that might cause the fragile peace talks to fall through. The PCs have to use guile and wit along with a hefty dose of roleplaying to figure out who is trying to kill them. The head of the escort will look the other way if the PCs figure out who had done the deed. The villain when confronted will fight to the death. So standard XP.

Adventure 5: The PCs and the Elder arrive in the capital to finalize the initial peace talks. Things go well with the Elder and the King, but the PCs who have to deal with the court who have trouble. The court itself is made up of schemers and opportunists who view the oncoming peace treaty as ways to advance themselves, or to hurt the king's strength. They should need to roleplay to try to change the court's mind. However, after a few days, a body is found in one of the slums of the capital. Normally not an issue, but this body is different. The corpse is missing its brain. Unfortunately, the Elder's whereabouts around the time of the death are unaccounted for. The Elder has been framed. It should actually take a few sessions to determined who in the court framed the Elder.

Ending the Campaign: With the true murderer caught and brought to justice, peace talks can continue unabated.

Continuing Campaign: Easy Peasy. While the initial peace talks are continuing, there is a still more cultures to meet with and cast peace talks. This will be a long arduous process.

Well, I think I got everything. Pretty much. This is a very different type of campaign where the PCs are more interactive then just active. It would take an experienced DM and group to get a really good experience with this campaign. It is not for the faint of heart. Lots of talking with very little action. If you read this make a comment so that I know that I'm not whistling in the dark here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tom's Campaign

Experimenting with the formating. First will be the title, then the campaign code which is made up of what categories from the questionaire that it completes. Then maybe a rant of the day about whatever I feel like. Then a basic list of the choices. Finally a breakdown of the background and the adventure arc.

Campaign Code: AGCACEAF

First, let it be known that Tom is a neophyte. A real noob. Great guy, but still real fresh around the ears. Only reason he plays with us is out of sheer boredom. It was either play D&D with us or sit doing another suduko puzzle. So he hasn't really established a lot of the preconceived notions that the most of us have. So I think his top choices for a campaign really reflect what a lot of other newcomers want. He's still so new that he hasn't really established his favorite character classes and is still in the mood to experiment with the vast smorgasbord that is D&D. I wish I was still that way. Someday he'll be jaded and sick of it all. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt at a con. And he looks like Gordon Gekko from Wall Street.

So let's take a look at the breakdown, shall we?

More Divine
Monster of the Week
Very Low (1st) Level
Unlimited Character Races

It would seem that it is a group of selections that doesn't go together very well. I mean dragons are big bad asses who eat starter characters for breakfast. But with a little work, they can all work together very well. Lets see what I can pull together.

Background: In the gorgeous city of Ryogoa, the seat of the Empire, sits a small temple. The temple is designed in the old style with pagodas and rice paper walls. The Temple is known as the 'Sanctuary for the Misbegotten', an orphanage for those intelligent creatures that some know as monsters. Orcs, goblins, and others are raised here in the goodly ways. The Temple of the Sanctuary for the Misbegotten was founded by a kindly old cleric Reverend Moon. Father Moon, as he was known, had once been a powerful adventurer, who was dismayed at the cycle of violence that adventuring left. Children of 'evil' monsters were left to fend for themselves, and would become evil just to survive. Reverend Moon was determined to break this cycle so that the children would grow up in a positive environment and eventually become missionaries to others to the worship of good and law instead of chaos and evil. It has been many years since Reverend Moon passed to the other side. His disciplines and children have endured much, but the worst is yet to come.

Shadowalker the dark, an evil shade black dragon has decided to become a god. He is evil and without remorse. He has inspired other reptilian races as his followers, calling themselves the Dragon Kin. They are dutiful and fanatic. Shadowalker himself, though is beyond mortal concerns. Instead of concentrating on raising their master up to the deity ladder, the Dragon Kin have decided to weaken the other gods.

Adventure 1: The PCs are orphans of various races that live in the 'Sanctuary for the Misbegotten' most if not all have cleric levels, if possible. The adventure starts with the temple being attacked by Kobolds who are Dragon Kin. The Kobold sorcerer who leads this group has decided the best way to raise his master is to destroy temples to other gods. So he leads an attack on the Sanctuary for the Misbegotten. The primary threats are just simple kobolds. However, some of them will have potions of fire breathing. The third level sorcerer can ride a giant moth. Which is just cool and invokes Mothra. The firebreathers primary target is NOT the PCs or the innocent children, but the temple itself.

Adventure 2: The Sanctuary of the Misbegotten having been destroyed in the previous adventure needs to be replaced. A local Shogun is willing to have his kharma enhanced by building a new one, but the PCs must do a favor for him. There is a roving band of Troglodytes that is causing havoc in his eastern fields. They are slaughtering his kobe beef cattle. Little does the Shogun know, the Troglodytes are Dragon Kin and are sacrificing his prize winning cattle to Shadowalker. The troglodytes have a crocodile, which should cause some trouble to the PCs if they do not think carefully!

Adventure 3: While the Shogun has begun building the new Sanctuary, the PCs have caught the attention of the local Dragon Kin High Priest. He has decided to take matters into his direct attention. He sends his loyal temple guard of Lizardmen and shocker lizards to cause havoc in the building site. The attacks are seemingly random and without reason. However, they are part of the Dragon Kin's high priests plan. The PCs will have to defeat the lizard men to allow work to continue.

Adventure 4: Really cooking now. The PCs should find out a clue to the High Priest's whereabouts from the lizard men. The high priest should be about 5th level or so. The PCs would find him in the undercroft of a larger legitimate temple aligned with the Sanctuary. As the PCs begin a raid on him, the High Priest will lead some of his temple guard through a portal to the demiplane of shadow. Here is where it can get really fun. They have to go through a shadow version of the good temple. Throw in fiendish versions of some of the things that they have already defeated. It should be a hard fight for the PCs that should be around 2-3 level. Then have a countdown for them to get out. Make it exciting and pulse pounding.

Ending the Campaign: Well, after the High Priest is defeated, that can be the end. The PCs have ended the trouble to the Sanctuary.

Continuing the Campaign: The PCs should realize that the High Priest is NOT powerful enough to establish a portal like that. There's still a whole cult dedicated to this dragon, and he might just take an active interest in them after they start cutting down his worshippers. So this campaign could work from 1st level all the way up to 18th or higher.

I think I hit all the points, there's monster of the week (Kobolds, Troglodytes, Lizardmen, and shadowthings), unlimited races (monsters), low level, divine concentration, and planar travel. You might ask where's the cool Asian stuff? Well, like I said, that type of thing is often a matter of taste. In this case, making mention of katanas instead of longswords, climbing claws, and change some of the weapons that the creatures carry will go a long way. For instance Kobolds normally carry Spears, but there's no reason that they can't carry nunchakus or Sianghams.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Here's the results. Couldn't get them to format in the blogspot. So here's a couple of screen shots.

Now here's the fun part. This isn't just a questionnaire to figure out what my PCs want, but also a matrix. A matrix of ideas for campaigns. A few linked adventures in an overall game. That's what I'm really going to do with this blog, I'm going to try and fill out the entire thing with ideas. It's going to take a long time. And I might not do it. It's probably several thousand possibilities. Though, someone with better math skills then I could probably answer how many. I'll probably repeat myself. Several times. There's always that. But ideas will flow. Soon I'll start working on it. Then if you want to use any of the kernels I'm dropping, feel free, just let me know what's happening with your version.

New Blog

This is a new blog. Yay! So I'm a long time Dungeon Master. Very long, like seventeen years or so. I am one of those lucky people who gets to play on a semi-regular basis, with a great group as well. However, it seems like for every great campaign I get to run, I have more ideas then I can use.

At this point, I feel that I should put something out. There's a common misconception out there. Campaign and Campaign Setting are two different things. A campaign is a series of linked adventures, while campaign setting is the world that the game takes place in. Campaign Settings are horribly detailed and intensive. A campaign on the other hand is even more...once you add in the details.

See, that's where I come in. I'm an idea man. I have lots of great ideas, and can come up with a series of adventures at the drop of the hat. So that's what I'm going to be doing with this blog. Just groups of adventure ideas that are strung together as a campaign. I'll give some basic ideas, the jist of the idea so to speak. Then you can fill in the details. I leave those open, because the ideas can often be used across different settings, or even different games. Me, I like to use D&D 3.0 for the most part, mainly because I've had the books, and they are really easy to come by on the cheap.

Er. That's enough of the rough idea for the blog, so I'm going to move on. First off, here's some background. While I have two ongoing campaigns, I'm always looking for the next step. Since the group I'm currently playing with is fairly new to me, I wanted to find out what they really wanted to get out of the group. I made a questionnaire of what they wanted. Its a good thing to go over with any new group, and you can find out what they are looking for.

So here's the questionnaire with explanation of each part. I had the group rank their top choices in a category with 1, 2, or 3. In reverse order so that I had to do less math. So three is the best, and one is the worst. That way I could just add each category up and get the highest.

1. Over All Setting:
The overall setting is basically the terrain type that the PCs are mostly going to be dealing with. It's not a hidebound, hard and fast thing. It sets the stage. While some people would say that the Over All Setting should be the world, I disagree. Any world if handled properly can do almost any of these settings. There may be some exceptions, but for the most part, the world is secondary.
A. Urban: Mainly city based. Possibly the whole campaign will take place in one city. It means very few monster like monsters, and more antagonists that are intelligent.
B. Arctic: The frozen north. Land of ice flows and icebergs. And polar bears. The main challenges in this type of campaign, survival and keeping warm will be paramount. Lots of dire animals, and snow beasts.
C. Desert: Ah, sun and fun. Lots of things can be done with desert enviroments, Genies and scorpions, but the main problems will have to do with water.
D. Sea Faring: Who doesn't love the beach? And pirates? Come on! This one is too easy to do.
E. Jungle: Jungles are fun. Dinosaurs, forgotten ruins, and women in animal print bikinis.
F. Traditional: Wow. Lets see. Mountains, forests, and dungeons. If I have to explain this one more, I'll smack you upside the head so hard.

2. Thematic View: This is a fun one. Thematic view is actually how the setting is interpreted. It is totally a taste issue. The thing is that a sword is a sword. There might be some weapons or equipment that are more common or less common, but it doesn't make a difference.
A. Europe: Again, this is the traditional D&D we're all familiar with. Big castles, and forests and not really a change.
B. African: African campaigns are more a light armored affair. Mystical things are more channeled by ritual. And the great thing is that it can range a whole bunch of different things. Egyptian to Shaka Zulu, its all there. Large areas of things that can be done.
C. Indian Subcontinent: This is such a rich and detailed culture that has been completely overlooked by most D&D. Many different gods that take an active role in people's lives.
D. Arabic: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, the 1001 Arabian Nights, Aladdin, and others are all ripe for use in D&D, but are woefully underrepresented.
E. MezoAmerican: Incas, and Mayas. Big stone idols, human sacrifice, and other great things. Throw in some jungle and it gets interesting.
F. Native American: Another overlooked culture. There's a ton of mythology that has been overlooked. Lots of great monsters.
G. Asian: Monks, ninjas, and samurai. You HAVE watched some anime, haven't you? Easy Peasy.

3. Primary Villains These are going to be the people that you primarily fight. Or the big villain of the campaign. I like to know what people like to fight. Maybe I'm weird, but that's the way it is. These categories should be pretty self explanatory.
A. Goblinoids
B. Giants
C. Dragons
D. Undead
E. Aberrations
F. Strange Animals
G. Humans

4. Odd Places to go: I think that it is important in every campaign to go someplace odd. So I put them on the list.
A. Planes: Ah, the inner and outer planes are fun. Fire elementals and daemons from hell. What could be better?
B. Space: Maybe flying in a boat across the stars? That's pretty cool as well.
C. Underdark: That's traditional. Let's go down a cave and see what we can kill!

5. Type of Game: This one probably requires a bit of explanation. I want to find out what kind of focus the group wants. It makes a huge difference. It doesn't mean there aren't any characters outside of the focus, but there are more of one kind then another.
A. Warriors/rogues: This is a more combat oriented campaign, with less magic.
B. More Arcane: And here's the magic. Tons of it. The drive will be uncovering and discovering more magic. It will be a dominating group at higher levels, but fragile in the beginning.
C. More Divine: Ah, the gods move the world around. So this is often a more driven campaign. More likely to take orders.
D. Psionics: I've said it before, not here, but elsewhere, but if you want to have psionics, you have to design it that way from the ground up. Or it becomes a game breaker.

6. Tone: Tone is my favorite. This is what kind of vibe the group has. It changes the whole thing. It shows how much lark there is. Depending on the tone, off color jokes and things.
A. Swashbuckling: This tone encourages off the cuff attempts, dexterity, and other things of that nature. But it also goes hand and hand with romance and over the top villains, and a quick wit will serve you well.
B. Grinder: Ah, the meat grinder. PCs go in, and mush comes out. This is one where the opponents will typically be overwhelming, but the rewards are much the richer for it. The only jokes that happen are at the PCs expense. 'Whoops! You died!'
C. Horror: Vampires, werewolves, and undead, Oh my! There is little levity in a horror campaign. Death is everywhere.
D. Serious Role Play: Wow. Deep thoughts, philosophy, and long term romantic relationships. Not for the feint of heart.
E. Monster of the Week: Here you go guys. This is the thing you beat up this week. Have fun. This is definitely for the casual gamer, the guy who doesn't really mind if they save the world or not, just if he wins the fight.
F. Exploration: A little levity, a little serious, but the main thing is to see what else is out there. There are few long term NPCs, or anything else. Everyday is a new day.

7. Starting Levels Pretty self explanatory. What power level does everyone want?
A. Very Low (1st)
B. Low (2-4)
C. Mid (5-10)
D. Upper (11-15)
E. High (15-18)
F. Epic (19+)

8. Allowable PC Races
: This is where the group can choose their starting race from. This one doesn't cover anything general, unless you know what I'm talking about, you can leave it off your questionnaire.
A. PHB Only
B. Expanded PHB
C. Humanoid <5 HD
D. Any Humanoid
E. Savage Species
F. Unlimited

My next blog will be my players responses along with mine. Then I'll get into the nitty gritty...