Archive for October, 2017

And Yet Another Campaign Idea

October 4, 2017

I’ve been tossing around a lot of campaign ideas lately.  More than usual, at least.  This is a variation of the Long Winter Campaign, borrowing many of the same ideas and probably using Pathfinder Beginner Box, as well.

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So, about two or three hundred years ago adventurers explored the far north, discovering the ruins of many a fallen civilization.  They parlayed the riches gathered from these ruins to eventually build a kingdom of their own.  For roughly a hundred years a succession of strong and capable rulers carved a new civilization from the distant northern wilderness.  They built castles, estates, temples and towns throughout the untamed lands.

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Then, a succession of weak and unprepared rulers followed.  Indecision, indifference and infighting allowed the wilderness to slowly claw back the kingdom’s hard-won gains.  Over the course of the past 100-150 years, outpost after outpost fell to the encroaching chaos.  Always was the plan to reclaim that castle from orcs on the following year, or rebuild that pillaged town next spring, or reestablish trade routes to the south after the floods abated…but crisis followed crisis, and there were never enough resources or, eventually, interest to reclaim those remote outposts and distant glories.  The kingdom gradually turned inwards, trying to preserve what was left, until ultimately only the well-fortified capitol remained.

 

And this is where the PCs step in.  This is essentially a West Marches style campaign.  Adventurers go out, explore the wilderness, and return to town with their discoveries and riches.  Only, this town is isolated from the rest of civilization, so resources are limited.  Horses are rare, and expensive.  Masterwork weapons are not available at all, along with certain types of weapons and armor.  Basic alchemical gear may be available, but there is no market for buying or selling actual magic items (at first, at least).  Hyper-inflation is a real possibility as the PCs flood the remote town with gold and silver.

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The twist here is that as the players explore the wilderness, they’re also pushing back against it, slowly expanding the borders of civilization.  When they make contact with certain groups, then certain types of equipment will again become available.  Clearing a castle or fortress may allow the kingdom to reoccupy it, affecting the migration of monsters, and thus altering the encounter tables for the region and generally making it safer to travel.  Reestablishing old trade routes allows the party to more easily sell or trade their new found riches.  And if they decide to establish a foothold of their own out yonder, I’d certainly be willing to work with them on that.

However, the catch is that I won’t tell the players this is happening.  They’ll probably catch on eventually, but it won’t be a stated part of the campaign.  I don’t want to just hand them a to-do list so they can start checking off the boxes and then ‘win’ the campaign.  I want it to be a more organic progression than that, the feeling that their efforts really are affecting the world – by showing rather than telling.  And I don’t want them to feel like they have to do these things.  If they decide to destroy the last vestiges of civilization in the far north, I’ll work with them on that as well.

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One big problem with this approach is, as the PCs push back the wilderness, there will be fewer and fewer areas to adventure in.  As castles and ruins are reclaimed by the kingdom, they can’t be repopulated with new sets of monsters.  This becomes most acute for new characters, who could theoretically run out of low-level ‘zones’ to adventure in.    So, instead of the traditional “things get more dangerous as you travel farther from town” approach, I’ll need to spread the pockets of danger around a bit more.  The woods across the river from town may be CR 4 instead of just CR 1, while there could be low-level pockets distant from civilization, waiting for new adventurers to start their journey there.  And some dungeons just can’t be fully reclaimed.  There will need to be some subtle hints, so the party doesn’t innocently wander into a massacre.  But, the world is also a dangerous place, so…:)

Cheers!

 

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