Posts Tagged ‘Campaign’

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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The State of Your Game

October 26, 2016

sageadvice_thumb_0This is kind of just a throw-away post here.  I didn’t want to end the month without posting at least once on the blog.

So, I’m just wondering about the state of your game: what you’re running, if you’ve got a campaign going, how’s it going, etc.  Feel free to link to any campaign logs or after action reports you’ve written up.  I love to read up on other people’s campaigns.

As for myself, nothing cooking at the moment.  I’ve got five or six ideas for campaigns (including The Long Winter campaign, long in development), but I’m not really sure what to focus on.  Besides, our group currently games two or three times a week, so there aren’t a lot of open time slots at the moment.

Game on!

 

Beginner Box Campaign Idea

April 24, 2014

For a few weeks now I’ve been running over an idea in my head for a kind of long-running campaign using the Pathfinder Beginner’s Box.  The idea combines several different types of campaigns, and then throws in a few ideas of my own.

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  • There’s a method of Old School play that treats the Basic D&D box as a complete game (in other words, it ignores the Expert rules or Advanced D&D).  Meaning characters could never advance beyond 3rd level (and yes, 3rd level characters would take on dragons and other powerful monsters…very well prepared 3rd level characters, that is).  So I’d run with that concept, using the BB (and the PDFs put out by Paizo).
    • I’d use only the 4 core classes.  The barbarian would be excluded because allowing it would just open a can of worms (“You allow barbarians, why can’t I play a paladin/druid/ranger/whatever”).
    • Only items, spells, gear and monsters from the BB and GM/Player Pack PDFs would be available.
    • I’m torn over using the Sandpoint setting or implementing one of my own.  On one hand, it’s ready made and fits the theme of only using stuff from the BB.  On the other, it feels a bit too canned.  If I could find an unmarked map of Sandpoint and the surrounding area I’d probably go with using Sandpoint.  If I did use the Sandpoint map, I’d change the scale from 1 inch = 1 mile, to 1 inch = 1 day of travel.
    • All that said, I probably would make a few additions, such as allowing multi-classing (but only one other class) and adding a few feats that fill in some gaps.
    • I’d reserve the right to add other things as the need arises, such as down-time activities or allowing PCs to build keeps in the wilderness.
  • So, by definition, this would be an E6 style campaign, since the BB only goes up to level 5 (well, I guess technically it’d be an ‘E5’ game).
  • The campaign would be driven by player exploration of the world (or a bound part of it), West Marches style, rather than by an overarching plot or storyline.  There’s no NPCs handing out quests left-and-right, no BBEG to defeat, no need for mighty heroes to save the world (yet again).  Also, adventures take place in the wilderness, not in town (though they may, perhaps, take place below the town).  This means the game could continue, theoretically, forever (or, at least, until the players or the GM gets sick of it).  This also immediately frames the campaign in the context of opportunistic murder-hoboes looking to get rich, rather than shining heroes destined to do great things.
  • I’d like to keep a running chronicle of the game, rather like the chronicles of Rythlondar, only using a blog rather than a newsletter.  The blog would not only chronicle the PC’s adventures, but provide information on house rules, equipment lists, active characters, dead characters (with means of demise, of course), maps of adventure locals (but only showing what players have discovered so far) and other pertinent campaign information.

And my own peculiar ideas, some new, some old:

  • Old D&D campaigns often had dozens of players, who would drop in and play when they could.  While I can’t scrounge up dozens of players, the idea is that there would be a large group of players, some regulars and others more casual.  But they’d be welcome to drop in when they could, creating a rotating pool of players.  However, given that we have such a small player base to work of off, this probably won’t pan out.
    • Related to this, every player would be encouraged to manage a stable of characters with varying levels of experience.  The idea is that rotating characters allows all players to continually access all levels of content in the campaign, gives them backup characters in case their ‘main’ character is busy for an extended period of time and helps to cushion the blow of loosing an experience character.  Also, if Johnny Busyguy suddenly has a free day and shows up to the game with his 1st level dude, the other players can pull out their low-level characters and hit up the Goblin-murder Dungeon together.
  • Ideally, every game session would begin in town and end in town.  This will make it easier to introduce new characters as players rotate in and out of the game.  However, I’m not sure how that would work out in practice.
  • Max character level, per the BB, would be 5.  Once a PC hit level 5, that character’s player could keep playing the character (until fate catches up to them) or retire the character.  There’d be no benefit to retiring a character, other than bragging rights, perhaps.  A roster of retired characters would be maintained in the chronicles.  Once a character is retired, they leave for the civilized lands, taking all their treasure with them (excepting, perhaps, magic items…see below).
    • 5th level characters that keep adventuring select an additional feat for every 10,000 additional XP accumulated past 5th level.
  • Every permanent magic item is unique in the world.  That means there’s only one Bag of Holding, only one Ring of Protection +1, only one Longsword +2.  These items would be carefully tracked by the GM.  Known items would probably be listed in the chronicles, whether in the possession of PCs or NPCs.  Things like scrolls, potions, wands and other consumable magic items would not be unique, though they may still be rare.
    • While the PCs would be free to sell their magic items, it’d be nearly impossible to buy one on the open market (though potions, scrolls and the like would be available for sale).  Of course, selling a permanent magic item means it likely would be removed from the campaign forever.
  • Campaign time would be tracked in one week increments (hopefully simplifying the tracking of game time).  If players return to town after only a few days in the wild, it would be assumed that they spend the rest of the week in town relaxing, repairing gear and otherwise preparing for the next expedition into the wilderness.
  • PCs will be assessed a “lifestyle” expense on a weekly basis.  Currently I’m thinking of 1% of accumulated XP in gold pieces, payable at the end of the week (though this is subject to change).  This fee covers such things as: room and board, “entertainment” expenses, equipment maintenance and repair, training expenses, taxes, tithes, bribes, protection money and the like.  It would not cover the purchase cost of weapons, armor, equipment or magic.  If players eventually build a stronghold outside of the city, they would no longer be subject to the lifestyle fee (though they’d have to pay maintenance on their stronghold).
  • Using the official BB character sheet as a guide, PCs would be restricted to a maximum of 30 inventory slots.  Also, all wealth, including coins, would be tracked through inventory slots (100 coins per slot).  This is to enforce hard, strategic choices in game play:  do you drop all your gear to carry as much treasure as possible, or do you forego 200 GP of treasure to carry a couple extra days rations, just in case.  The use of containers (like backpacks and pouches) would be assumed, to help simplify things a bit.
  • A few house rules, to help streamline gameplay and increase lethality a bit:
    • Confirmation rolls are not required on critical hits
    • Diagonal movement uses just 5′ of movement, not 5’/10’/5’/10′
    • AoEs are square-based, rather than trapezoidal-based per standard Pathfinder
    • Dying characters don’t get a Fort save every round; they just loose 1 hit point per round until another character stabilizes them

Campaign Idea I’m Totally Going to Steal

May 22, 2013

Paul at the Blog of Holding recently posted about an unpublished, unnamed campaign setting for 2nd Edition AD&D.  My take on it is, the good guys lost some kind of apocalyptic war, the world is covered with clouds (which I’ll call ‘the Gloom’) and the last few survivors live on top of mountains that jut up out of the Gloom.  In my mind, these are massive, vault-like cities which extend for miles below the surface (where most survivors live).  The last few mountain-vaults stay in communication with one another via sky ships of some sort.

Now, it sounds like the original premise was going to be fairly straight-up fantasy (you know, flying wooden sailing ships and all that), but I think I’d go with a more steam-punk take on it.  An early industrial setting with relatively low levels of magic, most of which are relics predating even the Gloom.  The mountain vaults are maintained largely by massive steam machines and analytical engines (constantly in danger of failing, and thus in need of rare parts).

A mithril plated, steam powered skyship.

A mithril plated, steam powered skyship.

The few remaining sky ships are mithril-plated, steam-powered, probably with a few cannon to discourage sky raiders or flying monsters.  The means to produce new sky ships is lost, so they are increasingly rare as they break down, are shot down or simply disappear into the Gloom, never to be seen again.  Few captains are willing to risk flying their ships below the clouds, and then only for a really good reason.

The PCs are scavengers and salvagers (naturally) who venture down into the Gloom to find relics and salvage equipment not easily obtained in the vaults.  Below the clouds they must contend with savage hordes of goblinoids and outcast river raiders, venture into lost cities ruled by the undead or explore lost vaults whose inhabitants have regressed to morlock barbarism.

Guns exist, lethal and rare; ammunition is scarce and quite expensive.  Most of the denizens of the Gloom are savages so salvage teams can usually get by with bows, pikes and swords.  You break out the guns for those ‘oh shit’ situations, when you’re really in trouble.  If you’ve got a mad scientist on your team, he may be able to concoct some kind of rocket launcher (read: fireball) or lightning gun to help even the odds.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine how simple savages could defeat an established, industrial society (with some magic, no less).  My first thought is some kind of contagion that decimates the world’s population.  Maybe weaponized/aerosol green slime (the ‘Green Death’)?  Though the idea of apocalyptic cities filled with undead is kind of appealing, too.  So, maybe some kind of biological weapon that turned most people into ghouls?  Maybe both.  The Gloom followed in the contagion’s wake, the nail in civilization’s coffin, so to speak; it made living on the surface nearly impossible, especially with such a depleted population base.  The mountain vaults were the only refuges left.  The origin of the Gloom is a mystery for the player’s to discover (or not, as they desire).

As far as anyone knows, dragons (and most similar fantasy monsters) went extinct long ago.  There’ll still be elves and dwarves and evil lizardmen, but they’re accompanied by half-ogres, mutants, morlocks and steambots controlled by insane analytical engines.  Fighters, rogues and priests are joined by mad scientists and medics.  Part of me really wants to incorporate Space-Age Sorcery as well, but the more I think about things, the more I’m de-emphasizing magic; some of it might be a little too over-the-top for this setting.

If you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  Cheers!

My Hypothetical Pathfinder Beginner Box Campaign

January 14, 2012

I say ‘hypothetical’ because I’m not sure I’d ever get the chance to run it.  But if I did, I think these are some of the houserules I’d use:

  • Use Pathfinder Beginner Box as the base rules
  • It would be an ‘E5’ style campaign, meaning level 5 is the highest any character could ever get.  However, they’d still be able to pick new feats every 5,000 or 10,000 xp after level 5, so the characters continue to grow but the power curve is leveled out considerably.
  • It’d be a fairly sandbox-ish campaign, maybe using a modified version of the original Outdoor Survival Map, something like this:

  • I’d do away with the critical hit confirmation roll.  Just another bit of complexity to slow the game down.  I’d probably also change the scimitar to have a critical hit range of 19-20 instead of 18-20.  Other than that, let the blood flow.
  • I’d use 4E style movement, meaning each square costs 1 point of movement whether moving in a straight line or diagonolly.
  • This means square fireballs too, but I’m fine with that.  Trying to figure out the blast radius of a fireball in Pathfinder is annoying and just another impediment to fast gameplay.
  • I’d also use a houserule from our current PF core campaign:  just roll once for initiative at the beginning of combat.  The turn order remains the same for the rest of the battle, unless someone does something to change their order, such as holding an action.
  • Naturally, I’d use all my Beginner Box class conversions. 😉
  • Every magic item, save the consumable stuff (potions, scrolls, wands) and the +1 armor and weapons, would be unique.  That means only one bag of holding in the entire world; only one boots of elvenkind; only one +2 longsword.  That makes magic something a little more special.  The +1 weapons and armor would be mastercrafted weapons made of special materials…rare and valuable, but not unique (and probably not magical either, though their exceptional quality would be evident to even the untrained eye).
  • If a character dies, the new character starts over at level 1 with 0 x.p.  Heck, it’s only 5 levels and the rest of the party can help out by donating equipment, magic and money.
  • I think I’d start with the original Caves of Chaos.  Lets see how the PFBB stacks up against the ultimate low-level adventure.  If the PCs die a lot, I’ll let players run two characters each, at least until one of the characters manages to make it to level 2.

My current gaming group has shown virtually no interest in playing any of the OD&D retro-clones, but maybe I can get them to give the PFBB a try.  Well see.  Cheers.


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