Campaign Ideas: Lots of Little Ideas 1

Campaign Ideas: Lots of Little Ideas 1

Campaign Pitch: My goal with these posts is to have a bunch of blog posts that friends could scan when we want to play something new or when gamer friends are visiting or when someone needs ideas. I’ve got a few still baking and so when this reddit thread inspired the above, I thought it might make for a good Campaign Ideas thread with lots of little ideas.

Don’t tell the folks who have been playing lots of “gather pieces of the triforce/One Ring to defeat the Big Evil” that building might look a bit like that. I’d like to think that it will feel different, that hiring artisans and dealing with magic spirits and such will change the face of building.

What is it like building a cathedral when a deity is in direct contact with their worshippers or might even show up?

Watch out for C.I.A. colonial “nation-building” with this kind of idea. I’m not saying it can’t be a fantasy campaign, just know that it is there and what the histories behind these kinds of interactions have been.

Information and data are the treasures. Publishing said data is glory. See also my all-too-dark take on Strixhaven’s fantasy academia. I nixed every running such a game because my friends who work or have worked in or near academia are too scarred to game it.

The key to this one, for me, is that the organization is actually worth building and worth supporting. I’m picturing the org having its own character sheet, like the Crew Sheets in Blades in the Dark.

Revolution makes for fun gaming. We’ve done it. Bonus points if, in order to destroy something, you have to create something else – build allies, be diplomatic, etc.

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Campaign Ideas: Cleaning out the crypts for the republic

Campaign Ideas: Cleaning out the crypts for the republic

Campaign Pitch: Since the feudal system was dismantled, the (not noble, never call them nobles) entitled’s crypts have been exploding with angry undead, irate that the common-folk have had the audacity to rise up and govern themselves.

The Guild is hiring, desperate for steady hands who can delve into the tombs the city was built on. Don’t listen to the undead entitled who will tell you that they are legends and you are nothing, that you have no place wielding weapons and should have been happy toiling for your betters in the fields. Scatter their bones and reclaim their treasure to fund the building of a better world.

Who is in this crypt?

Entitled Myths d66
Olde Titles d6

In the building of crypts, as usual, Dyson Logos has us covered under their blog’s crypt tag or we could rock out with the Dungeon Geomorphs tag, number the geomorphs and make a bunch of crypts.

Make a map of the city (the mercenaries post has fun links for city-making). Daydream about adventure ideas outside the city in distant places where monarchy’s fell lies still have roots. Daydream about how religion is handling all of this.

What game could we run this in?

Old School EssentialsCairnErrantTroikaIronsworn, the Whitehack, World of Dungeons and Worlds Without Number all come to mind as possibilities.

Might have to write up a follow-up blog post with a quick Into the Odd hack (as I’ve been doing lately). That said, if I wanted to get started right away, I think this could work with Into the Odd’s chargen right out of the book without too much trouble.

Might look back on the Republic founded on dead gods to get some setting inspiration.

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astion Free Library
Cataloging the stars above
Accessing the mysteries below

with a pic of a building with a star on its roof and some kind of symbol at its foundation and a book at its center

100% of Artist's Proceeds go to the National Center for Transgender Equality

Shown on a stone-colored t-shirt
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Campaign Ideas: Mercenaries

Campaign Ideas: Mercenaries

Campaign Pitch: Players are the leadership in a mercenary company, hired to hold a city. The monarch who hired you died and you doubt that you will ever be paid. The highborn are dividing up the map and it is only a matter of time before they turn their greedy eyes to you. Also, your soldiers need pay.

Add sorcery and such to taste.

We could spend time discussing the fantasy system (Into the Odd has been a choice I’m fond of lately but I’ve heard good things about MCDM’s Kingdoms and Warfare & Strongholds and Followers) but I’m assuming that you are going to use your favorite system that allows for some kind of strategic mass battle mechanics of some kind. Let’s get to the real star of this thing – the map of the city.

There’s the Medieval Fantasy City Generator, in which the first 2 cities I asked it to make were total winners. There’s a part of one city called Pig Chapel.

We could always grab a beautiful City or Town map from Dyson Logos:

I liked this map making technique that I used to make a Gnome university city:

Or we could get gritty and grab a real medieval city map. The Smithsonian just made a few million assets open source, surely one of them is a medieval map. Revolutionary War Yorktown would totally work.

Direct capture

Looking at the work of Ernest C. Peixotto makes me want to change the whole thing to a fantasy muskets.

Prep I’d want to do:

Factions within the city (guilds, landowners, religious organizations, captured highborn to ransom)

Factions outside of the city (other mercenary companies holding bridges, castles, etc., cities, towns, castles, towers along rivers and roads, knights turned bandit in the midst of war, carrion picking at the bones, merchants profiting from war)

A little bit about the history of the city’s sieges

Anyway, you get the idea – war is hell, so-called nobles are anything but noble, you are in charge of a city without any training or background to running said city – LET’S PLAY. Bonus points if your mercs have hearts because hey, this is fantasy.

The comments and replies on Mastadon have been really cool.

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Campaign Ideas: Hunting the Teratic Tome’s 10 Venerable Dragons

Campaign Ideas: Hunting the Teratic Tome’s 10 Venerable Dragons

The Pitch: You have a pile of scrolls, copied from the Teratic Tome by an unknown monk, with the rare pages that detail the powers, habits, and preferred habitats of the evil Venerable Dragons. Information in hand, you will hunt these monsters and the vile cults that serve them across the worlds.

I’d photocopy pages 25 to 42 of the Teratic Tome, hand it to the players and ask them to start making a plan.

The Venerable Dragons are ten in number. Ancient and vitriolic, they regard themselves as a weary decadarchy who bear the burden of governing the lesser beings. These ten dragons cannot be subdued, nor will they show mercy to their opponents. Found in long-forgotten places, sleeping under thick layers of dust or mud, these horrid creatures cause nothing but misery when awakened.

Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler

What I’d say to the table: Make characters who are driven to hunt these ten dragons to the ends of the known worlds and beyond. There is no right way to do this. This is going to be a campaign on hard mode, no secret betrayers, please. As long as the scrolls of the Teratic tome are safeguarded a TPK will mean we just make the new characters that end up with the scrolls.

Some questions to inspire ideas:

Why do you hunt these dragons?

Did one of them take something from you or destroy someone or something you hold dear?

Are you a hunter who wants to pursue the ultimate prize?

Is there something of great power that you could make from their bones or flesh?

I’d like the group to have a way to travel. Maybe that is the main choice as we begin the game, is how do you chase these draconic monsters?

Your crew has…

…a Well of Worlds, beneath a tower on the tallest mountain. The world below was decimated when these ten dragons decided its end was nigh. Some say the monk who copied the scrolls you hold dear was born here and this world’s apocalypse was the price it paid.

…a skyship, originally made to hunt Forest Whales that fly above the Ocean Forest’s treetops, it was refitted to traverse the portals that lead from world to world (Inspired by the Serpent Gates books 1 and 2 by A.K. Larkwood).

…a Worlds Map, made by the Nomad Seers who walked across all of creation, drawing the most beautiful and detailed map of the worlds and the spheres’ movements across time (inspired by the Wanderers of Ashann from A Naturalist’s Guide to Talislanta).

What game could we run this in?

Old School Essentials, Cairn, Errant, Troika, Ironsworn, Spell and Blade (in playtest), the Whitehack, World of Dungeons and Worlds Without Number all come to mind as possibilities.

Might have to write up a follow-up blog post with a quick Into the Odd hack (as I’ve been doing lately).

Here’s how I would run this as straight-up Into the Odd. In the marginalia of the scrolls the monk writes a screed about how the Bastion’s leaders and elders refused to listen to his warnings, that the Underground isn’t ruins from a previous city but a complicated machine meant to hide Bastion and this world from the Venerable Dragon’s sight. But it is now broken beyond repair and the dragons will surely attack when they next wake. Decades ago the monk headed out into the Deep Country, hoping they might be lucky and perish before the attack occurs. “My hope is that these scrolls end up in the hands of someone with more bravery than I can muster.” I’d stat up each of the 10 dragons as a 16 HP Dragon.

If you use the idea I’d LOVE to hear about how it goes.

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Campaign Ideas: The Diamond Throne

Campaign Ideas: The Diamond Throne

The Pitch: Today is your Leaveseeking Ceremony, where you will venture into the outside world for as long as you need and decide if there is something out there that rhymes with your truename. Or did your ancestors have the right of it, that the wonder in the world is eclipsed by its cruelty, better to find safety with your own people in this isolated mountain village.

You aren’t born evil because you were born of a certain race. You don’t, as a member of another race, have some manifest destiny to conquer and rule. And while there are certainly heroes and villains worthy of those titles, they are heroes or villains because of the choices they make.

The Diamond Throne by Monte Cook

I remember liking the Arcana Evolved hardcover and its weird fantasy Diamond Throne setting. When we started discussing it in an indie RPG slack I frequent, I realized I had put the books from the shelves to my desk, thinking that I might use them for a Tuesday Campaign Ideas post. I’ve got one other Campaign Ideas post about done and another outlined. I’m hoping to start a tradition. Anyway, back to Arcana Evolved…

The classes are just so cool: Akashic, Champion, Greenbond, Mage Blade, Magister, Oathsworn, Runethane, Totem Warrior (rename!), Unfettered, Warmain and Witch.

No priests, you see. Where were the gods when the Dramojh’s cruelty was raging?

Part of my is tempted to just grab the magic book and bestiary and play it in its original 3.5 ruleset. But with those rules, isn’t it silly to go with the human village rummspringa idea above? Isn’t part of the fun of 3.5 to choose race and class (ugh, RACE)?

Hence the human-centered starting point above, starting with a ceremony, a cornerstone of the setting. Delve into the weird with human eyes at first. As the characters enter into ceremonies with other folk and heritages across the setting, those folk become potential character types. Maybe you set your human villager aside while they train and pick up a verrick or litorian or giant. Perhaps you start playing one of these options because your human goes back to the village to settle down, having had enough of this world.

I like this set-up because the characters will learn about the setting with the players, no homework necessary. Of course I’m thinking about hacking at Into the Odd. Levels 1-3 and then you choose your class, gaining 4 HP per level, topping off at 12 HP, maximum for a person – dragons are 16 HP, of course. The training for the classes is vague in my mind, as is the magic system, but I bet we could do a Whitehack-like magic thing for the fluid and flexible magic from the later Grimoire supplements.

The first part of the Leaveseeking Ceremony is being able to walk through the village, going wherever you want and asking the elders about their Leaveseeking. What were their ambitions? What were their regrets? We’d flesh out the characters’ families and the world in one go, right at the first session and give the players enough information to make a decision about where they wanted to go.

Do you want to go up the mountain and see the Dramojh Fortress with your own eyes? Do you want to see the cruelty your ancestors survived that led them to founding this village and this ceremony?

Or do you want to venture out and find that lost cousin who graduated as a Magister and now serves a Giant Steward in the capital city? Your grandma has that sword above the fireplace and no one will talk about it but today is your Leaveseeking; she’ll talk about it today and tell you everything about her time leading an element of the Nightwalkers.

Or is it something farther and stranger? Is it the Floating Forest or the Harrowdeep or the God-King of the verrick that calls to you?

There is a big, strange world out there with lots of history and secrets. Let’s go.

More like this? Link below.

Pic of hobgoblin
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