Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Heroes Campaign

Well, after the Kobold campaign stopped, I sat back and played a bit.  Eventually, it became my turn to run again and it had been percolating in my brain that the next campaign should be how the "heroes" developed who raided the kobold & dragon warrens which kicked off the Kobold Campaign.  But I still wanted more freedom from the restricting 3.5 rules.  So, here's what I sent the gaming group (after stating the premise):

This will be more "old school".  Experience will be at 1/2 what the DMG says is "proper" for a CR value.  Only PHB races and classes, period.  28 point buy, max hp for the 1st 3 levels, and you get one "heirloom" magic item of any type of +1 value but you have to have a background story to explain why you have it.

So, sure enough, the weeks before the 1st game I start getting the "please relax this part of the starting bit for me" emails.  The two players who love psionics wanted classes from the psionic handbook, another player wanted to play a knight from PHB 2, and another wanted a minimized cube of force for a magic item.  Ugh....if I only knew what headaches I would be facing.

We also ran into a very unusual problem.  We had up to 9 players + me as DM.  Who has ever heard of "too many players" except at a gaming con?  It was ridiculous some nights.  Combat under 3.5 takes a long time with just 5 players....when you have 9, you're lucky to get past one encounter in two hours.  It sucks.

Anyway, back to the game, I had the group start out with this predicament: they were on the slave block in the CSIO.  They had all been arrested with another 20+ people because a barroom brawl spilled out into the street and turned into a riot.  Everyone was arrested and sent to be slaves.  The party was all bought (along with another dozen folks) and bundled into carts to be carried to Byrny.  One of the other slaves was a rather large & ugly female who appeared to be mentally handicapped in some odd way.  The 4th day of the journey, near time to stop and camp, the caravan was ambushed by a group of hill giants.  Thrown boulders killed all the wagon animals in the first round with a few damaging the slave pens.  Two hill giants rushed the cage where the ugly female was and pulled her out, holding her and crying.....Yep, Mom & Dad came to rescue their kidnapped baby.

Seeing how the slavers were being routed by the hill giants, the party fled their broken open cell.  As they were looking for a place to escape, one noticed that a crate had been split open and all their gear was in it.  Grabbing their stuff, they headed into the hills.  They found a cave to hide in until the giants moved on and the slavers left.    During this time, the party decided that they couldn't go back to the CSIO as they were escaped slaves.  They couldn't go north because they'd be caught by the surviving slavers.  They couldn't go east because that led into the Dearthwood and there were too many tales of death associated with it.  So they headed east into the No Man's region between the City State of the Invincible Overlord and Viridistan. They got a little lost and ended up heading southeast, finally arriving at Bulwark.  This is an interesting town.  The Wilderlands of High Fantasy book lists the town as 90% halfling but all the leaders are human.  So, I made it into a fort, an outpost of the CSIO charged with watching the border for incursions from Viridistan.  In the recent past, a dragon attack on a halfling village drove the halflings west who made a tent city around the fort.  The tents gave way to ramshackle homes and then to proper houses.  The relations are strained between the two, but they have been warming up after the last commander left.

To shorten this long post, I'll summarize a few things.  I used a green city from the Conan d20 game by Mongoose as an adventuring spot near the town.  I also added several features from Necromancer Games' The Vault of Larin Karr and Shades of Gray modules.  Initially, I had a couple of different hooks out there, but then I remembered that this group is too literal.  So, I had to end two of them.  One of the threads involved a potential confrontation later with a married couple who were liches.  Another involved a demon cult.  And the last was dragon based.  Tying them together wasn't too bad.  The liches were actually a time trapped married couple of scientists from before the War of the Pious and Philosophers in the Wilderlands.  They picked up magic quite readily and were in the process of slowly dominating an area in the northern part of the Wilderlands, in the area knows as the Elphanlands.  They were hunting down some lost "artifacts" from before the war in an effort to go back and prevent the war.  The husband had gone to get information for Juiblex, taking with him a way for Juiblex to turn a section of land near Bulwark into a large pool of oozes and slimes.  The party found the portal and closed it, trapping the lich on the other side.  Mrs. Lich was not happy.

At this point, real life interfered with the game.  We had the following shakeup: three of the players dropped out completely (too far from home and too many people were the excuses), two moved to Tennessee because of jobs, and we added a couple to fill the empty spots.  The resulting confusion of plot lines and vastly different character levels forced me to do something I have never done before: a reboot.    Well, the characters ranged from 4th level to 7th level and all had something they liked.  Also, a couple of the others were not happy with their choices of class.

So, how to fix this?  Actually, it was simple.  I did a reboot and tied it to the liches.  The husband managed to get out of hell and the two of them performed the time spell.  However, as is typical with demons, it didn't work as expected.  The world shifted and things changed.  Some people disappeared, others changed personalities or professions, and some just appeared.  The group restarted at a point in which they had just cleared out the gnoll fort (Area C in Larin Karr), but they had all their gear from before and an odd double memory.  I got to throw deja vu stuff at them and it was pretty cool.

Well, the game continued on until about 7th or 8th level when we had a blow up of sorts.  One character brought in a class from the PHB2 which did not fit in with the world.  In fact, if the rules were properly applied, the race was so limited that it couldn't logically go wandering around the countryside randomly fighting things.  But it had "awesome powers and feats"......yeah.....well, by the time the characters had reached 7th level they had killed two young adult green dragons, one adult red dragon, and one (very ill) adult black dragon.  They were beginning to figure out that Tiamat was making a play to return the Wilderlands to the Time of the Dragon Kings, with literal Dragons for Kings.  But I had had enough of 3.5 and we stopped there.  I vowed the next D&D game would be 1st ed or earlier.  No psionics period.  And so, I haven't run a D&D game for them in over a year.
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