Creating A D&D Campaign: Episode 4

Episode 4 is here a day late! Episodes One, Two, and Three are at their respective links.

This one is going up late because, well, honestly, I got wrapped up in Blizzcon, and then by the time I realized I should be working on D&D for Sunday it was suddenly 10pm at night and I had to call it a night so I could get up early for a brunch meeting with some friends stopping through town.

So let's see what we can come up with in the last day before I need all of this stuff ready!

Creating A D&D Campaign: Episode 4! (Oh Shit, Tomorrow's Sunday!)

Ok, so, while this blog may be up a bit late, I have been doing 'some' amount of work on the side to at least have a playable session ready for tomorrow.

As such, this episode will take a haaaaard swing in a different direction to start with and will talk about my sort of 'last minute preparation to get a runnable session ready in time' and less about creating the region or the city or anything.

I Need A Start to the Story!

This was actually taken care of pretty quickly once I decided I wanted them to be based out of one single city. More or less I decided that the start for the campaign would be that all of the players have just joined an Adventurer's Guild (for their own personal reasons, that's up to them.) I know that the party make up is going to be, roughly, a dwarf crusader (from the Book of Nine Swords), a human barbarian, an elf rogue, and.. well, a very indecisive player that last time I was talking to was thinking of a shifter ranger/barbarian (but this was his like third character idea, so, I have no idea what he's doing.) This does mean they have no healer at all, but, being apart of an adventurer's guild, I can easily help assign helpful NPCs to their group to help them fill out rolls they might be missing.

Giant Insects exist in D&D, and they can be scary, even if they probably shouldn't be able to exist logically.

So, this is a nice, simple start that lets me send them off wherever, gives them an excuse to work together despite potentially not knowing each other, and sets up future potential plot hooks with inner guild problems, guild vs guild problems, crooked people hiring them for jobs that seem innocent to start with, so on, so forth. Also gives them something to potentially lose within the city already. Not that I plan on just stealing away their guild just because I can, but, giving them things that they can lose gives them things to get attached to, which is good.

So, as a starting point, they'll have just joined the guild, and they'll be given a 'handler' that will assign them missions or give them missions to choose from. Early on they'll be given a rather straight forward escort mission, something to 'cut their teeth on.'

The players will be escorting a merchant and his cart of supplies (mostly food and water) to a border town/fortress that rests on the edge of a desert (between two mountains) but the traditional 'safe' path has recently suffered from a rock slide, meaning that the merchant needs to take a longer, older, more dangerous path that may be littered with monstrous humans or just dangerous animals. I still have to actually decide WHAT they are going to fight, but I have set up an old abandoned travel house on the path that they can rest in.

I'm thinking on the path TO the house they'll probably get jumped by a couple of random wild animals, maybe some wild dogs or some eagles or something. At the house I'm a bit sketchier. I could have goblins or kobolds or something squatting in the house and needing to clean the house of them, or, I may fill it with insects or vermin or something, something more 'innocent'. I think I'll lean more towards bugs and what not, have it be a bit more of a 'surprise', like, them going up to the beds in the house, pulling back the sheets and going "Oh shit! a bed full of centipedes!" Yeah, I like the sound of that. Ok, I'm going with vermin/pests/etc for the house. I have a map drawn up of the house that I'll be posting up later (probably tomorrow morning since I don't have access to my scanner at the moment.)

Where Do We Go From There?

Antlions are kind of fucked up, yo.

So, I know they'll go through this old mountain path, get down to these badlands that connect to this fortress type town on the border. They'll spend at least a night there in the fort town while the merchant does business, off loads stuff, picks up stuff to take back to the trade city, etc. I'm thinking there may be another encounter during this, maybe involving hyenas attacking the town, or attacking a child just outside of the town or something. The problem there is that I have to come up with a reason for why the town guard can't handle it themselves. Maybe I'll have a child fall down into an antlion/ankheg pit or something just outside of town and the players will need to get down there and rescue the child. Though an antlion or ankheg would be far too difficult for the group, so, may just be that the creature's lair is currently empty, or maybe filled with something else (could be an old pit that is just no longer inhabited.)

From there the players will head back through the mountains and back to the city.

I'd like to hope that this will be enough for one session, but, you never know. It's hard to say how long these things will go sometimes. So just in case, I'd like to have the START of something else. So I think after getting back to the city they'll get their reward and everything from the merchant escort (some of which in turn goes to the guild) and then either later that night or the next night will get sent to a nearby tavern or butcher shop that is having rat troubles. This won't be as simple as "clear the basement of rats" that you see everywhere, but I love the feel of taking that sort of overused idea and putting a spin on it. These aren't just rats, these are rats that are being controlled by a wererat below the city that the players will need to locate, possibly in the sewer system, and take out, lest he become too powerful.

Complications and Things to Consider

So, one thing that is really different between 3.5 and 4th ed D&D is the combat and creating encounters. In 4th ed you can throw encounters together really easily going by an xp budget and the creatures are almost guaranteed to be a decent challenge (but not too much of a challenge) to players so long as you build the encounter intelligently (a fight of nothing but minions won't be that difficult, or nothing but swarms will probably wipe them out pretty quickly.) In 3.5, however, although combats are still pretty easy to piece together, gauging player strength is a lot more difficult. Players building characters smartly in 3.5 or ones with really good stats can make such a difference in how easily they deal with monsters. Something that, according to the book, is a proper challenge may not even come close to putting up a fight. I'll have to be ready to adapt these combats on the fly as need be once I see how the players deal with the encounters. This will be tricky, but, hopefully I'll be able to create proper encounters that won't be too hard or too easy, but we'll see. It's one of the things that I enjoyed a lot more about 4th ed vs 3.5, but, it's not something that bugs me enough to keep me away from 3.5, so, I'll manage, I'm sure.

Rewards!

Gems can be used as a good substitute for gold pieces as a reward.

Well, fighting so many creatures that wouldn't carry loot, I have to find other means by which to give the players loot. Thankfully, I have two good outs for this, and a third minor one that can work. The first is to simply say that gems or artwork was left in the travel house on the mountain path that the players can take with them. Another good source is a reward from the merchant who hired them. This is an easy way to give them a reward without any enemies dropping loot. The third one is that if they do rescue a child at the fort town, the family may try to offer them some kind of small reward. I still have to figure out how MUCH money to give them, but, I can do that pretty easily and come up with that pretty last minute. I don't think for their first adventure I'll give them any kind of item reward. I may save that until after the wererat that they'll deal with at the end of the session or at some point during the second session.

Yo, They Will Probably Interact With Some People

Oh, right! Yeah, so, I'll still need to create NPCs. So, I know that they'll need to deal with their guild handler, and the merchant that they're escorting, as well as their healer, and maybe some people in the fort town. Let's start in order of appearance.

  • The Handler

So, first thing's first, I should have a name for the handler. How about... Randal Cutback. Randal, or Cutback if you want to call him that, will be an older fellow. I picture him wearing more 'proper'/'elegant' clothing that is just dingy and grungy that he's probably owned for a very long time and simply refuses to get rid of them. I picture him getting people's names wrong rather often, maybe due to poor memory or just bad hearing. Keeping with his dirty clothes, I picture him being a tobacco chewer. As for his physical description, I think he'll be a bit shorter of a human, maybe about 5'5", is a bit portly or pudgy, but not really 'fat.' I also think that he'll be somewhat balding.

  • The Healer

This helpful NPC will be somewhat on the young side. I haven't decided on race or gender yet, I'll figure this all out when I sit down and make the character later, but I can still figure out a name and personality bits here. The personality.. I picture them being somewhat impatient, something that they need to work on as a healer, or, if not 'impatient' then 'easily agitated', a short temper. Despite being easily riled up, I picture them being very quick to try and make penance for any outburst they may have. I think the healer will be a male, or, at least this first healer will be a male. And as for a name... Gregory Johana. I'll figure the rest out later.

  • The Merchant

The Merchant... hmm.. The Merchant will be female, impatient, very punctual and kind of grouchy. I think she will be a halfling. I also like the idea of her whistling a lot while traveling. Her name will be Gloria Goldpocket and she'll have a scar horizontally across the middle of her face, across her nose and under her eyes. I think that will be about it for her.

I think that's all I'll really bother coming up with a lot for right now. In the fort town I don't expect them to interact with too many people that I can't come up with stuff for on the fly using random charts and the like.

Bonus Talk!

I want the world to have a distinct feel to its religion base, and this picture was one of the few decent ones in the "gods" picture database on the site.

So, this is something I've been meaning to get to but keep forgetting about. I won't have this done in time for the first session, and I recognize that, but it isn't too much of a problem considering the party make up I don't think. When thinking about the world I'm making, I'd like to create a new pantheon of deities for this world, or, at least this region. I want at least something to really stand out from the core books and everything, and for me, I've chosen to go for the deities. I know that I'm going to have six prime deities, an aspect for Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and then one deity for Life and the Sun, and Death and the Moon. I certainly will have more deities than that, more minor deities, I think, probably only six PRIME deities. I'll have to come up with names for each deity, I'll probably look to historical or mythological history for names. No need to create a new name for a fire god if somewhere in history someone already believed in a fire god with a really great name. I will need to come up with domains that fit for all of the gods however and that will probably be one of the harder parts of it all. If anyone has any suggestions though, if anyone's created their own pantheon or anything and has some advice to give for doing this, I'd love to hear it.

That's it for now though. Thanks for reading again. There won't be a blog tomorrow since that's D&D day and I'll be too busy getting everything ready and then actually playing to post anything, so, next one may be on Monday where I hopefully can finish fleshing out the region and everything and I can draw up city plans/layouts and region layout and all of that. As well as maybe more Pantheon information.

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Posted by FateOfNever

Episode 4 is here a day late! Episodes One, Two, and Three are at their respective links.

This one is going up late because, well, honestly, I got wrapped up in Blizzcon, and then by the time I realized I should be working on D&D for Sunday it was suddenly 10pm at night and I had to call it a night so I could get up early for a brunch meeting with some friends stopping through town.

So let's see what we can come up with in the last day before I need all of this stuff ready!

Creating A D&D Campaign: Episode 4! (Oh Shit, Tomorrow's Sunday!)

Ok, so, while this blog may be up a bit late, I have been doing 'some' amount of work on the side to at least have a playable session ready for tomorrow.

As such, this episode will take a haaaaard swing in a different direction to start with and will talk about my sort of 'last minute preparation to get a runnable session ready in time' and less about creating the region or the city or anything.

I Need A Start to the Story!

This was actually taken care of pretty quickly once I decided I wanted them to be based out of one single city. More or less I decided that the start for the campaign would be that all of the players have just joined an Adventurer's Guild (for their own personal reasons, that's up to them.) I know that the party make up is going to be, roughly, a dwarf crusader (from the Book of Nine Swords), a human barbarian, an elf rogue, and.. well, a very indecisive player that last time I was talking to was thinking of a shifter ranger/barbarian (but this was his like third character idea, so, I have no idea what he's doing.) This does mean they have no healer at all, but, being apart of an adventurer's guild, I can easily help assign helpful NPCs to their group to help them fill out rolls they might be missing.

Giant Insects exist in D&D, and they can be scary, even if they probably shouldn't be able to exist logically.

So, this is a nice, simple start that lets me send them off wherever, gives them an excuse to work together despite potentially not knowing each other, and sets up future potential plot hooks with inner guild problems, guild vs guild problems, crooked people hiring them for jobs that seem innocent to start with, so on, so forth. Also gives them something to potentially lose within the city already. Not that I plan on just stealing away their guild just because I can, but, giving them things that they can lose gives them things to get attached to, which is good.

So, as a starting point, they'll have just joined the guild, and they'll be given a 'handler' that will assign them missions or give them missions to choose from. Early on they'll be given a rather straight forward escort mission, something to 'cut their teeth on.'

The players will be escorting a merchant and his cart of supplies (mostly food and water) to a border town/fortress that rests on the edge of a desert (between two mountains) but the traditional 'safe' path has recently suffered from a rock slide, meaning that the merchant needs to take a longer, older, more dangerous path that may be littered with monstrous humans or just dangerous animals. I still have to actually decide WHAT they are going to fight, but I have set up an old abandoned travel house on the path that they can rest in.

I'm thinking on the path TO the house they'll probably get jumped by a couple of random wild animals, maybe some wild dogs or some eagles or something. At the house I'm a bit sketchier. I could have goblins or kobolds or something squatting in the house and needing to clean the house of them, or, I may fill it with insects or vermin or something, something more 'innocent'. I think I'll lean more towards bugs and what not, have it be a bit more of a 'surprise', like, them going up to the beds in the house, pulling back the sheets and going "Oh shit! a bed full of centipedes!" Yeah, I like the sound of that. Ok, I'm going with vermin/pests/etc for the house. I have a map drawn up of the house that I'll be posting up later (probably tomorrow morning since I don't have access to my scanner at the moment.)

Where Do We Go From There?

Antlions are kind of fucked up, yo.

So, I know they'll go through this old mountain path, get down to these badlands that connect to this fortress type town on the border. They'll spend at least a night there in the fort town while the merchant does business, off loads stuff, picks up stuff to take back to the trade city, etc. I'm thinking there may be another encounter during this, maybe involving hyenas attacking the town, or attacking a child just outside of the town or something. The problem there is that I have to come up with a reason for why the town guard can't handle it themselves. Maybe I'll have a child fall down into an antlion/ankheg pit or something just outside of town and the players will need to get down there and rescue the child. Though an antlion or ankheg would be far too difficult for the group, so, may just be that the creature's lair is currently empty, or maybe filled with something else (could be an old pit that is just no longer inhabited.)

From there the players will head back through the mountains and back to the city.

I'd like to hope that this will be enough for one session, but, you never know. It's hard to say how long these things will go sometimes. So just in case, I'd like to have the START of something else. So I think after getting back to the city they'll get their reward and everything from the merchant escort (some of which in turn goes to the guild) and then either later that night or the next night will get sent to a nearby tavern or butcher shop that is having rat troubles. This won't be as simple as "clear the basement of rats" that you see everywhere, but I love the feel of taking that sort of overused idea and putting a spin on it. These aren't just rats, these are rats that are being controlled by a wererat below the city that the players will need to locate, possibly in the sewer system, and take out, lest he become too powerful.

Complications and Things to Consider

So, one thing that is really different between 3.5 and 4th ed D&D is the combat and creating encounters. In 4th ed you can throw encounters together really easily going by an xp budget and the creatures are almost guaranteed to be a decent challenge (but not too much of a challenge) to players so long as you build the encounter intelligently (a fight of nothing but minions won't be that difficult, or nothing but swarms will probably wipe them out pretty quickly.) In 3.5, however, although combats are still pretty easy to piece together, gauging player strength is a lot more difficult. Players building characters smartly in 3.5 or ones with really good stats can make such a difference in how easily they deal with monsters. Something that, according to the book, is a proper challenge may not even come close to putting up a fight. I'll have to be ready to adapt these combats on the fly as need be once I see how the players deal with the encounters. This will be tricky, but, hopefully I'll be able to create proper encounters that won't be too hard or too easy, but we'll see. It's one of the things that I enjoyed a lot more about 4th ed vs 3.5, but, it's not something that bugs me enough to keep me away from 3.5, so, I'll manage, I'm sure.

Rewards!

Gems can be used as a good substitute for gold pieces as a reward.

Well, fighting so many creatures that wouldn't carry loot, I have to find other means by which to give the players loot. Thankfully, I have two good outs for this, and a third minor one that can work. The first is to simply say that gems or artwork was left in the travel house on the mountain path that the players can take with them. Another good source is a reward from the merchant who hired them. This is an easy way to give them a reward without any enemies dropping loot. The third one is that if they do rescue a child at the fort town, the family may try to offer them some kind of small reward. I still have to figure out how MUCH money to give them, but, I can do that pretty easily and come up with that pretty last minute. I don't think for their first adventure I'll give them any kind of item reward. I may save that until after the wererat that they'll deal with at the end of the session or at some point during the second session.

Yo, They Will Probably Interact With Some People

Oh, right! Yeah, so, I'll still need to create NPCs. So, I know that they'll need to deal with their guild handler, and the merchant that they're escorting, as well as their healer, and maybe some people in the fort town. Let's start in order of appearance.

  • The Handler

So, first thing's first, I should have a name for the handler. How about... Randal Cutback. Randal, or Cutback if you want to call him that, will be an older fellow. I picture him wearing more 'proper'/'elegant' clothing that is just dingy and grungy that he's probably owned for a very long time and simply refuses to get rid of them. I picture him getting people's names wrong rather often, maybe due to poor memory or just bad hearing. Keeping with his dirty clothes, I picture him being a tobacco chewer. As for his physical description, I think he'll be a bit shorter of a human, maybe about 5'5", is a bit portly or pudgy, but not really 'fat.' I also think that he'll be somewhat balding.

  • The Healer

This helpful NPC will be somewhat on the young side. I haven't decided on race or gender yet, I'll figure this all out when I sit down and make the character later, but I can still figure out a name and personality bits here. The personality.. I picture them being somewhat impatient, something that they need to work on as a healer, or, if not 'impatient' then 'easily agitated', a short temper. Despite being easily riled up, I picture them being very quick to try and make penance for any outburst they may have. I think the healer will be a male, or, at least this first healer will be a male. And as for a name... Gregory Johana. I'll figure the rest out later.

  • The Merchant

The Merchant... hmm.. The Merchant will be female, impatient, very punctual and kind of grouchy. I think she will be a halfling. I also like the idea of her whistling a lot while traveling. Her name will be Gloria Goldpocket and she'll have a scar horizontally across the middle of her face, across her nose and under her eyes. I think that will be about it for her.

I think that's all I'll really bother coming up with a lot for right now. In the fort town I don't expect them to interact with too many people that I can't come up with stuff for on the fly using random charts and the like.

Bonus Talk!

I want the world to have a distinct feel to its religion base, and this picture was one of the few decent ones in the "gods" picture database on the site.

So, this is something I've been meaning to get to but keep forgetting about. I won't have this done in time for the first session, and I recognize that, but it isn't too much of a problem considering the party make up I don't think. When thinking about the world I'm making, I'd like to create a new pantheon of deities for this world, or, at least this region. I want at least something to really stand out from the core books and everything, and for me, I've chosen to go for the deities. I know that I'm going to have six prime deities, an aspect for Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and then one deity for Life and the Sun, and Death and the Moon. I certainly will have more deities than that, more minor deities, I think, probably only six PRIME deities. I'll have to come up with names for each deity, I'll probably look to historical or mythological history for names. No need to create a new name for a fire god if somewhere in history someone already believed in a fire god with a really great name. I will need to come up with domains that fit for all of the gods however and that will probably be one of the harder parts of it all. If anyone has any suggestions though, if anyone's created their own pantheon or anything and has some advice to give for doing this, I'd love to hear it.

That's it for now though. Thanks for reading again. There won't be a blog tomorrow since that's D&D day and I'll be too busy getting everything ready and then actually playing to post anything, so, next one may be on Monday where I hopefully can finish fleshing out the region and everything and I can draw up city plans/layouts and region layout and all of that. As well as maybe more Pantheon information.