Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
BlazingTornado

BT's Sword, Sorcery & Weird Fantasy campaign (AKA help I'm in over my head)

Recommended Posts

Okay. Been meaning to ask for help with setting up my next D&D 5e campaign, but ultimately I got a lot of the worldbuilding done, at least the starting adventures' buildup.

 

Here's the worldmap I came up with stole and marked with names. Obviously going with a lot of real-world short-hand. Used some name generators in an attempt to fill some areas I'm less familiar with while avoiding going too offensive.

image.thumb.png.b80787dfaa551cccd07e08df4d298b6b.png

(I need to download some fantasy-y fonts so I can edit the map image proper and not depend on my tags on Roll20 :lol:)

 

Also worked hard to spread out the demihuman races where they would fit the myths of the culture (IE you got your high elves in the norse lands being all high and mighty and then you got your wood elves in the celtic lands and they're called sidhe and you got pygmies over in greek lands and they use the stout halfling player race stats). Honestly if anyone here knows some D&D 5e demihuman races that work well for existing fantastical humanoids from ancient cultures, share em.

 

 

My big problem now is the starting adventure. 1st campaign was easy, it was literally born out of a desire to run Keep on the Borderlands. That's past us now.

I feel stuck at what to do here. Looking for something that can work with a sword and sorcery theme, or as much as one allows with 5E's easy magic.

 

Only thing coming to mind right now would be a heavily modified Village of Hommlet and the moathouse dungeon, toning down the amount of high-level adventurers and replacing some with NPCs the players "got" using the Life Events table in Xanathar's Guide To Everything, it'd be funny to replace the wizard and fighter who hang out together with the wizard friend one player got and the fighter enemy another got with those rolls. And the moathouse dungeon seems like it'd be easy enough to re-balance for 5E...

But I would really like some extra ideas before I proceed. Poured over all the battlemaps I have saved up hoping something might trigger an adventure idea but nothing has yet...

Please help me, I feel pretty stuck.

Edited by BlazingTornado
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Where are you headed with the campaign? Who's your big boss? Knowing that lets you work down to your minion-level baddies, which is a good place to start.

 

I'm always really fond of the " it's the annual harvest festival! Play some games of chance, try some feats of strength! Oh, no! The (zombie cult / goblin raiders / kobold sappers) are attacking the festival!"

The interrupted festival is almost as time-honored a starting point as a tavern gathering, in my experience. It's also a nice tutorial mode, as you can tailor events and minigames to your PCs and everyone gets to learn how their characters work without worrying about getting killed.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dunno.

My first campaign was more of a series of adventures across a few levels rather than a full constant level 1-20 narrative. Sometimes story elements from previous adventures showed up, sometimes they didn't. I just ran Keep on the Borderlands and worked up from there.

Given this campaign will hit a sword and sorcery feel, it's very likely to also employ short adventures with recurring themes, maybe foes coming back here and there, rather than being a long continuous built-up narrative.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started with a government concept, and then built a society from there. I started on the single city and NPCs scale and have been building outward, instead of inward.

 

I use Obsidian Portal to keep track of NPCs, events, and stuff like that. It is alright.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Cyradis said:

I started with a government concept, and then built a society from there. I started on the single city and NPCs scale and have been building outward, instead of inward.

Did that the first campaign and everything turned out really messy, so I wanted to have a stronger base framework at the very least, but not worldbuild too strongly until the campaign started.

 

You know, in broad strokes. What culture is it similar to, what kind of people live there, what languages they speak, what gods they worship... the kinda stuff that helps em decide where they might be from.

 

Part of me leans toward starting in a modified Hommlet but part of me also wants to start in a big decadent city to set the S&S tone better...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grump likes to come up with four or five campaign ideas, throw them at the group, and seeing what sticks.

 

I come up with an idea, and the players play what I have.

 

Jon promises to run a game, says he has an idea, and that is where it stops.

 

Be a Grump if you like, be a me if you like, just don't be a Jon. ::P:

 

18 hours ago, BlazingTornado said:

Did that the first campaign and everything turned out really messy, so I wanted to have a stronger base framework at the very least, but not worldbuild too strongly until the campaign started.

 

You know, in broad strokes. What culture is it similar to, what kind of people live there, what languages they speak, what gods they worship... the kinda stuff that helps em decide where they might be from.

 

Part of me leans toward starting in a modified Hommlet but part of me also wants to start in a big decadent city to set the S&S tone better...

 

Start with the village, have something happen to or in the village, give the PCs a reason to flee to the anonymity of the city. Maybe with a price on their heads.

 

I recommend doing a flowchart of possible directions the PCs could go, decision points.

 

If you are like me, you may never look at the charts, but you will remember the basics enough to wing it.

 

For example, the PCs witness a murder attempt.

 

You can put in some hard branches right there.

 

Do the PCs interfere?:

Yes? Combat ensues. But one of the murderers remains focused on the victim, giving only one round to prevent the death.

No? Murder succeeds.

 

Do the PCs check the body?:

Yes? The constables find the PCs rifling through the pockets of a dead man.

No? The constables show up the next day, the body had a letter addressed to one of the PCs, sewn into his clothing, not in a pocket.

 

 

I am still reading and watching film noir and pulp detectives.<_<

Edited by PaganMegan
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, PaganMegan said:

Be a Grump if you like, be a me if you like, just don't be a Jon. ::P:

*checks notes*
First campaign started June 18th, 2016. First campaign ended August 17th, 2019. Levels 1-20. Many one-shots throughout when not enough players showed to continue the main game.

I'm not a Jon. I doubt I will ever be a Jon.

5 hours ago, PaganMegan said:

Start with the village, have something happen to or in the village, give the PCs a reason to flee to the anonymity of the city. Maybe with a price on their heads. 

The problem is the PCs don't have any ties together, yet.

Two of the PCs, a catfolk and a birdfolk, were from the Keltlands so session zero they decided maybe they met somewhere close to the border between Ghaulleria and Nosenra, so they RPed that out for us.
Otherwise there's a human fighter from the Imperium and a mammothfolk exile from Thule, living as a priest of a god of peace in Nosenra.

 

(what can I say, the world I presented inspired em)

 

Aside from Hommlet right now I have a few ideas that aren't really fleshed out:

1) Wizard friend of the Imperial guy needs him to deliver an artifact into the City-State of the Invincible Overlord. He's given funds to hire a few adventurers (cue the other PCs), danger lurks on the road to the City-State and allows them to level up to 2 or 3.

2) Mammoth priest is living in a village at some crossroads. The idol to a different god, whose shrine he does help tend as there are a few shrines but only one active temple (his), has been horribly defaced and the militiaman guarding it has been horribly slaughtered. Cue the other PCs, and they set out to find out who's responsible... and it's some dread cult or some freakish blasphemous creature, maybe a sea hag, or maybe both at the same time.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Managed to struggle through migraines and now an invasive cold to give em basic info on the starting city, and ask them why their starting adventurers would visit it, and to not hesitate in the slightest to pester me with questions about what they could find there, see if I can't get THEM to seed me some adventure hooks.

No one's taken the bait so it looks like the wizard friend's delivery quest is going to be how things start off.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If anyone cares, first session went well.

 

Nobody ended up feeding me any potential hooks so I went with one of my ideas. The wizard's delivery quest. An artifact contained inside an ebody lockbox covered in arcane runes, to be delivered to another wizard in the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Setting up the tale, the rogue and druid decided to go have a drink but not at the nearest tavern, so a local directed them to the Welcoming Wench, where the rogue's coin purse rather quickly got pilfered. He decided to accuse the two biggest, roughest looking people in the clientele... and even tried to steal one of them's coin purse as he was being held by the collar, and quickly got ejected Jazzy Jeff style from the establishment.

AnotherCookedArchaeopteryx-size_restrict<

 

It took me some frustrating effort to get the players to either a) all meet up or b) one of them go pick up the hook, but eventually I managed it.

First encounter: Four bandits and a thug. They forgot early level tactics of staying close and protecting one another, so I had to fudge some rolls, and even then the rogue dropped, but didn't die.

The lockbox fell out of the fighter's bundle during combat. While he was confused as to why the knot undid itself, the druid noticed the shadow of a black talon slowly making its way to the lockbox, and upon grabbing the lockbox the shadow quickly retreated back into the shrubbery. That freaked em out for a bit.

 

Further down the road they came across an ancient forgotten altar, the druid decided to check it... the vines shivered as she pushed them away from the pedestaled idol to get a closer look. That freaked em out some more.

 

And yet even further down the road (long enough for the rogue to regain consciousness), they stumbled across a decapitated corpse in platemail. The fighter scouted ahead to check what it was and upon confirming a lack of ambush signs, he turned to wave the others over... at which point the corpse stood up, its gory helmed head hovering over its twisted stump.

 

 

Guess now I gotta prep what might happen next week.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should probably add, the corpse is quite dead. His armor, however, is an Animated Armor.

 

So here's my dilemma with this encounter.

Do I just run it as a straight battle and the surprise is that there's no undead?
Or do I have the armor feign defeat and let the fighter try and wear the armor, at which point the armor will attempt to wrench the fighter's head off same as it did the last victim?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, BlazingTornado said:

Should probably add, the corpse is quite dead. His armor, however, is an Animated Armor.

 

So here's my dilemma with this encounter.

Do I just run it as a straight battle and the surprise is that there's no undead?
Or do I have the armor feign defeat and let the fighter try and wear the armor, at which point the armor will attempt to wrench the fighter's head off same as it did the last victim?

Definitely that!! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just hope they fall for it. From a metagaming standpoint they might be worried I'm laying down some platemail at 1st level.

 

Gotta figure out what else they can deal with during the session.

Maybe a rest stop at a village and shenanigans happen there....

 

Just gotta be sure to keep that sword & sorcery/weird fantasy flavor going... Polished up on my Howard already, trying to get more Ashton-Smith in my brain now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's what I ended up coming up with in the lead-up for today's session:

 

An encounter with a specter in some small ruins, just before a night stop.

During the night, a quickling is going to sneak into the camp and steal the box, and bring it back to his masters, cultists of Tharizdun. They also have a captive from a nearby tribal settlement that they plan to burn alive.

If the players rescue her she'll beckon them to help her get back home. Back there, the tribe will beg them to aid them with a bullywug problem. If she burns, people brave enough to attempt a rescue will find them and ask them for help with the 'wugs.

 

And all this is happening off-road, so to speak, so it'll be interesting to see what they'll do with their supplies, cart, draft horse and riding horse.
Also interesting to see what they might do with the ring that forces the quickling into servitude, as well as contains him when he is not needed by the cultists.

 

So of course, no game today. One player had another thing, the other had to prepare for that Florida hurricane. Guess at least I got all this stuff prepped up for next week.

Dunno how much more ahead I should prep. I kinda want them to help me determine the course.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After discussing how well the new Unearthed Arcana sub-classes revealed today (Aberrant sorcerer, Deep patron warlock) fit the flavor of my campaign, one player expressed interest in playing a sorcerer, before deciding on an alternate character he had in mind. He's not feeling his new character, and I don't blame him. I could tell this mammoth-man wasn't finding a groove.

 

Meanwhile, all I have cooked up following the Bullywug encounter are some social stuff. A meeting with Kuo-Toa who're not looking for a fight... they just want to take the runed stone the bullywugs used as an odd altar.

And also an old crone and a kobold held captive in the bullywug's huts, potential allies they could make on their journey.

 

I'm hoping this is enough for two sessions, after which they can ascend to second level, and I can step up encounters a bit. :D

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I wait endlessly for this f*#&ing session to start because my players are turning into unreliable imbeciles, one of them made a Batman bees reference so I guess the box's presence'll make a swarm of wasps and a giant wasp attack em. Choke on that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×