Friday, 20 July 2012

Current Campaign Arcs

These are the campaign arcs I am currently working on/blogging about:
  • The Black Age of Bane (this is one option for a campaign set in Elturgard: the other option is Dark Weavings and another possible option is Rise of a Dark Sun); 
  • Dark Weavings (despite the same location as The Black Age of Bane and some similar adventure ideas, it really is a different campaign);
  • The Dread Rings of Thay;
  • The Knights of the North (possible new name: The Ageless One; former name: Fimbulwinter); and
  • Neverwinter: Vie for Glory!
Here's a brief synopsis of each of these campaign arcs. It seems that I am only capable of writing a campaign arc that includes either Dread Rings and/or the darkening of the Companion. No wonder my current "favourite" is the Black Age of Bane as it involves both ideas....

The Black Age of Bane

The paladins of Elturgard are distracted by increasingly militant Cyricist Zhents from Darkhold with rumours of a new alliance with the gnolls of the Reaching Wood and even the drow under the Far Hills.

While this is happening Thayan necromancers and Banite runepriests are constructing Dread Ring fortresses around the borders of Elturgard - Elturel and the Companion are in the precise centre - in preparation for a new Dread Ring ritual. 

This time, however, the ritual will not be performed by Szass Tam - rather, a banelich is going to unleash the Dread Ring's magic so that Bane will absorb the power of the Companion and strike against both Torm and Amaunator with one foul blow.

If successful, the Companion will turn into a thing of darkness and the lands of Elturgard will become a haven for undead and those who love the night... particularly as the Dread Ring ritual will also suck all life from the land.

Thus will the Black Age of Bane begin....

(As I think further about this, if I use the drow from Undrek'thoz in this campaign arc, I may also be able to use the Crystal Shard idea as I originally wrote for the Dark Weavings campaign. Hmmm....)

Dark Weavings

The drow of Sshamath are not noted worshippers of Lolth with the exception of one house - House Zauvirr. At the command of the Queen of Spiders, they will try and take the sunlit lands of Elturgard for themselves. To do this, they must extinguish the light of the Companion and tranform it into a think of darkness instead.

House Zauvirr is in possession of the Crystal Shard (I don't care what R A Salvatore's atrocious books say... House Zauvirr has it) and offer it to the Zhents as a sign of good faith in the new alliance. The Zhents use it to mobilise across Elturgard and begin posing a major threat to the paladins.

In due course, the drow use primordial magic stolen from aboleth to assault Elturel from below. In the midst of the chaos caused by earthquakes and sinkholes, a foul ritual is performed that blots out the Companion and causes it to become a thing of darkness... if the PCs fail to stop the drow.

Of course, if that happens, it will only lead to something I have wanted to do for 30 years and that is run D1 Descent into the Depths of the Earth, D2 Shrine of the Kuo-toa, D3 Vault of the Drow and Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits (although the last will be heavily influenced by the 3E's The Harrowing from Dungeon 88 and will not contain a giant metal spider ship with a marilith secretary).
The Dread Rings of Thay

This is quite simple in concept : Szass Tam is building a network of Dread Ring fortresses around Rashemen and must be stopped before he steals all life and power from that land. This basic idea was more or less the inspiration for this blog a few years ago which is why Szass Tam and berserkers and wychlaran from Rashemen appear as the banner.

There is supposed to be a DDi Backdrop article on Rashemen in the next couple of months so I am actually waiting for that - largely because I want a map better than the baby's butt-wipe which is the 4E map - before I do much more than finally get around to reading The Haunted Lands trilogy - Unclean, Undead and Unholy - by Richard L Byers.

I have been reading a lot on the internet about Dread Rings in the past week or so and I rather like some of the ideas that have been posted about linking the Dread Rings with the Eminence of Araunt from Returned Abeir. It may be that there will be an additional complication in this campaign involving the corruption of the Dread Rings by agents of the Eminence of Araunt. (The same complication could also apply in the Neverwinter: Vie for Glory campaign arc where I really want to make the Thayans the principal villains.)

The Knights of the North
aka The Ageless One

This campaign started out of a desire to use the excellent map of the Moonsea North - and, to a lesser extent, the city of Phlan - by Sean MacDonald in the Monument of the Ancients adventure from Dungeon 170. The sheer excellence of that map really highlighted how the wiping of a baby's defecations across a sheet of paper by Rob Lazzaretti was a complete devaluing of the cartographer's art and an insult to the Forgotten Realms and its fans.

The really annoying thing is that there is no hyperbole in that statement.

The basic theme is this: a weaker clone of Manshoon from 1355 DR has been awakened in the ruins of the Citadel of the Raven and decides to recover what he and the Zhentarim have lost. Concurrent with this, the PCs have taken up the mantles of their fallen parents and are the new Knights of the North, sworn to oppose the Zhentarim.

Manshoon the Night King, the vampire ruler of the Zhents, is now dead, slain in spell battle with Elminster. Beholder mages that infiltrated the Black Cloak ranks of the Zhents have decided to awaken a weaker Manshoon clone - one from 1355 DR - so that they can control him better but still have the Zhentarim led by the sole human that they respect. 

The Citadel of the Raven is now being rebuilt and Manshoon is seeking out ancient spellweaver magic in the Glacier of the Silver Blades to try and regain his mastery of cloning and also to arm himself with the spells and items that he will need in this post-Spellplague era of the Realms that he finds himself in.

The Zhents are gathering resources and allies and the PCs start interfering with their plans before finally facing off with Manshoon in the spellweaver ruins in the Glacier of the Silver Blades.

Neverwinter: Vie for Glory!

I'm not sure if I really like the Neverwinter Campaign Guide or if I really want to like it.

Nevertheless, preparing for the Knights of the North campaign resulted in me reading a couple of campaign journals set in the pre-Spellplague ruins of Phlan and made me realise how much fun it could be to run something like the old Ruins of Adventure module - which involved the retaking of Phlan - albeit one with decent maps and no stupid names.

Neverwinter seems like a possible substitute. It's well detailed, has a great city map and a great regional map, and it allows me to indulge my Dread Ring fetish.

The basic theme of the campaign needs to be driven by the players' choices of themes for their characters but I am really hoping that one player will choose to be the true heir of the Crown of Neverwinter (the original title for the campaign) and aim to rule a rebuilt and recovered city.

As it stands, the biggest threat is going to be posed by the Thayans and their Dread Rings (and this may also include some of the ideas from The Black Age of Bane in that this could all be to Bane's benefit - after all, the Black Lord is a tyrant and having the city of Neverwinter ruled by a Banite dreadmaster would suit him greatly) but the Shadovar with a reactivated flying city might pose an equally dangerous threat depending on how the campaign plays out.

But I am not using the Ashmadai. The last good idea that R A Salvatore had was the Crystal Shard and I am happy to make that the centrepiece of the Dark Weavings campaign.

In Summary

Yes, I like the Dread Rings. Yes, I like the darkening of the Companion. 

It's clear I haven't really come up with anything really original in these campaign arcs. That's no surprise because some of the ideas grew out of a desire of mine to run several classic adventures - including the original drow series that I have wanted to run for 30 years.

These campaign arcs are all basically meant to cover the Heroic Tier. I am hoping that by running them I can use up all the D&D ideas I have ever had - or ever stolen! - and then wear myself out on D&D so I can finally retire from this obsession of mine that I have had since 1981.

If I can use the drow, Graz'zt, Manshoon, the Zhents, some giants and cause the Companion to go dark I think I will have done what I set out to do.

Anyway, there is more to come on this blog. This post was really about summarising the main ideas I am playing with.

Other Campaign Arcs

A brief summary of other campaign arcs I may return to at some point:

All That Glitters/Heretics of the Harlot's Coin: This is about removing the Amnites from Snowdown. The Amnites are actually serving Graz'zt and creating corrupted gold that they are circulating on the mainland as part of the continued corruption by Graz'zt of the church of Waukeen and part of his plan to add three more layers to his Triple Realm. The surprising thing about this campaign is that it is largely an original idea.

Baron of the Stonelands: This is a cross between Paizo's Kingmaker adventure path and the original Keep on the Borderlands with some flavour from the original Haunted Halls of Eveningstar. Essentially the PCs are trying to have one of their own named Baron of the Stonelands and this requires that they clear and hold part of the Stonelands. I'll return to this one when I feel more confident that I can run it well. Really, it's a combination of a sandbox and a hexcrawl.

Doom of Daggerdale: Another Kingmaker clone but one flavoured by the 2E adventure Doom of Daggerdale and 2E's Randal Morn trilogy with a little bit of Keep on the Borderlands thrown in and it involves lots of Zhents and drow. It's not as much of a sandbox as Baron of the Stonelands but it is definitely a hexcrawl.

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