View Full Version : Opinions on a new campaign style and substance

2005-09-19, 03:40 PM
With the world of blue before us. We set sail to be the first of our kind, thrill seekers all. Our goal is to laugh fear in the face. We will, with our capable captain and crew, sail forth for adventure into the immature wildlands. Coming back with stories for a dwarfs' grandchild to hear. Behold the three shiny vessels, aboard which you shall be safe and comforted. Like the pioneers in the days before the marks of passage, we march into the unknown for naught more than what the bards shall write of it!

The begining of my adventure has 3 ships setting sail to "touch" the wild lands. The "Vacation" cruise was never to actually port. Just get close enough to say you did but never close enough to be in any kind of danger. Of course that is where it all goes wrong.

My players, 6 in all, are each tasked to make 5 characters with unique backgrounds for why they are on the cruise. I gave them a cummulative 10 levels to use. They (the players) know they will be shipwrecked. One of the boats and 50 survivors are dumped on an wild island. They have to build a community and fight against the elements and monsters. I have adventures written to expand the history of the Island. Ones to task them in the present. And I expect them to make the future.

The idea of Character creation is to allow intrigue not only between PC's but also NPC's interactions of the two and also PC to PC within your own stable. Luckily my players are excellent. Leaders and false leaders, different cliques and groups, common goals, and even the loss of one life is a huge catastrophy. We use a message board to keep in touch between game nights. On the boards I have begun to populate a folder with, stories, conversations, diary entries, etc... to tell the "What" that is happening daily. I encouraged the players to do the same IC. though they place theirs in the rumors sections until they become fact (I move them to my folder). I expect a lot of roleplay to happen on the boards leaving the game night for adventures mostly.

1) Does this in your opinion sound like something you would embrace?
2) Do you see any evident flaws in the system?
3) Any eberron people know a good place to start from?
4) Do you think that I am biting off more than I can chew with this system?
5) Open discussion.

2005-09-19, 03:55 PM
Five fully realized, fully played characters is a lot for one player to handle.

2005-09-19, 03:57 PM
1) Yup, I think I'd love it. It's heavy role-playing though with probably a lot of hard to manage intrige.

2) I think the major problem will be totaly being cut of from civilization. The wizard will hate his very small spellbook, while the sorcerer is casting evrything he has got. If they can find the components. The nature classess on the other hand will be verry happy.

3) I don't have any oberron books, but if you intend to stay on the island feel free to make up your own/use any island in the book/ use a real island.

4) You'll have to manage a lot of NPC's there, with an complex social situation. Also you'll need some information about running a small village.

5) feel free to comment.

2005-09-19, 07:10 PM
If we're talking going to Xendrik, then Breland is usually the preferred departing point.
Sending a ship past either the demon wastes or the lhazzar principalities is generally an adventure in and of itself, so that makes few expeditions leaving from aundair or karrnath. Except for rivers, Thrane is landlocked. The mournland is off limits for obvious limits. Lhazzar's aristocracy doesn't match the tone of your setting, nor is it a place many pampered nobles tread.

If you want to pull one of the other five nations in to the fray, you could have the venture headed by a group of nobles from northern aundair. They're likely prone to want to get out of the bad weather, and the "being able to say we were there" fits the aundair mentality.

2005-09-20, 12:33 AM
well with 6 players at five players each that's 30 PC's so make sure you can keep track of them all plus your own 20 NPC's (to get the 50 you start with)

I know it would be a bit much for me to chew off IMO...but then again i am a RPer to sometimes obscene levels of detail. Make sure you think about basic logistics...food, clothing, shelter...also make sure nobody has long range communication spells to just request pickup.

2005-09-20, 07:48 AM
Cut it down to three per person and make the rest of the 50 tangential. I can draw reference to another instance where there are about 50 survivors on an island, and only 14 or so ever actually do anything. It'll be more manageable too.

Apart from that it's an interesting concept.

2005-09-20, 08:14 AM
Gamebird: Luckily I have exceptional players. The least of which has 3 years with our group and 3 of us have over 20 years gaming.

1) Managing the intrigue. I was thinking of using the chaos rule. That being Chaos Rules!!!
2) I have made some allotments for wizards. I prepared an NPC lore master with a photographic memory. She doesn't want to leave BTW. Extinct cultrue study an all.
3) See Sucros below
4) Any suggestions on small village? I am up to the challenge with NPC's *pats self on back*

You seem to be the one I need being less than versed in Ebberon myself. It sounds like passing the demon wastes are the ticket. Is there a port city within 2 weeks sail from the demon wastes with a lightning rail depot?

I hear you on the "Extreme detail". Some will be to that level. and some won't. Oh yeah I forgot 30 PC's today. Nothing says that number stays the same tommorow. GOBLINS ATTACK! Mean I know but my players will love it.

New Questions
1) What NPC's give me the oppurtunity to allow PrC?
a) I have the Lore master for advanced magics
b) A retired Fighter school professor.
c) Monk
d) ?

2) I would like to work dragon marks into the mix.
a) What are essential?
b) What should be offlimits and why?

3) I need a good way of stopping long diastance communications and the "Come Pick Me Up" problem.

Thank you all for your input. I do appreciate it and really needed to talk this stuff out a bit. We start in a week.

2005-09-20, 05:29 PM
50 survivors, 30 of which are 10th level characters? That really blows one of the basic assumptions of D&D, that adventurers (READ: people with class levels) are a rarity, the exception rather than the rule. Were I to run a game like this I would have each player design a single 5th level character, 2 first level characters and 2 characters with a single level in an NPC class, additionally 99% of your other 20 survivors should be first to third level NPC classes. Also I would likely run this in a sort of Ars Magica like story rotation, where the story revolves around one characters main character (his 5th level) and his interactions with the other characters lower level or NPC class characters, perhaps leading them in some activity normally outside the reach of first levels characters, then the story shifts to another players main character. That way everyone gets a chance to be the hero, and also a chance to play a supporting role and work in some subplots or comic relief.

This solves several pitfalls I see regarding this style of campaign. First it helps with the demographic issue I raised above. Secondly the concern of managing 30 PCs is alieviated by limiting the number of characters on stage at one time to one main character and a few supporting characters. Finally the presence of NPC classes, some run by the players, allows you to make sure that the day to day concerns of building a society are handled. Anyone who's played Harvest moon knows that roleplaying a farmer every once and a while can be lots of fun.

One additional thing you'll have to resolve for your stranded theme to work is finding some way to limit magical transportation, like teleport, or Dimension door ect. I think there are two ways to handle this: The first and in my opinion the worse of the two is just to say that magical transportation doesn't work in your world or on this Island, or the second, and IMHO the better is to make sure that none of your 30 PCs or any of your NPCs are of insufficient level to access such forms of magical transportation (with a possible exception of your loremaster who doesn't want to leave, that guy sounds sinister to me). The first is heavy handed and likely to build resentment in your players for taking away something normally within thier power, while the seconed gives the players all their abilities and gives you a ton, of potential adventure hooks (magical research into transoportation spells, a quest to retrieve a scroll of teleport from some monsters lair, the possiblities are endless).

Just my two cents.

2005-09-20, 05:55 PM
In answer to your second barrage of questions, I have the following to say.

What NPCs should you have to allow for PrCs:

None. PrCs represent the prestigious minority of adventurers, who are themselves already a minority. The likely hood that there would be more than one NPC with a prestige class on this given ship is extremely low (that is unless this ship were chartered by some sort of prestigous organizations such as the Daggerspell guardians, but then your PrC NPCs would all likely have levels in the same small number of PrCs).

I think any prestige classes your players take will be spontaneous and the resulst of self directed experiencial learning, not training under some PrC (watch "Castaway" for examples of what I mean by experiencial learning, though instead of learning to make fire you're learning to make an assassins death attack). This of course will impose some logical limits on what PrCs are available to your players, nothing tied to a particular organization for example.

What Dragon marks are essential?

I have no Idea I don't play ebberon.

How do I prevent long distance communication?

The only saticfatory way I see to do this is to start your PCs at a suffciently low level to make such spells unvailable. Low level communication spells, such as message, typically don't have the range to reach accross an ocean. Then limit access to such spells, ie your loremaster doesn't know any, and don't hand out such scrolls as treasure, or make it a big deal when you do, like the culmination of a long adventure arc. This leaves you with only the sorcerer favored soul, bard, if one selects a long range communication spell when he gains an appropraite level, I say let him have it and call for help.

NEVER take away an ability the rules afford your players because it doesn't go the way you want the story to go. Besides, how long do you think you can keep a group of magically able characters corralled on an island.

The one other factor to account for in how to keep your PCs on the island is your villians. I could easily see this loremaster who doesn't want to leave playing the LE role, quitely and secretly thwarting chances to escape until he's had time to fulfill whatever agenda he has on the island, or pehaps the presence of the shipwrecked pcs awakens some ancient evil that had been in hiding on the island, perhaps a vampire, who makes it his business to slowly punish and torture those who distrubed his slumber, and therefore thwart their efforts to leave and spoil his fun.

2005-09-20, 06:42 PM
I like most of the ideas you've got. A buddy of mine once used emails in much the same way, and it worked fine. It was kinda exciting, actually, at the end of a session, our characters would break up, to go find out what we could, and we'd all start the next session with fresh gossip. It gave us the feeling that our characters WERE actually out gathering info, as well as not taking up session time with one-on-one sessions.

I have to say, I agree with a few of the others about number of characters. You know your players better than any of us here, but speaking for myself, I can't imagine playing five characters at once, and caring about any of them. For me, this game is about immersion, and I've never been able to set the kind of mood I've wanted when people play more than one character.

Maybe scale it down a little? Or run the extra PCs as NPCs? I love the overall idea, I just think extra characters lend themselves to player apathy (Who cares what happens to Bob? I've got Frank right here.), and that is never a good thing.

2005-09-20, 07:36 PM
I would just create 4 level-1 characters and one level-6. The other four can just go and die, I would still have my favourite class alive.

Players can be tricksy like that.

Sounds a bit like Lost to me. Make sure your players don't waych it, especially when you throw a polar bear on a tropical island at them.

2005-09-21, 09:04 AM
Morgan: you misread my post though I was rambling a bit. 10 Cummulative levels. as in 2-1st 1-2nd and 2-3rd . Or some other equivalnet. 1+1+2+3+3=10

Oeryn: great to hear this has been done successfully and that is exactly what I am trying to create.

The players know they will only be playing one character per week. And the level of char will be dictated by what I prepare. So if they pick 1-6th and 4-1st they will probably not play the 6th for a long time. or until others players characters can "Catch up"

Lately our campaigns have been with one group (different DM) and it has become stale to play the same char for the better part of 2 years. The multiple characters gives them the option to change out for a week.

Some of the PC's have been earmarked by the players in NPC roles.

Magical transportation has been dealt with as you have suggested. To low level to actually cast the spell and the only person with the spell wants to stay.

Boy am I glad you guys don't play in my campaign. Yes the thing is inspired by LOST, though I haven't watched the show once. Yes there is a great evil they will awaken by being there. Yes I plan to keep some of them on the island with the hopes of creating a new community and nation. The Lore master will most likely be exposed as an antogonist.

PrC I understand the unique nature of PrC but I would like to leave open options to level in them. I think the "Oh look who just came into the camp... a <insert PrC here>, just what you needed to teach you." Seems lame. I was just trying to be foreward thinking and looking for help.

One major reason for the number of characters is this is a cut off society. If and when the PC dies I need a way to introduce a new PC for the player. Without using a Giligans island routine. Also the reserve NPC's allow for a part of our sessions that some others may not run up against. We have a lot of out of town freinds that like to play when they come into town. NPC's = chance for others to play. Not to mention we always seem to find some guy at work that always wanted to try the game and always encourage it.

Thanks for your help

2005-09-22, 01:21 PM
Perhaps instead of making it so that the loremaster who is able to ask for help/leave but doesn't is to make her not have the require spell components, perhaps during the shipwreck certain things were lost, or perhaps part of her spell book as damaged. By leaving it at 'well, she could get us help, but just wants to stay' is a good way at getting everyone else who is stranded pissed at you pretty quickly.

Perhaps you could shape some of your quests around finding the nessesary spell components. (If you need to, add a few more manditory components to the spell) and by the time they gather all the components, they have found a reason to stay on the island.

2005-09-22, 02:12 PM
Okay, in light of your "Gilligan's Island" analogy, I withdraw my skepticism about having more than one character, especially if they're not playing them all at the same time.

A tip about the "meta-session" email/message board thing. Like I said, my buddy tried it, and it worked great for us. But be prepared. If your players are anything like our group was, and they have a week off to think about what they want to ask, they're going to ask a LOT. You sound like you've got a lot of well-thought-out background for this. You're going to need it.

Good luck with it, it sounds like a blast!