View Full Version : Developing a plot for an Earthbound tribute 4e campaign, need opinions

2011-09-29, 10:56 AM
First thing's first, if you don't know Earthbound this might be hard to follow. That said, if you want to contribute advice here's a quick blurb.

Earthbound (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EarthBound):
EarthBound roughly takes place in the 1990s.[11] Throughout the game, four characters, known as the Chosen Four, come to compose the party in the game. The player is able to change the default name of these four characters.

The player controls Ness, a young boy possessing strong psychic abilities. Early in the story, he meets an alien named Buzz Buzz with the appearance of a bee, who explains the quest that Ness must embark on. Over the course of his quest, Ness is joined by three other children his age: Paula, another powerful psychic; Jeff, a mechanical genius and child prodigy; and Poo, a martial arts master with some psychic ability.

The game's main antagonist is Giygas, an alien from a distant galaxy with the power to influence people using their own evil nature. While he is extremely powerful, his power has destroyed his capacity for rational thought, rendering him unable to control his power on his own. Ness' neighbor, Pokey, sides with Giygas and helps to carry out Giygas' plans.

Now, I'm sure you have some concerns and I'll gladly address them as they come up instead of inflating this post more.

I'm going to adapt the concept so it fits into medi-evil, high magic fantasy which D&D works really well with. I'm also removing the whole 'chosen four' thing because that's far too cliche.

I've figured I'll replace Giygas (the main villain) with Allabar, Opener of the Way (MM3) who is essentially a sentient planet gone insane.

Game starts off with a meteor striking nearby the party's home city and the party getting paid to escort a cocky young researcher (my Pokey) to the meteor for investigation.

While there the party is attacked by wild life being influenced by Allabar before the meteor opens up and reveals a passenger (much akin to buzz buzz, except not a bee this time). THe passenger is nearly driven mad and is horribly mutated. He tries to warn them that "He is coming" (Allabar) and that "He can influence both men and beasts with weak minds". He finally gives up the Macguffin (whatever I choose for my sound stone tribute) and then mutates into a horrible abberrant monstrosity which the party then fights off.

Essentially what the party doesn't know at this time is the traveller is a young eladrin man who's parents were whisked away to the far realm many many years ago (50ish). This caused a chain of events in a small area where influence from the far realm seeped in and the man and others worked together to seal it up, eventually creating the Living Portal to pull the tears in reality into one spot before destroying it to seal off the far realm. Implosion of the portal caused a deep crater which destroyed nearly everything except the site of the portal leaving eight newly born individuals (Shardminds). This is a historical event the PCs will slowly find out about as they play.

Anyways, the Eladrin man was sucked into the portal to Allabar and Allabar's influence slowly warped him. However Allabar was able to use the eladrin's appearance through the rift to finally pinpoint earth (which he's been looking for since he went insane, determined to ruin the planet which replaced him). His mission is essentially to ram the planet and everyone dies in a horrible catastrophe, even him (he's insane). Allabar sends a piece of himself out ahead to confirm his destination, this is the meteor.

Finding out about this plan the eladrin man (more and more deformed each day) manages to hitch a ride on the loose piece of Allabar and encases himself inside it to warn humanity of the god's approach.

Party now has to hunt down what would be Earthbound's 8 melody spots in order to defeat Allabar. I figured I might use the shardminds as stand ins for the 8 spots although I'm not sure how I'd justify hiding them at the end of dungeons or what the party is supposed to do with them when they find them.

Opinions? Ideas? Concerns?

edit: Essentially I want input on whether this is a good idea or not and why. Also any truly inspirational ideas to tag onto things. Any potholes you see coming up which I might miss. Things like that

2011-09-29, 12:51 PM
To make it a real Earthbound tribute, you should aim to replicate Earthbound's atmosphere - one of lighthearted adventure, and wonder, and absurdities, and surprising moments of darkness here and there. Also, Mr Saturn village is a must.

2011-09-29, 01:11 PM
. Also, Mr Saturn village is a must.

Which one was Mr. Saturn again?

EDIT: Also, I'd love to GM a game like this.

2011-09-29, 01:15 PM
The chosen 4 thing in Earthbound is basically played for laughs. Lighthearted adventure is a more important point than actually mimicking EB's plot, I'd think, though what you have is pretty good. A lot of what happens in EB is parodies of things you do in Dragon Quest, so maybe you could draw some parodies of things you do in standard D&D? Like, I dunno, take a standard side plot you do and Earthboundify it, especially if you've played with these people before so it gets an extra personal kick.

Another important thing about EB is that the game is basically a series of towns (also to parody DQ) and in each town you're basically just dealing with how people react to the presence of Giygas's influence. This kinda gets thrown away in the late game (after Scaraba, I guess.) Still, that would be a good way to structure the quest: go to town, solve problem, go to next town. Additionally, I think more important than a Mr. Saturn village (though to a tribute that would be pretty important) would be some sort of Magicant equivalent dream-land place. More like Mother 1's Magicant, so the whole party can be there instead of one character's dreamworld. You could also put the Mr. Saturns in there, maybe? Magicant in M1 is basically the Queen's dreamworld, so you could do something with that (maybe make her the Pokey-equivalent's mother, that could be neat.)

Aside from that, honestly, if I was playing an EB styled game, I wouldn't really want it to be medieval. Things were just grimmer back then, things are more suited to silliness now. Even Mother 3 starts off in some sort of rural early 1900s style of town. Oh, wait, here's a good idea: in M1, Magicant has a castle and is generally more medieval with Dragons and... talking cats? Maybe if you WERE going to go with medieval, you could have Magicant be like a modern city, complete with cars and fire hydrants that attack the party.

2011-09-29, 01:35 PM
Yeah, lighthearted but surprisingly dark (and surprisingly darker as things go on) is a big goal of this campaign. It's actually something which fits the group I'm DMing for really really well as they tend to start out a campaign joking and laughing and simply having fun but get more and more serious the deeper we get into it.

I need to probe a few characters before I can find out just how light hearted I can go however. Some of them might want a more serious campaign so I haven't fully committed that part yet. That said, it shouldn't be too hard, I have one PC who is making a GLaDOS parody for their PC (except this one isn't a robot but instead a human sorceror who was experimented on heavily and had excess personalities fused into her for magical study)

Mr. Saturns are a must have, agreed. I won't directly rip them off but I'm definitely going to make a small village of somethings which speak weird and are surprisingly friendly. I'll probably even go as far to give them all the same name.

I'm going with the series of towns idea definitely. While I might make the travel distance a bit greater between locales (the PCs are travelling the world and I can skip it with 'you travel for 2 weeks/months/whatever') the PCs will go from one town to another which will all have similar problems to those in Earthbound ((IE: Onett-like town has gang problems, Twoson-like town has a cult problem, Threed has undead, etc)) and I'll also be inserting some side quests as well to give the PCs options and aid with the levelling curve.

One hurdle I'm going to need to jump is getting the PCs to find the other seven sanctuaries (or whatever my macguffin becomes) since I'm not going the exposition route. I'm hoping the eerie warning from the deformed eladrin is enough to pique their curiosity and get them to investigate further but it might not be.

Medievil/high fantasy is a must only because the players expect it and like it. That said, the tech level in my worlds tends to be Eberron level (without blatantly copying the tech) so it's close enough to the mark I think.

I also plan on making some of the sillier tasks from Earthbound viable side quests, like getting Venus's autograph.

Magicent will definitely be included later on but I might spin it as some sort of contact with the far realm, not sure.

I'm also going to be making good use of the Mani-mani statue and moonside, I'm a big fan of small hints leading to a big thing.

edit: I also need to keep away from serious rail-roading, one of the reasons I'm not getting too committed to parodying the game outright.

2011-09-29, 02:23 PM
Some questions for the great minds out there.

1) I remember there was apparently a portion of the Mani Mani story cut out of the game. Does anyone know about this? I'd like to work it into the campaign.

2) Any idea what I should do about the Sanctuaries? I was thinking the shardminds could be it (use them to rebuild the living gate and reach Allabar) but I don't really have any justification for hiding them in dungeons nor do I have any way they could interact with the sound stone.

2011-09-29, 02:26 PM
I'd still try to adlib some parody elements or prepare for certain potentials, I guess. Eberron tech level sounds good, since it's already kind of silly. You could have a parody of "railroading" even by working in a magic train or something... I dunno.

As far as finding the other sanctuaries, it's done in EB by having the sanctuary be part of the locus of what's going on in each town, I guess, or occasionally they're approached as side-quests (like how there's just sort of a cave connected to Happy Happy Village and Saturn Valley that they can go down.) Ideally you wouldn't want "side-quests" that didn't at least indirectly relate with what's going on, especially in a scenario affecting the entire world. So rather than have set definitions of where the sanctuaries are, you could just design them as movable entities (even if locations) and work them into the plot hooks for the sidequests the players bite on, or tie them into the players' backgrounds (like have the Glados-inspired character's experiments have been done near the location of one--sort of like how Jeff walks past the Rainy Pond guardian in Winters.) Well, you wouldn't want to overdo it, but after they get a couple like that it would probably give them more incentive to investigate further.


Some questions for the great minds out there.

1) I remember there was apparently a portion of the Mani Mani story cut out of the game. Does anyone know about this? I'd like to work it into the campaign.

2) Any idea what I should do about the Sanctuaries? I was thinking the shardminds could be it (use them to rebuild the living gate and reach Allabar) but I don't really have any justification for hiding them in dungeons nor do I have any way they could interact with the sound stone.

1. I hadn't even heard of this, and I'm a pretty big fan, so it's likely there isn't any real information about it?

2. Hmm. Well, you could do it like Mother 1, where you kind of just trip over a lot of the melodies without them being dungeons (like the baby canary one, and you fight a dragon to get one) and have them be shards that way. You could also do it like Mother 3 where the needles are sort of just lying around, or they're misunderstood things that have been there for awhile that people built around (like the first needle in Osohe castle) but I'm not sure how that would interact with your backstory. You could have the shards warp the area around them into pseudo-magicant like areas and "create" sanctuaries, and then it's sort of just wherever the stones ended up (also lets you go to magicant-equivalent after gathering them.) I dunno, that's some ideas for you to work off of at least. EDIT: Oh, i sort of misread the thing about shardminds, my bad. So what I'm suggesting here works better if the sanctuaries are the shardmind landing zones or something.

2011-09-29, 04:22 PM
Mr. Saturns are a must have, agreed. I won't directly rip them off but I'm definitely going to make a small village of somethings which speak weird and are surprisingly friendly. I'll probably even go as far to give them all the same name.

Don't make it kobolds. Making kobolds the mandatory cutesy race is way too overused and the players will probably find it obnoxious instead.

2011-09-29, 04:25 PM
^: Adorable Meenlocks?

New Age Retro Sunites. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWN2xaOhj1U) :smallbiggrin:

2011-09-30, 09:31 AM
While Kobolds is way overused there is a caveat about my group.

They're all so new to D&D that 'The Cute Kobolds' isn't a trope they've experienced or are sick of yet. Just because something is cliche to the average gamer doesn't mean I should deprive the new gamer of the experience.

That said, I'm only going Kobold if I can't find something more suitable. I'd prefer to use something actually printed in the source books however.

2011-09-30, 03:59 PM
Ah, too bad, I just remembered that Flumphs would be perfect for this.

But 3.X and 4e both culled a lot of the more quirky and silly creatures that would work well here, so you're gonna be a bit hard-pressed if you're going by only the printed books.

2011-10-02, 05:59 PM
The Shardminds could be harvesting, resting in, or creating wondrous locations; the 8 "Your Sanctuary" locations.

PS: Chookie! (http://adventurers.comicgenesis.com/d/0140.html)

PPS: Cognitive Dissonance (http://forum.starmen.net/forum/Fan/Games/39813)

2011-10-03, 09:27 AM
I should clarify.

I want a printed race, even if I have to convert them is fine. Flumphs look amazing for this purpose.

I just don't want to homebrew, otherwise I might as well just be making Mr. Saturns.

Also, I like the idea of the Shardminds resting in the wonderous locations, places which have some sort of latent connection with the Far Realm which has resulted in the wonderous locales like a fountain of milk.

2011-10-31, 06:30 PM
What else has happened regarding this inspirational and ambitious project?

2011-10-31, 07:02 PM
If you want an easy adventure hook, make the shardminds things that a handful of determined villagers could beat. They have reason to hide, Allabar can guess their location to a rough geographic region, and stirs up trouble there. After the first one or two, the players should realize that that's their cue to stop things before one of the things protecting the world gets found and broken.

Check WOTC April Fools archives if you absolutely must have the Mr. Saturn stand-ins have stats. That's the day for silliness.

I'm kinda wondering how/why a newbie would take on an ambitious thing like multiple personalities. Normally I'd say that new players are easy to lead down the garden path (as are most players who aren't especially uncooperative), but that one makes me wonder how much you should plan for player kookiness to mess with things.

2011-10-31, 09:59 PM
Related to a number of posts before, I found Flumph 4E stats.
It's a PDF.
[edit] Ahm, actually that doesn't have stats. The page is a bit misleading. (My bad though :()
More on-topic, this is a great idea. The happy-happy cult was one of my most memorable playthrough moments, and would be cool to implement. Maybe have a Franklin badge-like magic item that they need to beat its boss?

2011-11-01, 07:53 AM
Oh hey, this thread is still getting attention.

I've actually started running the campaign now. First session was just over a week ago and second session is this Saturday.

I'm actually keeping a campaign log so far: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=220102