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    Default [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Last weekend in a fit of general boredom I convinced my family to create some 4ed characters to use in a family campaign that I'd be DMing. I'd be pestering with stories about my group's adventures for some months now, so they were already interested in the idea. But the problem is that I know nothing about DMing, only bought the DMG on Wednesday, and have about a month to create a campaign that will hopefully be enjoyed by all. (Thankfully we agreed to wait until the Easter holidays which start about a month from now)

    Now, the party: (I don't remember any character names)
    An eladrin ranger, played by my older sister. Youngest prince of an Eladrin just-off-the-coast island kingdom, he ran off with the love of his life, a baker, after the slightly tyrannical queen refused to allow him to marry her. He disguised himself and enrolled himself as a common soldier in the Eladrin army that's marching off to fight some unspecified enemy. His new wife followed the army as a cook.
    A half-elven warlord, played by my younger sister. The niece of the above ranger, her eladrin mother met her human father in a joint campaign with some human kingdom. Her mother was disowned by the queen after the affair was discovered. Her father died shortly after in that campaign. Her generally spineless grandfather ensured her enrollment in an officer's academy, and pulled major strings to ensure that she'd be a junior officer in the latest campaign in order to get her away from the queen. (She doesn't know that last part.) Her disguised uncle was placed under her command after her request.
    A dragonborn fighter, played by my father. His clan was eradicated by an unspecified enemy, probably the same one that the army is marching against. He was discovered by the above warlord skulking around the army and was convinced to join the campaign. The general hired him as a mercenary without a second thought, and he was placed under the command of the warlord who discovered him after his request. (The entire incident was roleplayed, and I was quite impressed actually)
    A human, played by my mother. Not actually created yet. My mother was the least enthusiastic about the campaign. Probably a soldier of the human kingdom that's allied with the Eladrin, placed under the command of the warlord. Will become a DMPC if my mother isn't interested after all.

    Next, the jointly created world: Cosmology is somewhat different to the standard 4ed one. There is not a Feywild or a Shadowfell. Creatures normally native to the Feywild inhabit natural unspoiled forests and other such parts of the world, while the Shadowfell creatures inhabit the Underdark. Arkhosia and Bael Turath existed in the far past and scoured huge parts of the earth with their now almost forgotten war. Everything else is just as described by the books. Only part of the world that's somewhat fleshed out is the eladrin island kingdom, which consists of the capital and surrounding forest and is connected to the mainland by a huge magic bridge. There's also a neighbouring, much larger, human kingdom that's been allied to the eladrin for a very long time.

    Last, my half-formed thoughts about the campaign: The eladrin queen is actually thoroughly evil, and the only one who knows is her husband. She is also a powerful (epic?) wizard and has him under wraps. I have no idea what her plan and motivation might be, but world domination and/or ultimate arcane power are probably game. The human/eladrin alliance has been on and off at war with the northern orc tribes for centuries. The campaign was called to aid the humans against the latest orc offensive. Something bad will happen before long, though, and the army will be wiped out other than the heroes, who will eventually save the world from something much badder.

    Please, oh please, can the Playground's superior minds help me in this? As I said my experience as a DM is nonexistent, and my experience as a player isn't that big either. I'd really-really appreciate any help with the world-building, general adventure plan, and any DMing advice that might exist and is not covered by the DMG or the sticky on that very forum. Oh, and names too. I suck at names.
    Many thanks to Assassin 89 for this avatar!

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    OK, Step 1 - did you read Rich's excellent Guide to Worldbuilding? I found Chapters 4-7 particularly helpful.

    Now, let's get down to brass tacks: custom pantheon or book pantheon? It is actually very easy to design your own and that's usually where I start.
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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Read the part near the front of the DMG about different types of players. Find out what type of players your family is, maybe by just showing them that section. This is something you should do before you put a single detail into the world.

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Let's talk about your evil queen's motivation. Where do you want the morality of the campaign to go, especially since your mother is playing?

    As you've mentioned, "She wants to rule the world" is a nice, simple, and cliched beyond belief motivation. The old song wasn't kidding about how everybody wants to rule the world, y'know. This is the obvious choice if you want the morality of the campaign to remain stark, though. To add depth, you're going to need to decide WHY she wants to rule the world AND why she's willing to become evil to do so.

    If you want to go a bit greyer, make the queens motivation an ultimately "good" one, but make her willing to go too far to do so. Unfortunately this is a bit of a cliche as well, and once again will ride on how well you can establish the why.

    --------------------------------------

    In terms of DMing, I usually advise first timers to build on their strengths. If you aren't comfortable world-building, *don't*. You don't have to build an entire world if you just want to tell a story -- or if you just want to run a dungeon crawl. And as someone who got into Role Play through War Games, let me say there's no shame in that latter option.

    I have a friend who is *really* good at building engaging cities & towns (and the NPC's inside them). He's at his best describing the rivallry between two bars in town, or explaining why the town alchemist prefers rum over beer. This is a guy that can tell you how the streets in town got their names. But trying to create a pantheon, or mythology, or history for a world is almost painful for him.

    Personally I'm much better at the mythology & history of worlds, so I tend to start there. I'm having a lot of fun building the conflicting mythologies for my current world. But since I tend to suck at making world maps, though? I actually don't make them. At all. I describe what I want, make sure it's consistent, and run with it.
    • Sometimes, the knights are the monsters
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    • George R.R. Martin, Kirkman, and Joss Whedon walked into a bar. There were no survivors.
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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Ok, this is your first time behind the screen?

    Don't develop the world too much ahead of time.
    Let it flow.

    When the players arrive somewhere describe it and maybe a landmark of some sort. If they're traveling from place to place give a quick description of where it is, relative to where they just left. "You pass under the gate of the walled city of Durii'amon; white marble garboyles stare menacingly at you as you pass their gaze, leaving the town of Previa in it's wooden glen, still visible from atop the mountaintop."

    If you want the characters to stay in one town, just have them start at one place and expand it as you go in the same way. Maybe The Tavern was recently burned down by raiders and the PCs are asked to go arrest/kill them. Then when they get back, a new tavern awaits them.

    Don't develop things that the PCs aren't going to interact with, foreshadowing is one thing, but don't tell them about the evil queen or the next town's political move, unless they're going to war.

    Plan the adventure ahead of time, but remember that the PCs might just go the other way. They might also bring their own character background or history into the campaign, which is good. If you kept it too static or planned ahead you might feel the need to say, "That doesn't really fit in here." "people there aren't like that." And they aren't mindreaders and they'll feel dumb, like they're losing the DnD.

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    So there is a war. And you want your players out of the army.

    Some possible plans:
    1> The Orcs win.
    2> The Army wins.
    3> Both lose.

    In the case of 1 and 3, you have to figure out how the players survive.

    In the case of 2, you have to come up with a completely different reason why the players aren't with the army.

    In the case of 1, the Orcs may become the campaign focus.

    In the case of 3, whatever caused both sides to lose may become the campaign focus.

    ...

    One interesting option is that the Queen ends up burning the life force of the Eladrin to cast a spell, which causes every being present to breathe fire (and doesn't provide protection against burning themselves), or something equally gory.

    This solves the Orc problem. Sure, it destroys the Human military, and kills the Eladrin forces that where sent along. But the Orcs where a problem.

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightson View Post
    Read the part near the front of the DMG about different types of players. Find out what type of players your family is, maybe by just showing them that section. This is something you should do before you put a single detail into the world.
    I second this. Until you know what everyone wants out of the game, you shouldn't go ahead with the world too much. It won't matter how detailed it is if the players aren't having fun with it.

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    Last, my half-formed thoughts about the campaign: The eladrin queen is actually thoroughly evil, and the only one who knows is her husband. She is also a powerful (epic?) wizard and has him under wraps. I have no idea what her plan and motivation might be, but world domination and/or ultimate arcane power are probably game.
    As others note, world domination as such is a cliche. Ultimate arcane power is a bit of a cliche too, but it's a believable one, so that doesn't really matter.

    If this queen is going to play a prominent role in the setting, you need to know not just what she wants but why she wants it and what she values. "Nothing" is a flimsy answer. You need to give your characters more motivation than that, and it's to your advantage to do so. It enhances role playing and it gives you plot tips, because knowing why Queen Wossname wants to rule the world tells you what she is and is not willing to do in order to get the world.

    Two examples that you don't need to use follow:

    Maybe she's willing to kill millions of foreigners, but not willing to risk the lives of large numbers of her own subjects.

    Maybe she's got a powerful supernatural supporter who is actually calling a bunch of the shots. If she gets a lot of her power from the god of starting new Ice Ages, that dictates parts of her agenda, and some of the tactics she'll use to reach her goal.

    Or maybe... there are a lot of possibilities here. Make up your own. But to do that and make it believable, the evil queen has to have a personality that drives her to do certain things. She has to have a reason for the things she does, aside from "being evil."
    ______

    For instance, why did Queen Wossname refuse to let Prince Whozit marry a baker? Does she have some other plan for him? What is that plan? Is it possible that she will try to make that plan happen in some other way? Maybe she doesn't have another plan for him, and just opposes the idea of royals marrying beneath them (and by extension, eladrin marrying 'lesser races'). In which case you've learned something about her character.
    _____

    The human/eladrin alliance has been on and off at war with the northern orc tribes for centuries. The campaign was called to aid the humans against the latest orc offensive. Something bad will happen before long, though, and the army will be wiped out other than the heroes, who will eventually save the world from something much badder.
    I suggest that the army not be wiped out entirely. There are several reasons. One is plausibility- in a whole army, at least a few people are always going to make their saving throw, or run away before the monster gets them, or be sick in the camp when the battle happens. Something like that.

    Another is that cutting the hero off from allies entirely is likely to leave them with no clue what to do next. Especially if you, the DM, aren't an expert in leaving hints and laying out a plot that will convince the players that they should do something*. Having a few dozen random soldiers who survived the general collapse of the army backing up the heroes gives you plot hooks and motivations for the heroes to act.

    *as opposed to forcing them to do something against their will.
    _______

    I'd really-really appreciate any help with the world-building, general adventure plan, and any DMing advice that might exist and is not covered by the DMG or the sticky on that very forum. Oh, and names too. I suck at names.
    I refer you to the "So you Want to be a DM" thread stickied at the top of the "Roleplaying Games" board.
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    If your idea of fun is to give the players whatever they want, then I suggest you take out a board game called: CANDY LAND and use that for your gaming sessions.
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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Alright, I've meditated on this a bit more, and I found more advice. Aren't you lucky

    The hardest part of DMing is keeping the game consistent. If you're not careful you can easily write your PCs (and yourself!) into a corner, or cripple your own master plan with an offhanded comment. To this end, I usually suggest that DMs start off with some unrelated dungeon crawls to get a feel for DMing before starting a more complicated plot.

    In your case, this is best accomplished by having the Warlord be sent out with her squad to take care of various situations as the Army marches towards the front lines. To this end, write up a character for her Commanding Officer (CO); the CO should dislike the Warlord for some reason, which is why the CO keeps sending the Warlord out on dangerous/annoying missions.

    Some basic plots:
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    - the Army camps near a town and is approached by a delegation. It turns out that goblins/kobolds/whatever have been making trouble and the town's militia are incapable of uprooting the pests. Your CO can't very well march the whole company on these pests but is compelled by Duty / Higher Ups to help out civilians... so the CO sends the PCs to take care of it - but hurry, the army marches after it finishes resupplying!

    - the CO sends the PCs out on a scouting mission in advance of the army - to look for natural hazards, impassible terrain, enemy forces, etc. These missions usually last for a few days at a time unless the scouts find something they can't deal with. This particular dodge you can pull many times and it can have the PCs meet up with Travelers in Distress, Big Monsters, Sidequest Dungeons and so on.

    - An advance team of orcs find the Army and begin a guerilla campaign against them, seeking to delay their arrival at the front lines. The CO can't spare one of the elite squads to hunt down the orcs - they're needed to repel attacks - but the PCs are eminently expendable.


    These sort of adventures allow your players to get a feel for their characters before The Plot kicks into high gear, and gives them an NPC they can get to know. It also gives you time to see how they respond to different stimuli - which is vital for manipulating PCs successfully

    Now, when the PCs finally make it to the front lines, this is a great time to start off The Plot. Maybe have a few skirmishes to let the PCs get a taste of war; if the Warlord did well enough, the CO may have had to promote her along the way so she may finally have a chance to throw her weight around. If I were running things, this is how I'd do the War:

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    The Queen is actually behind the latest attack by the Orcs. Through one of her agents, she has been supplying the Orcs with magical firepower so that they could force the grand human/eladrin alliance to field all their forces in one place to contain them. You can hint at this by supplying the orc casters with wands and somesuch and then having veterans of the Orc Wars comment "huh, they've never been able to do that before."

    One day the order comes down to launch a massive strike to crush the Orc army; part of the plan is for an elite joint strike force to attack the Orc leadership directly, hopefully breaking the spirit of the Orc army. Naturally, the PCs aren't part of this force; instead they are deployed into a nearby mountainous region to make sure there aren't any orc guerrillas hiding up there. Once in the mountains, the PCs locate the ruins of a temple built into the rock and find a Teleportation Circle (being held open by a Court Wizard of the Eladrin kingdom) which is ferrying in orcish forces to launch a surprise attack on the Alliance army while all the elites are away.

    This is a tricky part; you must be sure that the PCs won't try to solo the orc forces and attempt to close the portal - they must die if they try. Hopefully noting that a Court Wizard is there to provide fire support (should be Paragon tier) will be enough, but don't count on it; PCs can be downright suicidal at times.

    Anyhoo, if things go well the PCs should escape back to their camp to alert the forces about the sneak attack. Most of the senior officers are out with the strike force, so the PCs will suddenly have a lot more authority than usual - that will be fun. Let the veteran commanders plan most of the defenses but leave a couple of "judgment call" decisions up to the PCs. It'd be nice if the CO is still around and finds that his/her authority is somewhat diminished by the heroic exploits the PCs have been doing all this time - the other grunts respect the PCs more than the CO.

    Then the orcs arrive. Make this a big splashy affair; with luck the PCs should be high Heroic by now so they can really afford to be... well, Heroic in the battle. But it will be all for naught; the Queen had different plans.

    Some time during the battle extraplanar creatures will start appearing, destroying materiel and troops from both sides; Elementals, Demons or Devils - your choice. After the Orcs left the lost temple on the mountain, the Queen herself appeared and used the Circle to start summoning forth a force of these creatures to finish off the weakened orcish and alliance forces. Her plan? With the armies of the three major powers in the region essentially ruined, she should be able to easily launch a coup with her own forces and conquer all of these lands for her new Eladrin Empire.

    Keep the extraplanar creatures largely away from the PCs and/or make them obviously too strong to fight - giant flaming demon bulls flipping over catapults and trampling squads at a time. If the CO is around, have him/her order the PCs to flee along with whatever other army types they can lead out of here; naturally the CO will "die" while covering this retreat - but you can bring him/her back later in a lot of fun ways!


    Now you have the PCs, hopefully Paragon or almost there, out of the army and aware of a conspiracy in the upper tiers of the Eladrin Court. What will they do? What about the other survivors - can the PCs form them into a force of their own, or will they dissolve back into civilization? That, my friend, is Act II!
    Last edited by Oracle_Hunter; 2009-03-15 at 01:26 PM.
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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Great replies so far! I knew I could count on your help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    OK, Step 1 - did you read Rich's excellent Guide to Worldbuilding? I found Chapters 4-7 particularly helpful.

    Now, let's get down to brass tacks: custom pantheon or book pantheon? It is actually very easy to design your own and that's usually where I start.
    I can't believe I forgot about Rich's articles! They'll be really helpful indeed. I didn't give much thought to the gods, and so I'd probably go with the default ones. But now that you mention it, an ancient Greek styled pantheon would probably be better for my group. I'll try to come up with one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meek View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Nightson View Post
    Read the part near the front of the DMG about different types of players. Find out what type of players your family is, maybe by just showing them that section. This is something you should do before you put a single detail into the world.
    I second this. Until you know what everyone wants out of the game, you shouldn't go ahead with the world too much. It won't matter how detailed it is if the players aren't having fun with it.
    Finding out will be difficult, as my college is in a town 4 hours away from my hometown, and the earliest that I can go there for a weekend is Friday the 27th. I can make some educated guesses though, based on how they played the meeting: Older sister, the ranger, is a slayer, without the optimization. She knows nothing about the rules, and doesn't want to, but she went right into "slay the monster" mode as soon as the ranger saw the fighter moving behind some nearby bushes. Younger sister is an actor, and her roleplaying is the only thing that prevented the fight from getting out of hand. My father is definitely a power-gamer, as I'm almost sure his fighter would wipe the floor with both of them if it came to a fight, and he's the only one that was interested in the actual rules. And my mother is probably going to be a watcher, based on her amount of participation so far, which is none.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheEmerged View Post
    Let's talk about your evil queen's motivation. Where do you want the morality of the campaign to go, especially since your mother is playing?

    As you've mentioned, "She wants to rule the world" is a nice, simple, and cliched beyond belief motivation. The old song wasn't kidding about how everybody wants to rule the world, y'know. This is the obvious choice if you want the morality of the campaign to remain stark, though. To add depth, you're going to need to decide WHY she wants to rule the world AND why she's willing to become evil to do so.

    If you want to go a bit greyer, make the queens motivation an ultimately "good" one, but make her willing to go too far to do so. Unfortunately this is a bit of a cliche as well, and once again will ride on how well you can establish the why.

    --------------------------------------

    In terms of DMing, I usually advise first timers to build on their strengths. If you aren't comfortable world-building, *don't*. You don't have to build an entire world if you just want to tell a story -- or if you just want to run a dungeon crawl. And as someone who got into Role Play through War Games, let me say there's no shame in that latter option.

    I have a friend who is *really* good at building engaging cities & towns (and the NPC's inside them). He's at his best describing the rivallry between two bars in town, or explaining why the town alchemist prefers rum over beer. This is a guy that can tell you how the streets in town got their names. But trying to create a pantheon, or mythology, or history for a world is almost painful for him.

    Personally I'm much better at the mythology & history of worlds, so I tend to start there. I'm having a lot of fun building the conflicting mythologies for my current world. But since I tend to suck at making world maps, though? I actually don't make them. At all. I describe what I want, make sure it's consistent, and run with it.
    I think I'll stick with classic heroic black-and-white morality with this one. I'll keep greyness and nasty moral dilemmas for the second one, If they have fun, and want another go. After all, my mother's and sisters' contact with fantasy is limited to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Dragonlance, none of which is noted for their complex morality. My father has probably read more books than me, but he's the minority here.
    And my strengths, you say? That'd be geography and history, probably, so I'll get right to drawing maps and making a detailed history of everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_of_Spades View Post
    Ok, this is your first time behind the screen?

    Don't develop the world too much ahead of time.
    Let it flow.

    When the players arrive somewhere describe it and maybe a landmark of some sort. If they're traveling from place to place give a quick description of where it is, relative to where they just left. "You pass under the gate of the walled city of Durii'amon; white marble garboyles stare menacingly at you as you pass their gaze, leaving the town of Previa in it's wooden glen, still visible from atop the mountaintop."

    If you want the characters to stay in one town, just have them start at one place and expand it as you go in the same way. Maybe The Tavern was recently burned down by raiders and the PCs are asked to go arrest/kill them. Then when they get back, a new tavern awaits them.

    Don't develop things that the PCs aren't going to interact with, foreshadowing is one thing, but don't tell them about the evil queen or the next town's political move, unless they're going to war.

    Plan the adventure ahead of time, but remember that the PCs might just go the other way. They might also bring their own character background or history into the campaign, which is good. If you kept it too static or planned ahead you might feel the need to say, "That doesn't really fit in here." "people there aren't like that." And they aren't mindreaders and they'll feel dumb, like they're losing the DnD.
    Totally my first time behind the screen. In fact, my first look at the back side of the screen was last Wednesday. How much development would be too much though? Wouldn't it be swell if I created everything they can't change, but only informed them of the events they should reasonably know? And, of course, I shouldn't set in stone anything they'll possibly change. But jumping off the rails, so to speak, isn't likely for the first part of the campaign. They all decided to join the army on their own, and they know what to expect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    So there is a war. And you want your players out of the army.

    Some possible plans:
    1> The Orcs win.
    2> The Army wins.
    3> Both lose.

    In the case of 1 and 3, you have to figure out how the players survive.

    In the case of 2, you have to come up with a completely different reason why the players aren't with the army.

    In the case of 1, the Orcs may become the campaign focus.

    In the case of 3, whatever caused both sides to lose may become the campaign focus.

    ...

    One interesting option is that the Queen ends up burning the life force of the Eladrin to cast a spell, which causes every being present to breathe fire (and doesn't provide protection against burning themselves), or something equally gory.

    This solves the Orc problem. Sure, it destroys the Human military, and kills the Eladrin forces that where sent along. But the Orcs where a problem.
    I was leaning towards 3, but with a method far less gory. My sister is 14, and my parents, at least, would be horrified if I did something like that. 1 and 2 are interesting, but I can't think of a way to justify the PCs breaking off the army and doing their thing in 2, and for the Orcs to be reasonably defeated in 1. Especially since I already decided that the Queen is the Big Bad of the campaign.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    As others note, world domination as such is a cliche. Ultimate arcane power is a bit of a cliche too, but it's a believable one, so that doesn't really matter.

    If this queen is going to play a prominent role in the setting, you need to know not just what she wants but why she wants it and what she values. "Nothing" is a flimsy answer. You need to give your characters more motivation than that, and it's to your advantage to do so. It enhances role playing and it gives you plot tips, because knowing why Queen Wossname wants to rule the world tells you what she is and is not willing to do in order to get the world.

    Two examples that you don't need to use follow:

    Maybe she's willing to kill millions of foreigners, but not willing to risk the lives of large numbers of her own subjects.

    Maybe she's got a powerful supernatural supporter who is actually calling a bunch of the shots. If she gets a lot of her power from the god of starting new Ice Ages, that dictates parts of her agenda, and some of the tactics she'll use to reach her goal.

    Or maybe... there are a lot of possibilities here. Make up your own. But to do that and make it believable, the evil queen has to have a personality that drives her to do certain things. She has to have a reason for the things she does, aside from "being evil."
    ______

    For instance, why did Queen Wossname refuse to let Prince Whozit marry a baker? Does she have some other plan for him? What is that plan? Is it possible that she will try to make that plan happen in some other way? Maybe she doesn't have another plan for him, and just opposes the idea of royals marrying beneath them (and by extension, eladrin marrying 'lesser races'). In which case you've learned something about her character.
    _____

    I suggest that the army not be wiped out entirely. There are several reasons. One is plausibility- in a whole army, at least a few people are always going to make their saving throw, or run away before the monster gets them, or be sick in the camp when the battle happens. Something like that.

    Another is that cutting the hero off from allies entirely is likely to leave them with no clue what to do next. Especially if you, the DM, aren't an expert in leaving hints and laying out a plot that will convince the players that they should do something*. Having a few dozen random soldiers who survived the general collapse of the army backing up the heroes gives you plot hooks and motivations for the heroes to act.

    *as opposed to forcing them to do something against their will.
    _______

    I refer you to the "So you Want to be a DM" thread stickied at the top of the "Roleplaying Games" board.
    That's the thread I meant by "any DMing advice that might exist and is not covered by the DMG or the sticky on that very forum"
    I hadn't even considered having a bunch of survivors whose continuing surviving would depend on the PCs, but it's a pretty cool idea that I'm going to use. As for the queen, I'm on the process of fleshing her out using Rich's own guide for villains. Should be done during next week.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Alright, I've meditated on this a bit more, and I found more advice. Aren't you lucky

    The hardest part of DMing is keeping the game consistent. If you're not careful you can easily write your PCs (and yourself!) into a corner, or cripple your own master plan with an offhanded comment. To this end, I usually suggest that DMs start off with some unrelated dungeon crawls to get a feel for DMing before starting a more complicated plot.

    In your case, this is best accomplished by having the Warlord be sent out with her squad to take care of various situations as the Army marches towards the front lines. To this end, write up a character for her Commanding Officer (CO); the CO should dislike the Warlord for some reason, which is why the CO keeps sending the Warlord out on dangerous/annoying missions.

    Some basic plots:
    Spoiler
    Show
    - the Army camps near a town and is approached by a delegation. It turns out that goblins/kobolds/whatever have been making trouble and the town's militia are incapable of uprooting the pests. Your CO can't very well march the whole company on these pests but is compelled by Duty / Higher Ups to help out civilians... so the CO sends the PCs to take care of it - but hurry, the army marches after it finishes resupplying!

    - the CO sends the PCs out on a scouting mission in advance of the army - to look for natural hazards, impassible terrain, enemy forces, etc. These missions usually last for a few days at a time unless the scouts find something they can't deal with. This particular dodge you can pull many times and it can have the PCs meet up with Travelers in Distress, Big Monsters, Sidequest Dungeons and so on.

    - An advance team of orcs find the Army and begin a guerilla campaign against them, seeking to delay their arrival at the front lines. The CO can't spare one of the elite squads to hunt down the orcs - they're needed to repel attacks - but the PCs are eminently expendable.


    These sort of adventures allow your players to get a feel for their characters before The Plot kicks into high gear, and gives them an NPC they can get to know. It also gives you time to see how they respond to different stimuli - which is vital for manipulating PCs successfully

    Now, when the PCs finally make it to the front lines, this is a great time to start off The Plot. Maybe have a few skirmishes to let the PCs get a taste of war; if the Warlord did well enough, the CO may have had to promote her along the way so she may finally have a chance to throw her weight around. If I were running things, this is how I'd do the War:

    Spoiler
    Show
    The Queen is actually behind the latest attack by the Orcs. Through one of her agents, she has been supplying the Orcs with magical firepower so that they could force the grand human/eladrin alliance to field all their forces in one place to contain them. You can hint at this by supplying the orc casters with wands and somesuch and then having veterans of the Orc Wars comment "huh, they've never been able to do that before."

    One day the order comes down to launch a massive strike to crush the Orc army; part of the plan is for an elite joint strike force to attack the Orc leadership directly, hopefully breaking the spirit of the Orc army. Naturally, the PCs aren't part of this force; instead they are deployed into a nearby mountainous region to make sure there aren't any orc guerrillas hiding up there. Once in the mountains, the PCs locate the ruins of a temple built into the rock and find a Teleportation Circle (being held open by a Court Wizard of the Eladrin kingdom) which is ferrying in orcish forces to launch a surprise attack on the Alliance army while all the elites are away.

    This is a tricky part; you must be sure that the PCs won't try to solo the orc forces and attempt to close the portal - they must die if they try. Hopefully noting that a Court Wizard is there to provide fire support (should be Paragon tier) will be enough, but don't count on it; PCs can be downright suicidal at times.

    Anyhoo, if things go well the PCs should escape back to their camp to alert the forces about the sneak attack. Most of the senior officers are out with the strike force, so the PCs will suddenly have a lot more authority than usual - that will be fun. Let the veteran commanders plan most of the defenses but leave a couple of "judgment call" decisions up to the PCs. It'd be nice if the CO is still around and finds that his/her authority is somewhat diminished by the heroic exploits the PCs have been doing all this time - the other grunts respect the PCs more than the CO.

    Then the orcs arrive. Make this a big splashy affair; with luck the PCs should be high Heroic by now so they can really afford to be... well, Heroic in the battle. But it will be all for naught; the Queen had different plans.

    Some time during the battle extraplanar creatures will start appearing, destroying materiel and troops from both sides; Elementals, Demons or Devils - your choice. After the Orcs left the lost temple on the mountain, the Queen herself appeared and used the Circle to start summoning forth a force of these creatures to finish off the weakened orcish and alliance forces. Her plan? With the armies of the three major powers in the region essentially ruined, she should be able to easily launch a coup with her own forces and conquer all of these lands for her new Eladrin Empire.

    Keep the extraplanar creatures largely away from the PCs and/or make them obviously too strong to fight - giant flaming demon bulls flipping over catapults and trampling squads at a time. If the CO is around, have him/her order the PCs to flee along with whatever other army types they can lead out of here; naturally the CO will "die" while covering this retreat - but you can bring him/her back later in a lot of fun ways!


    Now you have the PCs, hopefully Paragon or almost there, out of the army and aware of a conspiracy in the upper tiers of the Eladrin Court. What will they do? What about the other survivors - can the PCs form them into a force of their own, or will they dissolve back into civilization? That, my friend, is Act II!
    This is excellent, and I'm going to rip the spoilered sections off maybe borrow some of that stuff. The commanding officer will dislike the warlord because he feels she didn't deserve her commission at all. Most of the army will think that way too in the beginning, but will gradually change their mind after the party succeeds in all those suicidal missions.
    The extraplanar creatures will be Devils, simply as an excuse to involve the pantheon in some way. And it nicely brings Bael Turath into the forefront, as the world's scars from the last time someone created an empire with their help are still visible.

    Next two days are tough at college, so I'll start the heavy work on Wednesday. Thanks a lot everyone!
    Many thanks to Assassin 89 for this avatar!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    And my mother is probably going to be a watcher, based on her amount of participation so far, which is none.
    You know, you might try a Cleric on her. Go for a Balanced Cleric (16 STR, 16 WIS) and note all the helpful powers she has. It can be less frightening knowing that you're "just helping" rather than having to run around doing big important things.

    But do draw her into the game - find something that would interest her (perhaps a religious mythos, interpersonal actions, peacemaking, etc.) and see if you can use that to draw her in.

    Also: History is an excellent thing for you to know in detail - it can solve a lot of other questions about your game world. I think your focus there will be well rewarded
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    I cannot stay focused on one task for long, so I'm working on my maps, campaign and history all at once. So, I'm making progress in all, but I have finished nothing. Sadly my mother has expressed second thoughts, but my sisters are far more enthusiastic than I thought, and have taken up the mantle of convincing her.

    Now, let's move to what I have finished: The gods. My sister is studying Latin, and she wanted a Latin name for her ranger (Caesarion or somesuch), so I went with it and made the Elven language Latin, and the gods inspired by the Grecoroman pantheon.

    Spoiler
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    Unaligned gods:
    Jupiter: Lord of the sky, maker of laws, protector of the nobility and of those who seek power in any form.
    Vulcan: God of fire, metallurgy and civilization. Metallurgy remains his favourite pastime
    Mercury: God of travel and trade. Merchants and messengers revere him above all.
    Diana: Goddess of wild beasts and the wilderness in general. Hunters pray to her.
    Fortuna: Goddess of luck, change and freedom. Few worship this fickle goddess, but almost everyone prays to her from time to time.

    (Lawful) Good gods:
    Neptune: Lord of the sea and the surface of land. He seeks justice and honour, and his fury is unmatched.
    (L)Minerva: Goddess of wisdom, tactics and protection. Perhaps the most prideful of all gods.
    Ceres: Goddess of agriculture and beneficial plants in general, as well as the seasons. Medicine lies in her domain, but diseases too.
    Juno: Goddess of the home and family, and kindness and compassion. The wife of Jupiter, her jealousy is legendary but not undeserved.
    (L)Apollo: God of the sun, patron of the arts and knowledge. He believes that secrets are sometimes better than the truth.

    (Chaotic) Evil gods:
    Pluto: Lord of everything underground, wealth comes from his domain and he encourages the greedy. He is also the god of death, and undeath.
    (C)Mars: God of battle. Slaughter, destruction and conquest are his commandments. All soldiers pray to him for courage.
    (C)Bacchus: God of feasts and alcohol, but also of poisons, addictive substances and harmful plants in general.
    (C)Venus: Goddess of beauty and the arts. Trickery and treachery are her tools of the trade.
    Adranus: God of magic, and tyranny. Only the worst dictators, and those who seek to be one, worship him.


    The map of the world is done, but I have no scanner. Picture the map of Eurasia and Africa, rotate it 90 degrees so that "Russia" becomes the eastern coast, and you'll have a rough approximation of the world. "South Africa" has been blown off by a magic explosion of epic proportions, and three landmasses have broken off the ancient continent. They're very roughly analogous to Australia, and South and North America.

    History:

    Spoiler
    Show

    In the beginning, there was only Chaos. After an inordinate amount of time, if time had any meaning back then, the Primordials arose from the elemental sea of Chaos. Beings beyond mortal comprehension, with powers beyond understanding. For reasons unknown to all they started combining the elements to create. Infinite universes were created, countless worlds, and life in many of them. In no universe did they stay to witness the fruits of their labour. Little is known about the others, but in our world, Terra, the Titans reigned supreme. The sky was the only thing they could not dominate, and in time they came to worship it as a god.
    But belief is a tricky thing. The Astral Sea is where belief and the souls of the dead go, and they stay for a brief time before moving on, to who knows where. Each world has its own Sea, where strong beliefs coalesce, and if they are strong enough, become real. The Titans believed that sky was a god, and their belief created a God. Jupiter, lord of the sky was the first in our world. He reached out and helped numerous other Gods come to existance, one for almost every belief of the Titans. For that, he is rightfully known as the Father of our Gods. In time, he contacted the Gods of other worlds, and learned something terrible: The Primordials had stopped creating, and had began destroying.
    Innumerable worlds had been destroyed, their Gods powerless against the Creators. But innumerable more still existed, and the Gods would not go peacefully. They rose up against the Primordials, legions of Gods against a handful of Creators. The Primordials commanded their mortal creations to fight the Gods they had spawned, while they continued their work. And the mortals obeyed, for they could do nothing else. These fights left no world unmarred, but the mortals where no match for their Gods. They again attacked the Primordials, desperately trying to save Creation from its Creators. The Primordials fought against the Gods, and most of the gods perished in the fight. But their numbers where too great, their combined power just barely above that of the Primordials. And the Primordials lost, one by one, getting imprisoned on the deepest depths of Chaos. To this day they remain in their prison, the Abyss as it was named, more and more Demons spawning from their hate for Creation, and their attempts to escape.

    The Gods returned to their homes victorious, and the domains of the fallen were divided among the survivors. But belief was their sustenance. Belief of creatures made of flesh and blood, and no such creatures remained. The Gods then reshaped their worlds to their liking.
    In Terra, Neptune and Pluto shaped the lands,the seas, and the vast caverns underneath. Ceres and Bacchus filled them with plants, benign and not. Diana filled the land with animals, the seas with fish, and the caverns with horrific beasts. Jupiter, the most powerful of the Gods, created the magnificent Dragons, ageless rulers of the skies. Neptune, Minerva and Juno combined their powers to create the Draconians, short-lived, but honourable, wise and just creatures, loyal to their kin above all. Pluto cooperated with Venus and Adranus to create the Elves, creatures of long lives, great beauty and unmatched magical skill, but petty, greedy and treacherous. Vulcan, Fortuna, Apollo and Mars were content with the others' creations, and made none of their own.

    In time, the Dragons adopted the Draconians, thinking of them as their small, weak cousins. Draconian city-states arose, all ruled by Dragons. Eventually one of them united all the others, and the Empire of Arkhosia was founded by the first Dragonemperor. Meanwhile, the Elves were too busy betraying and slaughtering each others to become something more than nomads. Until one of them was contacted by Adranus. The God of Tyranny offered power beyond the Elf's wildest dreams. It was a deal he could nothing but accept, becoming Terra's first Tiefling. He used his newfound powers to subjugate his race, and the Empire of Bael Turath (working name, will be changed) was forged in blood.

    That's as far as I got in detail. Rest coming soon.


    Campaign plans coming tomorrow. In short, in their first session they'll be sent by the unlikable CO to help a nearby village against the goblins that very recently moved against them. The PCs will be able to solve this in two ways: They'll either storm the old mine that the goblins use as a base, slaughter everything, and kill the orc that agitated them, at which point the other orcs that threatened the nearby goblin village will disperse, or they'll investigate the goblin village, after an old man tells them that the goblins used to be peaceful, kill the orcs there, gain the trust of the goblins, and lure the orc leader outside to kill him. The humans will be happy in any case, while the goblins not so much in the first.


    So, thoughts?
    Last edited by Narkis; 2009-03-21 at 05:07 PM.
    Many thanks to Assassin 89 for this avatar!

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    What, no Robigus?

    More seriously though, I think that that pantheon works about as well as can be expected of a DnD pantheon based on the Greco-Roman deities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    (Chaotic) Evil gods:
    (C)Venus: Goddess of beauty and the arts. Trickery and treachery are her tools of the trade.
    So love really does make you evil!

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    The map of the world is done, but I have no scanner. Picture the map of Eurasia and Africa, rotate it 90 degrees so that "Russia" becomes the eastern coast, and you'll have a rough approximation of the world. "South Africa" has been blown off by a magic explosion of epic proportions, and three landmasses have broken off the ancient continent. They're very roughly analogous to Australia, and South and North America.
    Having a continent that stretches across much of the world from pole to pole like that is going to do weird things to the climate, but I'm not sure what, so that may be an issue better left untouched.

    Keep in mind that cultures tend to have an easier time spreading out along an east-west axis than a north-south one. Crops that grow well here often won't grow well ten degrees' latitude to the north, or to the south. Large empires tend not to prosper outside the temperate regions; extreme cold in the arctic gets in the way, as do dense vegetation or deserts in the tropics.

    [that was cribbed from the works of Jared Diamond]

    Inland areas far from the sea will have extreme climates and high seasonal variation (Siberia is famous for terrible winters, but its summers are often very hot and muggy, too).

    History: (stuff follows)
    Keep in mind that your players and even your PCs don't necessarily need to know all this. The fact that there was an ancient war between the gods and the giants/titans/whatever is a normal feature of mythology, but there's no obvious reason why it should be common knowledge that the defeated giants/titans/whatever are the true creators of the universe.

    For some reason, almost every fantasist loves to set up creation stories, ancient prophecies, and the history of the world stretching back for thousands of years. And most fantasists would be better off spending a lot less time and energy on those events.
    My favorite exchange:
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    Quote Originally Posted by Betty
    If your idea of fun is to give the players whatever they want, then I suggest you take out a board game called: CANDY LAND and use that for your gaming sessions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    So love really does make you evil!
    I think the Greek view of Aphrodite could probably fall into CE. They thought that she was a destabilizing, destructive force. Just look at who started the Trojan War, after all.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    History:
    Spoiler
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    In the beginning, there was only Chaos. After an inordinate amount of time, if time had any meaning back then, the Primordials arose from the elemental sea of Chaos. Beings beyond mortal comprehension, with powers beyond understanding. For reasons unknown to all they started combining the elements to create. Infinite universes were created, countless worlds, and life in many of them. In no universe did they stay to witness the fruits of their labour. Little is known about the others, but in our world, Terra, the Titans reigned supreme. The sky was the only thing they could not dominate, and in time they came to worship it as a god.

    But belief is a tricky thing. The Astral Sea is where belief and the souls of the dead go, and they stay for a brief time before moving on, to who knows where. Each world has its own Sea, where strong beliefs coalesce, and if they are strong enough, become real. The Titans believed that sky was a god, and their belief created a God. Jupiter, lord of the sky was the first in our world. He reached out and helped numerous other Gods come to existance, one for almost every belief of the Titans. For that, he is rightfully known as the Father of our Gods. In time, he contacted the Gods of other worlds, and learned something terrible: The Primordials had stopped creating, and had began destroying.

    Innumerable worlds had been destroyed, their Gods powerless against the Creators. But innumerable more still existed, and the Gods would not go peacefully. They rose up against the Primordials, legions of Gods against a handful of Creators. The Primordials commanded their mortal creations to fight the Gods they had spawned, while they continued their work. And the mortals obeyed, for they could do nothing else. These fights left no world unmarred, but the mortals where no match for their Gods. They again attacked the Primordials, desperately trying to save Creation from its Creators. The Primordials fought against the Gods, and most of the gods perished in the fight. But their numbers where too great, their combined power just barely above that of the Primordials. And the Primordials lost, one by one, getting imprisoned on the deepest depths of Chaos. To this day they remain in their prison, the Abyss as it was named, more and more Demons spawning from their hate for Creation, and their attempts to escape.

    The Gods returned to their homes victorious, and the domains of the fallen were divided among the survivors. But belief was their sustenance. Belief of creatures made of flesh and blood, and no such creatures remained. The Gods then reshaped their worlds to their liking.

    In Terra, Neptune and Pluto shaped the lands,the seas, and the vast caverns underneath. Ceres and Bacchus filled them with plants, benign and not. Diana filled the land with animals, the seas with fish, and the caverns with horrific beasts. Jupiter, the most powerful of the Gods, created the magnificent Dragons, ageless rulers of the skies. Neptune, Minerva and Juno combined their powers to create the Draconians, short-lived, but honourable, wise and just creatures, loyal to their kin above all. Pluto cooperated with Venus and Adranus to create the Elves, creatures of long lives, great beauty and unmatched magical skill, but petty, greedy and treacherous. Vulcan, Fortuna, Apollo and Mars were content with the others' creations, and made none of their own.

    In time, the Dragons adopted the Draconians, thinking of them as their small, weak cousins. Draconian city-states arose, all ruled by Dragons. Eventually one of them united all the others, and the Empire of Arkhosia was founded by the first Dragonemperor. Meanwhile, the Elves were too busy betraying and slaughtering each others to become something more than nomads. Until one of them was contacted by Adranus. The God of Tyranny offered power beyond the Elf's wildest dreams. It was a deal he could nothing but accept, becoming Terra's first Tiefling. He used his newfound powers to subjugate his race, and the Empire of Bael Turath (working name, will be changed) was forged in blood.

    That's as far as I got in detail. Rest coming soon.
    Nicely done. Some things to think about as you continue:
    Spoiler
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    - Teleportation Circles
    Who first made them? Can anyone still make them? What significance do they have to different cultures? Do they go to other worlds? Teleportation Circles are extremely important in a 4E campaign, since they are the primary locations used both for teleportation and for summoning.
    - Eladrin
    Presumably you mean for the original "elves" to actually be Eladrin, and the PHB Elves some sort of off-shoot after the Tiefling Pact was made. Or not, but you should give it some serious thought.
    - Warlock Pacts
    Do Warlocks exist in your world? If so, who do they get their powers from? And what kind of effect do those entities currently have on the world?
    - Arcane Magic
    So, you've set up magic as the domain of an Evil God. Does that mean all wizards are evil - or are they merely perceived as Evil?


    I look forward to the next installement
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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
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    Unaligned gods:
    Jupiter: Lord of the sky, maker of laws, protector of the nobility and of those who seek power in any form.
    Vulcan: God of fire, metallurgy and civilization. Metallurgy remains his favourite pastime
    Mercury: God of travel and trade. Merchants and messengers revere him above all.
    Diana: Goddess of wild beasts and the wilderness in general. Hunters pray to her.
    Fortuna: Goddess of luck, change and freedom. Few worship this fickle goddess, but almost everyone prays to her from time to time.

    (Lawful) Good gods:
    Neptune: Lord of the sea and the surface of land. He seeks justice and honour, and his fury is unmatched.
    (L)Minerva: Goddess of wisdom, tactics and protection. Perhaps the most prideful of all gods.
    Ceres: Goddess of agriculture and beneficial plants in general, as well as the seasons. Medicine lies in her domain, but diseases too.
    Juno: Goddess of the home and family, and kindness and compassion. The wife of Jupiter, her jealousy is legendary but not undeserved.
    (L)Apollo: God of the sun, patron of the arts and knowledge. He believes that secrets are sometimes better than the truth.

    (Chaotic) Evil gods:
    Pluto: Lord of everything underground, wealth comes from his domain and he encourages the greedy. He is also the god of death, and undeath.
    (C)Mars: God of battle. Slaughter, destruction and conquest are his commandments. All soldiers pray to him for courage.
    (C)Bacchus: God of feasts and alcohol, but also of poisons, addictive substances and harmful plants in general.
    (C)Venus: Goddess of beauty and the arts. Trickery and treachery are her tools of the trade.
    Adranus: God of magic, and tyranny. Only the worst dictators, and those who seek to be one, worship him.


    So, thoughts?
    You've got a fair bit on your plate, and it's not a priority, but I'd break this down further.

    That is to say, rather than identify Lawful as being the same as Good, I'd try to separate the concepts; the Athena you mention (typified by pride) could be Lawful and Good, but your Apollo (for example) seems Good, but not so Lawful.

    Supposing you think including a degree of grey in the campaign will fit in with your family, I think this would add a lot.

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    Default Re: [DnD 4ed] Crafting a world/campaign

    It's a bit unfair to identify Aphrodite as evil, I think. Should she be chaotic? Very much so. And Aphrodite as portrayed in Greek mythology was vain, capricious, and bad-tempered. But as a general rule, she wasn't deliberately hostile and didn't act with the kind of depraved indifference to mass suffering that you see in most evil D&D gods.

    Now, your Aphrodite may be a different deity from the one of Greek myth who just happens to have a similar portfolio. But it's a thing you might want to think twice about, especially because most people would find the idea of a deeply evil goddess of "beauty and the arts" to be something of a paradox.
    ______

    On a related note:
    A god of tyranny is about as stereotypically lawful evil as they get.

    Hera's status as a goddess of truly epic revenge would normally push her over into Lawful Neutral (Unaligned?) territory. She tended to take out her marital jealousy on Zeus's bastard children, for instance. Even the ones who hadn't actually done anything to her. Sure, Zeus gave her plenty of reasons to be vengeful, but Hera was never very careful about who her vengeance landed on.

    Hephaestus was generally one of the more benevolent Greek gods. He was generous to heroes, often giving them the magic weapons they needed to overcome powerful foes. On some occasions he was merciful enough to cancel out or reduce the punishments dealt by other gods.
    My favorite exchange:
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    Quote Originally Posted by Betty
    If your idea of fun is to give the players whatever they want, then I suggest you take out a board game called: CANDY LAND and use that for your gaming sessions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
    Obviously, you have never known the frustration of being stranded in the Molasses Swamp.
    _______
    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeavelli View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    They thought that she was a destabilizing, destructive force. Just look at who started the Trojan War, after all.
    I blame that on Eris/Discordia, goddess of chaos, and her golden apple. And Paris. I would've given the apple to Athena/Minerva myself...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    What, no Robigus?

    More seriously though, I think that that pantheon works about as well as can be expected of a DnD pantheon based on the Greco-Roman deities.
    Robigus was a weakling that got slain by the Primordials. (And I had to look up who his is.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    So love really does make you evil!
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I think the Greek view of Aphrodite could probably fall into CE. They thought that she was a destabilizing, destructive force. Just look at who started the Trojan War, after all.
    That was my thought. She wasn't a very nice deity, all things considered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    I blame that on Eris/Discordia, goddess of chaos, and her golden apple. And Paris. I would've given the apple to Athena/Minerva myself...
    I'd have given it to Hera, myself. Ruler of the known world? Where do I sign up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    Having a continent that stretches across much of the world from pole to pole like that is going to do weird things to the climate, but I'm not sure what, so that may be an issue better left untouched.

    Keep in mind that cultures tend to have an easier time spreading out along an east-west axis than a north-south one. Crops that grow well here often won't grow well ten degrees' latitude to the north, or to the south. Large empires tend not to prosper outside the temperate regions; extreme cold in the arctic gets in the way, as do dense vegetation or deserts in the tropics.

    [that was cribbed from the works of Jared Diamond]

    Inland areas far from the sea will have extreme climates and high seasonal variation (Siberia is famous for terrible winters, but its summers are often very hot and muggy, too).

    Keep in mind that your players and even your PCs don't necessarily need to know all this. The fact that there was an ancient war between the gods and the giants/titans/whatever is a normal feature of mythology, but there's no obvious reason why it should be common knowledge that the defeated giants/titans/whatever are the true creators of the universe.

    For some reason, almost every fantasist loves to set up creation stories, ancient prophecies, and the history of the world stretching back for thousands of years. And most fantasists would be better off spending a lot less time and energy on those events.
    I've adjusted my map to take everything you said into consideration. And as for the climate weirdness, why doesn't America do that to us? Its distance to Antarctica isn't that big. I agree that my PCs shouldn't know all this. In fact, I expect what they learn about the history of the world to be summarised in two sentences, tops. And I've also come to agree that I should've spent less time creating an elaborate backstory. Especially since Session #1 has been moved up to this weekend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Nicely done. Some things to think about as you continue:
    Spoiler
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    - Teleportation Circles
    Who first made them? Can anyone still make them? What significance do they have to different cultures? Do they go to other worlds? Teleportation Circles are extremely important in a 4E campaign, since they are the primary locations used both for teleportation and for summoning.
    - Eladrin
    Presumably you mean for the original "elves" to actually be Eladrin, and the PHB Elves some sort of off-shoot after the Tiefling Pact was made. Or not, but you should give it some serious thought.
    - Warlock Pacts
    Do Warlocks exist in your world? If so, who do they get their powers from? And what kind of effect do those entities currently have on the world?
    - Arcane Magic
    So, you've set up magic as the domain of an Evil God. Does that mean all wizards are evil - or are they merely perceived as Evil?


    I look forward to the next installement
    Thanks! Look for the next installment on the end of this post.
    And to answer your questions:

    Spoiler
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    Teleportation Circles
    The ancient elves of Bael Turath first made them. Only the Eladrin and the Drow still know how to do it, and it's a closely guarded secret. Eladrin and Drow cities have a few each, but in the rest of the world they're rare, most of them in an Eladrin-sponsored wizard's guild. They don't go to other worlds, but they can receive guests from other worlds, if need be. The Eladrin, the Drow, and their allies consider them vital for civilization. Some humans consider them a sign of their overdependency to Eladrin magics. And the barbarians consider them mythical.
    Eladrin
    The original elves were the precursors of all three modern offshoots. The PHB Elves broke off shortly before the empire fell, and rejected magic altogether. The Eladrin broke off too, but they kept using magic, enforcing strict discipline on all their arcane users. And the Drow are the survivors, driven underground and they neither reject magic nor enforce discipline on its users.
    Warlock pacts
    Star pact is the same as in the PHB, as I have no idea what the Far Realm is in order to change it. Infernal pacts are pacts with Adranus himself, but I don't know what could give power to a Fey pact warlord since there's no Feywild. Any ideas?
    Arcane magic
    Magic itself is inherently addictive and corruptive. The Eladrin teach discipline to those they teach magic, and they don't teach at all those they deem unstable, but others aren't so picky. To an average human farmer saying "I am a wizard" isn't much better than saying "I am going to murder you, burn your farm, and drink your children's blood after having my way with your wife".


    Quote Originally Posted by Ellisande View Post
    You've got a fair bit on your plate, and it's not a priority, but I'd break this down further.

    That is to say, rather than identify Lawful as being the same as Good, I'd try to separate the concepts; the Athena you mention (typified by pride) could be Lawful and Good, but your Apollo (for example) seems Good, but not so Lawful.

    Supposing you think including a degree of grey in the campaign will fit in with your family, I think this would add a lot.
    I marked the Lawful gods with an (L) next to their name, and the Chaotic ones with a (C). I probably should've mentioned that somewhere. The (L) next to Apollo was a mistake, it should've been next to Hera instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a bit unfair to identify Aphrodite as evil, I think. Should she be chaotic? Very much so. And Aphrodite as portrayed in Greek mythology was vain, capricious, and bad-tempered. But as a general rule, she wasn't deliberately hostile and didn't act with the kind of depraved indifference to mass suffering that you see in most evil D&D gods.

    Now, your Aphrodite may be a different deity from the one of Greek myth who just happens to have a similar portfolio. But it's a thing you might want to think twice about, especially because most people would find the idea of a deeply evil goddess of "beauty and the arts" to be something of a paradox.
    ______

    On a related note:
    A god of tyranny is about as stereotypically lawful evil as they get.

    Hera's status as a goddess of truly epic revenge would normally push her over into Lawful Neutral (Unaligned?) territory. She tended to take out her marital jealousy on Zeus's bastard children, for instance. Even the ones who hadn't actually done anything to her. Sure, Zeus gave her plenty of reasons to be vengeful, but Hera was never very careful about who her vengeance landed on.

    Hephaestus was generally one of the more benevolent Greek gods. He was generous to heroes, often giving them the magic weapons they needed to overcome powerful foes. On some occasions he was merciful enough to cancel out or reduce the punishments dealt by other gods.
    You're right, actually. I'll switch both Aphrodite and Hera to Unaligned. Hephaestus was made Unaligned just to justify him giving himself to the very evil ancient tieflings. I doubt a Good god would do that. Lawful Evil is unfortunately not one of the 4e alignments, otherwise Adranus would definitely be one.


    Damnit, I knew I shouldn't have clicked that link to TVtropes. It's late and I have to wake up early tomorrow. Will post the rest of the story and the beginning of the campaign tomorrow. One question though: How hard should a hard combat encounter be for a group of 4 PCs who are woefully underoptimised and know almost nothing about the rules? I have a fealing the 3rd level white dragon in the DMG would slaughter them, but the Orc leader they encounter in their first adventure should be a fair bit stronger than the grunts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    Warlock pacts
    Star pact is the same as in the PHB, as I have no idea what the Far Realm is in order to change it. Infernal pacts are pacts with Adranus himself, but I don't know what could give power to a Fey pact warlord since there's no Feywild. Any ideas?
    Hmm.... how about this for Star Pact:
    Spoiler
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    The Astral Sea is a dangerous place - what you believe can be made real, even your worst nightmares. Fortunately, most of these belief-entities are too weak to have any real power and are usually absorbed by more powerful beings (like Gods). But, over time, some of these belief-entities have merged and become stronger than the sum of their parts; they became composite entities, made of dark passions and wild ideas. Being born from mortal thoughts, they found themselves drawn to these minds and soon they began reaching out to the World to touch them.

    The first they reached went mad, assaulted by the bizarre and clashing beliefs that the entities were made of. For centuries they continued trying to reach mortal minds, leaving scores of madmen in their wake. But eventually, they found one that was not immediately driven insane. They offered him power if he could find others to worship them, venerate them, believe in them. He agreed.

    That was the first Astral Warlock. The entities taught him much about the Astral Sea, and the foundations of the Universe; the Warlock discovered more about the entities. To mortal-kind, the entities appeared in the night sky as stars; those points of light were the result of the entities piercing the veil of the sky to reach mortal minds. Jupiter had noticed these entities early on and had sent Apollo to hunt them down; Apollo slew many of them, but those who remained learned to hide from him when he was at his strongest - during the day.

    Eventually, the First Astral Warlock went insane, but by then the Lore of the Stars had been firmly entrenched in mortal societies. His disciples spread out and taught others about the mysteries, offering power and understanding that could not be found from more... conventional study.


    The "Far Realms" would just be the part of the Astral Sea where the "stars" have the most power; the Far Realms entities are their malformed creations, exercises in their growing power.

    As for Fey Pact - do you have any Fey? Since you have a Greco-Roman theme, perhaps the natural spirits of the world could grant them to mortals who win their favor? Make them the "final creation" of the Primordials; entities made hastily in the final days of the war and infiltrated into their creation. They were designed to destroy the creations of the Gods, but due to their unfinished nature they have proved to be unstable and capricious in their activities; they toy with mortals, not slay them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Narkis View Post
    How hard should a hard combat encounter be for a group of 4 PCs who are woefully underoptimised and know almost nothing about the rules? I have a fealing the 3rd level white dragon in the DMG would slaughter them, but the Orc leader they encounter in their first adventure should be a fair bit stronger than the grunts.
    How woefully under-optimized? In 4E, so long as you have at least a 16 in your primary stat you're going to be pretty OK. Can you post their ability scores, and any other weaknesses of theirs?

    In any case, I'm running a group of 3 and I've found that EL+2 is about the toughest fight they can walk away from. Don't try solo monsters until they have some experience with 4E combat; any party with decent tactics can take down solo monsters of their level and quite a bit above.

    The best strategy here is to start with =EL encounters and then move it up or down depending on how they do. Remember too that adventuring wears out 4E parties - an encounter that fresh PCs could take down with ease may be fatal when they're out of Dailies and low on Surges.
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    Terribly sorry for the lack of answer. Those crappy lab computers of my college have eaten at least 5 lengthy and very time-wasting posts in the past week. Just now was number #5, and the lab closes in 5 minutes. I think I'll use wordpad next time.
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    As a totally unrelated side note; I think that it is very, very cool that your whole family is taking part of your campaign.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    In any case, I'm running a group of 3 and I've found that EL+2 is about the toughest fight they can walk away from. Don't try solo monsters until they have some experience with 4E combat; any party with decent tactics can take down solo monsters of their level and quite a bit above.

    The best strategy here is to start with =EL encounters and then move it up or down depending on how they do. Remember too that adventuring wears out 4E parties - an encounter that fresh PCs could take down with ease may be fatal when they're out of Dailies and low on Surges.
    I would like to add to this: use minions. Liberally.

    With a group of new players, combat is likely to be a little slow to start with. You'll want to keep things moving. Minions shorten a combat, and they ease your bookkeeping, because one hit means they're gone.

    Plus, the quick kills can really add to the excitement for newer players. Try to get them to describe how they do it:

    After a PC hits, have them roll damage. Make a mark on your sheet of scrap paper, look at the player, and say something along the lines of, "Nice shot, you killed him. Describe it." Let them narrate what they do that takes the monster out. Decapitate with one mighty blow? Arrow through an eye? Death of a thousand cuts? Disarm the enemy and stab him through the heart with his own weapon? Grab him and toss him over a handy cliff? Let them be creative here.

    This is a good way of quickly running what seems like a big fight, and it's also a good way of encouraging new players to roleplay a little. Once they're into describing the killing blows, they'll be more likely to narrate other attacks, and maybe enemy attacks against them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Hmm.... how about this for Star Pact:
    Spoiler
    Show
    The Astral Sea is a dangerous place - what you believe can be made real, even your worst nightmares. Fortunately, most of these belief-entities are too weak to have any real power and are usually absorbed by more powerful beings (like Gods). But, over time, some of these belief-entities have merged and become stronger than the sum of their parts; they became composite entities, made of dark passions and wild ideas. Being born from mortal thoughts, they found themselves drawn to these minds and soon they began reaching out to the World to touch them.

    The first they reached went mad, assaulted by the bizarre and clashing beliefs that the entities were made of. For centuries they continued trying to reach mortal minds, leaving scores of madmen in their wake. But eventually, they found one that was not immediately driven insane. They offered him power if he could find others to worship them, venerate them, believe in them. He agreed.

    That was the first Astral Warlock. The entities taught him much about the Astral Sea, and the foundations of the Universe; the Warlock discovered more about the entities. To mortal-kind, the entities appeared in the night sky as stars; those points of light were the result of the entities piercing the veil of the sky to reach mortal minds. Jupiter had noticed these entities early on and had sent Apollo to hunt them down; Apollo slew many of them, but those who remained learned to hide from him when he was at his strongest - during the day.

    Eventually, the First Astral Warlock went insane, but by then the Lore of the Stars had been firmly entrenched in mortal societies. His disciples spread out and taught others about the mysteries, offering power and understanding that could not be found from more... conventional study.


    The "Far Realms" would just be the part of the Astral Sea where the "stars" have the most power; the Far Realms entities are their malformed creations, exercises in their growing power.

    As for Fey Pact - do you have any Fey? Since you have a Greco-Roman theme, perhaps the natural spirits of the world could grant them to mortals who win their favor? Make them the "final creation" of the Primordials; entities made hastily in the final days of the war and infiltrated into their creation. They were designed to destroy the creations of the Gods, but due to their unfinished nature they have proved to be unstable and capricious in their activities; they toy with mortals, not slay them.



    How woefully under-optimized? In 4E, so long as you have at least a 16 in your primary stat you're going to be pretty OK. Can you post their ability scores, and any other weaknesses of theirs?

    In any case, I'm running a group of 3 and I've found that EL+2 is about the toughest fight they can walk away from. Don't try solo monsters until they have some experience with 4E combat; any party with decent tactics can take down solo monsters of their level and quite a bit above.

    The best strategy here is to start with =EL encounters and then move it up or down depending on how they do. Remember too that adventuring wears out 4E parties - an encounter that fresh PCs could take down with ease may be fatal when they're out of Dailies and low on Surges.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ninetail View Post
    I would like to add to this: use minions. Liberally.

    With a group of new players, combat is likely to be a little slow to start with. You'll want to keep things moving. Minions shorten a combat, and they ease your bookkeeping, because one hit means they're gone.

    Plus, the quick kills can really add to the excitement for newer players. Try to get them to describe how they do it:

    After a PC hits, have them roll damage. Make a mark on your sheet of scrap paper, look at the player, and say something along the lines of, "Nice shot, you killed him. Describe it." Let them narrate what they do that takes the monster out. Decapitate with one mighty blow? Arrow through an eye? Death of a thousand cuts? Disarm the enemy and stab him through the heart with his own weapon? Grab him and toss him over a handy cliff? Let them be creative here.

    This is a good way of quickly running what seems like a big fight, and it's also a good way of encouraging new players to roleplay a little. Once they're into describing the killing blows, they'll be more likely to narrate other attacks, and maybe enemy attacks against them.
    Excellent! Fey and the Stars will be just like you said. I don't remember their sheets by heart, but the best score any of them has on a main stat is 17, with the race bonus, and their powers and equipment are all over place. Not to mention the obvious disadvantage of them being first-timers.
    Minions will be used liberally, with some normal monsters spread here and there to spice it up a bit. And the "describe it" tip is brilliant and I wonder why no one else has thought about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoggmaster View Post
    As a totally unrelated side note; I think that it is very, very cool that your whole family is taking part of your campaign.
    Hehe, so do I. It helps that we sum up to a well-rounded party+DM


    Now, back to business. I don't have much time on this computer so I'll be brief. Here are my plans for the beginning:

    Spoiler
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    The allied army camps near a forest after the Eladrin rendezvoused with the humans. The CO sends the party on a scouting mission in the forest to get them off his back. During their patrol they encounter an EL company of goblin minions robbing a local woodsman/farmer or something. (This to give them a first taste of combat and see how well they're doing) After they kick the goblins' ass, the guy thanks them profusely and leaves for his cabin/home after mentioning that the goblins used to be peaceful. After they return and give their report, the CO tells them that this matches other reports he's had, including a nearby village's petition for aid, and sends them off to that village to solve whatever problem they have with the goblins. But they'll have to hurry, because the army will be leaving in two days, and no one will miss them if they don't come back.
    When they get to the village, they're greeted by the mayor, who tells them that the goblins have occupied an abandoned mine and are launching raids all over the place. If asked, he'll admit that there's another village nearby, inhabited by goblins, and they used to have fairly good relations with them. But of course it doesn't matter, since they're obviously bloodthirsty savages that should shown no mercy. If pressed further, he'll also say that this started shortly after the first recent orc attacks.

    That's it, it's half-past time to go In very short, the players will solve this either by going to the goblin village and liberating it from the orcs, or heading to the mine and killing goblins and orcs alike in a classic dungeon crawl.
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    Sounds good to me! Nothing like a good ol' dungeon crawl to kick off a campaign
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