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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents!

    So on another forum (the somethingawful forums...no idea if website forums can be rivals like Crips and Bloods but whatever) I started whining about how in fantasy settings, especially JRPG's, there will be ancient civilizations which relics of somehow still exist in what amounts to the modern era.

    I have absolutely no problem with relics, or ancient civilizations, EXCEPT when those civilizations are made ludicrously long ago. If someone just says it was long ago, many centuries or some kind of vagueness, that's fine but if it's made out to be something like 10,000 years...that's just ridiculous and an obvious result of the Author of said story trying to pad it out so his 'epic' tale looks more special then authors who make their ancient societies hundreds of years ago, or a mere 1000 years ago.

    My issue comes from the fact that there is so much change that can happen in a society in a matter of decades or a hundred years. Claiming something is 10,000 years old, and more importantly can still be accurately understood by someone in the modern era is just plain stupid.

    But then...that stupidity lead to the best idea ever...


    Some wizard gains knowledge of an ancient civilization (Let's make it 100,000 years because WHY THE **** NOT?!) which supposedly contains an armageddon spell. A group of hero's looks for the villain and the book, and someone from that era is able to travel forward in time to help them (JRPG Cliche ahoy!)

    The BBEG reaches the book, the heros are too late as he starts to read it. He turns around with a maniacal Gleam as he says "Face your doom" and reads the words of the Ultimate spell out loud.

    Crickets chirp...nothing happens, everyone freezes waiting for the spell to kick in...until the silence is broken by the resident time-traveler snorting, giggling, guffawing and ending up rolling on the floor laughing himself sick.

    Everyone wonders what he's laughing about, and between peals of laughter he reveals that while there were plenty of tombs of powerful/evil magic 100,000 years ago, the book the BBEG is holding isn't one of them.

    It's a ****ing Cookbook! And the BBEG just shouted as menacingly as he could "THE RECIPE FOR A TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS CUPCAKE IS AS FOLLOWS..."!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Amusing idea, but that's a lot of setup for one joke.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
    Protip: DnD is an incredibly social game played by some of the most socially inept people on the planet - Lev
    I read this somewhere and I stick to it: "I would rather play a bad system with my friends than a great system with nobody". - Trevlac
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    In my experience players hate being jerked around like this. To pull this off you have to build up the threat of an ancient Armageddon spell, and you need to make your players believe it. You then have to railroad them into failing to prevent the BBEG from getting it. They will hate you for that. You then spring your joke, revealing to your players that all their hard work was for nothing even if they hadn't been railroaded to fail. How is this fun for anybody but the GM? Prepare to have books thrown at you and nobody showing up to your next game.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    I did no read your entire post because I found it to be ludicrously inslulting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumapunku

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe


    are just two example of thins I can think of that are millennia old

    just because something is OLD, say 10,000 years old dos not make it impossible or
    Quote Originally Posted by janusmaxwell
    ridiculous and an obvious result of the Author
    just a half assed check proves your argument entirely.

    (Scrubbed)
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2014-07-03 at 02:44 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Yeah, that's not really good for a campaign plot... like at all.

    The whole campaign was meaningless... woo!....

    Even without the convoluted time travel bs and all that junk it's ultimately unsatisfying, and not a punch-line the players share in.

    I could see it being used as a minor side quest, probably in a modern setting+ magic, where the language was something one of the players knew, like french or something. Even then it would be pretty weak.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Wow...Okay, clearly putting this idea in the context of a DnD style game was less "That's a funny situation" and more of a "That's a really D--kish thing to do to you're players and it wouldn't work anyway."

    I came up with this situation as a way to make JRPG's and certain Western RPG's more tolerable, considering how much those games can railroad the player into always being led around by the nose by the BBEG, even when they're supposedly doing something pro-active instead of re-active.

    Clearly, putting this in context of a DnD style game, which is supposed to be a lot more open ended, and if the players are doing things right they can actually get ahead of whatever a BBEG is doing, was not a good idea.

    I still think it's funny as hell, but realize it's more for the situation I had originally conceived it in, and not nearly as much for D20 systems. That's my error.

    And if you're curious as to what sort of JRPG would inspire this, and is the most rail-roading, stupid assumption making, lead the players by the nose I've ever had the misfortune to play; it's called the White Knight Chronicles. There's a humorous Let's Play on the Something Awful forums which is funny enough to almost make up for the heinous scarring that POS game caused.
    Last edited by janusmaxwell; 2014-07-02 at 03:38 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Yeah, in the context of JRPG where player choice is very limited it could be good. Usually the BBEG has a sidekick or two, and at least one is a kind of punching bag running joke of incompetence.

    Still probably wouldn't have it be the BBEG as it could undercut whatever tension is created, but as a moment it certainly isn't a bad one. Generally I consider JRPGs to have more in common with a story with gaming mechanics to progress, as opposed to tabletop where the players have more control in general.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by janusmaxwell View Post
    So on another forum (the somethingawful forums...no idea if website forums can be rivals like Crips and Bloods but whatever) I started whining about how in fantasy settings, especially JRPG's, there will be ancient civilizations which relics of somehow still exist in what amounts to the modern era.

    I have absolutely no problem with relics, or ancient civilizations, EXCEPT when those civilizations are made ludicrously long ago. If someone just says it was long ago, many centuries or some kind of vagueness, that's fine but if it's made out to be something like 10,000 years...that's just ridiculous and an obvious result of the Author of said story trying to pad it out so his 'epic' tale looks more special then authors who make their ancient societies hundreds of years ago, or a mere 1000 years ago.

    My issue comes from the fact that there is so much change that can happen in a society in a matter of decades or a hundred years. Claiming something is 10,000 years old, and more importantly can still be accurately understood by someone in the modern era is just plain stupid.

    But then...that stupidity lead to the best idea ever...


    Some wizard gains knowledge of an ancient civilization (Let's make it 100,000 years because WHY THE **** NOT?!) which supposedly contains an armageddon spell. A group of hero's looks for the villain and the book, and someone from that era is able to travel forward in time to help them (JRPG Cliche ahoy!)

    The BBEG reaches the book, the heros are too late as he starts to read it. He turns around with a maniacal Gleam as he says "Face your doom" and reads the words of the Ultimate spell out loud.

    Crickets chirp...nothing happens, everyone freezes waiting for the spell to kick in...until the silence is broken by the resident time-traveler snorting, giggling, guffawing and ending up rolling on the floor laughing himself sick.

    Everyone wonders what he's laughing about, and between peals of laughter he reveals that while there were plenty of tombs of powerful/evil magic 100,000 years ago, the book the BBEG is holding isn't one of them.

    It's a ****ing Cookbook! And the BBEG just shouted as menacingly as he could "THE RECIPE FOR A TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS CUPCAKE IS AS FOLLOWS..."!
    It would be funny as a cartoon, short film, or a story. It wouldn't really work for an RPG. Unless the players were the time travelers, so the whole situation is humorous to them from the start, and you play the whole thing like a joke campaign: wizards and warriors are running around wielding kitchen utensils and power tools believing they are ancient magical weapons, and whose holy texts are actually comic books, or something. I feel like this would only be funny for a rather short one-shot. The schtick will be played-out pretty fast.

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    RedKnightGirl

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by ngilop View Post
    I did no read your entire post because I found it to be ludicrously inslulting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumapunku

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe


    are just two example of thins I can think of that are millennia old


    just because something is OLD, say 10,000 years old dos not make it impossible or

    just a half assed check proves your argument entirely.

    before you do insulting people and completely ignoring things from our OWN real world history that completely dspooves you stance. maybe next time you wanna do a little check before makin yourself seem like a total arse?
    I'm not going to defend the campaign concept - it's a little too silly for my taste - but I don't really have a problem with the idea that 10,000 is way too early for a legendary civilization.

    10,000 years IS a very long time. If you read carefully, the OP never really denigrates ancient cultures, but rather the authors who pick a really big number and run with it. The OP never really says that those ancient cultures did not exist, either.

    However, even looking at your examples, Pumabunku appears to be about 1500 years old (as per the wiki you linked), and Gobekli Tepe is literally one of the oldest ever discovered permanent settlements. It is also largely a furnished and expanded cave system - there was limited construction involved, and the culture there has had no apparent impact on subsequent ones.

    I think the OP is legitimate in these criticisms. The most famous ancient cultures, the ones most people are familiar with, start maybe around 5000 BCE (that's for China, Egypt, and probably most of Mesopotamia). That's 7,000 years ago. Those were the beginnings of those cultures, mind - Egypt is generally thought to have peaked in the mid 2nd millenium BCE. So they've got 3,000 years on us. Mesopotamia went through a lot of change, and mostly got absorbed by the various 'Persian' empires*.

    The really famous ones, though, Greece and Rome, are even more recent. Greece only really had a short time in the limelight, their Hellenic culture arising in the 900s BCE, and getting thoroughly Romanized (by force) only like 700 years later. Even Rome purportedly started in the 8th century, but only really got going during the 300s. Rome went from Republic to Imperial about 2,000 years ago, and the Byzantine half survived all the way through to the 1450s. So that 'ancient culture' fell less than 600 years ago.

    The point is not that 10,000 years is an impossible number. The point is that even a few hundred years makes for tremendous change and the very difficult recovery of artefacts, so those people who claim the full 10,000 for their 'ancient empires' sound pretty silly to those with an interest in classical history.

    *I can't remember the names of all the empires which ruled over Mesopotamia - that's not my focus. All my numbers are rough and from memory too, but my points should still stand.

    EDIT: I may be conflating Gobekli Tepe and Catalhoyuk. It's been a while since I learned about these, and anyway, both 'Tepe' and 'hoyuk' refer to hills and mounds. It always mixes me up.
    Last edited by Marcelinari; 2014-07-02 at 11:37 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcelinari View Post
    I'm not going to defend the campaign concept - it's a little too silly for my taste - but I don't really have a problem with the idea that 10,000 is way too early for a legendary civilization.

    10,000 years IS a very long time. If you read carefully, the OP never really denigrates ancient cultures, but rather the authors who pick a really big number and run with it. The OP never really says that those ancient cultures did not exist, either.

    However, even looking at your examples, Pumabunku appears to be about 1500 years old (as per the wiki you linked), and Gobekli Tepe is literally one of the oldest ever discovered permanent settlements. It is also largely a furnished and expanded cave system - there was limited construction involved, and the culture there has had no apparent impact on subsequent ones.

    I think the OP is legitimate in these criticisms. The most famous ancient cultures, the ones most people are familiar with, start maybe around 5000 BCE (that's for China, Egypt, and probably most of Mesopotamia). That's 7,000 years ago. Those were the beginnings of those cultures, mind - Egypt is generally thought to have peaked in the mid 2nd millenium BCE. So they've got 3,000 years on us. Mesopotamia went through a lot of change, and mostly got absorbed by the various 'Persian' empires*.

    The really famous ones, though, Greece and Rome, are even more recent. Greece only really had a short time in the limelight, their Hellenic culture arising in the 900s BCE, and getting thoroughly Romanized (by force) only like 700 years later. Even Rome purportedly started in the 8th century, but only really got going during the 300s. Rome went from Republic to Imperial about 2,000 years ago, and the Byzantine half survived all the way through to the 1450s. So that 'ancient culture' fell less than 600 years ago.

    The point is not that 10,000 years is an impossible number. The point is that even a few hundred years makes for tremendous change and the very difficult recovery of artefacts, so those people who claim the full 10,000 for their 'ancient empires' sound pretty silly to those with an interest in classical history.

    *I can't remember the names of all the empires which ruled over Mesopotamia - that's not my focus. All my numbers are rough and from memory too, but my points should still stand.
    Thank you. That was the gist of my rant regarding times in the past, and to a degree where the set-up for this long joke comes from.

    The way languages evolve, even within A society over years and decades, when a game acts like all the histories and intricacies of a language from a long-dead society are still taught or easily able to be learned in the modern era, it's a BS plot device that makes the "10,000 years old" even more BS.

    Bonus points if the language spoken by the people, or written in the books from 10,000 years ago is the same F-ing language as the people of the modern Era!

    The way languages move and shift, with mis-prints or scribes making typos. Or even worse having to translate a piece of text completely into another language, there's no way in hell that a book or story from ancient times is going to be a 100% accurate copy from when it was first written down.

    My idea, was just taking that lazy hack writer trick of "Of course the book is able to be easily translated and/or is the same language as the main characters" working against the setting and expectations, and the book that sounds like a spell book for seriously powerful enchantments is actually just a cookbook that got mangled through 10,000 years of repeated copying, translating and typos.

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Qwertystop's Avatar

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Agreed: it might work for a joke campaign where that sort of thing came up a lot (and the players knew about it, being preserved by whatever magic/tech/mysterious circumstance kept the artifacts intact), but not for a serious game that just uses the misunderstanding as a punchline.

    I could see it working in a tabletop context, though, not just videogames. You'd just have to make sure the players are in on it and it's a joke, as above. It could be fun to see how they decide to deal with it (knowing non-obvious functions, deciding to tell certain groups what things actually are - or to mislead them).

    A similar situation comes to mind from anachronauts - one of the main characters is from a high-tech society, they're trying to reclaim tech that's been found by two groups (basically normal-earth-humans and assorted fae). Here:
    ...had the large shiny silver rig strapped around himself, bracing the energy spraying nozzle against his forearm as it pumped a stream of destructive might bright enough to blind, if they hadn't been wearing eye protection. But even with goggles (thankfully large enough to go over Una's hypertech-scanning glasses) and hearing protection... the flash was intense, the roar hideous.

    And Una's society built this horrible thing, Emily grimly thought.

    In contrast, Why are they using a mineral salvage drill as a weapon? was crossing Una's thoughts.
    Last edited by Qwertystop; 2014-07-02 at 06:44 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by jamieth View Post
    ...though Talla does her best to sound objective and impartial, it doesn't cover stuff like "ask a 9-year-old to tank for the party."
    My Homebrew

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    It's be kind of amusing to have some intrepid adventurers uncover an ancient tome of magic from the legendary First empire...

    ...only to find that their spells are laughably outdated and underpowered compared to modern ones.

    But fantasy as a genre has a strongly nostalgic theme to it - the past was always bigger and grander.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
    Protip: DnD is an incredibly social game played by some of the most socially inept people on the planet - Lev
    I read this somewhere and I stick to it: "I would rather play a bad system with my friends than a great system with nobody". - Trevlac
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

  13. - Top - End - #13
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    Doorhandle's Avatar

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    It's be kind of amusing to have some intrepid adventurers uncover an ancient tome of magic from the legendary First empire...

    ...only to find that their spells are laughably outdated and underpowered compared to modern ones.

    But fantasy as a genre has a strongly nostalgic theme to it - the past was always bigger and grander.
    My thoughts exactly. The idea as described by the original post wouldn't be fun in-game, but the theme behind it, subverting the idea that older is better, has merit. "Your fighting style is 5000 years old? Great! it's definitely out of date."

    Darks souls, weirdly, is a good example of this. There are plenty of things from the golden age of fire, but all of them are decaying in some way. The theme's carried over to the second game too.
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by ellindsey View Post
    In my experience players hate being jerked around like this. To pull this off you have to build up the threat of an ancient Armageddon spell, and you need to make your players believe it. You then have to railroad them into failing to prevent the BBEG from getting it. They will hate you for that. You then spring your joke, revealing to your players that all their hard work was for nothing even if they hadn't been railroaded to fail. How is this fun for anybody but the GM? Prepare to have books thrown at you and nobody showing up to your next game.
    Actually, there's a way to do it without the railroading that I can see.

    Confrontation with BBEG plays out as above, except without the GMPC guffawing. Instead, BBEG reads out the Armageddon spell, nothing happens, confused looks are exchanged - opportunity here for the PCs to draw their swords and get the drop on him while he's trying to figure out what went wrong.

    However it happens, the fight starts, the BBEG is dispatched, and the players do what players do best: loot the body. In addition to whatever shinies the BBEG had on his person they find, of course, the Scroll of Doubleplus Armageddonation.

    Which it turns out is in [random PC here]'s handwriting.

    Naturally, in order to prevent a grandfather paradox the PCs now have to travel back in time and basically set up the campaign they just finished - which is itself the real campaign.

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    PirateGirl

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Alternatively, you could have the spell do something that would have been completely devastating to an ancient culture, but due to technology marching onwards, has little to no impact on modern society.

    Such as a spell that gives the user the ability to destroy any weapons and armor they wish with an area-burst the way a fireball works with a chosen radius or a ray attack. The situation proceeds as follows. "Hah! All your gear will now be useless against me!" He slings it off, impacting the party fully. The time traveler's weapon and armor shatters, everyone else's gear is fine. The time traveler shouts. "No! My bronze weapons! My bronze armor!" As the villain wonders why it didn't completely work, someone's pants fall down.

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    The trouble I always have with "ancient civilizations" leaving their relics lying around and having them be beyond anything in the world at the time of the game the players are playing is that it begs questions as to why things fell apart, and why they fell so hard and so far, and why no recovery has happened with all these ancient relics lying around to learn from.

    To make it believable, the Fall has to be something other than just "a cataclysm followed by forgetfulness." The ancient civilization has to have had something that worked for them, but doesn't work now. This makes the "ancient relics that are so powerful today" harder to justify, though, because if something fundamentally changed, why didn't it destroy the power of these artifacts, too? Simply "forgetting" doesn't work; there has to be something actively missing.

    Exalted answers this by claiming that the creation of the hyper-powerful ancient "stuff" required such divine genius that only the Chosen could create them. The lesser Chosen rose up against their masters and eliminated them. Some required maintenance of similar genius, and are simply gone. Others required lesser genius maintenance, and are still in use, but only by the lesser Chosen who remain behind. A very few were so robust that they simply still work today. But nothing of the highest arts can still be performed, so the truly awesome relics are no longer replicable. The infrastructure, maintained by the genius and might of the highest Chosen, is simply not there.

    I did have an "ancient and powerful" civilization in a setting I ran, once. It was literally millions of years in the past specifically because I wanted it to have even faded from legend. There weren't cities and known ruins left behind. Moreover, that which made that civilization possible was gone, literally taken from the world by the combined mandate of the gods. There existed only a handful of tombs, well-hidden and isolated, which remained of that civilization. And most of the overwhelming power that could be found in those tombs only worked in those tombs. Very little could be taken out, if somebody even found them.

    What I didn't do as good a job of is defining why the other civilizations that had evolved in the interim were only at the level of normal-D&D-fantasy-tech that they were. After millions of years, even through recovering from the fall of the prior civilization (and going long enough to totally forget about its ever having existed), they should have been well ahead, tech-wise, of where modern Earth in the real world is. After all, we've only got about 7000 years of recorded civilized history. Where we'll be in millions of years...is pretty much unimaginable as anything more than a guess. And even our guesses, our imagination, probably will be totally off-base, because of the sheer number of paradigm-shifts on par with the industrial age and information age that will happen.

    Of course, that's what makes such speculation fun.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Now I'm wondering what would happen if adventurers in a fantasy setting stumbled upon something like the Clock of the Long Now... actually, no need to wonder. One of the main reasons the Clock of the Long Now will never work is that, at some point in the next 10,000 years, somebody is going to loot that thing for parts. Might as well be a party of adventurers.

    EDIT: And now I want to RP a sci-fi in the distant dystopic future where, among other things, a cargo cult springs up around the "eternal" Clock of the Long Now, which they hope will be the key to unlocking the wealth of mythical shiny things that existed in the beforetime. Whereas actually it's just going to carry on ticking and chiming away, entirely heedless of any ceremony conducted around it.
    Last edited by paddyfool; 2014-07-06 at 12:04 PM.

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    I might no agree with, but I totally get what you're aggressively saying about ancient civs.

    I just want you to know that I truly laughed out loud reading the OP and I commend you for this idea which I will tell to my players at the beginning of next session. "WHY THE **** NOT?" had me dying... Thanks for this.

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by The Grue View Post
    Naturally, in order to prevent a grandfather paradox the PCs now have to travel back in time and basically set up the campaign they just finished - which is itself the real campaign.
    ... thus precipitating twice as much railroading as you were trying to avoid?

    Let it be the handwriting of (random PC's parent/mentor figure/protege/other intimately known associate). Then the players don't have to do a damn' thing, although they can optionally ask questions/try to investigate WTH is going on.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Some wizard gains knowledge of an ancient civilization (Let's make it 100,000 years because WHY THE **** NOT?!) which supposedly contains an armageddon spell. A group of hero's looks for the villain and the book, and someone from that era is able to travel forward in time to help them (JRPG Cliche ahoy!)
    I did have an "ancient and powerful" civilization in a setting I ran, once. It was literally millions of years in the past specifically because I wanted it to have even faded from legend. There weren't cities and known ruins left behind. Moreover, that which made that civilization possible was gone, literally taken from the world by the combined mandate of the gods. There existed only a handful of tombs, well-hidden and isolated, which remained of that civilization. And most of the overwhelming power that could be found in those tombs only worked in those tombs. Very little could be taken out, if somebody even found them.
    I like the idea, not as a campaign in itself, but as a prelude to a larger campaign... especially if the idea isn't tied down to a specific DnD setting, but more of a real world type feel.

    I agree that a hundred or a thousand years might be trumped by a longer duration into the past, but if you really want the ancient civilization to not even be hinted at in legends you have to go back much farther... the 5 or 10 thousand years brought up by other posters at least, depending on the region. Longer if you have longer lived fantasy races around.

    How about this... This is Earth, and magic is as it appears in so many books... it exists, but it's hidden to all but a few scholars and found only in ageing memories and moldering tomes. The PCs find out that someone is going after the great granddaddy of them all... a tome so old it comes from a civilization no one has ever heard of. Perhaps the villain is an unscrupulous antiquities dealer or rogue archaeologist who stumbled upon an ancient ruin and is now using the clues he found there to find this special book that he assumes holds a spell of ultimate destructive power, that he further assumes he'll be able to figure out and use for his own personal power.

    As the story progresses, the PCs learn more about the civilization, perhaps learning to decipher some of their writings discovering some of its history as they try to catch up to the villain, always a few steps behind. For example, they learn about the book, and about what they assume is a doomsday spell, then date the clues to 100,000 years ago... the time scientists believe the human race faced some kind of near extinction event that brought the global population of humans to a mere 10 thousand souls.

    They'll also learn about magic, and find that the old spells still have some oomph, which they'll need to counter the villain, who of course has more magic by this time. At first, the magic they pick up is from, say, ancient Egypt, or another place that has ancient legends, and slowly they empower that with this more ancient magic.

    Finally, they catch up with the villain, who has by now become so fully evil he will commit to just flat out reading the 'doomsday spell' from the book... he gains the book and reads it... Ha, its a cook book! His plans may be foiled, yet the villain is still tough, and the PCs must be valiant and prepared to finally win. They share a laugh. What a fool the villain was to believe that this book was at all important!

    Then they realize that the cookbook only survived because it was written on a strange material... some sort of alien alloy. It was a cookbook, but one that belonged to some terrible unknown race! In this final tomb, there is enough information to piece together the true sequence of events... the ancient humans were ruled by an evil extraterrestrial magical expedition (or equivalent demons, etc.), and the civilization was merely the remnants of a great Spartacus style uprising to gain their freedom, which lasted a good, say, few thousand years before falling into ruin.

    During that time, the people back then hid away all the 'bad influences' in hard to find places and forgot about them, and everyone ended up living in places that got periodically destroyed by wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes and climate change, and eventually most of the original great works were forgotten. What was left was deliberately destroyed later in a religious war, also now forgotten. Magic left center stage in the world as all this original knowledge passed out of history, only surviving in certain bloodlines, and revived in different forms in ancient Egypt or Greece or whatever. However, they thought they came up with it themselves... they never had modern archaeology to discover more.

    Now for the continuation... that incursion was only an expedition, and the main force is on its way across the sea of stars, and is almost here. Or perhaps they realize these foes have been tipped off by all the activity on earth recently due to the villain and PCs fighting, and will come soon because of that (maybe that last tomb was supposed to be a magic free zone and some of the old artifacts have activated). Or maybe they barely won and whatever the baddies were back then only retreated into suspended animation and are now waking up?

    Either way, this is where phase two of your campaign begins!
    Last edited by Bronk; 2014-07-07 at 01:35 PM.

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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    So your setup was... well a shaggy dog story.
    and shaggy dog stories only get more irritating the longer they go on; the more invested you get the more irritating an anticlimax is.
    Now it is possible it results in laughs all around, or a table flipping a table
    but I encourage you to do it. You know your players best, and if it sounds like the sort of bombastic story they'd like to play, well then do. But then do keep the mood over the top and playful.
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Janus Maxwell, I just want to say I agree with you. Every time a campaign or adventure backstory starts with, "10,000 years ago there was a great cataclysm..." I just groan. Like why not 60 years ago? Then you still have turmoil, refugee populations, social upheaval, fighting over the remnants of whatever was destroyed, sages from pre-cataclysm hanging around... in other words PLOT HOOKS. If a great empire had to fall, how about if it fell 8 years ago and some factions are still fighting to bring it back?

    Anyway.

    On your campaign idea, I think that scene would be epic, but it would have to be a waypoint toward something bigger. If that book isn't the doomsday book, then where is the doomsday book? If that bad guy turns out to be harmless, then what if the time traveler turns out to be the real bad guy? I mean maybe he just lied about it being a cookbook. Maybe the spell didn't work because the guy reading it didn't pronounce it right. So now the time traveler laughs him out of dodge, takes the cookbook and starts to wreak havoc....

    Just ideas. A useless bad guy, and the solution coming from an NPC, don't make for a satisfying conclusion. Have this scene be the point where the PCs find out they're up against something even bigger.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Quote Originally Posted by BeerMug Paladin View Post
    Alternatively, you could have the spell do something that would have been completely devastating to an ancient culture, but due to technology marching onwards, has little to no impact on modern society.

    Such as a spell that gives the user the ability to destroy any weapons and armor they wish with an area-burst the way a fireball works with a chosen radius or a ray attack. The situation proceeds as follows. "Hah! All your gear will now be useless against me!" He slings it off, impacting the party fully. The time traveler's weapon and armor shatters, everyone else's gear is fine. The time traveler shouts. "No! My bronze weapons! My bronze armor!" As the villain wonders why it didn't completely work, someone's pants fall down.
    Sorry for the double post, but this is amazing.
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  24. - Top - End - #24
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    amused Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    It would be good for an offhand gag. Like having a character mention that he once fought an evil magic-user who tried to destroy the world, but accidentally used a cook book for his ancient text.
    Last edited by Codex; 2014-07-07 at 11:05 PM.
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    The mention of Exalted earlier got me thinking. In Exalted, the PCs can develop their own Charms, which is equivalent to D&D casters researching new spells. The thing is, the specific phrasing of the standard "don't break the established power level" for what you can and can't invent brings up an interesting point. Where D&D just says that to determine a level for a new spell, you should compare it to other spells, Exalted does it differently. It says something along the lines of "The Charms here in the corebook are the result of an age of research into the best possible efficiencies of Essence patterns by Twilight Solars (magic-scientists). You're not going to get better results than that."

    The implication is that at the beginning of the age when the Solars ruled (or possibly a bit before, whenever it was that Solars started being a thing - I'm not perfect on the timeline), Charms were less efficient or less reliable - the old Charms aren't written up because they're worse.

    You could do something like that with this, too. Now, a Fireball is very consistent. It has a very well-defined area, goes exactly where you point before exploding, doesn't stick around unless there's combustibles in the area, doesn't apply any force, and its range scales in a very consistent way with the power of the mage casting it. The only unreliable bit is exactly how hot it is (damage), and even that's spread evenly over a fairly small range.

    But maybe, back when mages were first working out spells, it wasn't quite like that. Maybe instead of 1d6 damage per level, it was 1d8-1, sometimes not having enough heat to burn anything but sometimes burning hotter than the modern one. Maybe if you tried to throw it more than 400 feet, there was a small chance (per distance) that it would go off early (but the theoretical range was infinite if you were lucky). Maybe you just defined a 30-degree cone and a distance - but the fire would push things in that general direction. Maybe the area varied from 20 to 50 feet. Try to think of things that aren't just "the same but worse" - perhaps unreliability that could sometimes be a good thing, perhaps just interesting flaws that aren't just less damage.

    Of course, this relies on the "ancient civilization" being long enough ago that magic was still being developed.
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    Default Re: I believe I just had an AWESOME idea for a campaign plot, PLEASE throw in 2 cents

    Not much to say except that I find the idea of 10,000 year old forgotten civilizations completely believable within a fantasy setting.

    In your standard DnD world, you have creatures such as elves and dragons, which have a much longer lifespan than humans.

    Comparing any timescales using real earth metrics is flawed.

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