...and the sky full of dust.

Tabletop RPG Cartography

Campaign Ideas

Reading this excellent campaign idea (and a detailed one at that) over at Greywulf’s Lair, it got me thinking of ideas for campaigns, such as all those that I’ve abandoned or never got a chance to play, or else started and never finished. Thought I’d share some of them here, while I’m away at the sea-side.

The World of Iona

When 4th Edition D&D came out I wanted to try it out, so created a world based on the assumed setting and locations that are scattered throughout the books. I wanted a world of once great empires and kingdoms, full of ruins and old, lost magic; a place for each major race; a world that was also slightly different from the normal: in this case I came up with a flat-world, as per this map:

World of Iona

Iona, map of

I also created a bunch of smaller maps for each region, such as this one (which was where the campaign started):

Former Kingdom of Nerath

Nerath, Kingdom, map

which held the starting town, which I posted about here.

We played a few games, but it didn’t last. None of us was overly thrilled with the new edition, and although I’d like to give it another go one day, I’ve been lured over to the Old School Side and will be playing like we used to play for the next campaign.

The Evil Campaign

Not the most original name, but a few years back, when my on-line group started playing (using Map Tools and voice-chat) we began with a 3.5 D&D game with the players running evil characters: minions of Iuz, a special unit of anti-adventurers sent on missions for their Lord and Master. Again, due to various factors, this game never got beyond a couple of adventures, but it was fun while it lasted.

The guidelines for the campaign was made into a  Players Guide, that I sent out to the players; and during the course of the game there were a couple of handouts too (Players handout a1 for the first adventure, and Players handout a2 for the Second).

After the Fall

Found this outline for a campaign on one of my Google Documents, which is inspired largely by Earth Dawn (a game whose background I really liked, but found the rules not to my liking), and which is similar to Greywulf’s Undungeon, in some aspects.

After The Fall

The world as we knew it ended five hundred years ago, with the coming of the dia morfiar, the god-slayers. They swarmed from the Far Realm, conjured by delusional sorcerers who did not know what they were dealing with. These Outsiders, as they became known as, breached our mortal realm in the mountains where the fires of hell are said to spill forth. Led by a terrible warlord, known only as Ruin, the Outsiders engulfed our lands, killing all in their path. Nothing could stand against them, not the mighty human-centric kingdoms, or the orc-ruled domains; not dragons, or giants, or even summoned demons and devils. The dia morfiar were unstoppable.

Like a plague they enveloped the land, separating city from city, cutting off allies, isolating kingdoms. The world was plunged into darkness. Despite this, even against such overwhelming odds, heroes and kings fought side-by-side against the Outsiders. Elf joined dwarf joined orc, all fighting alongside humans and halfings, even the rising race of tieflings. For a time these separate races were allies, fighting against the encroaching darkness.

It became quickly apparent that the Outsiders could not be defeated by mere force of arms, nor by simple magic. Even the gods and their priests could not hold against the swarm. But there was hope: a joint alliance of eldarin, humans, elves and dwarfs founded a secret organisation that were determined to find a way to destroy the swarm. Through experiments and dangerous magic, they discovered a strain of a rare disease that, when augmented by powerful and ancient magic, affected the Outsiders, slowly poisoning them.

There was a problem with this new plague: it acted slowly, and with the amount of Outsiders inhabiting the world (even after a band of martyred heroes shut down the gates used to access the our realm) it would take hundreds of years for the plague to run its course and wipe the dia morfiar from our lands.

But there was no other option. So the plague was released, and while it worked its way through the Outsiders, the survivors of our world dug themselves in for a long wait. Underground cities, towns, dwellings and outposts were constructed in the mountains, the deep forests, and at the bottom of the lakes and seas. Elaborate, clockwork, magically enhanced time-keepers were built, ticking down the years until it would be safe to once more walk the sunlit lands.

Five hundred years have passed, and we have dwelt in our underground lairs, waiting for the clock to tick its final tock, so that we may reclaim our world.

Today the clock stopped. Today we break the seals and open the doors. Today we reclaim our world.

The cairn of Last Hope

One of these underground cities, or cairns as they became known, is the Cairn of Last Hope. It is a moderate-sized town, home to nearly a thousand souls, and today the clock struck its last.

Situated in the mountains known as the Hellfire Peaks, this cairn is about to open its doors and send out a scouting party of specially trained heroes to discover it the land is indeed safe and that the Outsiders are no more.

But the cairn isn’t as prepared as it might have been. Two hundred years ago a great fire destroyed a portion of the town, including the Hall of Records, the library that had housed the history of their lost world, as well as the details and locations of many of the other cairns. Tomes recording the truth of the Outsiders were lost; travel guides on the once great countries, cities and realms were destroyed; books on magic and warfare went up in flame. A lot of crafts and skills had to be re-recorded, written down by the traders and artisans who knew them. Some much has been lost, only some of it rediscovered and recorded once again.

No one alive remembers the end of the last age of their world. No one knows what the Outsiders were and descriptions of them are vague, remembered only from stories their grandparents tell around the fire to scare children. Many of the old arts are lost forever, and magic is not the same as it was.

The heroes setting out into the new world have been trained and tutored as best they can, but in many ways they are like children venturing out into the world. They will have much to learn, to see, to discover. They will forge a new world for their family and friends, seek out new allies and fight new enemies; always wondering if the Outsiders survived, and whether they would recognise one if they met.

The races of Last Hope

The majority of cairns were constructed and housed by a single race, with a few additions. The Last Hope was no exception, and is predominantly human. However, there is a large number of dwarfs as well. There are fewer elves and halflings, neither suited particularly well for living underground. A few half-elves have spanned a couple of generations too. There are others, although their numbers are minor and dwindling in this latest generation.

The heroes of Last Hope

The Player Characters (PCs) are the first heroes of Last Hope. It is they who will venture out into the new world to forge a new kingdom, walking a path destiny has laid for them. There are no limitations on race or class, so long as they come from the main PHB.

Each PC has been trained by the best the cairn has to other, but are as yet unbloodied and untested in ‘real’ situations. Much of what they know is from folktale, books, their mentors, friends, family and the rites they have learnt. None have yet faced a true monster, and have sparred, play-fought, and conjectured, but nothing else.

That’ll do for now. More as I stumble across further ideas scattered throughout notes.

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