I haven’t been running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for a while, but that is about to change. A while ago I decided it was time to fire one up. Maybe it was all of this talk of celebrities that were now playing – or the release of the fifth edition of the rules. Perhaps it was that I played every year at Gen Con. I don’t know. I just decided it was time.
In the past what I did was simply adapt the same campaign and universe I had been running since high school for the players. To put that in perspective – I started with (and still own) my white box set of D&D. I am so old school I creak. Every time a new version of the game came out I “refreshed” my old dungeons, revised and updated them a little, but I was still clinging to the same basic universe I had run for years. It was probably a comfort thing – or a laziness thing. One or the other…I just never contemplated tossing it all (figuratively) and starting something very fresh.
Not this time. There’s a new sheriff in town. In fact, there’s a new town.
I didn’t start from entirely from scratch. I have had an idea for years for a fantasy novel series. I had over 100 pages of notes on the realms where this would take part in. No joke – 100 typed freaking pages. I was planning something big – a big series (and still am someday). I decided to this material could be my core foundation for the new campaign and world. Needless to say there is a robust book of material to tap into. Not a shred of my old campaign would be used or leveraged. It’s a whole new world out there, which will work dramatically to my advantage.
I was tempted to follow the new rules to create my universe – but I chucked those. I don’t want to map the whole world for the players – I am doing this in stages. Let’s start with the world that their characters would know – which is actually pretty darned small.
I have created villains that are not cardboard but dangerously crafty, with devious objectives and a number of dangerous minions with their own sub-plots and goals. There’s an uber-storyline here that will not be evident to the players for a while. Just like in real life, they will have to piece it together as they go. Though given the party history, they may just go on a slash and burn spree.
This campaign should be edgy for the players in that it factors in religion much more than I ever did before, as well as some wonderful Game of Thrones complexities. The history of the realms is very important and is baked into the entire tapestry of places they will have the chance to explore. The role magic plays in this campaign is “different,” to say the least. I dusted off my Camber of Culdi series and Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever too. In other words, I’m opening a can of creativity on their asses.
The best part of being an old-school Dungeon Master is that you get to tap those skills, and marry them with a much broader experience and library of things that are cool. So the world is big but for these level one guys and gals, it is pretty small.
And while I am that old fart who remembers playing with Gary Gygax in 1978, I am adaptable. Personally I love the 5th edition rules too – mostly for their simplicity. We’ll see how that goes. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes along the way.
I will post, in this blog, my notes of how things are going for this band of “heroes.” As a clue, I told them they may want to roll up more than one character. This isn’t going to be a cake walk. The road ahead of them is paved with the skulls of the defeated and that air stings of sulphur, despair, and the sweat of those that have died before them. This is no simple quest into a dank dungeon, this is an epic adventure.
That’s plan anyway…