Sunday, August 29, 2010

Continued Campaign Planning, part 1

So, I've theoretically planned my campaign through the completion of Rivenroar. I've got tentative plans for afterwords. Some of those have changed since I first started drawing up the campaign. I'm going to start to go into the details now because before too long I'm going to need them.

The general plan for the immediate events following Rivenroar have changed. I've actually got a really interesting idea that I want to run with before I proceed with the main story. It's related to the main event and I've been referring to it as a "Meanwhile..." cutscene. I will give the players pregens at level 6. And with those pregens, the players will have 3 encounters as they try to defend the monastery of Bahamut from a determined and powerful group of attackers. This is the same monastery that the players will visit with their regular characters. In any case, the players will fight and should win against 2 groups of enemies, but then they'll be killed and destroyed by the third, which happens to include the Big Bad of the Heroic tier. I want to do this sort of thing for several reasons. First being that it gives players a taste of more power, given that they're only at level 2 and the pregens will be level 6. Second is that I love the idea of the players having to explore the aftermath of an event that they've already scene and having to roleplay their reactions. They won't know the context of the attack in any way, but the players themselves, if not hte PCs will hopefully be invested in finding out more. Third being that I really enjoy the idea of introducing the Big Bad in such a manner, effortlessly killing a group of characters controlled by the players in a Hopeless Boss Battle. A taste of what the regular PCs will face when they square off against him later.

Once the "cutscene" has finished, the regular PCs return to Brindol, likely as heroes to some degree or another, and after meeting with the Councilman who hired them, have an audience with the Marquis. He'll explain that the situation is still dangerous and that Brindol will need help until reinforcements can be sent from the capital to help repel any further attacks. To that end, the Marquis wants to contact the monastery of Bahamut in the mountains and see what assistance they can spare. They've traditionally been friends of Brindol, to the point where they each have a special magical device that allows short communications every day between them. Since the original goblin attack, the Marquis has tried to contact the monastery, but has received no response. The Marquis wants the PCs to take a guide and head to the monastery in person to investigate the situation and, if possible, deliver a message requesting aid.

The monastery is up in the mountains to the north of town. It's the middle of winter. It's going to be snowy, windy, cold, and unpleasant. It's also about a 3 day journey just to get to the monastery, but it's part of a well known road/path that's traveled much more often in warmer months. To that end, there are well prepared locations for travelers to rest over night. The first, going north into the mountains, is the Dawn site. Whether by design or by accident, the Dawn site is located at almost the exact point where the average traveler would reach by sundown if they left Brindol no more than a hour after dawn. It's a campsite located in the remnants of a long ruined tower. There's not much of the tower left, but enough of the protective magics remain to keep away most wild animals and other creatures. There's a shrine to Avandra here, which many travelers leave offerings at in hopes that the magic there will continue to protect the area. My players will definitely stop here and camp here, but despite all my hints that they'll be attacked in the night, nothing will happen. At least on the way up. On the way back down, the PCs will be attacked by creatures powerful enough to push past the protection.

Along the way, I expect to have a "running" encounter. I'm going to make a bunch of cold, air, and fae themed enemies and make a really really big encounter from them. Too much for the PCs to take on at once. But instead of having that happen, I intend to have the PCs come under attack for a few rounds at a time and just by some of them at once. Just long enough for the PCs to kill 2-3 monsters before the creatures retreat. Then I expect the third encounter with all the creatures left to be a fair fight that will last until either the PCs are dead or the monsters are.

I also have another encounter planned, but this might also be on the way back down. In fact, it probably will be. I don't want many battles on the way up. In any case, I envision that the whole road network was built hundreds of years ago, before the Empire of Nerath even existed, and that it's lasted this long in good condition due to potent magic. The road, up in these mountains, included a large stone bridge over a wide and deep chasm. It's still in good condition as is the road around it, but it makes for the perfect place for an ambush. There'll be lots of snow and ice and I have an idea for a "gusts of wind" mechanic that will threaten to push PCs off the bridge or the path before it. In this case, the battle will include the fae master of the creatures the PCs killed on the way up will be waiting to chastise them for ruining his sport.

The next place the PCs will stop is an actual inn that is, again, almost exactly a full day's travel from the Dawn site. This inn sits at a fork in the road, one of which will take the PCs up to the monastery. The Inn is called the Remorhaz's Rest (with picture of dead remorhaz on the sign), but most everybody calls it the Halfway Inn. The inn is actually a really sturdy and fortified building. It's got heavy stone walls around a courtyard and half of the inn is actually built into the cliff face behind it. There's an enclosed stables area as well. The inn is surprisingly high quality and comfortable, considering where it's located. What the players, or anybody else, don't know is that when the Big Bad came by this way heading for the monastery he and his forces overwhelmed the owners and others lodging there. Further, they did it so quickly, quietly, and easily that the inn was almost completely untouched. Seeking to delay anybody, like the PCs, from learning about the attack on the monastery, the Big Bad brought back the owners as undead under his sway and left other agents behind to keep the appearance that everything there was fine. In reality, anybody who admits that they're traveling to the monastery will be murdered in their sleep if possible. I will attempt to get PCs into as many different rooms as possible, which will be easy as no room holds more than 2 beds. I will attack all PCs simultaneously, forcing them to fight in groups of 2 and trying to regroup. I think this will make a great battle dynamic. Then they'll fight once more in the common area against the remaining agents of the Big Bad.

Okay, that's enough planning for now. Next time I'll plan out the PCs encounters at the monastery (I only want about 3, plus maybe a skill challenge) and then detail any further encounters I want to include for their trip back to Brindol. If and when I draw out my maps on graph paper, I will try to scan them in so that I can show my fully built encounters as well. Otherwise I will do much as I did with Rivenroar and describe the enemies that I'm using and how I adjusted them.