Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting my design on...

It has not been decided what system I will run, who will play, or what the campaign will specifically be, but in the new year, there will be Game.

And I am even planning to run it.

I had been putting serious thought into a campaign based on the consequences of adding guns to d&d. Inspired by images like this:

I saw adventurers cutting a path to adventure with both powder and magic of the black variety. Maybe it would be a sandbox game, maybe it would be a game of intrigue and warfare.

In the wilderness one might encounter groups of elite blue-cloaked riflemen, pursuing the elven rebels of the silver skein, a band fighting for freedom or revenge against the brutal and systematic oppression of their kind. I saw adventurers coming into contact with these factions, taking a side, or trying to broker a peace.

It would be powerful, and dramatic, and grim, and bloody, and.. Started to sound like it wouldn't be any fun. I think the story has potential, but as the backdrop of a campaign had the risk of being a series of downers, including a plan I was working up of having a wilderness community that the players would use as a base of operations, forming bonds with the NPCs, becoming involved in their lives, only to find they had been pointlessly slaughtered by one faction for trading with the other. I just didn't want to run it. Maybe in the future I might use it as source material, but I just don't want it now.

So instead I am thinking of something like Stargate meets D&D, but with the players as prospectors rather than soldiers (so more like Fred Pohl's Gateway novels). A hallway of many doors, leading to many adventures. If a player is missing one week then he doesn't step through the door. It could work.

The heart of how I will run this (if I don't decide to do something else) will be similar to Westmarches. The players will have a list of doors, and the initial scouting mission resuts, and they tell me in advance of the game where they will be exploring. I don't know that this will be a 1-20 campaign, but I can run it for as long as it maintains the fun.

The initial scouting mission is a clay golem carrying a cageful of rats. It is instructed to enter the door, stand still and observe for five minutes, then return through the door. If attacked, it should return immediately. Adventurers wishing to explore these various doors are given the information gleaned from this to decide on which doors to try, and prepare as much as possible. The adventurers are considered expendable, no rescue attempt is sent if they do not return.

B@ R@ Golem returned unharmed, saw worked-stone underground passageway - the rats were all asphyxiated. The scouting mission that followed did not return (they carried a bottle of air)

G@ R@ Apparently dwarven construction, golem returned without incident. No exploration yet.

B@ R@ Golem did not return, one enormous mutated rat came back through door an hour later. No exploration yet

B@ R@ Golem saw nothing (apparently magical darkness) rats returned drained of life by negative energy. No exploration yet.

[blogger is stripping the colors out that I am setting. G next to the @ is green, R is red, B is black]

The first @ indicates the result of the golem's exploration, the second @ any human exploration.

When nothing returns, the door is coded double-black and exploration is forbidden.

Not all the doors will be considered level-appropriate for the players - no idea yet how they will react to this concept.

I may post a sample-dungeon based on one of my hooks, to show how it relates to the exploration mission. Things should be hard, but not unfair.

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