Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Madlands Campaign: Brainstorming On The First Adventure...

Good Morning, All:

I've started thinking about the first adventure I want to run in the Madlands Campaign, which will help establish the setting and provide future opportunities for campaign expansion. Toward that end, I started looking at the basics in Old School module design. Using the twelve touchstones of Old School modules post, I have started the brainstorming process that hopefully leads to a strong starting adventure.

I know that I do not want to start with a formal dungeon site, but I still want a good adventure locale. I figure that a dungeon so close to the starting village would probably already be explored, so I'm looking at a small cave system. A set of natural caverns gives me a number of options for some great environmental considerations, such as ledges, slippery slopes, underground rivers and cave formations that can act as cover.

For the baseline creatures, I'm figuring that I'll probably use either simple humanoids (goblins, kobolds or orcs) or human bandits. Other creatures that I'll consider are probably giant insects or some of the low-level monsters I've posted previously.

Given that there's usually one encounter that must be resolved by means other than combat in an Old School module, I'm thinking that I may put a tharkanth in a relatively isolated area of the caverns, to see how the players handle a beast that is obviously more powerful than they are.

I'll definitely have to include some kind of obstacle that challenges players to think rather than rely on die rolls, but I have no idea what it is as yet. I'm sure it'll involve the three-dimensional nature of the cavern system, though. This will likely be a trap or puzzle of some sort.

I’m not sure what to do about the “permanent effect via random chart” encounter that is one of the touchstones of an Old School module, but I’ll eventually come up with something. Perhaps I’ll include a pool that has been tainted by gods’ blood.

Obviously, one of the treasure items will have to be a cursed item, to incorporate that element into the game and provide motivation to seek out spellcasters of greater mastery and talent, thus opening more potential plot hooks.

The “false climax” situation should be easy enough to set up, and will presumably based around the main treasure trove of the adventure. Some of the treasure will be quite large and thus difficult to transport. This implies that the bandits will have some transport, or had it at some point in time, so I’ll need to include some kind of stables in the cavern complex.

The twisty nature of natural caverns, plus a possible stint through an underground river, should add the disorienting effect that will make mapping difficult.

Finally, I have a wonderful thought for an encounter that makes absolutely no logical sense within the context of the adventure, so I can look forward to how the players attempt to explain it. That will likely lead to at least one more plot hook for future adventures, I’m sure.

Given that this is a lower level adventure, I need at least one encounter with the undead to allow for the priestly types to do their thing. I’ll also want at least one situation where a non-combat special ability can resolve it easily, and one or two that are easily resolved by magic. One or more of the encounters should be aimed at resolution through negotiation rather than combat.

Okay, that’s all I’m willing to talk about as I brainstorm, simply to avoid giving too much detail away to any curious participants. However, any thoughts, suggestions or other commentary would be greatly appreciated.

With Regards,

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