Aug 5, 2008

Assault on the Lightless depths: Part 1 - Notes

I have several projects that I have been working on for what seems like forever. It's time to dust them off and have another chug towards the finish line. To and , The initial cost of a appx. 200 book run is about 1400 dollars. There are a few variables, including color/B&W, which is a big deal, as well as length. So th recap; publishing your own "book" from final draft to 3 boxes just arrived this morning is about $1000. I don't know about you, but that is a damned reasonable price for a lifelong geekgasm, don't you think? I'm putting my money where my mouth is, and I'll make it a public project as well.

So now for the fun part. We need a product. I'll toss a poll out there, as this is a bit of a public project. I am leaning towards a campaign arc/adventure path.

Some notes:

  1. Buck tradition and start the story at 3rd level.
  2. All OGL/SRD compliant
  3. Oops...3rd or 4th edition!? Aargh!
  4. Wrap up at 15th level
  5. Non setting specific - remote, rural area.
  6. Use the "unbenownst to the defenders of the realms" trope.
  7. Few DMNPC's
  8. Fully statted encounters - no book referencing.

So we have a decent beginning. These are all decisions that have to be made. See any I've missed? Let me know. So we have a remote locale...epic storyline...sounds familiar...AH! Any of you familiar with this?It was one of my all time favorite campaigns, the first one I DMed actually. I've always had a soft spot for this adventure. So I'll use it as source material. I always thought that this adventure succeeded in spite of it's many flaws. As such, lets review the major plot points.

  1. 1st level adventurers come to a remote town, and are ambushed by bandits.
  2. Bandits drop clue that they are kidnapping spell casters for a hefty bounty.
  3. Reach large village (pop appx. 400) that is surrounded by plot hook zones.
  4. Main story arc picks up after X plot hooks are concluded
  5. Party raids old keep at end of valley (rumors of curse and haunting)
  6. Keep is bandit hideout/Orc nest that contains passage to upper underdark.

This is all Book one. The set has three parts. Lets concentrate on this part for now. Addressing the first concern on both lists, we'll start the party at third level. I do this to give the characters some options in terms of character selection, wonky lethality, and plain fun. Objections? Let me know.

So the party is "not from around here". The intention is to have them as members/guards for a seasonal caravan headed to Redstone and back. destroy the caravan = stranded adventurers. The WHERE part of the adventure, is the failed Barony of Kreya. The barony is a mid sized (4 mile wide at center, by 8 mile long spear point shaped valley. It is disgustingly fertile, the proof being the persistent settlements in a proven monster infested frontier. The valley will have these characteristics (for now, using generic 3.5 city stats);

  • Name: Barony of Kreya
  • Alignment: TN
  • Capitol: Redstone
  • Ruler: Lord Marshal Davros
  • Government: Benign Military Dictatorship
  • Population: 15,000 (38% Humans, 23% Other, 20%Demihuman, 10%Goblinoid, 9% Orc,)

Description: A often coined "the toe of the empire", the barony of Kreya the end of civilization. Nestled in a fertile mildly volcanic valley, this is the frontier. The Ironjaw mountains rise (avg.2000ft. -max.4000ft.) high above the lush temperate dale lands below. Center cut by the gentle meanderings of serpent creek. Near it's low banks reside hundreds of acres of farmland and plantations.

The primary exports of this region are it's wines, cheeses, and smoked pork. Other bumper crops typically include green apples, grapes, pears, and grains such as wheat and barley.

There are only three true settlements here.

  1. Haranshire - Pop 400 (1200 counting 1 mile radius). Home to piggeries, tanners, wainwrights, and the heart of the agricultural economy.
  2. Davram's Ford - Pop 125 (400 during training) Home to a keep and palisade wall. This is the sole reason for the continued survival of the citizens here. Here resides the Lord marshall, and his garrison of militia.
  3. Redstone - Pop 2000 (3000 counting 1 mile radius)The reason anyone wants to be here at all. The Ironjaw mountains got their name from the rich veins of Iron and gold running through them. This town is a "gold rush" boom town. The Iron mines keep the city alive, while the smaller gold operations bring in a constant stream of new blood. The breweries are also located here. Pollution is awful, due to mines, forges, tanneries, and piggeries all sharing space. Smells like feet wrapped with week old bacon.

Isolated, and protected by formidable natural barriers, this small valley has remained safe from the ravages of war for centuries. 3oo years ago, Gregor Kreya - a newly minted baron, rode out at the head of his van, and planted the seeds of the current settlements. He brought farmers, hunters, and soldiers to tame the land he had been given. He was succeessful, until one fateful night still talked about in church sermons.

A great battle, seen and heard throughout the valley, was fought through the entire of a midsummer night. The small folk, investigating the next day, found all dead. Every man woman and child in the keep had been slaughtered. The place was declared cursed, boarded up, and left to rot.

Currently, the tension in the valley is palpable. Due to the mysterious disappearances of late, the teamsters have organized, and are demanding better rates for hauling ore out of the valley. There have been...disappearances on the trade roads lately. To make matters worse, the ore coming out of the mines is rotten. It wont forge properly. With the miners blaming the teamsters for poisoning the mine, and the teamsters thinking the miners are playing dirty, things are rapidly deteriorating.

To add fuel to the fire, the Lords of Coin, Wheel, and Chain are bickering as well. Heads of the three founding families, each controlling the respective guilds; banking, wagoners, and mining. They have all been acting strangely as of late, but nobody knows enough to risk involving themselves in what could be a dangerous game.

DM Secrets - This valley is fertile in more ways than just the soil. There are many plots afoot. Some examples of what I am looking at doing with this:

  1. A colony of sickly, malformed rust monsters in the mine. Apply pseudonatural template for dangerously malformed theme. Partially consume iron & gold!
  2. The disappearances are due to a wandering monster (no ideas yet) that is a recent arrival to the valley.
  3. A tribe of orcs has surfaced in a cave system near the old keep. They are currently working with the "other" occupants of the keep.
  4. The "other occupants are a atypical band of brigands - more on that later.
  5. The lords are fighting because each blames the other for the current woes. Add cheating wife or Romeo and Juliet with kids if needed.
  6. The new mire...less than 2 years old, nobody goes there anymore - more on that later.
  7. 1-3 "not so random encounters" pre-statted encounters keyed to times/locations.
  8. 2-4 Set piece locations. Lean towards role-playing opportunities.

This list is by no means complete. This post, however is getting overlong. As you can see, this is going to be a lot of work. I will attempt to break this into chunks, and flesh it out as I go. My current goals are:

  1. Solicit feedback so I don't fall into too many ruts due to tunnel vision.
  2. Publish chunks of this article as they are completed as .PDF's
  3. Eventually consider compiling and selling a quality product at a minimal markup ; )

Would any of YOU pay for something like this? I'd appreciate some feedback, and YES "it sucks" is valid as long as there is a reason included. Until then, feel free to suggest or steal anything you want from this.


jonathan said...

I always try to support independent entrepreneurs. Of course.. even if I never used it. Actually, my sister (very veteran graphics artist and painter; also a gamer) were just talking about doing something like this the other day - via LuLu. Looking for partners?

Donny_the_Dm said...

I would love partners! In fact, ironically, in the art department in particular.

Any ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions? I liked the original storyline a lot, but am trying to change it up a bit to make it fresh and new again.

Paizo sells the .PDF for $4, you should check it out. Otherwise, whatcha got in mind?