First Time DM Lore Help and Suggestions

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I've only been playing D&D for perhaps a year and a half now and just started my 3rd campaign. I'm interested in giving a try at DMing next time around. We rotate who our DM is for each campaign. My first one, our DM was amazing and everyone had a good time. Second DM was terrible with very little RP, no story arcs, our actions had little consequences, and every battle was with extremely OP enemies that outnumbered us excessively and we always spent most of it just trying not to die. (His favorite thing was to dominate our characters so there was sometimes rounds only one person, out of five PCs, that got to play.) Currently, our DM is my fiancée and it's his first time and he's doing well so far.


 Only, being new to the D&D universe, as much as I'm trying to read and catch up I'd rather ask for the advice from much more knowledgeable people. I obviously cannot ask anyone in my group without telling them anything they shouldn't know.


 Campaign 1 and the current one both focus on cities and their immediate surroundings. I'd like something a little different, but I don't want to make the mistakes like in Campaign 2 where we seemed to wander aimlessly and fight all the time with no character development. Yet, how would they travel about without ridiculous time delays? I don’t want to trap them in a temple (for more than a few encounters).  Or if I give them something for fast, far travel, how do I keep them from abusing it? A one-way travel scroll?


 I was thinking of essentially writing a campaign with two perspectives. The heroes think they're saving the day, but really they're furthering the supervillain’s plans. A reoccurring "enemy" will really be another group of heroes. However, I will set it up with the other perspective, so if they ever figure out they are on the wrong side, they can switch to helping the other heroes.


 I've recently been reading up on D&D Gods and came across Tharizdun. I haven't read any of the Gord the Rogue novels (and I realize those are based after an older version of D&D), but I still like the idea of the heroes being manipulated into setting him free. But then why wouldn't the other Gods get involved? And wouldn't, in the end, fighting a God lose the mystique of gods entirely? So I thought about maybe they just help the Black Brotherhood find a Theopart or something along the lines, and just leave the unsettling feeling they just helped the bad guys and never figured it out...or they had figured it out and stopped the bad guys.


 The questions are: does this make sense within 4e lore? Suggestions on how this might work? I'm not asking for someone to write it all for me, but I could use help on learning what's already been established within D&D. I've probably got until the start of next year (at minimum) to work out the whole plot. Am I over-reaching for a first time?

To me you are approaching this from a very limited angle. The more story and plot you create the more you will be inclined to make sure that plot is seen/experienced. Keep in mind you are DMing a group of players, not telling them a story. It should be functionally impossible for you to "work out the whole plot" as doing so would mean, at a minimum, anticipating many decisions the PCs will make. This is a losing bet. The PCs will go off the reservation and you will be caught having to improvise on the fly, which can be quite hard if you have little to no DM experience. Things can derail quickly in that situation.

If you have a good deal of time, I'd suggest doing a lot of reading...a lot. There are a lot of blogs out there (I can recommend some) that give some great DM advice. One of the things I've found to be very true is that experiencing good DMing does not prepare one to DM well because what is going on behind the screen and within the DM's head is rarely transparent. What you have suggested can certainly be an element of the game you want to run, but it will best be served by being just that...an 'element'. There'll have to be a lot of those though...that way the PCs can sink their teeth into what they're actually interested in.

When they have an entire world in front of them, a good breadth of juicy options will make them feel empowered and let them pursue their characters goals/interests. Having them figure out some of those goals and such for their characters before they ever sit down can go a long way towards peppering your world with interesting elements that might coincide with your players interests.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Only, being new to the D&D universe, as much as I'm trying to read and catch up I'd rather ask for the advice from much more knowledgeable people. I obviously cannot ask anyone in my group without telling them anything they shouldn't know.



This isn't as big an issue as you'd think. While you don't have to fill someone in on all the details, sharing certain information between  you and your players can help.

Session 0, as it's often refered to on these boards, helps the DM and players establish what kind of game they all want to play, allow them to come up with ideas to make it work, and helps to hammer out character involvement in the story ahead of time so that the PCs and the DM each go into a game with full knowledge of what they should be expecting from one another.

Recently, for example, we ended out last campaign and sat down to come up with a new one. I've been wanting to do something with Aberrations for a while now, and my players have been wanting to take a campaign deep into the shadowfell from an early stage to track down a recuring enemy from the past three campaigns we've played. So we've decided to set up the campaign majority in the Shadowfell and find some way to tie the recurring enemy in with the aberrations. Sure, the PCs know what sort of enemies to expect, but they don't know what's going to happen. Big story details are better came up with as the campaign goes along anyways, rather than at the beginning. Heck, even I don't know how the recurring enemy and the aberrations will mingle together XD

Campaign 1 and the current one both focus on cities and their immediate surroundings. I'd like something a little different, but I don't want to make the mistakes like in Campaign 2 where we seemed to wander aimlessly and fight all the time with no character development. Yet, how would they travel about without ridiculous time delays? I don’t want to trap them in a temple (for more than a few encounters).  Or if I give them something for fast, far travel, how do I keep them from abusing it? A one-way travel scroll?



I've never seen many people worry about travel unless it has an impact on the adventure at hand. Most just hand wave it. Travel is also harder to abuse than one might think. Most long distance travel spells require charge up, making them unsuited to mid combat escape plans, and vessels can be damaged the same as characters, so vessel vs vessel battles can get pretty heated and exciting.

I was thinking of essentially writing a campaign with two perspectives. The heroes think they're saving the day, but really they're furthering the supervillain’s plans. A reoccurring "enemy" will really be another group of heroes. However, I will set it up with the other perspective, so if they ever figure out they are on the wrong side, they can switch to helping the other heroes.



Kinda hard to follow what a two perspective campaign would be like. Do the players play two sets of PCs? I'd advise against that course of action. Stick with the heroes and NPC helpers/enemies.

I've recently been reading up on D&D Gods and came across Tharizdun. I haven't read any of the Gord the Rogue novels (and I realize those are based after an older version of D&D), but I still like the idea of the heroes being manipulated into setting him free. But then why wouldn't the other Gods get involved? And wouldn't, in the end, fighting a God lose the mystique of gods entirely? So I thought about maybe they just help the Black Brotherhood find a Theopart or something along the lines, and just leave the unsettling feeling they just helped the bad guys and never figured it out...or they had figured it out and stopped the bad guys.



Well, in the established lore, the primal spirits prevent the gods from directly interacting with the world. The best they could do would be to send an exarch, and that's even if they take notice of the event, which probably wouldn't happen before late paragon anyways when Tharizdun's forces start moving more heavily. The gods are powerful and knowledgeable, but not immutable and omnipotent. The best they come towards more often is super powered mortals.

So no, the gods probably wouldn't make to much of an issue on the whole wake up Tharizdun idea until it's already getting too late, at which point their involvement might make for a more interesting situation anyways. You'd be more at risk of your PCs getting some good knowledge checks and figuring it out on their own before it happens. Unless interacting/fighting these entities earlier on is something the PCs would be interested in, I don't think you'd need to introduce them earlier than when the BBEG starts to make his move.

Fighting a god as the climax also isn't a bad thing. A lot of campaigns end with gods/god-like beings throwing down against the PCs. Heck, the Scales of War adventures published in Dungeon magazine end with a big old mono-e-mono against Tiamat! By the end of epic tier, many PCs are so close in power to gods themselves that anything short of the most powerful enemies the cosmos has to offer, gods included, wouldn't make for much of a challenge.

If you're looking for some good stuff to use in a Tharizdun campaign, pick up a copy of Heroes of the Elemental Chaos, Monster Manual 3 and check out some Dungeon Issues concerning the Elemental Chaos and creatures related to it. The Voidharrow and the Abyssal Plague are good plot devices to use in a Tharizdun campaign.

Am I over-reaching for a first time?



No, but you might be a bit too concerned about hammering all the details out and sticking too close to the lore. Many seasoned DMs will tell you that its less about having all the details fleshed out, and more about making things able to be changed as needed. Get too rigid with the story, and the PCs will throw you for a loop when they circumvent something you throw at them effortlessly. Opening up the lore a bit also allows the you to go in whatever direction you need with the story. Established D&D lore is best used as a guide, not a bible.

Coming up with an idea, giving it to the PCs, and letting it evolve from there is better than writing out a whole storyline for an adventure. With less to tie you down to a specific course of action, it makes it easier for you to change things when the PCs take an unexpected turn. It also allows you to keep the story going in case of failure at a particular junction. Failure shouldn't be the end of the campaign, just a change in what is occuring in the campaign.

Hope this helps. Happy Gaming
I make a large priority when I'm a player to get us a boat or airship ASAP, if neither seem feasable, I try to play a wizard and set up a teleportation network. When I DM I try to give one to the players ASAP. 

Nothing frees the players up to go to interesting places like a cool method of transportation. It also works wonders for setting the tone of the campaign. A magical airship brings a touch of arcane/steampunk. A pirate ship lets the players know you expect some rabble rousing. A teleportation network brings a very high magic vibe. 

It also means you rarely have "You walk through the woods for 2 weeks, let me roll some stuff and see if anything jumps out of the bushes and fights you 14 times". Which is something I loathe in a game. Even worse is when the DM pretends you want to roleplay sitting by a fire 14 nights in a row. (That can be a great thing to explore character development once or twice during the entire campaign, but thats about it) 

But then why wouldn't the other Gods get involved? And wouldn't, in the end, fighting a God lose the mystique of gods entirely?

These are some things that every DM decides for themselves. It totally depends on the game, and any answer is acceptable. 

If the other gods wouldn't get involved, why is that? Do they have a non-involvement pact and breaking it does something terrible like release the primordials? If this is the case what can they do? Have clerics/the faithful act on their behalf is a common answer. (The gods don't get involved in the affairs of mortals, and so they have cults/churches act for them). Maybe the gods are busy dealing with even bigger threats? They just don't have time for this sort of thing, even though it seems very major to the PCs.

If the other gods do get involved, how do they get involved? Do they just squish the offending parties with giant fists? Thats kind of lame, but maybe your PCs know this and need to find a way to avoid it. Maybe a magical set of rings that shield you from the watchful eyes of the dieties. Maybe they get involved, but only to send avatars or messengers to stop the PCs. Angels, giant monsters, and what have you.

If you fight a god you do take them down a peg from that all powerful entity. Thats not a bad thing. Maybe this is a setting where the defeat of a god allows you to take its place, and thats just how the cycle goes?Maybe the gods are omniscient, but rather are simply very powerful. I prefer this method for my games, but if you don't like it you should avoid letting the PCs fight one. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

To me you are approaching this from a very limited angle. The more story and plot you create the more you will be inclined to make sure that plot is seen/experienced. Keep in mind you are DMing a group of players, not telling them a story. It should be functionally impossible for you to "work out the whole plot" as doing so would mean, at a minimum, anticipating many decisions the PCs will make. This is a losing bet. The PCs will go off the reservation and you will be caught having to improvise on the fly, which can be quite hard if you have little to no DM experience. Things can derail quickly in that situation.


I probably didn’t explain myself very well. (I did edit it a few times and when I do that, I tend to miss things I meant to take out.) I’m not trying to make a railroad plot, but I do want a basic idea set up and a sandbox to play in. I meant “set up the whole plot” along the lines of, “This is the bad guy. These are his goals. The settings are in these areas. Fight big bad. End.” Since I don’t know a lot of the D&D lore and can’t seem to find a decent map, I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have no problem introducing my own elements, but I don’t want to overdo it. For example, our DM from Campaign 2 had a habit of making the Raven Queen interfere in ways that had most of the players up in arms about how incorrect it all was. Plus I don’t want to have a set in stone plot right now anyway. I have no clue if the players will want to keep their characters or make whole new ones with new background plots. It’s far more fun if I can weave backgrounds into the story, which I can’t know at the moment.


If you have a good deal of time, I'd suggest doing a lot of reading...a lot. There are a lot of blogs out there (I can recommend some) that give some great DM advice. One of the things I've found to be very true is that experiencing good DMing does not prepare one to DM well because what is going on behind the screen and within the DM's head is rarely transparent.


I would really like the blog recommendations! It’s, basically, the sort of things I’m asking for.


I know much of what’s going on in my fiancée’s head as he DMs because he tells me far too much…which often leads me to keeping my mouth shut during RP sessions so as not to ruin it for the other players. However, if I DM, he’s really into the whole role-playing part and I don’t want him to have to keep quiet.


Session 0, as it's often refered to on these boards, helps the DM and players establish what kind of game they all want to play, allow them to come up with ideas to make it work, and helps to hammer out character involvement in the story ahead of time so that the PCs and the DM each go into a game with full knowledge of what they should be expecting from one another.


Usually when we’re nearing the end of a campaign, someone speaks up that they’d like to try being DM, what are you looking for, etc. I’ve already been asked for 1) something not focused on a city and its surroundings 2) end of world type scenario. Thus, Tharizdun. Part of the reason I don’t want to talk too much to the players (besides saying, hey, you guys will likely go through a few different terrains and be fighting enemies with divine, necrotic, cold powers, etc.) is everyone in the group LOVES unexpected twists in plot.


Travel is also harder to abuse than one might think. Most long distance travel spells require charge up, making them unsuited to mid combat escape plans, and vessels can be damaged the same as characters, so vessel vs vessel battles can get pretty heated and exciting.


Ooooo, I like the idea of vessel vs. vessel battle at least once. They travel somewhere, big fight, and regardless of the outcome the ship is damaged. They must explore while it’s being repaired. Something to keep in mind.


Kinda hard to follow what a two perspective campaign would be like. Do the players play two sets of PCs? I'd advise against that course of action. Stick with the heroes and NPC helpers/enemies.


No, no, there aren’t two sets of players. Set it up like a random encounter. We have a player (DM 2) that tends to attack first, and then everyone jumps in to keep him from getting killed. I was thinking of exploiting that.  They meet some group, assume they’re enemies and attack. Once of the “enemies” goes down, have them run away. Or perhaps something interrupts. Have this happen maybe 1-2 more times at random. Maybe in the cities/small towns they pass through, have the group mentioned. If my players never bother to stop and ask questions or actually talk first, how can they be sure they’re doing the right things? Essentially treat this other group as NPCs. Then if they do ever actually talk to each other, they’re still just NPCs.


Well, in the established lore…


Thank you! Basically what I was looking for.


Hope this helps. Happy Gaming


I’d hug you if it were possible.

It also means you rarely have "You walk through the woods for 2 weeks, let me roll some stuff and see if anything jumps out of the bushes and fights you 14 times". Which is something I loathe in a game. Even worse is when the DM pretends you want to roleplay sitting by a fire 14 nights in a row.


Essentially what I was afraid of. In the current campaign, some steampunk is being introduced. I don’t mind travel, but I don’t want them to have to travel too much. As in my previous response, I’m liking the idea. Perhaps they end up on an airship, vessel to vessel battle, and then the rest of the campaign with them exploring this new strange place while it’s being repaired. A few small towns, cross some mountains to a jungle with a temple. Maybe a few teleportation scrolls for random fun.



If the other gods wouldn't get involved, why is that? Do they have a non-involvement pact and breaking it does something terrible like release the primordials? If this is the case what can they do? Have clerics/the faithful act on their behalf is a common answer. (The gods don't get involved in the affairs of mortals, and so they have cults/churches act for them). Maybe the gods are busy dealing with even bigger threats? They just don't have time for this sort of thing, even though it seems very major to the PCs.

If the other gods do get involved, how do they get involved? Do they just squish the offending parties with giant fists? Thats kind of lame, but maybe your PCs know this and need to find a way to avoid it. Maybe a magical set of rings that shield you from the watchful eyes of the dieties. Maybe they get involved, but only to send avatars or messengers to stop the PCs. Angels, giant monsters, and what have you.

If you fight a god you do take them down a peg from that all powerful entity. Thats not a bad thing. Maybe this is a setting where the defeat of a god allows you to take its place, and thats just how the cycle goes?Maybe the gods are omniscient, but rather are simply very powerful. I prefer this method for my games, but if you don't like it you should avoid letting the PCs fight one.


I like the way you think. Maybe, either way they approach it, have Tharizdun get out. I was thinking of having the reoccurring villain be a knight that’s been tainted by one of the 333 gems of Tharizdun so he’s a bit crazy and intends to take Tharizdun’s place? Unless the PCs defeat him earlier. Maybe leave that open so I have a few options.

Congratulations on joining the honored ranks of the DM! Get ready for a fun ride.

In regards to your post, I would caution against any plot that pre-supposes a certain action or reaction from the PCs. Players as independent entities are funny things. They will uncover the shocking betrayal you had planned three adventures in advance without breaking a sweat, but will fall for the obvious trap you had intended as a minor nuisance, or get bushwhacked by a minor encounter that you had intended as a warm-up to a major fight. Silly stuff will happen. Plan for flexibility.

You won't be finding a comprehensive map for the generic 4e world, so feel free to merrily steal one from any source you prefer. Avoiding the cities is a good inclination, as the sheer number of NPCs and potential for getting wrapped up in "non-adventuring" (visiting taverns, haggling with merchants, arguing with city guards, etc) is unfortunately rather high.


If you're just starting out, aim to run only 2-3 encounters per session and make those encounters as polished and entertaining as possible. Get comfortable running the mechanics and keeping all the stuff in your head. There's no reason to burn yourself out early.

Shifting perspective can be a good tool for showing some "behind the scenes" stuff in your world, but I agree that running a dual-perspective campaign would be daunting. Try keeping these sessions to a minimum to preserve their emotional punch and shock value. A possible "hook" would be to give them a pre-generated party that is a magnitude of power greater than them (paragon if they start heroic, epic if they are already paragon) and throwing them into a suicidal encounter (the veteran heroes storm the temple of a cult only to be ambushed by some BBEG and get annihilated). Switch back to the real party and their first mission is to find out what happened to the other guys. A bit heavy-handed, but still a starting point.

To me you are approaching this from a very limited angle. The more story and plot you create the more you will be inclined to make sure that plot is seen/experienced. Keep in mind you are DMing a group of players, not telling them a story. It should be functionally impossible for you to "work out the whole plot" as doing so would mean, at a minimum, anticipating many decisions the PCs will make. This is a losing bet. The PCs will go off the reservation and you will be caught having to improvise on the fly, which can be quite hard if you have little to no DM experience. Things can derail quickly in that situation.


I probably didn’t explain myself very well. (I did edit it a few times and when I do that, I tend to miss things I meant to take out.) I’m not trying to make a railroad plot, but I do want a basic idea set up and a sandbox to play in. I meant “set up the whole plot” along the lines of, “This is the bad guy. These are his goals. The settings are in these areas. Fight big bad. End.” Since I don’t know a lot of the D&D lore and can’t seem to find a decent map, I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have no problem introducing my own elements, but I don’t want to overdo it. For example, our DM from Campaign 2 had a habit of making the Raven Queen interfere in ways that had most of the players up in arms about how incorrect it all was. Plus I don’t want to have a set in stone plot right now anyway. I have no clue if the players will want to keep their characters or make whole new ones with new background plots. It’s far more fun if I can weave backgrounds into the story, which I can’t know at the moment.


If you have a good deal of time, I'd suggest doing a lot of reading...a lot. There are a lot of blogs out there (I can recommend some) that give some great DM advice. One of the things I've found to be very true is that experiencing good DMing does not prepare one to DM well because what is going on behind the screen and within the DM's head is rarely transparent.


I would really like the blog recommendations! It’s, basically, the sort of things I’m asking for.


I know much of what’s going on in my fiancée’s head as he DMs because he tells me far too much…which often leads me to keeping my mouth shut during RP sessions so as not to ruin it for the other players. However, if I DM, he’s really into the whole role-playing part and I don’t want him to have to keep quiet.


Session 0, as it's often refered to on these boards, helps the DM and players establish what kind of game they all want to play, allow them to come up with ideas to make it work, and helps to hammer out character involvement in the story ahead of time so that the PCs and the DM each go into a game with full knowledge of what they should be expecting from one another.


Usually when we’re nearing the end of a campaign, someone speaks up that they’d like to try being DM, what are you looking for, etc. I’ve already been asked for 1) something not focused on a city and its surroundings 2) end of world type scenario. Thus, Tharizdun. Part of the reason I don’t want to talk too much to the players (besides saying, hey, you guys will likely go through a few different terrains and be fighting enemies with divine, necrotic, cold powers, etc.) is everyone in the group LOVES unexpected twists in plot.


Travel is also harder to abuse than one might think. Most long distance travel spells require charge up, making them unsuited to mid combat escape plans, and vessels can be damaged the same as characters, so vessel vs vessel battles can get pretty heated and exciting.


Ooooo, I like the idea of vessel vs. vessel battle at least once. They travel somewhere, big fight, and regardless of the outcome the ship is damaged. They must explore while it’s being repaired. Something to keep in mind.


Kinda hard to follow what a two perspective campaign would be like. Do the players play two sets of PCs? I'd advise against that course of action. Stick with the heroes and NPC helpers/enemies.


No, no, there aren’t two sets of players. Set it up like a random encounter. We have a player (DM 2) that tends to attack first, and then everyone jumps in to keep him from getting killed. I was thinking of exploiting that.  They meet some group, assume they’re enemies and attack. Once of the “enemies” goes down, have them run away. Or perhaps something interrupts. Have this happen maybe 1-2 more times at random. Maybe in the cities/small towns they pass through, have the group mentioned. If my players never bother to stop and ask questions or actually talk first, how can they be sure they’re doing the right things? Essentially treat this other group as NPCs. Then if they do ever actually talk to each other, they’re still just NPCs.


Well, in the established lore…


Thank you! Basically what I was looking for.


Hope this helps. Happy Gaming


I’d hug you if it were possible.


This blog is excellent

hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I’d hug you if it were possible.



I'll just take a thank you. I'm allergic to hugs XD
I don’t mind travel, but I don’t want them to have to travel too much.

If you keep the location they are in interesting enough, they won't want to travel. If they don't want to travel, they won't go anywhere. Then they have the advantage of cool setting (airship) and you can introduce the tone (a little steampunk) without them actually traveling all the time. 

"You are on an airship on your way to the swamp city to refil the air bladder (it floats using magic swamp gas). As you arrive, you find it under siege by the evil forces of [General Undead Monster Man] and his dragon riders who are about to sieze control of it, and the valuable gas supplies. Battle during which most of the important airship crew are killed ensues. The PCs now own it. From here, the PCs use the airship as a base of operations while they investigate the evil [general undead monster man's] cults in the city that sabatoged the defenses, and prevent them from opening the crypt that contains the thing needed to free tharzidun which was the real reason for the invasion. 

The ship can then have enough gas to stay aloft, but not really travel anywhere until it is refilled. 

I like the way you think. Maybe, either way they approach it, have Tharizdun get out. I was thinking of having the reoccurring villain be a knight that’s been tainted by one of the 333 gems of Tharizdun so he’s a bit crazy and intends to take Tharizdun’s place? Unless the PCs defeat him earlier. Maybe leave that open so I have a few options.

I don't actually know the 4e lore for Tharizdun, but that sounds cool and interesting to me. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

If the characters actions will be aiding a villain, I'd definitely bring the players in on it. They'll find ways to complicate their lives that wouldn't occur to the DM.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

If you keep the location they are in interesting enough, they won't want to travel. If they don't want to travel, they won't go anywhere. Then they have the advantage of cool setting (airship) and you can introduce the tone (a little steampunk) without them actually traveling all the time.


True, but I also don’t want them to stay at one locale. Maybe something like how there’s a line of fueling stations, and this line happens to follow some villain. All of our campaigns tend to span a few months, and we play weekly barring circumstances.


Currently reading through “Gates of Madness” as maybe a jumping point.


 

If the characters actions will be aiding a villain, I'd definitely bring the players in on it. They'll find ways to complicate their lives that wouldn't occur to the DM.


Fair enough. Maybe for dealing with that angle I’ll wait until the characters are made. If anyone makes an evil character, I’ll tell them, and maybe an unaligned. Any good characters I’d still like to keep in the dark. The trick will be reigning in the evil PCs.


For example, in the current campaign, one PC is an Eladrin hexblade that is all for HELL and SEX and DEVIANCE or whatever and we were concerned about in-fighting. When I suggested something like the mafia, the fiancée wrote in that there was a mafia with their own agenda attached to some big name demons of Hell. The mafia boss then requests the PC’s help, at the bequest of the demon lord. So he stays with the main crew and helps, but it’s for his own interests.

One thing I would ask is if the players could reasonably, with the right actions and such, discover they are being manipulated far ahead of where you are currently "planning" for them to find out? (Assuming you are planning such a point)

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Regarding fast transport: In the campaign I'm currently planning, the players need to visit a variety of locations, in at least three different planes. I didn't want to spend half the campaign talking about hunting for portals and whatnot, so I decided to give them a base of operations in the city of Sigil, from which they can find portals leading just about anywhere.

Regarding Tharizdun: Right now I'm playing a character who is multiclassed as a Cleric of Tharizdun, but believes Tharizdun to be a lawful good deity who was framed for crimes he didn't commit and unjustly imprisoned. So far the DM hasn't forced me into a crisis of faith, but I'll be a bit surprised if she doesn't before the end of the game. 

One thing I would ask is if the players could reasonably, with the right actions and such, discover they are being manipulated far ahead of where you are currently "planning" for them to find out? (Assuming you are planning such a point)


Of course! I’d have it set up where they could find out right from the start, or not find out until the campaign is completed. Any important plot point would be twisted so that regardless of which path they’re taking, they can “find out” and choose to switch (or not). Where, essentially, regardless of which path they’re on the only true difference would be the ending of the campaign. If, say, the PCs were currently being manipulated to believe some priests (of Tharizdun but they wouldn’t know that) needed protection along the mountain path against marauders (the other heroes), I’d still have an alternate scenario. They know the priests are the bad guys, and instead are helping the other heroes fight a much larger group of priests, but at least one bad guy still gets away to continue whatever they were doing.


So when they find out would be irrelevant and entirely up to the group.



Regarding fast transport: In the campaign I'm currently planning, the players need to visit a variety of locations, in at least three different planes. I didn't want to spend half the campaign talking about hunting for portals and whatnot, so I decided to give them a base of operations in the city of Sigil, from which they can find portals leading just about anywhere.


That’s not a bad idea. Maybe start the campaign with everyone’s on an airship, travelling to some big city for some reason. At a stop for gas, they’re attacked. What’s going on? Oh, hey, where some bad guys went seems to be on our path. Then get to the last stop where they have a choice of continuing to the city or following the bad guys. If they follow, then hurrah. If they go to the city, let them have their fun there for a bit with hints of bad things going down outside of town. If they don’t investigate, bad guys attack for whatever reason. So one way or another, they’re likely dragged into going to the temple I want them to. Yet if they go to the city, I can give them a base with portals. If not, maybe the airship comes along.

Regarding Tharizdun: Right now I'm playing a character who is multiclassed as a Cleric of Tharizdun, but believes Tharizdun to be a lawful good deity who was framed for crimes he didn't commit and unjustly imprisoned. So far the DM hasn't forced me into a crisis of faith, but I'll be a bit surprised if she doesn't before the end of the game.


I like that. There's the “evil” knight that is tainted or possessed, but that could add to it. He thinks Tharizdun was framed. If the PCs switch to the “good”, he’d be an enemy. If they’re still tricked, he can be an ally. Either way, other PCs can attempt a “crisis of faith”.

There's the “evil” knight that is tainted or possessed, but that could add to it.



To make it a little more interesting, we housruled that my cleric powers that do radiant damage do necrotic instead. I explain this in character by saying that the divine magic is filtered through the walls of Tharizdun's prison, putting a taint on it. (Similar to the taint on Saidin in the Wheel of Time books.) Also, that taint is the reason why so many would-be followers of Tharizdun are evil and insane. So my character thinks he's the lone prophet of the true faith.
To make it a little more interesting, we housruled that my cleric powers that do radiant damage do necrotic instead. I explain this in character by saying that the divine magic is filtered through the walls of Tharizdun's prison, putting a taint on it. (Similar to the taint on Saidin in the Wheel of Time books.) Also, that taint is the reason why so many would-be followers of Tharizdun are evil and insane. So my character thinks he's the lone prophet of the true faith.


*insert evil laugh here*
If you're okay with my full out thievery of the idea, may I?
If you're okay with my full out thievery of the idea, may I?



Of course; that's why I shared it, because I thought it might be useful since you were playing with Tharizdun. 
For general 4e lore, here's a link to the official wiki: community.wizards.com/wiki/Dnd:Points_of... 

There are, of course, no rules for remaking the lore to suit your group.