First time DM, looking for help

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Hello all,

I'm somewhat new to DnD but I've always had an interest. I've been playing Magic for years, and recently had a friend invite me to his campaign. It's been a fun few weeks, unfortunately that DM is unavailable for quite some time and I'm the only one that has a hankering to jump in and give it a try.

I was hoping to spout some ideas, and possibly get some imput from veteran players on how to weave it all together and provide something at least moderately entertaining from the group.

For the story, one of my favorite series growing up was  the Incarnations of Immortality. For those unaware, the simple version is, each book describes the transition of a character into becoming one of the Incarnations (Death, Time, Fate, War, Nature, Evil, Good). I was interested in very loosely basing a world of this kind of thing. My translation involved a pretty basic world in which there was a center main hub/big city. As you ventured out in any one of five pentagonal directions, far enough in the distance there would be a base/temple of one of the first five elements. Each zone would be themed by the incarnation it represented. The first major part of the campaign would be making it to each temple, dungeons and puzzles galore along the way. Once at the temple, they'd make they're way through it, with puzzles/tests corresponding to the zone and either kill, or earn the favor of the incarnation, collecting some macguffin representing such a feat. Once they acquired all 5 macguffins they would be able to perform some sort of ritual (not sure quite what to do with this) and it would enable them to travel to heaven/hell.

My overall goal for the campaign would be some sort of conflict between heaven and hell. I like the idea of the conflict of heaven and hell leaking over into the main world yielding a breakdown of control over the respective elements. Nature would be growing fierce and out of control. Time would start breaking down and becoming distorted (especially nearer to the "temple"). One of my goals would be to let the group solve the 5 in any order, with the repercussions of the puzzles not figured out growing even more out of control than the rest. I'm not really sure of conflict yet but I'm working to flesh it out. Hopefully I'll avoid something too trite. Ideally, I'd like it if the group would have to fight both in order to restore balance to the world, rather than heaven being the good guys, hell being the bad. 

Now, not being too familiar with how planes work in DnD, this is where I was hoping for the most help. Is there a way to translate this into DnD terms using planes? Also, in looking through the monster manual. There are plenty of demons to choose from, but not really any angelic beings. I'm not really sure how I'd go about these.

The other big section of advice would be translating the DnD known world into the themes of the five incarnations. My ideas (possibly dumb) so far.

Nature would would be a realm of big communities and primal beasts. This one seems easy to fill out with elves, centaurs, any real "jungly" beasts.

Death is another that seems pretty easy to flesh out. Zombies, skeletons, necromancers, maggots, pretty much anything dead and decaying.

War is again in the easyish list.  Very band oriented, all your typical "fighty" monsters. Civil wars between groups. Anything fire related probably in here.

Fate gets harder. Spiders are a pretty easy include, with the webs of fate and such. But I'm not overly sure what else could go in here. 

Time is again in the hard catagory for me. While looking through the manual I did notice dinosaurs, and this seemed the perfect place in a spot or two. But I'm kinda coming up blank on anything else.

That's the quick summary so far, and any help would be wonderfully appreciated. If it's a terrible idea feel free to tell me that as well. I'd like to the best I can to make a good campaign for the group. 

Sorry for taking so long to post. I was a little busy.

First off, its not a dumb idea. Obviously it needs fleshing out, but it has a lot of potential, especially the heaven and hell are enemies, not just the stereotypical devils.

There is definitely a way to transcribe that into D&D planes. "Heaven" can be the Astral Sea and Hell can be "The Nine Hells". The Astral Sea is different from what most people think of heaven as. Instead of fluffy clouds and golden pillars, it is more like an ocean of stars with islands that belong to certain dieties that they control like Celestia or Arvandor. People get around through portals and by magical ships called Astral Skiffs mostly. The Nine Hells is more like a planet with nine layers going deeper and deeper into the planet. Each layer contains different devils and different terrrain like swamps and frigid tundra. There should be a handful of angel types in the monster manual. If you need more, you can either build something similar but add your own elements or just reskin a current monster (which means taking a different monster and just descirbing it as an angel while changing the damage to radiant and other things like that).

Nature: Don't forget just bestial creatures, you can also include aspects of nature like storms and sentient plant growth.

War: Don't forget constructs and war machines. Anything made of iron and steel could have a use here. Examples-golems and magic armor suit automatons.

Fate and Time: Both of these might rely more on puzzles and non-combat encounters than hordes of monsters. Time could be set with a desert theme (Sands of time) with the party going further and further back in time as they progress through the temple. As for fate, you could include something otherworldly to get the mysticism associated with fate. Stars and constellations could work quite nicely.

Hope this helps 

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

A Cabinet of Time might allow you to steal a dinosaur egg.

The Citadel Megadungeon:

I am familiar with the series, so I thought I might give some input, but I also have a few questions.
   -Are you trying to adapt the IoI (Incarnations Of Immortality) to a medieval/fantasy setting? or are you planning on making it a modern setting?
   -Do the players want an open world free-roaming campaign, a temple oriented dungeon crawl, or a bit of both? If you don't know, ask them!
   -Depending on the setting/time period, do you want knowledge of the incarnations and what they do to be commonplace, or limited/secret?
   -Are the players comfortable playing in an altered setting, where the gods aren’t the normal 4E gods, and the universe isn't the standard 4E setup with an astral sea, a world divided into 3 planes, etc.
    -Is your group more into 'role' play or 'roll' play?
    -When you say 5 elements, do you means the classical elements of earth,wind,fire,water,ether?

In lack of knowing those things, my first recommendations are;
   -Don't try too hard to make the IoI theme fit with D&D, change D&D to fit your theme.
   -Don't worry too much about what the monster is actually printed in the book. You can take any monster and alter it to look like something else. This is called "re-skinning."  There might not be alot of "angels" in the printed material, but you can take any monster, change it's name, and say it looks like an angel. Careful to change damage types to radiant.
   -Make sure you have a solid plot before you start the game, but don't be afraid to alter it if they take unexpected actions. Your plot should be a framework with big key events along the way. The small events should be alterable, or you get into rail-roading.
   - Don't limit yourself to just the IoI in the books, if you think of others that should be included.

As far as story/plot goes, my initial suggestion is to make knowledge of the IoI limited. Make it so that people worship the IoI in a small way, but they do not know that the IoI are actually mortals serving in a position. In terms of structure, use a greek/roman model. You have God up at the top of the pyramid, with whatever demi-gods, angels, saints, and lesser divine being you want below him. Everyone primarily worships this god, recognizing him as the chief among all godly beings, however it is commonly understood that he is not all powerful like the Christian god. Underneath him are a multitude of demigods, which are worshiped depending on personal taste. demi-gods or angels that represent things like fertility, craftsmanship, prosperity, etc.

On the other side, you have Satan, at the bottom of his own smaller upside-down pyramid. Obviously he is considered evil, but there may be some who worship him (secretly?). As far as their relationship is concerned, you can use whatever mythology you want. Probably something semi-christian in that he rebelled against god, is evil, and seeks to subvert people.

Now, separate from each of these pyramids, you have the IoI. They are thought of as powerful forces, neither good or evil. They operate independently of heaven or hell, and are beyond the direct influence of god or satan. People would probably worship them, or honor them in some way. However praying to them for anything would be thought of as mostly futile. Death comes for all, no matter how nicely you ask him not to. Time keeps flowing, no matter how much you pray. Nature may give you a storm, as easily as she gives you sunshine. War may favor either side, or neither side. The common people understand that these things exist, and carry on, according to rules beyond thier comprehension.

I think one of the interesting aspects of the IoI series, is the idea that it's not clear who the real "bad guy" is between god/satan. So for whatever reason you choose, the players should become aware that god and heaven arn't necessarily all they are cracked up to be, conversely satan and hell may not be as bad as everyone thinks.

So why are the players seeking the IoI? Perhaps a war is brewing between heaven and hell, and earth being conveniently located between heaven and hell, will be the battlefield. Obviously this will be something like the end of the world. Turns out that heaven is the instigator, and does not care how much human life will be lost in the process. Hell, being less powerful, is the defender, but only cares slightly more about the human life. The point is that both of these sides, are not on your side. The players, being puny humans, will want to try and stop the destruction of the world. In order to do so they must seek out the IoI and try to get their help in preventing doomsday. Each IoI has it's own home, a massive temple, hidden away within it's own small dimension. The entrance to each can be accessed at some physical point in the real world. Again, they are puny humans, so getting the attention of the IoI is not easy. They must literally travel to a far away/hidden location, gain access to the pocket dimension, travel to the temple across whatever hazards are present, break into the temple, overcome whatever traps/guards/oddities protect it, and perform the equivalent of ringing a giant ass doorbell to get the IoI to show up.

In this sense, the IoI are the macguffins, and they must gain their attention and convince them to band together.

Time - Dragons, They can be timeless? a wizard with spells of slowing/freezing(slowed/immoblized) ...time. when they come out of the dungeon maybe the center city has aged and so have the NPC's that they have gotten to know, a young girl now a old lady, some dead?
For start since I like to help new Dms let me say that from what I have read I can see that you have imagination and trust me one of the major things a DM needs is imagination.In d&d world in most campaigns time,death,fate,war etc. is controlled by gods or supreme beings and they have planes which those beings live in.You can start as you said your campaign from the easier to the toughest so as players advance face tougher challenges.I like the idea you took from books and you can really adapt it in a great adventure.You must though put something in like ''why players should search these temples"Is hell trying to gain control of all the elements?Are some people trying to do that and you must stop them and stuff like that.If you want more depth you can make whole cities for each element.The city of war ,the city of time etc.I hope i helped a little.
I think that an Idea for Fate could also be less creature intensive and do senarios for each PC about they see something that will happen in the immediate future that may or may not lead them to their deaths thus making them want to take a different route until they can come to terms with their fate. Dont make it like everyone lives really let the dice decide on if they live or die based off it cause most players will roll over a senario like that unless you prove to them that it can happen, an example would be by using an NPC with the group sees something in his future that decrees him to die if he tries to save someone in the party form opeing a door or somthing and he does it despite that and he actually does die from it. just a few thoughts on the idea i myself like what your trying to do and im getting into DMing for the first time as well and i think you have a great base for a story.
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