has this campaign idea has been done before?

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Hello knowledgeable forum people, I’m a newish DM in the early planning phase of my next campaign. I’m hoping that someone here has run or played in a game similar to mine and can suggest encounters/minor plots and warn me about potential problems this type of game might have.

Here’s the idea: the PCs have grown up in what is, as far as they know, possibly the only village on the planet. There are no maps, no nations at war, maybe even no other people. Villagers have gone exploring, sometimes in sizable groups, but none have returned. The PCs set out to explore and map the surrounding region, find new resources, discover what happened to the previous explorers, and see if anybody else is out there.

I should also mention that we’ll be playing 4e (probably) and will be using only Martial characters (at least initially). I’m interested in running something that, at least at times, feels like Oregon Trail, but with almost no resource management (if that makes sense).  The campaign I'm running now has lots of intrigue, and my players are looking forward to playing something more straightforward with far fewer NPCs.

Might Dark Sun be helpful to me? I have never looked at it, but I've been told that it's grittier and less friendly to PCs that the average setting.  Is it almost entirely desert-specific?  I had envisioned this world as more jungle-themed, at least near the village.

In addition to advice and personal experiences, I’m also hoping to get some ideas for encounters and subplots. The PCs will fight wild animals, discover ruins (a turning point), and deal w/ problematic terrain, but I suspect I’m going to need dozens (if not hundreds) of potential stand-alone encounters or incidents to fill in the gaps between the major narrative chunks.

This seems like a daunting task. Any suggestions, either personal or via links to other resources, would be appreciated!
Sounds like an awesome campaign!

And Dark Sun might give you some useful mechanics like inherent bonuses since magic items might be few and far between for a while.

If I were running it, I would see it something like this:

Sessions 1-3: Find a lost party of explorers from your town.
Sessions 4-5: Dealing with wild animals that seem to be trained. Possibly finding collars or something similar
Session 6-7: Find evidence of a different 'tribe' of people similar to your own
Sessions 8-10: Realization that you are not alone...
Dark Sun does have entire rainforests in it, though arcane magic in the world is frowned upon due to how it affects plants (and with more powerful spellcasters, creatures as well).

With regards to terrain, I think DMG2 can give suggestions, but mining ideas from just about every possible resource and reflavoring stuff to fit a more forest-like theme would be just as well. 
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Dark Sun is not really any less friendly to PCs than any other setting. But if you plan to have a lethal setting, how do you plan to bring in replacement characters?

I suggest that you let go of any big reveals you have planned for this world and collaborate with the players to come up with the deeper mysteries and turning points in the game, as well as the kinds of encounters they want to have.

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

Watch M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village". Not a terribly good movie, but you can get some ideas from it.
Ok, so there's only this one village as far as the PCs know. 
And there's no other warring nations/tribes etc that've been ever encountered.....

So you might want to consider the question of weapons, armors, & various martial classes.
With no "war" you won't have any reason for swords, chainmail, dedicated warrior types, etc etc etc.
You'll have bows/slings/spears, etc for hunting & maybe crossbows.
You'll have tools rather than dedicated weapons - axes, knives, hammers, scythes/sicles, etc.
MAYBE you'll have something equivilent to hide armour at the extremes.

If you do have any weapons/armor about?  Where'd it come from?

Resources;
Where does your lone village get things like iron/steel from?  Lamp oil?
Where does the livestock come from?
How far out has the village explored successfully?

How long has this village been here?
How many of us are there btw?

Because if I were a player in this?  And these questions weren't addressed?  The very 1st thing I'd assume was that I was stuck in some kind of dream.
Or that we'd all been whisked away, memory wiped, & plopped back down somewhere. 

My group just started a similar campaign.
I would suggest you use DarkSun. Maybe your village has all sort of DarkSun weaponry due to arena style combat games or combat justice.

You could also use a 1632 (it's a book) premise in that your village from a magic/resource rich world like Forgotten Realms was teleported to this desert wasteland.

Looking for Inspiration?
Mad Max
The Omega Man
Fallout
Borderlands 

If it is in a jungle/forest setting, the Forgotten Realms Maztica series.
Heart of Darkness

Anyway, it sounds fun!

Might Dark Sun be helpful to me? I have never looked at it, but I've been told that it's grittier and less friendly to PCs that the average setting.  Is it almost entirely desert-specific?  I had envisioned this world as more jungle-themed, at least near the village.


Dark Sun is surprisingly verdant. I've always heard it as an ultra-harsh desert landscape, but once you start looking at the maps there are 2 large forests, several lakes and all manner of other interesting vegetation …. some of it is just spread out across large tracts of desert.


That said, it would be very easy to set the characters in one of the forests of Dark Sun, and as they explore they find the encroaching desert sands and terrible sea made from fine silt (which also chokes people who breathe in too much).


You could also chop out the Sorcerer-kings, who are the 7 evil tyrants of the only 7 (known) cities in the world. There is also an ultra-powerful single dragon – the Dragon of Tyr- who you could include in the campaign with ease. Dark Sun can offer a lot in terms of the wild animals and ruins; in the cannon version pretty much all history was wiped out by the sorcerer-kings, and you could justify by saying they all killed each other (or something)?


As others have said though, in 4e Dark Sun is just as kind as any other setting mechanically, it is just in-character cruel, harsh and hot. The main difference is that arcane magic turns the surroundings to silt, the gods are dead, and that magic items are rare (a party of 5 gets 2 magic items per level, not 4). If those 3 things don't sound crucial, Dark Sun wouldn't offer anything special over just using the 'standard' D&D universe

Thanks for all the advice!

Bohrdumb, I'm definitely going to be using inherent bonuses.  I haven't seen the official text for this.  My understanding is that it's +1 attack/damage at level 2,7,12 etc, and  +1 AC/NADS at level 4,9,14 etc.  Is there more to it than that?

I don't have DMG 2 or Dark Sun, but they both sound like good resources.  For those of you that have used Survival Days in your game(s), are they a good mechanic or do they just eventually get ignored along with rations and arrows?

Centauri -- Regarding replacement characters, I was thinking about having my players come up with concepts for back-up PCs who will stay at the town until the story needs them.  Also, a lack of PCs might mean that the party conveniently stumbles across another group of explorers or a previously unknown settlement.  Does that sound viable?

Your other advice -- to let go of the plot -- is harder to swallow.  My current game is very player-driven and almost every plot thread is the result of a "yes, and" moment; the thing that's different about this new campaign is that I have an Actual Idea for a change.  I'm hoping there's some middle ground and that my one Big Idea can mesh with many smaller scale ideas from the players.  Is that just naive?

CCS - All of the questions you're asking are great!  I'm thinking that there's no metal in this village.  Stone and wood is all they've got.  Maybe they'll find a more advanced civilization later in the game.  I've never been into history, but I've started researching metalcraft and early civilizations, and it's fascinating! The other stuff - livestock?, how many villagers?, etc -- I will figure out before the game starts.  At this point, I'm still trying to figure out if the campaign is viable.

I'm hoping that somewhere on the internet is a compendium of "man vs nature" encounter ideas or "fantastic made-up plants".  Has anyone seen anything like this?
 
da_duke, I'm interested to hear about your game as it progresses.  I had never heard of the Maztica series; I'll check it out.

Also, thanks to everyone for all the media recommendations!
Centauri -- Regarding replacement characters, I was thinking about having my players come up with concepts for back-up PCs who will stay at the town until the story needs them.  Also, a lack of PCs might mean that the party conveniently stumbles across another group of explorers or a previously unknown settlement.  Does that sound viable?

It can be. You might try to establish a bit of that up-front, so it doesn't look like sheer luck that they stumbled across another group. What if the back-up PCs were the other group. When a PC dies, they meet up with a member of the other group who got separated from them.

Your other advice -- to let go of the plot -- is harder to swallow.  My current game is very player-driven and almost every plot thread is the result of a "yes, and" moment; the thing that's different about this new campaign is that I have an Actual Idea for a change.  I'm hoping there's some middle ground and that my one Big Idea can mesh with many smaller scale ideas from the players.  Is that just naive?

Let your idea mesh. That's what "Yes, and..." is all about. But where your idea doesn't fit, or doesn't gain traction, let it go, in favor of what does work, and does have traction.

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


 
da_duke, I'm interested to hear about your game as it progresses.  I had never heard of the Maztica series; I'll check it out.




Our campaign is more like Nausica and the Valley of the Wind setting. Most of the world has descended into anarchy since it has been cut off from divine and elemental planes. Without a balnce of divine guidance, the world is slowly rotting away. Huge armies of insects scour the world as do udead. The only divine influence is the Raven Queen.

Most humans/fey are dead since they have been waging a war against the undead queen...and losing. Beastmen (Monster Manual characters) make up most of the PCs and NPCs. 

Souls never go to the afterlife. All sentient beings that die are either reincarnated as a Revenant (for the good side) or as an undead minion (for the undead side). It could happen as quickly as a few days or as slowly as a few centuries.

Our merry party (no humans) has allied its itself with the human True Heir to try to stand up to the horde, or at least stall their advance long enough that the barrier between the world and the other planes can be breached. We are search for the prophesy stones which (when connected) will explain how to bring the Chosen One who will lead the world out of evil. Unfortunately, the evil Queen is also looking for the stones as well to prevent the prophesy.

We'll see how it goes.

This campaign was a collaborative effort using the Johnstonian method. Everybody gave input, and as we continue to play, everybody still gives input to continue building the world.
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