Previously Stated Show
While I set aside the campaign, I want to write some small amount about the notes. It should help me lay to rest the campaign setting until a later date and another system.
During the adventures that made up our campaign, the PCs never really had great cohesion. They just didn’t bond well. The pair of elves never really created a friendship; they seemed to always stand apart. Heck, one of them forgot that elven was a naturally occurring language among elves! So, the team just didn’t always make sense to each other, and didn’t at all seem to make sense to me.
The classes selected were pretty happenstance, but no one seemed interested in playing a primal PC. We had a Seeker for a short time, but the group became large enough soon after that arrival he became a second DM. From that time forward, none of the PCs could make sense of the primal spirits which were interacting with the story. I ended up dropping those aspects as much as I could, since the PCs largely weren’t able to recognize and respond to primal spirits.
The group didn’t seem too interested in the kingdom and the hordes of dragonspawn. I thought that the group might like some dragon hunting, but that element became a small item pretty quickly. The PCs just didn’t quite have the aspirations to such risky combats, but liked high treasure opportunities. While using Inherent Bonuses, the need for treasure was fairly reduced. It did mean that wish lists and loot could include wondrous items, waist, hands, and feet slots, etc.. It made that aspect more fun to roll through.
The PCs were actually quite antagonistic toward each other from time to time. They saw each other as rivals and acted in an appropriate manner. The divine PCs were all of differing deities; as such, they often competed for attention of the non-religious PCs when offering buffs and healing.
I was saddened by the lack of diversity only in the sense that we had two rogues for a time, two rangers for a time, two warlocks for a time, two clerics, two paladins, two fighters, two wizards. We seemed to have everyone watching each other and wanting to do batter. Strangely, we did not have warlords, avengers, shamans, druids, psions, ardents. I really wanted to see more classes tried out and shown off. I can live with the limited classes and power sources from which players grabbed the PC they wanted, but I’d prefer to see it in a game specifically intended for a limited list.
In the future, I would prefer to create a list of the appropriate classes because of the campaign, and then stick with that list throughout. In addition, I’d like to have a larger benefit for the players selecting a class; I’d prefer that each class, race, or theme connect with a key thread of the story. I’d especially like to create a campaign in which the PCs draw on primal, psionic, shadow, and elemental powers instead of martial, arcane, and divine powers.
Another two plans for the future of campaign-making are a better connection between PCs along with an improved understanding by players ("You are an elf; you know elven."). I didn’t expect the PCs to be so distrustful and disconnected to each other. In fact, a couple had made PCs together and wrote the tale of their connection to each other; this was really nice. I could always anticipate those two working well together. Other PCs didn’t seem to coordinate together over powers, skills, and equipment. I knew that in a custom world, the players might need to know about some background elements which are different than the default assumptions, and I have a campaign setting document that tells much of the setting background. However, no one was terribly interested in that. They played using the default assumptions, which were opposed to the campaign norms at times. I adjusted the campaign to remove problems rather than stomp my foot about my setting canon.
In respect to NPCs, the players seemed less interested than in PC interactions. There were a few NPCs of importance, but most were only a short-term cameo. Still, the players didn’t ask lots of questions, try to network for connections, or consider equipment which might better serve an NPC than a PC. I mentioned in an earlier post that an NPC had been recovered from the ruins of an arcane academy; she was a high profile NPC of the setting. This woman, a drow swordmage, is well-known, well-connected, well-supplied, well-informed, and a member of a powerful guild. Unfortunately, the PCs rarely thought to ask her directly for information, equipment, or connections.
As a member of an important guild, she was closely tied to the overall story of our campaign. She knew many other high profile NPCs and could have served as an introduction to those key persons. She was supplied with exceptional equipment and could have made suggestions or shared her equipment; alas, only one PC asked for such help. She is a blacksmith of great renown, so the cleric asked her to create an enchanted Morningstar. While her specialty is blades, she agreed and the item took the place of a loot item. Despite that as a drow, she had lived on the surface for more than 60 years; the PCs weren’t too interested in her experiences and friendships. There was very little they asked of her beyond acting as a guide and porter.
Later, I swapped the drow for a goblin porter who did not speak much common. It didn’t matter, since I already knew the players were not interested in the NPCs. This is not entirely surprising; I know the campaign is more directly about the PCs than the NPCs. I had expected the players would have been looking for answers.
In the future, I think I’ll simply include fewer NPCs unless the campaign directly calls for the interactions. It was sad to think that I had plenty of sensible explanations for the threads of the story which made our campaign, but players were not trying to put together clues. It might be far better to leave that out in favor of a more story-game trick of asking players to create the NPCs.