Between Worlds: How to transfer campaigns to another setting (Part 2)

Ironfang Invasion in the Realms: setting stuff do deal with

GamalonAs alluded to in my lost blog post, I want to run an Ironfang Invasion game in the Realms and I want to make sure that it fits as seamlessly as possible in the Realms Canon already existing. Realms Canon, as I define it, means the setting status as of 1372DR, the year of the 3E Forgotten Realms Campaign setting. That means that this book is what everybody playing in my game can take for granted, while every bit of lore that came before it might be changed so that it better fits my vision of the Realms (though those changes might be pretty minor, because I love most of the stuff written for the Realms during the AD&D era). It also means that the official history of the Realms after that date didn‘t happen yet and probably never will. In fact, my campaign will start a little bit sooner, at the end of 1370 DR, for reasons I‘ll explain a little bit later.

I decided to run the AP in the Great Dale, a region in the Unapproachable East, that is only sparsely populated and also has the advantage not to have been detailed too much by official designers, which makes the adaptation a lot easier. Still, there are some thing I have to consider when I want to put Ironfang Invasion in this region.

First of all, we know that there are two power factions in the Dale, namely the Talontar Blightlords under leadership of the Rotting Man and the Circle of Leth, an organization of druids and rangers led by the Nentyarch. Those factions are deadly enemies and we know from the Unapproachable East sourcebook that the blightlords drive the druids out of the Rawlinswood in Midwinter 1371 DR. That’s the main reason why I let the AP start a bit sooner. First of all, I don’t want the Circle of Leth being reestablished in the Forest of Lethyr, because that’s where the game will play out for quite some time and that could potentially mess a lot with the AP’s plot. More importantly, second, this gives me a very good reason for the fact that the Circle of Lethe doesn’t immediately deal with the hobgoblin invasion (they are preparing for the inevitable clash with the Blightlords and get caught off-guard by the new development), but it also can let me use the developments to come to add to the AP’s plot. Because in “Prisoners of the Blight”, the fifth adventure of the AP, the PCs will have to invade the Rawlinswood (Fangwood in the AP) and deal with the Rotting Man (Arlantia, might also make her into a powerful ally of Talona’s Chosen) in order to free the Nentyarch (the fey queen Gendowyn) and help him escape to the Forest of Lethyr.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure yet if I’ll use the Nentyarch and the Rotting Man in those roles, because those are two pretty powerful bastards (lvl 28 and 22 respectively) but I would love too, because to free the Nentyarch from a dire fate would really put the PCs in his favor. Also if they really succeeded to kill the Rotting Man, that wouldn’t change official lore very much, as according to the 4e Campaign setting, he was killed in 1373 DR anyways. Maybe I’ll blow the AP up a bit so that the PCs are a bit more powerful, or I’ll downlevel those two guys to better fit the level range the PCs are at that time we’ll see.

There’s a third power to consider in this conflict, and that is the neighboring kingdom of Impiltur. Impiltur is generally known to let their neighbors fight their own wars, but this is a bit different, as Impiltur has been fighting time and time again against invading hobgoblin armiss during history, so I can’t imagine they would look too friendly to a new hobgoblin empire in their direct vicinity. So I need something to distract Impiltur from interfering with the AP’s plot, and I actually have two ideas for that. The first would be to put Kraggodan, the AP’s dwarven city in the Earthfast mountains. We know from “Trail of the Hunted”, the first AP adventure, that the theft of an important artifact led Kraggodan to change blows with Molthune, and I guess I could do the same with the Realms’ Earthfast and Impiltur. An even more ambitious idea involves using the events of Paizo’s Curse of the Crimson Throne AP to instigate a civil war in Impiltur at the same time the hobgoblins invade the Great Dale. The really cool thing about this is that I simply could use the same mastermind for both of those events, Soneillon, the Queen of Whispers, who has manipulated events in that region for quite some centuries. Also, it would finally allow me to run this AP which is still my most favorite AP of the Pathfinder era.

And while we’re at ambitious ideas, wouldn’t it be a great thing if all those demoncysts in the region start exploding, letting an army of demons lose; I guess we would need pretty mythic heroes to let them feel the Wrath of the Righteous (yet another Paizo-AP, which would fit that topic pretty well), especially as it is known that this is kinda what happens when the Spellplague hits the region anyways in 1385 DR.

But that goes way beyond the scope of this article. Would be fun though to insert a bit of foreshadowing to that to make my players feel like they play in a living, breathing world where ther actions have actual consequences.

Der Pathfinder’s Guide to Eberron (sic!)

WrenEigentlich hatte ich ja vor, den Blog wieder vermehrt mit Beiträgen zu bestücken, habe mich stattdessen aber mal wieder mit meinem neuesten Vorhaben abgelenkt. Ich verspüre in letzter Zeit verstärkt den Wunsch, eine PbP-Kampagne im Paizo-Forum zu leiten, aber obwohl ich ein großer Fan der Paizo-APs bin, wollte ich mich nicht gleich mit einer so groß angelegten Kampagne übernehmen. Andererseits hat der kürzlich erschienene AP „Return of the Runelords“ als Abschluss der Runelords-Trilogie mich daran erinnert, dass ich den ersten Teil der Reihe, „Rise of the Runelords“ schon immer mal leiten wollte, und zwar am liebsten in Form einer Konversion in ein anderes Setting. Ich mag Golarion eigentlich, aber dennoch hat das Setting nie so ganz mein Interesse geweckt, wie das anderen Settings wie den Realms oder Eberron früher gelungen ist. Womit wir beim Stichwort wären, denn kürzlich bin ich auf die Wiederauflage Eberrons für D&D 5E gestoßen, und hab mir sofort den Wayfarer‘s Guide to Eberron zugelegt, zumal die aktuelle D&D Edition gerade ein Stück interessanter für mich geworden ist. Die Idee, die daraus entstanden ist, ist die, dass ich zumindest das erste Abenteuer der RotRL-Trilogie nach Eberron transferieren möchte, um es als PbP anzubieten. Was daraus wird, wird man dann sehen, im Idealfall arbeite ich mich auf diese Weise durch alle 3 APs der Trilogie durch, aber erst mal denke ich nur an das erste Abenteuer (jedenfalls fast).

Ich möchte aber keine einfache Konversion der Form machen, dass ich die Runenfürsten nach Eberron einbaue und die Abenteuer dann im großen Ganzen 1:1 übernehme. Statt dessen möchte ich das Abenteuer so gründlich wie möglich eberronisieren, sprich eigentlich übernehme ich vor allem den glücklicherweise recht generischen Grundplot und baue den nach Eberron um. Ich werde sicher noch genug Material aus dem Abenteuer übernehmen, und bestimmt kann man am Ende noch erkennen, wo ich mir meine Inspiration geholt habe, aber das ganze Pathfinderspezifische Zeugs (Runenfürsten, Sin Magic, Xin-Shalast usw.) fliegt auf alle Fälle raus.

Die Grundidee dafür hab ich vor Jahren schon mal im Paizo-Forum entwickelt. Runenfürst Karzoug ersetze ich durch , einen der mächtigsten Zauberer Eberrons, den ich bereits mehrfach in diesem Blog erwähnt habe. Passend dazu wird das Abenteuer in Ardev starten, einer kleinen breländischen Stadt an der Handelsstraße Richtung Drooam. Die komplette Kampagne würde für die ersten beiden Abenteuer in Breland bleiben (momentan tendiere ich dazu, das zweite Abenteuer teilweise nach Sharn zu verlegen, einfach damit die Stadt der Türme auch eine Rolle spielt. Aber auch Wroat oder vielleicht gar eine der kleineren Städte könnte hier zum Einsatz kommen), um dann im dritten Teil Drooam einen Besuch abzustatten(Fort Rannick wäre dann Orcbone, für den Hakenberg hab ich mehrere Ideen, das hängt davon ab, welche der Fraktionen Drooams ich hier einbauen möchte). Ab der zweiten Hälfte ginge es dann ab nach Xendrik, da ich dort erstens die Heimat der Riesen vorfinde, die ich für das vierte Abenteuer benötige, zweitens aber auch bereits einen Ersatz für die Stadt Xin-Shalast, den Hauptspielplatz des sechsten Abenteuers ausgemacht habe.

Für das fünfte Abenteuer sehe ich aktuell zwei Möglichkeiten. Der dortige Megadungeon ist ja stark vom Thema der Sündenmagie geprägt, die ich gar nicht verwenden möchte. Zum Glück aber spielt die Zahl 7 auch in Eberron an der ein oder anderen Stelle eine Rolle, so dass es mir recht leicht fallen könnte, den Dungeon relativ unmodifiziert zu verwenden.

Idee 1 würde das Thema Daelkyr in den Vordergrund stellen. Davon gibt es sechs bekannte, und da die Daelkyr ja Mordains Steckenpferd sind, wäre ich insgesamt bei Sieben angekommen. Passt auch zu dem Plan, die gesamte Trilogie zu bespielen, da die Daelkyr Eberrons sicherlich ebenso würdige Endgegner für die Spielercharaktere wären, wie es die Runenfürsten Golarions sein werden.

Idee 2 wäre womöglich etwas komplizierter umzusetzen. Ich bin nämlich gerade auf das Konzept der Feentürme(feyspires) gestoßen, die es zu 3.5-Zeiten wohl noch gar nicht gab, die mit der 4E aber Einzug ins Setting gehalten haben. Auch davon gibt es auf Eberron aktuell 7 Stück, was mir erlauben würde, den Megadungeon in kleinere Einzelteile zu zerlegen und die PCs ein wenig durch die Welt reisen zu lassen (schnelles Reisen ist ja einer der Vorzüge Eberrons). Netterweise ist einer der Feentürme schon vor langer Zeit von den Riesen Xendriks vom Himmel geholt worden, wäre also der perfekte Ersatz für Xin-Shalast. Nachteil wäre aber vermutlich, dass ich das Ende der Kampagne so dermaßen umschreiben muss, dass, ich den Plan, die Trilogie umzusetzen, vermutlich knicken könnte. Es sei denn, mir fällt etwas ein, wie ich die Themenkomplexe miteinander verknüpfe.

Glücklicherweise muss ich im ersten Abenteuer noch nicht alle Karten auf den Tisch legen, weswegen ich meine bisher nur halbgaren Ideen noch etwas ausarbeiten kann. Außerdem muss ich noch eine ganze Menge Material nachlesen, da der Reiz an solchen Konversionen für mich auch darin besteht, im Rahmen des existierenden Kanon zu bleiben, ohne Änderungen an bestehender Lore auszuführen. In Eberron dürfte das etwas einfacher als in den Reichen sein, da zumindest Stand heute die Zeit im Setting am Ausgangspunkt stehen bleibt. (A propos Reiche: Auch für die Forgotten Realms habe ich über eine Konversion schon mehrfach nachgedacht, die ist auch noch nicht vom Tisch).

Ich hoffe jedenfalls, die Ergebnisse dieser Konversion auch hier im Blog präsentieren zu können. Darüber hinaus gibt es ganz viel Pathfinder-Regelmaterial, dass noch der Konversion ins Setting harrt, auch da sollte der ein oder andere Beitrag drin sein. Vielleicht muss ich das Zeug ja sogar doppelt konvertieren, falls ich tatsächlich auf D&D 5E umsteigen sollte.

Aber eins nach dem anderen, erst mal hab ich eine Menge Stoff nachzulesen.

A little Brainstorm

MusingsSo I’ve caught a severe flu and between still having to work and lying in my bed wishing my head would stop exploding, I still had some time to think (in a very fragmented kind of way) and look some things up. Not necessarily in order:

1. Dammit, there’s no dracolich entry in any of the Bestiaries. And while I can apply the Lich template to a dragon, that would make for a stronger monster than I intended.

2. More dammit, My idea of making that Dracolich to the actual phylactery of Lich-King Thorder isn’t exactly covered by the rules. So I will have to make some rules myself because otherwise, a lot of players might want to argue that point.

3. Triple Dammit, the Justice Archon is a 3.5 monster which means it is not OGL. And for what I wanted to do with it, the official Pathfinder Archons aren’t very good alternatives. At least this time, I already found a possible replacement in the Brijidine Azata (or the Veranallia Azata). Only problem is that those are high CR creatures (CR 17 and 20), which might be too much for the scope of my adventures. Will have to take a look if I can turn the stat blocks into kind of a racial class so as to make lesser versions of them.

4. At the moment I imagine the main villain to be King Thorder. I think I’ll make him into a level 14 lich which would mean he had 13 class levels before he went through the transformation. Not sure yet if this might not be to strong for the level 10 group I have in mind for this.

5. At least this settles that the campaign should bring the PCs from meekly level 1 beginnings to at least level 10 before the big finale. Need to think a bit how to organize this into actual adventures. I also need to remember that in Tetheril, I’m going for a more low magic approach, so maybe I might need even higher level PCs to make up for it.

6. I imagine the campaign starts with the PCs becoming outlawed when they defend someone (their village?) against some thugs in the service of the Crown (tax collectors?). Afterwards they get contacted by the rebellion and invited to join their forces. So I need to look for what kind of missions they might have to undertake to prove their worth and climb the rebellion ranks.

7. Oh, and thanks to Owen K.C. Stevens I might have some idea about the creation of Thieves‘ Guilds and Assassins‘ Guilds, that I plan to incorporate in my adventures (might have to think about other factions that might play a role. Which makes me think about making this campaign into something even larger to get the space I need.

8. Maps! I need Maps!

And now it’s a day later, I just spent some money on Legendary Games‘ Forest Kingdom Compendium, as I really love their stuff and with this and Paizo’s new Ultimate Wilderness book, I should have a lot of material for my campaign setting. Speaking of:

9. Hm, I could have the Resistence forces flee to some unexplored wilderness region, so as to be able to let the PCs build a little forest kingdom. Which might enable me in turn to bring a big battle to the game, when King Thorder finally decides to remove this little annoyance.

10. Might even have to extend the scope of this campaign and make it into a full AP from 1 to 20. Which would help me with my Lich problem and my Azata problem as well.

11, BUUUUT…. it is a lot of work.

12. And makes for an evergrowing reading list just to support that campaign: Paizo’s Ultimate Campaign as well as Ultimate Wilderness, Legendary Games‘ Ultimate series and the Forest Kingdom Compendium, and not to forget Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might, as I want to use the Spheres system for my setting.

Race and Culture and a Carnival

MusingsYesterday, I read two extremely interesting articles by The Angry GM about how race and culture can interact with each other. The first one, „Making Race and Culture matter in RPGs“ basically tells you not to be afraid of stereotypes, when it comes to the description of races. The main argument is that the human race – as the game’s standard race – is already built to be very flexible and to make any character possible, so the only way to stand out while playing another race would be to build on a strong archetype (which are sometimes dismissively called stereotypes) to avoid feeling like a human with . That doesn’t mean that any dwarf must look-alike, but even when you deviate from the norm, it’s better if you start with that archetype in mind, because it strengthens the design of your exceptional character and he won’t feel like a human in a costume.

The second article is from 2015 and discusses „Why Race isn’t broken in Pathfinder and How to fix it“ (I love that title :)). Here, The Angry GM talks about his issues with races having abilities that partly seem learned by training, partly being a race-inherited trait, which poses the problem that even when you’re growing up in a vastly different environment (let’s say an elf growing up in a human orphanage) and never had contact to your own people, you would still have those racial traits that you would have learned by training. What follows is a stroke of genius (well, The Angry GM might say: „What the s$&%y do you wonder? I f$&% told ya that I’m the best!“), because he uses the race building rules from the Advanced Race Guide to split the racial traits into two packages, one containing the genetic traits, the other the cultural traits, and now, when you’re building your character, you can just chose which packages to use so they better fit into the background of your PC.

That is simply awesome because it’s so incredible simple and even better, you can use the same system to build your own templates in case you use other races in your game. Which is highly interesting to me because I might fiddle a lot with the races‘ culture for my own setting and this gives me an easy way to do that. On a side note, I also planned to express a race’s culture by their choice of classes and archetypes respectively, so if for example, only elves are allowed to become rangers (stupid example, I know), members of the other races could, given the right cultural background, still take levels in that class.

Another topic: Campaign Mastery is hosting this month‘ RPG Blog Carnival. I had already planned to participate in that carneval for quite some time, and November’s topic seems at it would be a perfect fit for me to finally do it. It’s quite a long topic title, actually: “The Past Revisited: Pick a post (your own or someone else’s) and write a sequel. Should include a link to the original article if it is still online.” I immediately thought about an article I had originally written in 2012 (which would mean that I get extra points :D), ironically a sequel itself to a review I had written about the second issue of the Kobold Quarterly magazine. In that follow-up article, I had developed the idea for an adventure that was based on certain themes and topics in KQ #2. And more, I even had imagined how that would fit into a greater campaign arc. Nothing came out of it (in terms of me going on and developing that idea), but it stayed on my to-do-list, and this month’s Blog Carnival topic might just be the kick in the ass I needed to finally going back to that and doing a little series of Blog entries in which I expand on that idea.

I’ll probably start with translating the original article that was still written in German, and then go on from there. And if all goes well, I’ll end this month at least with an outline for the whole campaign.

Me and my generators

MusingsI’m a big fan of random stuff generators. They can be an incredible tool that sparks your own creativity and, in comparison to adapting (aka stealing) stuff from other sources, they don’t influence you with the added fluff contained in those. I mean, I steal from any source I can and have a lot of fun doing it, but really making those things my own is just that bit harder than if you just have the skeleton.

Take for example Immarion, my elven metropolis in ruins that I’m planning to get inhabited by humans. There are great examples for such a city and as a fellow fan of the Forgotten Realms, Myth Drannor comes to mind immediately; but while I don’t mind if Immarion has a bit of those Myth Drannor vibes that I like so much, I also don’t want this to be just a copy of what has already been done before. And while I might find a lot of valuable things in any of the old 2e setting books, I don’t want to make this into a simple plug ’n‘ play game (apart from any legal issues this would cause).

That’s where random generators can really come in handy. For example, Johnn Four from roleplaying tips.com just mailed my a link to a fantastic city map generator, that I immediately used to get a map for my elven city. I would love to have a full-colored, detailed city map somewhere along the road, but for starters, I can easily use this thing as a template for my adventures playing in this city. In the same vein, I might use a couple of other generators from one of the several fantastic sites I’ve stumbled upon in the past.

For example, I can use other generators to create the demographics of that city, I could fill it with randomly generated buildings and NPCs, I could even create whole plotlines and adventures based on random generators. So this approach can really be helpful to create something on the fly, but it can also serve to help you find a new angle if you get stuck writing your setting.

In my case, I might use those to get a feel for how the city originally looked like, before it got devastated by the war efforts of the humans and abandoned by the elves. What I especially need will be locations for the PCs to explore, monsters and other opponents to battle and treasure to be found. I already have some ideas about that, but I will probably need a lot of ideas for those parts of the city that aren’t integral to any plot I might come up with.

Here are the sites I frequent most when it comes down to using random generators. They contain a multitude of generators for different topics, so no matter what you look for, you might be able to find it at these sites.

Random Tables, a site I just stumbled about that presents a lot of links to other sites with generators.

Seventh Sanctum

Chaotic Shiny

Donjon

And a little shout out to d20srd, a site I used to frequent heavily when I was still running 3E games; when I visited it recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only it got extended to include the 5E SRD, but that also the GM tools section was expended on with different generators.

Tetheril through time

teth_alphaOk, first, dammit, already failed the challenge I set up for myself on day 2. Well, I’ll simply pretend it didn’t happen. But in the meantime, I’ve read some blogs, had some ideas, so the adventure ideas for the Alp might still have to wait for a bit.

First off, I should talk a bit about Tetheril, the setting I’ve been brainstorming for a couple of years right now. In my head, it went through various stages, and as I’ve real difficulties to cut away stuff, at the moment, I’ve kinda kept all those stages and turned them into different time points of the same setting. Here’s what I have so far in chronological order:

1. World creation: The history of Tetheril is not really important at this point and serves only to explain how this world came to be and why certain things are different from what a standard D&D campaign might be like. Questions like why is there no plane-hopping possible and why is Tetheril still populated with planar beings? Why is magic functioning the way it does (or rather: doesn’t) and why are there no dragons? And when the status quo on all this questions start to change, what might this spell for the future of the world? I think I might get more explicit about all that stuff in another post, but as it just serves as a starting point for my ideas, it might change or even be totally rewritten at any time.

2. Once upon a time: Like in Eberron and Golarion, the actual campaign start coincides with a big world-shaking event. In my case, it’s a catastrophic cataclysm that completely destroys the continent that used to be the home of the human race and makes it absolutely inhabitable for the time being. The few survivors have no other choice than to seek shelter with the elves, which is a bit of the problem because the human-elf relationship was very shaky before. The elves will allow them to resettle a bigger island before the elven main continent, including the ruins of an old elven metropolis that was abandoned by the elves during the last war between elves and humans.

3. Nothing like the present: A whole lot of time later (think millenia), the humans have enough of the elven hospitality (for reasons) and decide to go looking for another home to live in. An expedition finds another continent and soon stumbles about hints that this might be the old human home of legends that no one knows why they had to leave it in a past long gone (the elves might know, but they aren’t saying :D). Humans start to resettle that continent that is not quite as empty as you might expect, given what I wrote about it’s destruction before.

4. You never know what the future holds: Well, actually I do know a bit about that. Again, time has passed, humans have settled parts of the continent, but so far, no one has able to find the location of the capital of the historic human kingdom. That might change , but you know the old saying? Be careful what you wish for, because you might not like, if you finally get it?

5. The big finale: Remember the questions I asked in the world creation paragraph? Well, there are answers to them, and my main problem with them is that while I know how I want them to answer, I have actually no idea how I can answer them without destroying the setting once and for all. This is really high level cosmological stuff which I might completely ignore except for the “one campaign to end them all”- campaign. If you have read the Marvel storyline before the 2015 Secret Wars event, when the Beyonders decided to completely destroy the multiverse, then that’s kinda what I’m talking about.

So what I have here is in fact several settings combined into one, and if you believe that I’m a bit megalomaniac thinking this big, you might be totally right. What it mainly does for me, is that it gives me several docking points for stuff I create/steal for the setting, because when something I stumble about doesn’t fit the part I’m working on, It might still be usable for another part of the world. Also it allows me to create adventure arcs (that I already have in mind), that can be played independently and still have common ground in that they are using the same setting. Plan is to work mainly at the earliest part of the setting and then go from there through time. But I’m a free man and I can totally change my plans as soon as another idea strucks me.

Word count day 3: 791

average word count: 436 *sigh*

My d6 New Year’s resolutions

MusingsNormally I’m not the type for New Year’s resolutions because I’ve experienced more than one time that I couldn’t keep them for what reasons ever (mostly because I got diverted by other goals). So, one week after New Year’s eve, I’m a bit surprised how this year those resolutions seem to pile up. In fact, I have to stop myself from inventing new ones just while writing this blog entry (quite unsuccessfully, to be honest, as this post started with an ‚d3‘ in the title :D).

In no particular order, those resolutions are:

1. losing some weight

2. writing one rpg-related review per week (at least 1 review of an Pathfinder 3pp product per month)

3. reading at least 1 book per week

4. writing at least one adventure with the ideas from John Fours Adventure Building Workshop

5. running an adventure as PbP (or over Roll20.net)

6. improving my guitar play

I probably should make this seven as I also want to work on my homebrew setting but as this may go hand-in-hand with the adventure writing process, I’ll subsume it under point 4.

At the moment I’m most confident about improving my guitar skill as I’m practicing nearly every day for at least half an hour. To read one book per week could get harder as it sounds, especially as some of the review items could be of the bigger sort and I don‘ t intend to cheat by counting them as read books. Reviewing one item per week shouldn’t be too hard though, as there are also shorter 3pp products waiting to be reviewed.

The other 3 resolutions I’m most concerned about. Generally I don’t find writing too hard. Nonetheless I keep finding excuses not to (and if it is writing blog posts about why I’m not writing an adventure, a short story or a novel instead), so this is definitely something which has to change, no matter how content (or discontent) I’ll be with the finished work.

And then there’s losing weight…

But just to keep book:

First finished review this Year: Rite Publishings 10 Kingdom Seeds: Hills (see next blog entry)

Currently reading: Dave Gross – Prince of Wolves

Written Words for my setting/adventure: 750

weight lost: None 😀