D&D Campaign: Missed Adventures

 By Shamus Jan 13, 2007 14 comments

My wrap-up post on the campaign got too big to be a single post, so I’m breaking it up into a series. First up: All the stuff that got left out.


dd_bolwood.jpg
Upper Bolwood

When I do wilderness travel, I sort of make it a branching maze. For example: “You are in a broad clearing. From here you can go east into the valley or you can ascend the large hill to the southwest. You could also turn around and return to the pine grove to the north, which you just left.” The players understand that I’m presenting them with choices that are likely, given the terrain. Sure, they could choose some unlikely course of action, like going halfway up a hill and then walking around, but this will be slower, pointless, and they will just end up at a recycled version of one of my established locations anyway. This gives them a bit of freedom, and makes wilderness seem less arbitrary. Some ways are faster, some can be very slow (like a valley which gets thick with vegitation once they enter) and some can have encounters.

Upper Bolwood was one such maze, with Ettins at a few of the map points. I’d googled around and had pictures for every map point. They managed to route around all of this.

Goblin Hills

The weather hills were infested with Goblins, who loved to build traps and ambushes. They were another wilderness maze, although almost every point had some pit or trap which would require some reflex save for the poor slob out in front. Once the trap was sprung, (assuming it took someone down, knocked them over, or otherwise worked) then Goblins would emerge from the underbrush and attack. The Goblin camp was also in the hills, although it was a little hard to find. If the players stumbled on it or tracked it down they could clean the place out for a little payback.

I thought I’d devised the map so that they would have to journey through Upper Bolwood OR the Goblin territory, forgetting that with Enoch’s help they could walk on water. They skipped Upper Bolwood, then crossed the river and dodged the Weather Hills.

Carrow Valley Curse

West of Crossway is the Carrow Valley. Early in the island’s history a battle was fought here between the Lormanites and one of the other factions. The battle was long and more or less a mutual slaughter, with both sides taking such massive losses that nobody could really claim victory. There weren’t enough people left to even begin the task of burying the dead, who were left to rot. At some point later folks came along and errected standing stones as a sort of halfhearted memorial / mass tombstone. The valley is quite cursed by now.

If they had entered the valley they would have gotten trapped in the curse, and would have needed to kill some sort of lesser spirit or ghost to break the curse so that they could leave. I didn’t fill in the details of this adventure, since by session 2 it was obvious they were not going to be coming this way, and they were not in the mood to explore.

The Gibbet

dd_gibbet.jpg
In my original plans, the road into Fol Thron was lined with gibbets like the one you see on the right. The men in the gibbets were Lormanite officers. They were once strong, cruel leaders who had been captured in the war and were now withering in their cages. These really were bad guys, although there was no way for the players to tell at this point. They were dressed in rags and many were dead. As the players approached the city for the first time, I had planned to have one of the men beg to be released. Right over his cage was a warning not to take pity on these men, without further detail. The guy in the cage wasn’t about to explain the slaughter and torture he’d brought to the war, or the zeal with which he pursued it. He was going to play the victim.

The players would be faced with this pitiful guy, who was asking for help.

If they freed him, the queen would know. If they were stupid and obvious about it (like if they tried to take gibbet-boy into town with them without cleaning him up and giving him clothes first) then the guards would catch them and question them, and they would have wound up in front of the queen that much sooner. If they got away with it, the queen would still know, and when they met with her she would bring it up. In any case she would simply point out what an awful guy he was, and list some of his more horrid crimes. Crimes bad enough that the players would probably really regret freeing him.

It was a good chance to demonstrate that the “good guys” in this war were only just a little better than the bad guys. The queen would have waived their punishment in any case, in exchange for them hearing her out on the quest to kill Noreeno. So, the quest was harmless either way. I would have given an XP bonus if they had wrung the truth out of the guy in the cage (maybe by using Zone of Truth) and then acted (or not acted) once they knew the whole story. Really, the true goal of the “quest” was to avoid being duped.

Why did I skip this quest? Sigh. I forgot. The gibbet notes were in with the wilderness travel notes, and not with the notes on the city itself. So, I didn’t describe the cages on the way in. Dang.

The Mines

As I mentioned in session 10, the mines had a maze and some grave walkers to fight, but they routed around it.

Prison Break

In my original plans, they were going to have to bust Garret out of prison if they wanted to free him. (Or sneak into jail and get the info they needed.) But by the time they got to Telwin Port I felt like they were getting restless, so I made it possible to just bail him out for a few gold.

Dwarven War

I’d planned for the Dwarves to arrive after Mordan was defeated. They were originally going to land in Warfield (just north of Fol Thron) and attack the capital from there. This didn’t make a lot of sense. (Why would they land on the opposite side of the river, so that they would have to go all the way to the bridge?)

The players would have enough knowledge at this point that their help could swing the war either way if they decided to take sides. They could give the Dwarves a nice map of the city defenses, or reveal to the Queen the Dwarven food shortage. Doing one or the other could tip the battle whichever way they wanted, but the real solution was to free Fiore so people would stop fighting over this $#@ing mountain.

I thought they would defeat Mordan, and then worry about lifting the curse of Fiore, which was the real cause of all of these wars.

I changed things around because I thought it was time to start wrapping up the campaign. Then they managed to free Fiore before the Dwarves even arrived.

The more I think about it, the more I like the ending we got.

1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)


  1. Phlux says:

    Just wondering what sort of level-ups were obtained during the game? I seem to recall they were something like level 3-4 when the campaign started, and you mention in the last session they are fighting mordan as something like 5-6.

    I’m not a D&D player so I don’t know how level-ups work. Do they all get leveled up at the same time? Is level 5-6 a decent level? I’m guessing they got a majority of their XP from roleplaying and puzzle solving since it seems like they managed to skip a good amount of in-game combat.

  2. Andre says:

    I like your maze travel idea a whole lot. I was planning on doing something involving random encounters with the campaign I’m working on, but your way is much, MUCH better… it’s easier, and it works better in the campaign. Thanks for the idea, Shamus!

  3. Shamus says:

    Is 5-6 a decent level? Well, you start at level 1, and the game tops out at level 20, although I think few characters really make it that far. Everyone had about the same level of XP, within a few hundred points of each other. I think by the end, everyone got 2 levels, which isn’t bad for 15 sessions in my book.

    You are right that most of the XP was earned for completing quests, not defeating monsters. Plus, there was a big chunk of XP at the end of the last session, which pushed everyone firmly into level 6.

  4. Hal says:

    Hm . . . your epic tale has intrigued me. It sounds like it might be fun to take a swing at a table top RPG. Well, except I don’t know enough people who would ever consider it.

    Any advice for someone wanting to get into it but doesn’t know anyone who plays?

  5. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Hal “Any advice for someone wanting to get into it but doesn’t know anyone who plays” I would say find out where you nearest comic book shop is, go in explain your “situation” and see what comes of it. Or just buy the necessary books needed for D&D (that would be the players handbook and the DM guide) study them write your own small campaign and convince one or two of your own friends to try it with you. A lot more people play D&D than they admit.

  6. [...] Reader Hal says this in the comments of this post: Hm . . . your epic tale has intrigued me. It sounds like it might be fun to take a swing at a table top RPG. Well, except I don’t know enough people who would ever consider it. [...]

  7. bigandscary says:

    related to the leveling in this game, my cousins played for 18 years back AD&D, and when they were finished(they had done just about everything, including defeating three holy pantheons[greek, norse, and egyptian] and placing themselves as the new gods of their world[one of them married Aphrodite])they were only level 41. That level could only be reached by full multi-classing in more than two classes. I am still in awe of their dedication to these characters. 18 years!

  8. turey says:

    Relating to leveling, my current campaign started at level 6, and we’ve been averaging about half a level per session. However, we do tend to rush into things, such as when we were supposed to scale the walls to enter a fotress, and instead bluffed our way in the front door, getting us to the BBEG’s lieutenant in half the time it should have taken.

    Also, our sessions are a lot longer than most. We average around five or six hours a session, but our last session lasted 8-9 hours.

  9. Tacoma says:

    That’s funny. I never considered our sessions unusually long but we play once a week from 4:30 PM to 11:00 PM, 6.5 hours. Sometimes we go until midnight if it’s the middle of a fight or something.

    I hear of some groups that play over a lunch hour every weekday, such as groups that meet at school or college. That could totally work but you’d definitely HAVE to stop at the right time. It would also help make sure everyone was there for most of the sessions.

  10. Tosscobble says:

    lol, I remember the days were we didn’t stop playing until the wee hours of the morning… those were the good times!!

    lookey! 10!!

  11. Trae says:

    Hey Skeeve. You forgot to tell him to get the Monster Manual too. Study that thing religiously so you know exactly what you’re facing whenever the DM drops any hint of a creature and then know the best ways to deal with it.

  12. Boobah says:

    Which is why the clever gamemaster foils this by renaming and otherwise changing the monsters. The monsters in the manuals are only samples and suggestions; there’s nothing sacred about them; IIRC Shamus has mentioned doing this very thing (possibly during his Fear the Boot interview?)

  13. Dagnal says:

    I really like the way you handle wilderness with this branching maze thing. I think I’ll use it for my own games.
    Thanks! :)

One Trackback

  1. By Twenty Sided » D&D - Getting into the game on January 14, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    [...] Reader Hal says this in the comments of this post: Hm . . . your epic tale has intrigued me. It sounds like it might be fun to take a swing at a table top RPG. Well, except I don’t know enough people who would ever consider it. [...]

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