Friday, March 27, 2009

Campaign Starting Premises

I spent a few hours last night going over my Kingdoms of Kalamar stuff and brainstorming, trying to decide whether to continue with developing my homebrew or starting KoK back up. I finally decided to run a game in KoK again--why reinvent the wheel?

(That's not to say that my earlier work was wasted; I intend to shamelessly import it into KoK.)

So I've worked up a pair of starting situations/adventures for the game. The one that I use will depend entirely on whether it looks like we'll have a stable group or not.

The first adventure idea is the one used in the old module Treasure Hunt, in which the PCs, a bunch of ordinary, 0-level commoners, start off as slaves on a ship that wrecks on a not-quite-deserted island, and in the course of the quest to escape the island rise to 1st or 2nd level classed characters. In my original KoK campaign, the PCs then set out to cross half the continent to return to their homelands, and in the process began discovering hints that their kidnapping wasn't just the result of random slave-raiding . . .

Because of the amount of travel the PCs had to do to get back home, this premise will work best with a stable gaming group, so that we don't constantly have to handwave people dropping in and out.

The second idea can work with either a stable gaming group or a series of ad hoc groups: The PCs are commoners from a small village on the outskirts of Tokis, a province of the Kalamaran Empire which has been suffering economic collapse due to a combination of war and a locust swarm. Things are desperate, and made more so by the fact that all of the "classed" NPCs have been conscripted for the war effort against neighboring Pekal. Into the middle of this situation, a band of monks arrive bearing relief supplies--but as events unfold, they discover that the monks are clerics of the Locust Lord, determined to destroy their village as a sacrifice to their dark god, as they have already done with the village up the road. Furthermore, the evil clerics have uncovered the dungeons beneath the ruins of an ancient monestary (I'd cheerfully steal the Grognard's megadungeon project for that), so even after dealing with the bulk of the clerics, the PCs would have a dangerous entry to the underworld nearby that needed to be dealt with--or not, if something else caught their eye.

This scenario would lend itself to a modified West Marches-style campaign, but with the PCs having a definite tie to the home area. Once they've accumulated a bit of wealth, they might find themselves trying to smuggle food supplies across the border from "enemy" states, dealing with confiscatory taxes and tarriffs set by lords desperate for cash, or even viewed as a threat by the local power structure. I'd have to avoid the temptation to create plots, but there would be situations a-plenty to throw at the players and see how they react.

Of course, it's quite possible to combine the two scenarios: Just have the island the PCs crash onto be a lot closer to home and then have them wander into town in the middle of the above situation and have to save what remains of their friends and family. In fact, the Locust Lord adventure that I outlined above was developed during our original KoK campaign for just this purpose.

I'm not quite sure which way I'm going yet, but I suspect it'll be the Locust Lord option. Even if it isn't, Treasure Hunt comes with its own module, so I don't have to do much prep work there. That means that detailing the PC's hometown and surrounding area is going to be my focus while I wait for my turn behind the screen. I'm enjoying it already.

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