Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Golarion Campaign 2009

It seems that every blog I read recently, the mega dungeon theme is circling around like a tornado that seems to have sucked up the blog writers in its mighty vortex. In this area, it seems that my own writing is vulnerable as well, and I am being drawn to this siren’s call, and to be honest, I go willingly into these dark depths of dungeon design. The horror, the horror!

Initially, I had decided that I was going to run a straight adventure path from Paizo. I like the mood and theme of their world Golarion. It has a bit of everything, and it comes with a shiny new cover. I am not shy to admit that I am susceptible to the lure that is the aura of the new campaign world, especially when it promises to be of quality work. I have a lot of respect for (and I would say that they have some of the best talent around) the Paizo team. However, I can not shake the idea of adding a mega-dungeon to my campaign.

One of the areas that I really like in Golarion is the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. This is basically the Viking area. Paizo has not done much with this area, which gives me free reign to do what ever I want. With this in mind, I have some ideas.

The concept that I am kicking around is the idea of mega dungeon that is actually a combination of wilderness and dungeon, where the characters have to think about the environment (in this case the cold of the north) as well as the dungeon. The wilderness actually becomes an extension of the dungeon itself. The deeper one moves into the forest, the more dangerous it becomes.

The adventure centers around a town called Wolvenstadt in the northern part of Lands of the Linnorm Kings, and just to the north of the town is the Hammersfeld Forest. The woods are loaded with magic beasts, ancient ruins, and other nasty critters including dragons and linnorms. My mega-dungeon would be the combination of the forest, ruins and a true mega-dungeon that lies at the base of the mountains on the far side of the forest. There is the remains of a wall that serves as a magical barrier that prevents most of the creatures from descending on the town. This is a very similar idea to GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire. However, this case, Vikings use the forest as a rite of passage. Those that can journey into the forest, find a linnorm or a dragon, kill the beast and come back alive are destined for greatness. This is something of a fool’s errand, as the chances of actually finding one of these mythical beasts is rare, and the probabilities of surviving such an encounter are even slimmer.

As a result, every year a number of expeditions start out, lead by a young questing knight in search of these creatures. The expedition would include the questing knight, several rangers, a number of men at arms and mercenaries and would venture past the wall. Since these expeditions are rather expensive, only the upper class families can afford them. The night before the hunt, and grand party is held at the Last Drake Tavern in true Viking fashion. With the dawn of the next day, the questing knight leads his troop north into the great forest. Now, the question of how long the expedition stays north of the wall is a completely different story.

Some quests only stay in the forest for only a day or two and come right back. Some quests never come back. Of course, there are the legendary few that actually succeed and return with the head of a linnorm, and a mountain of gold. This is the classic risk and reward equation, where the possibility of immortality through legend, is weighed against the threat of failure, which would be the mortality of life.

This would be the initial backdrop of the campaign. The characters are being paid to join in one of these hunts, and the action picks up four days out from the wall. With this introduction, I wanted to jump right into the action. I have probably over used the meeting in the tavern intro, and I wanted the players rolling for combat right away.

As I started this blog with, I am going to keep the adventure path in the campaign, and I am curious to see whether the players follow the adventure path, stick with exploration of the mega dungeon, or possibly would they do a bit of both.

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