View Full Version : Hrm, hrm, hrm. Thinking out the campaign.

2007-10-12, 10:58 AM
I have recently started up a campaign and so far the players and I have had a lot of fun. However, as yet the players haven't figured out what exactly is going on, and I feel a need to tell someone; it gets the thoughts moving in my head.

In short, this is just a casual writeup for me. The campaign may seem a bit on-rails, but there's a bit more flexibility than it may appear.

NOTICE: If you're in a gaming group in Oshkosh, WI, do not read further. That means YOU.

**Paragraphs that start with a double asterisk are things the party has NOT figured out yet. At least, not explicitly.

Basically, the campaign started in a world like Faerune (I may actually use Faerune as the basis, just for convenience...doesn't matter much, continue reading). They were eating breakfast at a traveler's inn when a magical discharge occurred, dumping a well-equipped man into their midst, who swore, yelled "Right time, wrong place!" and took off running.

The barbarian (6 int) was intrigued by the man's shiny stuff and started tracking him; the rest of the party was also interested and started to follow.

**The man is from a dark future in which illithids conquered the world, and went back in time to disrupt the critical ritual. Time travel dumps you in the location you were at the time period you're going to, though, so he arrived off course.

They followed him; knowledge checks revealed that they were near a ley nexus, and they found the corpse of an illithid (bardic knowledge checks were natural 19s and 20s). On approaching the henge that the nexus was built on (from which the sounds of battle were emerging), they suddenly experienced a time gap. Suddenly they found themselves trapped; barriers the color of the sky had come into being around fifty feet from the henge in all directions, forming an octagonal prison.

On entering the henge (very, very cautiously), they found the decayed-away remains of the illithids. The man they were following was also there; strangely, his body was entirely turned to steel. They looted him to find a dagger +1 (custom made weapon of legacy).

**Yes, that's a reference to the song, Iron Man. The party even stabbed him with his own dagger in their attempts to investigate him. The future will be fun.

**What actually happened is that the illithids were attempting to cast an epic ritual spell that would bring them reinforcements from their home time period in the far future (this basic idea was yoinked from these boards). Disruption of the ritual at only one ley nexus caused time to violently break, causing barriers to form along ley lines and altering the flow of time; each area of the world now has a different flow of time, some backwards, some forwards, some fast, some stopped.

The illithid corpses were completely decayed into dust; powdering them located a sky blue shard that did not appear to be anything they've ever encountered before, with an aura that appeared to be from an unknown school of magic. Despite being triangular, it is incapable of cutting anything and is apparently indestructible. Bringing the shard to one of the walls of their octagonal prison caused it to dissolve the wall and streak off into the distance.

**The area on the other side of this wall was experiencing rapid backwards time. This meant that history had to retroactively account for the presence of the walls and all they enclosed: the people, the plant life, the animal life, and the structures within. All things had to have a way that they came into being there, and the plant life present inside the walls was too diverse for normal occurrence to support. Destroying the wall caused the time flow to go back to normal.

The terrain in front of them was unfamiliar to them, though the barbarian made some connection to what he had expected to see in that direction; he didn't tell the party that he recognized some aspects of the lay of the land. There was one impossible-to-miss landmark visible to them in the distance: so tall that its uppermost branches were snowcapped, the Tree of Life towered above the landscape.

Other than that, the land immediately in front of them was a grassland for about a hundred and fifty miles before coming to the river at the base of the Tree. The elves of the party took a vote and decided unanimously that they were going to the Tree, and the rest of the party could come if they wanted. They trekked off towards it.

Their first grave mistake occurred that night, when they had a campfire. That's right, a campfire in completely unknown territory. They did have the sense to put up a watch, but the person taking third shift was the one person in the party WITHOUT any form of night vision (now known as Narcolepsy Boy). Naturally, that's when the rolls said they were located.

The enemies were humans, but a bit primitive, wielding stone weapons and wearing hide armor. The party took some damage but ultimately triumphed, resulting in four dead barbarians and one who ran away. The party's barbarian, Orcor, put his enemies' heads on pikes, and the party continued on its journey.

They arrived at the Tree to find its guardian, who was described as an apparent cross between "King Kong and an ogre." The party members decided to name him Phineas, as he was reluctant to give out his true name and didn't know what else to have them call him. He asked them to perform a few deeds for him: namely, he wanted them to clean out a nest of ghouls, then keep the two tribes that dwell in this segment of the world from exterminating each other, as the ghouls had recently killed someone and the tribes blamed each other for the death.

The first tribe was easy to convince, despite the party not speaking their language. Show the ghoul heads, play some music, impress the savages, no problem. The second tribe was severely agitated and held them at spearpoint right away.

"Remember those guys you met earlier..."
"Oh, ****!"

The warband the party had slaughtered earlier had belonged to this tribe, and the spellcaster they'd allowed to escape had reported the battle. The party had to divest with numerous shinies and metal objects to bribe the tribe into meeting with Phineas, who has the tongues ability and could negotiate a truce.

Phineas agreed to return the shard to the party so they could continue to explore, on the condition that they stay with the tribes for a few weeks and teach them. I let each party member decide what they did:

1. The barbarian taught them how to "kick ass" and speak orcish.
2. The cleric (something of a spazz) needed some prompting, but taught them some of the ways of Pelor.
3. The bard taught them the arts of music, and showed them how to make some better instruments.
4. The wizard was reclusive with her spells, teaching them only Disrupt Undead.
5. The rogue took one apprentice--the smartest, quickest girl she could find--and taught her to be a sneaky conniving little brat.

Phineas was pleased and gave them some leaves from the tree and a couple of fruits. He also gave them the shard back. They spent a few weeks exploring, then returned to the original henge and attempted to open up another wall.

Unfortunately, the wall they chose was right next to the one they already opened, and I had a system already thought out. There can be no free-standing barriers; they must all be completely enclosed. So when they opened up the facet facing them, the one to their left that bordered the land they'd just explored opened up also.

This would not be TOO severe except that the primal land once had a lake bordering that wall. They knew this, also, and have realized that this could be bad, but it's a few hundred miles away so they haven't seen the effects yet. Also, the entire border is down, so the denizens of both areas can now trespass on each others' lands.

What they did find is farmland. Lots and lots of farmland, with farmers who were immediately spooked by their presence. Botched diplomacy checks (and successful intimidate checks) freaked out some farmers and revealed that humans (despite only one member of the party being an actual human) are not allowed to carry weapons here, on the masters' orders.

The party was scandalized by the town that they encountered after dark. NO INN. Successful spot and intelligence checks revealed that all of the normal buildings had no windows and the doors were made to lock people in, not out; the party picked a lock and investigated, finding that the cabins were shabby peasant hovels.

There was one multi-story building in the town, a fancy place with actual glass windows. The party was smart enough to realize that this had to be the masters' dwelling. They used an invisibility spell to send in the rogue, whom I allowed a special knowledge check in the form of a Disable Devices roll:

Check result: 25. "Okay, you've studied traps extensively. There's no way that your trap studies have failed to tell you of those trapmaking savants, the kobolds."

Groans and confusion came from the party. The bard correctly deduced that if kobolds were ruling, they weren't ruling alone and probably have dragon backing. They pulled out to cut their risks and sent in the wizard and bard the next morning to investigate. They learned that there is a keep to the south, that the kobolds are indeed in charge, and that there is a kobold of decent rank--Drotis--in town. Nothing particularly useful was for sale, unfortunately. They also noticed that no meat was for sale in the market. The kobolds were somewhat distracted by the loss of the eastern barrier, and were intrigued by the appearance of the Tree, but were staying put until further orders arrived.

**They haven't investigated the lack of meat enough. Kobolds are omnivorous, but meat is a luxury. And when all you have are peasants...yeah. They also could've pried for information on what type of dragon was the kobolds' supporter. Honestly, after their first encounter with the barbarians, I expected them to barricade the complex's door and set the place on fire; Orcor was voting for this, but was overruled.

The wizard then struck up a conversation with a run-of-the-mill kobold guard. He was dense, but coherent. The session ended shortly after the wizard claimed to be from the "village by the Tree" and the kobold started to order her to see Drotis.