Tuesday, January 26, 2016

D&D Campaign Idea: It's the Journey

Ever get a really good campaign idea and realize you can't implement it, and that by the time you can you'll probably have moved on or, more likely, forgotten about it?

I just had one, so I'm going to talk about that today instead of politics or race or education and all those other things I've been talking about. I just... I have to write this down.

The campaign begins in a traditional D&D setting. Probably a tavern in a small town with fairly few troubles, maybe a tribe of goblins nearby or an amateur necromancer hanging out in the grave yard. These hooks should be mentioned, but not pursued. Or, if they are pursued, the players can find out that the goblins are just, like, really chill, and the "necromancer" was really just a dude that's into wearing black and reading books in mausoleums.

However, the town does have a problem, and the party, however they come together, should be kinda guilted into taking the job. The pay is pretty good for a first mission: 1,000gp to split among the party. The mission? Map out a nearby cave that appeared after a recent earthquake. The town just wants to make sure the cave is safe.

So, the party sets off into the cave. Turns out, the cave is inhabited by some level-appropriate creatures for some reason. The party should have to take their time going through the cave passages, taking at least a few days to map out. However, one of the halls of the cave leads to an underground river that leads further down.

The townsfolk refuse to pay their fee until the cave is completely mapped out, by the way.

Anyway,  the party follows the underground river, which leads to an underground lake in a massive cavern. The lake probably has something dangerous in it. Something a little too dangerous for the party at their current level, but they can probably defeat it if a) they get lucky, b) they accept some loses, or c) they run past it further into the cavern and fight the thing later.

Anyway, on the far side of the lake is what seems to be the ancient ruins of some kind of old castle. The castle contains some decent treasure and some level-appropriate monsters. After exploring the castle and looting it, the party finds the dungeon which just... keeps... going.... down...

Then, at the very bottom, the walls of one of the dungeon cells has collapsed, revealing a cave that goes down even further. The party is probably sick of this cave by now, but they hear singing down this new hole, so they keep going.

And so on. Basically, keep contriving reasons for the cave to keep going down. Create some magnificent battle setups, maybe find a lost civilization, and tunnel right down to, I dunno, Hell maybe, like in a Diablo game, or perhaps an Underdark-like place, like Undermountain in Forgotten Realms. Except, there probably shouldn't be any promise of great treasure or some big story reason to explore this cave. Just pure curiosity and the promise of 1,000gp when the job is done.

If someone can stretch this idea out to a whole level 1 to level 20 campaign, you would be my hero.

After fighting through horrors and demons and ancient lich kings and what have you, once the map has been entirely complete, taking up several reams of parchment, the party can finally return to town in triumph to collect their 1,000gp. Unfortunately, the townsfolk don't have the party's money because some bandits recently came through and ransacked the town, so the town begs the party to go get the town's valuables back.

Unfortunately, the bandits were already slaughtered by a knight, who turned the riches in to his liege lord, who was summoned to an audience with the king, who has gone off on a crusade on the other side of the world, taking most of the kingdom's riches with him to finance the campaign. So, if the party wants their 1,000gp they have to keep following the breadcrumbs, probably all to find out that the king died in the crusade and had his coffers looted by... and so on.

Or, you know. You could just give the party their 1,000gp and end the campaign.

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