Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Further Details on the Guardians of the Vale Campaign
I had a crisis of placement over the weekend as I started doing some prep work on the Nentir Vale campaign. I wanted to set it in the Realms as that's where the other group is playing and I wanted to at least entertain the possibility of crossovers. I was going to place it near Cormyr and the Daleleands as that's one of the recommended locations for the vale and the Keep on the Shadowfell. The problem came up after I read through the FR conversion of the adventure from WOTC - it totally screws things up! It changes the villain from a priest of Orcus to a priest of Shar. Considering that Orcus is the recurring theme/badguy of this 4E "adventure path" it seems ridiculous to me to present a change where he's removed from the starting adventure. Now we may not play straight through all of them in a row but I think it's fitting that something from first adventure should show up in the epic tier as the major opponent - I like that kind of thing. Now Shar is fine and is a much more of a villainous force in the 4E Realms with returned Netheril and all, but I don't particularly like her or the whole Shade thing. She's not Orcus, however and I'm not as interested right now.
So I don't like the "Realms Conversion" document. I also want to use Nentir Vale as-is and looking at the maps I realize it takes up a bigger chunk of real estate than I expected. It's going to be tough to fit it in to the Thunder Peaks/Dalelands/Cormyr/Sembia intersection as-is. Plus, that's in the middle of some of the most detailed sections of the Realms, so I have to decide how much un-detailing I want to do which is "little to none". I'm Ok with that part of the game world. Plus it's not exactly post-apocalyptic even in 4E, which the Nentir Vale kind of is. Hmmmm.
So I flip through the 4E Player's Guide and Campaign Guide for inspiration. I looked back at some of the 3E and even 2E Realms stuff. Then I looked through some of the adventures themselves and started thinking about long-term campaign options beyond those modules. I seriously considered chucking the whole thing back into my Lost Empires/prehistoric Greyhawk concept and just giving up on the same-world-multiple-groups idea. Then I thought about dropping the whole concept and going with the FR starter adventure + Scepter Tower of Spellguard to begin as it has a set place in the Realms and it works. But I still wanted to run through these things - I'll save the FR published stuff for a later campaign - so I need to find a place for it in the Realms. Maybe Returned Abeir? Less canon stuff there. No, there's nothing that's a good fit geographically without major refits. Then, finally, I recalled Bloodstone Pass and looked up Damara, Vaasa, and Impiltur. Jackpot!
These areas have a history of turmoil, a history of Orcus problems, and are not super-detailed in Realms canon. There's a war with a lich 100 years ago that wrecks the kingdom - awesome. The lich is beaten by adventurers who become the rulers of the kingdom - fine - but the 4E book has the last heir being assassinated years ago and a usurper on a somewhat limited throne - OK that's going out but the geography is reasonably close, the history works well with that one small change, and it doesn't screw up a bunch of other material. Additionally there's a new set of badguys next door in Vaasa called the warlock knights who give me a little bit of a bad-Jedi vibe which is something that will go a long way with the Apprentices. Plus there's always the chance the old witch-king could return. I have the 4E FRCG, the 3E FRCS, and the 2E FR9 The Bloodstone Lands for history and inspiration with an unfettered wide-open future situation.
In the end my players will not care, this is solely a mental thing with me, but it's important enough in my head that I thought I would share the process with anyone who cares. No one else in either campaign is a Realms scholar, and really neither am I. I have played in them extensively and read some of the novels so I have a pretty good picture of how things are and have been but I do not argue over timeline details on messageboards nor do I consider it a holy text - game worlds are meant to be used. I just wanted to fit the thing in with the minimum amount of disruption possible and I think this will work out just fine. So yes, the Nentir Vale in MY Forgotten Realms is now located in Damara, 1479 D.R. The Bloodstone Lands await!