Friday, July 15, 2011
4E, TOEE, and the Realms
Setting Hommlett and the TOEE in the Realms is a little weird to me. Oh I know people have done it since the Realms came out not long after the TOEE adventure did, but I've always thought of it as a Greyhawk adventure, probably one of the defining GH adventures. That said however, since I am converting it to 4E placing it in the Realms is probably not the greatest sin here.
So why am I placing it in the Realms? Well, my current main game is set there and the potential for some crossover action down the road is good to have. I also like only having one D&D 4E world in play - it means I don't have to keep track of different kingdoms and gods and races and the like. Plus one of the Apprentices has been reading the Drizzt books this year and is all fired up to play a Drow and there is no way in hell he's going to do that in any Greyhawk campaign of mine. FInally there is the challenge aspect - can I convert it to a more Realms-specific focus while still keeping it recognizably the classic TOEE? Since the 4E conversion means some fairly major changes anyway, moving it to Faerun actually makes some things easier.
Note: I know there was a version of the Moathouse and Hommlet put out for LFR a year or so back. I haven't looked at it. I intend to do all of this one myself and I don't want to "contaminate" my thinking by using someone else's work for a chunk of the campaign. It's probably quite good although I heard there were some issues with the map size or something. Regardless, I'm not going to be using it.
So what's the basic idea for the campaign? I plan to use the original maps, prety much as-is. I plan to use the original flavor text, again mostly as-is. My main job here, as I see it, is the adapt the mechanical parts of the adventure from 1E to 4E. The differences may necessitate some changes to the descriptive text and I may liven up some of the maps with extra detail (tables! beds! flaming braziers!) but I expect this one to adhere much more closely to the original adventure than my Pool of Radiance campaign which is more of a riff on the original ideas than a by-the-book adaptation. In that campaign I've used almost none of the original maps or text. In a way my vision for TOEE is the opposite of that approach.
Now even if I do go by-the-book for this undertaking, it is still moving to the Realms so some of the place names may be different. How's that going to work? Well, first I really have to decide where to place it. I considered the Western Heartlands/Sword Coast area but there is already so much going on there. I don't want it up around Waterdeep for similar reasons. The Dalelands are tempting because that's precisely the kind of place it was located in for Greyhawk, but again it's a high-mileage area of the map. So right now I am leaning towards Impiltur ... again.
Why Impiltur? It's not an over-explored or detailed region.That means I can make the local map look however I wish without anyone getting to upset. It does have a heavy tradition of paladins and knights fighting against encroaching evil. That ties in nicely with the backstory of the Temple. I had also been working on some background material and adventure hooks about lost heirs to the royal bloodline and TOEE happens to have a missing heir to a local kingdom just waiting to be rescued. If we do end up going into the G series it also has a nice range of mountains along one side that look like a good place to drop a Steading. To me, it fits pretty well and is the leading contender right now. I need to do one more run-through of some of these other areas but that's probably the direction I'm going to go.
Besides the geography I have a few other things to think about:
-Races: Whatever works in the Realms. yes that means that assuming things go as planned I could eventually have a Drow PC working through the Temple and the Giants and going up agains the Drow modules and Lolth. Yeah that's a little weird, but think of all the angsty conflicted roleplaying moment s that could give us!
-Classes: This isn't really something that has to be limited in the Realms. Bring 'em on! Even the psionic classes! Let's see something new!
-Deities: St. Cuthbert is usually traded in for Helm or Torm, I might add Lolth in as one of the temple backers to make some kind of eventual tie-in more dramatic, Iuz might get swapped out for Orcus or some other lesser evil power, and Zugtmoy may get replaced by Moander. Yep, good old Moander. In fact I think a weak avatar of Moander would make a really nice final opponent if things go that way. If any of you played the old Gold Box computer games back about 20 years ago then you know how much fun Moander can be.
Looking at that list and some of my other thoughts this really should not be that difficult. We have a nice local adventuring hub in Hommlet that can easily accomodate the arrival of new characters, a nice big dungeon for long-term delving, a place in the Realms, and a legendary story to tie into - maybe I can actually keep this one going for the long run!