Friday, September 2, 2011
Agonizing over the Apprenitce Campaign
Some of you may remember that the Apprentices started playing 4E last year and ultimately came to an end in an ugly TPK. We then went for something different as I offered them a chance to play in a Greek Mythology campaign but they decided that wasn't their thing after all - they wanted to go back to the Realms. That's probably because they've been reading the Drizzt books over the last year but it was the Percy Jackson books and Clash of the Titans that got them interested in the Greek thing so fair is fair.
Anyway, I took my time on coming up with a new plan for their game because I want to pick something we're going to stick with this time. I find a campaign gathers momentum once it gets going for a little while and I wanted to be sure we had room to grow without having to change settings all over again. I looked through different books, adventures old and new, and eventually decided that the Temple of Elemental Evil converted to 4E was the way to go - it's a classic that I've never gotten to run and it maps out nicely with the Heroic Tier. Plus if it goes well I can convert the G and D series modules over and have a New Old campaign arc - best of both worlds! The challenge of doing a decent conversion while staying true to the spirit of the originals sparks my imagination as well. So everything looked good for a week or two. Then I saw the info on Neverwinter.
Let's see, a brand new campaign setting for the Heroic Tier set in a classic area of the Forgotten Realms - it's like they were reading my mind! It's exactly what I needed! So I put the TOEE on hold and waited for this to come out, picked it up and ... it's not what I thought it would be. It's not bad, it's just not full of ready-to-go adventuring material. What it does have is a lot of potential as a regional sandbox campaign. Looking at the maps and things it would be pretty easy to go through and "zone" the map like an MMO, keying each section around a given level, planting some rumors, mapping out some of the dungeons and lairs and graveyards and stocking them with nasties, and ending up with a big sprawling area full of adventure. I'm just not sure that's the way I want to go.
The Apprentices are still somewhat new to D&D and RPG's, and I wonder if a completely open conuntryside might be a little too free-form for them. I think the focus of the TOEE might work better at this stage of their experience. It's not a railroaded storyline kind of focus like Dragonlance but it is pretty straightforward - you're in the village and the big bad dungeon is that way - so that they can concentrate on the fun part instead of arguing over what to do next (and they will argue, sheesh, sometimes at the worst possible moment - since Heroes of Shadow added vampires as an option I may see if I can talk Apprentice Twilight into playing but that's a longshot at best).
So I'm right back where I started, after leaving it alone for half of the summer. I'm going to go back to my original plan and run the converted Temple campaign, set in Impiltur. I'm probably also going to post about the process here since the players don't know about the blog, unlike my other campaign, so I can be a little more open about it.
I'm still tempted to start sandboxing Neverwinter just for the fun of it and to have another low-level campaign ready to go in the same world I've been using for almost all of my 4E games. I might also set up an open table kind of thing with it and see if the Apprentices and my regular group (and maybe some other friends) have any interest in working in an occasional mixed group outside of the other campaigns. It's not extremely likely to take off but you never know.