Saturday, February 1, 2014

February: The Red Hand of Doom Recap month

In February I am cranking my lapsed campaign back up again. To help with this I will be posting one session recap every day of the month. This does mean that the first few will be re-posts as I did make an effort early in the campaign to do them but I didn't keep up and soon enough they disappeared. I am writing up the interim sessions in the meantime and will post them all in sequence, once per day. To get things started, here is an introductory post.

This campaign kicked off in early 2012. It is a 4th Edition game set in the 4th edition Forgotten Realms. It begins in Impiltur in the spring of 1450 DR.

We went with 4th Edition because we were coming out of a previous 4th Edition campaign that ended in a TPK. That one never made it out of Heroic Tier but it was very close and the group wanted to keep playing the same system to see what Paragon felt like and eventually to get to Epic. As a compromise between starting completely over and just jumping ahead directly to Paragon Tier we began with 4th level characters.

Everyone still liked the Forgotten Realms so we stayed in that world. We did move to a different region as we wanted a fresh start with no connection to the prior campaign. I set the game in Impiltur. This region is really not associated with any legendary NPC heroes and has not been all that thoroughly explored in the published setting material.

The geography is not widely known so I could alter it to my liking without provoking an attack of opportunity. I did this by placing the Nentir Vale (from 4th edition core materials) and the Elsir Vale (from Red Hand of Doom) in Impiltur. I’ve left the overall map pretty vague for now as most of the campaign has been entirely contained within the Elsir Vale, but eventually I will detail it out.

The history of the region is interesting and ties into some things I expected would be a big part of the campaign. Namely demons in general and Orcus in particular, who figures prominently in some of the Epic Tier adventures for 4th edition. Vaasa, a land to the northwest of Impiltur, is home to the Warlock knights, a new enemy group in the post-spellplague Realms. They could make for an interesting change of pace if I need one at some point.

Finally, after 4th edition turns the Realms upside down Impiltur is wide-open with a power vacuum my players could fill if they chose to do so. I wanted to give them a chance to become the movers and shakers of the Bloodstone Lands.

I set the game a few decades earlier in the official timeline, post-spellplague but not as much as the standard starting time in the FR book. This has about zero impact on the game but it sets things up nicely if I decide to run a follow up campaign as much of the early part will be based on Red Hand of Doom, and one of the published 4th edition adventure paths is a sequel to that adventure, the Scales of War. Given the amount of time these things can take we may never get there, but I like planting the seeds just I case.

My original vision of the campaign was tied in to Impiltur’s history as a center of Lawful Goodness, Paladins, and a general knightly atmosphere about the whole area. I assumed my players would be thinking along these same lines, traveling about the land, righting wrongs and looking to restore the king. Thus the “Shining Swords of Impiltur” campaign was born.

Unfortunately I did not really get into a deep discussion of this idea with my players so of course this meant I was on a completely wrong track. They created a Genasi Warlord, an Elf Ranger, a Shifter Paladin, a Dwarf Warden, a Dwarf Cleric, and a Drow Vampire, mostly hard-bitten survivors from other areas around the region rather than the high fantasy scions of Old Impiltur. Given the situation I changed the label to “Savage Swords of Impiltur” and decided to run with a slightly darker, nastier tone. It is a new age after all.

Some additional background posts are here and here.

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