Lately my group had been in a low spot as far as RPG activity - schedule changes and conflicts meant we had not been able to gather for a few weeks for Star Wars or anything else. I'm still getting in 40K time with Blaster but RPG time had really died off. I'm not part of the cult of "The Busy" that loves to go on and on about how they don't have time to do anything and wear it like a badge of honor - I actually do get annoyed when everything else gets in the way of fun time - but it's something we all deal with at some point.
Miraculously the schedule wheels aligned and we discovered that I, Blaster, and Paladin Steve all had Saturday free of all obligations. We realized we would easily have a nice 10-12 hour window. Naturally we started figuring out what we could do. Now we don't lack for campaigns around here - see sidebar at the left - but each of those is tied to a certain group of players. Still ...
- I looked at Mutants and Masterminds but none of my college players were free and I didn't want to split the campaign or spend a bunch of time making new M&M characters.
- I considered trying out the new V&V game but I didn't want to burn this rare opportunity on a new game.
- Considered Champions for about 30 seconds - again, do not want to start a new system and campaign and make characters in a fairly complex system.
- Marvel Heroic was on the table but I really wanted to do something different given a big block of time like this.
- We talked Runequest briefly - I just wasn't feeling it and wasn't sure I had the right material for an extended session anyway. That's something I need to revisit.
- 3rd place went to Savage Rifts. Dave wasn't available or we probably would have done Deadlands and I like Savage Worlds so this seemed like an option but I want more players for the Rifts kickoff.
- I really really dug into my ICONS material. It plays fast, it's a lot of fun, and just generally fits our style. Plus it has been quite a while since we played it. In the end I went a different direction - ICONS is a great game for smaller windows so I decided to save it for one of those - but I do at least have an outline now for an extended ICONS run using a mix of published stuff and homebrew fun. ICONS was the runner-up /Plan B
- I started looking at D&D 5th edition and getting that going again but the unavailable Dave was a pretty big part of that group too and had never played through Keep on the Borderlands which is what we are doing there. So what to do?
Well, what the heck - let's start a separate 5E game! Instead of old school sheets/roll up your stats/play in Greyhawk we will go new school modern sheets/point buy/run it in the Forgotten Realms. I've read thru most of the new 5E adventure books and I really liked Storm King's Thunder so let's do that! Why do I like it?
- It has an option to start at 1st level or at 5th level. We ended up going with 1st but I like that they presented the option.
- I like giants in D&D. They can be just big bags of hit points if that's all you want or they can be as interesting and complex as any fantasy race/
- Its not a linear, world-saving plot. It's a regional issue. It makes a fair amount of sense. They included a flow chart! Yes, a visual layout of how the different parts of the adventure relate to each other! In a published adventure this kind of thing is tremendously helpful when trying to actually run the damn thing.
- Big chunks of it are optional. See that map up there? All of those red pins represent a location that is discussed in the adventure. It may only be a paragraph noting some interesting geographical feature, an organization, a monster, or some NPC's tied to that place but it means the entire region has things to do, things to explore, and people and groups to interact with that may not have anything to do with the main plot of the adventure. Even within the main plotline there are optional pieces. It's really flexible, far more so than most other published adventures by design and I like that.
- I like the area. The northern end of the Sword Coast, or "The Savage Frontier" is one of my favorite areas of this setting and the prospect of running a campaign here looks like a lot of fun.
So that's what we did and ended up going from 1st to 3rd in this one session. It was tricky with just a few days prep but then again it is D&D and I've been doing that for a pretty long time.
The other new wrinkle was that Paladin Steve's 10 year old has been wanting to play and has gotten his feet wet with some Pathfinder games at home and so we had an eager new player joining us in this one. More on this and the particulars of the session later.