Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Campaigns of the last 10 years...and beyond!

I was thinking about how I have mainly been a DM for the past 10 years, much more than I have been a player. I decided to make a list of the campaigns I have run from 2001 onward:

  • "Greyhawk Shadows" - 3rd edition D&D set in Greyhawk. This was the first 3rd edition campaign for most of us and during this campaign many of my current players first joined our group. This started with Sunless Citadel, ran through Thieves in the Forest, then the Monastery update from Dungeon magazine, and into Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil where it bogged down for over a year, including 2 TPK's. Don't get me wrong, I love that module,  but it can be a huge grinding war of attrition if you let it.  This campaign never got past it, or about 12th level and ran for about 2 years with a break in the middle.
  • "The Coin of Power" - Started after the 1st TPK in the TOEE this was set in Kalamar and used the Kalamar Coin Trilogy of modules and was a change from the GH campaign as it involved wandering all over Tellene in search of the coin, the villains, and the parts to make another one. It's a good set of adventures to a degree but it's not as Epic as the Temple. We ended up cutting this one short to go back to the TOEE to try and finish it but it still ran about 3 months.
  • "Shadowrun - Escalation" - This was a total change after the 2nd TPK in TOEE. We decided to take a break and run an entirely different game (that still had magic, elves, and dwarves). This went fairly well and it's where my players got a hold of the nuke (see last post) although it did prove that they don't care much for figuring out conspiracies. I had a whole background plot of a war between the Mafia and the Yakuza since all of the players had contacts with one or both groups - they didn't care. This was mostly homebrewed although I did use some parts from First Run, like the stuffer shack fight as an intro and the encounter with the cyberzombie. We used 3rd edition SR rules and it ran for about 6 months. 
  • "Star Wars - Desperate Measures" - this was a side project on a different night and I have talked about it in an older post but the idea was to have a mini-campaign: one long adventure (really one hairy mission, kind of like a movie plot) made for characters beyond 1st level that would be run and then we would do something else, coming back to another mission down the road with some of those same characters. It went really well and ran for about 3 months.
  • "The Scarred Lands Campaign" - After a final bloody battle inside the TOEE the group gave up on it and wanted to do something else but still play D&D. I had been picking up the Scarred Lands material from Sword and Sorcery for some time and really liked it so I brought up and we went with it. Once again first level characters were created and we ran through the starter adventure with celebratory games and a sudden incursion by serpent men. It went well and we played this campaign for 18 months, probably my favorite of all of them. The world is just great, the gods are limited in number and very iconic, the titans make for a potent enemy (actually the background for the game looks a somewhat like 4th edition does now, but I like SL's better) and there are numerous organizations the PC's can join if they so choose and all of them have prestige classes to go along too. I used a lot of Necromancer games material in this, starting with Crucible of Freya and ending up with Tomb of Abysthor as the centerpiece of the campaign for almost a year, then moving on to The Blackguard's Revenge and Iron Crypt of the Heretics, where the campaign crashed to a bad end amid intra-party backstabbing and betrayal, with 2 evil characters teleporting off to a possible happy ending and the rest of the party turned into shadowy undead within the Iron Crypt. There were some bad feelings after that one so I waited a little bit to start the new one.
  • "Rifts: the New Frontier" - we went retro as an antidote for that last campaign and busted out the Rifts books. This was a total homebrew with a frontier town, NPC's, a graveyard, a coalition attack and some minor intrigue. Characters were made, fun was had, extensive systemic changes and house rules were made, some complaining was done, and after about 3 months it was time to go back to something more coherent.
  • "The Savage Tides of Kalamar" was my final 3rd edition D&D campaign (for now) and was one I put the most work into organizing and plotting out ahead of time. I wanted a big traveling campaign to begin with, so I used Visio to plot out how to include both the Freeport Trilogy and the Dungeon Magazine Savage Tide Adventure Path. We started with Terror in Freeport, went over to another island for the first Savage Tide adventure, and then hopped back and forth between the two for awhile. I had handouts, I had character portraits, I had custom music - it was great and it ran for about 18 months.  We ran through all of the Freeport trilogy and through almost half of the Savage Tide adventures., including the great sea voyage to the Isle of Dread.  The group was on the Isle of Dread when we broke for the holidays at the end of 2009 and some problems within the group led to a disbanding after that, so it will never be finished in that form, but I'm still proud of what we accomplished in a good, solid 18 month campaign.

Some smaller campaigns included 

  • A short run with Deadlands Hell on Earth where one character learned how hard it is to keep a car running after the apocalypse.
  • A brief flirtation with Megatraveller where my group just wasn't in the mood to obey laws and behave themselves in civilized society
  • A brief run of an Old Republic era Star Wars d20 game using the Star Frontiers Volturnis adventures
  • A brief run of Arcana Unearthed using a Greek/Roman theme instead of a medieval theme

Current campaigns are the big 3:

  • Neccessary Evil using Savage Worlds which has been going about 3 months now while alternating with
  • Return to the Ruins of Adventure, by first D&D 4th edition campaign
  • The Dragonport Campaign using Moldvay Basic red book D&D which has been quiet for a couple of months due to kid schedules but will be firing back up again next week. 

Campaigns I hope to run in the future:

  • A nice big superhero campaign using Hero 5th ed or M&M 2nd edition - I know there are new editions of both but those are the books I have.
  • A Star Trek campaign - this is a pipe dream as most of my players have zero interest but I keep working on them.
  • A Star Wars d6 campaign - this is likely to happen this summer with the whole family here for big chunks of time
  • A Deadlands campaign - probably using DL Reloaded for Savage Worlds. this may be the game we play after Necessary Evil wraps up
  • Arcana Evolved - I love it and have everything for it but we'll see.
  • Star Wars Saga campaign - I love it and have almost everything for it and have some good ideas - we'll see.
  • 1st edition Temple of Elemental Evil set in Greyhawk - this will probably be the followup to the Dragonport campaign as I inflict the complications of 1st edition AD&D on the apprentices and Lady Blacksteel and whoever else dares to join them. This may start this fall, possibly even earlier - we will see.  I intend to run the TOEE-GDQ series in its original form for a group who has never seen it before, and I think it will be a blast. That will pretty much complete their old-school training as far as I am concerned so we will see what they want to play after that. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Players and Nuclear Weapons

Inspired by my last post...I have had 3 campaigns in which players touched nuclear weapons

The first was a 2nd edition Gamma World campaign and I was the player who used them. I had a mutated wolf who had an immunity to radiation. There was a particularly pesky keep held by the Knights of Genetic Purity and they messed with us one too many times. We had come across a neutron bomb in or travels and the initial thought was to have the hawkoid PC just fly over it and drop it on them, but we figured out that he wasn't fast enough to get out of the blast radius. Instead he carried the wolf (who carried the bomb) over the keep and dropped HIM. The wolf then set up the bomb and started looking for place to hide. One small mushroom cloud later and the wolf unbars the gate and walks out without a scratch.

The second time was a few years later in my Rifts campaign when the players had located a Mechanoid factory in the ruins of Winnipeg, right by Detroit. They had looted some nuclear missiles from an unfortunate Coalition force and rigged them into an even bigger bomb (hey THEY put nuclear engineering into the game, not me). They had been itching to use it for a while and the Mechanoid installation was a perfect target. The power armor trooper fired up his SAMAS, the Dragon Hatchling spelled up, and the rest hopped onto the flying carpet. This motley squadron fought their way through a Mechanoid air patrol AND a Coalition patrol and then nuked that factory hi-fiving all the way home.

The third one was a Shadowrun game where the PC's were hired to drive and escort a truck across the city. The truck was a flatbed with something on it under a tarp and they were instructed not to disturb it. Now they had a similar mission earlier in their careers and they had disturbed it and "it" turned out to be a drugged kidnapped feathered serpent who was very unhappy when he awoke and smoked the first PC who went under the tarp.. They were much better about not looking at IT this time - until they were attacked by cyberzombies. They had to hide out and when they looked it was an old Soviet ICBM which was leaking something that glowed. During the climactic run for the border they were pursued and had some good firefights until finally the party's Gator Shaman truck driver decided that he had had enough and drove it off a dock into Puget Sound. I thought it would be interesting to see what the party would do with their hands on a nuclear weapon and it was - pity they didn't keep it longer, but they wanted no part of it.

Besides those above several Traveller campaigns have theoretically had nuclear missiles on board their ship but they never used them as they didn't want to get into matters of Imperial Law. Some Supers games have encountered them but they were never actually fired at or by the PC's.