New Year, New Campaign

Posted on January 12, 2022 by

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I just launched a new campaign and I’m super excited about it. This past summer I ended a year-long campaign, and unfortunately it did not make it to the end. I wish it had, I loved the story we were telling, but we ran out of steam and ended it with the PCs at level 13. I think part of the issue was that we were counting XP, and it ultimately felt like a drag. I promised a 1-20 campaign, but didn’t deliver, partly because the slow leveling and partly because I ran out ideas and challenges for the party. We all burnt out on it and I’ve learned some lessons.

So, new year and we got the itch again. And we are doing safe, face to face gaming, our last campaign was virtual and we were ready to play together again.  I decided to take advantage of Fizban’s Treasure of Dragons  and see what kind of campaign I could craft with it, and what I found blew my mind and was asking to be made a campaign. Fizban’s introduces the concept of dragonsight, which allows powerful dragons the ability to see  their echoes, or counterparts, across the multiverse. It also explains how an ancient dragon can become an almost god-like greatwyrm by consuming those echoes and assuming their life force.

Holy shit that screamed “Campaign!” and a few weeks ago I started to design the main ideas for a 1-20 campaign I’ve named “Dreams of an Awakened Dragon”.

The basic gist of is that an ancient red dragon named Balagos develops dragonsight and learns how powerful he could become by consuming his newfound echoes. Balagos’s ego being so large–in his mind there can only be one, and the multiverse will pay for embarrassing  him with inferior versions of him.  He plans to reshape the entire multiverse in his image and make it his domain.

I thought it would be interesting to explore the PCs having to save red dragons in far-off planes from Balagos. I wanted a plane hopping campaign where the multiverse is tangible. Imagine the PCs having to go to Krynn in the middle of a war against dragons and negotiating with the Knights of Solamnia for a red dragon’s life. That sounded cool to me. A big bad red dragon? All the worlds of D&D? A truly world shaking event? I thought it could be an epic campaign, and to ensure its survival, I’ve decided to approach it a little differently than my last campaign.

  • I will not be tracking XP. Milestone leveling will dictate the pace of the campaign, and my goal is to move through it quickly and hit the ending. The first session is done and the PCs are invested in the story.
  • The PCs are already an adventuring party from the start. No need to waste time somehow getting them together. No, they come in as a group looking for work.  The PCs role-played this great in the first session, their relationship and the way they riff on each other felt like it predated the start of the campaign. It also helps that the real-world relationships between the players are so strong.
  • Make it epic. My last campaign was a nostalgia play where the stakes never felt high enough. It was a treasure hunting story that eventually became repetitive. I ran a sequel to the Forgotten Realms comic book published by DC in the 80s. It was a neat hook, we had fun, but it dragged on too long and there wasn’t much at stake.  “Red dragon reshaping the multiverse” sounds a bit more epic in scope. Make it epic.

I decided to start the game in Silverymoon in the northern SIlver Marches area, a section of Faerun I’ve never played in. I wanted to explore the area after the War of the Silver Marches. Canonically, that area of the world was at war in 1485. My campaign starts 5 years later, and the region is still rebuilding and dealing with the aftermath of the war.  And so are the PCs. I also wanted to have some fun with the weather in the first few sessions. Weather’s one of those things you might tend to ignore, but it adds flavor and choices for the players. In our first session, the players decided to ride out a snowstorm in a town. An NPC they were traveling with decided he could not wait and chose to ride back to the village alone. The PCs found his corpse a few days down the road. They also inadvertently bought the bad guys of their first adventure some time to perfect their plan. All because they chose to sit out due to bad weather.

Our party consists of:

Garret, a hafling druid of the circle of the moon, who protects the wilderness from monsters and other evil.

Kranast – a drow rogue who has never set foot in the Underdark but gets treated as the enemy regardless. The war weighs heavily on Kranast even though he played no role in it.

Gnaz – a gold dwarf artificer. Gnaz hauls a wagon filled with merchandise he looks to sell wherever and whenever he can.

Yrrel – Aasimar Paladin (fallen). Yrell lives his life fighting a constant urge to kill. He can control himself, but when he’s given free reign he’s a savage.

Belrael – High-elf ranger with the Courtier background. He’s a diplomat from the forests stationed in Silverywood. Silverywood does not take him very seriously, so he promises himself that one day he’ll be the most respected and admired negotiator in the realm.

It is Belrael who serves as the impetus of the story. We started in the tap room of an inn in Silverymoon, where a silver haired elf bard named Hope played the violin and sang a beautiful song. A low level government bureaucrat asks if Belrael can travel south and negotiate a small town dispute on Silverymoon’s behalf. The bureaucrat thinks it’s a waste of time, and offers this to Belrael to keep him busy.

The issue is that the leader of a village down south has made a deal and allowed kobolds to roam free in the surrounding territories near the village. He’s made it illegal to hurt kobolds or otherwise harass them. The kobolds, for the most part, don’t bother much except for killing livestock and stealing the occasional thing here or there. They seem to live in nearby caves and come to the village when they get hungry.

What’s really happening is that a dwarven Dragon Chosen has twisted the village leader’s mind with an Orb of Dragonkind and forced him to allow the kobolds to roam free. The chosen leads a small band of draconiacs, dragon-like creatures from another world, and they serve the interests of their Lord, Balagos. He’s promised the kobolds that they’ll be an important part of Balagos’ new dragon empire–a promise he obviously does not intend to keep.  Balagos instructed the dwarf to build a lair for a deep dragon wyrmllng he rescued from another prime material plane. The wyrmling was about to be consumed by an echo, but Balagos saved his life and plans to raise him as a soldier for his future draconic army. It also prevents the wyrmling be consumed for the creation of another greatwyrm. There can only be one.

The party agrees to travel with Belrael and Gunther, the farmer who brought the complaint to Silverymoon. They plan to talk some sense into Quinn, the village leader. It takes the party 11 days to get there, 4 more days than they had originally planned for. They decided to stop at a town along the way and ride out a storm. The artificer used the pit stop as an opportunity to try to unload some wares while there as well. Gunther the NPC, however, was desperate to get home to his sick wife, and decided to go at it alone back to his village. The party found his frozen corpse a few days later down the path and decided to take it with them for a proper burial.

They arrived at the village and immediately set out to find Gunther’s wife and tell her the news. The widow broke down and asked them to help her bury him next to their son in a plot of land behind their cottage.

And that’s where we ended our first session.

I thought it was fun, they thought it was fun, so I guess it must have been fun!

I’ll be updating the blog with these recaps as I go along. Let’s see where this story takes us!


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