Raging Swan

Life and Game Design

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A Year of Adventure
raging_swan

BoA

Wow. My Borderland of Adventure campaign is a year old this week! Normally, by this point, we’ve been distracted or everyone has died horribly, but this time the party seems amazingly resilient.

The action kicked off with Hollows Last Hope when a disparate band of four adventurers joined together to save Falcon’s Hollow from a terrible plague savaging its population. Rather marvellously, some of the original adventurers are still active in the campaign (although we are focusing on some of their fellows’ adventures at the moment).

We use the slow advancement track in the campaign, which (unsurprisingly) has the effect of slowing down the party’s advancement through the levels. At the moment, all the original party members are 4th-level. We’ve had 40 sessions, but no-one’s played the same character in every session as we briefly dived into the D&D Next playtest and have recently been focusing on several different groups of adventurers.

This slow advancement has had the unintended consequence of making it much easier for me to tell a coherent story. For example, in Red Hodge’s campaign (which I believe started several months after Borderland of Adventure) we are around 10th-level. If the adventurers were the same level in Borderland of Adventure it would make it much harder to tell the story of them fighting invading orcs. True, I could stuff the orc army full of high-level fighters, but the world builder in me shrivels from that terrible reality as I desperately try to justify why Ratik is a smoking wilderness of sacked villages and towns.

Another nice by-product of taking things slowly is that the players are getting to know their characters and their capabilities. It also seems easier to include elements of PCs’ background in the adventure. Belivar and Krorz have both discovered this, but also to a lesser extent Adoven and Kemmo also experienced plot hooks, encounters and other campaign elements specifically designed for them.

I’m also finding it a lot easier to both plan adventures and to give the players a wide range of choices as to how to proceed after any given adventure, which is a nice addition to the campaign and (for me at least) adds an extra layer of “realism” and freedom of choice to the players. While I have plans for the campaign’s advancement, the party are free to go in pretty much any direction they please (as evidenced by the recent, temporary split of the party).

In any event, I’m enjoying this campaign more than most others I’ve run recently and I hope I get to write a second anniversary post in October 2013!


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