Shadow's Apex Part 1: Prepping for the Future

Although Dungeons & Dragons has taken a backseat to Rifts recently, the campaign we briefly began is still fresh on my mind. It started with a "let's see how close to 4E we can get with 3.5 rules" experiment and then morphed into a 4E game for several weeks of play. Then we lost interest. It wasn't just me; the players seemed to lose interest as well. It just wasn't fun anymore, so we moved on to other things. We played some multiplayer Magic: The Gathering games a few weeks and drafted Shadowmoor/Eventide one week before the idea of dusting off the old Rifts books occurred to me. And Rifts was a breath of fresh air: new characters, new concepts, new genre, new game system, and new books to hunt down.

But that 4E campaign just felt stale and boring. Game night should NOT be boring.

It was so bad that my dungeon mastering ego was feeling a little less... well... egotistical, I guess. In any case, the idea that one of my campaigns fell flat has been bugging me. Part of it might have been that we have been spoiled rotten by having so many sourcebooks lying around and an edition of D&D without extra crunchiness seemed lacking in options. However, I still fear that the campaign itself had enough flaws to be part of the problem.

Because of this fear (and self-criticism), I have decided to rework the campaign. The hook will stay the same and I will likely keep elements of the home base, but everything else will be on the chopping block.

I will be referring to Ray Winninger's Dungeoncraft articles for advice and I intend to follow his "Rules of Dungeoncraft". However, rules are made to be broken, so we'll see how long it lasts. For now, I'll just start with the campaign's title and hook.

Shadow's Apex
Hook: The world is getting darker. Corruption is spreading subtly, unnoticed by any but the most scrutinizing observer, and those who do notice are typically shunned and dismissed as doomsayers and madmen. Telltale signs of the coming storm have been dismissed as coincidence or as the work of the necromancers whose presence has been known for centuries. What the world doesn't know is that the shadows have come alive in ways that they will soon understand all too well...

Basically, the idea is that someone is planning to take control of both the material plane and the Shadowfell. The plan will begin with powerful rituals that begin breaking down the barrier between the two planes, continue with the swapping of strategic locations, and culminate with a grand merging of the two.

I'm drawing inspiration from lots of different places, but a few of the most noteworthy are listed below:
Tome of Magic (particularly the shadow magic section)
Dungeon #136 (particularly the "Gates of Oblivion" adventure)
the Planeshift storyline from Magic: The Gathering's Invasion block

Next time: Mythology of the Shadow's Apex campaign
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