Thursday, June 14, 2012

Underdark Campaign Pregame - Sandbox Building

Now that it's summer time, it is time to revive game night and get some non-Magic gaming going. I've played plenty of cards over the last few months, and I've put a few hours into Diablo III, but I haven't gotten to play much else. All that changes next Wednesday, when we kick off the Underdark campaign I started talking about a while back.

As I said before, I don't have time to actually create the setting, but I would like to avoid using the Underdark of the Forgotten Realms... so my compromise is to build a quick sandbox of mish-mashed material from several different settings, toss in a few plot hooks, and just see how things play out from there.

These are the locations I plan on using:

  • Haranshire and the Underdark mapped out below it (Night Below)
  • Sshamath (Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark)
  • Mantol-Derith (Menzoberranzan Boxed Set)
  • Underspires (Dragon Magazine #267)
  • Dylvwyllyn (Dungeon Magazine #60)
  • Lower Broken Lands (Poor Wizard's Almanac III)
That short list gives me places for drow, duergar, derro, deep gnomes, mind flayers, aboleth, tons of monstrous humanoids, etc. Between the three adventures (Night Below, Shards of the Day, and Menace in Menzoberranzan Sshamath), there will be plenty of reasons for players to get involved in the goings on of the Underdark. However, with three distinct plot hooks carrying the players in three very different directions, I don't think I'll follow any of the three plot lines as written. Instead, I'll use the locations but allow the players to push things along at whatever pace they choose.

I intended to run the players through the first book of the Night Below adventure as-is and then mix things up when they actually made it to the Underdark. However, after talking to my players about what they intend to play, I think we're going to start at 7th level. While this makes the first book of that particular adventure relatively obsolete (too many low-level encounters), it does have one very useful upside: it allows characters in the "Underdark" campaign to actually start the campaign with one of the adventure hooks that would take them into the Underdark!

Conveniently, 7th level is the approximate midpoint for the time in an adventurer's career that these modules expect characters to enter the Underdark. Night Below assumes characters are 4th level or so before they head below, the pregenerated characters for Menace in Menzoberranzan are all 6th or 7th level, and Shards of the Day was written for characters of 7th to 9th level.

Now I've just got to get everything ready to roll for next week...
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