We played for a few months back and moved to GMoYA, but now with the book in the beginning parts of layout (being done by the awesome and sexy Matt Hildebrand), I’ve really been craving the heroic science, sword, and sorcery vibe again (it also doesn’t help I’ve started rewatching all of Thundarr the Barbarian AGAIN).
A few weeks ago I bought a Nintendo Switch and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and was inspired by how open the world is (and approachable) and wanted to capture that with this BotRE campaign (I may have to do a post on BotW and lessons/takeaways for tabletop gaming…).
When you first start BotW, Link runs up to an expansive vista, showing the beautiful world. Everything you see you can travel to. That is exciting and is a perfect example of show, don’t tell. I want to avoid info dumps… We play once to twice a month and sometimes info gets lost, forgotten, etc. and that’s wasted effort on my part.
I decided that I would take a page from Beyond the Wall‘s Further Afield and do some fun and exciting collaborative world building with my group. I figured this would be as close to show, don’t tell as I could get for a campaign kick off.
Only three of my six players could make the session on Sunday, but we came up with some great ideas and I’ve sent the info to the three who couldn’t make it to give them a chance to create a few things.
First I asked each of my players what state this was taking place in. After each pitched their idea, they talked and decided on New Orleans, super swamps, mutated rednecks, etc.
After the group made their characters I had them each create two interesting NPCs that they have each developed a bond with and what that NPC does. I’ll roll some secret stuff about them that the players will discover (i.e., ar they in a cult, selling people to raiders/slavers, do they have perpetual RBF, etc.).
After each group created their NPCs, I had them roll on a table that I lifted (and only altered slightly) from Further Afield to generate an interesting thing nearby their village. Each of my three players did this twice.
Roll 1d8: 1) Major city; 2) Ancient ruins; 3) Human settlement; 4) Recent ruins; 5) Inhuman settlement (roll 1d3: 1) Vek; 2) Beastman; 3) GM Chooses from bestiary); 6) Monster’s Lair; 7) Source of power; 8) Interesting location (i.e., mushroom forest, natural canyons, etc.)
With these, I’ll roll to see how accurate what they came up with is. Is it true, is there a twist to this location, or are they WAY off base.
Finally I had each of my three players come up with a descriptive term or phrase that would guide me in the creation of the town leader. I told them that if it something was too off base with another descriptive term, we would discuss until we got to a happy medium/compromise. Thankfully that didn’t happen at all.
The members of the group that made it to the session start with a magic item/piece of Stupendous Science.
The three players that didn’t make it will make their characters when they play, but I am allowing them to create a single interesting location (I rolled for what it is) and a NPC. The town and leader are already determined.
Here is what the group came up with. Once I get the entries from my other three players, I will do all my rolls and map out the village, layout the surrounding locations, and add a few myself.
New Orleans- Humid, swampy, mutated rednecks.
“Mardi Grass”: Semi-floating landmass of junk and soil/silt. Just slightly outside of New Orleans.
Kane: Kane is known for his rambunctious spirit and ability to fight (Barbarian, 2nd level). He has defended Mardi Grass many times. He always carries his prized spear, The Man-Splitter- a remarkable piece of Stupendous Science with an electrified, motorized blade. Kane constant rubs himself with baby lotion to keep his skin moist and shiny. He has a collection of Ancient Earth action movies and a working entertainment center. He is obsessed with Chuck Norris and John McClain.
Cobb: A gardener who has some sort of innate magical abilities, but not a sorcerer (John).
Mama Cleo: A voodoo priestess who can speak with spirits and create strange alchemical concoctions.
Birch: Owns/runs the general store. Became mutated early in life and has gills and webbed hands and feet (Fletch).
Nomi: Guard of Mardi Grass. Decent fighter. Escaped mines with group (John).
The Undertaker: Undertaker of Mardi Grass. Scrawny and lanky. Androgynous (Liam).
Jean: Junk dealer. He is mad as a hatter, but smart and ornery (Fletch).
Monster Lair: Vicious and savage frog-dog creatures lurk in rudimentary huts (John).
Settlement: Strange Ones (sky blue skin and bulbous heads) inhabit an abandoned Ancient Earth television station. They worship Ancient Earth technology (Fletch).
Source of Power: Giant undead rats run endlessly on hamster wheels to generate electricity (Liam). Rumored to be created by Tygham the Fearless, the Sorcerer of the Swamps.
Crystal Towers: These crystalline towers are made of soft gems (ruby, etc.) and attract large beetles, the size of dogs, which feast on the structures (Fletch).
Lair of the Croconator: Massive crocodile monster that lurks in the swamps. A few days travel from Mardi Grass (John).
The Ruins of Bourbon St: Mostly underwater. Aquatic people live here. Underwater ruins and avenues exist (Fletch).
Liam: Liam has a teddy bear named Balfour, which he found on the mummified remains of a small girl from Ancient Earth- The girl’s name is Maggie and acts as a spirit guide. Liam can speak to her as spirit (Death Priest ability) or increase Luck range from 4-6 to 3-6 once per day.
John: John has an attack drone that looks like a sphere with a giant lightbulb eye. The drone hovers around him and attacks a target designated by John. 6HP, 1 RP, 1d6 damage, uses John’s stats to attack.
Fletch: Fletch has a shield that can be activated to absorb damage. When turned on, roll 2d4. That is how much damage it will absorb. Once depleted, deactivates and take damage as normal. Recharges when the sun rises.