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D&D 3E
Wild Campaigns 
12th-Feb-2009 11:41 am
Can anyone suggest material on how to run a wilderness-based campaign? I know I've run across it before, info on how to structure open areas into adventuring zones and such, but I can't seem to find it now. Even suggestions would be helpful - I'm thinking a cave or two could amount to a dungeon adventure, but that doesn't really give an outdoorsy "feel" to it.

In case it matters, the area they'll be adventuring will be a very large island that fades from coastal plains to dense rainforest at the center.

Thanks in advance!
12th-Feb-2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
Sandstorm, Stormwrack, Frostburn... those are good books.

I'd take that information, watch a ittle NatGeo to learn what kinds of beasts live in different wilderness settings, then build some templates for animals.

Dense Rainforest also sounds to me like an excellent place for Faeries :)

Make use of terrain too, like tall grass granting concealment to _everyone_, loose gravel being slick, recent rain or morning dew on regular grass can be slick as well, muddy sand cuts speed by a third..

Not so important in the regular run across the island, but in combat, that can significantly change the CR of a given monster party. Especially if they are immune to a terrains effect (snakes, for example, I don't think would be slowed down by soft muddy sand that the players sink a little ways into).

I hope that at least inspires some good creativity :)
12th-Feb-2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, those are good books, but even better books are the series of books that Mike Mearls did for Fantasy Flight games, which came before those books and, for all I know, might have been lifted by Wizards of the Coast when they put Sandstorm, Stormwrack, and Frostburn together.

You'd want to check out the following titles if you can still get them:
Wildscape - especially Wildscape
12th-Feb-2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
I remember the original Werewolf Player's Guide had some neat wilderness ideas as did Way of the Wolf. But I'm basically with the above idea that National Geographic is still your best source of inspiration.
12th-Feb-2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
I'd run it the same way I ran any game. Come up with a loose story/areas of interest, then come up with neat encounters as the PCs progress through the story.

I'm not really sure what a "wilderness" story would be. What kind of thing did you have in mind?

Wilderness encounters are similar to any other encounter. You can have the old "clearing in the forest" fights. Or maybe on the edge of a river or lake. Or high atop some trees. Or at the edge (or the base) of a natural cliff. One of the 4e books had a neat picture of a treant hurling rocks down at the PCs as they try to climb up a waterfall that I thought looks like an awesome encounter. Plus, you can still have some small cities or dungeons to break things up. It's just a question of what kind of encounter you want to run :)
12th-Feb-2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
If you have access to older editions of D&D, the Wilderness Survival Guide had some good ideas.

For inspiration try westerns (novels or films), historical novels set on the colonial frontier. One of my favorite stories for a wilderness campaign feel was Robert E. Howard's Beyond the Black River.
13th-Feb-2009 04:16 am (UTC)
The main consideration is to strongly incorporate the environment (climate, geography, flora and fauna) into the adventure narrative. If you want to get very literary start using common metaphors, such as a "dead desert" (with undead), a "lush jungle" (teeming with savage and sensual life) etc.
13th-Feb-2009 04:59 am (UTC)
The Dungeon Master's Guide has some basic suggestions. Not a lot, but enough to make it worth a quick read.

I remember a "Dungeon" in the video game Illusion of Gaia that was actually mostly cliff faces, which could make an interesting "dungeon" style adventure. It has clear-cut boundaries but still suffers from the environment (ice and snow FTW :P).

Since wilderness adventures are as freeform as a city adventure, it's best to make an adventure flowchart, with different encounters in different locations all tied together by a common theme or goal.

Though, unlike in the dungeons and cities, the environment IS the adventure. Make sure Nature constantly reminds the party who's in charge. Brush and undergrowth is quite annoying when it cuts your speed by a quarter. Rainstorms can make ranged combat a real pain, if not impossible. Ice and snow are the same way, but accompanied by a lethal cold that forces saves every hour. If run right, a wilderness adventure could be heroic and extremely dangerous without any combat or traps whatsoever. An item the party needs to find could be obscured by years of rain, dirt, and plant life, and they could spend days looking for it in a single clearing.

But yeah, something more specific could get you better answers. What did you have in mind, exactly?
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