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D&D 3E
Running new campaigns... 
2nd-Mar-2004 01:05 pm
Still new to gaming (6 months), I'm totally addicted to D&D and would love to start running a Dragonlance campaign. I have the campaign books and am reading the tradebooks, but I'm a little stuck on where to start. Since this is my first campaign, I'd like it to be something that I don't have to know every since detail of Dragonlance history, and something that won't threaten to change the history of Dragonlance itself. Something minor and inconsequential, but within the cultural boundaries of the world.

So, how do you guys decide on campaign topics? What kind of ideas can you give me for a starting hero plot? I'm a writer, so I'd like to have a plot of some kind. Can you suggest some 'plots' that would be fun for the adventurers but not disrupt the world too much? Where do I start? Help!
2nd-Mar-2004 10:18 am (UTC)
First: Understand that whatever happens, its your game and your varient of the Dragonlance setting. This is really key to running a game.

You will be the end-all-be-all of decision making. And it is significantly more important that everyone invovled have fun and enjoy the game than you remain absolutely true to the original stories. Besides, its likely the PCs will want to be able to make world-altering decisions,a s they grow in power, and they shouldn't be constrained or confined to 'what happened' or forced to be second-tier players, because they aren't allowed to alter the balance of pwer in the universe.

This is also important in case someone playing in yoru gmae knows the world better than you. As DM your decisiopn is final, so even if Character in Book made Decision that caused Event, which is why your plot Wont Work, you can still have it play the way you want too. its not importnat how the Hereos of the Lance acted, or similar.

As for ideas as what to do: The original series of DL modules are nice for campaign ideas, although they are heavily scripted and force the characters into certain confines. But as a place for ideas, go for it. I believe some of the old ones are now free on the WotC site, and failing that, scans can be illegally downloaded from numerous sources.

RUnning a campaign because you want to run usually isn't a greeat idea. Its better to come up witha concep tor gimmick (Is Tahkisis rising again? If so how? Maybe Paladine has disappeared. or a new type of dragon, say TIn, or Orange, were seen in the sky). and run with that. Build up slowly so the PCs get a feel for the world, and for each other, and gain some levels, and let the plot run.
2nd-Mar-2004 11:58 am (UTC)
Playing in a game and running a game are too completely seporate matters. I've been playing for about 10 years, but only ran my 1st successful game (or at least in my opinionb successful) that started in january. Running A game is friggin hard,. espeically with all the details of the world and the NPC's goals, motives, politics, history etc. Although using a campign setting makes some of this easier. When I first started out we had a rule (granted this was middle school) to wait 2 years. Its more like a guideline anyway ;).

Still with me? Good. Now Dragonlance: My 1st successful game took place within this campeign setting. I set it in the height of the age of istar. Yup, right before the 1st cataclysm. I introduced no major NPCs (although I might have them meet the kingpriest), or have them involved in world defining plot threds, although they are still going on.

I started with an idea and went from there. I told my players the basic theme of this idea and as a collaboritive group they made characters and the story is unfolding.

Dragonlance: I reccommend if you are not too familar with the plot of events and times that you go with one of two eras.

The 1st: 10 years (or so) After the battle of palanthus. Its a generic setting, but it may require knowing some stuff going on.

2nd: The Age of despair. There is no devine magic and there are no major events with the exception of the dwarfgate wars about 150 PC. Its a depressing time with alot of anarchy and false prophets and religions. (my next game will take place here).

3rd: The age of dreams. Prior to the 3rd dragon war, but after the 2nd dragon war. Lots of unexplored lands. The ogres are a fallen empire as is ergoth. So lots of ruins and old civilizations to explore. Istar just becomeing cities rather then tribes. Lots of fantasy goobness.

You will notice the Campiegn setting is set in the age of Mortals. If you want something easy and without lots of metaplot I don't reccomend this time period. It is the most developed with the most amount of knowledge known about the time. (in my opinion)... and its dumb. Sorry I'm not a fan of the 5th age or the war of souls. If you want any information about any age, plot hooks etc. I consider myself a decent source on the world and am willing to provide anything you need.... pretty much.

*looks up*... wow that was a lot long then I wanted....
2nd-Mar-2004 12:23 pm (UTC)
The age of dreams sounds like my kind of theme, but where do I find information on that? Not necesarily history, but culture and geography? Those are my two sticky points.

I would /adore/ any aid you can offer.
2nd-Mar-2004 07:02 pm (UTC)
The Age of dreams is largekly undefined with the exception of legends and whatnot. They do have a generic timeline of what happens and when in the dragonlance campaign setting. That will depend on what your doing. Like:

Will this be before or after the Kin-slayer war, before or after the Rebellion of the Rose.

I would suggest after both of those. Because cultures are largely defined and there's a lot you can play with. if thats what your going for then I would also suggest getting a pre cataclysm map. (I have one, but its in the 2nd edition Dragonlance book and my scanner was killed).

Generic cultures are as follows:

Ergoth: The old empire that used to spread from sea to mostly inland. The empire promots magic to a limited degree. Its pretty oppressive and decedant. It has a lot of rich history in terms of noble houses etc. It's capitol is daltigath, which also houses a tower of high sorcery. It was split apart by Vinas Solomnisas' Rose Rellion. He was theuir top general and was sent to stop a rebellion in Vingaard keep and they won him over. he won a war against the empire of ergoth and Solomnia succeeded.

Solominia These are the quintessential knights. Their lands stand for all that is good and right. Every man is a freeman, with free speach and all that great goodness. Their government and protectors are the Knights of Solominia. They are made of noble housesd as well and to join the knighthood you generally have to be from a noble house, but a few exceptional individuals will be adopted by a house and become a knight. They thrwert evil where ever it goes etc... They also genberally dislike magic. they consider it, not bad, but disdainful. Ironically within their Crown Port city is a tower of high sorcery (there are 5 total).

I could go on with the elves, gnomes kender, Istar, Orges 9which have a pretty in deopth history), Dwarves, Irda, and dragons.

What kind of theme do you want in your game? Opressive, heroic, comedic (there are silly races), epic.... All these things and more can be done.
2nd-Mar-2004 07:23 pm (UTC)
Let's see...

I'm thinking of after the Swordsheath Scroll, when Ergoth goes through the string of brutal kings (1875 PC?), but before Solomnus (sp?). My idea is perhaps one of the kings is trying to break down the peace treaty by leading to the capture/theft of important items (like the hammer of honor) and blaming it on other cultures (like the kender, etc), to create strife between the different races. And the PCs get involved and eventually have to recover various items to their rightful owners.
2nd-Mar-2004 08:25 pm (UTC)
*thinking* post graygem. This is also before the founding of Hylo (which was during the 3rd dragon war). Kendermore (being built on or near the ruins of the Tower of High Socery in Goodlund) wasn't really around, although the kender country of Bailfor is. But there pretty far away. The Gnomes of Mount Nevermind are around. Sorta. they don't really get involved much until they ally themselves with Solomnus. In fact most don't reaqlly realize they are there.

Ergoth huh. Well then you have the Qualinesti or High Elves. They are there due to a kin strife and are thus fairly tolerant of other races. Also they have an allience with Torbarden. They mutually control the fortress of Pax tharkas. Which is both a defense thing and a trade stopping point.

There are also many barbarian tribes, the prediecessors to the Que-Shu and all them. Also some towns and various stuffs of Abanassia. (althoughb Solace and Haven were both post cataclysm towns, or Haven might be prior, but definatly post 3rd dragon war).

the sword sheath scroll was between Ergoth, Qualinesti, and thorbardin. Qualinesti was given a woods as a buffer between torbardin and ergoth. The dwarves built Qualinost and together (mostly dwarven though) built Pax Tharkas. The human (prolly Erothian at this point) city of Xac tarkas is arounf there too. Merchant tyope of city and life.

Good Luck@
2nd-Mar-2004 12:11 pm (UTC)
Some simple hooks for low level adventures that won't change the world? Goblins are waylaying travellers, stop 'em. A Gully Dwarf accidentally found a magic item that periodically summons beasties, and he's running scared.
2nd-Mar-2004 12:54 pm (UTC)
well... first off, you can disrupt the world as much as you want.... it's YOUR world, no matter what....so you can throw that worry out the window

second... a good place to get ideas for either short adventures or even extended campaigns....CNN

it is almost rediculously easy to take a news item and make a game of it...

example...Iraqi Freedom...

a tyrant(Hussein) who has tried unsuccessfully to overthrow a neighboring and peaceful duchy (Kuwait) due to the assistance of a more powerful kingdom who's allied to said Duchy (the US). Well, the king (Bush) has since decided to step down from the throne and hand the reigns of power over to his son (Bush-the Sequel)...

WELL...since his son has decided that he didn't like the idea of leaving a job unfinished, he decides to clean up the job his father left (return to Iraq) and overthrow the tyrant.

of course, the Alliance of Kingdoms (the UN) aren't too keen on stirring up this hornet's nest, and decide to try to settle things diplomatically....which falls apart once rumors that he tyrant has gained the alliance of a powerful demon lord (the weapons of mass destruction) and plans on taking it all...

the Alliance sends in a group of demon hunters (the UN's people lookin for the WMD's) to try to verify it's existance...all the time, the one militant king has mobilized his troops to start the overthrow of the tyrant (Operation Iraqi Freedom) much to the annoyance of the Alliance...

now here is a good starting point for your players....a mid-to-high level game where they are sent as the hunters....and they either could find the rumored demon, or disprove its existance...that part's up to you...or send them in a hired mercs on the one King's side...or possibly in the resisting army... maybe the "tyrant" isn't what they say he is....

ok, i think that should be enough for now....not bad for off the top of my head.....
2nd-Mar-2004 01:01 pm (UTC)
Wow! I never thought about it like that!

Hmm... I wonder what else can be used. I'm not too good at keeping up on political current events. Perhaps something with the mars rovers? Hmm...
2nd-Mar-2004 01:21 pm (UTC)
that's an easy one......

group of wizards....or a guild.... (NASA) experimenting with new ways to travel to new planes come across a new world (Mars)....but since there is apparantly no way for life to exist on this world (it appears long dead) they decide to send something that could survive- a construct designed to record everything it "sees" and report back to the portal created, cross back over, and play back what it "saw"

now here on the Wizards is something that can be used
FR-Portals Through Time
halfway down you'll find a write-up on survey constructs that would be perfect for this...your "Mars Rover"

now as for your players... perhaps the world is still livable... at least the players could survive there without magic... or not....but they are hired to try to find the lost construct and bring it back....
2nd-Mar-2004 05:25 pm (UTC)
You are my hero. Those ideas are freakin' genuis.

*will now start watching the news and thinking about D&D at the same time!*
3rd-Mar-2004 06:41 am (UTC)
ty... but the idea of usin the news isn't mine...can't remember where i saw it... think it was an old Dragon issue....but it's always something that i've kept in mind when i'm stuck for ideas...

even history is a good resource....remember the 2e sourcebook that gave rules for runnin historical campaigns?

right now i'm writing an adventure based on the Black Dalia Murder.....
2nd-Mar-2004 08:27 pm (UTC)
that is fantastically funny and great!
3rd-Mar-2004 06:47 am (UTC)
ty... once you know what to look for in the news, or even history, its easy to translate elements into D&D terms....my suggestion is to watch the news with a notebook and pen....take notes as you watch....anyone still livin with parents... or with roomies, will probabaly get strange looks....but in the end it'l be worth it
2nd-Mar-2004 01:09 pm (UTC) - After the Fall
I've found the most interesting period to be that between the fall of Istar and the War of the Lance -- the Age of Despair. The defining moment in Krynn's history has already taken place and the gods won't be around in their full glory for many hundreds of years yet. There's plenty to do and se, with the Solamnic Knights falling out of disfavor and the major religions collapsed. The Seekers seek new gods and the general populace believe that they have been unjustly deserted.

Another nifty period is during the reign of Istar -- all kinds of nifty stuff happens then, but if you run too close to the end, there's a built-in time limit before the campaign world changes entirely. If you can pull off the transition, that would rock (but certain players might be pissed that their Clerics become useless... unless you let them convert to Mystics).
2nd-Mar-2004 08:29 pm (UTC) - Re: After the Fall
I'm doing that right now. My players tried to recently aquire holy water to fight undead. Istar was happy to oblige with water that they blessed. Then the real cleric uses detect magic.... was it magic... nope.

I have them right now the spring before the cataclysm. The cataclyskm itself will be an 8 hour+ session.
3rd-Mar-2004 06:36 am (UTC)
I'm not 100% on the running a game after 6 months, as the first poster said. This is simply most people (myself included) were not familiar with the rules enough to run a game without a lot of breaks (christ I still have to look up Disarm, grapple and trip like every time). So if there is someone who can already run a game, let them....if you can, ya know, grain of salt

Secondly however

If you want to know how to run in the Dragonlance setting, read the books. There are novels based on the series (you probably know that). Read them....all. I can run forgotten realms because I own basically all of the forgotten realms novels (i think I am missing about 7). These novels if you have read them give you enough background information about this world to not only run a game, but a "feeling" for it to set the tone and mood of the world.

3rd-Mar-2004 07:08 am (UTC)
not goin to rain on your parade about your small time gaming and not having run a game. kudos to you if you want to learn, you will make mistakes (we all have) and hopefully your players will forgive you.

Its simple really, start off small. remember though you are playing in DL (not my fav world by anyshot) its a large place. As in most countries, local folk heroes abound, while you go 100 miles away and they might not be so reknown.

What i am saying is this, you can have them going after brigands or small goblinoid creatures. While that sounds small, maybe the group finds out clues..the bad group is being used by a larger group and as the game goes on pieces start falling into place as to why.

Heres why im telling you this way, if you start small like that, you build up confidence in yourself as a gm and desicion maker, your players feel you out as a gm, you learn the system better (much better to do with a simple fight than later on) and essentially you have more control. If your players claim that they know all about this land, make up some villages or small settlements.

Remember not all places are on maps and small farming communitites can often be overlooked by a larger group, however their problems are just as real as a city. And it gives the group a place to base their operations out of..to go to when they need help, sleep or just relaxation..the small village is happy, the group drove away the bad guys, is around to protect them and gets money from them when they spend...see how it goes both ways?

just my two pence...
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