Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Starting an Adventure: Populating your Campaign World

Starting an Adventure

The basic idea for this adventure came to me very quickly: a small gem stone operation has been interrupted when a rock slide opened up a cave system, and a bunch of giant rats came out to attack the miners. The miners were gnomes because gnomes loved gems according to the Player's Handbook. My logic was infallible.

You can read more about getting started on this campaign here.

While I sketched out the map, the two players I had started out with their character development. One wanted to be a fighter, the other a cleric. So I quickly added both a monastery to my notes and a fort where a local Baron ruled. Both characters decided to be humans so right now I only have the rock gnome miners, and a bunch of humans running around. But this was a wealthy town (gem stones and metals) and so I wanted to figure out what it looked like. Being the good DM that I am, I immediately turned to the Monster Manual and decided to roll everything out. This is how it was described the area according to my notes:

Village of Highfall and the North March Barony

The Village of Highfall is a quiet village surrounded by farmland, and under the shadow of the Frost Wall Mountains. Four large peaks, former volcanoes, tower above the sky and watch the activity in the valley below. Before the arrival of the barony, local tribes worshiped these mountains, associating them with the seat of their gods. The village is close to Forest Watch Keep, the seat of the North March Barony. 
From the Keep, Baron Eberhart and his soldiers, guard the land from the constant incursion of barbarian raiders, goblin tribes and the never ending supply of bandits from the Staghaunt Woods. The Baron is a kind, but hard, man and is well liked by his men. He is considered fair and just, and has done much for the local population.  
At the edge of the Staghaunt Woods, a small monastery was established. The order of priests raises blackberries and apples that they turn into wine and hard cider, which they sell to fund their order. Less well known is their library, a small collection of holy works that they continue to expand upon. 

After writing out the above, I used the Monster Manual to actually determine what the Barony looked like. The results are below:

North March Barony & Village of Highfall

  • Baron Waren Eberhart (6th Level Human Fighter, Lawful Good)
  • 10 Gentry (17 Guards, 46 Servants)
  • 3 Knights
  • 44 Soldiers (Including 1 2nd Level Lieutentant, and 12 1st level Sergeants/Corporals)
  • 22 Mercenaries
  • 16 Farmers
  • 81 Peasants
  • 9 Craftsmen
  • 7 Priests
  • 9 Rock Gnome Miners

So now we have a very general idea of what is out here in the woods. Later I would add a wizard tower and two wizards and three apprentices so that another character could play a wizard. The wizards had six servants, and eight guards at their tower. The head of the tower is 5th level, and is often consulted by Baron Eberhart on things magical. Additionally we expanded our map to a lake at the end of the valley and this is where the small village of Dawnfields was added - being primarily a halfling village under the protection of the Barony. This also marks the full range of the Barony.

Village of Dawnfields

  • Master Warden Collyn Longwood (3rd Level Halfling Fighter, Lawful Good)
  • 6 Wardens of Dawnfields (2nd Level Halfling Fighters, Lawful Good)
  • Master Priest Reya Merryberry (3rd Level Halfling Priest, Lawful Good)
  • 91 Halflings
  • 8 Human Craftsmen
  • 10 Human Sailors

At this point we know what our happy Barony looks like - but what makes it unhappy? Barbarians, bandits, and goblins! Because random encounters are so important, I decided to put together a random encounter table, and decided that it made sense to roll on that table every five miles that the players traveled - which we estimated to be about two hours of game time. To save time I decided to re-purpose the monster summoning table from the Monster Manual. I made it focused on what it was I was trying to accomplish for the feel - plus keep it balanced for the number of adventurers I had. Roll 1d12:

  1. Wolf
  2. Bat, huge
  3. Orc (1d2)
  4. Barbarian (2d4)
  5. Goblins (1d4)
  6. Bandits (1d4)
  7. Rat, giant (3d4)
  8. Kobold (3d4)
  9. Wolf
  10. Bandits (1d4)
  11. Bat, huge
  12. Rat, giant (3d4)

So now we have our overall environment: towns, the land, encounters, and more. At this point I felt ready to begin the adventure. But first - here is the updated map!

I recreated the map in Hexographer, something I will review at a later date - but have no financial interest in or relationship with beyond me using it to make maps. This is fairly basic, and each hex represents 5 miles.

So the adventure begins! My starting characters were a Human Fighter and a Human Cleric. The fighter was a former soldier of the baron who had finished his service and was looking forward to adventure. The cleric was a trainee at the monastery ready to go out into the world. They now had a place to explore and people to interact with.

Next post I'll actually put up the adventure!

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