Reoccurring Themes (or Gregory, Don’t go There Again)

I’ve been working on where I expect or hope my Pellham campaign is going and I’ve found myself looking at some familiar territory.  There are types of stories that I like.  I like alternate dimensions stories.  I like time travel stories.  I like Faery stories.  I like to use them in my games, too.  I like them a lot.  In addition to ideas and themes for my games, these stories also connect to places in Rhillmoran; places I have used again and again.  My Pellham campaign has seeds of these stories it and they are leading me back to my favorite, but possibly overused, stories and places.  I wonder if I need to break away from my favorite stories.

Castle Timeless has been a staple of my games since the 1980s.  It has been a rare campaign that did not see at least one trip to Castle Timeless.  During the Giants in the Earth and the Tasque Elzeny campaigns, Castle Timeless got a makeover.  I’ve been thinking about using Castle Timeless, because of a few throw away lines and plot point in the backstory of C5: Llywelyn’s Bane.  It, also, doesn’t help that C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness (one of the other modules slated for use in the Pellham campaign) has an often missed time travel component.  Going to Castle Timeless certainly places Pellham in Rhillmoran, but it opens up a whole can of wyrms in that it will tempt me to run a time travel mini campaign and I’ve done that time and time again.

Faery locales are going to be part of this campaign.  I’ve already placed Ardenmore in Adran Silverleaf’s back story.  So, how do I keep from retreading old ground?  My fey folk and fey realm should be different than they have been before.  This is going to be hard, since I like my fey to have a Celtic sensibility and Pellham is a Celtic-style setting.  It doesn’t help that I’ve got a “Hollow Hills opening on the Night of a Full Moon” idiom running with this, too.  I guess I’ll just have to turn these fey “up to 11” and go full bore with them.  Make them the Fey of the Fey and play it for all that it is worth.  They are capricious, enigmatic, and dangerous benefactors and patrons.  They are brave, valiant, and noble allies and villains.  Their plans and their beliefs are not easily understood by mere mortals, even if those mortals are their elven descendants and cousins.  It should be great fun, if I can play it right; I’ve misplayed this style of NPC multiple times before.

I don’t see how I can get away from alternate dimensions in this campaign.  If the PCs follow through the entire plot as devised by the modules, then they must enter an alternate dimension.  I’ve did a lot of development on this alternate dimension for a failed campaign (outside forces pulled Players away), so I may be able to make this work for me.  The provided storyline only has the PCs there for a relatively short time and the alternate dimension is completely unlike the rest of the setting, so this could easily work to my advantage.  I’ve got an “alien,” but not lethal environment into which the PCs can adventure.  It plots well and is part of the module collection, so if I use it and it alone, then I should not get caught up in a plane hopping campaign, which can really be fun.

Having covered my “big” flaws in the previous three paragraphs, I must now move on and discuss a harder drive in my gaming themes.  I want to connect this game to other games that I have run.  I’ve been thinking about placing a connection to the Shadowfell Road in Pellham or Inverness; this would open up a connection to Moytonia and I would be tempted to pull things from Barovia and the Walking Wood into Iolta and that might dilute this setting.  I really want to place a connection to Castle Timeless and I’ve already explained why that is a bad idea.  While I have not yet designed them, I know there are magical trees in Pellham and they could easily be connected to the Quan.  Even though this campaign takes place over a thousand years after Giants in the Earth and Tasque Elzeny, a connection to the Quaan would let me access Feldspar, E3 Trading Company, and Spellguard.  While a link on Thrain to the World of Terah would allow me to bring threats from the Caves of Chaos and possibly connect the PCs to the Isle of Celestia and the Dreamers, it would be bringing in alternate dimensions.

Want to know what reeks in all of this; writing out this post has given me a half dozen or more ideas that I now am interested in dropping into the Pellahm campaign.  What do you think I should do?

Game On!

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GM’s Day 2014

On March 4, 2008 CE, E. Gary Gygax, one of  cofounders Dungeons and Dragons passed away.  In the years since his passing, the day of his death has become known as GM’s Day or Game Master’s Day.  (I may be incorrect on the origins of GM’s Day.)  Many gamers choose to run special or retro-style games in Gary’s honor.  Game outlets often offer special deals.  I’m going to post about my Big 4E game and plan on starting a DnD Next game, tonight, with my wife and younger daughter.

The “Giants in the Earth” game went off well.  We had to cut in the middle and plan on finishing it on Saturday, March 16, 20014.  The two groups blended smoothly.  I gave the party a glimpse of the Qalibar and its “black hole sun.”  Qalibar is remains of a worlds that were devastated by the Paradox Wars.  (I lifted both Qalibar and the Partadox Wars from game I read, but do not own.  I’d like to find this game and buy it, but my Google-Fu is very poor.)

They encountered Linden, Mistress of Time at the Centre of Time.  They declined her offer to help them navigate the Infinite Paths that lead off from the Centre of Time and used their own powers to get where they needed to go and do what they needed to do.  I got to show them the remains of Spellguard, as it hurtled backwards through Time and the Elemental Chaos – the Body Luminous.  From there, they retrieved the Ivory Pine of Sestus, after fighting past a pack of white slaadi and a lone black slaad.

They used the Infinite Paths to collect the Seed of the Dreaming Tree and they chose to not awaken the rust dragon, sleeping in the hollow interior of the tree.

They returned to the Centre of Time to make their way to Galen’s Tomb hidden beneath Sceptre Tower in Spellguard.  There, they fought two Galens.  One was corporeal, while the other was an insubstantial phane.  During their fight, the dragon Dhivanara appeared and cried for help.  She was laying her, now hatching egg, and being attacked by Time Killers (Linden’s Temporal Assassins).  The PCs prevailed and Chonepsis was born, all three of him.  One time-jumped to the Past.  A second one jumped to the Future, leaving a third one to introduce himself as Chronepsis and ask for a gate key of 100 platinum coins to use to pass through the Living Gate.

While Chronepsis was returning to his lair, E3 Plus painted the lintel of Galen’s Tomb with his blood and went to Castle Timeless.  There they found their way to the Key to Time and retrieved their ship, Enterprise, and collected the Holly-Oak of Melikki from Oseric Magnis of Laurant.  After all the trees were collected, Bollenboch, the figurehead and dragon bonded with the Enterprise took the crew to Occiptus and collected Eldwar’s consort, Iomaudra.  Once the “team” was complete, Bollenboch plane shifted to the Inner World.

Game Paused.

It went well.  Fights were long and I got bored on occasion, but the players were on the top of their game and I could not have asked for a better or more attentive group.  I’m hoping the final encounters will be as engaging and rewarding.

Until next time, Game On!