My semester is more or less over now, so I can get back to things that are important, like writing this. In particular, it seems there is a reasonable chance that I’ll be running a campaign next year. So of course I’ve got to think of a great idea for that campaign, and I find myself having too many. In particular, I find it hard to think of how the campaign will actually get started, and I may treat that as a separate issue. Anyway, here are some of my ideas.
First, I don’t think the time travel thing makes for an excellent campaign anymore. Now I think it’s basically an idea for a story where I don’t know who the main characters are yet. But it’s still a theoretical option. I have several new ideas, though, that I think I’m more inclined to do. And here they are:
Trust No One! The party members all meet, not in a tavern, but just outside one. They’re all about to step in for a drink, or just passing by, when suddenly, the whole tavern explodes. From the remains bursts an angry fire elemental, who the adventurers take down. At some point during the fight, one of them (or more than one) bumps into someone invisible or hears them cast a spell. Now, at this point, there’s no good reason for the adventurers to stay together, so they go their separate ways. But later that day, they each get a message (either via message spell, or someone slips them a piece of paper) enticing them to come to a specific building that evening. As soon as they get there, they are ambushed by assassins, and the next day, pursued by town guards wanting to arrest them on suspicion of causing the tavern explosion. At some point, they’re contacted by an underworld group offering assistance and an explanation. Basically, by bumping into the invisible person, they discovered a secret they were not meant to know, and are now the targets of a coverup. It evolves into a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government and threatens to [insert bad thing].
Your Tower, Your Funeral! A nearby archmagus, respected pillar of the community, and wealthiest man in town, drops dead. At a public reading of his will, he leaves his wealth to various local charities, and he leaves his tower to the PCs, who have never actually met him. The archmagus had an apprentice who expected to be left the tower, and he is not going to make it easy for them to discover the wonders within. And assuming they best him, who knows where the mysteries in the tower will lead them…
NPCs are the 99%! A tent colony has recently sprung up in the middle of the city park. It’s growing by the day, and has reached the level of a small community. Nobody can figure out why they’re there or what they want; in fact, the people who live there don’t even seem sure. The Lord Mayor has hired the PCs to work out what the hell is going on, and see if there’s a way to disperse them without calling out the City Guard. Do they know something about the city that the PCs don’t? Is there some nature spirit calling them all to that place? Are they compelled to stay because of some magical artifact? Or are they all taking levels in druid?
The Prophecy? A famed diviner makes a prophecy concerning a monster awakening to consume the world, and a group matching the description of the PCs being the only ones who can stop it. Many people offer aid, including a prince. This Prince offers a bunch of tips on how to find out more about, and then defeat, this beast. But all sources of information about it are vague and contradictory, and the party should eventually realize that no such monster exists. In fact, the entire prophecy is a concoction of the Prince’s, devised as a way to hide the fact that the party has unwittingly been aiding his plot to kill his brother and father, and claim the kingdom for himself. But then that’s not quite true either, because the Prince seems to be aiming at something higher than the throne…
Really Bad Eggs! A recently appointed colonial governor has hired the PCs to protect him from pirates on his sea crossing to the archipelago where his new island colony is. Along the way, the PCs realize that (a) the governor is chaotic evil, and (b) the pirates are not such bad people. So when the buccaneers do attack… long story short, the PCs have a ship, they’re in a Caribbean-like setting, there are a bunch of colonists who need help with all kind of things, and there’s a consortium of corrupt traders who seek to exploit the islands for their own ends, with no regard to either the colonists or the aboriginal elves and fey. The PCs will probably call themselves traveling adventurers, but let’s face it, they’ll be pirates.