Introduction to a Sea Adventure / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 1
During the downtime of released adventures, we (and by we, I mean mostly Stephen) will be doing something interesting with the Adventures page. We are going to be working on our big adventure campaign that we hope to have mostly put together by the end of the year! This will be an Open-World Exploration Driven Campaign in an Uncharted Archipelago! We are going to base this in 5e as that it what my table uses.
What does that all mean? Mostly it just means Stephen is going to be talking about all the work and planning he is doing on this campaign as a way of showing how you can prepare a campaign of your very own. Now this isn’t exactly how I plan out my home game campaigns as I want to put something together for the whole internet to use, but I’ll talk about my design thoughts and how I came to my ideas a bit more in depth on here, and I hope you leave your own thoughts down in the comments. Hopefully by the end of all this, we have something we can throw up on DMs Guild or this website so that you guys can have a central document to run everything from.
Now that we got the introduction sorted, let’s talk a bit about the idea for this campaign. I am going to start with what I want to get out of this campaign:
Level 1 - 12 Campaign
Now this isn’t everything I hope to gain from this campaign and I’ll probably be adding things to that list moving forward, but for right now that is a pretty good starting point. Let’s start tackling these things and discuss how we are going to accomplish that.
Level 1 - 12 Campaign
This one is simple enough to discuss. I want/like characters that start at the bottom(in this case Level 1) and we are going to be setting up a story where our characters reach Level 12. Why level 12? Simply put, it’s a level right after a major power output, 11th level. This gives the players a few sessions playing with their awesome new powers and will leave them feeling powerful at the end of the campaign, it’s also why WotC has a lot of their adventures end around here, they realize how powerful characters can get and it’s difficult writing an adventure for high powered characters without it feeling restraining to the table.
The basic idea I had for this campaign is that our players will start at an island, which we will call Home until we can come up with a better name. After a level or two on the island, we will open up the rest of the Archipelago to them for their exploration enjoyment. This will be with a crappy ship at first, which they will have plenty of opportunities to upgrade, and will be used to explore this archipelago. Now, we aren’t going to be mapping out this archipelago on this blog, instead we are going to be creating a number of islands for our parties to discover and they are going to be finding this randomly. I will be the first to say, that sounds scary, but worry not, I have plans that we will get into at a later time when we start working out that Sea Exploration bit.
One of the main hooks for this campaign, besides the fact that it is super awesome, is that the table will exploring uncharted islands and an uncharted archipelago. Sure, they can come across traders that know where certain islands are, but I envision this campaign to be based on the fact that this place is largely unknown and it’s up to the adventurers to create the map of their world. This does mean that they may find the bbeg boss long before they are ready to face them, but they need to realize they shouldn’t be there and to come back later.
This entire idea was built off of the idea to have a huge payoff of discovery. My table loves going to new places and finding new things, as I imagine your table does as well. But I want to do something a little more, I want this to be a bit random for the DM as well as the players. I want the players to feel as if they are creating this adventure just as much as the DM is, to accomplish that, we are going to be putting in a lot of random discoveries that will help this place feel like a big open world for everyone, not just your table, to discover.
It’s one thing to explore above the seas all those fanciful islands, but what about exploring those exciting reefs, underwater caves and underwater cities? Not only does this break up the monotony of island explorations (how could that get tedious!?), it also allows us to do some different set dressing and monsters to really keep this campaign exciting and engaging!
We can’t have sea adventures without some combats on the open waters! This can be against water elementals, maybe a kraken!, wyverns from the sky and maybe some water-based Kobolds (everything is better with Kobolds)! I want this to be an exciting opportunity for our players and something that they probably don’t get to do a lot in traditional campaigns that stay on the dirt.
We can’t have ships without ship-to-ship combat and cannonballs exploding off our port bow! … Or is that our starboard bow? You know what? We’ll figure that all out later! I am going to be working with the rules from the Unearthed Arcana that WotC put out. Those rules are always subject to change, but we will adjust as needed for the future. Following those rules takes a good bit of work out of this for us, which is great so we can use all that extra time to work on our adventure instead of balancing rules. Link for the rules.
Now stop all that groaning! I can hear it from here! Oh… wait, that was me. Normally I’m not a huge fan of figuring out resources and rations, but that is part of all of this. We are going to abstract all the minutiae to a point based system that I will write about on the GM Is Always Right page before we get to that in our campaign. And please, do not worry about a complex system that will be a grind to work with! This will be a simple system that will help keep the fun going at the table!
How This Will Work
How this will work is every week I am going to be posting updates and explaining my design ideas and How-Tos on building this open world exploration based campaign. A lot of this might involve bouncing ideas off of you, the reader, and I hope you let us know down in the comments(or on twitter, that works too). This is going to be an exciting challenge, and by the end of the year hopefully we can have a central document that will have all the information you need to run this at your own table with minimal work from you. Next week I am going to be talking about our introduction to the campaign and talk a bit more about the mechanics of this!
If you have any ideas or thoughts about this, please leave them below!