Making a Story / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 2
We left off last week with coming up with our design ideas for what we want in this campaign, and surprise surprise, a lot of it involved water. Which is a weird thing for me to think about, as water stages are pretty much lambasted as the worst part of any game, but here I am wanting to create an entire adventure that is just a water stage. I’ll try not to think too much about what that might mean for this campaign!
Now, that we figured out what we want from this campaign, I am going to switch gears and talk about the story. What is our Story Arc for this campaign? Here is a quick cap:
The Briefest Synopsis
Our heroes are on an island that is attacked by the BBEG and they take something from the characters. The characters hop in a boat and chase after the BBEG through the uncharted archipelago, making friends and enemies along the way. Upon finding the BBEG island, they strike down the evil and take back what was taken.
Great, so we have a rough idea of what we want to do, now let’s figure out our flavor. Originally I was thinking that the BBEG could be some sort of dark spirit and the characters live on a island that banned sailing hundreds of years ago, and then I realized I had watched Moana way too recently. (He means Chris, who told him that his plot outline WAS Moana, saved us from a plagiarism lawsuit)
Then I thought about how it could be the characters are part of a big colony ship that gets hit by a massive storm and wash up on the beaches of an island, and how they are trying to get out of this archipelago alive, but that diverted a bit too much from our main plot, plus once they find some other islands, you would think that the others that live in the archipelago would have charted it by now.
Talking with Chris a bit, we got a pretty good idea after a few revisions. Our characters are sent, along with others for when they inevitably die, by some sort of King. They arrive on Nepu-Nepu (so good they named it twice, not the finalized name either) island to help out the Islanders. See the Islanders had just signed a contract with the King, if he gives them manpower they’ll start trading rare resources to him. They need the manpower as there is a massive force of raiders that are building up their strength in a portion of the archipelago that the Islanders don’t travel, for it is far too dangerous, uncharted and full of pirates/raiders.
Once the characters do a few tasks on the island, which I assume will be Level 1 character progression to Level 2, they are attacked by a huge mass of Raiders. We’re thinking Goblins led by Hobgoblins with a mix of other races thrown in for good measure. The Raiders grab Islanders and the King’s men and disappear back into the archipelago without a trace. It is now up to the characters to journey into the uncharted areas to recover their companions and allies.
While journeying through this archipelago, they will come across islands with friendly locals for trading and getting new items and supplies, as well as find islands that are full of hostile kobolds and the occasional dragon turtle! They will eventually locate the BBEG island, storm the beaches and rescue their friends. Upon returning to Nepu-Nepu they are lauded as heroes! A fine end to a fantastic adventure, where the real treasure were the friends they made on the way— eh fuck that, there is a massive treasure hoard on the BBEG island for them. That’s way better than some friends.
We aren’t going to go too deep into the story just yet, but I think this gives us a great framework to start building up our adventure. We have a clear hook: Rescue companions/allies by order of the King/Treaty, and we have our backdrop: an Uncharted Archipelago filled to the brim with monsters, secrets and goodies for everyone to find. As we continue this, we’ll be adding more and more to our story; I hate writing every detail of the story before anything else has been worked on, it leaves us in a more confined place of work and restricts ideas we may have.
Now, I did promise in the last post that we will be hitting some of the mechanics of this adventure, but I lied. That’s next week. Next week, we are going to go over how a lot of this will work, and be doing some work on the mathier side before we go back into some of the fun details of what it means to have a sea-based adventure!
But! I will hit on a few mechanics for our adventure that will really excite your players. With this being an exploration themed game, and they are in an uncharted archipelago, they will be the ones creating the map. We, the GMs, won’t be. Which means we are going to be creating a lot of islands that they may or may not ever be seen that all have different details to them. What this all means is that when they jump on their boat, they, and by extension us, will not know what they are going to find.
Think of it like a hexcrawl map, there is a massive map made up of hexes. The players have no idea what is on each hex, but typically the GM does. Well now, think of all those hexes were neither the players or the GM knows what island might be behind the hex.
And now, I can hear the screams of anguish and the gnashing of teeth coming from some of you. Don’t worry, you don’t have to prep ALL the islands for your players just in case they find it, we can set it up so that there are level appropriate islands, or you could go ahead and set up where each island is on the map ahead of time, or predetermine which island they are going to next. Whatever works best for you, for me, part of the fun will be not knowing what island they are visiting, and we will be figuring out how to create a quick reference guide for each island so that GMs can just as surprised as the players!
While my idea of the GM being just as surprised as the players might be a bit too crazy for some, fear not. We will definitely have options for our GMs that are limited on Time and just want a fun adventure to run.
Next week, we will get into more of my idea of the mechanics, how finding islands might work and maybe even have time to discuss some rules for under/water combat and exploration. If you have any ideas for our story, please let me know down below!