Friday, June 17, 2011

Monster-Based Campaign Design (part 1)

After coming up with my list of favorite B/X monsters, I'm realizing that hardly any of them are used in the adventures I've been looking at (B1-B4).  I guess I'm just not a big fan of the typically D&D humanoids, goblin, kobolds, and the like. That isn't to say they can't be made to work well; Waysoftheeath's Hinterlands player by post campaign on the ODD74 boards, for example, has been fantastic. But I think I'd like to do something a little more pulpy.

So I'm going to try a little different approach to adventure design. Looking at my list of monsters, I can see that many of them are either typically found in desert (mummies, efreeti, djinni), jungle (frog men, giant lizards, insect swarms), or coastal (buccaneers, sea dragons, water termites) regions. Thus, those will become the basic geography for the campaign.

The only monster that doesn't really work in any of those environments are the Titans from the B/X Companion. Luckily, I had an idea of them already. Titans in my world, are going to be similar to the Olympian gods. In fact, I may just use the Olympian gods--in which case I'll call them Olympians instead of Titans. Regardless, Titans are the most powerful group of creatures that actually play an role in the events of the campaign world, and most of the human population worships them as gods. Most of their priests, however, are normal men, with the higher ranking members as magic-users or fighters.

Clerics have nothing to do with the titans. They are members of a Zoroastrian-like religion, where the forces of Law and Chaos are locked in an unending battle for the universe.

I'm considering steeling the City State of Pelengos from my City State of the Emerald Eye PBP campaign. It is a decadent metropolis that functions are the focal point of the civilized world surrounded by a gibbering wilderness. Here's a short except from the campaign concerning the city's history:
The  "Tyrant" is the coloquial name for the  "Prince of the Emerald Eye", the autocrat that rules over the City State of the Emerald Eye. His grandfather, the first Tyrant, for was foreign conqueror from a civilized land and built Pelengos to rule over the newly captured territory. During the short reign of his son, his control over the surrounding land diminished and is now no more than the land within the walls of the City State.
Another major city is the legendary City of Brass, the city of the Efreeti, which will be located either in the desert region in a low valley or on a distant planet that can be accessed via a portal located in a lost desert ruin. Either is almost impossible to reach due to its distance from any oases, but the city filled with both great danger and great treasure. In my mind, the City of Brass is the pinocle of adventuring sites in terms of difficultly and potential pay off.

Alright, that's what I've got for now. More tomorrow, hopefully.


  1. Excellent idea, use what you like to build the setting.