campaign design help needed
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  1. #1

    campaign design help needed

    alright lads and lasses, time to put your thinking caps on! i'm trying to incorporate more wilderness scenarios into my campaign to keep the ranger/barbarian character and tribal surface drow cleric/bard happy (and to spice things up a bit).

    but how do i keep adventure design from simply being long passages of description ("about noon, the stream you've been following descends into a gorge in a layered waterfall. the banks are lined with exotic orchids of various purple hues which contrasts markedly with the dark greens of the forest canopy overhead", etc.) read aloud in between encounters (fights with wild beasts and the occasional meeting with a pilgrim/woodsman/
    elf traveler, etc.).

    i'm going to incorporate visual aids (artwork and photos of inspiring landscapes, etc.), but how else does one foster a sense of the characters actually being outdoors and not just fall into reading a few descriptions in between the fight scenes? how can the "masters of the wild" types put their skills and interests to use besides rolling dice for hunting success, etc?

    thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

  2. #2
    I am also looking for such posts to send to my DM who wonders why I am constantly "whining" about a druid who has to hang out in dugeons and have animal compainons fight demons with DR ratings.

  3. #3
    come on folks! i know this is kind of a stumper, but there must be some dms out there (or players who are pleased with how their dm runs such adventures) with advice.

    oh ... and bumpity-bump.

  4. #4
    I've been on the player end of a framework similar to this one:

    Players get a wilderness hex map with 1 hex/mile scale (you may want to use 5 miles or 10). Terrain symbols get filled in for hexes the PCs know or can see from their current location, blank otherwise. PC location is only at the "you are in this hex" level of detail.

    Certain hexes have descriptions which get read to PCs, or feature lairs, encounters or other notable features (druid's grove, ruined tower, bandit camp, strange obelisk, farm etc.), but certain features may be missed if the PCs are travelling fast or don't search the area. Given that 3E has rules for encounter range and spotting things, this would work even better under the new rules.

    The result of this is that you can populate your wilderness like you would a dungeon, and pop a description of an interesting hex just as you would a dungeon room when the PCs arrive. The downside is that PCs never really get lost unless you do something tricky. It would also be good to explain to PCs how the system worked so they don't assume that entering a hex means you know everything about it's contents, like we did...

  5. #5
    rounser, thanks for the reply. but, unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that i'm trying to avoid during the design process. i want the outdoor adventure to be as different from the dungeon as possible, and your dm's approach is the the method i'm trying to get away from: translating the easily-designed dungeon out-of-doors. wilderness design is more complex, but i'm convinced there must be methods out there that make it distinct from the dungeon!

  6. #6
    It is indeed a riddle to avoid the description - encounter - description cycle and generate a "wilderness feel". I'm currently in a campaign that consists of "you go along the road, you see a stream up ahead" - and then the DM stops speaking, as if he expects action from us, and we obligingly send out a scout who gets ambushed by humanoids. 3rd time this campaign.

    The only thing I can think of offhand is "run your campaign in NWN", because that replaces the description with visuals of the outdoors!
    Last edited by rounser; Wednesday, 24th April, 2002 at 05:44 AM.

  7. #7
    Spellbinder (Lvl 16)

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    I don't think you can get away from the "dungeon".

    Everything you play through in a D&D game can be defined as a series of encounters or scenes. Just like in a movie, the characters move from scene to scene. (With the difference being that the DM has to describe in words rather than images.) What you are left with are encounters that happen in the wilderness.

    The biggest difference in wilderness encounters is that the players have more freedom in deciding where to go. They don't have a single corridor to proceed down; they can travel along any of the compass points. As long as you make your players aware of this (maybe letting high Wilderness Lore rolls discover more and more interesting encounter areas), it should seem sufficiently different from a dungeon.

  8. #8
    Add in subtle ecoterrorism. Let them become sleuths hunting down clues as to why the wilderness is dying (or scarier yet being replace ala War With Cthorr... I've been dying to run that particular apocalyptic setting)...

    Have them fighting nature to survive... the cold, rain, heat, dryness, etc. Remember just because the roll says you find food on a DC 10+ doesn't mean you can't add modifiers for severe weather.

    Honestly beyond that I am lost. I play in mostly Urban or Dungeon settings. Even the few primative or heavy wilderness settings didn't focus to heavily on graphic scenary....

    Really though, your gonna have to apply all your knowledge from dungeon running to wilderness. And there isn't that much difference. Or even Urban settings.

    Where the City Rogue would be concerned with what gangs are on what streets, the Wilderness Ranger knows where all the local tribes of humaniods wander. When the gangs go to fight and the Rogue is called in to be a Diplomat, the coresponding Ranger goes to find out why the normally peaceful Troglodytes are raiding far out from their caves, causing the locals to become more beligerent as their food stocks become endangered.

    In the end your mostly going to have to just use descriptors. If you are just planning this for the travell time between "Cities and Dungeons" don't worry about it. If it is something more, then rember basic tribal anthropology: We all gotta live somewhere, and we all want what our neighbors have.
    Last edited by evileeyore; Wednesday, 24th April, 2002 at 05:54 AM.

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