D&D 5E [80s Gamebook Mashup] Rise of the Doomcrown

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
So, about five years ago I had the idea for a 5E campaign. I was running regularly for a few hours every Wednesday at my hobby shop, and my players had a tendency to get bored with one setting for any length of time. The idea I had was for a campaign that travelled to a few neighboring dimensions in the course of the adventure; this would hopefully keep things fresh for the players and give me a chance for some interesting worldbuilding.

I hit on a plot with a particular bad guy who had the tendency to come up with grand schemes, that also involved several gamebook series I enjoyed from the 80s: Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series, the Lone Wolf series, and the Way of the Tiger series. I highly recommend those series if anyone feels the urge to see what the gamebook craze of the 80s was about. Also, all three series had a quiet period when the 80s craze ended but have been revived in the current decade and seen some renewed interest and development. In the interest of not spoiling anything for anyone, I'll be using spoiler tags below.

My bad guy, Cadmenton Noir (name subject to change -- it's goofy enough for an 80s NPC, but not suitably sinister), learns of several magical items from neighboring universes and immediately covets them. These items are the Crown of Kings (a magical crown granting wisdom and charisma from Sorcery!), some of the Doomstones of Naar (stones imbued with the power of an evil god from Lone Wolf), and the Scrolls of Kettsuin (ancient scrolls bearing Words of Power that can reshape reality from the Way of the Tiger). His plan is to merge the Crown with the Doomstones by using the Words of Power, and thus form the Doomcrown, a crown which will grant deviousness and powers of manipulation upon the wearer, so that they will be able to draw and command the services of evil creatures.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery!

This gamebook series is an offshoot of the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks. A four-book miniseries, it is about the player retrieving the Crown of Kings from the evil Archmage of Mampang.
In the series, the Crown of Kings gets retrieved and the hero is whisked away by their allies, the birdmen of High Xamen. However, it seems unlikely the birdmen could fly him/her all the way back to their home country of Analand in one night, as it was weeks of travel to get to the fortress of Mampang. Perhaps the birdmen only flew the hero back to the shores of Lake Ilklala, where they were out of the immediate reach of the forces at Mampang. Perhaps the Crown drew the attention of evil forces in Kharé, the Cityport of Traps, and the Crown lies even now in some den of vice and villainy in the city. The land of Kakhabad is vast and full of all sorts of forgotten evil creatures.
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Lone Wolf

One of the most successful gamebook lines of the 80s. Before the line was cancelled by publisher Red Fox, 28 books were produced that spanned a huge swath of the game's world, Magnamund. You play as a Kai warrior, a warrior monk with mystical powers that develop as you complete books. In Magnamund, there's a chasm called the Maakengorge that swallowed up the Dark Lord Vashna and his armies of creatures in an earlier age. The formation of the gorge was catastrophic to the surrounding region, and formed an area called the Wildlands, which has a single settlement of any size, the port city of Ragadorn, a wicked hive of scum and villainy.
The creation of the Doomstones of Naar predates even Dark Lord Vashna, so it seems extremely plausible that some of the Doomstones could lie forgotten in some devastated area near the Maakengorge or in the Wildlands proper. Perhaps one of them is in the possession of Lachlan, the Prince of Thieves and Overlord of Ragadorn, helping the villain plot to expand his reach across the coast.
ob_f95b1f_carte.png

The Way of the Tiger

An offshoot of the Fighting Fantasy book 11, Talisman of Death, this series sees you as Avenger, a young ninja who serves the god Kwon the Redeemer, tasked with retrieving the Scrolls of Kettsuin which have been stolen from your temple. Six books were produced for the series from 1985 before it was cancelled in 1987; a Kickstarter a few years ago financed a series of re-edited books, as well as a Book 0 and a Book 7. The world of was based on the authors' D&D home game, and is a very coherent setting. The series is notable in that you use martial arts maneuvers in the course of fighting, leading to more dynamic combat options. In the center of the map below, you'll see the Rift, also called the Bowels of Orb, a huge chasm that is riddled with caves and caverns that swarm with evil creatures in the service of dark gods.
In Talisman of Death you have to escape the Rift with the Talisman evil forces had brought there; in Way of the Tiger book 6, Inferno!, you have to travel to the Rift because the forces of evil have kidnapped your friend Glaivas and brought him there. Obviously, the Rift is some sort of Dr.-Evil-and-the-Legion-of-Doom-headquarters type of place, so it seems likely they'd bring the Scrolls of Kettsuin there if they were able to steal them again. The place is crawling with Dark Elves and Orcs and Old Ones (basically Mind Flayers) so it's a great place for adventure.
Way-of-the-Tiger-ORB-MAP.png


Anyway, I'm curious if anyone has any ideas that I can use to inform or expand on this campaign framework. I think the best way to do it might be to do several mini-hexcrawls -- the PCs end up in an alternate world and have to explore and get their bearings, while searching for the McGuffin that they're after. Since each of the areas has intelligent inhabitants (though in most cases they are somewhere on the actively-malicious-to-generally-indifferent side of the scale) so it covers the Interaction and Exploration pillars of play fairly well, and since each world has its own quirks and foibles, I'm hoping it doesn't get old too fast.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
I don't think a hexcrawl would work well over three worlds, but more a point-crawl might. Players can hop back and forth between various interest points and possibly return to them as they complete various fetch-quests and the story evolves. Sort of a fast-travel system way of navigating for the players so they don't get too bogged down in traversing any one single world. I'd also put several touchstone points between the three worlds so they don't always have to trek back to the same exact point when crossing worlds.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
I don't think a hexcrawl would work well over three worlds, but more a point-crawl might. Players can hop back and forth between various interest points and possibly return to them as they complete various fetch-quests and the story evolves. Sort of a fast-travel system way of navigating for the players so they don't get too bogged down in traversing any one single world. I'd also put several touchstone points between the three worlds so they don't always have to trek back to the same exact point when crossing worlds.
That's a good point. The gamebook format itself is basically geared towards pointcrawls.

As far as dimensional travel, as it turns out, all three of those settings have dimensional gates (or travel, in the case of the world of Orb) already in the lore, which makes it easy.
 


RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
My impression of the Rift in Way of the Tiger was that it was more like the Abyss (from D&D) but in a literal form upon that world.
I actually picked up the new Book 7, Redeemer!, but I haven't read it yet because they don't make it in pdf and that's my primary format nowadays. Plus, with a newborn, picking up a sizable book and finding a good stretch to read it is problematic.
 

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