Lately, I seem to have gotten rid of my “RPG system ADD” - I used to get ideas for campaigns in different systems and genres, but now I’m just getting ideas that I can put into ACKS… but there’s way too many of them to play anytime soon, even if I do want to develop most of them (to say 5 pages each).
So I figured I’d share some here, in case anyone else finds them interesting enough to make use of.
The Orc Campaign
A campaign about orcs! All PCs are orcs and other beastmen races (I’m putting in orcs, half-trolls, and half-ogres, probably). This campaign would need multiple classes for the various beastmen races - I’ll get around to making many, based on the helpful instructions on these forums.
The basic idea would be a pretty simple variation on a typical campaign: sandbox, dungeons, etc. - but with a lot of e.g. dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and humans as enemies. Can you lead the horde that will conquer the human realms?! The main attraction would be playing “the bad guys” and an interesting, brutal, and possibly funny beastman society.
Hex dungeons & underworlds could be very useful, with many orc etc. lairs located in connected underworld areas, with underworld “wilderness” and dungeons and lairs about.
Based on & inspired by Natuk, a great old-school shareware RPG (from the maker of the 1994 retro-classic Nahlakh), heavily based on D&D (down to hobgoblins having white apes in their lairs!); my original AD&D 2E designs pretty much just drew everything straight out of The Complete Book of Humanoids. The game is a huge sandbox with a loose overarching plot, and you mostly follow rumors to find dungeons to kill monsters and get loot & experience. Excellent, tactical, and challenging turn-based combat, but a LOT of it.
The Prison Underworld Campaign
Based heavily on Spiderweb Software’s epic Exile series (I got the first one before the second one game out, and have played them all) and its exellent remake, <a=“http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/products.html”>Avernum.
There’s a great underworld of massive caves and endless tunnels beneath the world, and the rulers of the world above send their undesirables down there through a one-way portal. The underworld is inhabited by all the monsters that were driven out of the surface world, and by darker and deeper secrets - nodes of magical power or unlife, and demonic rifts…
The first campaign I’d run would be the original expedition: a huge sandbox exploration & mapping campaign using a hex underworld filled with lairs and dungeons. The PCs would map and explore, discover and conquer, meet monsters and beastmen, and so on. After the campaign feels like it has gone long enough, or the entire party is slain in some misfortune, you close it and…
… the second campaign takes place many generations later, when the underworld is inhabited by prisoners building their own cities, etc. The previous campaign would heavily inform the setting: the dungeons might have been re-occupied or repurposed, but many things the original party did would still have an effect; their mage’s sanctums might still exist, as would any fortresses they may have built to establish underground domains, and their first contact with beastman races and powerful individual monsters (dragons, etc.) might have a huge effect on the setting’s politics.
This could be continued, campaign after campaign, each with generations in between them, and each campaign changes the underworld and affects its history. I think many players would get a huge kick from seeing their actions echo down the centuries, and from exploring dungeons their PCs delved decades or centuries ago - perhaps to find mighty magic items they left behind, hoping that the creatures that once defeated them are now dead…
I’ve got plenty of other ideas brewing, some of which I’ve been developing, such as…
A Savage Frontier setting based only on the original AD&D 1E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Waterdeep and the North, the first Ruins of the Undermountain, and N5 Under Illefarn. I’ve got many a twist; the main rule is that “nothing goes in that I don’t explicitly put in” (i.e. it’s a setting based on the published material, but the setting is not the published material), and I’m currently playing with the idea of replacing all the evil gods (Bane, Bhaal, Talos, etc.) with demon lords (diabolism being very traditional for evil/chaotic clerics, IMO)… it’d be heavily centered on Waterdeep, ruled by cruel masked Lords who use the Undermountain as a dumping-ground for prisoners, undesirables, and just about anyone found guilty of Unsightly Loitering. The Savage Frontier would provide ample room for dungeons, even other megadungeons, and for conquering and settling many, many domains, then defending them from neighbors and orc hordes.
A Dragonlance original modules campaign (I got started on DL1 with AD&D 2E with all the options stripped out, but then I found ACKS) using Domains of War and going off the rails as far as the PCs dare take it. The old-school module material will be an easy conversion, and I’ve already created classes for Knights of Solamnia and Kender Handlers, as well as converted draconians… I’d love to see what my players would make of the War of the Lance and its aftermath!
The less developed ideas include…
A 17th-century Weird Gothic Earth, set in Europe around the Thirty Years’ War, probably using some LotFP material (certainly Better Than Any Man, the only LotFP module I find playable on its own). Main inspirations would be R. E. Howard’s Solomon Kane and Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne. Humans only, and the magic-using classes (mage, priest, witch, maybe cleric and warlock) might need tinkering. Fighters, thieves, assassins, and explorers would be straight in.
An Ancient Mesopotamian campaign (inspired by, but not based on, the awesome old CRPG Dragon Wars), where the central megadungeon is the underworld of Irkalla, with other mythic vistas to explore, like Dilmun. This setting would be a fantastical place, rather than historic Mesopotamia, but draw heavily on the imagery, names, and mythology of Akkadia, Assyria, Babylon, Elam, Phoenicia, and Sumeria. A Bronze Age sword & sorcery setting with high-fantasy overtones of adventure in the mythic realms.
A Roman Empire -era campaign set on a borderland of a far province (such as Britannia or Gallia or Thracia), where a single small border fort/camp manned by a single legionary cohort guards a large valley inhabited by the local barbarians. The valley contains a great, dark forest full of mystery and magic, as well as many dungeons and monster lairs, and several local barbarian settlements. The exact nature of the region’s contents will depend on the location; I’m thinking I’d set it in Britannia (inspired not just a little by Spiderweb Software’s Nethergate), involve faeries, and put in an entrance into a re-imagined Annwn-as-Hades, ruled by Arawn (as Arawn Death-Lord from The Chronicles of Prydain). The campaign would start with the PCs (all Roman legionaries or auxiliaries or officials, at the start) being sent to look into rumors of the dead walking.
None of the ideas are, in essence, original, but I’m fine with that. “I’m not going to not do something because someone else did it or else I wouldn’t be playing D&D.” My own original setting is on a back-burner (though copious notes are being constantly assembled), and far from ready to be shared; these ideas are something easy and fast to hammer out and put a twist on.