Weaving it together – the final chapter.
Boris Balkan:Â Now you can watch! You can’t come with me… I must travel alone but you can look on and marvel.
Dean Corso: That’s very kind of you.
Boris Balkan: Indeed it is. There have been men who have been burned alive or disemboweled for a glimpse of what you are about to witness.
from the ninth gate
So finally this series is coming to an end you think? You might be right, but I always hoped to get something started with finishing this part of the preparation series. Get Dungeonmasters inspired to go for something new, unknown ground and, as sure as the infinity of the Abyss, something risky…
Are there any conclusions to be made from the preparation of an epic adventure? I say yes and I will try to summarize it for you – first of all get to know your players. You’re right, you should already know them, but you have to improve in this area, since characters that powerful will be a strong driving force of your adventure. Once you know your players, don’t forget to learn about their characters as much as you can, get their motivation(s) right, know what they want to achieve, know how to push them into the right direction or (even better) be prepared for their ideas and deal with them. Let’s put it right, you have to be prepared for whatever it takes to make them feel good. If you are to lead a party of dungeon raiders at high level it will be different than a party of courtiers and royals.
Secondly, know the world, know the history and geography – know or be prepared to deal with questions, at levels that high they will need little help of other bards and probably have access to some of the most powerful resources, perhaps even own a keep that has its own library of rare tomes and the librarian to care for it.
Next, be prepared for different challenges. While on lower levels a final showdown with the enemy is pretty much the best ending you can offer in some stories, in epic games it won’t be as often the best approach. Battles with equals tend to be a lot harder and a lot more deadly – and most importantly, they will affect a larger area. You probably can imagine what a meteor swarm would cause to a city but do your players always keep this in mind when they are attacked? Will they start justifying their actions for themselves and listen to hardly anyone else? Things will change when you have limitless power at your hand and so will the characters and their approaches change. Maybe you’re into reading, then I recommend to have a look at some of the (in)famous epic character-reads of the Forgotten Realms, go for something with Khelben Blackstaff (e.g. the Wizards series) or Paul S. Kemp’s Erevis Cale stories or Salvatore’sÂ War of the Spiderqueen. I always liked the approach of Kemp’s Soujourner who is a mighty, powerful wizard and though his body is frail and weak he sees himself almost like a god…
Once you’ve found some challenges not always to end on the battlefield, you should make sure you know all your roles in the world pretty good and you’re ready to get started. I suggest strongly to have an adventure driven by the Actionplan instead of character actions, therefore you ensure a limited amount of time pressure which you can vary according to your needs, but furthermore make sure that your party will have a severe effect on the outcome of this all. Have a city at siege, if your party wanders off to search the heavens and hells for a might artifact to break the siege might be a great idea – but tell them the flow of time there (especially if it’s slower or faster in relation to your prime’s…) and have them witness the full-scale war when they are back late or let them see the fate of the large city they never thought could be turned to ashes… In epic games your players will have a certain amount of influence on the outcome of conflicts, they might need some diplomacy to gain the favor of one or two opposing parties and they will need different approaches over the dungeon-hack styles. That said it is completely possible to have a epic-level party at hack&slay adventures which require a lot less preparation from your side and tend to be amusing as well, though not as satisfying in my experience.
Final words: I suggest you get started. Team up with your players and createÂ something to remember. If this series contributed a little to get your campaign started I am glad. If you have ideas for improvement please let me know. Have fun!
The whole series (links to the posts will be active after publishing of them).
Getting started on Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part one
Problems of an Epic-Level Campaign
Epic Character Generation Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part two
History and Geography Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part three
Background InterweavingÂ Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part four
Additional resources (links)
Specialities and Resources Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part five
NPC Definitions and Setup Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part six
Political Setup Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part seven
Actionplan Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part eight
Weaving it together Preparing an Epic-Level Adventure – part nine