Studying of History andÂ Geography
Now you got a few characters, maybe all of this is part of your long-time campaign / ongoing adventure and you’re lifting it to epic levels, maybe you’ve just started this draft and want to start all a new. It does hardly matter – you will have to prepare the world according to your needs – or perhaps even better – you have to know the world as your players might travel in it.
There are so many different places in the world and more importantly there are so many worlds. You might use a homebrew one, which is probably hardest to communicate to your players unless they’ve been there, but on the upside they won’t know more about the world than you do, by reading some strange books :). Then again you might feel more like using one of the more traditional, wide-spread worlds out there, maybe something as isolated as Athas of the dark-sun campaign setting, mayhap the open world of the forgotten realms Faerun, perhaps you’re a fan of darker fantasy settings and have selected Midnight’s campaign setting for your epic campaign, no matter what you pick – know that you will have to be very familiar with the world. So this short article should help you preparing according to the needs of a high level setting.
What has happend in the past here? I mean, you know what your characters have achieved in the history of this area, but do not forget that history itself gives opportunity for great adventures. Demons and devils might have had a say in the history of a landscape and might be bound to come back here every 500 years, some place might have a history as dark as a shadowwalker’s dream and others might have a history of a god’s flock that overcame the evil of many long ago. That’s all bright and shiny – normal history might be a bit more rational (or dull) but it adds some flavor to your campaign you might not want to miss. Now that said, do not forget that you have some background stories (or older adventures) of your characters and you might want to add tidbits of history to these stories so your players get a bit more familiar with everything around.
Geography and places to be/go/…
You will need to prepare a bit on the geographic terms for your campaign and make sure to have some backup plans as well, so you should get a basic picture in your mind of all main-parts of your campaign, everywhere your characters might be tempted to search, if you name a place, have yourself an idea where it is and how it looks like. If you mention an old den, know where it is, know how it might be secured or know what has happend to it over the years, if you refer to a war that was fought, know where it was fought, perhaps some idols or reminders have been placed on places that are particularly important for the people to remember. Furthermore be prepared for all kinds of teleports and plane shifts, since you might not be that used to your characters using them so far, they might feel like now it’s a “piece of cake” for them. As a general rule do not hamper their movement because you’re an lazy ass gamemaster, try to improve their experience of the region by describing smells, sights and flavors as exotic as not even you might be able to imagine.
Now that you’ve got several locations flashed out, you might want to think about ways to prepare some challenges for your players, I’ll suggest two here as starters. What I’ve recently thought of for epic level campaign is to let a teleport go awry and put the characters into a situation in which they have to act quickly and are likely to overreact in a wrong way. What would you do if you’re teleporting to some urgent place and find out that you’ve taken a completely different path and are inmidst of some of your archenemies? (Ye, I know well that by putting these lines here, I hardly can use them in my adventures but hopefully it will be of good use for you)
Another quick idea – prepare a unique otherwordly location,Â a small dimension that was put into existence by the ultimate evil deeds of one man or woman (perhaps a demigod). Think about it, the hells denied the individual entry because it was too dangerous to let this one roam in the baator at any time. Now that several hundred years have passed someone has rediscovered an old artifact that is drawing him directly to open the one gate which is hidden in the eternal ice, meant to be forgotten so long ago.
This gives you the advantage of having a very unique experience at hand for your players while at the same hand you have all possiblities to prepare a bit of the general direction of the adventure.
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