Rashemen and Beyond (Session 7 / Session 2 with a Lemming as DM)

Another week was over and finally we met again to continue where we last stopped.

After our last session, we ended right in front of an iron golem, Enelya (the as stubborn as impatient barbarian woman) applied the Oil of War to the huge construct who slowly rose to even larger size and asked in the slow and grumbling language of earth elementals for their concern in this part of the world. Having Whurynia, the  cleric of Moradin taken care of this, the golem soon stepped aside and gave way to the stairway down, leading to a larger hall with a distinctive black-slowly bubbling pool on one side and an old, red carpet on the floor leading to a double-throne on the other side. Only a few moments later the whole room was transformed when the scarred warrioress Enelya stepped onto the carpet, the whole area was lightened by a good dozen of torches, lit by a mage’s hand or (more likely) by and ancient spell that still was lasting in the old halls down here. The atmosphere turned creepy for but a moment when a translucent, white/grey shade of a dwarf appeared to reveal a most ancient dialect of sorts, that was only thanks to Daec’s and Whurynia’s expertise in the dwarven tongue and ancients dialects of it to be understood (ok, admitted Daec had some magical help, but the ghost was really hard to understand…) Continue reading Rashemen and Beyond (Session 7 / Session 2 with a Lemming as DM)

Rashemen and beyond (adventure writeup)

Yesterday I just found my way back onto the Dungeonmaster’s seat at our gaming table. In short words, it was great. In longer ones I’ll give you a brief but still depth review of yesterday’s happenings…

Our gaming group consists of 6 players + 1 dungeon master, mostly 1-2 players are missing, so we had a party of four characters yesterday afternoon and evening, of which 2 were newly introduced. The initial meetup was in a tavern without me steering or adding more than a bit of atmosphere (food and drink served by the tavern owner himself), the tavern is located in the capital Immilmar (of Rashemen – Forgotten Realms – Toril – D&D setting…) and called A Stormy Night’s Tavern (Sturmnachttaverne). The initial meetup was disturbed by a young fellow carrying an informal and friendly invitation for Daec (one of the characters) to join the local (lonely) Oghma cleric who’s attending a library inmidst a land of barbarians, he received two gifts (handmade copies of writings he was more or less asking for) and parted in best spirits with the librarian. Currently we’re closing in on winter in the campaign, therefore light snow and freezing wind was adding to a tense atmosphere whenever someone entered or left the tavern. The young, 12-yearish nephew of the librarian seemingly caught the sympathy of several characters (and their players) when he mentioned that he was not very happy with reading all day long. (Even Daec understood his point, being more than an bookworm himself)… It was a busy day on the streets of Immilmar, one of the market celebration’s that take place only a few times a year, traders from far away places (even Halruaa) were participating and enjoying. So was Enelya (another character), herself a barbarian from the north and already enjoying Jhuild (rashemi firewine) for quite a while, when she first came to taste the real stuff, Jhuild from Urling. Seemingly happy with the content and good price she could achieve on the market she headed back to the tavern to meet with the others later that evening. Lysalis (the half elven warrior) and Wuhrynia (herself a dwarven cleric of Moradin) were back in the tavern as well… With growing hours the tavern was filling up to approximately 30 people, most of them traders from the vincinity of Rashemen and beyond, a handful of immilmar berserkers from the giant stag’s lodge and two warriors, who were probably swords for hire and accompanying a few of the traders. This is when Lysalis and Daec both recognized a feeling they had already had earlier that day, someone was watching them – and then – hell broke loose. Continue reading Rashemen and beyond (adventure writeup)

epic preparation – p5 – Specialities

Specialities and additional repertoire of resources

Now we got a basic network of persons, a world and everything about your players set and ready… This part of the guide will help to get yourself prepared to keep your players busy and yourself not always on the edge of your imagination.

Motivation and Pushing into the right Direction

When I first wrote this I was going to start with all the main sections you find below, but luckily during my recent research of blog entries I could use I stumbled over Viricordova’s blog Bard of Valiant and his her character death posting. Almost as interesting for me were the comments on this one and in detail I am referring to Killstring’s comment. Vengeance – when a character dies as a part of a whole (party), the players might feel something they did not expect to feel, rage – fear – vengeance and it’s all yours to feed upon. I’ve given it a night’s thought and I am very much fond of it, inspire greater feelings in your player. You do not have to kill one of them, but you have various chances to inspire them. I’ll name a few:

You’ve got the background stories at hand, they might have a short paragraph on their youth, someone they didn’t like – someone they liked very much – what keeps you from getting this particular NPC as a villain into your game? It will be a hell of a roleplaying opportunity when they are meeting face to face, prepared for combat and one of your players recognizes him as a dear old friend (or the one that always stole his lunchbox…, you get the idea).
Don’t be afraid to (if it is possible in your world) resurrect old dead people, let them follow a greater calling – they make for mysterious encounters and can tell stories of places the characters might want to see in the future. A formerly dead cleric might have seen the other side and remember bits of it, he might be mad or not that’s up to you – but it gives you outstanding starting points to add some atmosphere to some special place you’ve always wanted your players to visit.

So you might be asking for a few motivators – here you are:

Most of them will be due to character backgrounds and the inter-character or character-npc ties, if you ain’t got information from your players that suit you, speak with them – if they like roleplaying I doubt they will not help you in this and accept your ideas.


Vengeance makes a great motivator, you’ve lost something that seemed incredible important to you? Think about it, make sure you understand what you do to a character that was a witness to the slaughter of his hometown. Your players might react in different ways to such things – no matter if they are past or present – so you should prepare it together with them.


Oh Love is great, I mean – really. Love is something that’s happening far too seldom in roleplaying games that I’ve been a part of, I think it’s most often too much of an implication for real-life things and gets troublesome thoughts inbetween players (again, just an assumption here). I guess NPC/PC love is the best approach you can get, even the lowly streetliving girl from years ago might inspire a spark of something greater in your players if they really felt for her in a special way. Love can lead to a lot of other strong feelings depending on what happens in your world. Just make sure you don’t always let bad things happen to beloved ones or you will generate probably a little frustration. A loved one can be in need of something and doesn’t always have to die by the hand of the evil archvillain dragonlich – that’s clicheeeeee!

Family and Friends

I’ve seen a lot here, players who create their background stories always the same way, with parents dead, rest of the family slaughtered and hey I can tell you those guys make great loners ;). But on the other side I think family and friends is something everyone of us has a strong need for, so once again don’t abuse background stories that give you potential “to-be-killed” victims but use them in a more positive way. The family can be a great resource for items or a good start for your wizard’s tower or laboratory, just be creative.


Honestly, who hasn’t played on this sin before? It was the one motivation that drove me when I started roleplaying, gold – items – power – Ahaha Ha! *insert really evil laughter with dark echoes*.  Since you’re the one that knows your players best, you might know as well what motivator is good for every single one of them. Get it straight, you’ve probably a few players who always wanted the Staff of Might or Robe of the Archmage – this is your chance to use their own motivation to get your story going.


Ever had the players lighten up a village, kill some innocent bystanders? Then you might want to give them a chance for redemption. Or reminder your players about the village they helped before and who are once again asking them for a favor… It’s always possible to create some major plots and machinations around small ones.

Don’t feel bad to use these feelings – it will be for the good of your players. Even if you put real stress on some of these motivators, you’re using it to create something for them. Just don’t play them worse than need be, if someone is attached to his character and you ruin this character’s life by taking away everything he ever needed – that’s not going to improve it for either of you!

DM Tool – what you might need

Hey, you’re running an epic campaign, you probably know the ruleset better than I do, you know your world and everything – so what tools do you really need? Right, it’s absolute up to you and I can only give you two things I personally am very fond of:

First of all I (as a Pathfinder / 3.5+ gamer) use DM Genie – it has all that nice features to keep track of the time, together with a most comfortable weather generator, you can keep track of distances and the approx time needed by different travelling methods… Furthermore I like to keep my npcs all close by and have their stats and abilities at ready when I need it most…

Second thing I like to have close is my folder. What is in it? First chapter is a list of names for dwarves, elves and all things you can think of – it’s a collection to get the right name for the spontaneous need – I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.
Next chapters are various things, spontaneous encounters and sideplots, all kinds of magical items – and most importantly a collection of names for all special points of interest – temples, taverns and more. Next chapter is my personal favorite – it’s a collection of fantasy-setting meals and menus – that’s purest flavor for every game you have – honestly – serve some roasted griffon filet for a few gold pieces, it will taste like chicken but it is something to talk about… (unless it’s standard anyway). THen I got a good collection of poisons, traps and riddles for all occassions. It gives me a good idea every now and then to get things started.


(You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you?)

I have to disappoint you, I will not list a special encounter in this, it would not be helpful. Just a sidenote, my personal preference is not to have every encounter matching to the overall level of my group, I love putting in some orcs against your epic fighter-crew as much as I like putting a dragon against them, I don’t think fate always matches in fair ways, nor do I (ok I cheat every now and then and tend to give them a good chance when it is a really planned encounter, but so do we all, don’t we?)

First of all, have some encounter lists, you can find several useful in the dungeon master guides, dm genie (software) is helpful getting them to work or use a sheet of paper and take a random screening through your monstrous manuals… This will keep a (depending on your mood and planned amount of combat) game with a decent amount of fights. More important than ever will be that you give your guys a clear sign of being overpowered, a mighty wizard (like Paul S. Kemp‘s Creation of the Sojourner) should be very – VERY – obvious if you don’t want a direct confrontation. At least that’s true for most of my groups so far – if you don’t have that big nasty sign “I blast you and you don’t get a saving throw if you come any closer” out they will go for it.

So what advice can I offer? Only a little, do not create to many encounters, prepare a few, maybe one or two tough ones per evening, maybe less – and rely on a few side-encounters which should be random but not too challenging (after all it’s hardly possible that spontaneously everyone has gotten godlike powers just because you’re running an epic campaign, agreed?)

In my understanding, combat encounters will be more an element of flavour and less a challenge for epic campaigns, at least that should be true for most plots. Do not underestimate what a single opponent can wreck upon your players if he is that powerful, and be aware that most creatures that powerful have more of an idea why they survived that long than the average orc out there.

Good luck on this one, I hope the ideas will help you a bit further.

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 Interweaving 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

epic preparation – must-reads

I’ve started doing a little research before and while I was putting my epic-adventure series online. Advice of fellow bloggers is something I appreciate very much and something you shouldn’t miss as well. Therefore a few of my favorite picks on adventure preparation to improve your planning and having a good time doing it.

Adventure Design 101 – @ abutterflydreaming
(several clues on howto get started with adventure design and a soon-to-come update on villain design)

The Villain in adventure design – @ abutterflydreaming
(just in time for me to update the links before they go online, it’s really worth reading and complements the next one…)

Bard of Valiant, Villains Part 1
Bard of Valiant, Villains Part 2
Bard of Valiant, Villains Part 3
Bard of Valiant, Villains Part 4
Bard of Valiant, Villains Summary
(a series to get your evil npcs in a useful shape [
– a most important step in your preparation, give it a thought – it’s a great read)

What power is and what it is not – @ exchangeofrealities
(is great to get a feeling of how powerful your characters really are and to get a feeling for the whole epic thing)

Recover from DM mistakes – @ dm.com
(just in case you were not prepared to make some mistakes, i guess this article does not take it as far as you need it in an epic campaign, but it’s a good starter)

Bard of Valiant on Character Death
(probably the one thing hardest to prepare for – and a very interesting read on it)

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 Interweaving 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

Problems of an Epic Campaign

To be honest, I have a draft waiting and could not get myself to finish it. The whole epic-campaign blog entry was meant to get my own thoughts sorted and there is this discussion I had with Tom on friday that made me realize that I have forgotten one of those key elements that reappear every now and then. And of course in campaigns of higher level these may become serious gamebreakers.

So before I waste more of your precious preparation time I might as well go on with a special sidenote this monday.
What problems are you to expect when you are starting an epic campaign? Continue reading Problems of an Epic Campaign