Monday, November 21, 2016

ArborDale Campaign III

The first adventure map
I am, in many ways, still creating adventures the way I did back in the day when I was first playing AD&D. After we had run Keep on the Borderland and Isle of Dread into the ground (yes, I know they aren't AD&D adventures, but I had the BX sets with the AD&D books, so ...) and started creating adventures on my own, my notebooks were crammed with graph paper maps, drawings, lists of encounters and campaign notes. I never realized I was keeping my first campaign journals back then, but that's essentially what they were. My daughter recently texted me list of digital campaign management tools when she last saw my scattered ream of loose-leaf sheets that were stuffed into my trusty portfolio, to whit:
But in my defense, I had just transported all of my ArborDale files into a nice three ring binder. Anywho, with that explanation you can perhaps appreciate my next two pics which show the initial notes for this first leg of the journey.

Everyone's DMing style and adventure/campaign writing style is different; and I don't always use the style captured above, as I also have reams of type-written documents detailing other portions of the campaign and region around ArborDale. However, the time and space I have for campaign creation is often limited, and my handy-dandy yellow pad I carry everywhere often ends up being the go-to for notes and ideas when I have a few minutes to write them down. And with my DMing style, less is more as I improvise and create around a mental picture or idea in my head which the notes alone do not often capture.

Sadly, this work is often not captured after the fact. And a set of one or two hand scrawled notes as pictured above do not capture the details and color of an actual session. This can make sharing such work difficult at best. Despite many efforts over the years I have not transformed my better adventures and campaigns from notes, to rough draft to final draft to finished draft, to edited copy to polished publication worthy material. That my friends is still a far off dream.

With that being said allow me now to list the basic adventure outline up to the groups arrival at Broken Finger.

I: Request from Friar Briar
   A. Fester as Guide
   B. Findalyn as Healer
II: Cypress Ferry
   A. Fairy Offerings
   B. Nahongunonalolla
   C. Path to the Bauble
III. The Lair of Nylyssa
   A. The Ward against Agilgrim
IV. The Witch & the Wagon
   A. The Remedies
   B. The Dead
   C. TimeSlip
V. Crossing the EverRun
   A. The giant beaver
VI. Blood Donation: The Stirges
VII. The Dark Watchman: Wolf Pack
VIII. The Hunt: The Giant Boar
IX. Cries in the Night: Water Baby
X. Things that Crawl in the Dark: Giant Centipedes
   A. Lair of the first attempt
   B. A conspiracy is detected aka "Something's rotten in ArborDale"
XI. The Blood Swamp
XII. Approaching Broken Finger

The actual unfolding of the encounters listed above were colorful and successful. But as you may already be able to tell, the notes themselves do not do justice to the actual play sessions. This I will detail next time as a complete narrative. I'll discuss why I think it was successful and begin to foreshadow why I thought the next section, much more thoroughly detailed was not nearly as well run as the first. As we progress through the campaign thus far I'll also explain why I decided to run an actual out of the box module from AD&D and why I was not wholly pleased with it either. Then I'll be prepared to give my overall impressions of why 5e isn't really an "old school" game in the classic sense, but why that's okay and what it might mean for other grognards like myself who are trying to live in the ebst of both worlds--something 5e itself tried to achieve. Lastly, I'll explain how all of this has changed my design trajectory and future plans for the campaign and my D&D play for now.