Finding Inspiration

(C) 2000, JJ Shaun

I mentioned that I started watching a YouTube channel called “Critical Role.” Oddly enough, after I read the article in one of the writing magazines that lead me there, I began to see more mentions of the show cross my news feed. Imagine that. (:eyeroll:)

I also had an idea for a “homebrew” Dungeons & Dragons campaign to run with the family. So, I started fleshing out the details. I started with a location on my map of the continent in which many of my stories are set. I know where the player characters (PCs) will start, and I know where they will end. I have a plan for some recurring non-player characters (NPCs) and a trek across a continent. What happens as the group tries to get from the beginning to the end will be up to them.

In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do. I’m working on the starting area right now, an outpost called The Happy Harpy that lies halfway between two major trade cities on the east coast. As the party progresses, they will traverse the continent, finding clues to the greater evil along the way. In the end, they will battle the big, bad evil that is trying to overtake the land. You know, a typical hero’s quest.

I’m trying to find a way to get my ten-year-old grandson interested. He tells us he wants to play, but loses interest as the game progresses, math is involved. He needs a more active role. That leads to another way I’ve learned to get the players more invested in the game: Create quests that are personal to their characters.

That means that the players have a job to do for me. I need backgrounds that tell me not only where their characters come from, but what are their individual goals. Are they a paladin on a quest to find a sacred artifact? Or a rogue escaping justice after bungling a high-profile job in their home city? Are they a cleric, on a holy quest to find a hidden temple, or a magic-user chasing the rumor of a scroll of long-forgotten high magic? These backstories will determine their path as they travel.

I’ve told a couple of my players about the concept. I don’t want to go into too much detail yet, because I really want to surprise them with my plans. I’m still “staffing” the place, working on backgrounds and character profiles for the main NPCs. I drew a rough map for the outpost and the surrounding territory. The most significant difference is that I’m basing this campaign on an updated edition of the D&D sourcebooks—fifth edition, or 5e.

I have almost fully fleshed out the proprietor of the outpost, Naz Dawnstrike. I have set up the necessary files for the outpost NPCs, some of whom are more important than others. I’ve been digging through the books, figuring out how the updated system works. I’m learning as I go. Watching “Critical Roll” helps me determine how to apply the updated guidelines.

When I finish with the maps, I’ll have a better idea of where to set up simple quests and tasks for the PCs. I’ll also know where and how to begin introducing the primary antagonists. For now, though, I am wrapping my head around this story. I can hardly wait to see where it goes.

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