Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Toolbox: Putting Level Caps Into Practice

Okay, last night, I whipped up five OSRIC characters.  As you can see from my previous post, one of them was literally unplayable.  That still blows my mind.

Anyway, I made my characters for the campaign.  Straight 3d6s in order.  I focused heavily on demi-humans, since the point of this exercise was to base a campaign off of level caps.  I won't go into the weeds of it, but here was the party I ended up with:

Stor Valans, Male Human Magic-User
Ral Goldenleaf, Male Elf Cleric
Potter Neel, Male Halfling Fighter/Thief
Teris Jan, Female Half-Elf Thief
Gelda Spearbreaker, Female Half-Orc Fighter

This party actually doesn't have much in the way of level caps.  Ral tops off at 7, Gelda at 10.  Potter's fighter levels will stop at 4, but the sky is the limit with the rest of them.  Since he can progress in thief levels, we'll plan for the campaign to end around the 7th or 8th level.

It's been an awful long time since I wrote anything for an Old School Rules set, so it will be a bit before I have more detail.  My first thought are sixteen "episodes" which I hope will fit into a night of play each.  There will be much tweaking as I go on, for sure.

Before we fill in the details, the general structure will look like four episodes taking the players through Levels 1 and 2.  Some light foreshadowing, but generally light plot to give the players time to feel out the characters and the personalities.  I want the last four episodes to be the dramatic conclusion, so maybe the dungeoncrawl into the villain's lair comprising levels 7 & 8.  The middle--buildup.

The dilemma for me has been what to make the big bad guy.  I looked through the monster lists, but then realized that the answer was in a different project I was working on.  One of the things I noticed in the earlier D&D works is that there was a mechanism built into the Orcs akin to the "Animosity Roll" from Warhammer.  The caveat in the 1e Monster Manual is that a powerful leader can keep these different tribes together.  So, if I'm going old school, I'm going OLD SCHOOL.  The villain will be a powerful (well, given the party, like 11th level) magic-user who will have an army of humanoids and undead at his disposal.

I'll work into all of the PCs backstories either a personal loss or a spiritual motivation that predisposes them against the wizard.  While it won't come into play immediately, by the time they are 3rd Level and the plot buildup begins, those motivations will be tweaked and the plot will move forward.

With this as a base, you'll see blogs in the future in the "Against the Dark Lord" category.  Those will be this virtual OSRIC campaign.  Too many potential players read this, so while the details might not be practiced, future players of mine can certainly learn the theory of how I plan campaigns.