Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Lego Box Campaign

I've seen a few people mention that they'd like to see a sand box book from WotC. Goodman Games has published Robert Conley's and Dwayne Gillingham's Points of Light, so that's an option if you want a Wilderlands-style experience.

You can also build what I think of as a Lego sandbox using pieces from the WotC books. I term it a "Lego" sandbox because you have to piece it together from a number of sources, and it isn't as expansive as the typical sandbox, but I think it could be fun.

Start with the Nentir Vale from the DMG.

Next, add in H1, H2, and H3. For H1, place Winterhaven on the map and place the encounters outside the keep as appropriate. However, you can set up Kalreal as the leader of the monsters in Shadowfell Keep. Rather than an imminent threat, he's rallying creatures and gathering power, but still some time away from summoning the thing in the gate.

For H2, use the Seven Pillared Hall as described, but treat each leg of the dungeon as a separate section of the Labyrinth, placing them on the map and letting the PCs stumble into them as they wish.

For H3, simply add an entrance to the dungeon as you see fit and let the players come and go as they please. The monsters can be trapped inside, or you can space out their lairs and turn it into a big dungeon, with each thematically linked area a different region.

Each of those adventures already has a location on the Nentir Vale map. Really, all you're doing is pulling the plot out of them and treating them as location based adventures.

Next up, pull out your copies of Dungeon Delve, Draconomicon, and Open Grave. All of them have lots of micro adventures that you can place on the map. The delves are all generally location based (or you can spring them on the players as events) and the mini-adventures in the other two books are lairs that you can place as appropriate.

All you need now are some random encounter tables and you're good to go. You probably still want to flesh out some areas of the Nentir Vale, but you have a half-decent start on stocking the entire area.

As I said at the start, this isn't a comprehensive, true sandbox, but it is a pretty good start. It'll at least get you from levels 1 to 10 using almost entirely pre-published stuff.


Unknown said...

I've done this and it's been successful so far. When we started 4E my group decided to go "by the book" with the first campaign, down to using the default setting and initial adventures. Oh, I've changed a plot point or two here or there (sorry) but overall things have gone very well. Happy to post more notes on it if there is interest.

Robert Conley said...

Thanks for mentioning Points of Light.

I admit I have criticized specific parts of 4e. I think it has strong points as well. One of them is the how the mini-setting, like Nentir's Vale, is presented.

While originally proposed as a old school product, after the Rich Baker article Joseph and I could see how my proposal would appeal to 4e fans. But until the actual release it was a stab in the dark.

When I finally had a copy of the DMG I was relieved after reading the setting chapters.

I GMed 4th edition and it is a lot of fun to play. I especially value the ease of prep. I value the fact that I can look at a stat block and everything is there like in Magic the Gathering. I like it even more since I turned my old photo printer (it printed 4 by6 photos) into a monster card printer. I really like the ritual system (major thumbs up)

The tough part for me is the feel of the PHB classes and power. It is hard to use in the gritty low fantasy games I like to run. But then that what the GSL is for.

My personal preferences aside, I have ideas for doing a true 4e sandbox that takes advantage what you and WoTC have published.

For example imagine what it would be like to crawling around a regions filled with the ruins of the old Dragonborn Empire. Or exploring a section of the Feywild. Or venturing into the realms of Giants exploring the lost heritage of the dwarves.

The prime reason I went to Goodman Games wasn't to present the Wilderlands, my campaign, or any specific world. But to say for a long time we been looking either from a very high view or from a specific locale. We need to broaden out and look around the region where our adventure take place.

With the format I came up I can take you from Dead Orc Pass to the City of Brass and any place in between. Whether is OD&D, GURPS, or 4e.

Nope said...

Isn't this what everyone does when world building? Pull stuff from different sources and mash it together into one setting.

Dennis N. Santana said...

It's not what I did when writing my setting. But then again I'm not a fan of modules so I tend to have to come up with everything myself nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I was posting this almost word for word when I came across your 'blog. I've been sitting here holding down the delete key for ages now, curse you.

Nathan said...

good post...