Saturday, December 19, 2009

Making it your own: The Ruins of Ramat.

One thing about the campaign I ran in my Majestic Wilderlands is that I rarely created any adventures from scratch. Plots, roleplaying NPCs, and following up on what the players were trying to do are my strong points. Writing scenarios not so much. But if you run a setting of 30 years you tend to accumulate stuff even in your weak area. I have a few that were completely made from scratch that I will be publishing.

The majority of dungeons/locale scenarios I ran were adapted from various commercial modules. I like site based modules the best. They are the easiest to twist and alter to fit the current area and plot the players were involved in. Over the years I have developed some opinions on how to fit specific modules to the Majestic Wilderlands. Hopefully this will help you in adapting them in to your campaign.

I am going to start off with something that is readily available, the Ruins of Ramat by John Adams and Any Taylor published by Brave Halfling Publishing. It is available for several Old School rule systems as well as an expanded version. The one I will using for this post is the Original Edition Adventures version.

The basic premise of the Ruins of Ramat is that two years ago a religion revolving the worship of Ramat suffered a schism. Ramat is the peaceful god of righteousness, the schismatic sect had one of it's training complexes on Witch Hill the site of the ruins. The new sect was militant and aggressive putting it at odds with the more pacifist orthodox sects. The center of the sect's devotion was a newly discovered artifact the Spear of Ramat

Eventually a priest named Akhemat joined the sect under false pretense. His hatred of the sect's teaching was such that he was willing to deal with demons and other dark forces. He called on them in the midst of the training complex and brought about it's ruin. But in the process damning his soul. But the Spear of Ramat was saved in the final battle and hidden before the last of the sect's priests were cut down.

This is the kind of backstory to a locale that I just love reading and adapting. When I read this I knew where it would fit. Several hundred years ago before the rise of the Tharian Overlords, City-State was the capital of the Dragon Empire. The religion of Mitra was the dominant religion. Mitra is the goddess of justice and honor in the Wilderlands. The religion that existed in the Dragon Empire had it's origins in the belief that Ghinorians were her chosen people. However as the Ghinorians spread throughout the Wilderlands they came into contact with dozens of other cultures and the religion began accepting non-Ghinorians.

In the module the tension was between pacifists and militants. In my adaptation it will be between reformists who believe in toleration, and orthodoxs who believe only true born Ghinorian can be members of the Church.

Now some of you say "Why the elaborate backstory?". It there for players who like to dig a little deeper. Many of those campaigned in the Majestic Wilderlands developed alliances, friends, and enemies among the various cultures and factions that exist in the setting. So this information could help a player in their goals.

A player allied with the Mitric reformists could use the discovery of the training complex as a means of gaining a better reputation. Especially if they decide to cleanse the place and restore it. There have been several instances of PCs taking over a dungeon in my campaign and turning it into their home base.

Also while I created some new details surrounding the spear and the specific order of Mitra that inhabited the ruins. Much of it established in the 9th, 10th, 14th, etc campaign I ran in the Majestic Wilderlands. I just looked in my existing notes found what I like and went with it from there.

Which I recommend for you. You don't need to to make an elaborate backstory. Just look at your existing notes, find a good fit, and write the little extra that you need. Do this enough times you will find that you have a pretty fleshed out campaign setting. One that grew from actual play rather than being written at one go.

The next part of the module involves the hook to get the PCs into the module. It pretty cliqued and involves the PC helping a little girl find her lost dog after being attacked by a clawed creature. That may work for many campaigns but it something that just doesn't work well in the Majestic Wilderlands. It kind of heavy handed and has big neon sign saying ADVENTURE HERE!.

The new hook that better for my campaign still has the little girl losing her dog. Only it is the Baron's daughter. The PC are somehow the Baron's guest. Now what this means in my game is that I won't run this module until the PC somehow are the Baron's guest.

What happens is that when a session ends I look at what possibilities for adventures exist for the next session. I then go diving into the original adventures I have (very few) and stack of adventure modules (a lot) and pick out a couple. I then read them and decide how they fit in the current locale that the PC are at and which will advance the plots that the PCs are involved in. When the next session starts I will work the hooks into the general flow of the game.

Generally the PC will pick up on one of the hooks and decide to pursue. The adventure as laid out in the module will then ensue. Sometimes they don't pick anything and go off on a tangent. In which case I just wing it relying on my bag of stuff and tricks to make things interesting.

So back to the Baron, little girl, and the dog. So last session ended and they are the Baron's guest. So I pick out the Ruins of Ramat because I know there some ruined monastaries nearby left from the civil wars that brought down the Dragon Empire. The Baron I am going to roleplay as apologetic when asking this favor of the PC. He know that the task seem trival but the baron is concerned about the clawed creatures more than the dog. The ruins as far as he knows are abandoned except for a gang of bandits that were routed out of there in his grandfather's day. He would owe them a favor if they do this. Likely it will be good odds the players will accept this as having a favor owed by a Baron is pretty nice to have.

The rest of the adventure I can run pretty much as is. It works with the spear, the undead, the demons, and the cursed priest. The only detail I will add is the ground above the entrances looks newly caved in. Explaining why nobody has gone in in the centuries since.

The conclusion of this adventure could have a major impact on the PCs. They could be feel touched by the direct appearance of a divine agent of Mtira. Even convert. Cleansing and rebuilding the ruins could be a new goal for the PCs.

I hope this examination of the Ruins of Ramat helps you in using this and other published modules in your game.


Chad Thorson said...

This is a great adventure! I haven't played it yet but have read through it.

Unknown said...

I am honored, Rob!

Now if that Majestic Wilderlands print version woul finally arrive from Lulu...

James said...

Funny, I just purchased this adventure, Friday night.