Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dark Wilderlands, a campaign for 4th edition D&D.

When 4th edition came out I bought the basic three books. Not only because I basically a gaming geek but I didn't really know what I will be writing for at the time. So I figure it would be best to learn the current version of D&D. This was before Version 1 of the GSL. Little did I know.

After reading the three books, one thing that struck me about D&D 4e was that it as more oriented to a high fantasy feel than regular D&D. This didn't fit very well for my Majestic Wilderlands. I decided to run a 4e campaign and wanted to come up with a concept that fit the feel of the system. So I came up with the Dark Wilderlands


The Majestic Wilderlands is a campaign that I have run for over thirty years. Sometime in the mid 80’s I decided to destroy my campaign world. Using AD&D 1st edition and BattleSystem a short series of games was run where the Apocalypse happened and the players fought through the battles and short time after. After a few sessions I changed my mind and decided to continue the story of the Majestic Wilderlands as if the Apocalypse never happened.

D&D 4th edition talks about “Points of Lights” where players hail from outpost of civilizations in a wilderness filled with monsters. I wanted to try at least one campaign using the system. I decided to use not the Majestic Wilderlands I normally use for this campaign but rather the world that would have resulted from that Apocalypse I aborted all those years ago. I have a campaign arc that should span the entire level range from 1st to 30th along with side arcs for players to choose from.

The Story so Far
It is now the year 4458 BCCC, twenty years after the Demons escaped the Abyss and destroyed the Wilderlands in the Shattering. The Wilderlands are now a ravaged wasteland of shattered kingdoms and monster haunted wilderness. The Brimstone Warlocks remain to ensure that no new power emerges to challenge their demonic masters. Ruling from Viridistan, the Black City, they inflict a reign of terror on the survivors. Scattered in the Wilderness are outposts of the civilizations that once ruled the Wilderlands. The Gods send what aid they can but remain in constant battle with the demons besieging their realms.

For Existing Players
The Wilderlands for this campaign is the same up to the year 4438. The events that already occurred were.
1) Valeric became King of Nome
2) Blackstone becomes one the greatest wizards of the Wilderlands
3) Endless Star kills the last Emperor of Viridstan
4) Lord Divolic conquers the Halkmenan Empire becomes Warden of the Southern March
5) Dorvon the Dwarf and his companions travel from Harn, replaces the Ebon Crystal and become Lords of Viridstan.

Basically everything that was done using 1st Edition AD&D, Fantasy Hero, the 2nd time we used AD&D but not anything done in GURPS (except for stuff that fleshed out the overall background).

The Setting
The campaign will start in the old borderlands between the old City-State and Viridistan. More details will be provided later.

Dragonborn (Reptile Men)
These are the mighty descendents of the Dragon Legion that journeyed with the first Ghinorian Colonists nearly a thousand years ago. They aided the city-state of Caelam in establishing the Dragon Empire. When the empire fell to the invading Tharian Barbarians they were forced to flee and inhabit the desolate wastes of the Quern Desert. Since the Shattering they have emerged from the desert and started wandering the wilds. At first they were taken for another minion of the demons. But since they have proven they are just as much an enemy of demons as the other races.

In Thunderhold Keep the Dwarves dreamed of retaking the their ancient home, the Majestic Fastness from the clutches of the dragon Ancelgorn. But in the Shattering that dream was taken away and dwarves forced scatter once more. They now exist in isolated forges and holdfasts hidden in the hills and mountains of the Wilderlands.

The elves had suffered much with the loss of Silverwood, renamed Dearthwood, to the Orcs. With the Shattering they lost their last refuge, Loshain and are now forced to live in scattered homesteads. Some of the survivors have all but given up on the Wilderlands and now have turned inwards. They are now intimately connected with a realm known as the Feywild and use it’s magic to protect the remaining survivors until they can all withdraw to safety. They adventure with other races to buy time for this to happen.

The shattering has reignited the passions of many of the surviving Elves. Now faced with the clear evil of the demonic hordes and their allies they now fight for the liberation of all the races. Although scattered in tribes and isolated homestead they work toward preparing refuges from which the races can regain their strength and strike back.

Since the Shattering the Elves and much of humanity have become firm allies and friends. Some have chosen to ally on a more personal level. In the past twenty years a new generation of half-elves have been born combining the best of elf and man.

Once the Halflings lived in tranquil lands living simple and pastoral lives. The Shattering forever changed that. Their lands devastated they are now forced to live a nomadic life using their natural skills to hide and evade the dark forces stalking the land. Many of chosen to hide along the shores of the numerous waterways of the Wilderlands to allow them to quickly escape any who threaten them.

Once the most numerous race in the Wilderlands, humanity was divided into numerous cultures and nations. Elessarian, Tharian, Ghinorian have no meaning since the Shattering. Only echoes of their past now haunt the few scattered output left as former enemies now struggle to unite in the face of overwhelming odds.

Tiefling (Viridians)
The green skinned Viridian were the lone demonic race to escape the Abyss during the demon’s imprisonment. Once one of the weakest of the demons they carved out a mighty empire from their capital city of Viridistan. Centuries of assassinations, civil war caused their number to dwindle until the great paladin Endless Star killed the last Viridian Emperor two years before the shattering. The only legacy of the Viridian were thought to be the Tieflings; half-human/half True Viridian. Green skinned, sometime horned, their demonic heritage was apparent to all.

At first the Tieflings welcomed the Shattering and supported the arrival of the demonic hordes. But the demons viewed them as tainted by their human half. They were treated little better than slaves. In the last decade many have managed to overcome the distrust of the other races and have made common cause against the demons.

For a time after the Shattering it appeared the gods themselves have abandoned the Wilderlands. The only divine powers that existed were the abilities granted by the great demon lords. However last decade has proved the gods still survive. Their ability to intervene directly is limited as long as their lands are under siege but they have managed to inspire a new generation of clerics lead their believers in the darkest hours of the world.

This is the age of war and the fighter rules supreme. Their armor and weapons are at the forefront of battle as man and demon contend for mastery of the world.

The vanguard of reappearance of the gods was lead by the the paladins. These champions strike out against the demons and all those who ally with them. Now champions of all the gods even those of Delaquain and Sarrath fight together.

Some fights cannot be won head-on. Here the skill and stealth of the bow, and the quick strike of two weapons come into play. Those who walk the path of the Ranger live a difficult life but ultimately they may be what tips the balance in favor of the races.

Some fights must end before even they start. Some secrets must be discovered in spite of the strongest locks. Here the rogue is in his element striking back at the demons by stealing their secrets.

The gates of the Abyss are broken, chaos and hell alike reign across the realms. Once bound by the forces of creation the primal forces of the Wilderlands are now unchained. Some have discovered the secret of communicating with these beings. In pacts of blood and oaths of power they have channel their power for woe and weal.

It is an age of war and the fighter reigns supreme. But there still must be those who lead and those who follow the Warlord’s both have undertaken the difficult challenge of wresting victory from the devastation.

Before the Shattering the Wilderlands was a land of magic where wizards battled for supremacy among themselves and the powers of the world. The Shattering destroyed all that they knew. Mana, as they called magic, was gone with the arrival of the demonic hordes. The original primal force of magic was now dominant form. Over the course of two decades the wizards have managed to recreate effective battle spells and are now ready to met the demons as equal. The rest can only be accessed through an elaborate system of rituals that require specific materials , time, and focus to perform.


Anonymous said...

That's pretty awesome... just reading that makes me want to play it, or maybe even steal some of it to run...

Unknown said...

This is excellent, and a big improvement (for me anyway) over the default presentation of classes, races and setting in 4e. In particular I like the "Hell on Earth" apocalyptic aspect and the green skinned Tieflings that don't always have horns.

I think a LotR style Ranger (Defenders of Civilization living in the Wilderness) would work very well in this sort of setting.

Al said...

Cool stuff! I like the Tiefling/Viridian connection.

Robert Conley said...

Thanks for the comment folks. I figure if a game insists on being larger than life it needs a larger than life setting.

Tenkar said...

Makes me want to look at my 4e books in a different light.

mingram said...

That is good.