The impetus for the campaign was simple: I wanted to play D&D, and I did not want to spend a lot of time on setting up a huge homebrewed setting, for fear that (a) the players wouldn't like it, and (b) it would become its own thing, rather than a backdrop for adventure. I also wasn't sure just what I wanted to do with modifying the rules for D&D, since that seemed inevitable for me. I decided on using Goblinoid Games dependable Labyrinth Lord; it seemed more easily amenable to modification than either Swords & Wizardry or BFRPG.
Taking a page from Ars Ludi's The West Marches campaign concept, I set things at the edge of a great-but-largely-offstage Grand Kingdom, in the modest frontier village of Kingsbridge. Right nearby could be found the ruins of a wizard's tower, now long abandoned. With that, I had the basics covered - dungeon and refuge of sorts.
In detailing Kingsbridge, I found myself liberally borrowing from a variety of sources. The local tavern was Falgrave's - mentioned in The Dragon #8, "The Development of Towns in D&D" and I kept the Aryan-Transpacific pantheon from my earlier Southlands campaign. The one place where I began adding in my own creativity was in the realm of NPCs:
- Sieglinde, the lieutenant in the Royal Army and commander of the local militia. Sieglinde had a positive dislike for adventurers, but despite that ended up with a fondness for Kyle, the aforementioned hobbit thief. (It was a series of really positive reaction rolls, and I went with it)
- Father Xylos, the local village priest. Very elderly and somewhat frail, Father Xylos became something of a confidant of the party - usually as a result of having to patch a wounded player-character up.
- Evpraksia, the local soothsayer and alchemist. Clever, secretive, and more than capable of driving a hard bargain.
Relatively shortly after they began delving deeper into Xylarthen's Tower, I realized that there was a need for more variety. So I added The Ruined Monastery, roughly two days journey to the south from Kingsbridge. This prompted me to put together a map of the local area; I added several features, including another town and several dungeons from back issues of White Dwarf.
At the end of a year of adventuring, I found that my bricolage approach towards campaign construction had worked fairly well. What was missing was a "larger view" of the campaign, or so it seemed to me. There wasn't much I could do to add to the campaign on a larger scale without breaking out of the purely local framework I had started with. With that in mind, I decided to shift the party from this setting to something intentionally built on a larger scale: my new campaign, named Aldwyr.
More to follow....