Friday, July 3, 2015

Swords & Wizardry Campaign Background

Every year, the Everlasting Empire shrinks in on itself a little bit more.  A succession of weak emperors, as well as several years' worth of plagues and fires, have done much to quiet the expansionist spirit that characterized the rise of the Empire, centuries ago.  As the Empire recedes, it leaves behind a landscape dotted with hill forts and small villages, no longer capable of tapping into the infrastructure of the Empire for resources and support.  These lands are the haunt of bandits and worse; monsters no longer held at bay by civilization's light now stalk the dark, preying where they please.  

In ages long past, this same landscape was home to thriving civilizations - the Iron Kingdoms of Hyperborea, and before them the Great Empire of Polarion's southernmost edges touched this land.  The ruins of cities raised by these kingdoms remain to be explored, their wealth plundered by those with the courage, or madness, to do so.  And of course, it could be that the books of the ancient sages are correct; that Man is not the first master of this world, and that empires rose and fall long before the first humans emerged from the north.  What treasures, then, might these pre-human kings have left behind when their empires fell into red ruin?

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This campaign, which I haven't thought of a snappy title for yet, will be played with the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, with a few house-rules in play, many of them taken from the works of Venger Satanis - such as having damage dice "explode" whenever their maximum is rolled (i.e., rolling a 6 on a 6-sided die gets you an additional roll, and as long as they keep coming up 6 you keep rolling and adding to your damage total).  

The game will be a semi-sandbox; the first half will revolve around the various player characters, hungry for adventure, arriving at Fort Thunder River, which is currently about 25 miles past the northwestern-most edge of the Everlasting Empire's current borders, interacting with the fort's garrison and local settlers, as well as addressing threats both human and monstrous in the region.  For this part of the campaign, I'm bolting new chrome onto the stripped down skeleton of the classic module B2: KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS, with the eponymous Keep becoming Fort Thunder River.  

Overall, I'm hoping to achieve a very swords-and-sorcery tone, with lots of snake-men and ape-like monsters in homage to Robert E. Howard, though I'm sure the "look" of the world will probably owe more to Korgoth of Barbaria then to Frank Frazetta:


Yeah, I'm guessing most of the settlers around the Fort will resemble the patrons of that bar in the beginning.  

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