Acheron Campaign

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Wicke
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Acheron Campaign

I'm looking at the chance to set up a new 5E game and I thought that an interesting setting for the game might be Acheron. Rather than offering up the usual races, I'm planning on starting the players off as 1st level goblins, and then expanding the available races as they inevitably get killed off (which I'm hoping should be pretty frequently) and/or reach in-game goals. Currently, I'm thinking of races like awakened skeletons, hobgoblins, tieflings, tso, and suchlike.

I'm also planning on restricting class and path choice unless I can come up with a decent alternative. Like, what form would an Acheron Planar Druid take? Sorcerers have draconic or wild magic types, neither of which feels appropriate for the setting. Paladins would probably be restricted to Path of Vengence.

I had originally thought to approach this like any other D&D type of game, with a solid party and adventuring locations and whatnot, but I can't help but wonder if the nature of the plane might call for something a bit more group tactics oriented. Like not awarding XP based on the number of kills the party got, but based on whether objectives were met, with deductions for character deaths. Possibly get each player to generate a roster of characters they could draw on. I don't know.

Anyway, I thought I'd share and see if anybody had any insight. I probably have a few months before any of this will be put to use (if at all), but I thought it could be an interesting exercise on it's own.

Jem
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I imagine Acheronian planar

I imagine Acheronian planar druids would be as important as they are anywhere else on the Planes. Provender trees may not be the tastiest foot ever, but they're vital for the armies. So are water sources. The constant warfare is certain to leave vast tracts polluted and unusable for such purposes. Achaierai and other native fauna are necessarily fiendish, but after all, they are natural here. More esoteric concerns of the planar "ecology" will include tending to things like the balance of petitioners.

A spellcasting druid on Acheron is probably Lawful Neutral, which means that they're probably a bit less likely to stab someone in the back -- a well-established order of LN druids could potentially be seen as go-betweens for armies in the rare cases that they need to talk or do something other than smash each others' heads in. On the other hand, a druidic order devoted to the balance with lawful leanings might have its own priorities in keeping any one army from conquering the others.

A goblin with PC druid levels might be assigned to an army and responsible for making sure its food and water were maintained, or they might be forward scouts seeking favorable terrain for supplies. Plenty of adventuring opportunities for a druid on Acheron.

Simile
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Recruited

How about having the adventuring party be a skirmish unit in an army? They could be something like The Dirty Dozen, Inglorious Bastards, or Saving Private Ryan type soldiers who get sent on special assignments by their superiors.

The unit roster could be larger than the party size, hence allowing the players to switch characters if one dies (or is not suitable for the mission). As the characters advance they get sent on more dangerous missions, but could also develop more of an awareness of the politics and belief wars that the higher ups wage on the plane of constant battle.

Wicke
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I was planning on having a

I was planning on having a group of necromancers associated with the goblin tribe the party would be attached to, but I'm liking the idea of there also being a group of druids also. That could provide a lot of interesting behind the scenes tension.

And I like the Dirty Dozen idea. I think I'll go with a 2E Darksun approach and encourage the players to come up with 3 characters each. Low level (maybe start them at 2nd level to give them a bit more staying power initially).

XP will be awarded in blocks, to be divided up among the characters however they want (even characters that may not have been involved in the current antics). That way, even if a PC dies, the player won't be screwed out of advancing. And if somebody wants to argue that their character should receive the full allotment of XP and jump up 5 levels, that would certainly be in their rights to do (and I'd even let it happen). It would, however, draw the attention of their superiors, who would immediately become suspicious, and "proactively defensive" about keeping their rank and authority intact.

Also I'm thinking of having XP awards based on achieving objectives, rather than based on how many things you kill. Take the tower, save the commander, hold the pass until reinforcements arrive. Stuff like that. A PC could sacrifice themselves to ensure that everybody gets the larger award, rather than a lesser one if they they were forced to retreat. And maybe award XP for retrieving equipment and supplies for the tribe/troops. 10xp for every pound of food, 50xp for every battleworthy weapon, more if the weapon is magical.

Hmm...this is starting to get the wheels turning.

Simile
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More for the rest of us

" A PC could sacrifice themselves to ensure that everybody gets the larger award, rather than a lesser one if they they were forced to retreat"

---

If you don't mind introducing elements of the game Paranoia... you could subtly encourage the players to put their companions in the line of fire from time to time, to see how much they would be willing to sacrifice others for their own advancements. This is Acheron after all...

Taking the Paranoia a step further... some or all of the characters could be part of different power groups with conflicting aims. So at the same time that the characters are trying to save a commander trapped in a tower that is located in a valley over-run by enemy troops - one character is looking for a secret stash in the tower, another is trying to destroy the tower, whilst another has been secretly tasked with sabotaging a dam that would cause the river Styx to flood the valley...

Wicke
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Hmm...in addition to the

Hmm...in addition to the group goals, every player is given a private goal they're aiming to achieve. Sometimes cooperative, sometimes selfish, sometimes destructive. They'll get extra, non-sharable XP if they achieve those goals. Pass out notes at the beginning of the session, with the goals and their XP value. At the end, I'll collect everybody's goals and give them a Pass/Fail.

:D

Simile
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Great ideas.

When the characters get a bit higher level, they could be forced out of the army as a way of catching traitors within the ranks. Having been court-marshalled and cast out, they are now in a prime position to carry out any and all the missions that their superiors want done but not through official channels.

Each briefing ends with "should any member of your team be caught or killed, the General will disavow all knowledge of your actions"... Cue music: https://youtu.be/XAYhNHhxN0A

Wicke
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I've started this in earnest,

I've started this in earnest, as a "Main game isn't playing, let's play the goblin game" sort of thing. My group kinda sprung it on me, so I didn't have any of my notes (or even books). I reskinned the races as different goblin castes, so while there's technically a wood elf, a dwarf and an half-orc in the party, they're all just different kinds of goblins. Two fighter types and a Vow of Vengeance paladin.

Two of the players aren't familiar with D&D (mother and her daughter), so I kept it fairly light-hearted and easy to follow. I kept making small, themetically appropriate jabs about their actions, ironically praising one PC for cowering behind their shield, and other similar things. I think everybody had fun, and I was happy with what I was able to pull out of thin air for the game.

Didn't have everybody make a group of PCs, which is something that I'll bring up at a later session. I'm planning on providing a mix of traditional adventuring and a more tactical achieve-the-goal-for-XP approach that was mentioned above. I'm still planning on awarding XP in blocks and letting the players decide who's worthy and who isn't. It should help to reinforce the background theme of the plane.

The necromancers have been introduced. Nothing with the druids yet.

Simile
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Great

Lovely to hear it got off to a good start. Having people new to gaming is always a great opportunity to inject new ways of thinking and role-playing in a campaign.

You might like to look at: http://oforcsandmen.com/ and http://www.styx-thegame.com/ for some inspiration for the orc/goblin based campaign.