On September 2, our gaming group finally managed to get back together for the first time in over two months, and we have one major piece of unfinished business hanging over us from before the break.
We’ve been through our initial fear, and our side quests of leveling up and even (in my case) our angst about it and the time has come to actually do something about it. In the last session before we went on our hiatus, Auntie Bloat escalated, poisoning the ocean near the colony and showing up to taunt the PCs in turn, goading them to attack the Kenku village for food. So last session was gearing-up time and off we marched to take her down for good. But it’s not those preparations I want to talk about, because they were somewhat mundane. We ran down a list of allies and rounded everyone competent enough to fight Auntie Bloat up and because the very stressed (and somewhat hot-headed) governor of our colony was out of patience, that was about all the preparation the party had time for.
No, what I want to talk about in this blog post is another type of preparation – we are preparing for the game to be about something else.
As I mentioned in the first post I linked, Auntie Bloat has become the villain of act one of our game – we started hearing about her right after we made contact with the Kenku village (like, literally hours later) and retrieving something she had that would greatly help the Kenku village was literally how we showed them we could be trusted and even counted on. Her scheming has pushed us through several adventures and now, hopefully in the next session or two, someone will knock the last hit point off of her and that arc will end.
Which begs the question: where does the campaign go from there?
I’m not sure, but there are plenty of places it CAN go.
First, it’s become clear to us that the island the colony is on is part of an archipelago, and there are things both dangerous and benign out there. There’s an island full of lizardfolk who have mysterious, dangerous ruins to the north. There’s an island with a banshee that almost killed us that’s going to have to be dealt with – Lambert in particular isn’t going to want to just leave it there for some hapless explorer to run afoul of. There’s a society of seafaring cat people who rarely set foot on land, but sail around trading with others. There was that bit with the pocket dimension and the hints about some powerful ancient dragon named Polychromax. There’s a huge wandering, floating mess infested with goblins that can cause problems. The sailors who brought the colonists to the New World (and who didn’t get along well with two of the PCs AT ALL) have repaired the ship and sailed back to the old world, which means pretty soon the first batch of taxes is going to be due, the first batch of mail is going to be delivered, and the first new batch of colonists is going to arrive. At a minimum.
In addition, Grant has expressed an interest in running some pregens through some old classic dungeons as a way of enacting stories one of our (and his!) favorite NPCs, the Kenku sorcerer Rishi is going to tell us during downtime. So there’s a lot to explore and look into, even if Grant stopped introducing new things, which I don’t expect him to do.
In short, the seeds of act two were sown in act one, which is how you want to do these things if at all possible. Throw out hints and show bits of setting while your PCs are occupied with something important, and then when they’ve dealt with what they had to, they’ll want to come back and check out what they missed. One of the biggest mistakes a GM can make in a long campaign is, I think, is leaving a world that’s supposed to be big and interesting populated with only what’s relevant to the adventure at hand. How much PCs get to backtrack and tie off old loose ends is always going to vary, of course.
But they should always want to.