The Next Weekly Campaign

With the Game of Souls campaign coming to an end in seven weeks, attention is inevitably drawn toward what will replace it. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the release of fourth edition, nothing would replace it. I would be taking the year off running games to recharge my creative batteries and generally get on with other things. I do that periodically, and it’s jolly good fun.

But fourth edition won’t let me do this. Obviously, I could just refrain from running a weekly campaign come September, but the change in edition has me all of a tiz. I want to run a game, I want to put the new rules into practice and have fun adapting them to my own sensibilities. However, this desire is flying in the face of some rather harsh realities.

For whatever reason, the last two years have not been good to the weekly game. If everything goes according to plan between now and June, I will still have only run 40 sessions instead of 60. I’ve also found less and less time available to prepare for each session. Reasons don’t matter, only the results. The stark truth is that I don’t have the time prepare a new campaign to the standard I would like between now and October. I have some strong ideas, but they are not hammered out in to a plot or a setting yet, and frankly if I can’t do the ideas justice I’d sooner not use them at all.

But I still want to run a game. I still need to run a game to judge and to test the fourth edition rules. Therefore I am still going to run a game, but it’s not going to be original and its not going to be set on Iourn. For the first time since 1998 I am going to build the campaign around published scenarios. I will start the new campaign in October with the first published 4e adventure: Keep on the Shadowfell. Once we have played through that I’ll move on to Thunderspire Labyrinth and then to Pyramid of Shadow and so on and so forth.

So what does this mean – beyond me hoping that none of you are going to go out and read the adventure? Well, if I’m following published D&D adventures then there’s going to be a certain degree of dungeoneering. I’ve tended to shy away from that type of gaming because it tends to bore me to tears. However, running official adventures will put the system through its mechanical paces and it will give all of us a very good understanding of how fourth edition works. And how it doesn’t work.

At this point, I would like to make clear that I do not intend for the next weekly campaign to be a mindless dungeon bash – despite the source material, there will be plenty of scope for roleplaying. Neither will it be an extended year-long playtest for Fourth Edition Iourn, although will undoubtedly serve in that role. I have greater aspirations for the game than that. Back in 1998 I ran a successful Ravenloft game for a year. The entire campaign was built around one 32-page module (the excellent, Ship of Horror). By the time I had finished, the game bore only a passing resemblance to the module itself. I suspect things will follow much the same lines this time round.

The campaign will be open to any option available in the new Player’s Handbook I published in June. It’s my intention to get together for character generation at some point over the Summer in preparation for the campaign in the Autumn. It goes without saying that anyone currently playing in the weekly game is more than welcome to play in the new campaign. However, any player would need to put up with an unusual number of rules changes over the year, as I try out and discard house rules with alarming regularity.

As the game is not set on Iourn, I am freed on the need to record every event and character in excruciating detail for the purposes of the campaign log. What I will be doing instead is putting details of each session up on this blog, with a particular emphasis on the mechanics of the game rather than the events. Hopefully, that will be a spring board to interesting and helpful discussions. It will feel like all of you are playing the new campaign. We’ll have a cosy, community feel.

The campaign that begins with Keep on the Shadowfell will run for one year. Whether I keep the game to the university term time is unknown at present, and is somewhat dependent upon when Marc wants to run his game. However, there will be at least thirty sessions. Advancement is likely to be swift (i.e. as the rules suggest) so I can get a good idea of at Heroic (1-10) and Paragon (11-20) level adventuring. I can’t imagine that I’ll be running an epic game in fourth edition for some considerable time, so that can wait.

There is little more to say except… watch this space.

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