Monday, October 12, 2015

Sea Princes Campaign Rambling

I've been working a lot lately and haven't had much a chance to update the blog. With nothing newsworthy going on, I decided to air some thoughts and brainstorms I have on my ongoing series of Hold of the Sea Princes campaigns. Today I'm running one at Twilight Comics in Swansea, IL for one of my long time groups. If any readers live around that area or you serve at Scott Air Force base, you should definitely check out the store.

This will be our fifth or sixth session and I've covered a lot of ground including Jetsom Island, the Jeklea Bay coast, Port Toli and soon, today I'll be featuring Keoland's main port of Gradsul. The best info on the port of Gradsul can be found in the Living Greyhawk Journal #1. If you can find a PDF or old print copy of this magazine I highly recommend it because the article on Keoland is written by my good friend and Greyhawk author, Gary Holian.

As for Port Toli, there is really little to go on, but from conversations I've had with people I've turned it into a metropolitan hotbed of danger, intrigue and dubious morals. Mind you, my game is played at the gold box timeline of 576 and after. Post-Greyawk Wars Sea Princes ruled by the Scarlet Brotherhood is not the environment for high seas fun that I want. Yet. If I get around to it, I'll try to do some write ups of the locations and set-pieces I've developed for these parts.

Moving a game from port to port is a challenge for DMs in that you have to keep players engaged and interested in the tasks and destinations you provide. A good method I advise is to use random weather, sea encounter charts (mind are cobbled from all editions) and most importantly custom crew event charts to make the travel in between planned encounters less tedious and it creates subplots that you may not have otherwise thought of beforehand. A simple storm blowing a ship off course or a random fight breaking out on deck between NPCs might get you more mileage than a scripted encounter and for a long term campaign filler encounters are invaluable.

I'm brainstorming another future campaign for my Sunday group too. This one will differ slightly from my current Monday group but they share the same continuity which helps in writing overall. This game is going to be more epic in scale though, so I'm contemplating starting at 3rd level! This leads to my last thoughts on D&D. My Monday group uses Pathfinder rules, which has been a good transition from my old 3,5e games. The Sunday group I'm with uses 5e rules pretty much exclusively now. I did a couple test runs DMing the new rule set in a Ravenloft setting and it's pretty fun. My only concern is trying to adapt over some of my hybrid Basic/1e/3e seafaring rules to 5e.

I haven't seen much in the way of seafaring rules yet from Wizards and given their current love of the Realms I can't see that happening soon. I could be wrong but does Faerun have any kind of high seas story to its setting? I remember reading a Moonshae novel way back in the day and I know they have an inner sea sourcebook of some kind, but high seas, I'm not sure. What I mean here is I'm not waiting. I'll cobble some house rules like I always do when the time comes.

That's all for now, back to your normal gaming day.


grodog said...

Thanks for the summary, Mike! Sounds like some good fun is underway :D

You might want to check out the 2e TSR book _Of Ships and the Sea_. I can't personally say that it's any good, but I've heard good things about it. I imagine that the Cities supplement from Midkemia Press (reprinted by Chaosium, and also included largely intact in their Thieves World boxed set) should help to provide ideas for the random encounters in each city, too.

Of course the best RPG out there for aquatic adventuring is Blue Planet, which would be mineable for idea if you don't mind crossing genres (BP is hard SF). I recommend it despite the genre-bending because there's lots of political machinations in BP and you should be able to tweak them over to Greyhawk without too much effort.


Mike Bridges said...

Y'know Allan Of Ships and the Sea is one of the few 2e books I never got. Back then I tried to get everything rules related too. Darn it.
You can never have enough urban encounter ideas too. I find mine are best ad libbed surprisingly.
I'm not above genre bending, if its a group I trust will enjoy it. My monday crew has largely been in some of my most outrageous Epic campaigns of 3e so anything is possible with them.

Raging Owlbear said...

I will just leave this here...

Raging Owlbear said...

By the way, describes boats, weaponry, ship to ship combat, even boats being "towed" by magical beasts/servants as a means of locomotion over sails or rowers.

Raymond the Scot said...

The Forgotten Realms has Pirates of the Fallen Stars which I have considered adapting to the Pearls Sea.

Unknown said...

Kind of binge reading your posts here, forgive all the questions all at once. Like you I've been using Pathfinder rules with my Greyhawk campaign. I've watched as 5e has swept up the enthusiasm of many and wondered what your take on the two is as you've played both basically one night apart.