I’ve mentioned a few times now the project that I’ve been working on for Dungeons & Dragons. It’s either a campaign setting or maybe an adventure path or possibly an adventure campaign. It’s very long, in it’s current for it weighs in at more than 500 pages. Which feels a bit more like a campaign setting, but it’s just a big flowchart of an adventure.
I feel comfortable talking a little bit about it without fear of giving too much away. The inspiration behind this project began with the combination of the adventures in the D&D Starter and Essentials box sets, Lost Mine of Phandelver and Dragon of Icespire Peak respectively. And that’s not a new or unique idea. I’ve seen plenty of folks do that, given that both adventures take place in the same region of the same world.
Since I also own the Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventure book, I thought finding a way to combine it with the two other adventures would be a nice way to utilize all that material. Again, not an original idea. I’ve seen maps online showing a placement of Saltmarsh in the same region as the other two, so I know other folks have done this as well. Nothing new here so far.
But here’s where things start to get a little unique. I also really loved the Atari 2600 Adventure game, and have very fond memories of playing that game repeatedly as a child. It’s not a particularly difficult game, but there was something about it that really sparked my imagination. And secondly, I’ve never been a big fan of the Forgotten Realms setting. This may be because it replaced the Greyhawk setting, which I really like, as the default setting for D&D.
So what if I set the game in another world that isn’t the Forgotten Realms and mix in the game story of the Atari Adventure game? This requires reworking some of the interconnectedness of the story source material to make everything cohesive. At this point I start to get something new.
Where should I set this new adventure? Well, when D&D 5th edition first came out, I ran a game session for my buddies with the intention of doing an online campaign for them. That campaign was never fully realized, but that didn’t stop me from doing more than a little world building. Why not use that stuff?
My thinking, at the time, was that I did not want to do a lot of world building or have to draw maps or come up with names, etc etc etc. I wanted to run something that was not Forgotten Realms, but was a world sculpted by the rules presented in the D&D core books. So what I did was, I used the real world as the basis for my fantasy campaign setting. I used Google maps and only changed names that sounded too familiar or distracted from the fantasy. I added a small town on the rim of Crater Lake in Oregon, Eldwyn’s Ledge, and that was going to be the home base for our campaign. And so was born the continent of Marsilon.
This world is ancient. It has been the home of god-kings and dragons. It has been a place of fire and smoke, a support in the celestial bridge, and an anchor for the stars. It has burned with colorless fire, risen from and sunk beneath the depths of the Seven Seas; great empires have risen, prospered, decayed, and fallen across the eons that have been witnessed by this world. And yet, even now, in this Fifth Age there are great tracts of land across this continent that have not been used by civilized peoples since the last great age or the age before or perhaps even as far back as the First Age and the Stone Empires. The peoples of this world seek to conquer these lands, but they are few and sparsely spread across its vastness.Warlock’s Cauldron, 2015
In order to make the existing material better fit the world, I had to move things south from Crater Lake but I wanted to keep the adventure location centered on the Pacific Northwest. And so we find ourselves using maps of California to place the adventure locations. Saltmarsh has become Eureka, Phandalin has become Weaverville, and the metropolises to the north, south, and east become feuding kingdoms. Eventually, events will carry our adventurers back up to Warlock’s Cauldron (Crater Lake), but for now this will be the starting locale for Adventure.
Now you know why I have the Klamath Orcs, because of the local nomenclature. And as I show more of the work I’ve been doing to create this endeavor, you can see the bedrock from which I’m building up. I’m also going to have to give you a post explaining how using the real world seemed like it would be easier, but is in fact turning out to be much more difficult. Hopefully, I have peaked your interest and you are looking forward to seeing and reading more about what I’m creating here. Because I have a feeling, there will be a lot of it.