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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Setting Saturdays 07-12-2014

Pattern Storm Resurrection
by Me
Its the weekend!  Often a time when DM's and players get together for their weekly or bi-weekly or monthly game session!  This is plenty of reason to rejoice.

Today is Setting Saturday, the day of the week when i talk about campaign creation in the broad strokes and provide some examples of how I've applied these ideas to my own homebrew setting.  These ideas and materials are provided by me to you totally free.  The only cost to you is the brief time it takes to read through each daily article and perhaps punch in on the "follower" button as a show of your support.    I will certainly keep writing and drawing for my campaign whether you punch in on the follower button or not but it certainly would be a nice, friendly gesture.  Think of it like being the player that bothers to help your DM out by bringing a bag of Cheetos to tonight's game session.

In case you are new to this blog, this is Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight, a blog dedicated to OSR (old school) fantasy RPG campaigning.  The material herein works well with just about any OSR rules set and much of it has been played using Swords and Wizardry but also Basic, AD&D and 2nd Edition AD&D.

Last week we talked on Saturday a little about the foundations you need for kicking off your own sandbox style, classic OSR campaign.  To review you need a regional map, a starting village or city and a nearby adventure location whether that is a classic dungeon location or the focus of a plot you have written unfolding in a ruins, wizard's tower or some other place.

In this blog posting we will talk a little about broader themes.  How do you give your campaign a mood or sense of style that sets your game night apart from your buddy David's or from your friend Lisa's awesome campaign?  If you look at the out of the box campaign settings they all had a broad theme or mood.  Ravenloft was built first around the theme of a classic adventure involving a Count Dracula character.  Dark Sun had its Wasteland Post Apocalyptic vibe.  Forgotten Realms had its almost but not exactly Middle Earth feel.  

Building a broad theme into your campaign does not have to encompass the entire world where your adventures are set.  Maybe your first broad theme covers a single kingdom or part of a kingdom.  In my own campaign my first broad theme covered a pretty wide area including the Western borders of the Necrogarchy of Leng in the East through the ruins of the Kingdom of Kyrene and into the Eastern and Central lands of the fairly large Kingdom of Daria.

A broad theme can be whatever you think is fun to have happening frequently in your campaign.  Do you like wild west high noon shoot outs?  Why not figure out how to have wizards who sling it out in duels to see who is the best spell slinger?  Do you like kung fu action?  Cthulhu inspired Mythos creatures?  Do you want your theme to focus on a particular fantasy race like dwarves or elves or goblins?  Let your imagination take you wherever it will and then go gonzo with it.  

Survival and Exploration

In my own campaign I wanted survival and exploration to be heavy themes in one campaign area.  My current player group is on the Western edge of this theme park that I have created going through what amounts to an introductory adventure before they get kicked off the edge of the abyss.

This is an area where food, drinkable water, supplies, useful gear and healing items trump just about anything else you can find.  There are enclaves here and there of outcasts and survivors now trapped in this wide area needing the aid of the player characters for various things.  There is an over arching plot that the players can invest into if they like and many smaller ruins and places to explore along the way.  The region is populated with all sorts of monsters but I needed an additional theme beyond survival and exploration to give it some punch.


I like zombie movies.  I always have.  I am, of course, a fan of the Walking Dead series.  I wanted to bring that theme in my home campaign and go gonzo with it.  I came up with idea of the Pattern Storms out of the Dragonriders of Pern novel series where the thread comes down and does horrible things if it isn't destroyed by the dragons.  That was cool.  Cool is good.  Pattern Storms originate in the region of the Black City of Oubliette where the Goddess Aglaeca was imprisoned a thousand years ago at the bottom of an obsidian volcano.  These storms flash with multi color lightning and move off into the South where they unleash a hail storm of glowing green hissing stones.  Where these stones impact any intelligent dead rise as pattern storm created undead.  There are all sorts of varieties of these and they mutate over time.  The dead form weird hives and there are lesser types and greater types.  There is a source of these storms and means to end them and that is the big plot that the players can choose to involve themselves in this theme park or not.  There are certainly plenty of other things for them to do.  Like surviving.

Walking Dead Zombie
So over a period of months and now years I have put a fair amount of thinking into this particular region of the campaign.  How do the locals respond to this threat?  They try to contain it of course.  Bordering the edge of this vast area is a series of magical ward stones constructed by that heroic cabal of sorcerers, The Pentagarchy.  These ward stones keep everyone and everything inside of the "Taint Lands" so the Pattern Storm plague doesn't spread until the wizards and clerics of the outside world figure out a way to stop it.

Of course to Kingdom of Daria blames the Necrogarchy of Leng for this plague.  Likely they had something to do with it but they are denying everything like champs.  Certainly the mutated undead in the Taint Lands are a different variety than the Necromasters usually spawn in their Underforge.  These undead are impossible for the Necromasters to control and so agents of the Necrogarchy can also be found occasionally within the Taint Lands as they investigate the situation and work out a way to turn it to their advantage.

Abandoned towns, farmsteads and villages are scattered all over the Taint Lands.  Useful gear, tools and items can be scrounged from these locations but watch out...the dead take damage from direct sunlight in all their varieties and outside of one of their underground hives they lurk in the shadows of structures...or beneath them, during the day.

The lone or small group of survivor might also be encountered in these abandoned settlements.  An abandoned settlement totally given over to the hands of the dead are called Haunts and these are sometimes marked by black pennants at the corners by the elves or other survivors.

Well there you have it.  Another entry with fun stuff to share for your campaign setting in Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight.  I hope you have an outstanding Saturday!  Remember to punch the follow button and looking forward to having you back tomorrow for another installment.

Happy Gaming!


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