Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Freeport again

On a bit of a whim, I just re-read Green Ronin's systemless sourcebook, The Pirate's Guide to Freeport which is always an interesting endeavor. While the book is systemless, it's also very clearly designed with D&D in mind; it refers to elves, dwarves, gnomes, wizards, dungeons, adventurer heroes and a lot of even more esoteric details that are very D&D specific. Unsurprisingly, as a guy who's implied setting tastes have migrated away from a lot of the overt D&Disms--a process that was a long time coming--I find that disappointing. That said, I'm still a fan of the Freeport setting. While it's occasionally too tongue-in-cheek for my taste, in reality even the most serious of games has to have some comic relief, right?

I'm going to review a few other of my sourcebooks, including Paizo's books on Katapesh and Absalom, and then Privateer Press's book on Five Fingers, which is a good book-end along with Freeport, and the four books together really make for a long dive into fantasy wretched hives of scum and villainy. Maybe I'll even dredge up my Sharn book and re-read that too, while I'm at it.

One of the things that I don't particularly remember giving much thought to about Freeport, but which I quite liked this time around, was the very last section, where it detailed some sample "campaign threads." These were some very loose, and very vague outlines for how a campaign might run. Technically, they were meant to be threads that could be interwoven with other adventures or whatever, but which detailed a possible plot or scenario that PCs could encounter and deal with over the course of a lengthy campaign. About a paragraph long, and then with 5-6 bullet points that were also--at most--a paragraph long describing possible steps in the scenario as it unfolded, these are about the level of detail that I like to prepare at most before running. And I also liked how they were themed; one was specifically focused on the crime lords, one on the cult of Hastur the Unspeakable, one on a race for a pirate treasure, one on a series of Sherlock Holmesian investigations, etc. I like the fact that it gives a sense of direction, but very loosely, and can be adapted or changed on the fly as the players surprise the GM, and do something completely unexpected. Having several threads woven together also works well because you can focus or unfocus your attention on them depending on how well the players take to the themes and ideas in each thread.

I'd like to come up with some possible campaign threads for DARK•HERITAGE over time, so I'm creating yet another new tag, campaign threads, to discuss exactly this. And I'll gradually post a few over the next few weeks while I'm at it. My threads will also be themed; themes that I see as relevent to the DARK•HERITAGE setting include political intrigue, supernatural horror, organized crime, swashbuckling action, and dealing with dangerous wilderness. Ideally, any campaign would touch somewhat on all of these, but each thread will specifically highlight one of these themes as it goes.

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