Last week on the Campaign Trail I looked at 5 Ideas for Your Next Campaign. My players and I decided to go with a modern campaign, but this week I thought I’d share 5 More Ideas for Your Next Campaign that I’m hoping to get to run someday (or already have). You might think these are terrible ideas or you might like them, either way – here they are.
Part 1 | Part 2
Suggested Starting Level: 4-8
Suggested Rules: D20 system such as D&D 5e
Pitch I Made: For a century and a half, and more, the Lords’ Alliance has stood as a beacon of light in the North keeping cities and towns safe from larger threats. But in the cracks and shadows lurk unspeakable horrors. You’re a group of monster hunters for hire in the Forgotten Realms. Your agency takes care of smaller threats while famous heroes are off stopping tyrannous dragons, thunderous giants, raging demons and elemental evil.
Inspiration: Van Helsing, Hansel & Gretel, Supernatural, Constantine, Scooby-Doo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
We needed a short filler campaign to play when were were down a couple of people for our main Nentir Vale campaign. I ran three episodes of Monster Hunters so far with one to go. Here’s how I ran it.
- I encouraged the players to choose player options such as the Monster Hunter and Inquistitive archetypes and the Haunted One background.
- Monsters were focused on undead and lycanthropes. I made sure the players knew this and they optimized for those enemies. They faced off against bosses such as a coven of witches and a vampire duo and were able to survive with their focusing on creating PCs good at battling these types of foes.
- I wanted to create adventures with a sense of dread and the real chance that the players would face a total party kill. I put enemies with ridiculously high challenge ratings against them, but they were optimized to fight the monsters, so they were able to squeak through each adventure.
- I set the game in the Sword Coast, but you could set it anywhere and anytime (medieval, modern).
- We stated at level 8 to match up with the current levels of the PCs in our main campaign and to avoid simple zombies and ghosts, which had been faced already in the main campaign. If you want to run monster hunters, start them lower if you want to face off against lower CR undead and lycans.
- I created a backstory to handle what happened to the group for the previous 7 levels, focused on fighting their main enemy, a group of werewolves.
- I made sure the adventures were simple and easy to complete in a session. They basically visited a town, explored it a bit, then trouble would find them… eventually leading to a final showdown in a monster lair.
- You might want to create a different atmosphere that has more of a fun feel, like teens exploring haunted mansions or fighting vampires.
- Maybe ghosts, vampires and ghouls aren’t your thing and you want to focus on demons (like Supernatural), devils, aberrations or beasts.
This is a really simple episodic premise and worked great as a B campaign for our group. I’m looking forward to the finale sometime this spring when they face off against the Werewolf King.
Suggested Starting Level: 1-3
Suggested Rules: D&D 5e, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Primeval Thule Setting (for 13th Age, Pathfinder and D&D 4e)
Pitch I’d Make: Let’s run a prehistoric campaign using D&D 5e or Pathfinder to see how traditional races, classes and gameplay adapt to deal with a prehistoric setting. Your items would be stone age and any magic would be primal and shamanistic. You’d be a human, dinokin (dragonborn), elf, dwarf or halfling. You would be facing off against rival tribes (goblins, lizardfolk, koa-tao, etc), sabertooth tigers and maybe even dinosaurs.
Inspiration: Jurassic Park, Fire and Ice, Quest for Fire, Ice Age, The Croods
Some thoughts I had:
- Weapons are made of wood, bone, stone and obsidian.
- Any armor made out of metal does not exist, so armor would be made from animal skin (leather and hide armor should be allowed). Other natural materials such as bone or wood could be used to create heavier armor equivalent to scale mail, but you might want to create rules for the armor breaking on critical hits or something like that.
- You could set this in a fantasy ice age bringing in some Sword & Sorcery/Barbarian themes and allowing metal weapons and armor.
- You could include or exclude dinosaurs depending on how realistic you want the setting to appear. Maybe dinosaurs have evolved into dragons.
- I would create a setting where the tribes have their own unique environments such as elves living high in the trees of a lush jungle, halflings living in riverside villages, dwarves living in caves and lizardfolk living in swamps.
- Adventures should focus on major threats to the PCs people’s existence versus treasure hunting for loot, intrigue or other styles that don’t fit well.
Kids on Bikes
Suggested Starting Level: 1
Suggested Rules: Fate, FFG’s End of the World, Bubblegumshoe
Pitch I Would Make: You are a group of kids who find themselves at the center of trouble. The grown-ups in your life are too busy to help and it’s up to you to figure it out yourselves. Things quickly turn into an adventure filled with danger and discovery. Gameplay will focus on non-combat.
Inspiration: E.T., Super 8, Stand By Me, Stranger Things, Goonies, Earthbound (Videogame)
- The setting is a small town where something isn’t right, but the grown-ups won’t listen/help. It’s up to you to make things right.
- Everyone chooses a kid for a PC who is good at something like being an athlete, scientist, musician, scout/guide or hacker.
- Everyone has to have a bike to get around the small town or be able to ride on a friends handlebars.
- Equipment is mundane stuff found in a small town and each kid should have a unique item based on their family/personal quirk that is tied into the adventure.
- Many of these movies have a group of kids made up of younger 10-12 year olds and teenagers. Your group could play either age, depending on which type of problems you want them to face.
- You can really go anywhere with this including aliens, monsters or even criminal gangs and pirate treasure.
- Many of the kids on bikes shows/movies are set in the 1980s, so you might want to consider setting your game in that era to get the feel.
- For bonus points have your PCs playing D&D in game like the kids in E.T. and Stranger Things.
The New World
Starting Level: Any
Rules: D&D 5e, D20 Modern, Pathfinder, Starfinder, Fate, or Savage Worlds
Pitch: Your players are on either side (or caught in the middle) of a clash between a “primitive” people who live in tune with nature and a group of space faring humans looking to expand into the resource rich New World. This fantasy campaign could take place in a setting with any technology level from medieval to space faring.
Inspiration: Avatar, Ender’s Game sequel Speaker for the Dead
- I think it would be interesting to have the PCs be on the side of those defending their world from the invading humans.
- I would let the PCs fight with powerful fantasy weapons, creatures and magic against the humans’ technology based guns and vehicles.
- I would have the new world be an exciting, alien world with never before seen people, plants and animals.
- Playable races could be anything and I would allow players to play human PCs who joined up with the aliens.
Wrath of the Gods
Starting Level: 10 (with Rapid Advancement)
Rules: D&D 5e or Pathfinder Mythic Realms
Pitch: For our campaign setting, we visit the Ancient Greece of legend. A world of myth, where gods and goddesses meddle in the lives of mortals. A young world where monsters still lurk in the forests, seas and mountains. Your group of PCs would travel the heroes journey and aspire to be like Achilles, Perseus, Agenor, Hercules, Andromeda and Wonder Woman, battling titans, the minotaur, the kraken, and the gods themselves.
Inspiration: Hercules, Clash of the Titans, Troy, God of War (video game), Smite (video game)
If you and your players ever wanted to play a shorter campaign with overpowered PCs, this one would fit perfect. The PCs should be as powerful as a demigod and have the stats, feats and legendary magic items to prove it. If and when I run this campaign I would put the PCs right in the middle of a power struggle between the gods, like the one between the brothers Zeus, Poseidon and Hades in Clash of the Titans. The PCs could face off against tough challenges put in front of them by one god, receiving boons from another rival god. I’d end the campaign with the PCs gaining control of their own fate to live out their days as mortals or continuing on and let them become gods themselves.
There’s no reason this has to be set in Ancient Greece. You could run a campaign with Celtic, Egyptian, Norse or any other mythic gods.
I’d be excited about running games in any of these settings, but I’ll have to wait for a bit. I’m sure I missed mentioning rules that would work really well for any of these concepts. Please let me know any rules you think would be a great fit for any of these campaign ideas.
Let me know what you think of these ideas and/or share your own in the comments below.