View Full Version : Cool Campaign Themes

02-29-2012, 11:34 AM
Starting a new Pathfinder campaign pretty soon and just polling the community for neat campaign ideas/themes youve had/run. I like DMing in the standard fantasy setting but with atypical concepts applied. Could be party make- up (all wizards) to world setting. Pretty open minded with a great (RE: accomodating) group- lol! Just mulling over ideas in the brainstorming phase here. Love to hear some thoughts!!!

03-01-2012, 02:22 PM
The standard group is Target, Rouge, Clerk and Dies-a-Lot - and mucking about with that can be rough.

But I gotta say that, in the past, when I ran groups of ALL rogues, or ALL clerics, or ALL wizards, all parties involved have had GREAT times! You REALLY have to pay attention and role play your butt off to survive standard encounters - but role playing like that is a great time. The only thing I haven't done is a group of all fighters... but I am sure that it will happen.

I ran a campaign (twice - different locations) with an alien invasion using races/creatures from another game system (Talislanta) and a couple of books.

1. "Dogs": move-60', 15 hp, AC16, 1d8+2 bite - all else as wolf. Hairless and tough skin. Looks very scary.
2. "Toads": move-20'/jump up to 60', AC 18, tongue (special)/1d4 "bite" - Huge frog/toad. Uses sticky tongue to try to snag target (ranged touch attack, 30' range). On natural 17 or above will ingest target (damage is from target getting bumped against boney jaws) - and ALWAYS targets most psionic folks first, then arcane casters, then clerics next. Dumb as crap. Spell resistance 20. When swallowed, target rolls FORT save (DC:30) every round or be rendered unconscious (then no more rolls). No damage while swallowed - they just carry their victim back to their masters. Douse with alcohol to revive (dump an ale!). Toads won't swallow (or even fight) non-casters.
3. "Thralls": barbarians - based on this (http://surbrook.devermore.net/adaptationscreatures/games/talislanta/thrall.html), looks like this (http://talislanta.com/?page_id=5#2nd). Can't use regular psionics, but can psionically absorb metals (not while in combat!!) and can extrude the metal into any shape desired. Primarily used to as muscle to defend and build their base.
4. "Men-in-Black": 15 hp, AC 13 (+3 from DEX), albino men, dressed like this guy (http://www.slasherstudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Poltergeist36.jpg). "Kind of" psionic beings. They all have black wands that can blast with a 1d6 lightning bolt (like a warlock's blast w/100' range). Two wands touching can do 3d6, three (max) do 5d6. Two or more can use their wands to create a gate to their home plane that appears like the Stargate iris and makes a loud BOOM when it closes.

None of these people talk - using telepathy to communicate. The MiB's send out dogs and toads to keep the footfall area clear - collecting casters and killing and eating all others. Any that get past the dogs and toads get huge, tattooed dudes with greatswords and MiB's and their lightning bolts. The thralls will fight until all MiB's are dead, then will stop and look confused - they were bred for service and have zero motivation.

Psionic characters will be studied for abilities (which will be copied), then slain. Spell casters (either version) will be studied to find out how they do magic (it doesn't exist in their world).

Their purpose is to take over the world, and this is the exploratory trip. Groups will pop up all over the campaign world. Introduce critters from elsewhere to buff the MiB's as the party gets stronger. Thralls and Mib's never go up levels - this is the way they are forever... but add 100 triads and you get a BUTT-load of lightning damage possibility!!

You may use these as you wish - changing whatever.

03-01-2012, 04:03 PM
Yes, a party of all-something can be very fun, depending on the class. All clerics can be fun if your players enjoy that sort of thing. All warriors...can get very, very difficult at high levels, and without healing can be downright deadly. The problem is that magic is a built-in part of the D&D/PF system, so it might take more work on your part. All rogues is fun in a city setting, and can be extremely fun if done right. All wizards...is...SQUISHY! At low levels, but at high levels can be overpowered if they optimize or abuse stuff like Planar binding, Ice assassin, wish, polymorph any object, shapechange, shivering touch, etc. If they love meteor swarm, then an all wizard party is just fine.
As for campaign setting you might want to look into Heart of the Junge (PF jungle book), Stormwrack, Sandstorm and Frostburn for some interesting terrain themed ideas. Dark Sun is a very exotic world and would be interesting to play in. If you're really looking for something off the wall, Spelljammer and planescape are good, or even Ravenloft, d20 modern and gamma world type things.

03-05-2012, 07:37 PM
Thanks for the awesome feedback guys! I will keep them in mind.

For now we've decided on an "interim" type campaign. To get used to the variations in the rules and what not from 3.5 to Pathfinder we're going to run a planescape/gladiator type of thing. Planeswalking demons capture the deadliest warriors from an infinite number of worlds (fantasy archetype) and let them vie for supremacy and freedom in the arena! We have 8 players and a DM so we're gonna run two groups seperately and have a battle royal in the end. Its gonna be very combat heavy and a little light on story which is very different from my normal campaigns but I figure itll be a limited run and a neat way to get the mechanics down.

This might warrant its own thread but...

Any suggestions? Im trying to think of neat challenges besidse- go bash monster- rest- go bash other gladiator group- rest- repeat. Im going to try and incorporate some side story and roleplaying but I have a feeling it could prove difficult in this setting with these players- haha! Also any specific limitations I should think about? Maybe things unbalanced in player vs player scenarios or class/races that would unbalance things?

Would really welcome feedback...

03-05-2012, 10:13 PM
You can start out with the gladiatorial ring - but then have some role playing - okay, you are resting and healing up, but what about the other gladiators. This is a GREAT opportunity to build alliances. A special moment may be had when an "enemy" gladiator gets a quick buff or heal from your group when they go off to face a REALLY bad enemy. The first time I did this, a player with an Elf PC went up and cast Bull's Strength and Cure Moderate on an ORC that was set to battle a demon in an unfair fight. The Orc died a glorious death - BUT a group of centaurs noticed - and started talking amongst other parties in the prison setting they were in. The whole thing ended up with a wildly disparate group of rebels that rioted and eventually broke out of the prison.

It was an ogre that stopped and let the party climb him to get to the top of the walls. When they rescued him from a herd of crossbowmen and certain death, once it was all over, he nearly killed the human fighter with a mighty congratulatory slap on the back when he had only a couple of hit points left.

Let's just say that this threw my campaign world into turmoil when traditional "bad guys" started acting... GOOD out of gratitude. Well, at least the Lawful Evil ones did. The CE ones just figured it was their due and went on like they used to be.

03-20-2012, 02:59 AM
I once tried a really cool idea that took a lot of work on my part, but was a hellofa lot of fun too. I created a major city and let the players know that the entire campaign was going to take place inside the city.

I outlawed Arcane Magic (people thought they were witches), but if a player still wanted to play a wizard they could, with the knowledge that they were in serious danger if they got caught.

I also had the city have restrictions on weapons and armor, that made it illegal for normal citizens to carry weapons that were higher than Simple and wear anything over leather armor.

Then I took away a large portion of their starting gold, and let them know that things like food and lodgings were going to actually cost them money.

So I asked them how their characters were going to make money, and was amazed at how much doing that made them actually flesh out their characters, and give them a background and connected them to their characters.

Then I let them out and run amuck in a city full of gangs, politics, plots to overthrow the king (both good and evil), the usual, and had their actions have consequences.

It was a lot of work, but totally worth it. We still talk about The City Campaign.

03-20-2012, 06:51 PM
Lemming's advice is GREAT! It must have been a LOT of work to get started, but what a simple idea at the core! Bravo!!

Most DM's are looking for the OMG-complex stuff - and forget the simple crap like this. Just like my idea - complex... and all I would have had to do is simplify. Lemming, I'm going to steal that idea!!

03-21-2012, 04:15 AM
I use it all the time now when I start up a group from fresh players, it's a really good way to get to know players, and it's really easy on me, now that I've got the city fleshed out. What's even better is that once you know what your players want out of the game you can start tailoring events towards the players pretty easily without it seeming out of place, if you do it well.

By the way I stole this from a former GM, so feel free to take it an make it your own. I played in the city myself, even though it's evolved since. My character, a paranoid gnome who was an alchemist who had to hide that he was a wizard from everyone. I would never have invested in alchemy if it weren't for a need to have a job and an income. I never would have had a shop in the poor district of the city that I got attached to, and then had to deal with mob enforcers coming into rough me up and get protection money from me for that shop, or pompous noblemen trying to screw me and my neighbors out of our property, and then gotten involved in the whole scene. He also had to kill a decent number of people with only a club, because he couldn't use magic in front of people. I actually tell more tales about him killing the bbeg with a lucky crit from a club (we had house ruled crit tables that made crits much more... interesting), than I do about his magic. He's one of my top three favorite characters that I've ever played.

Also as a side note now that I've been reminiscing, beware the mail in a DnD 3.5 game. My paranoid gnome wizard/incantrix sent out a letter writing campaign to all those who he didn't like. Explosive Runes does a lot of damage to those that read them, even when it's not empowered or maximized or other wise messed with. It's also pretty damn anonymous unless you sign the note. Once all out war was almost on his doorstep and he could no longer hide that he was a wizard, those letters actually saved my part a heck of a lot of grief taking out a lot of political and just plain annoying badguys before they could do anymore damage.

---------- Post added at 02:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:52 AM ----------

Also, to get back on point, check out the movie Gladiator, and others like it, and watch the fight scenes. Some have objectives, some are just slug fests, once your players get big enough they start gearing fights against the players. If they're heavy on magic, think about anti magic zones, things like that. Also try to change things up, maybe have one fight happen right after another, so it's not so much "Fight Heal Fight Heal" and give em a scare. You can also have fights take place outside of the ring for political reason, or vendettas, or whatever.

03-26-2012, 12:13 AM
multipurpose arenas can also be fun. if you have a powerful enough set of builders, you can encase the entire arena in a giant antimagic field layered with a wall of force, think mythal. then you can do fun stuff like flooding the arena and have miniature flat-bottomed pirate ship to ship battles, or import a small chunk of an inner, transitive, or outer plane into the arena for the duration: astral for a great game of null-grav battle-soccer, ysgard for a week long death-match, mix and match elemental planes for an impressively staged knock down drag out. you could even duplicate the ender's game battle room scenario, or maybe a live action version of the game of risk....