As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, I’ve been in sort of a rut when it comes to tabletop games. To combat that, I’ve worked up a few ideas for mini-campaigns that might get me excited to play again. I’ve already covered two of them; today I’ll wrap up with one I’ve tentatively titled “Old Growth.”
“Old Growth” is sort of a happy medium between the first two ideas–and it’s also the one closest to the games I’ve run in the past, structure-wise. It sees the party attempting to protect their small village from strange happenings in the surrounding forest.
I talked last time about the Night of Falling Stars and the ensuing war between orcs and elves. What I didn’t mention is that that war culminated in devastation for both peoples. The elves used intensely powerful magic to yank every orcish ship out of the sky; while this was obviously devastating for the orcs (destroying most of their equipment and stranding them on Seliit), it also came at a hefty price for the elves. Their gods, whose divine energies had powered the spell, were torn asunder by it.
Different elvish cultures dealt with this loss in different ways. One popular belief, however, was that the gods–unable to truly die, in the conventional sense–had merely dispersed their essence across the world, and as a result, every living thing now contains a divine spark. The elvish nation of Syltharrel holds strongly to this belief, and it is here that “Old Growth” takes place.
Syltharrel is all about living in harmony with nature, and most of its citizens subscribe to the idea that people, plants, and animals all contain a small piece of divinity, and thus are all worthy of reverence and respect. The game begins in a small village in the woodlands of Syltharrel–a village in the shadow of a huge, ancient, magical tree, which is viewed as a ‘guardian’ of sorts for the nearby communities. However, as the campaign starts, there are strange happenings in the forest, and the Guardian Tree is no longer protecting its people.
The goal of the players is to find out what is wrong with the tree and find a way to cure (or appease) the tree. I’ll be honest: I was definitely thinking of the Deku Tree in Ocarina of Time when I thought of this campaign.
I’d love to run this on the lower-level end of the spectrum, levels 3-6 or something like that. It would have a nice balance of in-town roleplay (as the players interact with their village and others nearby) and wilderness exploration and combat. I’ve run a few games that feature a central ‘hub’ town and the surrounding area, and it’s a campaign structure I enjoy–players have a place to rest that’s also replete with interesting NPCs, but there’s also an expansive area for them to explore and fight monsters in.
I’m a little worried that this would end up being too similar to my previous games, and wouldn’t do enough to break me out of my rut. On the other hand, keeping it small, short, and personal would be a nice change of pace from my big end-of-the-world campaigns, while still emphasizing some of the things I love including in my games.
Also, I just got the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide and I sort of want to have an adorable Fruit Leshy shopkeeper, who would fit in perfectly in this little woodland village. So that’s a plus!