Campaign Reboot Example: Murder Hobos
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0754
Readers asked for an example of a campaign reboot using my three step map. Rebooting My Murder Hobos Campaign (And Yours) in Three Easy Steps Here’s one using my current campaign, which needs new life injected into it as I prep Season 3.
Step 1. Write a Story Summary
The party tried helping the village of Phandalin with a bandit problem and ended up unleashing an ancient evil that destroyed the area and now spreads to ruin the Western Realms.
The PCs also encountered several dangerous factions, including the Zhentarim, Dragon Cult, Dark Moon, Fey, Broken Arrow Orcs, Red Hand Hobgoblins, Torm, and Last Chancer mercenaries.
The heroes just released Olyhydra, a water elemental lord, and are currently trying to stop air, earth, and fire elemental cults from plaguing the land as well.
Step 2. Write a Plot Summary
Factions and major conflicts are listed above.
To sum up next season (Season 3) for the campaign, I’m thinking:
Defeat the demons and elemental lords to restore peace and balance to the ravaged Western Realms. These forces are too powerful to tackle head-on, so the PCs will need to make uncomfortable alliances with the other factions, else they have too many fronts to fight.
We also start domain building. With PCs at 10th level, the campaign complexion needs to shift to serving others, establishing a home base and area, and power politics.
- Defeat the demons
- Defeat Olyhydra and any other elemental lords the PCs can’t prevent from being summoned in Season 2
- Faction alliances and manipulations
- Kingdom building
- Personal goals and quests for each PC
The actual details of these things are a mixture of past plans and my Bucket List. So let’s go to the next step.
Step 3. Create My Campaign Bucket List
I’m bored with the campaign in its current state. It grew from a 5E playtest I didn’t think would go beyond the Starter Set short adventure. So I did no planning or vision creation.
Since then I’ve been on my back foot, always feeling a little behind. I ran sandbox without creating my Legos.
Before I debut Season 3 to my players, I will have enough planned so I feel more confident about what the campaign is about and why it will be fun for me and my players.
All that starts with a brainstorm and bucket list of ideas of cool stuff I’d like to see play out in Season 3:
- Location: Orcus’ Ironfire Fortress is half-summoned from the abyss. Enter the fortress and discover how to punt it back before it’s a permanent boil on the land.
- Location: Shut down the potion factory The Potion Factory for Fun Faction Finagling the demons have set up by corrupting the Spell Forge the PCs discovered near Phandalin.
- Location: A kingdom for the PCs to build, grow, and protect.
- Character: Malcor helps save the world as an act of redemption for past sins. Confront his former mercenary buddies, the Last Chancers, and eliminate them as a threat.
- Character: Six recovers his past, stops the Inheritance Program (a doppelgänger factory) and gets revenge on his abusers.
- Character: Vargulf restores balance to the world (demons defeated), confronts his fear of orcs, becomes leader of the Tempest Herion Druid Circle, and opens a brewery.
- Location: With Olyhydra summoned, a portion of the land becomes Waterworld, with a powerful new water node driving it beneath a new inner sea.
- Location: Triboar, city of the Broken Arrow orcs. Within and beneath the city are great 5RDs, in addition to faction play.
- Locations: Dwarven teleport henges were corrupted by the demons but can be purified as a way to weaken the demons. However, other factions can taint the henges to their benefit, so the party will have to get strategic.
- Foe: Customized demons. I want to make my own variants for the PCs to battle and parley with.
- Foe: New elemental creatures. I want to make my own monsters.
- Foe: The wizard PC “Six” has been cloned. But I’ve got this idea of the clones being magically “chained” to him such that each new doppelgänger clone made (a costly process) by the villain Amos Kybor awakens at the same level as Six.
- Location: I’ve got the 4E book for Neverwinter, a post-apocalyptic ruined city setting. Would love to incorporate that and stock it with 5RDs for relevant quests and missions.
- Plot: Speaking of missions, run more plots as Combat Missions and Roleplay Missions with 5RDs.
- Plot: Army play. I haven’t GM’d armies and epic battles in a long time.
That’s a good starting list.
Next step for me is to start fleshing out the factions and fronts. Details there will give me more bucket list items, while helping me find great opportunities to play existing bucket list items.
So that’s a quick example of the three step approach to campaign reboots.
I’ve got a lot of supporting details and documents in Campaign Logger and Evernote to mine for additional prep and ideas.
I’m in the process now of migrating my old Evernote notes to Campaign Logger. Doing so gives me a chance to refresh my notes and incorporate my reboot planning.
Season 3 is going to be epic. The PCs will be 11th level or so. The villains are incredibly powerful. And the dangers are such that the PCs will need to grow in ways other than attack modifiers and hit points to overcome. Give this reboot approach a stab if you are getting bored of your campaign. And then let me know how it goes.