I tried to post this the other night, but a series of laptop mishaps got in the way (not the least of which was forgetting I didn't have my battery in and getting up to go smoke).
Anyways, the Night Below is an iconic adventure. I played through the first and some of the second parts when I was younger. I ran a group a while ago through the first part of it (well, most of it, they were getting ready to pounce on the orcs when the game fell apart). However, there are some criticisms of it:
- The first book is awesome. I have no complaints, but my large group was split on role playing and wanted something a little more hack and slash. Plus they felt like they were more on a wild goose chase and "having one guy send them somewhere just to be sent to another place." That's on me.
- The second book, from limited experience and from reading forum posts, is a drag. The players find out about their end goal and are essentially told to power level to reach it.
- The third book I haven't heard much about other than it's a great tactical scenario.
Given my experience, this'll be limited to the first book for now.
The biggest complaint I have with Book I: The Evils of Haranshire is two fold, and both involve the map: It's barren and cramped. Seems contradictory, right? First, look at the map for Haranshire. There's nothing. Forests that take up huge tracks of land with little added in, Howler's Moor is just empty. There's two villages and the Parlfray Keep in terms of population. Some Hobgobs in the canyon, and you could added a small Elf or Dwarf settlement in for variety if you wanted.
But it's also very cramped. Look at the scale of the map. It's tiny
. Adding in some extra adventures would mean the players are just stumbling across shit every five or ten miles. That's not bad if you like Skyrim/Oblivion style adventures but I like mine to be a little more balanced.
I feel like The Night Below is more of a framework, somewhere between an adventure and a campaign setting. Just enough meat that you could have a meal, but to feel satisfied, you'll need a side or two. However, ever the tinkerer I am, I see a framework and I see an example implementation (like when I started picking up Flask, you build a basic blog with it, nothing fancy but just to see how it works). I see the plot as something that should take place in somewhere a little less backwater but not necessarily in the most populated area. I needed a new map. One with plains, mountains, forests and most importantly, to me, a defining river. Lucky for me, I hoard maps. You'll never know when they'll come in handy. My old harddrive was a graveyard for maps and I'm sure I still have most of them on one of my externals lying around the house (no, seriously, I have three from 750GB to 3TB and they can be found anywhere in the house sometimes). There's one map I know fairly well, not by heart but the general layout, that fits this criteria perfectly it just needs a bit of coercion to fall in line with my idea. So I did a thing.:
Click for full resolution.
The forests aren't too pretty, but for a first time Photoshop (GIMP, actually) I'm not too upset about that. Many of you will recognize that as The Valley of Obelisks from The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde. I ran a solo campaign for my ex here and I've spent a lot of time looking at this map over the years.
I stripped out all the place names despite the fact that I'm not changing many of them (or any, really), but I feel like a good map should have consistent fonts. Also, I removed Shul Vaarth and Shul Shennek from the map. One of these is permanently gone, I'm not sure which. Maybe one'll be just very secret. I'm not sure yet.
This is an on-going process that I'm just beginning and I wanted a place to collect my ideas and get feedback on them. I'll be going into more details later, but here's the base of it all:
The Night Below plot is a regional adventure. Potentially, I want to make Book I an entire campaign arc that leads to about level 12ish. Books II and III might be explored later on. I'm attempting to limit my stuff to just the SRD/Core (not including psionics, since if I ever ran this with my current group there's no interest in that). I'm also going to add in short, area specific adventures to each village (for example: Hemyulak gets The Sunless Citadel). I enjoy more a Skyrim/Oblivion style setting but not one where the players are going to get sidetracked because they're coming across a mine or fort or cave every time they move across the map. I'm also going to be shamelessly lifting quests from Skyrim, Oblivion, Dragon Age and other games as well.