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The role of PCs

by Steven B Wilson

Hmm. Upside: The "big picture booga-booga" going on here does at least seem to be well thought-out and consistent. Kudos for that.

Downside: What the heck are the roles of the PCs in this?!?

After all, a campaign is ultimately designed to involve and engage the players, and put the PCs in the spotlight. If there's a prophecy or mystical plan, it either needs to involve the PCs, directly threaten the PCs, or have some major opportunity for the PCs to knock over the apple cart. Otherwise, it's best handled by minor background flavour text - if that.

If I was going to use something like this in my campaign, the big question would be how to get the PCs doing Cool Stuff. Give them a chance to save Duke Stefan's life, pulling him away from a honourless death so he can rally the Karameikan defence (and if he's just got to die, let him pull a Theoden later on that inspires a crushing victory over the bad guys). Set up one of the PCs as a temporary replacement for the Seer, putting the party in the role of knowing more than anyone else about Orcus's plots and what's needed to stop it. Make the PCs work to keep Aleena alive, and acting as her agents to help reunite the Thyatians with the Traladarans and keeping the peace. And no free passes, for PCs, NPCs or kingdoms - if the PCs succeed, campaign elements survive (even if 'by default' Orcus would plough them under) and if they fail key NPCs drop (meaning that future efforts to contain the devastation will be that much tougher).

In a good campaign, the PCs are ultimately more important than everyone else in the setting combined, and any story should ultimately focus around how the PCs get involved and what they do. Try looking at the work you've done with that principle in mind.

Yes, yes...of course. The PCs play a MAJOR role in the Red Hand of Doom adventure. It is because of the actions of the PCs that the horde gets stopped. What I've detailed above is just background stuff, that leads the PCs from one adventure into another. They don't need to be involved in the Seer stuff...again, that is just background. As for the holy war, of course the PCs would play a huge role - Aleena just becomes the adventure hook/patron/whatever.

While it is true that I sometimes get carried away with overdeveloping setting material that has very little to do with PCs, I'm fully aware that without the PCs there is no game. Besides, I fail to see how what I've done here is any different than the campaign development of others, including the work of the Almanacs.