Monday Musings: Designing a Sequel Campaign

I just wrapped up a year-ish long campaign with what was intended to be the complete wrapping up of all the storylines: an awakened terrasque, the release of the Yellow King into the world, and a haunted house that just wouldn’t go away. The PC’s experienced fear, triumph, and I gave each one a fitting denouement, but they used a wish spell to temporarily rather than ultimately win.

The players wished for the Yellow King and the terrasque to be be teleported to another world for ten years. After ten years they will both return-what happens next?

Neither I nor my players want a retread of the previous game, so after talking with them and thinking about how to answer what happens next, I’ve decided to advance the timeline by a hundred years. I’ve also asked that each character have a link of some kind to the previous campaign.

The last campaign had a fairly strong focus on the Yellow King and the effects of its presence on reality, so for the sequel I’d like to start by thinking about what might have happened afterwards. The Yellow King’s plan included inscribing the Yellow Sign on the surface of the moon, but in the interim period, someone has smashed the moon into a large number of fragments that orbit the planet. It was, however, enough for a period of madness to bring about the downfall of most civilization. My sequel campaign is technically a post-apocalyptic game; however what I’m missing is a clear sense of who or what the villain might be. I know that I don’t want it to be the Yellow King. One of the other game masters in my group is launching a Strange Aeons campaign shortly, so we will be very much done with his shenanigans.

The other part of my initial idea was to have a villain who can’t be stopped with escalating levels of violence. In this case, prior to the star of the campaign, the big bad will have been captured and is operating in the community the campaign revolves around. The antagonists methods of operation will be more along the lines of corrupting the leadership of that community. For the antagonist to be valuable, there needs to be a real or perceived external threat. Two of Shakespeare’s plays seem like good sources of inspiration: Hamlet, and Henry IV parts 1 and 2. From Hamlet, I get the basic situation: there’s a new ruler who is attempting to cement their power while the heir of the previous king is still at court and a rival kingdom threatens to invade. Henry IV has a usurper trying to consolidate their power while their heir has a reputation for carousing rather than being ready to rule and their transformation into a worth heir who will end us the protagonist of Henry V.

To start my actual preparation, then, I need the Elsinore and Denmark of the campaign. This capital should be a walled fortress. I’ll need to explain how it survived the cataclysmic events of the previous century. And I’ll need to come up with an interesting set of NPC’s. I think I’ll keep the party connected with the centre of power by involving them in the court. I’d like the antagonist to be mysterious for at least a while, and I think I’m going to include some inspiration from Dumas’ Three Musketeers.

This campaign will be my first for Pathfinder Second Edition, so I’m going to see what I can do with the new mechanics that will support character development and player agency. I’m going to try and keep the conflict less covert, and I think I want guns and gunpowder available.

Next week, I’ll look at the background mechanics, and start mining my source texts for mechanics.

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