Madness of Iliasha: Campaign Concept

Underdark artAs previously noted, I have begun work on a fresh campaign. Using the working title Madness of Iliasha, I have included elements from the Underdark and Deepholm. This means a fully underground world with no concept of a “surface”, filled with mind flayers and aboleths and fungi and stone elementals.

I intend to run it more or less “old school”, which (for me) means:

  1. Lots of generated elements rather than individually crafted
  2. Deadly for adventurers (player characters)
  3. Less concern about encounter balance and more about fitting a theme
  4. Players and GM shaping the world together
  5. Emergent narrative through gameplay and interaction
  6. Sandbox exploration of the world via hexcrawl
  7. Hexes for “outdoors”, squares for “indoors”

However, I am adjusting a few other elements from the old days, particularly turning the fantastic racism and sexism way down. We can imagine subterranean cities in worlds suffused with magic, so we should be able to imagine universes where your actions, not your ethnicity and gender, play a larger role in determining your identity and reputation. In fact, I have united all the “humanoid” races (humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes) so that they are just different flavors of “human”. Some individuals may hold racist opinions and even take actions based on those, but in general the societies are not organized along those lines. Conflict still exists, naturally. But rather than base it on “race”, instead we have factions competing for resources. These power struggles won’t always impact the adventurers, of course, particularly at low levels. But they will progress on their own and bring the world to life, very similar to Dungeon World fronts.

I still have lots of planning infrastructure to build. Because much of the world will come from random generators, for example, I have started gathering from other sources, hacking them to fit, and in some cases building from scratch. Each region has:

  • Hex map (6-mile scale) for exploration
  • Random encounter tables for the different terrain types (e.g. fungal forest versus crystalline fields)
  • Points of interest (e.g. significant monsters, cities, mines, dungeons) with a few sentences each.
  • Initial quest hooks

Right now most of the first region, Ositrailum, already exists. I haven’t yet completed customizing the randomly-generated map to a nicer-looking one, because presentation counts. The terrain-based random encounter tables will come next, plus a few special events I will make available throughout the region. Dungeons will mostly come from the gorgeous work of other mappers like Dyson plus occasional randomly generated maps. Donjon has my favorite dungeon generator but I will end up customizing heavily based on material from other sourcebooks.

While I won’t actually launch until my Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign concludes, Madness of Iliasha excites me tremendously for 2015.