What Does World of Warcraft Have To Do With Your D&D Campaign?

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on September 14, 2009

Change is coming to World of Warcraft with the announcement of the new expansion: Cataclysm. Whether you’re familiar with WoW or not change in fantasy games can be a good thing.

With the launch of 4e D&D, Wizards of the Coast brought change to the Forgotten Realms by advancing the timeline almost 100 years. This kind of change is pretty major and significant, but what about the smaller changes. I’m not talking about world breaking change. You don’t need to redefine the geography or have the PCs survive an apocalypse. I’m talking about smaller, subtler change to keep things interesting for the PCs.

When was the last time you brought change to your game?

Let’s look at an example, the PCs return to town and head to the local tavern. They find Sam the bartender waiting for them, the barmaid Carla is only to happy to bring the PCs drinks and there is Woody always happy to help out where needed. Is the scene the same every time the PCs go into the tavern?

Returning to town, after the harrows of exploring a dungeon, is supposed to be a welcome rest for PCs. They are able to restock and head out on their next adventure. But town doesn’t always have to stay the same. By having Woody disappear you can introduce new plot themes. Perhaps Sam was bought out or Carla was kidnapped. How do the PCs react to the news?

This example is a short one, but the point is that by changing what is comfortable for your PCs you keep them on their toes. You keep your campaign fresh and you introduce the possibility of many different adventure paths, which is particularly useful if you’re running a sandbox styled campaign.

What have you done to keep the little details of your campaign fresh? What small amounts of change have you introduced to your game to keep the plot moving? We’d love to hear from you.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wyatt September 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I’m a story sadist, so at some point the players will return to town to find it burnt down, and something crazy and high level laughing it up and making jokes. “I always wondered how people of the surface world burnt!”

But that’s typically towards the end. Before that you get love triangles and kidnappings and things like that.
.-= Wyatt´s last blog ..Monsters of Eden: Those Earthbound =-.

2 Rook September 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm

This is exactly why I started recruiting a player as Chronicler. With a handy record of everyone the PCs know and places they have been, you have a list ready of possible plot hooks. If you greet the home-bound heroes with say a kidnapping scenario and the PCs say “who was kidnapped?”, you kinda loose some of the urgency. But if they return to find a well-known friend kidnapped, then they will get right on it.

Anyway, back to the meat of your post, I think its very important to keep things in a constantly moving and malleable state. The town doesn’t freeze in suspended animation when the PCs leave. During their absence is the perfect time to shake things up a bit by planting the seeds of possible new adventure paths.

In my current campaign, the outpost the PCs have decided to call home is in a state of organized chaos. The role of leadership is being fought over by the two most prominent officials, the fate of the outpost itself is up to whether or not the new mine is going to produce the finds they are believed to contain and the jail still holds the corporate spy that infiltrated the outpost and the goblin chief that attacked the town for mysterious reasons. I’m not sure it is wise for the PCs to even leave the outpost for the time being.

Cheers!
.-= Rook´s last blog ..NPCs with Names: the Player’s Obsession =-.

3 Wimwick September 15, 2009 at 11:32 am

@ Wyatt
I love the new avatar! On another note, I agree things need to change. I once had a major NPC get replaced by a changeling. The PCs had no clue and handed over a major quest item for safe keeping. Right into the hands of the villian they were trying to keep it from.

@ Rook
I like the idea of having a player as chronicler. One way we cover this is through a blog dedicated to the campaign. It allows the DM to post relevant updates and for the players to post back stories. Both the DM and players can then go back to it as a reference and use it to develop their characters and the plot further.

4 Rook September 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm

A campaign blog is a great idea! But for my group, it wouldn’t work out as well. None of my players are that interactive on-line. I can barely get people to respond to e-mails. However, for those of you that are, I can see how it really would be a great medium.

Which brings to mind a question. Does anyone use a computer at the gaming table? Where you can use said blog as a reference during play?
.-= Rook´s last blog ..NPCs with Names: the Player’s Obsession =-.

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