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Campaign Premise and Meta-story Agreement

The type of campaign that I am going to be running in both the live table-top game, and in the Roll20 game, is going to be one where characters should at least be pointed in the direction of being heroes. Doesn’t mean all shiny Lawful Good, but they shouldn’t be characters who are mercenary and only will act if they get paid (or perhaps better to say they shouldn’t STAY that way for long – give me some things about them that would motivate them to turn more to the heroic side of things, and I will include them as part of the character arc for them).

There is one major metastory agreement we all have to have - this campaign will take place almost entirely within Ptolus and its immediate environs. This means the city itelf, the land within a day or so ride around it, the vast dungeons below the city, and the spire rising above it. If your character gets motivated to go to the Imperial captial of Tarsis, as the DM I will let you ride your horse off into the sunset... but we won't be telling that story.

There is one major plot that will run through both campaigns, and I have it mapped out in plot points (one of the best things about Savage Worlds that I am stealing!). What that is exactly is something the players will have to uncover…

Which is where the subplots come in (currently there are six of them). Again, I have them mapped out, and each of them feeds into the main plot, and into each other. I doubt even between two groups that all of the subplots will be fully explored, but that is fine – there is enough weaving back and forth to make sure all the elements each group needs to fulfill whatever part(s) of the main plot they are involved in will be accomplished.

I have run a similar set of dual campaigns in Ptolus before, and it is a lot of fun – the actions your group takes will have effects the other group can see (and will often feel). And even if neither group picks up on a given subplot, I have the timeline for each mapped out so things will still happen, based on the in-world calendar. These are living campaigns, so things will change even if the party isn't there to see it happen.

The biggest challenge I have as a DM in this is keeping the two groups in relative sync in terms of time, so I will be using milestone advancement for leveling. This will mean if one group blazes through pieces of the campaign, while the other is still struggling through something, I can throw side quests at you without totally unbalancing the setup. I am explaining that upfront, as the first time I did this years ago, it did cause some tensions with a couple of players for whome milestone leveling was totally foreign. It is something I totally can understand if you don’t want to play in, as it can feel like an artificial restraint on leveling – but it has become much more the norm than the first time I did it, so hoping everyone is okay with it.

At this point, the campaign is plotted out 1st to about 15th levels, still working on the last few. I fully expect this to make it to 20th (and given I backed a kickstarter for 5e Epic Level, possibly higher). The last time I did this, it did take years, and I don’t expect anyone to commit to one game that long – though I hope the stories are compelling enough you WANT to stay. The dual setup of live and virtual tables also means if someone moves away but wants to keep playing, there are ways to make that happen.

If you have any questions about the campaigns, please feel free to ask me – I love Ptolus as a setting, and anything I can do to share my passion for it, I will do. The plan for these campaigns is to go from the fairly mundane all the way to utterly cosmos-shaking, with the potential for just about every possible emotion and story to occur. If you want to see something in the game, let me know – I like to weave in player ideas and threads to make this satisfying for everyone!