Aug 28, 2022


This week I read:

Roleplaying Games

Cartographic Curiosities

Session 3 of my OSE Dolmenwood game this week, there were two players away, and for a while it looked like we might even have a third missing as well, but I pushed on with the session anyway. Game time is game time, it’s best for the longevity of the group to set that in stone and run for whoever shows up.

This session the players just did a bunch of exploring. I’ve got a fairly generous XP-for-exploration house rule (at least, it’s generous while they’re still low level), so that’s to be expected, and it just served to introduce some weird things for them to interact with when they’re feeling a bit more confident. The downside, however, is that the number of open story hooks just keeps growing, which adds a mental tax to the game and increases the chance that things will be forgotten.

They all hit level 2 this session, and got most of the way to level 3. So their plan for next session is to quickly gain a little more XP to hit level 3, then tackle a dungeon.

The dungeon is the excellent Winter’s Daughter, which I’ve run several times now, for players new and old, for parties ranging from 2 to 5 characters, and in multiple systems. I know it pretty well, it’s easy to run, and it also serves as a good introduction for one of the major background plot threads in the Dolmenwood setting: the potential return of the frost elves.

I’m looking forward to it.

The Fall of the Imperium

Unable to content myself with just thinking two campaigns ahead (Wicked Ones starting in September, and then Sylea Rising starting after that), I’ve got an idea for another Traveller campaign after that!

This one is called The Fall of the Imperium, and is more of a collection of potential campaigns than a specific campaign as such.

I don’t have a traditional pitch for this, instead I’ll end Sylea Rising with a flash-forward 1125 years in the future, to the chambers of Emperor Strephon of the Third Imperium:

It’s the year 1125. Emperor Strephon, once a fit and handsome man, now pale and thin, consumed by stress, sits in a chair, resting his head in his hands as he studies the latest report from the front. This report, now over half a year old, confirms one thing: the Aslan are winning the war. Pax Rulin, the fortress world of the Trojan Reach, has fallen, the Reach itself is all but lost, and who knows how much further they’ll advance?

The other sector fleets have been displaced to assist, leaving skeleton defences elsewhere, and the Imperium’s other neighbours have been quick to take advantage. Incursions by the Zhodani Consulate, the Solomani Confederation, the Sword Worlds Confederation, and the Vargr, have resulted in the losses of dozens of worlds. Terra once more belongs to the Solomani.

Strephon reflects on how all this began, two years ago. It was supposed to be a great day, the highest ranking Aslan ever to make the trip to Capital: a representative not just for his clan, but for all the clans. One who could speak with the voice of the Tlaukhu. But there was a bomb. The ambassador immediately, bravely, honourably, selflessly, threw himself between Strephon and the explosion. The ambassador died in the blast, Strephon survived with only minor injuries. When the news made it back to the Hierate, they accused the Imperium of some sort of human trickery. It was the spark that ignited the powder keg, the fragile peace was shattered, and tens of thousands of territory-hungry ihatei poured over the border.

The independent worlds of the Trojan Reach were taken in a few months. The reborn Kingdom of Drinax put up a good fight, but was also lost. The imperial border was overrun, and it’s just been worse news since then. Eventually the Aslan will tire of war, and settle down to rule the worlds they’ve conquered, but how many more will they take before then?

Strephon sighs, and leans back with his eyes closed, massaging his creased forehead.

Then the door bursts open, a naval intelligence officer rushes in, glances around to make sure there’s nobody else in the room, and says “your majesty, it’s Project Longbow, it’s picked something up!”

Strephon’s mind turns to Project Longbow. A highly classified, beyond top secret, project to use a series of detectors spread across the whole Imperium, and all pointing at the same patch of sky, to make a single satellite dish dozens of parsecs wide. All to investigate some anomaly deep in space, close to the galactic core.

“Your Majesty!” the officer snaps, drawing Strephon out of his memories, “It’s a ship. A ship unlike any design we’ve ever seen before, coming from the core. And sir, it’s travelling at a speed of jump-10.”

I think this will work well: we’ve had our Pirates of Drinax campaign set in the golden age of the Imperium around the year 1105; then we have Sylea Rising starting in the year -1 and witnessing the birth of the Third Imperium (the players don’t know that’ll happen, I’m expecting it to be a fun reveal); and then we jump forward to the collapse of the Third Imperium, bookending our Traveller experience.

Though, I’m not sure I want to run two Traveller campaigns in a row, so there’ll likely be something else in the middle:

  1. September 2022: Wicked Ones
  2. Early 2023: Sylea Rising
  3. End of 2023(?): ???
  4. Mid 2024(?): The Fall of the Imperium