The Shard of Nagrach - A Campaign Framework

Thrar
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Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:41 am

The Shard of Nagrach - A Campaign Framework

Postby Thrar » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:07 am

Our group just finished our first major campaign, which took us a total of 16 sessions and almost a year in real time to accomplish.
We had a lot of fun doing it, so I thought I'd share an outline and my GM notes here in case anyone is interested to hear about it or reuse parts of it for your own groups.

Synopsis
A Shakagra (night elf, Almanac p243) mage is plotting to get hold of the shard of the archdemon Nagrach (Almanac, p235) and use it to bring eternal winter and establish Shakagra rule over the northern half of Aventuria. The player characters learn about this as it unfolds and venture out to stop the Shakagra.

Structure
The campaign is divided into 4 acts summarized below. For us, each act had 4 sessions, but this could be adjusted depending on your session length. I roughly tried to follow the 1-2-1 schema both with the acts and the sessions within each act, so each act has a climax in the 4th session while the overall campaign tension rises until it culminates in the 3rd session of the 4th act.

For more details, you can refer to my campaign notes. Additionally, we had player-visible stats/maps that we projected on a TV and occasionally printed out.
Note that the notes only represent my preparation for each session, so what actually happened can differ. I'll be happy to elaborate more on specific session plans and how it went if there's interest, for now I wanted to keep it as brief as I could.

Group
Our group had already been playing for 2 years by the time we started, with three player characters at roughly 1,500 AP. The characters gained around 15 AP per session, so the campaign is balanced around that progression.

Act 1 - The Dark Eye
Goal: At the end of this act, the players have knowledge of the Shakagra plot and enough incentive to go and stop it.

Sessions 1-2: We played One Death in Grangor, but the ships were sunk by an attacking dragon stealing a fallen star (made of Endurium ore), as the players learn from the ship's logbook.
Session 3: Group travels to Windhag to find the dragon, loosely based on Ishlunar's Treasures from Tales of Dragons and Thieves.
Session 4: Characters find the dragon, discover it was tricked by a Shakagra who took the star stone to Nahema's Tower in Havena (Almanac p246). The dragon takes them there, where Shakagra use the Endurium to channel the twisted Dark Eye. Visions of the shard's history play out (3rd demon battle, and battle of white-fur orcs against ice witch Glorana, Almanac p228-229), and a vision of the future where Shakagra defeat the white-fur orcs to take the shard. The Shakagra mage escapes via portal, the heroes fight and defeat those left behind.

Act 2 - Icebound
Goal: Players need to find out more about the shard, the Shakagra, and the white-fur orcs they were fighting. At the end of the act, they should know where to go and how to get there.
Our group ended up going to the Orcland to get information about the white-fur orcs, but this whole act could play out differently.

Session 1: Characters find themselves having escaped from the tower but don't know how, affected by the Dark Eye. Restore their memory and plan to travel to Orcland with a trader.
Session 2: We played Emperor of Thieves as a side quest.
Session 3: In the Orcland, the group encounters a playful young Giant Wyvern named Skyspark (Bestiary p39), then finds that the orc tribe their guide was heading to had been enslaved by a hostile neighbor tribe.
Session 4: Characters defeat the hostile orc tribe, free the enslaved friendly tribe and learn about the whereabouts of the white orcs. This was a very open session, the players had a location map and description and needed to work out a plan how to free or talk to the captive orcs to get the information they needed.

Act 3 - Eternal Ice

Goal: Reach the far north, get exposed to the first effects of the shard. Get ready to face the Shakagra and retrieve the shard.

Session 1: The group arrives in Frisov, where the local headman is under the sway of a Shakagra ambassador. During midwinter night, an army of frozen zombies attacks, called by the Shakagra using the power of the shard. The characters set up defenses and drive out the Shakagra.
Session 2: Characters find the battle site where the Shakagra took the shard from the white orcs as foretold by the vision. Meet the white orcs and make a deal with a local thug leader for an iceboat to travel to an ancient high elf sanctuary in Yeti-land.
Session 3: Find the high elf sanctuary, learn that it's guarded by an adult glacier worm (Bestiary p41). Make friends with a yeti tribe and their elven wise woman Galandel.
Session 4: Plan and defeat the glacier worm, get access to the sanctuary and find the way to the Tower of Heaven (brief mention on Almanac p243), home of the Shakagra.

Act 4 - The Shard of Nagrach
Goal: Characters reach the Tower of Heaven, get hold of the shard and escape. Drive home the demonic threat emanating from the shard, but also promise great power to those who dare to use it. If they survive, players will be faced with the choice what to do with an extremely dangerous and powerful archdemonic artifact that could cost them their souls if they're not strong enough to resist it.

Session 1: Travel north into uncharted territory. Attacked by the Wild Hunt, demons following Nagrach. End up floating in the air as an ancient effect negates gravity around the tower.
Session 2: Arrive at the top of the tower, explore the upper levels, find out whereabouts of Shakagra mage and the shard.
Session 3: Climactic battle to retrieve the shard and escape with it. Characters have the element of surprise but are vastly outnumbered and have the power of the shard against them. Our group almost died here, until one of them entered a pact with Nagrach and used the powers of the shard to turn around the battle and help them escape.
Session 4: Heading south, they discover that the Shakagra ambassador from act 3 teamed up with the thug leader to get back the shard. Our group allied with the white-fur orcs to drive them away.

The shard is now in the group's hands and relatively safe for the moment, but it's unclear what they decide happens to it. This is an archdemonic artifact, so keeping it is extremely dangerous but also very tempting, and one of them already has a pact with Nagrach. Fuel for a follow-up campaign...

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HEX the Dark
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Re: The Shard of Nagrach - A Campaign Framework

Postby HEX the Dark » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:24 pm

Sounds interesting and great fun! Congratulation!
Never trust a smiling gamemaster


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