As we enter the autumn season, my main RPG group has wrapped up another campaign. This summer, our brave astronauts landed on Mars. They battled the elements, advanced technology, antagonistic team members and the unknown to prepare Mars for an inbound ship of colonists. Overall it was a fun campaign that ended with a fantastic session. The story arc was completed with a satisfying ending but also with some lingering questions. I expect we’ll revisit that setting in the future.
For now though, the GM seat has been vacated for one of my long time friends, Nicole. She’s switching us back to 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons in an exploration and survival campaign titled, Wander-Lost. Just about two years ago, Nicole was basically new to role-playing.1 Now she’s got about a year of running Adventurers League games at her local game store and online with Out of the Abyss. She’s a high effort DM who pours a lot of time into prep and it shows during play.
In the world of Wander-Lost, a blight spread throughout the world an untold number of years ago. As the blight was spreading, a pious man pleaded with his goddess to intervene and protect his valley. She heard his prayer and offered a powerful ritual to be performed in conjunction with the local druidic circle and the mages of the nearby arcane college. A great oak tree sprouted up and with it a magical barrier that held the blight at bay. Centuries passed and the town of Oakheart grew in this protected valley.
Days prior to the start of the campaign, a magenta storm struck the town on the Summer Solstice and brought the protective barrier down. The druidic council has sent their scouts out but none have returned. Now, the council has called for volunteers to venture forth and find out what happened, why and how does Oakheart recover?
Nicole has presented Wander-Lost as a survival and exploration campaign, a direct contrast to our last two campaigns, run in Fate Core, which were very tight story arcs. She provided a small players guide with information on world history, organizations, religion, rules for character creation and variants rules that are being used to support the exploration and survival aspects. It’s been fun to help her set up the campaign with ideas and comments. I’m very excited to play.
With that said, these past few weeks we’ve been frustrating each other. I admit most of this is my doing. Between my optimization, rules knowledge, stubbornness and GM experience, I can be a very difficult player. Knowing we’re in for a long haul survival setup, I tried to make a character who was well-equipped and well-prepared for many a situations. This included flirtations with pack animals and mounted combat.2 Despite our best efforts to find a compromise where her vision for the campaign was intact and my character concept was unaltered, it just ended up being more frustrating and stressful than necessary. In the end, I decided that the animal companions were not as integral to my character concept and we agreed to drop them for now.3
Despite the frustration during character creation, I’m very excited for this campaign. I haven’t played in a wilderness survival campaign so this will be all new. It is my intent to provide session and thread recaps on a regular basis along with some occasional in-character fiction. In my next post, I’ll introduce my character, Chase Starryeyes, an archaeologist and professor of history of some renown.