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Author Topic: Midnight: Dawn - a gleam of hope  (Read 18240 times)
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ayeela
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« on: October 23, 2006, 04:18:13 AM »

Hello there. :)

I am new here, but not new to D&D and related stuff. I've made my experiences with D&D (Forgotten Realms, Eberron), Oathbound, Morningstar and a lot of non-d20 systems.

And I seem to have a thing for "breaking" the scenario - which also stems from my experiences. I've done quite some things in the realm of horror and dark-fantasy, and to my experience it is nigh-impossible to run a longer campaign without the PCs at some point reaching true progress. Always being hunted, for every success seeing another city put under tighter control, people murdered, for every battle won, two more are lost elsewhere - in the end, this only works for shorter adventure runs, and not a complete adventure path in my experience.
Maybe I just didn't find the right players yet, MAYBE I am not the right GM for something like this.

However, I do have ideas how to deal with the situation. I will call this idea:

Midnight: Dawn

Here are rough ideas, on how a "solution" to the "problems" might work, and what new problems a solution will arise.

The most obvious problem are the 4 dark knights. These have to be dealt with in order for the remaining forces, underground fighters and rebels to have any chance at all. Tehre are no details on how to deal with these great warriors, but I imagine, that beating one of them would be an epic quest in the tradition of an adventure path, taking the heroes from level 1 to 20 and beyond. I think maybe 2 of the knights might be beaten in one of these campaigns which leads well into epic proportion, beyond level 20.

Beating the dark knights alone, ofcourse will not achieve a thing. There is another problem: Izradur himself. More specifically, his plan to absorb the magic to strengthen his godhood. Destroying the black mirrors is essential, especially the greater ones.
Destroying them, will, however even then only slow Izradur down. He can build new ones.
Gaining access to the secret of these mirrors, the way they work and why Izradur uses them, is even more important than simply destoying them. With this knowledge the heroes might build a force, an entity, their own "god" to coutner Izradur. (I even know a candidate for this... vile... plan)
This entity could match with time Izradur's strength, slow his progress and finally stop him. This plan would also be an epic quest, taking the PCs probably beyond level 20.

There are a number of dangers which lie with this plan.
The black mirrors are a device designed by Izradur himself. Whatever being is chosen to recieve their power, when the heroes try to replicate Izradur's plan, might well become corrupted. thus a counterforce may be called into existence, even facing Izradur, but there is no guarantee, this being, this new god will be better than Izradur himself.

The other great danger is, that this plan itself sucks on the magic of the world. If both gods take too much, the world dies. So the "good" side, will constantly have to keep the amount of mirros in check.

There is another idea lurking in the back of my mind. If the heroes gain access to the information on how the mirrors work, they might be able to tear a hole into the veil instead. Depending on hwo strong Izradur is, this might mean war in the heavens again, and this would delve the world into another age of darkness, as this conflict would be reflected on the world. The gods themselves might have been alienated from their world, they might be horrified of what it has become and themselves turn against greater portions of the world, or they are so busy in their internal struggles, that they cannot really help the people....

What do you think? How might the details to this quest look? Is such a campaign (or rather more than one campaign) thinkable? Can the Last Age be turned into the Last Age of Izradur's tiranny? Can there be hope, can, after Midnight, come a new dawn? And will the new dawn bring a day full of dark thunderstorms?

For a longer running campaign it is gravely necessary to achieve some shift towards the light again. As the things stand now, the world is playable, but the future looks bleak and greater events can only cast the world into deeper darkness. The world as it is is dark, but playable. But how many more hits can it take? What would happen if the elven realm indeed falls? If the dwarves are all beaten? If the rebels would have nowhere to turn to anymore? to take the logical path would mean that there is only a certain, rather short, time during which one can place adventures and greater events should better not occur, especially not on a global scale.
What I try to achieve is a world with a dark mood, but with more variance and flexibility. Can it be done?
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 04:28:55 AM by ayeela » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2006, 07:26:50 AM »

ayeela,

Welcome to AtS, that your midnight games be fun and tense. You will actually see that a lot of us won't be assuming the setting to stay as it is after a campaign, we even have had people wanting to play Midnight as one campaign, deconstructing the whole setting after it is finished (the old gods return).

Actually, making a difference is a must, but whether it is lasting or needs to be kept alive is also another question. There is nothing wrong with players wanting to make a difference, actually, there really is no point to play a game where you won't change a thing.

Beating the Night Kings is not impossible, though most place them in the demigod status there is a book for them out already, called Legends of Shadow it stats the 4 night knigs plus Aradil, I heard it is surprisingly better than expected but don't own it yet.

Against His Dark Intent (Black Mirrors) and the Shadow itself, I woul say that destroying all mirrors personally is impossible, the ones clearly displayed in occupied cities are easy enough to find anddeal with, as far as easy and destroying mirrors go, that is. But I take the idea that Izrador is likely impossible to face or beat, his evil can be routed, contained, sent away, but not destroyed.

Also, there is white mirror in the thoughts presented in Fury of Shadow that could jsut be of use to your ideas there, it was prevented from being created, but Aradil actually attempted it once, who knows when or whether she will again. The idea of using mirrors to tear a small pierce in the veil is not really new too, have seen mroe than one state it, not sure if they end up using it, but they meant to.

On the other hand, there is the possibility of bringing hope and light to Midnight without the need to cast back the old gods, giving someone godhood or even destroying the night kings, since they can very easily be replaced. I am on that path.

It is longer, harder but also, more rewarding, in my opinion. The leves are fighting a loose war, the absence of real rain in Erethor is playing a vital role in that, my current game is focused around just that, in the end the players will have their characters bring back rain to erethor, they won't really be controlling the weather but wil at least give it freedom to be.

Then I think it will be the dwarves turn, I have been considering that the orcs have a too large growth in the last age mainly because the mother wives ahve some special gift from their dark god, being overly fertile, I plan to reduce that with a dwarven game, meaing the numbers will decrease without enough to cover up the losses, meaning the orc numbers will slowly be decreasing.

And then, southern erenland, a game focused on diplomacy, intrigue, resistance and fighting the shadow can release a smal part of the human lands close to the elves, they should always struggle to keep it, but eventually, they are too ahrd to track down and will al be reverting to a nomadic culture, this will also bring the halflings some hope and place to live.

Slowly I plan to give the elves hope, an edge in the war and ultimately, power to help the human, teh dwarves are in a worse situation but then I don't plan to get the whole Kaladruns free of the orcs, they are there to stay, and when I am finished with enough campaigns, we will have the shadow above the pelluria and the free races of eredane below it, erethor still fighting against them and the veradeen still standing, but mostly, the dorns wil be a conquered race.

This may also change, but that si how I see my Midnight world after some campaigns. Ultimately, I am tending to make the characters played more important in this task then inserting some powerful entity or NPC there to make them be second rank.

Just some more thoughts. Wink
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2006, 09:02:36 AM »

EDIT: Out of consideration to my poor players, two of who read the DM's Corner, this has been moved to a separate thread.

Linky to my ideas on how to beat the badguys.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 02:14:57 PM by Bleak Knight » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2006, 10:50:59 AM »

Welcome to AtS ayeela. 

I like your idea of turning the mirrors against Izrador - a mission to steal enemy plans makes for fine gaming.  I also think that your idea strikes the right balance if you want to add a little hope to Midnight without overdoing it.  Discovering how the mirrors work and adapting them for use by the resistance is a massive undertaking with little chance of success yet a massive payoff.

Bleak - did you post that idea in the old forum?
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2006, 02:12:24 PM »

The idea is sparked off several ideas on Old AtS, but I don't think I ever actually posted it.
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ayeela
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2006, 03:55:28 PM »

Thanks a lot for your comments. Already so many and some quite usable stuff.
I should add some background information, so you might better understand why I chose this path.

I am fascinated by Italian fantasy (or what I have seen or heard of it), and if I can say so, it's pretty much damn f*cking epic and quite a bit clichee. I don't mind that at all. I like it. That's just what I want. Sometimes a bit over-the-top.

Hence the idea with the mirrors.

To be able to deal with the mirrors - I think the heroes themselves should only deal with the really big ones - there needs to be a chance to form an attack on other temples and mirrors. No matter what they do, they will not be able to trace and destroy all, or even enough mirrors to stop Izradur's great plan, but they can sure do enough to slow him down.
However - in order to be able to achieve that, to lead an attack, the people or the world need not only to defend against the massive black hordes, but also to lead an effective attack. There is a point at which guerilla tactics just won't really cut it anymore.
With all the dark knights unbeaten, I see little chance of this happening. The people have to be shown, that the black knights can be beaten - destroyed. To show them: "Here! There is hope!" Maybe, once that has happened once, there is not even a need to destroy the other ones. Maybe the show when destroying one, will be enough. This alone could spark resistance - ORGANIZED resistance.
So, maybe beating one of them is the first step, the most important one.

Destroying the mirrors, or the need to create their own "god" is also neccessary, because, I agree: Izradur cannot really be destroyed. And he should not. He makes a great evil and... well... I don't want Midnight to become "Noon" Wink I like the things presented in the setting. I just want to achieve some kind of uneasy balance.
So there needs to be a counterforce. In the end, Izradur and the other power will be like shades of grey. None can be really good.
And just imagine: There are gods trapped in your world. Not apart from it, but trapped in this world. They face each other. What would happen if they fought? It would be terrible. A war in heaven is one thing. If gods war on the world, it sure is another way to certain doom.
Maybe I will give up on my idea of piercing the veil, maybe I should just keep these - then - two gods in this realm of existence and see what this horribly powerful idea can do.

Further Campaigns could be adventures to stop open war between the two forces.
It could be adventures to help Izradur, if the balance tips to the wrong side. For maybe this new god would also deplete the world of all its magic, if the power goes unchecked? Maybe the heroes suddenly find themselves on the side of "darkness" because "light" can also in the end only burn the world.

Maybe I should then rename Midnight to Twilight .... And what will happen next, only time can tell...
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2006, 04:10:26 PM »

ayeela: welcome to our shadowy corner.

Bleak: have a cookie. Thats some nice stuff Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2006, 08:22:28 PM »

Ayelaa. I guess you're a little more high-fantasy'ish than I am. But that's ok. To each his own. Wink

I'm now going to proceed with correcting you: It's Izrador, not Izradur. It's Night King, not Dark Knight or Black Knight. And it's a title with capital letters. Wink

Finally, have a cookie for some good and creative stuff, and if you have Fury, check out the White Mirror described there.
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ayeela
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2006, 06:38:05 AM »

I am so totally high-fantasy... yep Smiley

And sorry for the slight spelling mistakes... and the Night Kings. *G* That's because... I am maybe a bit too much influenced by some heavy metal and italian fantasy. And I liek cliche Wink
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2006, 08:58:35 AM »

I would say your ideas are good enough to be used already, ayeela, as said they are high fantasy but then, that is cool too. I don't really think the god thing is needed mainly because Izrador cannot really act on his own in the world, he is like a ghostly god, his only way to act in the world still being the legates, even being here doesn't help at all.

Also, I like the idea of Aradil being somewhat seen like a goddess but actually being a powerful elf only, and the true faith being left to the dark god, but this is pending toward not destroying the setup ever, even with victory and freedom evil will be there and there is always a chance it may come back again. Wink
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2006, 02:56:56 PM »

Regarding the Mirrors, perhaps you could do something like in the Black Cauldron - if heroes or beings of light sacrifice themselves (ie, the PCs, treasured NPCs or powerful, angelic outsiers) by throwing themselves into the Mirrors with noble, self-sacrificing intent, it might both destroy the Mirror and send a pulse of pure goodness back to the Shadow. Enough of these sacrifices might force Izrador to recoil, reducingthe power of the legates or even sending the Dark God into a slumber.

Or, if you're running MIDNIGHT really grim and hopeless, the act of self-sacrifice achieves nothing but costing the forces of freedom and light another champion and giving them false hope twisted

Me, I'm not a fan of the dwarves being doomed. In my vision of them, there is one thing that dwarves do par exellence: defensive war. Their walls cannot be broken, their gates cannot be breached, their warriors cannot be broken. Each of their fortresses is as impeneterable as a mountain. True, even a mountain can be worn away, but it is not something that Jahzir will accomplish in a year, or a decade. The war against the dwarves will require centuries of siege; or, more likely...

Their doom is not to fall against limitless hordes of orcs: the fate of the dwarven race is to become isolated and apathetic, sealing their gates, collapsing their passages and sealing themselves off from the rest of Eredane in their own little self-sustaining ecosystems. The goal of the heroes is to re-establish contact with these sealed delves, and convince them to open their gates an unleash a tide of mithral-clad veterans to join the battle for the freedom of Erenland and the salvation of Erethor.

But that's just me. I'm sick of dwarves gettng the short (ha ha!) end of the stick Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2006, 01:00:21 AM »


Their doom is not to fall against limitless hordes of orcs: the fate of the dwarven race is to become isolated and apathetic, sealing their gates, collapsing their passages and sealing themselves off from the rest of Eredane in their own little self-sustaining ecosystems. The goal of the heroes is to re-establish contact with these sealed delves, and convince them to open their gates an unleash a tide of mithral-clad veterans to join the battle for the freedom of Erenland and the salvation of Erethor.


That's brilliant. Who's to say that there is not one large, forgotten, powerful dwarven kingdom buried deep under the earth, whose warriors could change the tide of an epic battle against the Shadow? The PCs could discover them during an adventure (likely fleeing from their orc pursuers, finding a hidden and long-forgotten passage), and convincing them to join their brothers? What if they actually were the mythical Darguul, an ancient and developed (steampunk) dwarven kingdom that eventually collapsed and burrowed itself under the earth, while the "dissident" dwarves would be the current dwarves (both clan and kurgun) ancestors?
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2006, 05:38:03 AM »

Dirigible,

I have a similar thought, but I also think they are dwindling, sieges will eventually brak, even the mightiest stronghold of the dwarves is no match for the magic of pwerful channelers and legates, hell, legates even have earthquake, which could be used to make the dwarves holdfast to cave-in.

Besides, it is not like the dwarves to isolate themselves and lock their holdfasts, avoiding fights and war, they will isolate and die alone, and that is somehow stated in the books too, and I kinda like it that way. The idea is good though, but somehow makes dwarves the strongest and never down people, who will one day return as powerful as always even if they seem to be loosing the war. They lost half of the kaladruns, I don't think they are hiding there. Wink

On the other hand that reminds me of Earthdawn adn the sealed holdfasts during the Time the Horrors walked the earth. Grin
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2006, 06:21:51 AM »

I have a similar notion for my campains, I intened to run 4 seperate campains, each covering a different region of Midnight. The end o each campain will be that they will face down, and try to defeat a Night King.

Time wise each will cover the same expance of time, and so there will be no sudden power vacum each King will, in theory, fall at around the same time. This giving hope to the people and the shadows forces falling into disarry leading to a combined march on the City of Shadow. Here alll the characters will assult the tower and look to confront Izrador himself. Iz will try to entice the more powerfull characters to his side with a view to becoming a new Night King.

As you can probably guess this will take some time to plan, and run but i think that it would be a fitting end to such a long running campain as this.

Of course with the fall of Iz, there will be the falling of the vale, and the old Gods (if they are still there and not mad at this poing) will partially return to the world. If they dont then you have the start of a Dawnfordge campain with the old PC's becoming Imortals.
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ayeela
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2006, 09:11:42 AM »

Oha.
Now, there's a thought, I also like very much.

What... what IF the PCs somehow manage to break the veil and the gods can reach the world again. What if the heroes even manage to "postpone" Izrador significantly (he can't be beaten, he'll always come back).
The old gods return, their power once more flows to the world.... but then, slowly, to their horror, the heroes find out, that the gods indeed have been drivin mad by being seperated from the world too long.

There's a totally new danger, and one that might be even greater than Izrador. He was regaining his power, but still not the force he was before his fall The other gods might have suffered by bein seperated from the world, and they might initially have been weaker than Izrador. But now? Maybe they match him in strength, maybe not.... but they are definitely more.

Mad gods... I'll have to think about this idea.
I see now: Midnight can be kept dark, AND changing. Progress doesn't have to mean that light wins. It should be a long way, until "light" shines once more.
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2006, 08:22:47 AM »

Not only that, more light may mena more shadows, since any obstacle will cast them behind itself. Wink

The mad gods idea is one I have heard before, alogn witht eh evil gods and izrador being a light god himself, only deeply corrupted, i think the later first came aroudn the moment Darkness & Dread was released by FFG, but I may be wrong, and it wouldn't be the first time.

Personally I don't trouble myself with the old gods and the veil, for i do not want planes to become as one with Midnigth again, i like it jsut that, a lonely world. Though i do like the Immortal idea myself, powerul godlike beings that walk the world, and givent hat we already have the night kings and Aradil, that is not really a new idea in itself, just a new apporach and perspective, maybe.

Edit: I wouldn't be using more evil comes out of the veil thing if I were you, at least not to a great extent, since it may turn Midnight into an overwhelming evil, no matter what you do scenario, and i want players to keep coming back for more. But then, my players just aren't as much of a fan of this kind of thing as I am, and i gotta respect that. Wink
« Last Edit: October 26, 2006, 08:24:46 AM by Nifelhein » Logged
ayeela
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2006, 08:39:06 AM »

Well, I am indeed thinking of insterting periods of peace and light again.
Great darkness CAN indeed only wrok well if it contrasts with light. As you said: Mich light also casts as lot of shadow.

I let myself inspire by the works of "Rhapsody" (or as the call them now "Rhapsody of Fire"), an italian metal group. If you listen to their records, there's a great amount of horror in there, where evil seems to win, but then the heroes strike back, and in the end manage to save the day.
I admit, it is not that much different from a standard fantasy-scenario. But with the background of Midnight, the darkness is much mor global in its perspective, much more completely horrifying and absolute.
I want to use that aspect to further my goals. Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2006, 09:34:55 AM »

They are good, though a friend likes them much mroe than i do, and a few friends say it is like gregorain chant with methal. Provided you know who youa re gaming with and how they expect the game to evolve, i doubt there will be too much darkness to avoid continuation too.

Said friend used the idea from their musics on a campaign of his own, set in Dragonlance, he is a player in my own game and so, can't draw a thing from that one source, I have plenty of help here, though. Wink
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ayeela
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2006, 03:03:52 AM »

I am well aware I am basically breaking the setting here - breaking it is exactly what I am trying to do.
In order for this to work, I'll need to work in rule-changes, too, and I am trying to become aware of the system-changes I am trying to establish as well as the background changes I am doing.

The first step is: Beating a Knight King. Straightforward and too important, to not do it.

I think this will:
- significantly weaken the dark
- motivate the remaining rebels and "free" races

If it happens more than once, even the orcs might start questioning their way.

Do not worry. Izrador is all present. Even if this happens, all good will eventually turn into something bad again.

As to the technical aspects of some of the changes I want to bring, you can look at:
http://www.againsttheshadow.org/index.php?topic=389 (Improving Magic)

By the way: I strongly disbelief, that the Night Kings can be beaten in a conventional way. You can throw spells or magic weapons at him as much as you want, it will not work. I don't know if some of you are familiar with Exalted. This fantasy world head a Underworld, where the dead remain, and sometimes, powerful creatures from this world try to invade the land of the living. There's a very limited number of these great undead Kings, and each one can not be beaten in conventional ways. Each one has a secret though - and this secret brings his downfall.
It might be, for example, that one can only be baten if someone truly loves him.
It might be as "simple" as knowing the true name of that creature.
And maybe you would have to throw one of them into mount doom... oh well, maybe not, but you can see where it's going.

So the players need to:
- Survive (level 1-5)
- Hold off the forces of the Night Kings (level 6-10?)
- acquire the secret (level 11-15)
- beat the night king (level 16+)
« Last Edit: October 30, 2006, 03:10:10 AM by ayeela » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2006, 11:55:32 AM »

While I'm not a high-fantasy fan, this has got me thinking.

If the plan to defeat Izrador succeeds, what happens?  Aryth is still cut off from the Lost Gods, the land is still ravaged, human kingdoms still have traitors in their midst - and what happens to the Fell?

Setting a campaign at the Dawn of the Fourth Age could be really neat.  With this huge power vaccuum, the persons that defeated Izrador would have a huge political advantage.  Several would look to them as gods in their own right.  What if they were human and decided to reconquer Erenland under one rule?  Could the races of Midnight re-establish peace after so many years of war and tyranny?

What political systems would arise out of this new dawn?  Would their be monarchies, or would the populace demand that such power never rests in the hands of the few again?

Wow, it's like Herbert's Dune series: what does Mau'Dib do when he's taken Arakis?

I'm gonna give this some thought.
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ayeela
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« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2006, 04:03:31 PM »

Hmm... not what I was planning, but there are some aspects in these thoughts I will have to deal with.
Like political systems. Economy.
What will for example happen to the elven villages, the elves lost? There will surely be new conflicts. Midnight in my eyes is just the right world for very heroic adventures. And a world for heroic adventures needs great troubles Wink
I don't plan to beat Izrador, but a significant setback will occur.
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« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2006, 01:08:46 PM »

I think that after defeating Izrador the elves would want to rule the whole of eredane, they just don't see humans as able to resiste the future trials at all, they have fallen before, and miserably. The dwarves would probably keep going against the orcs for lost territory, gnomes would become the geratest merchants around, halflings would probably tema up with elves, possibly tryignt o make a "Shire" for them to live in peace, humans would fight against one another to know who would rule and possibly fall to the elves.

A new erenland kingdom could rise from such a struggle, against the elves, and perhaps dorns never really get rid of the orcs. Man, i love this setting, so mcuh potential...

Anyway, i like the no standard attack thing, mainly because it hints to a complex fight, one not won by spells and swords alone, one once suggested that for Ardherin, exposing him to hid own past, learning of him and ultimately, turning him back to his lover. Jahzir could possibly be taken by a woman resembling his love of old times, maybe he can be made weep for his own people, hold his own self, maybe even hesitate.

Sunulale is beyond this, he can only be dealt with, and Zardrix, perhaps she is free and still mad once his tamer is dealt with. Some  thoughts.
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Spell Energy / Taint +0/-0
Gender: Male
Posts: 54



« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2006, 02:24:49 PM »

...So the players need to:
- Survive (level 1-5)
- Hold off the forces of the Night Kings (level 6-10?)
- acquire the secret (level 11-15)
- beat the night king (level 16+)

I find this idea quite awesome.  The concept of finding a secret weakness to exploit rather than trying to use force maintains the Night Kings' status as legendary "boogeymen." (I once toyed with the idea of a campaign that would revolve around restoring Zardrix' heart so she would turn against the Dark Lord but never wrote anything for it.)


And like Dubh Amn and Nif it has me thinking of how Midnight might look if the Night Kings were defeated and Izrador was somehow neutralized (though probably not defeated - that would be too easy Wink ).  I think that concept is worth pursuing in its own thread.
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ayeela
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +2/-0
Posts: 21


« Reply #23 on: October 31, 2006, 04:41:26 PM »

Ah... further changes to the world will include. The introduction of an underdark (as I have two players who want to play drow - and I presonally do not have ANY problem with Drow - as long as their attitude is a bit less senseless-evil as in the standard) and a new party, also besieged by the dark forces (in this case the drow end up on the loosing side, too).

With a setup like this, I am thinking to make Ardherin the target for my first campaign. Now the question is, what his secret might be. It has to be something that Aradil does not know - or does not deep important anymore. It should be a fitting secret for an elf, a sorcerer. Ofcourse a "true name" like escape is always possible, but I need something a bit less obvious ideally.
Once the idea is there, I think a way to acquire it might show itself. Smiley
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kilgore
Heepa-Heepa


Spell Energy / Taint +0/-0
Gender: Male
Posts: 36



« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2006, 02:51:35 PM »

I have one queston about the structure of your proposed campain, you have lvl16+ as taking down the knight king, when the lowest of them (according to legends of shadow) is lvl 25, for me this part would be taking down their right hand man, and then at 20+ the assult on the knight king. Just my two penies.
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