The Tyranny of Mundanity campaign has recently finished, and it did not go as planned, so I thought it would be interesting to look back on how it played out. This is also the first time I’ve run a campaign with real rails in mind for the party to go off of and a clear focus on the story, so I want to analyze what happened to benefit the design of my future campaigns, including the upcoming Primordial Frontier.
The links within the text are to key sessions within the acts, but below is a comprehensive list of the sessions:
The party came together by joining a resistance group hoping to prove to the people that Hilbrent was originally a god of magic, and not the god of applied knowledge he presents himself as today. This act of the campaign went about according to plan, with the players enjoying their time in the Gollant, the city they helped found in the last campaign. They obtained some good evidence and drew attention, along with some blunders on the part of the other teams. This was all according to plan. Knowing that magic ban enforcers were about to come down on them, I fed them Ilgrind’s name for them to go to after the resistance group fell.
When the security forces attacked, Doane managed to elude capture, which was cool, but with the rest of the party on a train to the capitol, he chose to follow. In Vardorborg, they were to be questioned and released, but Lamila refused to cooperate until she received a response from Benquil, avatar of the gods, one step removed from Hilbrent. They get out, but at this point, BiW became insistent on learning Hilbrent’s motives, which is what sent things off the rails. To push them toward Ilgrind, Hilbrent also recommended that they speak to him to find a reason why the magic ban wasn’t necessary.
My intention had been that they would oppose the ban outright, but Lamila so insisted on having all the information, that they soon learned that Hilbrent had instituted the ban to prevent run away global magic increase. They could hardly disagree with his reasons (which they were never meant to know until after overthrowing the government in Act 3), so their new mission became to discover a way to let magic be free without catastrophic effects. Unfortunately, I had no ideas how this could be achieved.
In this act, they were intended to be working with Ilgrind to construct an airship for the revolution, with him supporting them with tech research and production. I had sent them to Ilgrind one way or another, but with revolution far from their minds, we spent several sessions on a detour to the merfolk, who were never intended to be part of the campaign, Lamila obtaining yet another god to hate in Laithe. Upon their return, Ilgrind made his expectations known, that they would support his project in exchange for the work he has been doing.
This got them into the the underdark seeking the ancient gnomish mine, which I had intended to occupy most of Act 2. However, rather than supplying them with the means to lead a revolution, it now needed to promise them a solution to the expanding womb of magic. It did so, leading them to the center of the world where instead of introducing events that set in motion the revolution, I presented them with events that kicked off an invasion by the Starry Beings.
I had intended for this act to be “carrying out the plan they’ve devised to a logical conclusion.” I assumed this would be a rebellion, but due to Lamila’s obtaining so much information, instead this act began with the party becoming champions of Hilbrent, who they were supposed to be fighting against. We still got to experience large scale battles and intense encounters with powerful enemies, so the experience was similar to what I had intended, and the outcome was still the lifting of the magic ban!
So, the campaign deviated greatly from what I intended, but we all still had a good time and we’re feeding into the next campaign without needing an alternate timeline. So success in every way! What I learned is that I can get the story I want without the players all being what was originally intended. So, I have a pretty elaborate story planned, but none of the details. I think regardless of what they do I will be able to steer them to the intended final encounter. Stay tuned!
Epilogue night coming Saturday! Epilogue nights are always a blast. It scares me a little what they might have planned.