So, how has the sandbox of the Barrow Downs campaign progressed?
We started off with the two elves in some great un-named city, who ending up playing most of the Forgotten Forge adventure from the back of the Ebberon hardcover. I had no idea where this was located in my game-world except that I knew it was in the Mortal Realms and the Heartlands at that. I didn’t even really how big the city was, except that it was certainly a very large and very old city (based on the inherent characteristics of the module). I didn’t have anything like Warforged in my game world, so the presence of a mysterious new race was a nice hook that I can use later – and because I actually have a pretty easy way to integrate them in a way that fits well with my existing history.
I had to think about that, making the switch from “storyline” to “history” – worrying less about what will happen in the future and working only with the past and the “now”.
After that we play-tested with a small group running through the module Scourge of the Howling Horde, that took the group to the very small village of “Barrow’s Edge” – which suggested that there was a barrow or barrows nearby. As a throw away comment I decided that the village was a week’s journey away from the big city, far enough away that it meant getting back would be a pain. It also demonstrated just how quickly a good group of players can break a module.
From there we introduced AD&D back to the whole gaming group and after character creation I presented them with a whole set of rumors. They decided to take the run up north, through the Barrow Downs, a good solid week’s hard journey to Seraph Keep – a small keep of the Society of Light on the northern borderlands up near the mountains where they are struggling with a goblin warren nearby, as well as some bandits.
One fight with a band of ogres later, they are getting ready to clean out the ogre’s lair – itself an old barrow or Gnomish mine or something.
And as I think about it, this is pretty much where my AD&D campaign started a gazillion years ago, the Jewel Hills. So it fits that it is where I’m picking up AD&D again. Back then it was the center of Drastar, the center of culture and civilization in the Heartlands, and the seat of the Society of Light. I had an old player accidentally start the religious wars between the Society of Light and the Old Faith, several thousand years in the past. Now it’s on the shores of the Purple Sea, created two-hundred and fifty years ago with the Return of the Witch-King, and the within the bounds of the Grand Duchy of Sohac – ruled by the Archmage Gordon, Master of Chaos and hero of the War of Return. It’s pretty different now, ruled by ruins and Chaos rather than civilization and Order, but it’s still a great setting or general area for an AD&D campaign.
Hills full of barrows and communities of gnomes, mountains to the north with obscure religious communities and dwarves, a sea and one of the great ports of the Heartlands to the south that is a major cosmopolitan center with.