When I first started running C&C with my current group, the long story arc centered around a single city and the group’s attempt to thwart a plot endangering that community. The group would head out of the city and into the surrounding wilderness, exploring ruins and generally sticking their fingers in the bad guys’ bicycle spokes.
When that story arc was done, it was a major event, and the storyline changed gears to a small mini-arc followed by this “find the twelve relics” thing I have going on now. The shift to an even larger storyline (finding twelve artifacts, rather than exploring three different ruins) has begun to bog down as the plots get to be too similar to each other. The PC’s identify the next relic, travel to whereever it is, kill whatever is guarding it, and get the relic. The Spear of Autumn Casting has some roleplaying to it because of the PC’s nemeses appeared as the villain, but that’s about it.
The “quest” campaign structure also really lacks the ability for the GM to introduce reoccurring NPC’s. Instead you have “NPC of the week,” like an episode of Pokemon. All I needed was the half-orc constantly hitting on the town priest, sheriff, or Nurse Joy and I’d be set. I could tell that the more roleplaying-oriented players were getting less interested, and frankly I was getting less interested.
So, I decided to retool. It wasn’t hard, since I’m leading the group around by the nose right now–I just led to them a nice big city with loads of mysteries and places to explore and, oh yes, a captive tarrasque right in the middle of town. You can read about it here at my sister site to this one. I am hoping this layout provides with the best of both worlds. There’s enough interesting things in the city for the roleplayers to get interested in, while the hack-and-slash players can go gadding about the giant castle filled with beasties galore. Moreover, I’m not even going to both mapping the entire castle. Instead, I’m going to organize it in “pods,” little multi-encounter enclaves that will constitute a single “adventure” (perhaps over several sessions) with them roughly interconnecting in some way. The players have never been that map-oriented, since I use the modular Hirst Arts dungeons, so they won’t even notice if the pods don’t always mesh together logically.
Grimfeast (the city, for those who didn’t click the link) has a lot of the same themes as Peluria, the former city-state from earlier in the campaign. Both are sort of oblivious to the danger around them. Both had undercurrents of corruption in the leadership of the community (in Peluria, these were not as well explored as I would’ve liked, but they were there). Hopefully I’ll get more into them this time.
I’m also hoping that this’ll refresh what has been a somewhat unfruitful imagination within me about this campaign. I’ve been struggling sometimes to come up with things, and settling more often than not for boring old orc-and-ogre dungeon crawls. Stay tuned to see what happens.