It’s been a bit since I ran a D&D game. I’ve been playing in games DM’ed by my friends (most recently we press-ganged the Other Paul into running Curse of Strahd). I ran a brief attempt at an OSR game with 0-level PCs for 7 or 8 sessions, which was a lot of fun for me. I put together a survey of our group to ask about game systems and how they rank them (D&D 5E was far and away the winner) and asked about several possible games I’d be willing to run. The winner was a game set in the Forgotten Realms where they are members of a local militia.
I’ve been running games on and off in the Forgotten Realms since 1986. Those first games were set in Sembia, as that was one of the areas that was, according to the original Realms boxed set, set aside for DMs to flesh out. This time around, because I wanted to have a monarch as an (off-stage) central figure, I put our game in nearby Cormyr. I’ve set so many games in Waterdeep, I felt it was time for a change.
I based my Forgotten Realms campaign on the Time of Troubles-era, though with my own loose interpretation. While all of the ToT craziness is going on, it’s a distant rumor to the denizens of tiny Rankford, where the PCs are headquartered. Rankford has its own troubles.
I really want the PCs to care about Rankford, about the town, the people and their responsibilities to both.
There are a few key things going on, and one general problem: the Lords Wood, within which is nestled Rankford is a dangerous place and growing more so.
5e feels more to me like the 2nd Edition that I began DMing the Forgotten Realms with. I’ve always loved running low-level play, where even a short trip between town and the small farming commune to the east could be a perilous journey. This setting, where the PCs are often split up into small groups, feels exactly the way I want it to. 5e is a great vehicle for that sort of old-school-ish feeling.
I’m intentionally using some throwback monsters: ankhegs, centaurs, (others I won’t mention yet). In a way, this game is almost a continuation of the OSR game I ran recently. More structured, more… “official“, but I’m still striving for that rules-light, story-first feeling.