Category Archives: Campaign of the Month

Our Featured Campaigns live on forever here at Obsidian Portal. By all accounts, they are works of art that expand our horizons as gamers and help us keep in mind what is truely important in all table-top RPGS; the joy of play.


January’s Featured Campaign: Honour Among Thieves

Friends, it’s January. It’s the far-flung year of 2011. It is the future. A future filled with spaceships, blood thirsty Reavers, and dashing pilots who may or may not be in love with space hookers. It may not be our present future, but it’s definitely the time-setting of this year’s first Featured Campaign Honour Among Thieves by DM BrandonSweet!

BrandonSweet was kind enough to answer some questions for us all about his chosen campaign. Read on for advice, tales of glory, and space cowboy shenanigans!


November’s Featured Campaign: Cthulhu Supremus Est

If there’s one thing scarier than roving bands of sugar addled children clawing at your door for candy at all hours of the night, it’s when the elder gods come a-calling. This month’s featured campaign is Cthulhu Supremus Est by DM FrankSirmarco!

Spine-tingling! Interested in trying Call of Cthulhu for yourself? Download the Quick Start Rules pdf! Let’s get down the the nitty gritty and hear what FrankSirmarco has to say about his campaign.

October’s Featured Campaign (System?!): WyrmShadow

This month’s Featured Campaign is a bit different. It’s also late, but that’s not really worth noting. The important part is that it’s amazing, it’s innovative, and it’s a whole world managed by our dear friend, Duskreign.


September’s Featured Campaign: Library of Howling

The City of Howling is a small, densely populated city tucked into the Howling Cliffs on the coast of the Tragic Sea. Surrounded by tall mountains and having no agriculture of its own, it depends on its bustling port and trade from the nearby Sundweller’s Kingdom. Its claim to fame is the magical Library of Howling, supposedly able to answer any question. Throngs of refugees flock to it like an Oracle, only to find out that it is, in fact, just a house of books run by a tyrannical group of librarians who use elitism and politics to keep the riffraff out. Discouraged, most just flounder here, turning Howling into a demoralized, crime-infested city of lost souls.

It’s a new month and that means there’s a new Featured Campaign! This month, we’re bringing you kicking and screaming to the Library of Howling by Valorin. Valorin was kind enough to get his posse together and answer some of our burning questions.

Obsidian Portal: How much of the campaign/system is original content developed by you and your players?

Valorin:The system is either all mine or none at all, as it is a Frankenstein’s golem of Fantasy Hero, Harn, FUDGE, Hero Quest, Rune Quest, D&D, Earthdawn, etc. Any mechanic I like, I steal like a starving street urchin. Basically, every rule we use is a House Rule. I even have a proposed change on OP for the players because we were trying to figure out if we could remove a roll from combat and speed things up a bit. So, the system is always in flux and changing. If pressed to pick one, the system is mostly the Hero system which is actually amazingly close to D&D 3.5 in a lot of it’s combat. The world setting is almost completely my own. It’s been developed from ideas, discussions, books and games from many different systems and campaigns over the years. I have my own idea of people, races, magic and the like. For the games themselves, I’ve either made up my own stories, or adapted old modules for my own use. I love to use published modules and settings because a lot of work has gone into them and they’re usually rich and interesting.

Obsidian Portal: Your campaign looks great, can you tell me more about it?

Valorin:This campaign world is a brand new start since three of my four players are new to RPGs. My first story line even involved an infestation of bandits in rags and armed with farm tools and a dark secret as a way to introduce them to the system and the style of RPG without giving them too much of a challenge in the way of combat. The first theme of the characters themselves is that they are all “mages” but not robe-wearing bespectacled old men. Rather, they are all martial men with some kind of supernatural secret, curse or gift that they are going to discover, and possibly master. Again, this brings out the mechanics of the game and the role of magic in my setting. The current story line comes from an old module in a setting called Shadow World which I think was originally designed for Role Master but has Fantasy Hero conversions in it.

Obsidian Portal: Where do you get your inspiration the story and the world?

Valorin:My inspiration comes from a lot of sources. I read a lot and I have several places that I love to emulate. I also HATE cliches. A lot of what I build on my own is a response to some fantasy cliche or icon that I want to mess with. Any seven foot tall black-skinned mage-warriors with skull-pommeled zweihanders bigger than them deserve whatever the players do to them. A lot of times I like to take some myth or story that the players know and then play them through it and have them find out the “real story” in the way of Neil Gaiman. I love fantasy worlds that are not Tolkienesque, like China Mieville’s world or Clive Barker’s Imajica. I love the politics of books like Dune or the Chronicles of Amber. I also collect modules and settings for any system imaginable to dice up and use as a spice or a main entree or anything in between.

Obsidian Portal: How well do you know your players?

Valorin:I’ve known most of the players pretty well for a few years and we all work together for the most part. All of us play World of Warcraft together in some combination or other and so they were obvious choices to approach with the idea of a table-top RPG. I haven’t run a game of my own in quite some time since moving to my new town, but I’ve played in some or messed around in pick up games and short bouts. Many years ago , I used to be the main GM and I’m more comfortable in and get more pleasure from long extended campaigns. Of course, as soon as the players aren’t having fun and want to try something else, then we’ll immediately start looking for a new toy to try.

Obsidian Portal: What kinds challenges are you faced with in your campaign?

Valorin:The biggest challenge so far has definitely been this hobbled together system of mine. I’ve tried literally dozens of different systems and there’s always something that I don’t like about it. For this run, I really wanted to try to make the game mechanics my own. Of course, in true form, there are things about my own system that I don’t like, but I’m working on it. I’m actually close at this point, having played the system for about a year now, to start writing some hard rules down and let the players begin strategizing on a metagame level rather than just inside the story. The brand new players are definitely not a problem to the game. It’s refreshing and a lot of fun to introduce some new people into the brotherhood of *true* gamers. Also, it’s really great that I have a veteran player to help me, who sits back and lets the new guys mess up, but then is quick to jump in when they all turn to him and give him that blank look. I guess, I’d also say that the other hard part is that we’re all older, for the most part, and it’s sometimes difficult to find a time when everyone can get together. This strange thing called “life” just keeps getting in the way. We currently don’t have a set, regular meeting time.

Obsidian Portal: What aspects of your campaign are you really proud of?

Valorin:Despite how much I keep trying to change it, I actually like the feel that I’m getting from my game system. I’ve thought a lot about game design and the system and the way it handles really influences the mood of the story you’re trying to tell. I wanted a gritty, mystery-based fantasy game and I feel like the high detail, slow development and simulationist rules of the system lend themselves really well to that and help break my new characters of the video game mentality. I’m also really happy with the depth and development of the characters that my new players have come up with. These are definitely not cookie-cutter video game avatars, but people with backgrounds, goals and personal problems and the players came up with these on their own. I was very impressed. Finally, I think the two stories that we’ve got so far have been easy enough to be a good introduction but interesting and involved enough to keep the game going this long and maybe even lead to giant story arcs later on that could be a great ending.

Obsidian Portal: According to your players, what have been the highlights of the campaign?

Valorin: Here’s what my players had to say:

“The highlight for me has been learning how to roleplay. I always wanted to be involved in a fantasy game but never had the chance until now. It’s been great since I have a few friends involved and can learn from them how to progress with my character while staying true to who he is.” – Red Earth

“The flexibility of the system has been a big highlight, but taking our meager little party and doing things that the GM never expected us to be able to pull off has been the biggest kicker ;) We have an eclectic group built around melee that’s trying to sneak into the world of magic piece by piece and having some smart people to pull out tricks like summoning ghosts from the past to learn passwords to big demonic gates has really been a boon to us. Pulling out impossible wins with our brains rather than our swords, such as in capturing demons in old candlesticks which once held another demon to save the day. Those are the highlights in my mind.” – Bill Hook

“The highlights of the campaign have really been the recent adventures on the island. Mainly exploring the city of the Black Sons. It seems every time we go into some place new, we’re always getting into heated battles with very powerful enemies. But we end figuring out his weakness and work together as a team to defeat him. Right now, we have to head back to our camp but I am looking forward to going back into the city and uncovering more secrets.” – Marble Riches

For my own part, in the evil temple of a demon-worshipping ruined city, the quote of the game last time was, “Oh yeah, I’m (messing) with the statue!” The players keep it fun and fast.

Obsidian Portal: What future plans do you have for your campaign?

Valorin: If we keep going with these characters, I’m looking at a few possibilities but I’ll only mention the ones the players know about: an old-fashioned dungeon crawl for adventure, loot and to kill the bad guy. Remember, my players haven’t done that before. Secondly, the open seas are calling. I’ve always wanted to do an adventure on the high seas and we’ve got an opportunity to try that. I like my games to have an actual setting which becomes “home” in time to the players and right now that’s Howling. The players have been murmuring that they might want to take the ruined city and island as their home base. Certainly, I work closely with the players to see what kind of story they would like to do before we start anything new.


August’s Featured Campaign: The Melekar Chronicles

Friends, we have done you a disservice. You see, we thought that we had already featured the Melekar Chronicles in the past, because it’s so damn good. Turns out, we were wrong. Horribly wrong… So! Now we correct that mistake, let me present to you: The Melekar Chronicles by DM Gaaran.

Broken Empire from Zachary Dando-Thompson on Vimeo.

Obsidian Portal: How much of the campaign/system is original content developed by you and your players?

Gaaran: The vast majority of the content for my campaign setting has been created by me, with the help of my players. Occasionally we’ll throw in a pre-built dungeon crawl or two, but other than that, it’s all original. I’ve had a lot of help from my players in fleshing out the world over the years, so they deserve this as much as I do.

Obsidian Portal: Your campaign looks great, can you tell me more about it?

Gaaran: When I first started putting my campaign together, I had just intended this to be an organizational tool for all my notes, past campaigns, and information like that. But then I started looking around at some of the other campaigns, and I was really impressed with what I saw. I decided that if I was going to take the time to put all the information on here, I should make it look good too. I took inspiration from some of the other users on here, like gnunn, Arsheesh, JimTriche, and ChainsawXIV for my base line, and worked up from there. I’m also rather proud of my world map, which I couldn’t have done without the help from the “Cartographer’s Guild”:

Obsidian Portal: Where do you get your inspiration the story and the world?

Gaaran: I try to be as original as possible, so while I might be inspired by ideas in movies and books, I try to make it something completely different, and make it my own. I also have some pretty awesome players, and in the early days of the campaign setting, they helped me create the world’s history. In the beginning, I created the world map with vague blobs for continents. Every campaign I ran in the world, I would choose a new area, and my players and I would create the map, and the towns, and even the history together. It was a fun process, and a great way to get the players more involved with their characters.

Obsidian Portal: How well do you know your players?

Gaaran: I’ve been blessed with some pretty awesome players. In my current campaign, I’ve known most of my players and gamed with them for several years, under several different DMs, but I have some of my other players that due to time constraints couldn’t join that I’ve been gaming with for 10 years or more. It makes the life of the DM easier when you can at least KIND of predict how your players will react. Doesn’t matter how well you know them though, they always manage to surprise you, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Obsidian Portal: What kinds challenges are you faced with in your campaign?

Gaaran: Well, for this campaign, most of the challenges have come from outside the game. I was originally going to run 4th edition, to try it out, but then realized that we all like 3.5e better, so i had to retool for that. And encounters are totally different, let me tell you. Then, we had some problems with the player base, that were unrelated to the game, and I was down to 2 pcs, so I had to retool for that. THEN we reconciled and things were alright, and we had three again, so I had to retool yet again. So that’s all back end issues on my part. The only other challenging part has always been for me is planning non-combat npc encounters. But that’s mainly because when it comes to role-playing, my players shine, and it’s pretty impossible to tell what they’re going to do in a given situation. Makes it hard to script out what an NPC might say, so I do a LOT of ad-libbing.

Obsidian Portal: What aspects of your campaign are you really proud of?

Gaaran: Without sounding too full of myself, I’m quite proud of three things. The fact that I’ve managed to keep this game world alive and do as much work as I have over the years to have a fairly fleshed out campaign setting, as well as a partially complete story that spans several thousand years (I still have a lot of work to do) is still mind-boggling to me. Second, I’m pretty proud of my world map, it took me probably 20+ hours to make, and I was really pleased with how it came out. I haven’t yet, but I’ve been meaning to have it printed, banner style. And lastly, and probably most importantly, I’m proud of the fact that my players tell me they’re excited for the next session. That’s really all I need to keep going, if they like what I’m putting out, then I’m doing something right :).

Obsidian Portal: According to your players, what have been the highlights of the campaign?

Gaaran: I asked my players this, since I don’t want to put words in their mouths.

“The pure depth of the world in which you created for the campaign. I truly feel immersed.” – Krygon

“For all the slayings and noble deeds, I would have to say that the highlight so far has been making romantically vague and socially awkward situations with the party’s cleric seem more dramatic and perilous than any monster-filled trap-infested dungeon.” – CrankyPelican

Obsidian Portal: What future plans do you have for your campaign?

Gaaran: Well, for my current story arc, I don’t want to give anything away to my players, so I’ll be vague. Let’s just say that ain’t seen nothing yet! As for my campaign setting, and the OP site, I’m still working, little by little, on getting all of my history and geography, and all that information written and added to the site, but I still have a ways to go. With the current campaign running, I’ve been more focused on keeping up with adventure logs and the dossiers for people and places the players have visited. Eventually I hope to have a fully fleshed out campaign world that someone could use for their own game, but THAT is quite a ways down the road.

Gaaran: I just want to say thanks again! To my fellow OPers, gnunn, JimTriche, Arsheesh, ChainsawXIV, and all the others who helped show me what you can do with this site, and inspired me to try and make something of my campaign site. I want to thank my players over the years too, without them, I wouldn’t have had such a rich campaign world to put together. And lastly, thanks to OP for being exactly what I was looking for.


July’s Featured Campaign: Shadowrun – Into The Breach

It’s a new month, and with it comes Shadowrun – Into The Breach, a new Featured Campaign. I had a whole write up ready for this one, but the DM for last month’s Featured Campaign Arsheeh beat me to it. Let’s hear what he had to say.

Campaign Highlights

Among the many features of Into the Breach worthy of note are the following:

  • Innovative HTML and Graphics work:
    As previously mentioned, Jim has invested allot of effort into the layout of his site, both in terms of HTML/Textile formatting, and in terms of the graphic images that he has either created or found to adorn the site. Into the Breach exudes the dark cybernetic aesthetic that is the hallmark of cyberpunk. I am not exaggerating when I say that this site layout is one of a very small handful of the coolest and most innovative on the Portal.
  • Character Dossiers:
    Jim has created a really clever set of dossiers for each of the characters in his campaign that is well worth checking out.
  • Karma, Achievements & Special Abilities:
    Jim has adapted a system that rewards players with cool character abilities both for in-game and meta-game contributions to the campaign.
  • Classifieds & News:
    Another really clever innovation to this campaign site is the introduction of a set of News stations and classified adds which offer a variety of story hooks. This allows for a great deal of story options for the players.
  • The Subterranean Village of Throal:
    I just love this idea! Seriously, you gotta read about this location for yourself.
  • Weapons, Vehicles & Equipment:
    Into the breach contains a host of detailed, visually impressive entries on futuristic technology that ought to make any Shadowrun DM drool!

It’s hard to argue with any of that. To celebrate his acheivement we asked JimTriche to tell us about his newly featured campaign.

Obsidian Portal: How much of the campaign/system is original content developed by you and your players?

JimTriche: The world exists as it is, we’ve made up some weapons, made some organizations and corps, and whatnot to populate it, but for the most part what we use exists somewhere to some degree in the original sourcebooks. Some stuff we’ve borrowed from other campaigns or stories we read, and parts, notably the subterranean Kingdom of Throal are creative evolutions based on other material. (Earthdawn, in that case) The storyline is an original construct, and some of the house rules are either fixes for shortcomings in the Shadowrun 2nd Edition rules or developments that were entirely missing. The Achievements idea was taken from other Obsidian Portal members through general forum brainstorming. I wish more people used them.

Obsidian Portal: Your campaign looks great, can you tell us more about it?

JimTriche: Well, the campaign actually has been going off and on for a few years, and it’s ever evolving. We have 2 guys that GM, and we switch off occasionally, though we tend to guard our plothooks even from each other. It helps to keep things fresh I think. It’s currently in a bit of a Steampunk mode, they’re searching for legendary artifacts to battle a Horror, which Shadowrun and Earthdawn share as major badguys. The goal at the moment is to tie the world together and show a bit of the scope of FASA’s creations, as well as tying them together. Who knows, if we play long enough we may evolve into some Mechwarrior fluff as well!

Obsidian Portal: Where do you get your inspiration the story and the world?

JimTriche: The world is Earth, didn’t need a whole lot of inspiration there, it’s just a bit… run down. The storylines come in as conglomerations, various sci-fi/fantasy books, frankensteined adventure modules from various systems, and bad movies and television. What makes for horrible cinema often makes awesome game plots. Then we mix and match. Tolkien+Gibson+King+Lovecraft= a good start.

Obsidian Portal:  How well do you know your players?

JimTriche: I’ve been friends with them for about 10 years. I met two at work when I first moved into New Jersey, and the others were friends of theirs for closer to 25 years. It’s a good group of people, the kind of guys who have keys to your house. The kind of guys that’d be sharing a cell with you. Good guys.

Obsidian Portal:  What kinds challenges are you faced with in your campaign?

JimTriche: Mostly it’s scheduling logistics, our work schedules all differ, Three of us are married, I have 3 kids, one is a farmer, and so on. Sometimes distractions pop up during game too, in the form of random internet pages or accidents at the corner near the house. Usually we keep things moving pretty well though. I’d love to get the players more into using the Portal, but the geeky stuff is my general domain (and I couldn’t have made the campaign wiki look half as nice without some major help from your forum regulars)

Obsidian Portal:  What aspects of your campaign are you really proud of?

JimTriche: I’m liking that it seems genuine. When I say that I mean that the world feels like it makes sense. The NPCs have their own lives, the players have freedom that I lacked in a lot of my games in years past, I like being able to entertain friends as well. Of the campaign plot itself, I like the way Throal is shaping up, Massive Dynamic (Yes, inspired by Fringe – the other GM’s baby) has become a great resource in game, and the overall story is taking a life on it’s own, while remaining malleable enough that we can still switch off GM duties and run our own subplots while keeping the metaplot in full swing.

Obsidian Portal:  According to your players, what have been the highlights of the campaign?

IncCamaro – “I am extremely interested in what’s happening with the Throal thing here. I definitely want to see where this goes.”

Schweedit – “The whole cabin scene was great, it’s not every day someone unleashes a horrific scourge upon the entire world.”

Blitzkreig8881 and CarlPaul71 were not available for comment, though their likely responses would have been “I like to shoot things” for Blitzkreig, and “I hate your stupid Bear” for Carl.

Obsidian Portal:  What future plans do you have for your campaign?

JimTriche: The metaplot is set, either they defeat the critter they let loose or the world dies. Either way, at the end we’ll regroup, restart or continue on with a new metaplot and campaign. We’ll of course be using the portal from the beginning on that one.

Obsidian Portal: Do you have anyone you’d like to thank?

JimTriche: Thanks to Arsheesh, Hardhead, Chainsaw, Gaaran, Idabrius, FrankSirmarco, MadEd, Gnunn and anyone else I forgot at the moment for all the help and support! Also calabacita for making me extra happy very soon.

Congrats again to JimTriche and all his players! If you have a suggestion for next month’s Featured Campaign, drop us a note on the forums!

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