In the following, I will show you the session diary one of the players (PC = Eloi) wrote for one of the troupes that travelled my version of the Wilderlands of High Adventure. I will comment to the best of my knowledge on the DM-processes involved.
Day 1 — The adventurers meet in Targnol Port, where a dodgy horse trader offers them a job: “take this great stallion to the royal ranch past the mountains and you’ll get a cartload of money, and some poneys!”. Departure the same day for Maslanta, next settlement west of Targnol Port. In the evening, the strange Shaman (“Sitting Wolf”) finds a beautiful sword, spat out by the earth. He offers it to Eloi the Pilgrim.
The major decision in preparing for this troupe’s adventures was the decision which map they would start on. I decided upon Viridistan aka the home of the City State of the World Emperor, because it interested me the most. Where we would start was decided only after the characters were made. The Wilderlands PHB has a lot of regional feats and concerns itself with languages and cultures, so I first needed to know which cultures need to be united for the group to meet. As it happened, one of the Viridian Ports, Port Targnol was the best place. The stallion-mission was just one of several I had in store to make sure they would have a reason to travel across the map. For all missions, I made some notes as to what would happen if they weren’t successfully accomplished. The stallion-mission was a minor part in the growing war with the City State of the Invincible Overlord, I decided. The consequences of failure would not have been felt until two years later, for example. The sword was one of the first things coming out of the random tables, it actually is a major artifact.
Day 2 — After a night in the wild, the companions travel the whole day in the direction of Maslanta, avoiding a flash-flood. There they meet a crazy local druid who asks them to rid the area of a strange apparatus abandoned north of town. Locals complain of the increasing taxes and of the difficult times for trade.
Random table results to not “spice up” anything, but to model what really happens.
Day 3 — Early morning departure with other villagers to try to salvage big chunks of mountain crystal that are usually washed out by the flash-floods: they score a couple of nice pieces. Further up the river, they discover the apparatus mentioned by the druid. It looks like some strange flying device made from metal tubes and dark dragon-skin. There, they have to fight off some hungry badgers who manage to steal half of the provisions of the travelers. They nevertheless retrieve the apparatus and charge it on their mules.
The apparatus was a hang-glider, and the Druid knew it was form the times of technology, and as such hated it.
Day 4 — Following the northern affluent of the Thistledown river in direction of Tak Shire, the companions get a chance to admire the greatness of the landscape. As on the two days before, Eloi the Pilgrim and Zheng the foreigner spend the evening trying to train the horse of the latter. The noble steed that they are supposed to deliver is still in good shape and healthy. Hatnokeinam (?) and Eloi try to teach a bit of Ghinoran to Sitting Wolf, who seems to hear voices. Later that night, they are attacked by a pair of marauding Black Orcs; easy victory. Hatnokeinam scores a couple of good shots at the orcs.
Oh, yeah, as the Wilderlands are the Wilderlands, the players could not really speak to each other much, as most did neither speak the tongue of the Viridian lands, nor any other common tongue. They settled on learning a smattering of ghinoran as group-language. Took some levels until they really could speak with each other. usually, though, a translaotr chain could be created with at least one member being able to translate to one other member who could translate to..etc. good times!
Day 5 — Leaving the side of the river, they cross overland in the direction of the Tak Shire wood. In the evening, Sitting Wolf notices some disturbance (in the spirit world?) and investigates. A rat swarm attacks the travelers. Burning oil and a trampling horse manage to break the swarm. Fortunately the royal steed is not too badly hurt. Beyond the ridge of the hill, where the rats came from and where the spirits seem to disappear, the heroes discover a step-pyramid.
The pyramid was the first lair/dungeon that came up on the tables, and I fully fleshed it out before the actual session. I also did read basically all entries for settlements on the map, so that I got a feel for the power structure. I made reams of notes for this. The role of Tak-Shire as pork-source for the Empire was endangered by Black Orcs that were on the rise in the hills.
to be continued…