4E D&D: Save the Princess

In our Wednesday FrankenFourth campaign, in which I ran Keep on the Shadowfell and started Thunderspire Labyrinth, one of the players expressed his dissatisfaction with the sorcerer. Specifically, he felt that it should have access to more abilities, and maybe more magic points to use said abilities.

As I mentioned in this post, the sorcerer's number of magical abilities are limited by design. I tried convincing him to try out a wizard, as they start with more magic talents and aren't limited in scope. He mentioned loving The Swordmage, and when I pointed out that it's based on the swordmage from 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons I somehow got roped into running a 4E D&D campaign...

...based for the most part on the Super Mario Bros series.

I blame this on playing a bunch of Super Mario Bros 3Super Mario World, and Super Mario Wii with our kids: at some point I started seriously considering whether I could lift elements from the series and run an actual campaign. I'd initially intended to run it with Dungeons & Delvers since I know the kids would love it, but when I mentioned it to the Wednesday group formerly known as the second FrankenFourth playtest group, they also expressed interest.

The basic idea is that an army of kappas, led by a kappa king that I'm probably not gonna call Bowser  (or even some of the originally pitched names), conquered a human kingdom and drove almost all of its inhabitants out. Using a magic pearl taken from a dragon he slew, the kappa king has perpetually blanketed the land in an eternal rainstorm, making it a great place for kappas to live and not much else.

These get along just fine.
Now, some 100 or so years later, corroded metallic pipes jut from the ground, carrying water to numerous underground kappa cities (and, in the case of the larger ones, also providing somewhat more convenient passages to the surface), some of which are inhabited by carnivorous plants. Fungus zombies, skeletal kappas, and ghosts infest the rotting remains of long-abandoned villages. Giant insects scuttle across the land, and giant octopuses dwell in large bodies of water (both above and below ground).

The human survivors founded a new kingdom far away, where they hoped the distance and mountains would keep them safe from a second kappa invasion. This worked insofar as an army didn't show up to conquer them, but a small band of kappas still managed to infiltrate the kingdom and abduct a princess, which is where the characters come in: they're one of many adventuring parties that are attempting to venture into the Drowned Land and rescue her, each for their own reasons of course.

Currently we've got Aka (Melissa), a red panda hengeyokai slayer, Mirai (Adam), a heavily modded cleric/shaman hybrid, and Vannis (Shane), an eladrin-reskinned-as-a-spirit-folk swordmage. I didn't want to use themes, but Shane wanted Vannis to have some sort of cursed ability (spends a healing surge to use an encounter ability that wreathes him in flames for a turn), and in the end it was just easier to go that route.

Anyway, I'm hoping that while playing this Shane will be able to figure out just how many abilities he wants to have at lower levels (which in turn might help inform further design of the sorcerer and wizard classes), and whether he prefers complicated games, as besides FrankenFourth, he's only played Dungeon World.

Also, I'm going to flesh out the setting out as we play, and when it's done we're going to compile everything into a weird-ass hexcrawl for at least FrankenFourth (which so far is pretty compatible with D&D) and Dungeons & Delvers. I've also been writing a list of example treasures and Mario-themed magic items, the latter of which I might make into yet another magic item volume for Dungeon World.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

We've added most of our stuff to Tabletop Library and Payhip.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Beastmaster is also out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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