I have been missing the lonely, wind-swept hills of my home campaign as of late. Holiday madness and adult life schedules have played merry hell with our face-to-face games. Lacking “quorum” we have had more luck getting together for miniature battles, Conan one-shots, and even Search for the Emperor's Treasure than the actual campaign.
I expect that to change shortly, but to get my fix in I recently opened up the Google+ extra-dimensional gates of the HC and starting running some FLAILSNAILS sessions.
It's been an interesting and useful experience. When you run a long-standing campaign you get comfortable with how things are, after a while some things inevitably shift into cruise control. Parts of the setting drift into the background as they become overly-familiar to both the players and me. The new blood keeps me on my toes.
To date, we have had two late evening sessions in a week's time introducing 10 new players (in three countries) to the massive, undulating Slumbering Ursine Dunes and the town of Marlankh/Maarlinko.
A number of players have been visitors from other planes: an upright Paladin of Mitra (whose patience seems to have been severely tested by the morally-flexible denizens of the HC), a dwarven thief/rat catcher (mistaken as a bearded midget by the locals), and a drunken, booby-dreaming priest from Wessex. Time Bandits-style they fall out of the sky, which seems to not phase locals overly much.
Interestingly, though these are all open-world hands, a number of players have rolled up some indigenous characters under the guidelines of the HC Compendium (yes, Jeremy that is another flogging). A few even indulged me by using my quirky background generator.
The fact that there were no less than three Mountebank characters chosen—and a thief or two--have been rolled up should give you an idea of the moral fiber of the people I play with—perfectly appropriate for the setting. (Peter R. bucked the trend and went with a Lawful and Good mage, albeit with a sinister past.)
The Paladin described his new comrades (full report here) thusly:
“It was strange, the place was odd, and the men I met were of that queer, stealthy persuasion. At first I trust them not, but, slowly I came to find them amicable fellows; with stout hearts and clean souls. There was 'Sliper' a most resourceful Expert Locksmith & Listener, the Ever Clever "Gaunilo Mountebank", Oh? and a hedgemage Eva Gorassospiri. I was told of their need, queer indeed; a Silver COD Piece of some weird and wondrous value or power.”
Mike D. from Sword+1 blog (and Ruins and Ronin fame) finally allowed me to open up the door's on using the Realms of Crawling Chaos LL supplement. Choosing a fish-smelling Sea Blood (doomed to eventually turn into a Deep One at later levels) was pitch perfect allowing me to place his point of origin in my oh-so subtle homage sea-port of Muth.
That's Mike's nifty pictorial account of the exploration of the “Glittering Tower” in the Dunes above, click to enlarge. For accuracy's sake I note that the Great Chair Massacre is not depicted.
That's the report from the HC.
In proper open world fashion the various explorations could possibly the effect the home game—and vice versa. I chuckle and rub my Evil DM hands over the possibilities. Catch over in the pocket universe on a good free evening and perhaps you can take your own turn.