Dark Lake Ziggurat: The Power of Narrative…

2010 May 10
by Dante

Yesterday our group embarked on a gaming session that led to the tail end of the heroic tier and the start of the paragon tier.  Strangely, the group began just outside of The Dark Lake Ziggurat, a locale presented by the Underdark expansion.  The two-page spread illustrated some interesting details about the location, some of which I interpreted literally and as the players traversed the strange alien interior they found that the planes collided in some interesting ways.

I had thought briefly about creating specific plane-based encounters, but because I have been having some difficulty with battle encounters eating up entire gaming sessions I opted instead for the locale itself as the platform for the gaming session.  The players quickly realized that all was not normal when they were whisked away to several different planar settings, including the Elemental Plane of Chaos, the Astral Sea, and Shadowfell.

Now I had some ideas for what the setting would entail, and I retained the relative lack of cardinality of the Ziggurat.  I gave the players some options for exploration, treasure, and combat (however the combat was essentially optional).  Instead, the group seemed more interested in exploring their surroundings… if you click the link for the Astral Sea above, you will see an image of a floating castle.  They immediately wanted to go there, so I had to come up with some interesting roleplay on the spot.  I decided that this would be the Throne of Ao, just to see how they would react to that.  I won’t go into the details of how this played out, but suffice it to say that it was entertaining and the players got some important guidance for the rest of the campaign.

I enjoyed the random nature of the Ziggurat.  Perhaps my interpretation of it was quite incorrect, but my players had fun while having absolutely no battle.  Instead, they had some skill challenges and some roleplay experience awards.  When coupled with some treasure and some information to advance the plot, this all added up to a satisfying experience for both the players and myself.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. May 17, 2010

    Going a full session without combat is usually refreshing, as long as everyone stays interested. Sounds like it was a good time.

  2. Stupid Ranger permalink*
    May 17, 2010

    It was a good time! We were all waiting to see what was going to happen next. The suspense kept us all on our toes, especially when we couldn’t predict what would happen next.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS