However, one can see a lot of people asking : "What the characters are supposed to do in this module?". Asking this question amounts to miss the main interest of Vault of the Drow. Why ?
BECAUSE D3 IS A FANTASY SANDBOX!
Although this isn't an earth-shaking revelation, it's worth repeating.
So, what's the purpose of this post?
Vault of the Drow is in the top 5 of my favorite modules, and thereby I am toying with the idea of finally playing it.
Yet it is clear that D3 is not a ready-to-play module. It needs to be expanded and reworked with love by the referee, and this is even more the case if one wishes to play it as a sandbox. So this message began a series of posts in which I will try to extend D3 to make it playable without prior preparation by the DM, while still maintaining a minimalist style leaving any latitude to the environment to be changed during play.
I will try to follow the 34 steps of the method created by the brilliant Rob Conley on his Bat in the Attic blog.
- Using one page sketch a world or continent map
- Label important regions
- Write one page of background giving no more than a handful of sentences to each region.
- Pick an area roughly 200 miles by 150 miles
- Grab a 8.5 by 11 sheet of hex paper.
- The scale should be so that it represents a 200 by 150 mile region
- Draw in mountains
- Draw in rivers
- Draw in hills using them to divide the region into distinct river valley
- Draw in vegetation (swamps, forests, desert, etc)
- Decide to place Population Locales note their race this includes social monsters
- Decide to place Lairs (locales tht revolves around a home of monsters)
- Decide to place Ruins (locales that revolves around a site)
- Decide to place miscellaneous locales. (anything that doesn't fit a above.
- Name your geography (don't forget islands)
- Write a Half Page background describing the region and it's history.
- Write a paragraph describing each named geography
- Write a paragraph describing each Population Locale
- Write a paragraph describing each Lair (you could get away with a stat block)
- Write a paragraph describing each Ruin
- Look at your notes and come up with two to four plots that ties one or more locales together. Write a paragraph or two on each.
- For each population locale come up with three to five encounters. They should be a sentence each.
- Come up with 6 to 12 general encounter for the region as a whole. Should usable in any area of the region. They are a sentence or two each.
- Pick the 4 or 6 most important Population locales and draw a quarter page sketch map of the settlement.
- Pick the starting population locale and draw a full page map of the settlement. This is the "Home Base"
- Use Medieval Demographics to get an a idea of how many shops are in the town.
- Pick or create 6 or 12 important buildings. Write a paragraph each.
- Scan your descriptions for NPCs or noted monsters. Write a two sentence about each. The first a one line with minimal stats the second one sentence. This is your roster.
- Pick the 12 most important NPC or Monsters
- Write a paragraph describing each and fully stat them.
- Pick the most six common encounter type. (City Guard, Border Warders, Bloody Hand, Orcs) Write a paragraph and fully stat them.
- Scan your description for any regional organization and write a paragraph on them. Fully stat the most common encounters involved with them.
- Make up a rumor chart with 10 to 20 items that feeds the players into the encounter and plots you created in above.
- Identify major regions and create a random encounter chart for each (monsters, wildlife and NPCs).