Would You Like To Play A Game?

For the last few years, I’ve been running an Eberron campaign on Patreon. The story and the characters are persistent, but the players change with each setting. If you support the Patreon at the Threshold level ($6) you get access to all of the recorded episodes—and every month, you can apply for a seat at the table of that month’s game. The rules of Patreon don’t let me draw a name at random, so instead I pose a simple creative challenge. In a recent adventure in which the adventurers were going to Graywall, I told applicants tell me which character you want to play and what that character is most looking froward to seeing in Graywall… which leaves me with the terrible job of having to judge a creative challenge every month, but so it goes. The point is that the story is ongoing, and players choose their characters from an established cast… But that every Threshold patron has the opportunity to play in a session.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because after 24 sessions, my current campaign reached a satisfying conclusion and it’s a good moment to start something new. There’s a poll up on the Patreon that runs until Noon Pacific time this Wednesday, and the results will determine the plot of my next campaign. As soon as this is done, I will start an extended session zero process—using a series of polls to allow the patrons as a group to select the cast of characters and define aspects of the campaign. You can see a glimpse of what this looked like last time below. On Wednesday, the result of the poll will determine the nature of the next campaign, and I’ll immediately get started with session zero polls to create the cast of characters. So, if you’re interesting in playing a game with me sometime this year, this is your chance to get on board at the start of the new campaign and help shape the direction of the characters and the story. If that sounds like fun, check out the Patreon! And thanks for your time and interest!

So as I was saying…

The first poll determined that we’d have a Khoravar wandslinger in the cast…

A follow-up poll determined that she would be a Genie warlock—a former smuggler who’d won her powers in a card game with an efreet—who owes a lot of gold to the Boromar clan. And so…

… We ended up with the wandslinger Three Widow Jane, depicted here by Matthew Johnson. I’ll be using this same process to develop the characters for this new campaign; if you’d like to be involved, check out the Patreon!

Siberspace Continues

Wayfinder Wolf, by Matthew Johnson

Last month I wrote an article about how I’d combine Spelljammer and Eberron—a space race to reach the Ring of Siberys and the moons. I was so intrigued by the idea that I decided to run the campaign for my Patreon supporters. If it sounds interesting, there’s still time to get on board—I’m running the second session next week!

How Does This Work?

Each month, I run an online Eberron session for my Threshold patrons. The story and the characters are persistent from session to session, but the players change each time. I run the session at a different time each month, to ensure people in different time zones have a chance to play. Once a time is set (patrons are currently voting on the time for this month’s session!) I pose a creative challenge: last month it was tell me which character you want to play, and what they’re leaving behind as they go into space. The rules of Patreon won’t let me pick players randomly; as it is, this creative challenge gives me material I can work into the adventure itself. All patrons have access to the edited audio and video recordings of each session.

A peek at a Discord story hour and a Patreon plot poll.

While only five patrons get to play in each session, I do what I can to give all of the patrons an opportunity to influence the story. I run one adventure each month; between sessions, I post polls on Patreon and occasional interactive story hours on the Threshold Discord that allow everyone to shape the future of the events. Oh, and did I mentioned that there’s a Discord channel where I discuss the campaign and Eberron in general with patrons? One of my favorite things about TTRPGs is how the story evolves over the course of a campaign, and I enjoy finding ways for bring that experience to this format.

Not everyone has time to watch every episode, of course. To help with this, there’s a campaign website that maintains descriptions of all the characters and summaries of all previous sessions—both short overviews like the one here (spoiler alert for Siberspace session 1!) and more detailed breakdowns. And, of course, patrons have access to exclusive previews of upcoming books, like the recent preview of Medusa Characters from Frontiers of Eberron: Threshold, as well as helping to shape the short and long articles I post on this site… and determining the amount of time I have to spend on them.

Now the valiant Dragonhawk crew is preparing to venture beyond the Ring of Siberys. If you’d like to join them, check out the Threshold level of my Patreon!

Threshold: Session Zero

In November I’m going to start running an online Eberron campaign set in Threshold, a border town that lies on the edge of Breland and Droaam. Between then and now, I’m going to go through the same process I would in running any campaign: working with the players to establish the cast of characters and important elements of the story and campaign setting. The players are my Patreon supporters, and it’s on Patreon that I’ll hold the polls that determine the ANSWERS to the questions I’m raising. But I thought I’d post this first piece here, for anyone who’s interested in my process.

As we begin this story, we know one thing about it: it’s set in Threshold, a newly founded town in the western edge of Breland. We’re in the shadow of Droaam, and there’s the ever-present threat of raids. But there’s byeshk and Dhakaani ruins in the mountains. There’s merchants and diplomats happy to have a final mug of Brelish ale before crossing into the land of monsters. Dragonmarked houses are considering investments; House Orien is here, working on the western rail. It’s rough, it’s dangerous, but it’s a fountain of opportunities.

The question is: what are we doing here? We know where this story is set, but what kind of story is it? Are our adventurers here to protect the town? Are we dreaming of the treasures that could be hidden in forgotten ruins? Are we soldiers in the service of the Brelish crown, or are we reporters here to cover the story of western expansion? In practical terms, what I’m looking for here is a group patron. I want the adventurers in this story to know one another and to have a reason to be here—to identify if this is a war story, a tale of exploration and adventure, or something else entirely. Choosing a group patron will help me plan my initial adventures, and it also helps to provide basic guidelines for the characters. If the adventurers are a squad of the Westwind Raiders, they need to feel like a unit of soldiers; while if they’re a team of reporters for the Sharn Inquisitive, they’ll want a very different set of skills and abilities.

So here’s the patrons I’m putting on the table.

  • Threshold Itself. The adventurers are all people who have a stake in the town. The cleric is the town preacher. The paladin or fighter is the sheriff. The artificer or wizard is here to study the ruins, but may also be doubling as the local schoolteacher. As a party working for Threshold itself, the adventurers don’t have a boss—but they are united by their shared investment in the town and its future, and will be working together to protect it from threats—whether those threats are minotaur raiders or the overreaching greed of House Orien.
  • The Westwind Riders. Before Droaam, the Westwind Riders were an elite unit that patrolled western Breland, protecting settlers from the dangerous creatures that dwelt in the Barrens. The last of the Westwind Riders were slain by the Daughters of Sora Kell in the battle that established Droaam. Now Count ir’Blis, Shield of the Graywall, has appointed a new corps of Westwind Riders to protect the people of his domain. As Westwind Riders, the adventurers are an elite military unit sworn to protect Brelish citizens from any dangers they may face. A Westwind campaign will be focused on action, as the adventurers are constantly responding to new threats; but it may be that there are dangers that are best dealt with diplomatically, rather than with spells or steel.
  • Professional Adventurers. There are many wonders hidden in the Graywall mountains. Dhakaani ruins are merely the beginning; stories hint at portals to demiplanes and relics dating back to the Age of Demons. There’s a fortune waiting for those prepared to venture into the depths and wrest it from ghosts and monsters. With this story, the adventurers are adventurers—professional dungeon-delvers. Should this path be chosen, the next question will be if the adventurers are associated with the virtuous Clifftop Adventurer’s Guild, or the more infamous Deathsgate Guild.
  • The Sharn Inquisitive. There’s something in Threshold more valuable than gold, and that’s the story. In Threshold itself you have the saga of Brelish settlers seeking their fortune in a dangerous land and of dragonmarked ambition. But it also stands on the edge of Droaam, and that’s a realm with many unanswered questions. How secure is the rule of the Daughters of Sora Kell? Is Droaam on the verge of collapse, or is it stronger than ever? Is the border stable, or could war break out at any time? With this patron, the adventurers are a team of reporters working for the Sharn Inquisitive, and they’re here to find the truth. This campaign would have a strong focus on social interaction and intrigue, with characters needing to have skills that help to get to the truth. But uncovering that truth will be a dangerous job…
  • Mysterious Visions. Strange visions have drawn a diverse group of people to Threshold. These people have nothing in common, save for these cryptic revelations and the knowledge that there is something they have to do. What is the force that has brought them together, and what is the task that only they can complete? The adventurers in this scenario would be very diverse in their backgrounds; part of the campaign would be trying to figure out why they were chosen and who their immortal patron actually is.

These are just a few of the possible themes for a campaign in Threshold. Adventurers could be working for the Boromar Clan of Sharn, establishing an outpost for this criminal syndicate and seeking to punish Droaam for the actions of Daask. They could be agents of the Twelve, sent to represent the interests of the Dragonmarked Houses. They could be spies seeking to infiltrate Droaam. But the five campaign ideas I’ve mentioned are ones that I feel comfortable running… so these are the five that I’m presenting to my players.

if you want to help make this decision and help as I continue to develop the campaign and the characters, join the Threshold tier on my Patreon. If not, hopefully this was an interesting peek at my process as a DM!