Introducing Tales of Galen


Welcome to the premier article of Tales of Galen, a new series that will recount the next campaign in the world of Eldar: Caught in Galen. Right now, I’m in the process of preparing everyone for this campaign, going through each of the steps I’ve advocated for here on rjd20.com, in addition to a few new additions I’ll talk about in good time. As I build the starting point of Caught in Galen, speak to the players about their characters, and imagine the nonplayer characters they’ll interact with, I thought I’d share some initial thoughts on the campaign and this new series with all of you.

The Tales of Galen articles will not replace the weekly articles released every Friday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time; they will accompany them, being released sometime throughout the week. They’ll range from short to long, focused or meandering, but always revolve around the Caught in Galen campaign.

My plan with this campaign is to share the process, from beginning to end, with all of you. And then, once Caught in Galen has concluded, I’ll share the folder with all of the lore I wrote, sessions I prepared, and epic moments my party experienced. Everything, from the most minute plot point to the most diabolical villain, will be included in that folder. The endgame goal is to be as transparent as possible with my worldbuilding and session prep process in an attempt to help anyone out there who needs or wants help in those areas of Dungeons & Dragons.

Two of my three ongoing campaigns will be ending by the end of May. The Frozen Expanses of Iskryn, a campaign that’s lasted three years and had its fair share of peaks and valleys, concludes on April 25th. The Karlith Straits, my first real weekly campaign, reaches its conclusion on May 28. That leaves the Enoach Desert ongoing, which is a monthly campaign, and the new Caught in Galen ready to start in June.

Caught in Galen’s premise is simple. The characters begin in Galen, the City of Magic, after the metropolis was quarantined by its governing body in response to the assassination of that body’s leader. They are desperate to find the assassin and not let them escape, so they summoned a crackling sphere of arcane energy around the city, disabled all teleportation magic, and put its districts on lockdown. One week after this event, the campaign begins!

However, before it officially starts, I’ve already run a two-part prologue with the party. In addition, I am conducting session zeros with each of them individually, a Q&A portion and an actual play portion.

The two-shot went very well and set the tone for the campaign. The players created interesting, level three characters who delved into a catacomb at the behest of an arrogant cleric. In the end, it appeared they had been tricked and walked into a trap. Barely, they all perished at the hands of a half-warforged, a warforged juggernaut, and their skeleton minions. They are pissed at this creature and understand some of the dirty politics of the starting area, which is exactly what I wanted.

As for the one-on-ones, they are going well, too. The Q&A portion is simply me asking them loaded questions about their character. Why are you in Galen? Who is your patron deity? Who’s someone you’re friendly with in the starting area? What’s your one-week, short term goal? This not only helps them think about and expand their character, but helps me understand what they might want out of the campaign when we begin. Of course, lots of this will evolve over time. This won’t be a short campaign. Most likely, it will stretch beyond 60 sessions. We are in it for the long haul.

Alongside the two-part prologue and the one-on-one session zeros, I’m creating lots of nonplayer characters for the campaign. Yes, there will the central tension related to who assassinated the Archmagus, but I’m planning on focusing the campaign around the characters and their goals. If they want to become a part of that plot, great; if not, we will move in a different direction. Creating a cast of characters with simple descriptions and motivations allows me to easily mold their stories to the characters’ tales. It’s a great tactic that ensures no pre-campaign preparation will go to waste.

This week’s Friday article should dive into the details of creating a region guide for a new campaign, following what I did for Caught in Galen. We’re going to briefly preview that. 

The primer is simple and concise. It begins with a three paragraph description of the region, the overarching narrative, and what the players should be thinking about their characters. Then it gives a bit of background using a timeline, communicating how bustling and crazy the city is right now. After, it does something new, introducing a cast of twelve iconic individuals in the city, explaining that each character is connected in some way to one of them. Next, it shows how magical Galen is by allowing each character to have some sort of magical influence, either a cantrip or body augmentation. Finally, it wraps everything up by outlining the starting point of the campaign: Vorici’s Rest.

I carefully constructed this region guide. Everything is there for a reason. I’ll be diving into those reasons on Friday.

For now, that’s going to be it. Next week, we’ll explore Caught in Galen’s prologue and why I convinced my players to run a “one-shot” to preface this campaign.

Until then, stay creative!

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