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A World in Darkness
System: d20 Dungeons and Dragons
Requirements: A campaign twist for mid-to-high level characters
You are awakened from your sleep by the ground shaking - you appear to be caught in a slight earthquake. It is soon over however, and after exchanging excited chatter and all manner of theories with the other members of your party, you go back to sleep. Before long you slowly wake up once more, and carefully open one eye so as to get your bearings. It is still night. You curl up under your travelerís blanket, determined not to be robbed of any sleep. But you can't sleep. You're wide awake now, and you notice that the others in your party are waking as well. Something just doesn't feel quite right...
The purpose of this campaign idea is to breathe new life into an existing campaign that has become stale or that has no clear 'ultimate goal' for the players to achieve. It provides an epic twist (and possible ending) to an existing campaign, and willing DMs must be prepared to make fundamental changes to their campaign world. The main drawback to this idea is that it will put one player at center stage, but that player will also be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice and retire his character - so maybe it evens out.
This is only a rough outline to be used as guidance: the details of specific adventures are up to you, but the overall story can be easily integrated into existing adventures.
The Introduction: One morning, during the course of an adventure the party is on, the Sun doesn't rise. And it doesn't rise the following day. Or the day after that. The darkness will last until the party finds out what's going on and corrects the problem. (Which is really up to the DM - you can make the darkness last a few short adventures or for months or years into the campaign.)
Overall Campaign: Try to imagine the consequences of a world plunged in darkness, and adjust your next several adventures accordingly. At first, most of the world will be in a state of panic. Any and all beings that benefit from constant darkness soon begin to plot and thrive. As time passes, beings begin to adapt to a new way of life - they retreat to fortified positions to survive, light (magical or otherwise) is now more valuable than gold, the plants slowly begin to die - the possibilities are endless.
The Problem: The current mythos of the campaign has existed for thousands of years, but the world is much older than that. The basic question the whole world now asks itself is "What makes the Sun rise, and why has it stopped?" To find the answers, the players must delve into knowledge of the ancient past, to a time before the current mythos, before the ancient gods, back to the beginning of the world...
The Sun: Deep beneath the surface, beneath the underdark, lies an enormous cavern at the center of the earth. In this cavern, the Mythril Titan has been cranking the Wheel of the Sun since the Beginning of Time, and it is this wheel that causes the sun to rotate around the world. That is until recently. An ancient red dragon, the Eldest of All Dragons, has made its way to the center of the earth, destroyed the Mythril Titan in a battle that caused the very earth to shake, and made the cavern its lair.
The Solution: An ancient medallion exists, known only to a handful of sages and thought to be a legend by those few - The Mythril Heart. The players must learn of the Heart, find it, and discover its secret.
The Mythril Heart: Once worn it burns itself into the player's heart and cannot be removed, even by a Wish. It confers no powers upon the player, other than a constant nagging at the back of the mind that the wearer has a greater purpose. To learn the secret of The Mythril Heart, the player needs to do but one thing: die. The Mythril Heart grants immortality to the player, but slowly transforms the player into the Mythril Titan. Each time he or she dies, the player grows in height, turns slightly more metallic, and their stats are adjusted as follows:
Height: +1 ft, STR: +1, CON: +1, DEX: moves 1 point towards 9, AC: +1 natural bonus, etc. (Feel free to modify as you see fit, but you get the idea.)
The Conclusion: Through the course of several adventures, the players must learn of and locate the Heart, and then learn of the legend of the Center of the World and make their way there. Along the way, the bearer of the Heart must die enough times to become the new Mythril Titan. Once there, the party will encounter the Eldest of All Dragons and must defeat it. Finally, the new Mythril Titan must take its rightful place in the World: it must raise the Sun each day until the End of Time.