I was going to write about my Crebba campaign, and in particular about the one-shot special with Major Plot Reveals (drumroll), but this blogpost got way to long when I even tried to get into the basics of playing in the Crebba.
So, I have decided this will be a blog series about the Crebba. I am not going to write about each session in detail, because there is a lot of ‘you had to be there’ and there is no fun in that.
Let’s start at how it all began;
Quite some time ago, in February 2020, I backed a kickstarter with 3d printable airships which came with a setting pdf-book. The moment I did that I already knew I wanted to do a campaign with it. I had no idea what kind of campaign that would be, but I knew it would have airships. When the files were released I immediately started printing, constructing and painting my first airship.
I also got my hands on the Fantasy-AGE rulebooks. So far, I had only gm’d D&D5e and I thought it would be fun to try some other ruleset. I also had the Eberron setting book which was very inspirational. And I had the Expanse setting book, which is a scifi-space setting after the Expanse books and tv series.
The combination of these books was a great inspiration. While I love fantasy settings and great tales about kings and knights and dragons, I tend to enjoy the gritty reality of problematic politics in a divided society. The kind of problems the Expanse has. The thing I always liked in those novels and the tv series, is the simple fact that life goes on everywhere. Things will happen at a location, also if the heroes are not there.
My plan for how I would run the campaign was somewhat like this:
Create a setting that was vast, where travelling from 1 place to the next would take weeks. Or even months. And in the meantime, whatever events were happing when you left, whatever you triggered, would go on in your absence. When you return, weeks or months later, things have happened and you may be pleasantly (or not) surprised. Your actions had consequences on the world. Persons who are out of your reach will also continue ‘doing their thing’, setting of chains of events that may not impact you directly, but will over time. You will know what is coming because news still travels fast and you may prepare. But the world will keep moving on, and even if you forget about that little remark you made to an NPC it may have been the seed for … well stuff.
Having airships in a setting would allow me to create a world where cities and ‘points of interest’ could be far apart. I also realised that travelling by airship would be even more impacted by the weather than traveling over land. The height would be an interesting element in encounters. All great ideas! But how would I keep the world up in the sky?
Even before I had any ideas about the shape of the world I knew that ‘poison clouds’ would not be the reason folks did not go to the ground. I have seen the poison/solid/spooky cloud trope too much and I think it is too easy. I am a sandbox gamemaster, I do not like to built some 3 foot high wall somewhere and tell my players they can not climb it because they do not have the 4ft ladder yet. Those clouds feel like that.
Eventually I came back to my ‘gritty politics’ idea. All of civilisation would exist on very high plateaus. The plateaus are large, a small country may fit on the larger ones and some are so small you may camp on them as long as you are not prone to sleepwalking. The sides of the plateaus are near vertical. They could be climbed, it is rocky, like the vertical walls you find in the Grand Canyon. At least I think you can find those walls there, I googled pictures. But the plateaus are at least 1 to 2 km high, most are higher, so climbing is not really an option.
The population never went to the ground, because everyone knows the ground is filled with monsters and you will get killed. It is known...
I had a lot more ideas, wrote stuff down and got friends excited about playing a tabletop game with 3d printed airships on the table. I asked them a very simple question:
Do you want to start knowing a lot about the world, which would involve reading a lot and memorising that, or do you want to start in some farm village in a remote corner of the world not knowing too much?
Fortunately for me they choose the latter, otherwise I would have to start writing and getting my ideas more clear, even to myself.
On the 22nd of November 2020 we had our session 0, creating characters, playing a test encounter with the F-Age rules and getting more excited about it all. And then finally on the 5th of December 2020 (St.Nicks day in the Netherlands) we had our first session in the Crebba.
In my next blogpost in this series I will tell about how the Grand Adventure started, why I did not make my adventurers work to get an airship and their first experiences with the harsh reality of this setting.