It’s been a long time since I’ve had more than one game running at once. There was a time, back when I was but a lazy bachelor, where I’d have multiple games running. This was during a time when I thought a 30 hour a week job was basically full time. Since becoming a husband and father, it goes without saying that I became busy.

Now, however, I have three bi-weekly games running. I run games for my local gaming store, as well as a game for my own players. When this started, I decided to try something a little different. Usually, when I run games for multiple groups I do one of two things. Either all groups are in the same campaign, at different parts of the map, or each game is a separate game system. Partly to cut down on work, and also to see what would happen, I wrote up the same adventure and used it for each group. I was curious to see how different the game would end up.

The game takes place in my homebrewed world I’ve been running since I started playing 20 years ago. There’s an island in the sky that the people of the world believe to be evil. One kingdom has discovered a way to the island and recruits a group of adventurers to discover, what’s up there. The group is to explore and create relations with any people they may find up there. They are ambassadors of their kingdom, and must represent the kingdom at all times.

At first I thought running the same game for three groups would cut down on prep time. The groups, however, quickly took radically different paths.


To be fair, bugbears don’t have strong PR.

The first group, made up of eight players, traveled to the island, saved the life of a soldier, and were granted an audience with a man who called himself the emperor of the island. They met with the Emperor, a warrior who briefly attained godhood and now rules the island with an iron fist. Daily beheadings, immediate execution of anyone of faith, and a casual discontent with his people, the group quickly learned to distrust The Emperor. They eventually traveled to a city under attack by a band of goblins, and it wasn’t long before they learned that each city on the island was being attacked. The Emperor had recently executed an entire race of goblinkin, the bugbears, and so the goblinkin joined together to take his cities. The group battled and parlayed their way into a peace agreement with the goblins, promising them safe passage off the island and into their kingdom.

Eventually the group went home and gave their report to the king. They warned the king of the Emperor, and recommended that true ambassadors head to the island next to handle talks. After they turned over their Ambassador status, they went back to the island to explore and are now on the path to kill the Emperor before he finds a way off the island and takes their homelands.


Above: An obstacle trying to hold the group back from a righteous path.

Above: An obstacle trying to hold the group back from a righteous path.

The second group, made up of younger players, also saved the life of a soldier and were granted an audience with The Emperor. Most of them decided to align themselves with the Emperor, going so far as to behead a bard the Emperor didn’t like. They learned more about the island in the bard’s library and decided to leave the goblin invasion alone in hopes of finding an ancient imprisoned druid known as The Mad One. They fought their way through the forest and slaughtered the Dryads that tried to warn them of the dangers of The Mad One. Once they found his prison, The Mad One explained that he was a victim and that his body had been taken from by the Druidic Council, leaving him a disembodied essence. The group pledged themselves to him in exchange for power, and became the targets of a Helmed Horror that served as The Mad One’s jailer.

Eventually the group, having contracted lycanthropy and nearly killing each other, found their way back to the goblin invasion and sought the help of their spirit-walkers. They discovered the spirit-walkers were attempting to open up The Dungeons, extradimensional prisons that kept the worst creatures of the island from running rampant. The group decided to help the spirit-walkers break open the doors in exchange for a few castings of Remove Curse. Afterwards they left the island.

Now the group is back, They’ve told their king the only way to save the island is to trust in The Mad One and return his body. Now, they are on the run from their kingdom, a second kingdom that safeguards dangerous magic, and the Helmed Horror. They are about to enter the Druidic Council to rescue the body of the Mad One.


Minotaur Slave Drivers is the name of my next band.

Minotaur Slave Drivers is the name of my next band.

The third group, made up of friends and family, most who’ve been playing for years, traveled to the island, saved the life of a soldier, and were granted an audience with the Emperor. After learning a bit about the Emperor, they decided to explore another kingdom to the southeast, the Desert Kingdom of Bastok. They discovered that the king of Bastok was missing in the mining tunnels. The group went after him but were caught by the dark dwarves that had taken over the tunnels. Stripped naked and forced into slavery, the group eventually broke free and released the slaves in their area. Arming the slaves and then leaving them behind, the group eventually gained a meeting with one of the slave-drivers, a minotaur. One of the players charged the beast, but once he fell in the first round, the others refused to fight. They were saved by the king of Bastok, a warrior and former adventurer who was escaping the tunnels at the same time. Once outside the tunnels, the king and the group got equipped and went back into the mines, where they were swiftly overtaken by mindflayers, the true ruling force of the mines. In a moment of desperation, the group used their teleportation item to take both them and the king of Bastok off the island and back to their homeland.

The king of Bastok was to speak to all of the leaders of the continent, but at the meeting, a robed creature made of mists came in. With a list of True Names he absorbed all of the leaders into his robes, and while the group defeated him, they were unable to stop him from turning to mists and escaping. They decided to rest up, leave the castle full of dead soldiers, and quickly try to save the leaders before anyone noticed. They went to the capital, where they learned that a large circus was in town. Learning that the robed creature was part of this circus, they went to observe him. Before anything could happen, they were confronted by another member of the circus, a swordsman who offered them information and gave them a difficult choice. The kingdom that safeguards dangerous magic has made a move to take over the other kingdoms. It’s people were on the way to take the dwarven kingdom, and he warned the group that the dwarves would rather die than bow to another leader. The group had to decide: help the dwarves and become enemies of that kingdom, or help maintain order and be forever hated by the dwarves.

The group chose neither. Instead, they went to the caravan where the robed creature was sleeping, called it out, and battled it in the streets in front of it’s allies. Unfortunately, the robed creature defeated them in battle. Two of the players are now dead, and the third has been captured.

Needless to say the groups have taken different turns. It was only about two game sessions before the campaigns took wildly different directions. I’ll report back as the games continue. The Teens are about to confront the Druidic Council. The Eight are fighting their way through one of The Dungeons, looking for an artifact powerful enough to kill the Emperor. The Vets have been defeated, and the last player will learn his fate in two weeks.

Wish them all luck!

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