Dungeons & Dragons Online

Planetary creation guide for quick campaign module design

Background

After running a long campaign in a homebrew world the players were looking for a more free form campaign where they could explore more concepts like tech, complex combats, and running guilds. Additionally I as the DM wanted the freedom to be able to build a module in many different types of place settings without them seeming out of place for the “world”. To solve this problem without using a different system from the one we loved, D&D 5e. I came up with a way to flex my creativity muscles without bumping into things that I found as issues in connecting world building to module creation.

The Pitch

Our place setting will not be just one world but a whole solar system. Each planet will be molded to the module we wish to run. The soul crushing grimdark module can take place on our dark outer world planet filled with Illithids and cosmic horrors. The far east desert survival module can be on our sun baked inner rim planet where an eternal war between hell beasts and Tieflings reigns. Space travel can be a major part of the story or just a cannon which shoots players between modules.

Travel

Planetary travel is difficult or a well guarded secret. A major part of the campaign can be learning about space travel, being able to afford space travel, or winning access to space travel.

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Planetary travel is easy or ubiquitous. Space travel is just a cannon that shoots you right to the next place setting, no questions asked.

Building a Solar System

Planets are the basis for our world building, whichever we choose will be the guide to our module creation. Our choice should make it easy to pick monsters, accents, plot hooks, character backgrounds, and descriptor language.

Planet

Type Description Forgotten Realms Simile Sample Monsters Sample Playable Races
Maze Mage-ufactured drama Mad Mage's Dungeon Oozes, Slimes, Litch, Animated Objects Tabaxi, Simic Hybrid
Hollow I can see my counter-antipode Underdark, Anti-Toril Monstrosities Kobold, Playable Races w/ Darkvision
Terra Earth-i-like Toril Beasts Any Playable Races
Ice The great celestial whiskey rock Frostfell, Icewind Dale (Faerun) Yetis, Remorhaz Dwarf, Goliath
Water The lost sunken planet Elemental Plane of Water, The Ocean Kraken, Aboleth Triton, Yuan-ti, Lizardfolk, Tortle, Locatha
Desert Delicious after meal treat, no wait just hot Nine Hells, Anauroch (Faerun), Zakhara (Toril) Sand Worm, Fire Newts, Fiends Tieflings, Dragonborn
Asteroid Impact ready Underdark, An Isolated Island Myconid, Golems, Gorgon, Galeb Duhr Deep Gnome, Duergar
Gas Giant We all float up here Elemental plane of Air, Sky Cities Illithid, Winged Creatures Air Genasi, Aarakocra
Dwarf Star Proper Noun: Hot Elemental Plane of Fire Elementals, Efreeti, Azer, Fire Giants Fire Genasi
Habitation Structure The manufactured middle porridge Mechanus, A ‘Utopia’ Modron Warforged, Any Race
Space Station Next stop, anywhere Astral Plane Bureaucracy Gith, Giff
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Modifier

Adding a quark to our planet will give us even more fodder for module creation. How do the creatures of your new planet interact with the ground under their feet? What's there when they look up?

Name Description
Binary Two large planets which orbit each other around a star
Satellite (Moon) A smaller planet which orbits a larger planet
Megastructure A manufactured structure which orbits or encapsulates a planet
Impermanent The planet goes elsewhere from time to time
Vehicle Planet moves upon command, has propulsion
Rogue Planet is just passing through the solar system

Putting it all together

Time to take all our choices, put them together and create a module.

Planet: Asteroid

Modifier: Megastructure

Creatures: Myconids and their fungal allies, Deep Gnomes and their construct allies

Name: Beldroid

Fluff text: Nestled in the Jutu asteroid belt sits an anomaly. One large iridescent blue asteroid carpeted in life stretches out tendrils to other asteroids. Each asteroid captured land for the mother Myconid structure. There a conflict rages between the Deep Gnomes of the recently captured Jutu asteroid and the Myconids.

Questions: Why are the Myconids capturing asteroids? What are Myconids looking for? How has isolation changed the Gnomes? Who called for help?

Now that we have our planet structure, some monsters, a descriptor and some questions we now have everything we need to place our players in a new world with new challenges.

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