Terrestrial Adventures

Terrestrial Adventures

 

What is with the current fascination with the Planes. Every adventure above level 15 seems to have characters gallivanting around the astral sea and elemental chaos. It is not uncommon for characters as low as level 5 to make jaunts into the Feywild or Shadowfell. Am I in a minority that dislikes the Spelljammer/Planescale re-imagining of level 10 and above?

Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for planar adventures from levels 18-30. Surviving the Abyss and saving gods are adventures worthy of the epic level, but what happened to well written high level terrestrial adventures?

Terrestrial adventures in the vein of the original Dungeon adventure paths, Red Hand of Doom, Maure Castle, Paizo adventure paths, Undermountain and some of the classic high level D&D modules. In books and film Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, etc. were all terrestrial adventures.

Just look at the list of the greatest adventures of all time. Here.

Ok you may argue about the contents of the list but how many extra-planar, spelljaming modules do you see there? Why is this? Is it difficult to write high level terrestrial adventures without referencing a particular region/ethos and therefore marginalize the potential audience? I think not referring to the list above.

So much potential for great adventures wasted in the rush to become spacemen!

I want good terrestrial adventures in the 12-22 range. There is no lack of good monsters in this range: Basilisks, Behemoths, Constructs, Cyclops, Dragons, Drow, Foulspawn, Giants, Golems, Hags, Harpies, Hook Horrors, Kuo-Toa, Sphinix, Treants, Trolls, Umber Hulks, Undead, and Yuan-ti.

During this level range the PCs could be establishing fiefdoms of their own or rescue whole kingdoms. To draw inspiration from the Lord of the Rings, this is Helm’s Deep to the Gates of Mordor. The time when characters are putting down ancient evils, repelling invasions and retrieving items of legend. These actions may lead the characters to settle down and become part of the campaign world or bring them to the attention of greater powers that launch them into the outer planes. That attention could bring elemental or demonic creatures to the prime plane so you don’t have to worry about wasting all of those nice lower level planar monsters!

 

Some terrestrial adventure ideas for early to mid paragon level adventurers:

 

Establish your base, hideout, estate, castle, organization, kingdom, empire.

Build a cathedral, abbey, enormous monument.

Found a college of magic, university, society, secret organization.

Save the kingdom, lead the rebellion, repel the invasion, lead an army.

Depose a king, overthrow the church, utterly destroy a cult.

Retrieve the legendary artifact, slay the ancient evil of the land, broker a truce with an ancient dragon.

Forge a great weapon, build a navy, establish a merchant cartel.

Recover a lost dwarven / elven / human city.

Avert a natural disaster, cause a natural disaster, explore the far reaches of the known world.