I need to break out of my cowardice as a DM. Namely, the fear of running without a module in front of me. But that doesn't mean I'm going to free-ball it. So here are things to help me plan.
The campaign starts in the town. The town is slightly isolated. There is a great empire ruled by the Underlord. The empire is evil, but since the Underlord wants to rule humanity instead of destroy it (for now), the village isn't much bothered most of the time. There is a mayor who collects grain from the townsfolk to give up as tribute to the Baron's collector or the occasional garrison that comes up from the city-state of the invincible underlord.
The first line of the campaign will be, "your loins are being girded by the white girdle of novice cubs. As they cinch your nethers a bit too tight, the guild receptionist-slash-bartender mutters, 'Be sure to write your name on this, so they can identify your remains.' Then he moves on to the next member of your party. Now then, who is our sole demi-human?"
There is one demi-human in the party to start. Other races can be unlocked by encountering and befriending them. But otherwise, this is pretty anthropocentric beginning. Also ask who has the highest charisma-like stat. They are the de facto leader of the party.
The guild is in a public house. Joining is one coin. Beer is one coin. A night with the village sex workers is one coin and a lot of shame. A sniffer of blue-mold is one coin. Everything is, except weapons and armor. We don't even have a dude that knows how to make armor yet. Maybe you could unlock that by doing a quest for the dwarves, who are in some nearby mountains working on their glory holes.
How did you feel when I did a little blue humor just now, players? Let's talk about lines an veils.
There are a few quests on the guild bulletin board. Most people in the village can't pay much though. Maybe you have to find your own fortune. Can't clear rats out of basements all day.
The town is not too far from some manse reputed to be haunted. This is mega-dungeon one. It has 666 rooms, each more haunted than the last. Lots of cursed treasure too.
The town is also not far from some standing stones, which are rumored to be a gate to The Zone. This is mega-dungeon two, but it is more of a hex crawl through a parallel world with many ruins.
There is a forest between here and Hinterville, and the forest is a forest-crawl. People say that the druish people there had great treasure. This is an odd rumor, maybe a bit racist. Anyways, people say barbarians and bandits are constantly in those woods, coming down from hyperboreal mountains to the north. The woods have an underground network below them full of dinosaurs and mushmen. This is mega-dungeon number three.
Hinterville is said to be a lawless place under dispute by three wizard siblings and their subhuman creations, the slow mutants. But it might be worth going there to learn a spell or two.
To the south are the Thousand Misty Islands in the Four Lakes. People say that the are used to not be a sea, until some great disaster made a huge crater there. Traders, slavers, pillagers, and the dead live on those islands. The Necromancer has her great keep somewhere amongst the islands.
A table of nasties for The Zone
- Bark! d6 bloated waste-hounds. Infective bites, explode if critted.
- Clatter!d4 headless knights. All non-critical damage they take becomes one damage.
- Rustle. A phage-tree. Save when you smell its blossoms or go berserk-mad.
- Ootini! Ten jawas. Have blasters that only they can recharge. Their mobile fortress may be nearby.
- or 6. Homage! Just steal something from Beyond the Black Gate. Cuz there are none better.
What follows is a map. Plan B. Based on some old Judges Guild stuff.