Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Junkyard of Ideas: Midnight for Old School D&D

"What is the most resilient parasite? An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate..."

The Junkyard:  This is the place where I'll post campaign ideas, notions, and high concepts that just haven't gotten built… yet.

It's a way to help manage (or encourage) my Gamer Attention Deficit Disorder.  And then you'll be infected with the idea too.  Muhaha.

Midnight RPG:  gone but not forgotten
Midnight for Old School D&D
Midnight was a 3.x era campaign setting put out by Fantasy Flight Games. 
Here is what made it awesome.  Start by envisioning The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the world of Middle Earth, and imagine that something went horribly wrong for the Fellowship.  Sauron won the war.  Aragorn's head went on the pike, Gandalf was killed, Sauron got the One Ring, and the orcs conquered the major cities of Middle Earth.  Puppet rulers were placed in charge, backed up by the orc generals and their armies; many humans were placed in labor camps.  In the hundred years since the fall, Sauron has been plotting his final campaigns against the few holdouts of good - places like Lothlorien and Rivendell that are now facing the long night of defeat.

That's the starting place for the world of Midnight.

But it gets better.  The vast ruined wastes of the old kingdoms are now haunted by packs of undead ghouls, the Fell, permeating the setting with an element of survival horror if the party crosses the wilds.  Life in the cities feels  like WW2 era France and the Nazi-resistance.  Evil clerics called "Legates" enforce the edicts of the Dark Lord and are constantly on the hunt for traitors.

Making it Old School
I'm always kicking around the idea of taking the huge Midnight continental map, Eredane, and converting it to a massive hex map.  The idea of wandering from place to place, living off the land, encountering old ruins, fighting ghouls, trying to recover the magic and faith that was lost, all while hiding from armies on the move, would work really well as an old school hex crawl with tons of random tables.

I ran short campaigns in 3.x era Midnight, because I found creating stat blocks in 3.x was so tiresome; that's no longer a problem if we make it old school!

There are two reasons this project is still on the shelf.  I've been waiting to learn a graphics program before carving up the Midnight map into manageable chunks and converting it to a hex map.  I recently got a GIMP book and plan on learning how to use GIMP.  The other reason is that when I decided on The Black City as my next project, our weekly play group had sketchy attendance and I thought a future megadungeon made more sense to allow people to slide in and out.  (Episodic play and all that).

But there's no need to convert Midnight at all; you could start with your own Tolkien-like setting, nuke it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by the evil overlord, and roll out the zombies and orcs.  What fun!


  1. I've enjoyed the Midnight concept since it came out. FFG did an excellent job on a what if scenario. It would be a lot of fun to run a similar old school style campaign. The only problem that I had when playing Midnight back in the day is that it can get somewhat oppresive if there is no sense of hope in the setting.

  2. I posted something like this on the LL forums. I plan on running a Legate campaign (where most of the PCs are Legates). Their minions will be humans, Orcs, and Sniffer Goblins. :) It should be fun.

  3. The only problem that I had when playing Midnight back in the day is that it can get somewhat oppresive if there is no sense of hope in the setting.

    I agree - Midnight is bleak, and the authors of the original book spent a bit too much time harping on the inevitability of the Shadow's victory. That becomes railroading.

    Stack the odds against the characters, but when they survive and grow in power, let them be epic. It's a setting that lends itself to big deeds.

  4. Nice and evocative setting. Love it!

    Lazarus Lupin
    art and review