5e campaign 3: The Story of the Arrakis Campaign


Something like this, only with more fighting and death by heatstroke.

For now this is still the best looking image i have to represent this with.

map 1: the desert region without names, as illithid written language (Qualith) is illegable to pretty much everyone else.

Map 1: the desert region without names, as illithid written language (Qualith) is illegible to people without mouse tentacles.


Campaign split into individual “adventures” 1 adventure = 1-2 6 hour sessions. plan for one, but 2 for buffer zone.

  1. Establishing a Beachhead: 1 Company (~150 troops) of the 497th regiment along with the colonel drop on the town codenamed “Trident Point”
    1. Character Creation happens here, And possibly later. As i’ve said i don’t want to be too forgiving during this campaign and utilize the concept of “combat as war” so if the players don’t look before they leap then there’s a good chance more character creation will happen later on.
    2. The result of the battle is a foregone conclusion. A company of EE soldiers is more than enough to take the town although some attrition will occur.
    3. The party are in one of the first platoons to be dropped in the dunes to the west of the town. there are some powerful casters as well as some guardsmen manning a makeshift defence assembled at the town’s palisade fence. They’re pretty well dug in so it’s not going to be a cakewalk. these guys will be aiming for anyone leadery-looking.
    4. After the town wall is breached the remaining members of the platoon are ordered to secure the docks. In the process a thrall sets a dangerous creature in one of the warehouses loose which the party has to bring down.
    5. By the end of this the Lt of the Platoon should be dead. If he hasn’t make one of his injuries severe enough to put him out of action. the idea is one of the player characters will be promoted to Lt and will lead the party and their surviving NPCs/Extra Lives till their eventual death.
    6. Adventure ends in aftermath of battle. There is a bright flash in the sky above, followed by a light trail. (this is the carrier being destroyed, which they won’t find out till the start of next adventure.)
  2. Explore desert around Trident Point, engage in guerilla Warfare against Illithid Property and attempt to incite resistance movement in the thrall population, Several locations are marked for exploration.
    1. With the carrier destroyed the 497th are at a huge disadvantage, landed on an unfamiliar world with a dug in foe and no way of replenishing their supplies and vehicles. Their leader/hero unit is weakened due to her connection to the carrier and will need time to recuperate before being ready for action. There is also no guarantee help will be able to land what with the newly discovered orbital defences active.
    2. The company hole up in Trident Point but send the player’s platoon out to scout the area. they are given a map (Above), one week’s supplies for travel and a secure communication magic item to allow them to report back to base. If the players ask they can find other useful supplies around town. no they can not get a tank, or use one of the shuttles. their plant nature means they don’t do well in desert conditions so they’re staying by the sea.
    3. Site #1: DryHilt is inland of Trident Point across the dunes to the outskirts of the mesa.
      1. DryHilt is kinda like a small Petra (aka that temple from the last crusade and the stuff around it), but still populated. Sneaking into DryHilt is relatively easy as it borders a mesa face which if scaled can lead onto some of the rooftops. the players can also go in the gates. But if people notice a bunch of pale people walking around it’s going to draw attention to them because the only pale people around are psions. If people take time to tan, or have darker skin naturally, or are teiflings or half orcs then this will be less of a problem
      2. There is a small resistance group in DryHilt, it will be a bit of a puzzle to make contact with them but doing so will reveal some LORE about the illithids and Bluewell and provide additional units with which to assault Bluewell with when the time comes. they will also mention something along the lines of “one of our members went off into the mesa to the north perusing some fairytale a while ago and hasn’t returned, so there might be dangerous there”. (CliffKeep sidequest hook). they want the party to rescue a wizard rebel from a torture prison, he’s also a pretty great asset to have.
    4. Site #2: ShoreStone is north of Trident Point and is located between it and Bluewell
      1. ShoreStone is a town a lot like Trident Point. They’re quite jumpy because of the whole invasion bit and levying a lot of troops to attack Trident Point if they’re provoked enough (which will happen during the 3rd site the party visit unless they complete the ShoreStone quest. if this is the 3rd site the players visit then it will be in the midst of attacking/sending troops so they will be under strict time constraints). If the players have discovered CliffKeep as their second site then the attack will auto-miss the evacuated Trident Point. If it hits then there will be less surviving 497th troops for the final assault.
      2. Stopping the assault would best be achieved by assassinating the commander illithid. or something cunning like breaking the desalination plant (Trident Point has one too so it isn’t a out of the blue “how did you expect us to think of that?” solution) or poisoning everything.
    5. Site #3 Outcrops is a mesa island in the middle of the dunes northwest of Trident Point.
      1. This place is a small village for a Resistance Group. Meeting with them will warn the players of goings on in the area and other info (for example they will tell them about the ShoreStone attack, the illithid leader and the desalination plant. or about their DryHilt group). The site is built into Ancient Alan Ruins so it will also have a map pointing to the location of cliffkeep if they bother looking at the walls and some LORE. Also these guys will help during the Final Assault if they can be persuaded to come out of hiding and help.
      2. I kinda want to add sandworms in here, or as random desert encounters, but i feel it somewhat distracts from other things. maybe season 2.
    6. Site #4 Fallwatch is a town west of Bluewell and sits atop the regional river
      1. Fallwatch is a lot like Dryhilt but built around a river.
      2. This place is hardline illithid supporter territory. If they walk into this place undisguised or draw attention to themselves this will turn into a jailbreak session.
      3. In the final assult plans if the players want to do something with the river into Bluewell then this is the place to go.
    7. There’s also at town to the south, but it’s inconsequential and i can’t read what i called it anyway. knowing players they’ll also come up with a bunch of other things they want to look at that i haven’t planned for. but seeing as i would have haven’t planned for it i don’t see how i can plan for… oh no i’ve gone cross eyed.
  3. During exploration evidence pointing to site within mesa to the west discovered. Party may persue this as they wish.
    1. Cliffkeep looks like Kerak Castle but with lest tourists, also like theĀ  european Ico Boxart. It’s covered in Ancient Alan murals and is a great source of LORE. also there are statues, which should spook the players a bit because statues always come alive and try to kill you.
    2. There is an archaeologist here who will shy away from the players as a platoon of armed soldiers just showing up tends to spook people.
    3. The idea with this place is the players will trigger the statues to come alive and try to kill them, and have to shut them down. this will also cause the archaeologist to join up with the players as she is startled and chased by a golem leading to more LORE and her telling them where the golem control room is.
    4. If CliffKeep is discovered and cleared it may be used by the 497th platoon as a new base.
  4. If it looks like sessions are running short for semester add in Assault on High Watch, a sidequest where the party have the opportunity to take out one of the orbital defence stations around Ala by hijacking an Illithid space bridge.
    1. this could also happen after the Bluewell assault if it turns out there’s more time than i thought, or it could happen in Fallwatch. actually yes that sounds like a good idea, what i have for fallwatch isn’t all that interesting.
    2. The station can be disabled by taking out it’s hardpoints: Illithid Overseer, Psionic Conduit, Life support, Psionic Lance. they will have to leave enough of it online to operate the return bridge or they’ll be stuck. i guess someone could pick them up with a shuttle.
    3. Actually this one seems very abusable. well if they want to do anything crazy i’m not giving them easy rolls for it.
  5. Plans are made for an offensive on Bluewell, a site of significance to the Illithid presence on this planet, and preparations taken out.
    1. As the massive city of Bluewell is identified as important to the illthids the colonel wants to attack it and stop whatever it is they’re doing
    2. if the players have gathered a lot of intel and LORE they should be able to piece together that the illthids are trying to awaken ancient evil sealed within the purple sun of Ala, and that’s terrible!
    3. This is all up to what the players decide to do as they will be key members of the Strategy council. so anything can happen here
  6. Big assault on Bluewell.
    1. Again the players’s strategy will influence this a lot but it will involve assaulting Bluewell. Boss battles with Badass illithid overseers will (probably) happen here.
    2. i want to implement a mass battle system to track whether a lot of their strategies actually work. let’s hope they’re aware of the planning fallacy and don’t put NPCs in charge of the lynchpin Op of the plan.
    3. I want to set up a natural ending point to the campaign here that functions both as a finale but also as a “the status quo has changed, what now” kind of ending if i want to come back to this, like the season finales of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. No actual cliffhangers though. or maybe they all die and i revisit this with another splinter group, if i want to revisit this at all.
Map 2: Labelled map of the Bluewell desert region, for explanation purposes only.

Map 2: Labelled map of the Bluewell desert region, not available to players. all names are codenames assigned by 497th.

As you can see i haven’t finalized anything and there’s a few things i want to leave down to the luck of the dice or the players to do. My “here are a bunch of locations, each offers a boon, pick your order and ones you leave get worse” philosophy seems like it’s been influenced by both Shas’O Rymr’s later Warhammer 40k campaigns (if you check that out i reccomend you start from the beginning to avoid confusion and listen to the unoriginal soundtracks when they show up) and by the firaxis XCOM games, which worked out well for them so with any luck…

In the next few posts:

part 4 will be a draft of the first adventure, annotated to demonstrate my thought process.

part 5 will be art stuff, atmosphere and possibly music.

part 6 will provide a PDF file for the first adventure ready to use, i can’t really make beyond this until i have put things into play to see what happens.

All Hyperlinks point to stuff owned from other people.

Dungeons and Dragons is the intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast, While some core elements of D&D 5th edition are licensed under the open gaming license (OGL) many are not. Please support the official release. Spelljammer also belongs to Wotc, i have no idea what lisence it’s under but i know i have to pay for it.

Maps created using the Beta version of Inkarnate available at http://inkarnate.com.

The picture of Colonel Arrakis is licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA Vers 4.0, or whatever version of Creative Commons DevientArt uses. to me, Matthew Crane.

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