Peter Adkisons Ilboria Campaign
By Robert Holzmeier
Wizards of the Coast founder and former CEO Peter Adkison may have left the company to pursue new challenges, but he's still quite the active gamer. Peter currently serves as Dungeon Master for two groups in his own long-active campaign Chaldea-- and also runs games at Gen Con, UK Gen Con, and other special events. And if all this DMing wasn't enough, Peter slips into player character mode while participating in two other campaigns closer to home in Seattle.
Since 1981, Peter has led intrepid adventurers to glory and occasionally gory ends in his home-brewed campaign of Chaldea. More than a single world, Chaldea is (in Peters words) "a huge multiverse" with a lot of development that's taken place over the years.
Currently, the campaign focuses on a specific setting, the primeworld of Ilboria. This new frontier sprang from Peter's imagination only a couple of years ago -- young terrain in a campaign that's been built up over twenty years.
"In Ilboria, I'm striving for a flavor that is very Conan-esque but using Norse, Egyptian and Greek mythologies," Peter says. "It's a very barbaric setting and the influence of evil is particularly strong on this plane. So, on average, everyone's alignment is about a half-step more toward evil than [in] a typical campaign setting."
But virtue and heroics are not completely absent from the face of Ilboria. As Peter explains it, "Good people are like extremely rare gems. They are something to be highly valued."
Peter runs two groups through the paces on Ilboria, but with drastically different sets of circumstances.
The Poseidon Adventure
The first group has been exploring what's left of the ruined city of Tabat, about three days travel north of the unruined (and well-established) city of Emaz. The church of Poseidon in Emaz has garnered much political power through repeated claims that Tabat and its citizens were destroyed by a tidal wave sent forth by Poseidon himself. Apparently, the Tabat-folk hadn't been showing Poseidon the proper respect, so he washed them away.
Unfortunately for Poseidon's clergy in Emaz, a local wizard possesses evidence that contradicts the churchs claims of divine (and very wet) retribution. Enter the heroes, hired by him to sift through the rubble of Tabat to find further evidence that the city was destroyed by something other than the whims of Poseidon. Of course, what is just an interesting research project to the wizard turns out to be much more to the PCs and the church of Poseidon in Emaz. Information that undermines the clerics' claims could lead to a weakening of Poseidon's faith (not to mention the churchs political influence) in the area. Regardless of the outcome, Peter appears to have put his heroes in a predicament where some powerful enemies -- both secular and divine -- could come down against the party.
The Drawing Of the Four
Peter's second group of Ilborian adventurers found themselves brought into a strange situation against their will, but they're making the most out of it.
It all started when an adult green dragon kicked one of her hatchlings out of the nest. Although inherently evil, Mom had her child's best interest in mind, which is why she set her daughter up with a keep of her own as well the beginnings of a respectable treasure hoard.
Unfortunately for the hatchling, amongst her many new possessions was a deck of many things. The young dragon couldn't help but draw a card from her new deck. The card summoned up four heroes whom she was forced to fight to the death. Of course, the four folk who found themselves summoned into the presence of a green dragon weren't keen on sacrificing themselves to it, and so fought back pretty ferociously.
As it turns out, the heroes found themselves in possession of one green dragon corpse and an unfamiliar keep located deep in the wilds of an unfamiliar land. Not only do they not know where they are, they have no idea how to get home again. And to make matters worse, they've recently discovered that the closest thing to civilization is a nation of ogres just to their south. Don't even get them started on the troll tradesman/extortionist who drops by once a month to chip away at the groups dwindling resources.
From House Rules to Home Tools
I asked Peter if he had developed any house rules for the new edition of the D&D game that could be transported to other player's campaigns. "For years and years I developed a ton of house rules," he answered. "It got to the point where my campaign was so different from anything published that it took massive amounts of time to teach people the rules I used and I spent lots of time on rules discussions instead of actually playing the game. And I noticed that my players had trouble fitting in to other campaigns because the rules were so different." Peter admits that one of his hidden agendas when the new edition went into development was to make the game good enough that he would be willing to play it pretty much as written.
With the new games release, Peter has veered away from house rules and more toward home tools. He has developed custom Microsoft Excel-based programs for a number of tasks, including dividing up treasure among party members, and randomly generating NPCs and dungeon contents.
Check out Peter's NPC generator featured in a previous Celebrity Game Table.
Peter Adkison Biography
Born: October 1961, Walla Walla, WA.
Early Life: Raised primarily in Northern Idaho and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. Education: Graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in mathematics from Walla Walla College in 1985.
Work History:Worked at Boeing as a Systems Analyst from 1987-1993. Founded Wizards of the Coast in 1990. CEO, Wizards of the Coast, 1990 through 2000. Sector Head, Hobby Games, Hasbro, 1999-2000.
Authored: The Primal Order and Sarista.
Gaming Accomplishments: Playtested numerous products produced by Wizards, including Magic: The Gathering and several expansions. Set overall design direction for the new editon of D&D.
About the Author
Robert Holzmeier has played D&D for more than 20 years. A lapsed player, hes glad to come back into the fold with the release of the new edition of the game. He has contributed spells to our online Spellbook, as well as designing a free online adventure, The Vessel of Stars and its associated creatures in Monster Mayhem.