Actually, we can start with what went right?
You know how sometimes a near TPK can derail a game, scatter the less committed players, and destroy the inertia that kept you gaming going?
Next game is 9/13.
That went right.
What to do next game and subsequent games?
Broadly, we have two options for play:
A) More 20th Homeland, run by andi jones, until such a time as we're ready for B.
Or just skip right to . . .
B) More DF, run by me.
As it stands, I need to prepare for B. If A happens (that is, if everyone votes for that), then I'm ready to run Hillbilly. But this post is going to look at B.
What next? We still need a side game to get characters up to the current threat level of Felltower. It won't be the Cold Fens - it's not clear how the next party would make it into the tomb, for one, and a newly hatched group will be less well equipped to deal with Sakatha and its minions. Probably incapable of dealing with the Cold Fens, really, although if they went for it any successful survivors would be rich. They'd need to accept the surety of heavy PC deaths, though, so probably not.
And, as always, new characters start with 250+50+5. Non-negotiable. Same lenses and races, plus most of what's in DFD1.
And the only surviving PC from the last delve is run by the same guy who runs Vryce, so we're not even slightly deeper in the replacement pool. Maybe Christoph will come back, if andi decides to run a Scout?
In any case . . . let's talk campaign elements.
Wilderness plus dungeons
This, for sure. I like the mixed component. Not the least of which is because it leverages Wilderness Training in DF16 and all the templates in DFD1.
It won't be swamp, because everyone voted "no more swamps." At least for now - coming back and finishing Sakatha is a real goal now.
Just like Swampsedge, I want a base that doesn't provide nearly-unlimited access to healing, consumable items, consumable buffs, etc. Hopefully by now the players are more adjusted to that - I want the early delves to be about the characters, not go-see-buff-return. Improved gear should be a reward of good play, not the basis of success. New characters should earn access to better gear just like the old characters did.
Time sensitive delving
I want to put more of a clock on delving - either rival parties, or some ephemeral nature to the dungeons themselves. Rivals could be interesting, although it might play into the "spread rumors, lay traps" approach more than "take risks to succeed first" style of play.
Ephemeral delves means dungeons that you can't repeatedly hit until they're empty. How I might do that is like this:
I am considering a mobile "town." Perhaps a caravan - the PCs are traveling to Stericksburg and Felltower, and weekly they have chances to deal with some lair, wilderness area, or small dungeon, and within a session or two the caravan is too far to go-and-return so you have to move on. That would discourage nibbling around the edges hoping to "level up" before you take a big whack at it.
How I'll do this, I'm not sure. One option is to run the revised version of DFA1, for real this time (note the note, if you're wondering about the link.) The players experienced chunks in a playtest, but maybe a full run would work with some allowance for go-and-return play. I could easily change the parts they're run into before.
We'll see how it goes!