The following sums up the story from the Pre-Season of the podcast Trailblazers. The season lasted 380 hours and was not published as a podcast. It is the campaign that built the world that the podcast Trailblazers takes place in. These are only short and incomplete synopsis, complete information can be found on the relevant pages of the wiki.
THEME: The kind of choices we make and the ways we make them have consequences, often severe. It takes more than just doing what seems to be right at the time, it takes careful thought to what actually should be done and equal thought needs to be dedicated to how and why one should act.
Kanto and Mana take a job to recover a stolen book from a necromancer who fled to the mountains. The party finds the Necromancer fled to an abandoned and dilapidated temple to a forgotten god - Baphomet. They fight their way through it and kill the necromancer grabbing the book, though they almost die doing so. The book contained rituals for Baphomet and the party summoned Baphomet as a last-ditch effort to survive. Doing so they did ensure their survival but were pressed into Baphomet's service.
- One town
- One Dungeon (very close to town)
- basic good guys vs bad guys
- one premade dungeon (D&D 4th Edition Beginner's Box)
Chapter 1 - Special Task Force
Tychus, an Empire employee, formed a Special Task Force recruiting the prisoner Nero, the cleric Aoi Crosst, and the rogue Lee Sin. Their first mission was to recruit the then unknown Kanto and Mana. After successfully recruiting them they were given the job to escort Guy Montag to prison. Instead they helped him escape and decided to help him overthrow the evil emperor Arcturus Mengsk. Guy and Mana fell in love. Along their way to meet Guy in the capital of Korhal, the party were overcome by a blizzard. Only Nero survived thanks to Guy, the rest of the party froze to death in the storm.
- explored only a few small towns
- unvaried races met
- learned the basics about the world, and it's government
- introduction to choosing sides
- environmental hazards
- few basic dungeon battles
Chapter 2 - The Usurper-King
Guy drops Nero off in Korhal. Nero breaks into the house of Hanzo and Sy Hattori, two brothers whose father has just died and were under the care of Kanna Zoi. When Guy came back to get Nero to continue their quest to overthrow the Emperor Arcturus Mengsk, he recruited the Hattori brothers and their caretaker to the cause, promising to help them get revenge and justice on the person who murdered their father. The party 'reprogrammed' the new mechanical army of The Empire to obey Guy Montag instead of Arcturus Mengsk. They then helped the war against the Orcish Horde swing towards the Orcs to distract The Empire's armies, and then released a plague in a nearby town to further stress The Empire's resources. Civil unrest occurred due to the encroaching Orcish Horde, and the people along with the party and Guy's new clockwork army rushed the palace and after a hard battle killed Arcturus. Guy is revealed to be Valerian Mengsk - Arcturus' son, and took the throne.
- explored many towns in The Empire, both small and huge
- saw glimpse of non-Empire territory
- increased race diversity
- minor political intrigue
- full exploration of choosing sides
- standard dungeon
- participated in large-scale battle
- boss battles
Chapter 3 - Southern Interlude
A few years into Valerian's reign he resurrects Mana from the dead by making a deal with Baphomet. She takes an opportunity to help one of her friends that required her to travel to the Southern Islands. Valerian joins her claiming to be trying to facilitate relations with the Southern Islands but truly just wanting to be with Mana. They accomplish what they need to help Mana's friend but on the way back Valerian, whose kept his identity hidden, enacts a plan to take over the Southern Islands. He kidnaps the apparent ruler of the nation but is caught, and the party is either killed or executed.
This season was run by a different GM so I can't speak to the themes and gameplay features.
Chapter 4 - The Lost Room
Hanzo and Nero survive the execution and are rescued by the armies of The Empire that came to avenge the blood of their fallen Emperor. Upon their return home the party happens upon The Key and spend a great deal of time fending off people who desire to take it from them. They work for a Professor Screw-Eye to find several other Items in order to raid a vault containing the most powerful of the Items. While obtaining one such Item they accidentally release an ancient conqueror called the White Witch. She helps the Orcs turn the tide of the war in their favor. After raiding the Vault they are betrayed by Screw-Eye who shows himself to be Dr. Ulrezaj. In the fight to stop him they use the Ball of Yarn and travel forward in time. They find themselves captured by Orcs and nearly killed in a concentration camp when their friend Seth, who runs the camp, helps them escape the camp and they find themselves stuck in Korhal, years after the Orcs have won the war and have defeated The Empire.
- explored different dimensions
- increased monster-race diversity
- accumulation of wealth
- given quests through a central HUB
- mind puzzles
- variety of choices (multiple paths to follow story)
- skirmishes & boss battles
- Advanced & Multi-tier Dungeon
Chapter 5 - Undoing the Mistakes of the Past
The party find themselves trapped in Korhal. They enlist the help of Helter Skelter to escape, and travel to the N.I.C.E. on his advice. There they come up with a plan to defeat the White Witch. They spend the remainder of the time hunting down and killing four demigods in order to free a very powerful God who they had trapped. After killing three of the demigods they go after the final, Baphomet. At his temple the Witch catches up with them and they summon Baphomet who defeats her and then turns his sights to the. The party defeat him in a major battle and free Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl grants their request and sends the surviving members back in time to a better world free of the mistakes of their past.
- rebuilt world
- reworked familiar places
- removed many familiar characters
- reduced race diversity while maintaining new race interactions (accomplished this by changing which races are dominate)
- reduced wealth
- removed property ownership
- removed gold exchange
- feeling of helplessness
- Standard D&D Dungeon crawler
- motivation and beliefs put to test
- Main Villain obvious from the start
- deadlier world (character death more likely)
- Standard D&D dungeons
- puzzles, few battles, then boss battle
- Redid old battles with skills learned from the past seasons (even reused the layout of the very first dungeon)