While our first playtest campaign, Obsidian Frontier, is a traditional low-level sandbox game, The Heart of Darkness looks to really put 5e through its paces by leveling up the player characters after every session.
This one-session-per-game approach is meant to do in a few months what it would normally have taken years to accomplish: advance the PCs from 1st to 15th level. Our low-level experimentation in Obsidian Frontier has shown D&D 5e to be every bit as fast as it was billedto be … but we don’t know if that will hold up at higher levels.
At the same time we don’t want to just roll up 15th level characters and call it done. That would allow us to test those characters, but we’d lose the organic evolution of the characters that makes D&D so much fun. The Heart of Darkness solves that problem by rapidly accelerating character advancement. In someways it’s more work — we all have to advance our characters each week, and the DM never has a chance to adjust to the current power level — but it also allows us to kick the tires on 5e in ways that one-shot playtests simply can’t.
Like Obsidian Frontier, the new campaign takes place in the World of Greyhawk. This time though, it’s set in CY 650, a little more than 50 years after our original Blackrazor campaign. The idea is that this is a “legacy” campaign, one that inherits — but is not bound by — the history of our earlier campaign. It’s a stranger, more progressive Greyhawk with non-lawful good paladins, tiefling warlocks, dragonborn sorcerers, and dwarven wizards. It’s an approach that would have shocked and enraged our traditionalist selves back in 1999 … but it provides the maximum flexibility we need for testing all of 5e’s races and rules.