by Mike Shea on 11 February 2013
Every group of adventurers needs a place to hang their hats when they're finished with their exploits for the week. A good home base should make the PCs, and your players, feel comfortable and relaxed. It's their home, a place where the beds are familiar, the people are all smiles, and safety envelops them like a warm blanket. It's a place where the tension of the story relaxes and gives the PCs time to regroup and reconsider their options. Today we'll discuss the criteria and concepts for building a home base for your PCs.
The friendly town inn is a common choice for a home base, almost too common at this point. An adventuring guild or a small set of rooms above a farmhouse might be a good choice at the lowest levels. By the time the PCs have a few adventures under their belts, they should be able to afford a place of their own.
Let the players decide upon and build out their home base. Give them options but don't force a solution. They will come up with the one they enjoy the most. Sometimes this might be the headquarters of a former villain, such as the Duergar outpost in Thunderspire Labyrinth. Other times they might end up building it themselves.
As much as you think it's a good idea, consider avoiding conflict in their home base. This area is meant as a fortress of solitude, not an encounter area. Sometimes you might violate this, especially of the PCs call upon it themselves by summoning some creature or using it as a hide out from evil eyes, but in general, don't use the defense of a base as a plot device. It should feel comfortable and safe to them, too many attacks against it and it becomes as chaotic as the rest of the world.
As the characters increase in power and stature, their base too may evolve or change. At mid-levels, PCs might reside in their own castle or keep surrounded by happy villagers who look up to them as resident leaders. They might even live within an ancient tree that sits between the mortal world and the Feywild or on an earthmote that splits the boundary between our world and the Shadowfell.
At high levels, PCs might have their own Spelljammer or Chaos Ship that gives them a traveling home base, one filled with portals leading to all the locations and supplies they might need on their journeys. They might reside in a hollowed out asteroid in the middle of the elemental chaos with a fantastic view of a million-year-old storm of fire just below.
A home base should feel like a comfortable pair of shoes or a pillow broken in just right. Discuss the concept of a home base with your players, using their ideas to flesh out the details and build them a place of relaxation and respite.
There's no place like home.
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