Siege of Gardmore Abbey is a special adventure in the fact that it happens during the last battle of the Abbey. Meaning, this adventure takes place 150 years ago in the timeline. So, you can experience first hand the fall of the Abbey when Nerath still existed. This battle is one of the last battles of the empire. You have to use pre-generated characters for this adventure, and your actions define the future of those characters.
Madness at Gardmore Abbey has a few callbacks to Siege, as well. In Madness, there is an eladrin NPC searching for his father, an eladrin knight who died in Siege, for instance.
Big Mac wrote:
Has anyone run a campaign using Gardmore Abbey? Do you have any ideas on how to expand beyond what is in The Madness at Gardmore Abbey
and Siege of Gardmore Abbey
I've played (as a player) Madness at Gardmore Abbey. And I want to run it as a DM as well. Due to the lots of NPCs and places the Abbey has, with a little work one can convert the place in a sort of mini-sandbox... yeah, Nentir Vale has too much sandbox stuff. You can try to retrieve the Abbey from the monstruos NPCs that now inhabit it and try to rebuild the Abbey and surrounding village. Properly prepared, that task can last for a whole campaign.
As for Siege, while I never though of expanding it, I have a few ideas of use the fates of the pregens to enhance the Nentir Vale history.
Could the faith of Bahamut be a good way to involve Gardmore Abbey in the background of a Nentir Vale campaign?
Yeah, it would be a good idea. Bahamut was one of the emblematic gods of 4e, and it seems to have had an impact in the faith of all the Vale (for instance, Shadowfell Keep was another place dedicated to Bahamut). They released various dragon articles during the 4e era about his faith. Those articles can be extrapolated to create a very detailed background for this kind of campaign.
Is there anything left of Bahamut's paladin order? If so, could association with that paladin order be used to foreshadow the action in The Madness at Gardmore Abbey and Siege of Gardmore Abbey? Are there other monasteries that are similar to Gardmore Abbey?
In Madness, there is a paladin who is a descendant of the paladin order of Gardmore Abbey. There are also two pregens from Siege that are a wizard and an eladrin, that I guess could still be alive by the current year of a Nentir Vale campaign, so I guess they can also became key NPCs in a Madness at Gardmore Abbey-focused story. Or even in a Nentir Vale campaign, even if has little to do with Gardmore Abbey.
If the militant paladins died off, what else does Bahamut's religion offer? Are there non-militant monks living in abbeys? How do they compare to the paladins that went on the crusade?
Does Bahamut have clerics? Do they hang out in churches (rather than abbeys)? How do they compare to the paladins that went off on a crusade?
Bahamut was very popular in Nerath, so there are still other orders in the world. There are also non-militant monks living in the populace. Bahamut has a temple in Fallcrest, that he shares with Kord and Pelor (this is because there are only three surviving temples in Fallcrest after its destruction in the Bloodspear War), and it has many chantries and minor temples across the Vale as well.
Bahamut is also one of the favored deities of the dragonborn of Arkhosia (alongside Tiamat), and his faith is strong in places where dragonborn live. There is, for instance, the Order of Kul, an order of dragonborn followers of Bahamut that dates back to the Arkhosian Empire and still exists in modern times. They play a significant role in the Seal of Karga Kul novel.
Since dragonborn have a sizable presence in the Vale thanks to Dythan's Legion and the less numerous Arkhosia's Last group, I guess you can have many NPCs—and even player characters—paladins and clerics from their ranks, or even import some members of the Order of Kul from the novel.
4e Bahamut shares many of his traits with 3e Bahamut, and this includes his motto of "don't pray, show your faith through actions". So, followers of Bahamut in the Nentir Vale and former Nerathi lands are usually of the adventuring sort.
Big Mac wrote:Where in Nerath did the crusading paladins go to? Is there much information about that area? Is there a lot of evidence left behind from the era of the crusades?
They went to many places beyond Nentir Vale, the most important of such were the Stonemarch and the Dragondown Coast. There is no much info about those places, though the Dragondown Coast is described in the novel "The Seal of Karga Kul". There was no evidencie of that crusade in the novel, though. Although, in Madness of Gardmore Abbey is stated that this crusade was one of the most important victories of the empire of Nerath, so there must be some evidence in the places not explored in the novel (that are many).
Big Mac wrote:Could a visit to Gardmore Abbey lead onto a trek to the site of a crusade (or vice versa)? How could the abbey tie into a trip to the distant location of the crusade? Why did the paladins go out there? Could whatever inspired them to do that happen again?
As there are many sites of crusades, I guess that depends on the GM entirely. The closest place they went on a crusade, was the Witchlight Fens, to destroy a yuan-ti temple. They failed, so, the temple and the yuan-ti menace persist, and can be a good place for a campaign (in fact, the yuan-ti play a significant role in the Chaos Scar Encounters adventures).
As for the other known places, they went to the Stonemarch to halt the Bloodspear invasion. This invasion happens once every century, as Gruumsh commands the orcs to destroy everything in their paths—in the current year of a Nentir Vale campaign, the orcs are preparing to launch the next one, in fact. Since there is a branch of the Bloodspear orcs currently living in Gardmore Abbey, I guess crossing paths with them would warn the players about the next orc invasion.
And the Gardmore paladins went to the Dragondown Coast to destroy a hobgoblin general and his armies, that had invaded the those lands when Nerath still existed (so, those were Nerathi lands). Unlike other campaigns, this was a total war against the goblinoid invaders, and many other armies of the empire of Nerath (like the famous "Last" Legion) also fought in this war. In the Seal of Karga Kul, there are mentions of hobgoblins war parties, perhaps remains of the large goblinoid army. This campaign was the downfall of the paladins, because they got their dark artifact (the Deck of Many Things) while invading the hobgoblin fortress.
Big Mac wrote:Could whatever inspired them to do that happen again? Could people at the crusade site discover that they need to travel to Gardmore Abbey? Is there anything that the paladins might have taken away (aside from the evil artefact that appears to have destroyed them)?
Yes, its very likely. For instance, in Madness is suggested that one way to bring the characters to the Abbey is by using the card of the Deck of Many Things. While most of the cards are trapped in the Abbey (thanks to Bahamut's holy powers), some cards scattered when the Abbey was destroyed. As the Deck wants to be complete, it has lured adventurers and monsters that get those cards to the Abbey.
The paladins also got many other artifacts apart. They also brought a vial of Voidharrow (the Abyssal Plague) to the Abbey to seal it, so, an Abyssal Plague campaign in the Vale would eventually lead the characters to the Abbey.
And so on. The paladins got many stuff from many places, and people wanting that stuff for whatever reasons might want to go to the Abbey to retrieve it.