Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them
Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them: Campaign Handout
The World We Never Knew
In the dim dark of the past, the world was rife with powerful magical energies- Gods walked the land, and mortal heroes rose to such heights as to challenge those gods. This could be called a “High-fantasy” world, and for millenia untold it went on, advancing upward in magical technology until, by means no longer remembered, the magic of the world was stretched too far. It snapped, rebounded upon itself, and shattered, leaving chaos in its wake. High-level magic users were stripped of their power, burned from the inside as it threatened to consume them. Epic warriors were roasted in their Artifact Armor as it detonated. We shall refer to this event as “The Sundering”, though in-game there is no knowledge of such an event. The Material plane was washed with magical storms and unstable energies, and its denizens retreated underground to escape the uninhabitable surface. This marked the end of the First age of the World.
For what is essentially an arbitrarily long period of time (after the First age, but before the Second), Races coexisted underground as best they could, melding and merging ideals for all their survival. The surface had become the sole province of Monsters, so humanoid races settled beneath. They carved great complexes and widened tunnels into massive caverns. Racial boundaries broadened until idealogical differences were greater than those of race. (This is not to say that racial differences and grudges no longer exist, simply that one wouldn’t expect to see purely “Dwarven Lands”, or the like.) There is no available recorded history of these transitions and changes, nor of the vast areas underground in which people lived. Stories abound of the origin of people, of course, but enough time has passed to render them apocryphal.
At an unknown point, the peoples of the world emerged to find the Surface more or less recovered, and the Second age was Begun. Following the sundering, the energies of the world had been severely depleted, or had at least come to rest at a lower tide of balance. Humanoids separated out into cultural groupings according to Ideology, and went their own ways. These cultures are central to certain areas, but their influences are integral to others.
The World We Know
While large cultural concentrations hold sway in specific areas of the world, most regions are cultural melting pots, drawing their people and customs from many Sources. While a great deal of the land has been settled, the world is a dangerous place, and huge spaces exist on the map which no living creature knows well. The land is dotted with ancient ruins and mysterious underground complexes, whose origins predate recorded history. Unaware of the people of the first age, children have nonetheless grown up with tales of great people, adventurers from a generation previous, or two, or three. Noble houses persist, and subinfeudated lands are common. Different regions have their own standards of leadership, but councils and elected monarchies are common enough.
Our story begins in the region of Lake Katmara, a landlocked body of water large enough to be more properly called a sea. (for reference, some four-hundred miles long and one-hundred and fifty across) It is flanked on its southern end by the Sawtooth Mountains to the East and the Gatherridge to the West, both of which encircle sides of the Scorched Basin at Katmara’s Southern point. West-by-Northwest of the Lake is the great Mothwood, a cultural center of the Nadrual, which stretches for hundreds of miles, untouched by development. North-by-Northeast are the deep hills and rolling plains of Khadam, rich with ore and a center of art and music. Southwest is the Trackless Waste of Drom, where the Caravan Kings travel in moving cities. East-by-Southeast across the Sawtooths lie the Wildlands of Tamessar, where massive tribal warbands of monstrous humanoids struggle for dominance over the Whispering Plain.
Regional background, Local legends
(Local DC10, History DC10, Noble DC10, Geography DC10)
The Village of Berem is located in the Scorched Basin, a valley measuring some thirty-odd leagues across and bordering the southern end of Lake Katmara. The land here is fertile, and small farming and mining communities ring the valley, but the miles between them are largely unoccupied in the two centuries since Charon’s Blaze cleared the forests which once occupied that space. Ironically, that fire rendered the land more desirably fertile than before, but few would now dare claim it. The House of Ashe, successors to the line of Charon, still rules the valley by right from the Blackened Keep at the heart of the valley, and noble Lords and Ladies loyal to that house hold the lands around, on which the Valley’s current towns and villages are built.
Settlements in the valley, though once sparse, have spread over the last two centuries, and the trade which has grown between them has finally extended outside the valley’s borders. With this, the small region has grown prosperous, if no less wild for the additional wealth. Great spaces still exist on the map in this valley alone, filled with forests both ancient and startlingly new. The records kept in the time of the Burnt King are all but lost, doubt overshadowing the known locations of the region’s ancient ruins, let alone those more recent settlements which existed before the Blaze took them. The inner basin is no longer traveled, having long been deemed unsafe, and its forests have become haven for Bandits and worse- it’s a fool errand to venture inward when there’s a perfectly safe road circling the valley.
The Scorched Basin is a land held by those with great names, but saved and rebuilt by those with great dreams and greater deeds- common folk who rose above their station in the face of the unthinkable. As a result of this, the local stories are rich with Folk Heroes like Alana the Starstrider, Valdmund One-Axe, the Tattered Lady, the Blackblade, and Corrin the Green-handed. Tales like these are held equal to or above those of landed knights, wherever in the valley one goes. Stories vary here and there, but new or old, a good story is never amiss on a long harvest day.
Major Noble Houses and Division of Land
(Nobility DC10 from Berem)
House Ashe, which rules the Scorched Basin from the Blackened Keep. Renamed from Charon.
Fixture: A Black Mountain ringed in Grey Smoke, on a Field of Red.
Head: Lord Dalan Ashe and Lady Katarin Ashe
House Quorran, which rules Jardhen Seaport from Idras’ Manor, and the land through the Mothwood as far as the Wightstones.
Fixture: A quartered field of white, grey, and blue, Hippocamp Rampant and a Skeleton Key.
Head: Deanna Quorran
Noble Houses of the Scorched Basin
(Nobility DC10 from Berem)
House Baird, who hold the lands between Berem and Cherry Crossing.
Fixture: A blue Hawk perched on a silver Helm, against a field of Green.
Head: Lord Elliot Baird
House Caerith, which defends Fallcrest and the Sawtooth passage from Moonstone Keep.
Fixture: A silver Stag surmounted by a white full moon on a black field.
Head: Lady Rhiannon Caerith
House Lorne, Stewards of Harken and Darken that was.
Fixture: A white town silhouette above an identical black silhouette, on a blue field.
Head: Lord Stockmer Lorne, recently succeeding.
Villages of the Scorched Basin
(Local DC10, Geography DC10)
Berem, bordering the northwestern point of the basin, was built a bit over a century ago and was originally a farming community. The few original buildings all remain as part of the town. In time, they became prosperous through fishing, as well- most recently, a broker by the name of Erin Quidd has arranged for shipping routes from Drom to pass through Berem on their way to Jardhen, cutting down in their shipping time and bringing a great deal of money through town. The only problem is, there’s nowhere to build if they wanted to expand, unless they were to cut into the Wildwood.
Cherry Crossing was built at he most manageable fording point on the western river. It is named for the flowering cherries which survived Charon’s Blaze- while it was once the site of grain farms, as evidenced by the great husks of mills which stand amongst the trees, it is now home to fruit orchards, the profits of which sustain its small population.
Fallcrest is perhaps the most naturally attuned of the villages found in the Scorched Basin. It boasts prosperous vineyards, and is downriver of a few successful if unobtrusive mines. Its lands extend south into the Sawtooth Passage, through which it trades with the Whispering Plains. Fallcrest is a hub of Nadrual (“Elven”) culture in the Basin. Fallcrest is Berem’s closest meaningful ally in the Basin, and the house guard of Caerith are said to be particularly effective in repelling the dangers of the Wildwood.
Harken is still struggling after their folk took Ill some years past. Once, what they now call Darken was a primary Quarry for the Basin- fine stone was drawn from beneath the mountains, and transported everywhere for construction. That is, until some of their masons returned from the deeps will a strange illness, which took the town as if by storm. Many died, and those who remained moved the better part of the whole town. There is talk that if House Lorne cannot rehabilitate the area, then the House of Ashe may repossess it- but this talk has been going on for years.
Books Permitted, no questions asked:
Player’s Handbook 2
Dungeon Master’s Guide
Dungeon Master’s Guide 2
Books Permissable, upon arrangement or offer:
Heroes of Horror
Heroes of Battle
Dragon Compendium 1
If not found in the lists above, assume the book is off-limits for character options. However, that doesn’t mean options from unlisted books will not BECOME available as the campaign goes on.
Any feats found in the above books are available under the same circumstances as the books they come from, so long as a character can meet all the prerequisites by 6th level.
We will be using the “E6 Gestalt” approach, meaning that in addition to feats listed or referenced here, you may assume that any class ability attainable below 6th level may be gained through a feat or chain of feats. The limit to this is one level-gain equivalent of a tiered ability, to keep classes unique in their improving powers. For example, if a character wishes to work out a feat chan to gain access to sneak attack, they are limited to one die- the amount that a class which possesses is would gain in one class level. Though I obviously have not written up chains for every class ability available, be aware that such options are avilable with arrangement.In addition, all feats in the attached E6 handbook document are available as written, though not all of them are as presented elsewhere.
Assume that item creation feats are all radically different- those changes are listed below.
Item Creation Feats:
Scribe Scroll and Brew Potion function as written in PHB3.5.
Craft Wondrous Item functions as written, but the CL prerequisite is 5. If the caster does not have ranks in an associated craft skill for the item sufficient to create a masterwork-equivalent vessel for the magic, they must have one prepared for the purpose.
Magic Rings are considered wondrous items for the purpose of the feat. Costs, however, remain the same, making them exceedingly rare.
Craft Wand and Craft Staff are wrapped one feat, Craft Foci (Prerequisite CL 5), which allows a character to create an item capable of converting existing spell slots to cast one or more predetermined spells. This uses the rules for creating Runestaffs (Magic Item Conpendium p.224). They are not charged items, and, once created, do not run out. While Foci may indeed be wands or staves, talismans or other totems are equally common. Generally, a larger object is needed to hold more spells. A tiny object, the size of a wand or talisman can usually hold one spell, a small object can hold two, a medium object three, and so on. It is possible to create a Foci that is too large to carry, but they all must be activatd by the expenditure of spell slots.
Craft Magic Arms and Armor functions as written in PHB3.5. If the caster does not have ranks in an associated craft skill for the item sufficient to create a masterwork-equivalent vessel for the magic, they must have one prepared for the purpose.
Master Craftsman (General)
Prerequisites: 6 ranks in any Craft or Profession skill
Benefit: Choose a Craft or Profession skill in which you have at least 6 ranks. You gain a +2 bonus on that skill. You may treat your Character Level as your Caster Level for the purpose of qualifying for the feats Craft Magic Arms and Armor and Craft Wondrous Item.
Skills and Skill Points
Character classes who receive 2+Int Skill points per Level now receive 4+Int Skill points per level.
Cross-class skills cost only 1 point per rank, the same as class skills. The cost is not doubled. However, the max ranks for class and cross-class skills are still in place, as these have a part in enforcing class roles.
Balance, Jump and Tumble are all rolled into the Acrobatics skill.
Hide and Move Silently are rolled into Stealth.
Spot and Listen are rolled into Perception.
Regardless of class, a character may take one Craft or Profession skill as a class skill. If Craft or Profession is already a class skill, they do not get a second one.
Language proficiency for this campaign functions on fluency level- one is not simply capable or incapable of speaking a language.
The Speak Language skill is open to all characters, and may be invested in with normal skill ranks, but there is no max rank level for this skill. Each character starts with three “Linguistic Points”, plus a number of additional points equal to their intelligence bonus. You may invest between one and five points in a given language. This represents your level of fluency in that language, as follows.
1 Point: Sporadic. You know very little- you can swear, ask for directions, and probably how to order food. You can make your meaning known to a native speaker after a good deal of time and pantomiming.
2 Points: Broken. You can carry on a halting conversation with a native speaker and generally make your meaning known. If you had to get along in a region where the language s spoken exclusively, you could manage.
3 Points: Fluent. You have no trouble communicating with the average native speaker of the language. More complex concepts or niche areas of conversation may elude you, but no more than they would the average person.
4 Points: Eloquent. You are very well-spoken by the standards of any native speaker. You can discuss more complex things with ease- philosophy, religion, science. Unusual phrases or oddly specific words are familiar enough to you that you can use them comfortably. You probably know more than one dialect of the language.
5 Points: Professorial. You could teach a high-level class on the grammar and history of the language. You are likely familiar with many regional dialects, including uncommon ones. You may be familiar with antiquated versions of the language, as well. There is very little you would have trouble describing.
Generally, a character won’t have too much use for fluency over 3, but there are specific uses for this. Regional languages are common, and often related to the Common tongue, or other languages. Some languages are considered to be related, and are able to be understood to a limited degree by a speaker of another languge. A thorough listing of these relations can be provided upon request.
If two languages share a root language, a speaker of one of the two may understand the other at one or more levels of fluency lower. For example, in the real world, someone who speaks French well could pick out a fair deal of Italian, as they are both romantic languages. If they have French 3, they could read Italian at a 2. Similarly, an English or German speaker at 3, might be able to pick out fluency 1 or Anglo-Saxon. It’s all very dependent, but this is to say players need not worry about speaking ALL the languages- such a feat is hardly in the realm of the practical anyhow, and allows language barriers to behave realistically.
A student learning a language may reach a level of fluency one below that of their source- whether a teacher, an extensive document, or some such. To rise above this, additional sources are required. This is to say, one character can’t just teach the whole party to speak Dwarven as well as they can- the other characters will need to immersion elsewhere, or exposure to other speakers of the language to learn more.
Conviction and the Death Flag
Player Characters have a pool of Conviction, which functions like Action points. All PCs get 6 Conviction. Conviction is replenished whenever the party has a night of complete rest. A Player may spend as much of their conviction in a single round as they wish, up to their remaining total.
Conviction can be used in the following ways:
Roll an extra d20. Keep the highest. This must be declared before you roll.
Re-roll a d20. This may be declared after rolling.
Take an extra move action. This can only be used on your turn.
Take an extra standard action. This can only be used on your turn.
The Death Flag
The death flag is definitely designed for campaigns where characters can’t come back from the dead. This lets those campaigns get rid of random lethality without eliminating death altogether as a possibility. This is done with a change in the “social contract” between players and GM. Whereas in standard D&D the player is at the mercy of the DM and the rules, with the death flag the player decides when the stakes of a conflict are life and death.
As an Immediate action, a player character can choose to raise his Death Flag and gain 6 Conviction instantly (even if this brings their total Conviction pool above 6).
When the death flag is raised, the normal rules for death apply. If the death flag has not been raised, then the character, if killed, is treated as reducing the player character to 1 hit point above death. The Death Flag can be lowered by spending 6 Conviction.