New D&D NEXT Campaign idea.

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I've created a campaign Bible for a soon-to-be D&D next game. I was hoping to get some feedback on it. This will be for a group of individuals who either haven't played in a while or have never played at all.
What seems cool?
What seems bland?
What might make it cooler?
What is needless information?
Thanks so much for your comments.


The Will of the Leafless Campaign



Greater and Lesser Banya:


A great deal of the known world resides in two small continents, Greater and Lesser Banya. Greater Banya is divided into two regions, the north peninsula that juts northwest from the rest of the continent (Human Controlled Region), and everything south (High Elven Controlled Region). The North Thorn, as it is called, has one major city, Bovalia, a grand city of men and dwarves. The current ruler of Bovalia, Feldspar Elkain, runs a highly militarized region. His court of knights and generals, though they rarely abuse their power, have an authoritarian hold on the lower towns that dot the area, as well as the “single pass” that is the only landway between the north and the south. South of this, the High elves, twisted and bent by their magical bloodlines, rule with a tyrant’s fist. Controlled by the memory of Alorian of the Leafless, the High Elves have taken their “rightful place among the races of the world”- High Elven Manifesto 1010 3E. No one knows exactly where the capital city is, or who the rulers of this kingdom are. Each city has a mayor who claims to be receiving messages from the true ruler of the races, name unknown.


            Lesser Banya, a home now to refugees, of the ruthless High Elves, is still a wild and dangerous place, where a millennium of chaos has overgrown the wilderness and deep places with horrors and monstrosities that threaten life constantly for those brave or desperate enough to live there. The safest places are the ancient underground cities of Shivan, Caryne, and Southstone. These dark times have even created unlikely (and uneasy) alliances. Drow elves now speak freely with their equally as persecuted wood kin. Dwarves and Gnomes have regained their ancient and lost heritage. Even the rulers of the orcish hordes under the “Falling Spire” may be safer than the majority of Greater Banya. Humans, Dwarves, Half-Orcs, Gnomes, Halflings, and most Wood Elves must either submit to the slavery of their High Elven Masters, become a fleeing refugee, or fight with the resistance. The world has lost the balance of the races that constantly and naturally kept each other in check. It has been thrown into chaos. Many turn to religion in these dark times, many more denounce the Gods of old and look to their own strength to survive.


 



A Brief Time Line and Pantheon



Years of the Third Age:


209: Bessen Ro and his Queen, Tera Ro, establish the Unified Rulers of Banya. Together they drove out the “evil”


hordes and monsters from their lands paving the way to peace and prosperity among the Dwarves, Human, Elves, Halflings, and Gnomes.


411: Ye’ Lore is given the clan name of “Leafless” due to his incessant desire for equality and balance among the


races.


441: Ye’ Lore, High Elf and Patriarch to the Leafless Clan recovers an artifact uncovered by the Drow races of the


Under Road, the “heart of the world” “Ce Legrennya”


449: Ye’ Lore is sacrificed to the artifact in order to create a bond of the bloodline.


752: Alorian implants a shard of the Ce Legrennya into Illigid, the white dragon.


815: Yenben of the Leafless is born. It is foretold that he may stop the great Golden Age of Elves.


890: He is sent to become a priest by his father, Alorian.


989: Alorian has a daughter with a human woman.


1008: Alorian sets his plan into motion. He pits the great races of the world against each other.


1009: Yenben and Asuna find each other and together with their friends and family, set out to overthrow Alorian.


1009: The heroes Vavair Hillfall, Lerik, and Yenben of Lathandar, give their lives in glorious sacrifice to stop Alorian who goes by the


name “Rankler”.


1010: It is too late, the races of the world continue to battle and dwindle the numbers until they are firmly in the


majority. The High Elves then easily take over Greater Banyan and enslave the lower races.


1011: The great city of Progan burns to the Evil Hordes. The war has been the most costly in recorded history.


1012: Feldpar Elkain seals off the Norhtern Borders of Greater Banya and establishes a safe region for “Leafless”,


The North Thorn. He becomes the ruler of Bovalia.


1013: The City of Cerille falls to the High Elves.


1017: The High Elves have completed the Grand Transformation. The dark ability that know follows all of the


High Elf race.


1019: The High Elves take on a new name for their race, the “Konoha”.


1021 (The Present Year): The resistance is born.


 


 


The Pantheon of Gods for most members of Banya:


 


Lathandar: God of Light and the morning star. Patron God of Elves. High Elves use Lathandar as a way to justify


the takeover of Banya and to rule under Lathandar’s name.


 


Bowille: God of the Hunt and the Moon. Patron God of Centaurs.


 


Torgin: God of Earth and Stone. Patron God of Dwarves.


 


Vilathior: God of Order and Goodness. Patron God of Humans.


 


Korsik: God of War and Blood. Patron God of Orcs and Goblins.


 


Selethian: God of Love and Chaos.


 


Porthea: God of Wisdom and Family.


 



The Grand Transformation



The High Elves, having the master plan of Alorian come to fruition, settled in to rule the world. And their continuous search for magic and lost artifacts revealed some terrible dangers. It happened quietly and quickly one winter’s night. From a source, unknown, at a time, unexpected, the High Elves took another leap forward in evolution. Each member of the High Elf race gained a special ability permanently. It was unique and random. Twin brothers found they had different abilities, or the same ability as the town miscreant. It was at first, frightful, but then, entirely accepted and celebrated. The unyielding spirit of Alorian, champion of the Golden Age of High Elves, endured in this new ability. Whether it came from a new Artifact, the old Gods, or some new source of undiscovered power, mattered little to the recipients of this power.


 


Campaign Rule: High Elf Birthright


If a player decides to play a High Elf as a member of the resistance, roll a D100 to see what extra power they receive. Note that with great power comes problems of its own, and this choice may have further consequences later in the campaign. The only further stipulation on this is that a High Elf member of the resistance must not have “Wizard” as its first class.


 


(Roll a D100)


01-04    Can cast Detect Magic at Will.


05-08    Can cast Feather Fall (self only) at will.


09-12    You are never surprised.


13-16    Can cast Barkskin (self) at will.


17-20    Can cast Animal Friendship at will.


21-24    Can cast Animal Messenger at will.


25-28    Can cast Telekenesis (Objects only) at will.


29-32    Can cast Tree Shape 1/Day.


33-36    Can cast Disguise Self  at will.


37-40    Can cast Read Magic at will.


41-44    Immune to cold or fire (choose one).


45-48    Immune to lightning and can cast Shocking Grasp at will.


49-52    Can Cast Dimension Door (self) 1/Day.


52- 56   Can cast Pass without Trace and Water Walk (self only) at will.


57-60    Can cast Dispel Magic at will.


61-64    Can cast Freedom of Movement at will.


65-68    Can cast Charm Person at will.


69-72    Can cast Spider Climb at will.


73-76    Can cast Knock at will.


77-80    Can cast Identify at will.


81-84    Can cast Jump at will.


85-88    Can cast Speak with Animals at will.


89-92    Can cast Longstrider at will.


93-96    Can cast Invisibility at will.


97-00    Can cast Insect Plague at will.


 



The Banyan Calandar



The calendar was begun at the beginning of the 2nd age by a group of Gnomes from Underdeep hills that required a better way to keep track of the tobacco planting seasons. This method of telling time grew quickly and though the names have been commonized from the original Gnomish, the sounds remain very similar.


 






Month           Seasonal Significance


Glorin               Beginning of Spring


Falewind           Middle of Spring


Bluebens                        End of Spring


Honish              Beginning of Summer


Braniel              Middle of Summer


Kastak               End of Summer


 


Month           Seasonal Significance


Turnden                        Beginning of Fall


Moonden           Middle of Fall


Whitebens         End of Fall


Banish               Beginning of Winter


Whitewind        Middle of Winter


Linish               End of Winter






People of Banya



The majority race currently in the Banya region is the High Elf (40%). Next are Humans (20%), Dwarves, (12%), Wood Elves (6%), Half-Orcs (5%), Half-Elves (5%), Halflings and Gnomes (5%), Drow Elves (4%), and Centaurs (3%).


 


Campaign Rule: Centaur Race


Players may choose the Centaur race for their characters. This race of people come in two genders with the male being slightly larger than the females. They are considered half horses with human torsos, though they hate any  They are a stubborn people, and prefer to stick to their pack. They are extreme outsiders, while not as hated as the High Elven, Konoha, they are not trusted either.


 


Racial TRAITS: As a centaur you have the following traits.


Ability Score Adjustment: +1 to Wisdom.


Size: Medium (8’)


Speed: 40 feet. Speed is not reduced due to armor.


Low Light Vision: May seem in low or dim light up to 60’.


Astrology Sign: Depending on the sign under which you were born, you have an added Ability score adjustment and power. (Choose or roll a D6)


 


Result   Power


1.          Rat: +1 Dexterity, advantage to sneak checks.


2.          Dragon: +1 Strength, advantage to grapple checks.


3.          Fish: +1 Constitution, immune to poison.


4.          Dog: +1 Charisma, advantage to intimidate


5.          Goat: +1 Intelligence, advantage to search


6.          Tiger: +1 Wisdom, advantage to spot and listen in the wilderness.


 


Learned Scribes:  Advantage to Recall Lore: History


Languages: Common, Centaurian, +1 of your choice from the Specialty languages.


 


Campaign Rule: Drow Elf Race:


Players may choose the Elf, Drow, race for their characters. This race of people is descended from the elves above ground. They have become nocturnal and subterranean over the years having a disadvantage in direct sunlight.


 


Racial TRAITS:


Ability Score Adjustment: +1 to both Dexterity and Charisma.


Size: Medium Humanoid (5-6’)


Speed: 30’


Dark Vision, Light Sensitivity: 100’ but also has Light Sensitivity: Disadvantage to attack rolls when in direct sunlight.


Alignment: Drow may not be Lawful Good.


Languages: Common and Drow.


Knowledge of Deep and Secret Thigns: Drow have advantage to all roles to Recall Lore: Forbidden Lore.


Magic Resistance: Drow have advantage on saving throws against magical effects.


Stealthy: +5 bonus to checks to avoid detection.


 


 



Important Figures of Banya



Feldspar Elkain: Human Ruler of Bovalia, valiant fighter that inspires others to follow him. His adventuring days are done and now he’s thinking defense. He is very militaristically minded.


 


Ponwea Felicent: Feldspar’s chief Executive of Magical Orders. Son of the late ruler of Progan. Ponwea barely survived the great battles of Progan.


 


Alorian of the Leafless: The instigator of the Golden Age of Elves. A mighty wizard that seems to have been defeated by the Hillfall party.


 


Fin Pureland: Mysterious leader of the resistance. Very few have seen him and even fewer get a regular audience. It is rumored that he resides in Ceril, but more likely he is safe in Bovalia.


 


Dyre Windello: The master of cloak and dagger, a leader among the Dire Thieves Guild. While many have claimed to see this elusive leader, the descriptions of him vary greatly even among races and sizes. He has been in power since before the “Golden Age” began. Whether he is allowed to retain power by the will of the High Elves or in spite of them is uncertain. What is certain, he is highly dangerous.


 


Illigid the White Dragon: A dangerous former lackey of Alorian. This ancient creature is responsible for the destruction of Middle Hill. He is also the guardian of powerful magic, the specifics of which remain a mystery.


 


Agan Tonnin: Tonnin replaced his father as ruler of Underdeep. He was third in line for the throne when his father and older brother refused to kneel to their Konoha masters. He is young, but afraid not to bend to the Konoha.


 


Tenf the Mad: Tenf believes himself to be a powerful wizard, and yet no one has really seen a demonstration of this power. His home seems to appear in different areas of Greater Banya when needed.


 


Gorinnad the Green Dragon: One of the youngest dragons in Greater Banya, he lives in the large Longleaf Forest. He is a protector of the fey within the forest.


 


Ballard Lisk: Ballard is the appointed voice of the people. He is set up as a puppet to make the enslaved masses believe they have a voice. He has no intention of truly helping the “leafless”.


 



Character Creation



Race

You may choose, for your character, any race among the people of Banya, even the Konoha (High Elves). Elf, Human, Half-elf, Dwarf, Half-Orc, Halfling, Gnome, Centaur, Drow.


Class

You may choose any class for this campaign. Fighter, Barbarian, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard, Ranger, Paladin, Druid, Monk.


Alignment

The campaign will center on opposing an oppressing social force so the only alignment that will not be accepted is Lawful Good unless the player may understand a different social force as the dominant one to which they ascribe. For Example: One may not be inherently loyal to the Konoha, but be loyal to the rightful rulers of the land, represented by Bovalia.


Ability Scores

These will not be rolled, but be customized to fit your character. Each character begins with 8’s across all ability scores these may be improved within a point system.


You have 27 points to spend subtracting the cost of each score.


 


Score    Cost


9          1


10         2


11         3


12         4


13         5


14         7


15         9


 


For example, you may have 3 high and 3 low such as 15,15,15,8,8,8. Or Averaged equally, 13,13,13,12,12,12. Or any workable combination that adds up to a cost of 27.


Specialties and Backgrounds

We are using the specialties option. At this point, please pick a feat that you have access to and name your specialty along these lines. If you pick the Two-Weapon Blocking feat you specialty is probably Two Weapon Fighting. Each of your backgrounds will be centered on the resistance movement.


Resistance Network

As a member of the resistance movement, your character has a background as either charlatan, spy, or resistance fighter. All of these carry with it the trait – Information Network: This trait allows the character to have a contact within a major city that you may contact over great distances (including through the use of magic for quicker communication if you have access to the appropriate spells or items) and typically can exchange information you have gathered for information you seek from your contact.  During your character creation, choose a city, and a name that your contact goes by. You are probably unaware of what they look like, but that is not 100% of cases. Some contacts may be old friends. It is your choice.


Starting Equipment and Special Abilities

Your character will begin without any armor and only one “simple” weapon (see equipment PDF). Beyond this, you have only 28GP to buy any provisions you believe you may need for your adventures. I suggest an adventurer’s kit. Paladins and Clerics, you will require a holy item. Wizards, you will need a spell book. The rest you must scrounge from others along the way or steal, or bribe, or persuade out of.


 


If you think of a piece of equipment you would like, a weapon, a piece of armor, a secret pouch in your pants, a unique spell or special ability, let me know and I will make sure it is game appropriate (that it’s not over-powered and regarding its effect in-game). For example, if you wish that your Halfling fighter had sharpened spoons as its main weapon, we can make that happen. Just ask.


About your Character

It would be fantastic if you gave your character some defining features (flaws). Perhaps they area a drinker, a womanizer, hopeful of joining the army. Perhaps they have a speech impediment, or are terrified of certain things. What has happened to them in the past, what are their hopes for the future? What hero of legend do they aspire to be?


 


 



The City of Cerille (Campaign Start)



The city of Cerille has quieted down from its days as the trade hub of Greater Banya. Because trade among the waterways has slowed to a stop and trade of any kind with Bovalia or Lesser Banya is non-existant, Cerille is now run mostly as a slave labor camp. Each citizen is given papers of identification. These papers must be on the individual at all times, and they must be presented if requested by any Konoha (High Elf). Money is rare among the Leafless (Non-high elves) inhabitants of Cerille. Most work in the mines and in the forests for lumber. A few are granted leave to travel in search of magical items. It is the continuous search for magic and lore that drive the Konoha war machine. They continuously have their eyes set on achieving more power. Cerille is an exploitation of such a desire.


 


Cerille has a few wealthy houses, Konoha residents of Cerille. Beyond these, only residents that serve a function in the new Konoha dominion have reasonable housing. The others (most individuals) live in slums. The dwindling numbers of workers mean a slightly harder workload for the rest. These people are paid in rations and are obviously disgruntled. Within the slums of Cerille a few businesses thrive, Cerille Inn, Glowbeer Tavern, Bear Brown’s Rations and Things. Of course the barracks, with the jail underneath, is constantly full. Other major structures in Cerille are the dock warehouses (abandoned), the Mayor’s keep, the Pintock Lighthouse (very large lighthouse), and the Crypt of Bowille (God of the Hunt).


 


You, some of your closest friends, and a few new faces have been able to scrounge enough money to attempt an escape. Some of you believe that you may be able to make it to the North Thorn. Others desire to free those under the oppression of the Konoha. Some even believe that rallying the enemies of the Konoha would be a force that they could not withstand. A further option would include attempting to take out high members of the Konoha elite. The more adventurous among you have even suggested that the group look for stray magic in the darker places of Greater Banya, for it is with magic that magic should be fought. Whatever the group decides to do, it will be a burden to the Konoha. After you’ve bribed the guards to switch shifts in order to look the other way on your escape, you only have about 28GP left to buy essentials. Before you set out, you and your friends meet in the graveyard of Cerille. It is the only place without regular patrols.


 


No one has ever escaped from the city limits of Cerille since it fell to the Konoha. The captain of the Guard is Lolinis Feywill, a stale, serious Elf. His patrols consist of several High Elves and a series of familiars that alert him to any potential escapees or threats. While you have bought this information, you do not know what the familiars look like or where they are positioned. With this info, you are ready to discuss the plan of escape.

What seems cool?
What seems bland?
What might make it cooler?

I recommend that you put all of these questions to your players, and give their ideas as much or more weight than anything you've developed so far.

What is needless information?

Nothing but the broad strokes will probably be used, delivered to, or remembered by the players, but none of it is "useless" if you enjoyed creating it. Such preparation will aid you when you inevitably need to improvise.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

What is needless information?

Nothing but the broad strokes will probably be used, delivered to, or remembered by the players, but none of it is "useless" if you enjoyed creating it. Such preparation will aid you when you inevitably need to improvise.

+1 to this.  I would generally call creating a bible for your world a monumental waste of time, but it's not really at all if you enjoyed doing it.  But you need to consider the possibility (or even probability) that your players will simply say "TLDR."  What happens if your players don't find what you wrote interesting?  And I guarantee you, some will and some will not.

Instead of creating how the world is going to be in detail before starting the game, why not try having the players collaborate with you on how the world is going to be (in whatever level of detail you all like) as you play the game ... as you go along?  Perhaps start with only the thing the players will likely find most interesting:  not your world but the PCs themselves.  Just the barebone basics of how they all got together and/or how they relate to each other, and their personalities or goals.  Don't dictate what character they can make and can't make with all sorts of custom rules, races, etc., and their jobs, roles and goals.  Let them create the kind of characters THEY want to play with their own motivations, not the characters YOU want them to play.  Fill in whatever detail is necessary about the world only when it's necessary to fill in the details, as you play it.  Then everyone, not just you, is more certain to be involved in what's happening and more enthusiastic about the setting, because they had a stake in making it be the kind of setting they enjoy.  

Or, to be blunt, TLDR!  This strikes me as a very controlling way to kick off a campaign.  And I would suspect that some of your players will feel the same because your campaign bible says nothing about the most interesting part of the game ... the "stars" of the story, the PCs.  Maybe start with that instead, and work on it with the other players.  Don't dictate how everything is going to be ahead of time, including the rules for building PCs.  Involve your players in these decisions and everyone will be much more involved and much happier. 

However, your bible should certainly not be wasted.  It's good and imaginative stuff and will help you later when you have to come up with ideas on the fly.  Keep it and use it, but not as a bible on how things have to be ... use it more as campaign ideas, notes and inspiration for a campaign that all the players, including you, can participate in building and growing. 

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

The bit which concerns me most is the special abilities for High Elf characters. You're at risk of ending up with a party of all High Elves, because frankly random at will magic abilities are awesome.

At which point as a player I'd be asking "Why don't we work for the High Elves instead and destroy the meddlesome resistance? We are after all clearly superior. Look I can turn Invisible at will!"

In this circumstance I would either not allow High Elves as PCs. Or have High Elves as PCs but as 'non-mutant' High Elves. Or let the players work for either side, rather than forcing them to work for the resistance.

My 2copper.