Carathon

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So I want to try an exercise in world creation.

I want to start from scratch and build up a setting.

But I want to do it with the feedback of the community.

So where should I start?

Map?

Ideas?

Meta Plot?

I have created this thread as a place for discussion as I evolve my campaign from base idea to full fledged setting.
In the past I tried creating a big world, but that only limited myself. It felt as if I had confined myself by borders which would not move. So instead it went better by having a general outline of a few continents, where they were positioned, the regions within and their general nature such as snow or desert or swamplike.

Having a general outline gave me ideas to play with and build up to. It also allowed room for adjustments. Say you're building from the inside to the outside and feel that you're reaching the border of the continent....just simply add a few miles of land if you need too. This I could not do when the entire continent was already set in stone and thus allowed no room for expanding on my story. Forcing me to move in another direction.

So I suggest having a general outline to get the big picture. Draw the general continents, regions and their type of land, oceans, a few big important capitol cities. Then start building from the inside out. Begin with one of the big cities and expand from that as the story proceeds.

Next to that you can create organizations for shipping cargo by land or sea, guilds of various kinds and whatever. Come up with ideas for locations which would be great to use, but don't put them on a fixed location on the map yet. These are just tools for the on-going campaign and they will be put on the map when the players will get there story-wise.

A plot is done similar. Have some big outline which you want to happen or be achieved by the players. Fill the rest in as you go along.
I agree with not starting with a map, at least not with anything more than the vague sketch (vast tundra here, sandy desert there). Start with ideas and a central starting place and go from there. Also, ask your players what sort of place they want to adventure in. If everyone wants a steampunk setting, for example, you can craft your campaign with that in mind.
Yeah, first square with your players what sort of campaign you want to play, and be prepared for them to come up with a better idea than yours, then brainstorm a few general points. This works as a taster for your players and means they can't complain that you've just invented another world they have no interest in.

Then decide your starting point, the close-on-hand important features and everything you'll need for the first few sessions. Then think of a few cool places you might want to take the game to later on.

Players love to see maps, it gives them the oportunity to say 'I want to go there, it sounds like fun, I bet there's a pub.' But be careful of putting details on it, they can't be changed if they don't quite fit later on. If you want to give a local map, so the players can see where they are, keep it local. A world map wants to be very vague, you can pencil in your nations and cities, but remember that cartographers didn't always have access to satellite photos, just tell th eplayers it is the map once drawn by a drunken seaman that hangs on the wall at their local watering hole.
I feel like this sort of thread comes up a lot. IMO, we should create a sticky for general campaign creation advice so that when people post "Help me with my world" threads, there'll be more to go on.
Personally I start with monsters/races and bad guys. This usually leads me into themes for certain areas and helps me come up with a sort of eco/economic system for areas based on them. It's pretty simple to make smaller plotlines when you've made the monsters. I usually change basically every race/monster in my game, some just slightly and others more drastically depending on the setting(not necessarily the mechanics, but the flavor is always different than what is presented in the MM); I find this helps make the campaign a more unique experience.
I suppose that I should be more specific I am not presenting please do all the work for me thread or help me create my world. I am doing this more as an intellectual exercise. I already have a world that I have developed but talking about it with other players and gms and the process I feel will spark some interesting discussion and I want to force myself to start from scratch so I can learn from doing not talking.

So using my current party as a model. They love combat but a couple of players have given me background to there characters so the first thing I want to do is give them some information to hang there character on.

One player wants to play a warlock and another loves to play rogues.

So I need some sort of urban environment and also a story option for each of the types of pacts.

So I will have a large city Cliffvale a city that was founded on an older city that now lies beneath the streets. (Major Dungeon opportunity.)

Now I have to look at Warlocks and see what I can create to give them some story.
I want to have a mercenary culture so Cliffvale has no standing army the overlord of the city hires mercenaries to defend the town.

To add an interesting geographical / political idea. Cliffvale sits in a large crater surrounded by rough jaggerd mountains.

Two warring kingdoms sit on either side, wanting the resources.

I like the idea of Dragon Shards so I am going to have the Vale one of the rare places where you can find Dragon Shards. A warren of caverns beneath the crater are littered with Shards.

I guess now is the time to draw a map and involve the players. Or is it too soon yet?
Start by making Cliffvale and the nearby surroundings. Let players make characters and backgrounds as they want and use those as inspiration as well. They might describe a little village for you as where they've grown up or something.
Ok so continuing with my intellectual exercise if you have commented here so far lets pretend that you are my players. So I have come up to each of you to say I am going to start a new campaign.

First question that I ask you is "What kind of game are you intereseted in playing is there anything you want to have in the world?"

Then I go and sit down with MS paint and start to work on the map.
Then I'd say...

I'd like a medieval fantasy style. Normal magic and melee. Killing of monsters, but at times role playing and in depth story telling and investigations. Intrigue, drama, conspiracies and stuff. Secret societies trying to overthrow governments, hidden cults that meet in basements of respectful merchants. Gore...I'd like descriptiveness of blood and slaying, but not too sick of course just a bit more then normal.

My character has gotten a silver dagger from his father. Doesn't know much about it except it is supposed to hold some sort of secret. Other then the markings on the heft of the dagger my character has no idea what that secret can be. (leaving room for the DM to figure something out). I'd really like to develop that. Find out what happened to my deceased father, was he part of a secret group and what is the secret of the dagger. He is a battlemage...someone mastered in the use of a spear, leather and stylish outfits and the use of combat/offensive related spells.

Grew up in Portvale which is a small port hamlet. lots of ships coming and going. Had some pirate problems few decades ago. From there a lot of merchandise got traded and moved around to nearby villages or re-routed by organized caravans which were funded by the merchant distract in the nearest capital. Before coming to Cliffvale I had to travel through a dense deep forest surrounded by tall mountain ranges which on one side went so far back to the ocean it seemed like it was a natural Girdle of some sort. It was quite a far travel, took me about 7-8 days on which I saw various small villages and abandoned ruins. One day there was this weird gathering of ruins which seems to be some buildings and partially a tower...noticed some mausoleums as well. I'd like to go back there to see what that place is. After all some archeology does fancy me.
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So...lets use that for an excample ;)

You don't really have to worry about the character class and his/her skills yet. Just focus on creating Cliffvale the way you want it to be. Use some stuff from the players that relates to Cliffvale directely. If you want underground chasms and dungeons imaged after the ruins of an old empire then do so. Work out some societies, groups, cults or whatever that are present in town. Some shops, religions present, some locals to interact with.

Think about a general campaign arc to use on how you want to set a certain theme to begin with. Map out a small area around Cliffvale. I'd say anything within 4 days travel and at least 5 specific locations that the players can go to. Then start worrying about what your players can go and have for quests there related to that theme. This is your start and you can go anywhere from there. You can even decide not to use the general campaign theme and move to something else which the players decide. That is the beauty of making stuff up in the big general lines....you haven't wasted time on details yet so throw it away or put it aside for later usage.
Just start with the broad strokes and th plot of your first adventure. Things may come out of the first adventure that you or your players may wish to explore later and you might find you need to undo some of the work you've done to fit it all in.

You could leave a hook in the last adventure which could lead to another adventure - a strange piece of equipment, the unexplained death of the patron or something.

A minor character may very quickly become a major character or the players may see something you miss and you can plan your next adventure around this.

There's no point spending hours and hours developing the whole city to start with -just start with what you can use. Give your rogue a contact in the thieves guild if you like - you can use this NPC to feed the players (mis)information and then develop the rest of the guild when you have a story to develop.
Ok so continuing with my intellectual exercise if you have commented here so far lets pretend that you are my players. So I have come up to each of you to say I am going to start a new campaign.

First question that I ask you is "What kind of game are you intereseted in playing is there anything you want to have in the world?"

Ok, I wanna play too!

I'd say ...

I like the dragonshard idea, and here's what I want to do. I want to be a Warforged. We're powered by a dragonshard, and the people that made me made a lot of us with the dragonshards that are mined in the crater. We were a force that protected Cliffvale until something happened many years ago that got rid of most of us. There are still some of the old models around, but the king has to hire mercenaries because the old Warforged are almost all gone.

Now, let's say that someone has started making us again. We're kinda expensive and it takes a long time to make one, and nobody really knows how good we'll be because it's been many years since anyone's seen a whole unit of us in action. They townsfolk like us a lot and treat us like the Human mercenaries, but expect us to be tougher and more ... impressive somehow.

So my character isn't the last of a dying breed, he's among the first of a new breed!

Now, we're still not to classes and skills yet, but you've got to ask how Warforged got into the setting, both the first time and now, and how they're viewed by Cliffvale's rapacious neighbors. Also, if someone's making Good Warforged to protect the town, maybe one of the evil neighbor kingdoms is making Evil Warforged and maybe that's part of why they want dragonshards.
So now behind the screen.

Ok so based on Leowulf and Falstyr are the first players in the "game" so based on what I have been told I figure that Cliffvale has only recently become independent. This makes sense as a Mercenary enforced state wouldn't last for long.

So there was a war called The War of the Four Banners. Many things were developed in the War of Four Banners including Warforged they were developed by The Silver Technocracy. A nation that had very few people but amazing technical know how. Think the trade federation in Star Wars.

They filled there army with Warforged but soon were wiped out by superior numbers and Warforged technology was so expensive that they could not mass produce them in such high numbers.

The overlord has started to develop warforged using his resources to develop an army so that he can stop relying on Mercenaries.

Because I am written that way the Silver Dagger contains in the hilt information the overlord could use to build a master forge to mass produce Warforged (Hidden in the Hilt? It is the design?) Falstyr's father worked as a guard for one of the last surviving artifacers in the world and was given the dagger as a gift for long service and also allowed him to hide the secrets to Warforge technology. (Or it could act as a key to a hidden forge)

Portvale is a great place for hidden pirate coves and sea faring adventure.

So the first adventure will start in cliffvale. I am going to use an act of god to get the players together. The section of the city that they are in will collapse down to the ruins below. That allows me to have them be the survivors and introduce them as a group through a good old Dungeon romp.

We should have some link to the ruins that Falstyr found. Also I want to introduce an NPC who will covert the Warforged so if I add a second party of random NPC's who can either go with the characters or head off in a separate direction.
That is a pretty decent global outlining of what you want story wise. You also mention a (relative) nearby location which could be explored when the players have enough of Cliffvale...namely those ruins. See if you can mention a few more locations nearby in various directions such as a big settlement of city that wants to undermine the Overlord of Cliffvale in achieving his goals.

That city doesn't have to be detailed. Just a name, a handful of name worthy npc's, what kind of government it has, the political ties/reasons/grudges with Cliffvale.

A simple location for a dungeon crawl nearby.

As for Cliffvale itself it is like Grimbus said. You don't have to map out all streets and districts and what not. Just make sure you have a list of npc's that provide services such as shops, religious locations with priests and such to give divine aid and raise dead in case of need. You can make up a few more NPC's which can provide quest hooks/information for current quest. Like the head of the Mercenaries that are currently hired, Warforged spokesforge hehe, some old historian. All other things will come as you.

That is basically how you build from within to the outside. But don't forget to map out the continent and some locations YOU wan't to throw in the players path from time to time.
Ok so now that i have the basic idea for the first adventure I will turn again to my players

Falstyr what character would you like to play(Class/Race/Build)? This will give me an idea what NPCs I have to generate.

Leowulf I have got that you want to play a warforged what class build are you making?

Inax is the shady merchant who wants to take the warforged for there own when we start. Inax is an elf just so that I can make him a little more memorable and also a bit less obvious.
Race: Male Human
Class: Battlemage
-Now that doesn't exist so will probably need multi-classing fighter/wizard or make a custom class (which i'm thinking about doing right now hehe). Basically this class is neither an expert in melee nor in arcane magic, but is very proficient in both. The kind of spells used are battle/offense related. Wears mainly cloth/light armor and spear/spiked chain type weapons.

Sort of a mix between controller/skirmisher.

Somehow my characters always become a bit of a "leader" by role play nature as well as my personality. So lets assume that this character has seen his fair share of battles so far, but small skirmishes. Local bar fights, some pirates here and there back in Portvale and stuff like that. So he's a bit reserved and doesn't rush into battle. Tries to think calmly for a way out...chatting people up where possible.

IMAGE(http://ddo.stratics.com/content/classes/sorcerer.jpg)

I'll just let the warforged take most of the beating mwahahha ;)
Falstyr I just had an idea
So one of the groups that emerged from the War of Four Banners was the Battlemages this elite group have now become one of the most prestigious orginisation. They have a Tower in cliffvale and one of the only groups that are seperate from the politics of the region.

Your character was travelling from Portvale to Cliffvale in hopes of joining the Mighty Battlemages.

Behind the screen: Prestige Class idea Battlemages of Carathon.

That gives me something that makes the world cool and unique make an organization that works as an only in Carathon thing so that players have something they can sink their teeth into.

Cool.

Did I mention how much fun this is.

Leowulf haven't heard much from you are you still playing?
Sounds like a nice idea. But my PC joining depends on what the order stands for and does. Are they an organisation which deals with old war crimes bringing old war criminals to justice? Or are they for rent to the highest bidder? Or an order seeking out those that appear to gain too much power and take them down before that happens to maintain some form of balance and prevent wars? Or just an order which is bit more secluded and retreated in their tower for other motives that no ones knows about?
Sorry my 3rd is showing.

I want this to be a 4th thread as that is what we are mostly building for.

Prestige class = Paragon Path.

Now I am also happy for the community to contribute to this discussion by adding rules and such so if you read something cool that you want to generate rules for go nuts.

Eg you think of an item or monster that would fit the setting. Go nuts.
Sounds like a nice idea. But my PC joining depends on what the order stands for and does. Are they an organisation which deals with old war crimes bringing old war criminals to justice? Or are they for rent to the highest bidder? Or an order seeking out those that appear to gain too much power and take them down before that happens to maintain some form of balance and prevent wars? Or just an order which is bit more secluded and retreated in their tower for other motives that no ones knows about?

Ill make them mystrious for now the idea is that there are two factions one is heroic and the other is using the overlord to develop the warforged.

Am I using the Warforged plot too much?
Technocracy got me thinking. I do enjoy how magic has some "technical" applications in Ebberon. So adding stuff like that would be great. Now that opens a whole new line of thought as well for me.

How about that dungeon underneath Cliffvale. Certain crevices in the cliffs can lead people partially into it, but not deep enough. Excavation were never done so no one really knows what kind of ecology/civilization is now down there. In what way did Cliffvale come to be? And in what way did the previous city perish? I'm thinking about a comet crashing down during the war and leveling the city and creating the cliffs and everything. Cliffvale being build in the center of the crater.

Then you could say...comet and radiation. Ok that is pretty lame and common. The previous city smashed under the ground leveling a lot of buildings and stealing many lives. But some managed to survive, but become a mutated form of what there was before. Living in a sort of apocalyptic dark abyssal looking place underneath Cliffvale. Their minds rotting away as well turning loads into flesh eaters and others just being really powerful with other mutated applications. But all still dying out slowly. Perhaps a technocratic like artifact can still be found when going deeper in that dungeon.

So basically make it a multi-leveled dungeon to which you can return later when the PC's are tougher and the locals of Cliffvale found out that after the crashing of the ground, which led the PC's down there in the first place, more stuff has appeared from that dungeon trying to enter the city. Adding another threat to the Cliffvale's Overlord. Needing more mercs to hire and putting more pressure on finding a way to get that warforged issue solved since his resources are started to get straining.

Fallout 3 concept art for some mutated creatures/inhabitants
link 1
link 2
link 3 some old warforged models that still roam through the ruins.
link 4 that thingy with the ball in the center could be adjusted to fit as some old piece of machinery, which still stands in the underground ruins dungeon, to open a gate or whatever you like.

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Using the Warforged plot is something you obviously like. But don't stare to blindly at it. Usually I keep the main plot bit in the background at the beginning. Building up the environment and hints about the warforged. Slowly building it up and dragging the players in. I don't blatantly throw it in their faces.

Is it too much as in my PC his things get used for the Warforged thing as well even with the warforged in our party...well I might feel little less important at times. But on the other hand if you build it up slowly and get everyone involved and have a good deep story going its cool :D

But you should also make a few npc's with other quests and hooks just in case. Maybe some related to the community, internal conflicts brewing which might escalate into a small civil uprising of some sort. The merc leader being against warforged because they "steal" they jobs and stuff.
Leowulf haven't heard much from you are you still playing?

Sorry - I've been away from the computer most of the day.

Okay, I want a Scourge Warlock, Infernal Pact. But I want him massively reflavored (of course). I want him to be a living machine that is able to spit energy from his hands (Eldritch Blast) and is able to throw fire or produce fire from within (Hellish Rebuke, Witchfire, Flames of Phlegethos). As he increases in level, I want his new powers to be him either having adjustments made to his ... body(?) or discovering new powers that he and his creators never dreamed Warforged could have. With all the fire powers, maybe a name like Lighter would be good.

At creation, his feat would be Initiate of the Sword (1-handed weapons). His purpose is, after all, to fight, and he does so well enough. His initial weapon would be a (measley) pair of clubs (one being his Implement Rod), but at level 2, his training in his chosen weapon of Katar will be completed. Eventually - many levels from now, I see him wielding a pair of katars (one being his Pact Blade), and mixing it up between melee and Warlock abilities.

Stats would be something like Str 14, Dex 11, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 14. 30 HP at Level 1.

Skills would be Arcana, History, Intimidate, Insight (not optimal, but more how I envision him than Streetwise would be) , Endurance (from Initiate of the Sword).

So he's a Striker with some Defender thrown in. Between Warforged Resolve and Fiendish Resilience, he'd be able to take some punishment. Especially with temporary HP from collecting life motes from his cursed enemies.

I'd kind of like him to be sort of a bodyguard for Falstyr, as I think their abilities compliment each other. Maybe Falstyr repaired him after he was damaged fighting pirates, and Lighter feels beholden to him. Perhaps the pair have the attention of the heroic faction of Battle Mages, or maybe they have heard of them and think that they can help Lighter discover more of who he is and what he's capable of.

Perhaps he's a new type of Warforged. He wandered off (or maybe was sent off by the heroic Battle Mages lest he fall into the wrong hands), and at first, he has simple programming that gives him a selfless superhero perspective. People see him as a hero but also as a bit of a curiosity. He's well-educated, but naive, unlearned in the ways of people. After meeting Falstyr, they're going to Cliffvale where his home is.
I really like the old/new technocracy idea. Maybe there are scattered villages of the descendants of the Technocrats from before the War of 4 Banners (a good PoL idea). They are as low-tech as most of the world, but have artifacts and maybe a few old Wise Men/Wise Women who know how things work.

This has lots of potential for a more steampunk flavored world. Perhaps there are rogue constructs running around (Homunculuses or Golems), and perhaps there are technologically flavored magic items in the setting here and there. Not overwhelming in either aspect, but enough to say, "this isn't your typical fantasy setting."

So, who else wants to play? There are LOTS of options available. The exercise setting is still in its infancy and waiting for any others to lend their expertise, or their creativity! Any takers? :D
As for the Battlemage concept. I've never made a class or monster myself from the ground up. So that'll be interesting for me to attempt over the weekend. The Battlemage as I currently envision it will be an entirely new class, more then just an added Paragon path to an already existing class.

Heroic Battlemage
-Path 1: Someone who goes into the thick of war to fight very power/offense oriented
-Path 2: Infiltrator of enemy fortifications in small subtle groups. Little less on the power but has some stealth/illusion spells involved perhaps and maybe some charisma to get information.

Paragon Battlemage
Path 1: A squad leader. Add some Warlord like abilities
Path 2: something bit more offense related. Perhaps some Spellsword like abilities such as adding elemental damage to the weapon you wield for x-rounds.
Path 3: bit more stealth and illusion oriented like one that operates from the cloak of shadows. Perhaps go in the route of making it an investigator/judge. Like those operatives in Eberon that only answer to the king and do whatever needs to be done...even the dirty things.

Epic Battlemage
Path 1: Researches new ways to put his magic and combat prowess to use. New ways to kill or even prevent wars.
Path 2:

Open for ideas here. Looking in the Spellsword/Fighter/Warlord/Wizard/Rogue classes for ideas to give it more shape :D

It would be cool to get some ideas for a Technocratic Battlemage path as well. But since I'm not that at home in Technocratic fantasy some input would be nice.
Ok so first adventure:
We start with the two characters in cliffvale going about their business. The Mage just arrived in town and the warforged walking the streets of Cliffvale after just completing his training as a warlock.

While in a busy part of town a rumble shakes the street you are on and you are dropped 25 feet to an opening below. After recovering for a nasty fall, you find yourself in a large cavern. A large rock breaks loose from the street above and shatters the ground that you had landed on sending you and all that you are with tumbling a further 20 feet. Into an a large stone room the wall and floor are carved in stone and a door lies shattered to your right.

You look around to see the bodies of three other men around you.

Ill use the top 2 maps for where the character find them selves.
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/sharn_maps/M12NobleTower_400.jpg)

Behind the screen: This gives the players a great chance for there characters to bond. I grabbed maps from the map gallary but old adventures that i have will come in handy for this.
Once they free the tower Ill use this map to run the adventure. Ill start the group in Area 17.

Area 1 will give me a good place to have a staircase back up the stairs to the sewer (where they fell to).

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/mapofweek/AUG2006/04_DragonsFaerun_72_ppi_m243a.jpg)

How do i do a spoiler tag?
For the technocratic part...

How about the battlemages being interested in the shards and their hidden qualities? They're experimenting with devices running on shard. Pole like contraptions that shoot magical beams...ergo a very simple lasergun in its very very early stages hehe.

I've found a document called the Technocratic Toolbox which has many devices mentioned in it. So will use some of those for inspiration for a Technocratic Battlemage tier path.

@Aldoth.
I dont know why, but something doesn't sit right with me when reading that intro. Will come back to it when I figured out what it is exactly that bothers me about it.
Ok so not exactly where i wanted to go with the technocracy but as one of my players is fixating on it I will roll with the excitement.

OK so while in the dungeon you find the usual magic items that buff your character in some way and two unusual items.

1 a "toy" soldier about 3 1/4 inch high it has a small indentation in the back about the size of a thumb nail.

2 a book describing redimentary artifacer studies. By Marthius Kale. On the map I have put in a waterfall a few days ride from cliffvale called Kale's Falls. In the book it contains musings on using the crossbow design to create better missled weapons. Including a study of ballista

Inax makes a play for your character by trying to place a collar on you Leowulf but through gile and the help of Falstyr you manage to avoid the trap. Inax manages to get away just as his hallway is blocked by a cave in.

So the technocracy are going to be an order of artifacers but in a funky steam punk way.

I see it going the way of arquebus I imagine a hand held weapon that fires a mini ball of fire with a glass tank in the body that has some sort of bubbling contraption.

Also the development of lightning rail and Skyships.
Well if Technocracy doesn't fancy you its the same for me. Truth be told I've only come across it in a mild way when reading Eberon adventure books. Never played it myself or used anything like that at all. Just throwing a few balls to see what you think of it.
Thanks I sort of saw them as more of an Ancient power race type thing. So I will keep the book but it now is a tome of magical research with no spells but a book that talks of his studies into deep magic.
I'd totally want to jump in on the random hypothetical practice if I may?

I enjoy campaigns with lots of interesting plot points and epic twists, interesting npcs, and battles that truly mean something.

My character named Hadron would be a ranger in his mid twenties with a raptor companion (which he named Olly). As a child his grandfather was a cooky artificer (possibly living in one of the areas populated by descendants of the technocrats) who created a new species of reptile mixing both technology and magic, and gave Hadron the first and only surviving hatchling as a pet. After his grandfather died mysteriously having been murdered by a political rival, who then declared Olly as property of the government to be used for experiments. Not wanting Olly to be taken away, Hadron fled the country and ended up in cliffvale attempting to lay low as best as he can considering his rather conspicuous pet.

Hadron uses a bow (depending on martial power) and fights in tandem with Olly. His skills would be nature,endurance,athletics , perception, and stealth.

(hopefully that adds enough possible in story tie ins to have fun practicing with)
Well if Technocracy doesn't fancy you its the same for me. Truth be told I've only come across it in a mild way when reading Eberon adventure books. Never played it myself or used anything like that at all. Just throwing a few balls to see what you think of it.

Ditto - I'm having fun just seeing a new world. It could be a fallen technocracy or a prehistoric stone-age culture or anything, and I'd probably get into it. I like the brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other. Also, I like patterns and building patterns from small bits of data. :D

But Aldoth, I wanted to say you did 3 things brilliantly. I like dropping us right into the adventure. It gives us a chance to work out some beginning teamwork moves, and gives us an in-game chance to bond. As former military, I know that a nice, terrifying ordeal can make strangers become closer than family. By the time we get out of there the PC's could know each other better than if we started out with a presumption of knowing each other. ;)

I also like this: "Ok so not exactly where i wanted to go with the technocracy but as one of my players is fixating on it I will roll with the excitement." More than any other single thing, this will make a campaign. If your "Rescue the Princess" idea becomes the players' "Excuse for The Glorious Revolution!" idea, rolling with it can make for an unforgettable adventure. I think it's what the DMG calls the "Yes, and ... " tactic.

Finally, I like your use of foreshadow. Both the City-under-the-city and the attempted bot-napping show the players what's coming up in later levels. The PC's get through both, but both the danger (who was the bot thief??) and the opportunity (there's a city under the city??) are there for us to explore in the future.

By the way - the unusual items crafted especially for the players is a nice bonus. A bit of serendipity that leads to more adventure. The book - and associated map point - is a bigger plot element, and helps boost Falstyr's involvement in the story to balance the Warforged's plot hook.
As for the Battlemage concept. I've never made a class or monster myself from the ground up. So that'll be interesting for me to attempt over the weekend. The Battlemage as I currently envision it will be an entirely new class, more then just an added Paragon path to an already existing class.

Heroic Battlemage
-Path 1: Someone who goes into the thick of war to fight very power/offense oriented
-Path 2: Infiltrator of enemy fortifications in small subtle groups. Little less on the power but has some stealth/illusion spells involved perhaps and maybe some charisma to get information.

Paragon Battlemage
Path 1: A squad leader. Add some Warlord like abilities
Path 2: something bit more offense related. Perhaps some Spellsword like abilities such as adding elemental damage to the weapon you wield for x-rounds.
Path 3: bit more stealth and illusion oriented like one that operates from the cloak of shadows. Perhaps go in the route of making it an investigator/judge. Like those operatives in Eberon that only answer to the king and do whatever needs to be done...even the dirty things.

Epic Battlemage
Path 1: Researches new ways to put his magic and combat prowess to use. New ways to kill or even prevent wars.
Path 2:

Open for ideas here. Looking in the Spellsword/Fighter/Warlord/Wizard/Rogue classes for ideas to give it more shape :D

It would be cool to get some ideas for a Technocratic Battlemage path as well. But since I'm not that at home in Technocratic fantasy some input would be nice.

Falstyr, this is way cool! It's the type of thing that separates a "neat campaign" from something truly amazing. Namely that you as a player have an idea for a class and the DM working that into the fabric of the world. It makes world-building cooperative in a way that's deeply felt by the players. Very cool indeed!

As for the Battlemage, I picture him as part of an officer corps in a Mageocracy (or Technocracy, as the case may be). But the important thing is using supranormal powers to lead his people into the fray, either overtly or covertly. I'd draw from Wizard and Warlord primarily, both to differentiate from the Swordmage and because I'm seeing the class as more of a combination of buffing allies and battlefield control. Maybe he's primarily in the leader role, but with strong Controller and Defender elements?
Hi Orpheus!

I love the character, especially the animal companion. It brings a new element into the game, with some cool hooks. This gives Aldoth more work to do, and the result will be a deeper, richer world for all of us.

Hmmm ... genetic engineering. Much like Technocratic artifacts, there might be Aberrations running amok through the crater area. :D

It's Aldoth's world to make, but it's too good to pass up this idea - if Hadron and Olly have to lay low, the easiest place is in the undercity. Perhaps he met us there - we could have "dropped in" on him unexpectedly, for instance. ;) And he would have led us to the surface. Past the bloodthirsty Chuds and the alligators in the sewer, perhaps. :D
Maybe hadron think the avalanche was inadvertently caused by him and Olly. In my head I'm picturing a game of fetch gone horribly wrong. I also really like the roll with the player approach story wise much better than the railroad the player approach. Also this would only be the first day but already we're in a city we could spend the entire campaign in and already at the beginning we have crazy potential for future adventures with just what we started in. Already all the characters we have are tied in, and the best dms I've played with find ways of incorporating each characters back story into the current adventure, and those games are always the games where I'm the most attached to my characters. Great Great job so far!
OK

Lets take a step back

OrpheusMasterOfStrings welcome to the 'game' do you mind if your raptor comes from a different place? I am ok if you want to be tied into the technocracy plot but I have always Loved Lizardmen with a white hot passion.

What if Lizardmen was the result of the Mageocracy. One of the other four banners.

What if the Lizardmen are a genetic experiement on behalf of the Magocracy that got out of control, there attempt to replicate the Warforged and use the advantages of the Dragonborn.

The raptor is from a later experiments these people were doing. They found lizard DNA was maliable, the raptor is a part of an experiement to clean up biological waste (they will eat anything although the Raptor has a special love for insert cute food item here eg apples that is how you met him.

Of course Hadron has no idea of all of this.

If you want to go the other way Im ok but it is very tempting I must say

Potential plot point for later. The party discovers a town overrun with raptors as the Magocracy didn't realize that they have a 6 month cycle from birth to reproduction and as they are such hardy stock they start to work like rabbits.

This gives the PCs an interesting challenge.

Damn I need a wiki for this already and it is only 2 pages on the message board.

Ill have Hadron kill one of Inax's henchmen. That creates a bond.

@Aldoth.
I dont know why, but something doesn't sit right with me when reading that intro. Will come back to it when I figured out what it is exactly that bothers me about it.

What was bothering you?
It's good to get into the action right from the start. Can't remember many games where it hasn't happened before. Even simple beginnings where a DM put the party on a boat that was docking and got attacked right there and then instead of the regular Tavern start.

The idea I had for the underground city. Is that the people/animals...entire society that has survived over time has turned into a mutated form. Even a abberant form like Leowulf mentions would be cool. But most of them live deeper in the under-city. Most turned into mindless/primitive creatures surviving by shere strenght domination over one another. However there are still a few intelligent misformed "people" trying to have a few minor settlements going on in that city.

God interventions like the earthquake is not sitting right with me. It is too forced. How about using the under-city "conflict" to cause the earth shaking? Like a Behemoth Abberation/Mutant that went berserk for a little and letting loose some of his frustration on a few old remaining buildings in the Under-City which then came tumbling down. Cliffvale had "earthquakes" before, but who could guess it was caused by something living underneath them. But this time the Behemoth hit a structure which was also mildly a carrying pillar for the area of Cliffvale that now comes crashing down into the Under City and thus the players appear where you want them to be...

Most of the under-city is blocked off for the players due to crumbled walls and rocks that block passage due to the crash they made when falling down. So for now the players only have a small portion with relatively "safe" abberations/mutants to deal with, but in the distance they can still hear heavy footsteps causing the ground beneath them to mildly shake as well as some freakish hollers of the Behemoth as it moves away from them. A forebode of what else is living there and pop-up later in the game.

Now Hadron and Olly were doing their stuff in the Under-City. That co-incidentally fell together with the earth shaking and stuff. So that might explain why Hadron could feel a bit guilty and assume that it might've been the result of his "fetch" game gone wrong. But how did they get in the Under-city? Through the small crevices in Cliffvale's "Cliff" sides that lead into the beginning part of the Under City perhaps? Going in and out through such small crevices which so happen to be near a small forest/woods where they could hunt for food to sustain their lives up till now. Or no forest and Hadron went into Cliffvale for shopping leaving Olly temporarily behind in the Under-City so it would not attract further attention.

I think that would be much cooler then just having a God intervened earthquake to force the start.

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I really have this semi-apocalyptic mildly ancient alien technologically influenced city in my mind. But we can leave the lasers and stuff out of it hehe. Lets just use alien like artifacts which they were trying to decypher without much luck so they never truly gotten far technology wise. Still it could be how Warforged got into this world and the location of the city is a good place because they needed the shards to power this "alien technology"...interesting angle.

Still a city that could not handle the responsibilities that came with the new found power and thus led to its own demise. But the sadist I am, won't let such a city die just like that and instead leave some of them live miserable tormented lives as well as their "off spring" until they all perished eventually in a very slow painful fashion mwahhahaha ;) So make sure a few "people" which were once in high respected positions have now fallen into a abberant/mutant and some in the camp of the "misshapen but still somewhat intelligent humans". Even nice if these intelligent ones sometimes have to kill a few of their mutated friends for shere survival.

But why did they never try to leave their terrible Under-City? Their mutations would make them haunted by others and their mutations make it so their eyes can't stand the light. Perhaps the "intelligent" ones still feel some way of guilt and gained insight of responsibilities. Made it their task to make sure the mutant/aberant ones would never be able to leave the Under-City to make sure the upper-world would not have to endure such horrors. There an easy yet corny solution hehe. But all this is more for later levels really. So lets just leave it as is and move back to the start of the game...and the whole warforged. We can always use this Under-City later on for some old remains of Forge/Warforged parts gathering since they are too hard to come by any where else. And thus drag the PC's into a mid-high level part of the campaign.
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@Haldoth
When reading the following I think I missed something. Where did Inax come into play? Is it the elf merc that tries to enslave Leowulf? Is Inax with us in the Under-city or still above ground, but with a few henchmen downstairs to trouble us?

Inax makes a play for your character by trying to place a collar on you Leowulf but through gile and the help of Falstyr you manage to avoid the trap. Inax manages to get away just as his hallway is blocked by a cave in.

And if this keeps working out...how about running a game via MSN or something ;)
A re-cap for the lower level part of the campaign so far. Just to make sure we don't wander too much off track after my previous "rant" ;)

Cliffvale resides in a crater surrounded by rough jattered mountains. It is an urban culture with no army of its own. The Overlord who runs Cliffvale hires mercenaries to take care of business as he sees fit. At times he also requests small covert operations to "spy" on the two neighboring kingdoms which are keeping an eye on the Overlords resources and the Shard supply he's sitting on.

Based on Leowulf and Falstyr are the first players in the "game" so based on what I have been told I figure that Cliffvale has only recently become independent. This makes sense as a Mercenary enforced state wouldn't last for long.

So there was a war called The War of the Four Banners. Many things were developed in the War of Four Banners including Warforged they were developed by The Silver Technocracy. A nation that had very few people but amazing technical know how. Think the trade federation in Star Wars.

They filled their army with Warforged but soon were wiped out by superior numbers and Warforged technology was so expensive that they could not mass produce them in such high numbers.

The overlord has started to develop warforged using his resources to develop an army so that he can stop relying on Mercenaries.

One of the groups that emerged from the War of Four Banners was the Battlemages this elite group have now become one of the most prestigious organization. They have a Tower in cliffvale and one of the only groups that are seperate from the politics of the region. I'll make them mysterious for now the idea is that there are two factions one is heroic and the other is using the overlord to develop the warforged.

Because I am written that way the Silver Dagger contains in the hilt information the overlord could use to build a master forge to mass produce Warforged (Hidden in the Hilt? It is the design?) Falstyr's father worked as a guard for one of the last surviving artificers in the world and was given the dagger as a gift for long service and also allowed him to hide the secrets to Warforge technology. (Or it could act as a key to a hidden forge)

Portvale is a great place for hidden pirate coves and sea faring adventure.

So the first adventure will start in cliffvale.

We should have some link to the ruins that Falstyr found. Also I want to introduce an NPC who will covert the Warforged so if I add a second party of random NPC's who can either go with the characters or head off in a separate direction.

Names can and will be changed. Just some "names" so we know what we got.
Locations:
Cliffvale - Starting city
Cliffvale's Under-City
Kale's Falls - A waterfall few days ride from Cliffvale. Named after artificer Marthius Kale (is there more then just a waterfall? Any idea where you want to go with this?)
Neighbor warring Kingdom 1
Neighbor Warring Kingdom 2
Ruins/mausoleums - few days ride from cliffvale
Portvale - 7-8 days ride away from Cliffvale. A small port village/hamlet. Pirate cove's, a lot of trade etc.
a mageocracy city - the place where they do that lizardmen/raptor gene experimentation from which Hadron "fled" a month's travel away from Cliffvale.

Seems we have MORE then enough locations to begin with so lets not make any more for now and focus on what we have.

NPC's
Cliffvale
-Overlord
-Inax - The merc elf that tries to capture warforged...including Leowulf's character
-Weapon merchant?
-Armor merchant?
-Traveling merchant/caravan?
-possible temple with a few priests?
-Merc spokesperson?
-Right hand (wo)man of the Overlord?
-4-5 community NPC's with quest hooks?

Groups
-Elite Battlemages - Have their own tower in Cliffvale from which they operate
-Mercenaries - a group of paid mercenaries in the service of the Overlord
-Technocrats - an order of artificers in a funky steampunk way

Once we figured the few remaining npc's out, give the groups some more background and 1-2 npc's that belong to it so the PC's can speak with them, and get some more low game-end game of the campaign arc worked out... Then you're ready to go and make the rest between play sessions.
OK so I am creating a place for the game I am creating a blog that will be the game where you can comment as my players on each blog posting.

I will link to it once i have it worked out.

The rough first attempt is here Link

It has a comments section so that once I post you can post in comments to let me know what you are doing we will keep this up if you want to track the game.

We will start after we finish the first dungeon.

In so far as the why of the earthquake. There is a reason for it and if we are playing it will have to remain a secret.

The Living Undercity is a strong concept so I am going to incorperate it into the game. The party faces enough monster (Standard fare except for a few mutant goblins that glow in the dark )

You now have 2nd level treasure.

Inax was one of the cliffvale townsfolk who fell with you. He is from the city. He was tracking the warforged with a henchmen when he fell.

So I will need some character sheets players the character generator beta is out so go nuts or just send me the stats to my email


Let me know if this works for you?
When all is ready to play and others are also interested to playtest then we can go ahead :D

I started on the Battlemage concept
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1113567