As an alternate to our playtest efforts at Astral Games, I am preparing a paragon level 4E game set in the kingdom of Cormyr; one of the principal lands of Forgotten Realms. This game is intended to be a contingency plan for days when we do not have a full table of players for the Next playtest, or if we decide that we are bored with Next.
You are not required to participate, and I would rather you didn't if you're not interested in seeing what a paragon level 4E game that isn't focused on combat can be like. My intention is to bias the game as far towards courtly intrigue and other non-combat, role-play intensive, activities as possible. Continue reading if you're up for it.
Cormyr & Suzail
The city of Suzail is the capital of Cormyr and the home of her military. King Foril Obarskyr rules Cormyr from the royal palace situated near the center of the city. Almost every noble house in the country maintains a residence near the palace, making Suzail a hotbed of infighting, intrigue, and betrayal.
The nation of Cormyr is a human empire located on the western shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars on the continent of Faerun. You will be playing the role of a former adventurer who has made his or her home in this nation. You may be tied directly or indirectly to one of the noble houses. One way or another, due to your celebrity or your personal power, you have been caught up in the endless games of power played by Cormyr's upper crust and sinister forces from beyond her borders...and sometimes from beyond the borders of this world.
Experienced players should create two level 10 characters. One should be as simple and straightforward as you are able to make. Do not use backgrounds, themes, or other optional character development tools. The other may be as complex as you wish to make it and will serve as your primary character. The simplified character will be available for visiting players to use. You will act as a mentor for any player that chooses to use your simplified character, helping him or her to navigate the sheet and use the character’s abilities.
I strongly recommend that your character be human or able to pass for human easily (changeling, kalashtar, shadar-kai, vryloka). While Cormyr is not overtly racist, more than 85% of the population is human and playing a non-human will cause your character to stand out significantly. Half-elves, elves, and halflings are the most common non-humans in Cormyr. For additional options to make human characters unique, consider adding a character theme.
If you do select a non-human race, be sure to choose your character’s homeland or describe how your character’s family came to reside in Cormyr. Cormyr is not overtly racist, but being different will attract unwanted attention, false accusations, and potentially worse. It will also make moving about the city unseen challenging.
You may also elect to make your human character non-native to the region; choose where your character is from and describe why you have come to Cormyr. Otherwise, generate the character as you normally would; selecting equipment as outlined in the DMG for advanced characters. Just bear in mind that you are not attempting to optimize for any particular power or role.
Level 10 characters are approaching the status of renowned heroes. Your character will have gone on several adventures, found allies, made enemies, and may even have a reputation among the common people. Please make an effort to build a back story that integrates all of these elements while explaining where and how you acquired your magical items and any special status that you may enjoy. You may also elect to make your character very wealthy and/or have social rank and status. I encourage you to be creative with these story elements, but remember that with wealth and power comes enemies and responsibilities, and that being poor usually comes with a story too.
As a general guideline, I recommend naming at least a dozen characters in your back story. Family members, friends, allies, enemies, acquaintances, etc. Defining your relationship to those characters, what they do, and where they live can do a lot to clarify who your own character is and what role he or she plays in the story. See my NPC write-ups as an example of what I am looking for.
If at all possible, I would like to see at least a full page of background story for each character. I recommend posting it on your Wizards Community Blog so the rest of the players can review it.
A weak point of D&D4 is that it is very combat centric. Almost all of the powers are written with combat applications in mind; exceptions being rituals, martial practices, and alchemical formulas, which are too involved to be performed in combat. To support the non-combat bias I am attempting to enforce, I want you to use your imagination; think of non-combat applications of your character’s powers based on the flavor text and title of each power.
Be sure to read over the class description carefully too. Often non-combat abilities inherent to your class will be hidden in it. For example, ardents are able to perceive danger and the presence of powerful emotions. There are no mechanics for these and it could be easy to forget that your character can do these things. I recommend making some notes. Do be aware, using a daily power in a non-combat fashion will expend it unless the power indicates that it can be recovered in some manner.
Some non-combat abilities may also be derived from background, feat, and theme selections. And, if you have a particular idea for a talent unique to your character concept, we may be able to negotiate a custom trait. Remember most of these powers will have no specific mechanics, it may just be a matter of creating a colorful description.