System: 4E DnD or DnDNext Play Test Level: 1 Number of Characters: 5 or 6. Submissions Close: Fri 25th USA time. Once I have selected the characters based on their backgrounds the chosen players can decide on the system: 4E or DnDNext.
Beneath the trade city of Kalafort a sinister dungeon awaits adventurers brave enough to face its perils. Created ages ago by dwarves and istathi the sprawling dungeon is a lair for terrible monsters and ruthless villains.
Now something is happening below, and some of those in the city above are starting to worry; the recent dissapearence of the long Lord ManKalos has caused a stir, for in the days since he ventured into Undercity even fewer have returned than normal and people are starting to notice!
This is a campaign set in a homebrew setting and is inspired by the new Halls of Undermountain product and certain classic adventures from the early days of DnD. DnDNext Rules OptionsShow
The pre-gen characters will be assigned based on best alignment to background approved until such time as we get the rules for creating characters of our own.
The current news on pre-gens is 1 each of fighter, rogue and wizard and 2x cleric. 1 weapon cleric and 1 laser cleric. The races are confrimed as elf, human, halfling, dwarf but still no indication of what race for which class.
Ability to create our own characters with Next has been indicated for (late) US Summer.
Characters should still select a theme based on 4E concepts to provide background concepts. I realise this will not have much bearing on the early stages of the campaign but better to have a good background than nothing.
Stats: Use any standard array from the PHB. Note characters with an 8 stat after adjustments for Int, Wis or Cha will not be considered. Similarly characters with a 19 or 20 in their primary stat will not get as high a consideration as less specialised characters.
Primary Races: Human, Elf, Drow, Dwarf, Halfling, Secondary Races: Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Deva, Goliath, Dragonborn, Tiefling and Genasi. Other Races: All other PC races are rare and though they are not prohibited characters with the Major or Secondary races will be given preference.
Backgrounds: only ones that provide a +2 to a skill or a bonus language.
Themes: (See post 3 for more on the Campaign Themes) Campaign Themes: Escaped Slave/Escaped Thrall, Wizard's Apprentice, Chevalier, Knight Hospitalier, Noble, Merchant, Mercenary, Dead Rat Deserter, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Devil's Pawn, Knight of Giri, Istathi Hunter, Grey Warden Other Themes: Other themes will be considered as well but will need to be tied to the setting by the player.
Primary Classes: Fighter (Knight or Slayer), Cleric (Templar or Warpriest), Rogue (Thief), Wizard (Arcanist or Mage). Secondary Classes: Assassin (Executioner), Barbarian (Berserker), Bard (Skald), Druid (Protector or Sentinel), Monk, Paladin (Cavalier), Sorcerer (Elementalist), Ranger (Hunter or Scout), Warlock (Binder or Hexblade), Wizard (Bladesinger or Witch) Other Classes: Will not be selected.
Powers: From any DDI source for that class. A Wizard may also choose Spells from here if they have the Devil's Pawn Theme.
Feats: The Expertise Feats are banned as are the Martial Training Feats, and the feats that provide unconditional bonuses to Non-AC Defences. (Monsters will be appropriately adjusted to allow for this.) Campaign Specific Feats (eg Dragonmarks), Tribe and Heritage feats are also banned.
Skills: You can choose any Skills up to the number allowed by your class. All skills are considered "Class Skills" for this purpose. For eg Fighters have 3 skill picks, you might choose Stealth, Theivery, and Streetwise to create a thug for a gang.
Equipment: 100gp starting funds as usual. All equipment you can buy with that money is available.
4E House Rules: "Inherent Bonuses" The inherent bonuses rules will be used as it allows me to focus on magic items being rare and special without messing up the attack/damage/defence math (more than I have).
"Take 10 Always On" In order to facilitate skill checks and speed up the game character's are always considered to be able to take 10 on a skill check. You can choose to roll if you want to try for a higher level of success.
"Skill DC Always = 13+1/2 level +2/tier". Unless the DM sets a DC specifically the DC to do any task is always set. So at level 1 the DC is always 15 unless stated otherwise. This means any trained character can always succeed on a skill check if they have no penalties and a stat of 10. As this represents a task in the hard end of moderate difficult or specialised knowledge this is appropriate for reflecting skilled (or naturally gifted) characters.
Monster Knowledge: Never gives powers unless they are racial characteristics. eg Goblins are shifty (shift power), and Dragons all have a Breath Weapon. Difficulty of knowing about monsters relates to character background and setting lore not a flat "roll this and know" table, and unless otherwise noted is covered by the Skill DC rule above.
Goons: I will be using this monster type as I described here for many monsters in order to speed up game play and keep things simpler.
Rituals: Rituals can be cast 1/day for free per tier (so 1/day in heroic). They also have their casting time reduced by 1 time frame unless this would reduce their casting time to less than a round. eg Gentle Repose has a casting time of 1 hour normally, under these rules it has a casting time of 1 minute. Knock has a casting time of 10 minutes so under these rules it has a casting time of 10 rounds. Steps are Days > Hours > Minutes > Rounds
Character Submission In addition to the character mechanics a submission must include the following:
1) A brief paragraph outlining the character's appearence and personality. Please include a picture that I can use to make a token.
2) Youth: A paragraph or two that covers the character’s youth, from birth to age 16, but in a more abstract sense also covers the core concept for the character as a “normal person”. While youth may be a time of adventure and excitement, it is also the time when we are most shaped by our family and environs. This phase is an opportunity to reflect the character’s family and upbringing.
3) Theme: A paragraph or two that cover's the character's theme. This covers the character's experiences from the age of 16 to the current point in time. In writing this section it provides an opportunity to reflect on the character's first choices as an adult and consider answeres to questions such as are they married? What is their family situation now? How do they feel about their current situation?
By the time someone reads the "Youth" and "Theme" entries the character's background, theme and skill choices should all be explained.
XP: Will be awarded naratively not for killing stuff.
Final Note: The most important part to character selection is the background, appearance and personality stuff not the crunch.
“Kalatar is a city of trade, rising from the ashes of the Dragon War and the fall of Caedria it is not a phoenix but a vampire...” Normand, Merchant Captain of the Bitter Maid. Kalatar rose up as a city during the height of the Cadrian Empire. It grew from a small fishing village on Lake Miryl when the ManDrean family realised that they could easily portage goods from their village to the cliffs on the Dragon Coast a short distance away where there was a natural harbor at the base of the cliffs. With the blessing of the Prince of Connill, and no small amount of his funds, they established the first portage up and down the cliffs and built the first wharves at their base. It did not take long for this to translate into more trade to pass through the village as it provided a gateway that cut much from the difficulty of moving goods from the western reaches of Lake Miryl into lands far beyond the great lake. So, over many years, Kalatar grew into a prosperous city, stretching from the shores of Lake Miryl to the rise above the Kalatar Cliffs (as they are now known). With the houses of merchants and nobles sitting proud above the cliffs looking down over the rest of the city, and commanding views of the ocean and the lake there was no wall and no thought that any army would ever attack. Then the Dragon Wars started and for a long time this merely increased the wealth of the city, until in the west the orcs known as the Durosh’kan united with the dragons and swept out of the Crystal Mountains sacking the western shores of Lake Miryl. The orcs were under the command of the white dragon known simply as Winter and he lusted after the wealth of Kalatar. So when the Princes of Menai and Curam ceded from the Empire, Winter took advantage of the situation to surge into the County of Conill. Leaving some of his forces to lay siege to the political capital of Conill he moved the majority of his forces north and laid waste to Kalatar. It is said that during the sacking of Kalatar is when the Empress defeated the Dragon Lords at the cost of her own life and the Dragon War came to an end. For a hundred years Kalatar lay mostly in ruins, with no trade partners of note to the west, and much of the lands north consumed in internal conflict and the lands to the south busy with their own concerns the city languished in the hands of orcs and worse. Then around 100 years ago a mercenary force of dragonborn, Donall’s Legion, in the employ of the Count of Conill began the process of driving the orcs and other vermin from the ruined city. As they succeeded the Count moved his own forces in to secure the city and in a short period enough of the city was reclaimed that its ports were once again being visited by those who wished to trade with lands near and far. Yet until the Red Knights rose in the west and established Kalafort 10 years ago the city was as much a place for the brave and adventurous to scour its many ruins for relics from the past as it was for trade of the conventional sort. Now with Kalafort a rising power in the west rebuilding trade across the Lake more commerce is passing through the city as the gateway to the dwarven, elven and deva lands in the west once more.
No one family can claim Kalatar and as the Count of Conill’s coin liberated the city 100 years ago, his descendants the Vostenar Kings have less claim to the city than they would like. In principle the city is ruled by King Vostenar who appoints a council of lords to ensure that the city prospers. However the reality is that the Council of Lords only answer to the king in the form of paying the King’s Tax, a fee of 1 silver for each use of a gate or 5 gold for each anchor. In order to maintain the balance of power in the city, where the traditions of nobility in the land come into conflict with the rising wealth and power of the merchant families the Council of Lords is drawn from citizens. Each Lord is given two badges of office, a ring and a mask. The mask conceals the lord’s identity from all who would learn it, and the ring allows the lord to call the Watch to them at will. So with the benefits of anonymity and the ability to call the Watch as needed the Council is able to police and protect the city. One lord sits in open council, unmasked he or she is known as the Duke of Kalatar, though the title is not hereditary. The current Duke is Dann ManKris, who is also the Lord of the ManKris family. Duke ManKris has been strong and fair in his handling of the people’s court that is his main duty, though in recent years it is said his interest lies more in the ruins of Cyntill across Lake Miryl and claiming it as his family’s own and thus ensuring their wealth and power beyond what they enjoy now.
With a population estimated at over 100,00 the people of Kalatar are one of the most diverse mixes of people found in the Shattered Lands. While predominantly the tall blonde haired humans that originate from around Lake Miryl. After these tall humans the most common people seen are dragonborn and halflings. In addition to these dwarves from Somatia, elves from Manoshikae, deva from the Crystal Kingdom, tieflings from Naranla, genasi from Furnace Port and goliath raiders from the Storm Islands are all seen on the streets of the city often enough that they do not draw any attention. Less commonly a dark skinned human from Zamaed or a drow from the Wastes of Asgaroth will be seen in the city among other visitors from distant lands. The truth is that in this city, as long as the laws of the council are followed all are welcome. There are even stories told of intelligent non-humanoids doing business in the city from time to time!
One thing that history did not reveal about Kalatar was the presence of the miles of tunnels underneath the city now called Undercity. When Donall’s Legion began to clear the orcs and such from the surface ruins they soon learned of the Undercity however. Unknown miles of tunnels, natural and crafted that run beneath the city providing a refuge for all sorts of creatures, including many orcs and such who fled there to flee the Legion. The exact history of Undercity is unclear, but it is known that dwarves and istathi (see Drow & Istathi below) have used the lands and that the tunnels connect to both the Feywild and Shadowfell providing entrances to those realms and it is believed others beyond. Undercity has become an important part of the culture of Kalatar with young men and women from across the world coming to prove their mettle by exploring the vast complex, with many losing their lives there. It is the tales of those who survive the descent into Undercity and return with fabulous riches and even more fabulous stories that continues to lure young people to their graves beneath Kalatar.
It is said that those with the right connections can find Shadeport and in this place anything can be bought and sold for the right price. It is found by traversing through Undercity and towards the Kalatar Cliffs, though the how of that journey is much debated among the honest citizens of Kalatar. Once you reach the port you find it is a place of chill and gloom, for the waves that lap at its docks do not come from the Dragon Sea but rather the Sea of Gloom in the Shadowfell. The water is black like ink and the ships that make port here are as like to be carved from bone and other materials as wood and often have crew of undead! Regardless the shadar-kai, dark one’s and worse who command the vessels bring trade goods ranging from herbs and other mundane goods to slaves for auction on Shadeport’s blocks. For Kalafort does not emancipate slaves, and so those unfortunates brought to the surface as slaves are doomed to their fate. Yet it is a worse fate it is said to be taken away on one of the ships and ne’er return to the light of the sun in the Middle-World.
Humans: the dominant race of the world they had the last empire (called Caedria) and it fell 200 years ago.
Elves: found across the world but have a kingdom called Manoshikae from which PC elves should hail.
Dwarves: are mostly concentrated in their kingdom of Samatia which is allied with the elves of Manoshikae and the Deva of the Crystal Kingdom. PC dwarves most likely come from Samatia.
Halflings: while humans may make the cities and towns and create the dominant realms of the world Halflings are only slightly less common. Mostly they have a gypsy lifestyle moving from settlement to settlement as traders.
Deva: Unlike the PHB2 deva in this setting they are the descendants of angels trapped in the world thousands of years ago. They rule the Crystal Kingdom (allied with the dwarves and elves) and stand as guardians of portals to other places. While they still reincarnate it is as a child not an adult, except in rare circumstances (which PCs are of course able to be ).
Drow: Drow are physically the same as standard 4E however their culture is more akin to that of elves. They live in a desert land and mountains far to the south of the campaign's location (on the surface). However their is a black spot in their history, the istathi - drow who fell into evil and conform to the standard DnD expectations of drow except they worship Callach not Lolth.
Goliaths: Goliaths have a culture similar to vikings. Kalatar provides a sound trading port for them, and also offers particular adventures.
Genasi: Are centered around a single area far to the south (and west of wear drow are from) called Furnace Port, where the barrier between the elemental chaos and the world is thin.
Dragonborn: are strongly associated with the war that brought the human Caedrian Empire to an end. They have been prominant as a race for the last 200 years, though it is unclear if they were around before that. In that time they have built a reputation as nomadic and proud people.
Tieflings: are found across the world, having been created at the end of the same war that led to the Deva becoming a race. They now have a kingdom to the south of the campaign's setting, but it is a dark land whose rulers are said to summon devils and other such vile deeds.
Other races conform largely to the expectations outlined for them in their source material.
If a god matters to your character you can use any WotC diety that matches your concept to reflect your god. Some of them are pretty clear in their connections, others are a bit more difficult to pin down.
Benign Powers: These are the gods that are most commonly worshiped in civilised areas.
Anyar- Goddess of the Sun (Good)
Argeas - Goddess of Knowledge
Corellon - God of Magic
Denat - Goddess of Change and Luck (Good)
Jila - Godess of Winter and Death
Kelamar - God of Justice and Protection (Lawful Good)
Marathan - Goddess of Civilisation
Mairuill- Goddess of the Moon
Moradin- God of Crafts (Lawful Good)
Rawali - Goddess of Nature
Walek - God of Storms and Strength
These gods are servants of the major gods, they rarely have dedicated priests of their own.
Calmacht - God of Courage
Morwel- Goddess of Stars and Love(Good)
Namina- Goddess of Mountains
Rao- God of Peace and Serenity (Lawful Good)
Renamar- God of Beauty
Shem – God of Hearth and Home
Suitanal- God of Oceans
Malign Powers: The malign gods are those whose goals and interests lead to harm, as often or more so than they lead to good.
The Accepted One:
Bane - God of War (Evil) - Bane is accepted because war is used by all, it is the fact that Bane revels in the power and glory of war that places him among the malign pantheon. Despite this there are many shrines and temples to Bane throughout the world, often side by side with those of the gods of the benevolent pantheon.
The Feared Ones: All of these gods are only worshiped by secret cults or creatures dedicated to similar evils. Among most folk their names are only ever used in prayer to avoid their attentions.
Callach - Goddess of Darkness and Madness. The Chained One. (Chaotic Evil)
Garral - God of Fire and Destruction (Chaotic Evil)
Golken - God of Betrayal and Tyranny (Evil)
Kiokras - Goddess of Greed and Envy (Evil)
Truailliú - God of Secrets and Corruption (Evil)
Seleas- God of Serpents and Trickery (Evil)
Other evil beings of great power that are often worshiped as gods:
Names: Races except for Elves and Dwarves tend to have names with the format First Name Man(Father's Name) eg Arness ManArness. In the case of noble families the Father's Name component is generally an ancestor's name. Some people use their home town or job as their surname as well (common among Goliath).
The dwarves divide their lands up based on Clanholds, with different Clans filling different roles in their society. Most Clanholds are centered around a particular craft, or mineral, though some have duties of farming, trade and government.
Dwarves have three names, their personal name, their father’s name, and their Clanhold’s name. They only share their personal name and Clanhold with non-dwarves, as the father’s name is only used in official dwarven matters.
Escaped Slave or Escaped Thrall: You escaped from slavery in Shadeport and managed to make your way to freedom in Kalatar. Arriving in the city without chain or shackle made you free, and none may claim you theirs in the eyes of the law. Yet in your escape you left behind enemies and those who would like to see a valuable slave such as yourself returned. Who were your captors? Did you come from the Shadowfell or were you from the Middle-World and destined for the Shadowfell after your sale on the blocks in Shadeport?
Wizard's Apprentice: You are an apprentice of Amede ManNaerin, a powerful wizard and important political figure in King Vostenar's court. Being out in the world on a mission for her is a chance to prove you are worthy of following in your master's footsteps, or to escape that path and forge your own. Yet having connections to a powerful figure in the kingdom brings its own problems even if you would like to leave them behind. What purpose brings you to Kalatar is it a task for your master or of your own devising? What enemies do you bring with you?
Chevalier: You are the heir of a Knight of Justice. 20 years ago the Tower of Justice, home of your order of knights, was destroyed by the fearsome Durosh'kan orc tribe, and since then many members of the order have been disgraced or killed, your grandfather and mother among them. Now you are the heir of their legacy, will you try and reforge the Knights in service to Kalamar god of Justice, or will you simply hold to their values and do the good you can?
Knight Hospitalier: You belong to an order of knights dedicated to Rao the Peacemaker, god of healing and peace. Your order is based from the nearby Abbey of Peace where halflings and humans make up equal parts of the population. What drew you to service in a knighthood dedicated to protecting the peace of the land and healing wounds? Why have you come to Kalatar?
Noble: You are a member of one of Kalatar's noble families. But there are many stories in the past of the noble families of Kalatar, some claim privileges from before the Dragon War, others make more recent political claims through King Vostenar. Fortunately adventuring is a fine tradition among the noble families of Kalatar, especially for second and third children. What are the origins of your family’s noble claim? Who are their main rivals?
Merchant (Dune Trader): You are a scion of one of the powerful merchant families in Kalatar. As such your family wields considerable influence in the city, not enough yet to have purchased their way into nobility, but surely that can happen soon. What does your family deal in? Do they trade with Shadeport with the risks that brings? What brings you from a life of ease to one of adventure?
Mercenary: You belong to one of the mercenary companies that prosper in the turbulent lands of the Fallen Principalities to the north of Kalatar. What is the name of your company? Are they a large company like Donall's Legion or were they destroyed like the Brotherhood of the Wolf? Are you in the city for your own reasons or on a mission for your company?
Dead Rat Deserter: In the south ward of the city, where the old Lake docks are still mostly in ruin the light of the city's law shines dimly. You hail from these dangerous parts of the city where most gangs come and go in a few months. But not the Dead Rats. They have been growing in power and influence, and they are rumoured to be wererats, and while that isn't entirely true you know there is more truth to that rumour than many would like. You were a good Rat, a loyal follower of "King Toy" until a few nights ago when you were accused of betraying your "King". You managed to escape into the city proper for the moment and thus avoid the Rat's wrath. Were you really going to turn on King Toy or were you framed? Will you return to seek vengeance or take this opportunity to stake out a new life and hope you can lose your past?
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Pack Outcast): 10 years ago the Prince of Physk in the Fallen Principalities fought a decisive battle at Willid with his rival the Prince of Tais, in this battle the mercenary band the Brotherhood of the Wolf played a critical role, their fearsome and skilled warriors securing a ford long enough for the Prince of Physk to mount his main offensive. However when he did, he betrayed the mercenaries and his own cavalry trampled them into the ford. You are one of the last wolf brothers, and few know your secrets. Were you at the Battle of Willid? If you were how did you survive? If not what were you doing instead that allowed you to escape your brother's fate? What are your plans, and why do they bring you to Kalatar?
Devil's Pawn: Curam was destroyed 150 years ago, sparking the series of petty wars that divided the Fallen Principalities into the petty city states found here to this day. Exactly what happened is unknown, but many of the buildings in the city show signs of a great fire, and some (including the Prince’s Keep) have little more than blackened earth and oddly lingering smoke to show where they once stood. Curam has become a city of black magic and foul cults, and every now and then they spew forth and must be battled by the surrounding people. There has been no such event since the Knights of Justice, one of the main forces that would oppose such things, fell 20 years ago, and some wonder what will happen should such an event happen now. You have been to the ruins of Curam and your returned marked. Why did you go to the ruins? What is it that your saw there?
Knight of Giri (Part 1, Part 2): You made your oathes before Calmacht and commited yourself to the service of a noble family. But recently they accused you of failing in your duty and cast you out of their service. Did you actually fail or were you cast out for some other reason? Have you come to Kalafort in search of proof of your honor or to redeem it with worthy deeds? (Theme by me published on Kobold Quarterly website)
Istathi Hunter (Bregan D'aerthe Spy or Bloodsworn): Even in the distant Wastes of Asgaroth rumours of istathi fortresses under the decadant city of Kalatar have been heard. Your tribe, your family, were among those in the ancient days who were betrayed by the istathi. Yes you were lucky not to be destroyed like many of their victims, but the chance to cleanse the name of your race of the stain of the istathi is one you and your family cannot give up easily. You were among a party that set out from your distant home, and not all of you even made it safely here. Now in this cold human city you have been hunted and several of you killed, not by the humans by something far more dangerous. When there were only 3 of you left 2 took ship back to the clan to report, and you remained behind to see if you could learn the truth of the istathi in Kalatar. (Istathi are DnD Drow, however the PC race Drow are a nomadic desert people.)
Grey Warden (Seeker of Illefarn): You are one of the legendary Grey Warden's of Manoshikae, or at least you will be if you can complete your mission here, a mission that has already claimed your mentor's life. 2 years ago a set of twins were attacked in the forest near the borders of Manoshikae. One was badly injured, and infected with the taint of Callach (Goddess of Darkness & Madness, the Chained God). The other survived apparently unharmed but fled Manoshikae and went out among the humans. You and your mentor were tasked with tracking down the foul spawn that had attacked the girls because the Grey Wardens know that such a creature is a danger to all not just the elves. So you tracked it through the Fallen Principalities, ever an elusive quarry just in front of you but ever out of reach. Then at last you caught up to it in Kalatar. There you and your mentor joined battle with it, only to be ambushed by its allies. Your mentor fell in that ambush and you barely escaped. Now you know the truth; in the Undercity there is a foul spawn menace growing and it is your job to see it ended. You have sent word to the other Wardens, but it will take time for them to respond, perhaps you can find other allies faster?
Heir of Delzoun: Legends say that Delzoun was the last king of Gauntylgrym a dwarven fortress whose location remains a mystery. His people were forced from their domains by istathi and their allies, or perhaps by worse things and the domains were lost like so much of the achievements of the dwarves during the Demon Wars. The rumours of ancient dwarven ruins under the city of Kalatar have drawn you here, if you can find Gauntylgrym surely you can rally your clan and reclaim it from its foes and secure a valuable resource for Samatia. Have you come here at the behest of your clan or have you rebelled and come for your own purposes? How do you feel about the task, is it worthwhile or a waste of your time? What drives you to complete it?
This could be interesting. I'll post something here in a bit.
I am more interested in the potential Next playtest rather than the Essentials 4th, but I do have a question for character generation for that. Expertise feats are mentioned as being banned, but would a person still be able to take one to get the secondary benefit of some of one, like the boost to forced movement of Hammer Expertise or Orb Expertise?
I am working on a character. As for 4.0 or New? What about starting with 4.0 and run through a few encounters until the New is ready, then rerun the same encounters or close to the same, with the New rules. That would give a good comparison of the two.
I have been shying away from reading about the New rules as nothing is in stone yet and things tend to change. I pre-read some things about 4.0 and then whent he rules finally came out it was different in a big way. So I will wait and see what the end result is before deciding if I like it.
Wash: "Yeah well, if she doesn't give us some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn through, this landing is gonna get pretty interesting."
Mal: "Define interesting."
Wash: "Oh god oh god we're all gonna die?"
Mal: "This is the captain. We have a...little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode."