This week’s session was all about rolling up new characters. We never even got any playing done, other than a brief description of the starting location and setup at the very end of the night. Instead six of us, with two player’s handbooks, took our time to create a party of potential heroes. We also had bowls of vibrant “artisan salad” and plates of succulent “hot-n-naked pasta” for dinner. ‘Twas a good night of gaming and bodes well for the upcoming campaign.
The setting for this campaign is the same setting we have used for the last 5 or 6 campaigns, the world of D Erte, created when we started gaming in 2008. The world has been wracked by war, invasion, and apocalypse but now it has entered a period of relative calm. For the past few decades peace has settled over the civilized lands, and has led to a period of expansion. The great eastern wastes known as the Beastlands are now experiencing a crusade as armies of the western kingdoms attempt to expand their territory by driving out the savage monsters who dwell in that dry, barren rocky land.
Scholars had supposed the Beastlands extend forever, much as the Great Western Forest is expected to extend beyond time and distance into the realm of Faerie.However the trail-blazing warriors, scouts, and scholars instead found that the high plateaus gave way to a vast desert, and across that desert was an exotic civilization with valuable trade goods. In the twenty years of crusading and sporadic trading, the tiny village of Greenest has sprung up along the main route between the western kigndoms and the eastern New World. though the village is little more than a poor and dusty water-stop along a vast trade route, it sees much wealth pass along its one main street. The town lies along the border between the rocky wasteland and the lonely desert, and it boasts a shallow fresh stream, springing from a nearby rock formation to end in a deep, fetid pool a few miles away.
Having also purchased the first adventure for the new edition, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, I wanted to integrate some (or most) of its elements into our game. However I prefer to use my own setting over published settings such as Forgotten Realms,and I am also unable to remain constrained to a published adventure. Knowing this about myself, I have attempted to create a hybrid campagin adventure using key elements of Hoard, but set in my own setting amidst a backdrop of another over-arching storyline. Ok enough about that, let’s get to the characters.
We rolled 4d6 and dropped the lowest, adding the three highest together six times in any order. One could discard the fll set and re-roll the six sets as often as one liked. This led to most people taking their first or second set. I wanted to be very lenient because even though I detest extremely high ability scores for starting characters, I have found it to be more important that the players are comfortable with their characters, and this usually means higher scores. So I made sure and said “if you are unhappy with your scores, re-roll!”
Personally I like to see at least one score below average, to give the character some character upon which to build, and a flaw, so to speak. The new edition has personality charts (attuned to backgrounds, which is a good idea) which may help in this respect,but still, one low score makes up for a lot of 18s and 19s.
Moving around the table, our first up is James who rolled up a Gold Dragonborn monk. I have to admit I was a little surprised by this choice, because I assumed James was more a traditionalist. I like being surprised though, and I was doubly surprised to realize how perfectly that would mesh with one of the optional backgrounds in the Hoard of the Dragonborn: a reincarnated gold dragon of Bahamut sentenced to live as a puny demi-human and looking for a way back into the good graces of the gold dragon deity. What could be more perfect? He chose hermit as his background, and the holy shrine is the natural water spring that supplies Greenest with its fresh water.
Gnomish Arcane Trickster
Next up is my wife Lori, who was tempted by the avenger paladin (And who played an avenger in a long-running 4e campaign) but ultimately chose to become a forest gnome rogue, planning on specializing in arcane trickster. She likes being sneaky and small, but also doing major damage. Most of all she likes rolling 2d20 and taking the best. Her background was that a wandering wizard saved her after her family was slain by a dragon, and left her off with the good people of Greenest to raise her. He left her a purple silk handkerchief emblazoned with a B in gold thread.
Tiefling Eldritch Knight
Khar chose to become a tiefling fighter, an Elrtich knight. She is also a pirate according to her background, and something important has brought her inland, as far away from the sea as possible. I can’t remember what it was that brought her to Greenest. Originally it was a lost love, but we decided to re-roll, and she was right about that, but I cannot remember what her new bonds were. Hopefully she wrote it down.
Human Bard of Valor
Will chose human, and took a feat that made hm a crossbow specialist. He wields a hand crossbow and rapier, and his background is that he is a singer. Compare to spell singer series by Alan Dean Foster. (Great series, no seriously.) Will has a childhood friend who was captured by the Dragon Cult, for whom he is searching.
Last up we have Joel who broke with wizard-or-ranger tradition to create a human warlock with a pact of the Great Olde Ones but stuck with tradition by naming his character John Smith. His background is a psychic soldier in a scout regiment, and he was sent to Greenest by an officer of the crusades to search for information about the Dragon Cult.
FInally I the dm rolled up a character for an absent player – a half elf druid. She is named Sheela Labouf and wields a scimitar and wooden shield, or a sling for ranged attacks. She has animal friendship and cure wounds memorized, and her cantrips are druidcraft and produce flame, which she can hurl up to thirty feet as a little fireball attack. Her background is a folk hero, and she has protected people from dragon attacks in the past. She also has nightmares of Tiamat the queen of Dragons. She will start with a previously befriended animal companion, but I have yet to locate the appropriate stat blocks. The character is unique in that she has a high dexterity, but a low constitution. Her flaw is that she secretly loves the corruption of city life.
Everyone got a trinket or two, and most people chose the preselected equipment packs, though I suggested they roll for wealth and buy stuff out of the equipment section. Everyone also got a free mount due to their character having been established in Greenest prior to play.
The characters have been helping escort caravans into and out of town, making a few gold coins while going about their business. The governess of Greenest has given John Smith an old bunkhouse to use to gather a team and investigate rumors of a dragon cult. One day they are late getting home from escorting a large caravan and they smell smoke before they see the town below being raided. Enemy on horseback circle the village with torches throwing them onto thatch roofs. But truly chilling is the large blue dragon sitting atop the town’s only stone structure, the governess’ keep, munching on a cow and watching the destruction.
Character creation was fun and offers lots of customization options to go with the great selection of iconic classes. It took us about two hours, but we had a shortage of books and an excess of hilarity to slow us down. Everyone seems happy with their character and are ready to start on a long journey. We have quite an eclectic party, and with all the dragonborn, tieflings, and warlocks, it is very reminiscent of a 4th edition party. However the party also seems uniquely suited to adventuring in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Good times ahead.