Corruption and Redemption
(At the moment, this area will be a dumping area for campaign notes until I come in an clean it up.)
- So far I am 86’ing Eladrin. No Eladrin, no Feywild. (Not for players, anyway.)
- I am using a variant of the weapon breakage option. It works as described below.
- When a character rolls a 1 on an attack with a weapon, the weapon may break. Make another d20 roll, adding the maximum value of the weapon’s [W] die to the result. If this roll exceeds 20, the weapon breaks. (Example: Rorsk rolls a 1 with his longsword. He rolls a d20 and gets a 14. The [W] is a d8, so he adds 8 to his roll. With a result of 22, the weapon breaks.)
- The weapon’s material also plays a factor in its durability: Wood weapons add a +4 to the breakage roll. Bone weapons add a +2. Stone weapons have no modifier. Obsidian weapons incur a -2 to the roll. Metal weapons do not break.
- Magic weapons that suffer breakage lose 1 point of enchantment, but can be repaired at the cost of re-enchanting the weapon back to its original enchantment. (That is, if a +3 weapon breaks down to a +1, it can be re-enchanted at an equivalent cost of a +2 enchantment in order to get it back to +3.)
- Literacy is a privilege. Unless you are of noble or merchant backgrounds, we will have to make arrangements to make your character literate. As such, rituals are equally difficult to come by as getting scrolls copied is not an everyday happenstance.
- No feats or rituals (or other options) that allow PCs to create magic items or potions. even potions are rare, since water is scarce and the fruits used to create salves are grown by wealthy nobles in their private gardens.
- No electronic character sheets or dice rollers. I want pencil & paper at my table, and I want actual dice rolled for stuff.
- We will be using the Inherent Bonuses as laid out in Dark Sun and in the Player’s Handbook 2.
- Arcane magic is reviled on Athas. After the world was ravaged by unchecked use of defiling magic, the arcane arts were forbidden, whether you perserve or defile, and has been the case for centuries.
- Rituals are outlawed in all cities. Making or using magic items can, at worst, get you arrested and executed in horrible ways.
- Because of the strict control on enchantments and their resulting rarity, there will be less magic items as rewards in the Dark Sun game than would otherwise be seen in a D&D game.
- In lieu of receiving magic items, both at creation and during the game, your characters may receive alternate awards. Boons, favors, enhancements and conditional bonuses are all possible. Characters will still be given appropriate rewards; they just will not be in the form of item handouts. They will be more involved in the story and less like “random loot drops”.
- Still, if you do receive a magic item, keep in mind that the use of arcane items can draw the attention of bad, bad people. Or even decent people who are paranoid and fearful of such things. And there’s always the chance that the item was made with defiling magic…
- Any item that eases travel or survival on Athas comes at a severe premium. Expect any such items such as Belt of Nourishment or Ring of Sustenance to come at much higher levels and prices than they would normally be in a D&D game. Assuming they can be found at all. Also, such items could backfire. For example, a Flagon of Ale Procurement can lead you to the closest source of water. Water is jealously guarded though, so it will also find you a great deal of trouble.
Last time I proposed running a game, Chris and Nathan made two characters. I hadn’t solicited two, nor had I suggested anything other than the usual character creation regimen. When they pitched their concepts, I stopped them and asked, “why did you guys make two characters?” Chris replied, matter-of-factly, “In case you kill the first one, since we know you aren’t afraid to off a PC.” Nathan nodded sagely.
Some years ago I was running an adventure in my homebrew setting, Godless. The party was tasked with scouting out a goblinoid-held stronghold deep within a forest. Somewhere between accepting their task and arriving at the wooden fort, the party’s goal somehow shifted from “scout and report” to “annihilate the entire garrison”. It was ballsy, ill-advised and not likely to succeed. They were up against no less than 30 active guards, from orcish sharpshooters to bugbear brutes. Still, they penetrated the outer wall and room by room, they managed to slaughter the attendant guards to the man without taking much damage themselves. What they didn’t know was that their errant raid sent a silent alarm to nearby garrisons, one of which was hosting a visit by one of the goblinoid’s high-ranking officers, an ace psionic warrior of orcish descent. With the help of his psionic talents he arrived outside the garrison walls within minutes and called out to the heroes within. His message was a simple warning: surrender the fortress, or be slaughtered. The party laughed at the threat, still high from their routing of the poorly prepared garrison. In the space of a blink the orcish warrior was on top the ramparts with his glaive already cleaving one of the party members in twain. He carried enough momentum in the psionically charged strike to run through a nearby party member. In one turn, he had one-shotted half the party. The remaining characters immediately surrendered. After the encounter, Nathan asked of me, a bit flabbergasted by the incident, “How were we supposed to win that encounter??” I replied flatly, “You weren’t.”
The point of these two stories isn’t to illustrate that I’m some kind of despotic player-character-killing GM that has a hallway of awards commemorating each of his TPKs. What I want to communicate to my players is that while I am fair in my preparations for a game, I am also realistic in how my worlds react to the player characters’ actions. In the second anecdote, the players were not instructed to assault the fortress, and for good reason. The PCs’ employer knew the risks such a brash move would involve and what kind of repurcussions would follow. The PCs may not have known this, but the employer did not expect them to act outside of the authority bestowed upon them either. I will not intentionally try to make your character’s adventure unnecessarily difficult, and by the same token I will not pander to them either. Your characters are active participants in a living world. Their actions have consequences.
You should expect:
- You will most often fight even encounters, though some will be more difficult than others.
- You will all have a chance to let your PCs’ abilities shine.
- You will all be an active part of an ongoing story and have a chance to influence the plot.
- You will have the opportunity to roleplay and each share some time in the spotlight.
- You will not always get the magic items you want.
- You will not win every encounter.
- You will not be able to flaunt rare items and abilities without pissing someone off.
- You will not be able to act with impunity. Especially within the Seven Cities.
- You are not safe from death. Especially if you act foolishly.
On a scale of 1-10 of GM cruelty, where 1 is a total Monty Hall treasure bath and 10 is 1-2 TPKs every week against PCs wearing loin cloths and armed with pointy sticks, WotC wants 4e GMs to be somewhere around 3-4. Dark Sun might be more like 4-5. I’m about a 6. Understand that I run gritty games. My goal is to engage you in an exciting and dangerous story experience, and threatening the PCs is an integral part of that experience. Your journey will not be easy, but I will do my best to make it memorable and fun.