Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Character Creation

Edition: Pathfinder
Books Allowed: All Pathfinder content, provided it fits theme.
Level: 6

Sandbox. This campaign has no storyline or ready plot hooks to bring you along. You determine where you want to go, what you’re capable of fighting and how you want to engage. NPC groups have plans and timelines and events happen with or without you – lots of people – lots of events.

Starting Point: You're in the stunted town if Tara on the outskirts of civilization. The town is in trouble. You can improve the lot of the town by removing its threats, improving its economy and culture, and helping it thrive.

Where You Can Go: It’s not an urban campaign, so my intention is you don’t stay in town. It’s also assumed that you don’t leave the island (The exception is The Calf, a nearby island that’s part of the same region). Using ships to get around is fine, but far more dangerous.

Hex Bonus: There's a 100 experience point bonus for each hex that's fully explored. This will be helpful early on, but you probably shouldn’t use this as an incentive beyond the first few levels. 

Hexes are 6 miles across. You can see across an open hex if there's no obstruction. The same generally holds if you can get a high view, like on an adjacent hill or other high vantage point. This doesn't mean you've searched it, but you can find or rule out things like structures.

Attributes, Traits and Hero Points: It’s 20 point buy. You get 2 traits and 1 hero point to start.

Races: You must start
with one of the known races and cultures: Human (the standard would be the "yan-ki" Celts, but also Phoenician traders and the native peoples), Elves and Tengu

·         COMMON is the Yan-Ki Celtic.
·         NORTHMAN (Norse): Language of your predecessors on Redstone Island. Northman still populate areas.
·         FUTHARK is a runic language used by wizards and druids (useful, I promise).
·         PHOENICIAN Language of wealthy traders and wizards.
·         EARLY MAN (was Manx) are the native peoples of this island and they’re still around as well.
·         EUBORIAN (Cyclops, Greek) You only hear rumors about the civilization they once ruled.
·         ELVISH there are lots of elves

Magic: Dimension Door has the same chance of mishap as Teleport. Teleport’s chance of mishap is doubled.

Rituals: Can be used to combine power to cast spells. There’s no mechanics yet for this, but know it can be done.

Raising the Dead. Is considered blasphemy by followers of Arawn and most Yan-Ki, unless it happens on Samhain. Some followers (and creatures) of Arawn may come after you if you’re raised. Reincarnation is fine.

RESIDUUM: Another minor rules tweak borrowed from 4E is anyone with a Craft magic item feat can perform a ritual to disenchant an item to obtain it's magical essence, or residuum. This allows you to retain the gp value of a magic item for crafting something new, or even selling the condensed residuum instead of carrying around a golf bag of stuff.


When it comes to issues of player characters, the three major differences in sandbox campaigns is that: 1) the sandbox is lethal and a bit unpredictable, 2) GMs must be more impartial than normal because of this, and 3) the motivations of the character are subordinated to those of the world (over-arching story, or lack thereof) which is not designed around them. In other words, it's a cold, uncaring, lethal world out there that doesn't cater to your needs. How fun!

So when it comes to player character design, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Make a versatile character, more so than normal. Usually, D&D/PF rewards power builds that are often one trick ponies. I think these are fragile in the sandbox. You don't need to match character power levels with encounters in the sandbox, so a slightly more versatile, less lethal fighter-rogue might survive longer than a specialized spear fighter, for example. You might not be as lethal as a party of the same level, but who cares?
  2. Expect lethality. In other words, don't get terribly attached to your character, because the likelihood of character death is higher. This is a bit counter-intuitive because in the beginning, it's all about character motivation, but because of the lethality, the game quickly moves towards party motivation. This is old school and it's actually a lot of fun.
  3. Coming back. I've created more opportunities than in my usual games for coming back from the dead. It's not more opportunities than a normal game, just more than my usual. I also suggest being flexible, such as taking on NPCs as PCs. Reincarnation is the spell of the day with Raise Dead being culturally taboo (but hey, there are other cultures too). I'll even let you roll twice on my custom table and choose the race you want. I'm nice that way. Also, there's no reason in the sandbox that you all need to be the same level.
  4. Bring friends: There's nothing that says you can't find MORE people to adventure with you, like NPCs, animal companions, purchased guard dogs, or minions using the Leadership feat. Heck, create a forward base if you like.

The world has experienced near destruction, with the blame placed on wizardry that opened gateways to other worlds that were never meant to be opened. There is not much left of civilization from this Armageddon, leaving ruins, perverse monsters and the powers of nature to reclaim civilized lands. Everyone blames humanity and the "civilized" races.

The civilized races were laid low and scattered to the winds, losing much of their culture and in many cases, reverting to more tribal ways of life. There are no major cities. Towns and villages are beset by malevolent forces and fail regularly. Those that survive are stunted and stew in their own fears. Trade is hindered by an unknown, wild wilderness that seems bent on the destruction of humanity.

The three main civilizations that are making a comeback in this region: The Yan-Ki (Celts, AKA you), The Northmen (Norse) and the Phoenicians (known for international trade and high magic).

The town of Tara is on an island in the middle of a vast ocean. There are no major continents to speak of, just other islands of various size. When the people think of "outside" the city, they think of traveling to other nearby islands, rather than the wilderness outside their doors. Even that is perilous as the rogue moon Arianna unpredictably arrives at inopportune times to foul the weather, change the tides and lead ocean going travelers astray.

The characters are Celtic in culture, using the Celtic pantheon, dressing as Celts and having various restrictions on technology. They are the Yan-Ki. If they are demi-humans, they are outsiders living in the town with their own set of social mores. 

Celtic name generator: http://www.behindthename.com/random/

Classes The druids, witches and bards are feared but respected. Wizards are also feared but despised, as arcane magic is blamed for much of the worlds troubles. Clerics and divine spellcasters are well respected as wielders of the "good" kind of magic. 

Clerics can choose domain powers from their choice of Pathfinder compatible deities with the same domains.