In the city of Solku, set where the open desert and brushlands of Katapesh meet the formidable Brazen Peaks, a tall, dashing man named Garavel is hiring able bodied folk to aid his mistress, the merchant princess Almah, in the dangerous task assigned her: to re-establish the abandoned village of Kelmarane, lost decades ago in mysterious circumstances, and currently overrun by a fierce tribe of gnolls. For any brave souls willing to make the journey through the dry scrub to Kelmarane and defeat the gnolls, he is offering the sum of 200 gp per person. So far, he has assembled a gang of disreputable looking mercenaries from among the drifters of the desert. To a man, they are unclean of visage and uncouth of manner, with poorly kept armor and battered blades, missing teeth and greasy hair.
"Almah," he thinks to himself, "will be disappointed."
This campaign is an attempt to follow the adventure archetype where a single hero sets out on a quest alone, but is joined by new friends along the way. Only one PC begins the campaign, but others are encountered as the adventure continues. Player's waiting for their characters' entrances play as "expendable" NPCs to keep themselves entertained.
Premade Character Concepts: Each of the spots in the campaign comes with a general character concept and backstory. The exact build is up to the player, and they have total control over their character once play begins. However, the GM wants to make sure that the right character types, both in terms of mechanical party balance and in-character motivation, are present at each point in the story.
Nonstandard races: This is a very genie-centric campaign. Most of the character concepts can accommodate some kind of genie-touched race (ifrit, oread, suli, sylph, or undine). For the purposes of this campaign, genie-touched races can generally pass as humans, though they can be distinguished by someone who knows what to look for. Some character concepts also allow other nonstandard races. Characters which take powerful nonstandard races (more than 12 RP in the race builder) do not gain a flavor feat (see below) at level one, but do gain flavor feats at every even level.
Traits: All characters get two traits. One will be a LoF campaign trait, which I will assign to you as part of your backstory. The other is at your discretion.
Ability scores: 20 point buy. Alternatively, roll (on the boards) 4d6 for each, keeping the highest 3 dice, and assign rolls to the 6 scores as you like. You may reroll the entire set one time. You may not roll and then decide to do point-buy instead. If you want to apply for two different roles, and want to roll for ability scores, use the same rolls for both builds.
Starting equipment: Standard wealth by level. If you start with an item creation feat, you may use it to create one magic item, which counts as half-price for calculating your starting wealth. You may not spend more than half of your starting wealth on any one item.
HP: Characters receive their full hit die hp at first level, and half-plus-one at later levels.
Source material: I allow material from all Paizo works. Let's leave out Antagonize, though. 3rd party material may be allowed on a case-by-case basis. If something isn't working for party balance and fun, I reserve the right to ask the player to change their build.
Flavor Feats: PCs receive one bonus feat at level one, and one at each even level. These feats should help make the character more interesting, rather than simply provide a mechanical advantage. Typically, these feats give highly situational bonuses, and typically do not affect combat. Combat applicable feats may be allowed if they are sufficiently situational, non-optimal, and interesting. Players should ask the GM if they have questions about what feats qualify.
Fractional base saves: Multi-class characters will use fractional base saves and attack bonuses. High BAB: 1/level; Med BAB: .75/level; Low BAB: .5/level; Good save: 2 + 0.5/level; Bad save: 0.33/level.
Other House Rules
Flanking: All characters (PC, NPC, monster) are considered to have the Gang Up feat; That is, if an opponent is flanked by two of your allies and you threaten it, it is considered to be flanked by you as well.
XP: Experience will not be tracked. The party will level up when it reaches specific parts of the story. All PCs will level up at the same time.
Last words: If a player dies in combat, they get "last words" at the end of the encounter. Impart your dying wishes, confess your secrets, go for an Oscar. Magical healing cannot save characters at this point.
Player Death: Scrupulous clerics do not raise just anyone from the dead who can cough up a 5000gp diamond and 450gp. The temples of Saranrae and Abadar are scrupulous; they only raise characters who they know to be following the tenets of their respective deities. There may exist unscrupulous clerics, but even in Katapesh, they don't put signs up on the street that say, "Get rezzed here, no questions asked!"
If you do not wish to or cannot get raised, appropriate replacement characters can be created at most points in the campaign. Nonstandard races, including "monster" races with racial hit dice, will be allowed if they make the most sense in the situation.
Hero points: The GM will award hero points for excellent roleplaying. These will be awarded fairly rarely, at a maximum rate of about one per character per adventure "chapter" (there are usually around 5 chapters per book, and 6 books in the adventure). Feats, spells, and magic items relating to hero points will not be used.
Dialogue in Combat: A combat round represents 6 seconds of time. All the dialogue that fits in a single round of combat, from all characters, should be able to take place in 6 seconds. Keep it brief. Combat should be hectic, not an in-depth tactical discussion. Everyone is familiar with the rules of the game (if not, let the GM know!) and can make decisions for their own character. Mistakes are fun!
Leadership: By the time the PCs can take the Leadership feat, followers won't be practical, so this campaign will not use them. Cohorts are allowed, but they will be controlled by the GM, though they will generally follow the PC's orders. Cohorts will have appropriate NPC equipment when they are recruited, but any upgrades are the responsibility of the player.
Frequency: Each player should be able to post at least once per day, and should let the other players and GM know if they won't be able to. If a player is absent without notice for a week or more, they will be replaced. The GM is willing to play PCs temporarily when the players are on vacation, etc.
Spoilers: The GM trusts that the players will not read spoilers which are not addressed to them. Some spoilers have a skill and DC, in which case you can read them if you make the appropriate skill check and meet the target DC.
Flex-time: In order to keep the campaign moving, the GM will sometimes skip past scenes which are unlikely to have serious consequences for the plot. For instance, it may be very interesting for the PCs to chat about their personal histories at a tavern, and advance the goals of characterization and fleshing out the party dynamic, but play-by-post games are inherently slow-moving, so the GM may advance time to the next day. Players may continue to play out such scenes later, by putting their posts in spoilers naming the scene when the post applies, for instance "Tavern Scene."
Actions: In-character actions should be in present-tense, third person, normal text.
Dialogue: [b]"Dialogue should be quoted and bold,"[/b] said Magister Ludi. [b][smaller]"Muttering or whispering are bold, quoted, and small,"[/smaller][/b] continued the latinate gamemaster, before sending the players on their way. Remembering one more thing, the magister called after them, [b][bigger]"And shouting is bold, quoted, and big!"[/bigger][/b]
Thoughts: [i]It is often better to describe your character's actions as a way to show their thoughts, rather than write them out,[/i] thought the writing coach, [i]Show, and don't tell. But when you do it, inner thoughts are italic.[/i]
Out-of-character comments: Long out of character comments and entire out of character discussions should be in the discussion thread. Short questions and answers for clarification should be [ooc]blue.[/ooc] Out-of-character planning and strategizing are discouraged.
Actions: Actions should be in spoilers; during combat, the name of the spoiler should be the current round. Text inside the spoiler is technically OOC, so should be blue, but if it's not that's ok. I also like to see current HP, conditions, and effects in the spoilers, as well as counts of limited resources like channels/day, rounds of luck, remaining spells, etc. You can keep an updated block of this information in a text file and just paste it in whenever necessary. Actions should be formatted as "type of action: action; die roll; maybe another die roll => outcome if known." For instance:
[ooc]Move action: climb to top of boulder; [dice=Climb DC 10]1d20+5[/dice] => success (assuming it was a success)
Standard action: cast Scorching Ray at pugwampi; [dice=touch attack]1d20+3[/dice]; [dice=spell resistance]1d20+2[/dice]; [dice=miss chance 20%]1d100[/dice]; [dice=damage]3d6[/dice][ooc]
Avatar Header: Your avatar header should display your current HP, AC/Touch/Flat-Foot, Fort/Ref/Will, Perception, and Init. Do this by putting the info in the "class" field on your character description.
Die rolls: [dice=Name of roll and DC if you know it (extra modifiers for buffs, etc)]xdy + z1 + z2 + z3...[/dice]. For instance, [dice=Attack Gnoll in A3 (+1 bless, +2 flanking)]1d20+5+1+2[/dice]. For percentile rolls, the convention is that high is good for the character making a roll. If there is a 20% miss chance (bad for the attacker), anything lower than a 20 will miss. If there is a 20% chance to summon another devil (good for the monster doing the summoning), then anything higher than an 80 will succeed.
Reactive Rolls: In real life, it's fun to roll the dice for yourself. On the messageboards, not so much. In order to keep the game flowing, the GM will make saving throws and roll initiative for the players. The GM will also make occasional Perception or other checks for the players, behind a spoiler, when the fact that a roll was made, or how well the player did, should be kept secret.
General gaming philosophy
Rules: The GM likes rules. The GM likes to play by the rules, when the rules are applicable. When the rules are not applicable, the GM is happy to stretch them to make them fit.
Roleplaying: Play-by-post is a good venue for in-character dialogue and character development, and this campaign will provide lots of opportunity for it.
Sandbox vs. Railroad: Parts of this campaign are like a sandbox: the world exists around the PCs, and they may move around it more or less freely. Their decisions decide what direction the adventure goes, within reason. The freedom to decide also comes, to some extent, with the responsibility to know when to run away. In the sandbox, the GM will provide adventure hooks, which the players may follow or not as they like. It is the players' responsibility to take at least some of the hooks. The GM will also try to give appropriate feedback to let the players know when they are getting in over their heads. It is the players' responsibility not to push it. Other parts of this campaign are like a railroad: the PCs are stuck in a chain of events which they can effect, but not escape. On the railroad, the GM will always give the party valid, in-character reasons to follow the story. It is the players' responsibility not to try to derail the plot just because they can. If players are having genuine problems making their characters play along, they should bring it up in the discussion thread.
Combat vs. noncombat encounters: There are some challenges in this campaign that you will have to face in combat. There are also many challenges that can be solved through diplomacy, sneakiness, general preparedness, and creativity. There are many rewards which cannot be obtained through combat. Don't feel like you have to fight everything, or that the goal of every adventure is "kill all the bad guys." (But sometimes it actually is.) There is no experience, and I will make sure you get enough treasure to keep you rolling, one way or another.
Player vs. Player: The GM doesn't expect the party to all be best friends. Intra-party roleplaying is more interesting if there is some conflict. In-character arguments over what to do next are good. PCs who keep secrets from each other (to reveal them at a dramatically appropriate moment) are good. However, there is a limit. The party disbanding is bad. Serious player vs. player combat is bad.