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RPG Superstar 2015

GM Birch33’s Urban Campaign (Inactive)

Game Master Birch33

An urban campaign for two PC's


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Where I am up to

Your comments (along with everyone else’s if I am honest) took me to the following place:

1. Two players (but I suspect you already worked that one out)
2. A game that is heavy with intrigue and politics
3. An urban setting (more on this later down)
4. A combination of plot and sandbox (I’ll pull together an overall story-line but I hope it will feel like you have free will)
5. Starting characters will be level 1 – nobody asked for this but in my mind, level 1 will allow you to gel as a duo and build a joint story from the ground up
6. Two traits – I am thinking about a ‘campaign’ trait too and will look to create a list once the details have been fleshed out
7. 25 point buy
8. Maximum gold
9. Magical items are rare – this is something I always like to GM (I want such things to be really coveted and the sort of thing you’d walk half-way around the world to find on the basis of no more than a whisper)

Back to the choices

1. I have three cities in mind (and each comes with pros and cons)
i. Absalom – large (300,000 inhabitants), 65% human, very strict law and order
ii. Korvosa – middle sized (20,000 inhabitants), 90% human, medium law and order
iii. Kaer Maga – small sized (8,000 inhabitants), 90% human, law and order is run by organised crime
It is therefore up for debate which option you pick. I, naturally, will work with any of the three. The city will account for the majority of your activity – with the occasional jaunt into the wilderness or adjoining civilisation. The bigger the city, the wider the scope but the more lawful it will (broadly) be. It will also offer a greater selection of places to buy and sell
2. Races – the challenge with urban settings is that non-humans stick out like a sore thumb. That can be both an advantage and a disadvantage – and may well drive how the game can run.
3. Alignment – I have never stipulated but I was always going to say non-evil – which may limit your character choices

In summary

Please use this discussion thread to ask questions of me – or each other – until we are all agreed on a way ahead. Then I can start to plan the campaign and you can build your characters. I don’t need to have all the answers to get us started but I will spend a few days getting sufficient detail under my belt so you can’t throw me too much of a curve-ball.

Over to you…


Male Human Expert 1

First off, Thanks for selecting me!!!

I think I've prettymuch made up my mind on playing a Bard but haven't decided between Human or Half-Elf just yet. I think you made a good call on first level characters, makes sense to develop as team players over the course of the game. I think a Bard will mesh well with either JAF0's Magus or Alchemist characters. The Monk/Ninja is definitely do-able and I can think of a few ways to get you some Sneak Attack but I'm not sure how well we would stand on our own feet without the other's support.

As a Bard I can provide support and social prowess and maybe a little flanking depending on if I choose and archetype. (This will be the last time I bring it up. Promise!) If we went gestalt, Monk/Ninja would be incredible after level 4 (I played one in 3.5 but Pathfinder made nearly everything a bit better) and our characters may be able to better split some work. Infiltrating someplace stealthily would be pretty easy between me tricking guards with cantrips and JAF0's Monk/Ninja scaling the entire building in like 2 seconds, haha.

1. City
As tempting as Kaer Maga and it's mob run government is, I'd rather stick to bigger map to work with. I typically enjoy playing morally grey characters so Korvosa seems the best choice at the moment.
2. Race
I'll probably go with either a Human or Half-Elf. Nothing fancy.
3. Alignment
Hmmm... Either NG, or N. Maaaaaaaaybe CN.

I'm interested to see what we can make with this. :)


Hi... thanks for picking me... I hope I don't disappoint! I am still open on characters... and would be happy to build/rebuild any of the concepts I have or come up with something totally new if you prefer.

Ooh, gestalt would be a lot of fun, but I'm not sure if our GM wants the challenge of balancing a game for gestalt characters. They tend to be stronger than other characters of their level, but still have all the limitations of a single class character (skills, hps, cmd/cmb, and so forth).

1. City - I agree re: Kaer Maga.. Korvosa sounds fine to me. I can work with that.

2. Race - I will probably play a human...

3. Alignment - something in the N - NG range is what I had in mind as well... unless I do the monk-ninja, in which case, I'll be LN.

I look forward to the game!!!


So...

Korvosa it is then.

I'll say no to gestalt characters. If this was our second campaign then perhaps but for now I'd like to keep it simple. Perhaps at higher levels?

Don't forget that the game will reflect your characters. If you choose a barbarian and a fighter, you won't have a game full of traps and puzzles. So if you go for a bard and rogue, I won't pitch you against a room full of orcs (at least not often).


Have either of you played the Cimson Throne campaign? I don't intend to run it but I may use some of the material e.g. NPCs, locations etc.


Male Human Expert 1

That's perfectly fine by me. I'll go ahead and pool my knowledge of the area together to make a legitimate character.

I haven't played the Crimson Throne AP yet. I've only tried the Kingmaker AP (also on this board) and it's pretty great.

I mentioned that I won't have internet at my house until Monday so this weekend's posting is going to be sparse. Weekends here are typically slow so I'm not sure how that will effect this planning stage. If this is too pivotal a point for me not to be able to contribute, I completely understand if you feel the need to pick someone else.


I have not played Crimson Throne, though I am currently waiting to see if I've been accepted into a pbp campaign of it - and I have skimmed through the player's guide... I'm hoping you don't drop just because you'll be out for a weekend while we're still just creating character!

so - Johnny - what sort of characters would you like to go for? Like I said, I have a lot of concepts I can choose from and would enjoy playing any of them at this point.


Male Human Expert 1

I'm settled on playing a Bard. I think I'm just going to go with the core version because I love bardic knowledge and suggestion is such a useful ability. Given the urban setting and versatility of the class I was thinking of making the character either some sort of private investigator or a author/journalist. Just trying to fit this character into a political/mystery setting. Then I was thinking of something like a Sherlock Holmes/Watson approach. Just spit-balling so toss in whatever you'd like.

Trust me, I don't want to drop but I'd understand if you guys wanted to get things in motion.


imjohnnyrah wrote:
I completely understand if you feel the need to pick someone else.

Trust me, I will take a few days to pull everything I want together, so a couple of days won't make much difference. I'd rather invest an extra few days now and get it right - so you should both take your time and create characters you will want to play for some time.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

ok.. I modified Torr to be an Urban Barbarian, with intentions of going to alchemist at 2nd lvl. It should be interesting to see how your bard meshes with a barbarian, albeit a very cultured one. I can see it being a good fit, with some overlapping skills, but I'm sure the bard excels where Torr can just keep up and maybe assist. When Torr goes to alchemist, we'll have some disabling skills and the like to add to the mix. We're in trouble if we need divine skills, but that's life when you're just a pair. Hopefully we'll be able to afford what we can't provide for ourselves.


DM Birch - please let me know if Torr will work for the campaign you have in mind.. if not, I will work on another character this weekend - after all, I have all weekend to work on a concept if this won't work...


What can I say? It has a good back-story that gives me lots of plot hooks and no doubt gives you a character you'd really like to play. Therefore, it works for me.


Male Human Expert 1

I like that you're going with a Barbarian/Alchemist. I always forget that the cornerstone of that class is the mutagen ability. Rage + Mutagen = Waves of Destruction. I think I'm going to go down the route of a Half Elf private investigator. He'd be scholarly so our characters could have met at a nearby university or wherever the local pompous professors and intellectuals gather.

Work has been killer so it'll be a second before I can put all my details together.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

Cool, that sounds great - we've got a bit of everything except divine then, which we can pay for if we need it. Sounds like a plan! Having a good investigator along in an urban campaign will be awesome.


Thanks for the update both of you. I can continue to work on the opening 'adventure.' it's worth checking on your nationalities as it will always have a bearing.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

I think we decided on Korvosa as a focal point of the game, so I'm good with being a Varisian from Korvosa, or not if you'd prefer us not to have such intimate knowledge of the city to start. Up to you, Birch. He could easily be from Magnimar - or even be Andoran to change nationalities completely. I intentionally left that part of his background vague so it could be placed basically anywhere.


Varisian is fine. A little knowledge of the city is it a bad thing.


Varisian is fine. A little knowledge of the city is not a bad thing.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

ok... so he's a Varisian then... that's settled - I'll tweak the background to reflect that.


I've dusted off an old urban adebture that's suitable for level 1 characters and fits with the feel of a game you've both mentioned as wanting to play. Once the bard character is settled, I can finish it off.
As the adventure develops, I can throw in plot hooks for subsequent options and adventures. I plan to tell a story rather than railroad a campaign. I expect it to feel like you have complete control (like a sandbox) as the end-point can flex as we progress.


Male Human Expert 1

We just got hit with layoff/retirement buyout at work so I've been having to train contractors for the past few days and playing up inter-office politics. In addition to training new hires, I've had to take over a few other projects and the fun-derful responsibilities that come along with them.

Since work was where I was able to get a lot of my PbP on, I think I'm going to have to back out of this (and reevaluate at least one of my other games) while I get my bearings on this change up. I'm truly sorry for stringing you along this past week. I'm not sure how long this whole mess will take to clear up but I already feel like a d*ck for doing this to you guys.

Again, I'm really sorry. Enjoy your campaign!


imjohnnyrah - no worries. Real life must always come first.

Torr - I'll go back to the boards and make a decision. You can keep your existing character or amend it depending on what the next person chooses to do. The only change is that the new person needs to fit into the game we've developed thus far.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

ok.. that works - just let me know what we're doing and all - Sorry for not posting since yesterday - I'm on a retreat and things are very busy here... and the paizo site was down for hours earlier this evening... TOok a vicodin and fell asleep early... just woke up.

I await your decision.


I have invited another player. I'm hoping to get us started over the week-end.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

Just so you know - I'm on a retreat this weekend so I'm limited to posting only once or twice a day and those at odd hours. I will post as much as I can. Will be home sunday afternoon and then will be able to post normally.


Hey, just got the PM. I'm definitely interested in playing. It looks like I'll need to come up with a new concept for the game, but that's not a problem. Looking at what my homework schedule looks like this week, I should be able to have a fully statted-up character ready within a week.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

awesome!


After re-reading the thread and reading Torr's backstory, I've got an idea. If you like the concept, I'll roll with it; if not, no worries, I'll think of something else. This is just a concept draft; I can fill in details later if it’s approved.

I love the choice of Korvosa! I've never been able to play CotCT, but I enjoy the feel of the city; it feels like a modern city built on the still-living ruins of a much older one. In a way, it reminds me of Kansas City, which coincidentally isn't terribly far from my current location. It's also one of the more developed cities, so the DM should have lots to play with. Since it's primarily urban, and based on intrigue, it makes the most sense to play a character that has good reason to interact with the upper crust. However, in this setting, it would feel restrictive to play a stereotypical aristocrat; there's simply so much they wouldn't interact with. A bard fits quite nicely, as they have ample reason to go and fit just about anywhere. I'd like to play an actual bard, not one of the music-forsaking archetypes. Conceptually, I'd like to play him as the quintessential starving artist, producing works of genius for a few coppers per page, trying to change the world while living paycheck to paycheck.

Spoiler:
He grew up as a guttersnipe in Riddleport where he learned to navigate the seedy underbelly before stowing away on a ship bound for Korvosa with hopes of studying at the Acadamae. He’s a musician, as well as a storyteller, finding employment in Korvosa through the patronage of wealthy nobles and the generosity of the barroom customers. As a musician and playwright, he can make some money, but not always enough to pay the bills, so he sometimes acts as an agent on behalf of his gentile patron of the moment. As such, he has some access to the noble circles, and he has some experience with dealing with the riff-raff of the city from his youth. Finding himself caught between the upper crust of society and the criminal underground, but belonging to neither, he’s in a prime position to observe and comment on the social dichotomy, a theme he draws much inspiration from. This parallels nicely with his experience being a half-elf, with each foot in either the human or the elven world.

Since arriving in Korvosa, he has given up his dreams of attending the Acadamae. He’d discovered his own magic at an early age through music. He doesn’t have the diligence required to pursue wizardry or the magic blood of sorcerers, but with music, he’s found his own channel to release the magic that dwells inside him. Even if he could pass the entrance examination, he’d never forsake music as his magical focus; music got him out of Riddleport, and damned if he’ll betray his lute for a wand now. He hopes that one day he might entice the queen’s patronage, and he certainly fancies himself the privileged fool, whose sacred duty is to give counsel through buffoonery. He’s a philosopher, an ever-watching observer, and a student of life. But above all, he’s a performer.

TL;DR:
Street kid tries to make a better life through art and music, freelances as a spy for the nobles to pay the bills.


This would definitely work for me...


In that case, I'll start statting him up. GM Birch, based on your idea of what the campaign should play like, do you think it will be important that I keep Inspire Courage? Most of the otherwise character-appropriate archetypes exchange it (and the other Inspires like it) for other things. Depending on how combat-heavy the game is, Inspire Courage might actually not be particularly useful compared to the equivalent abilities of archetypes such as the Street Performer or the Court Bard. Your thoughts?

EDIT: Torr, your thoughts are also quite welcome, as the GM has stated he'll be building the challenges around our characters, which means that my choices affect roughly half the game's content, and I'm sure you have a particular play-style in mind already.


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

I say play what you want - inspire courage seems like a small loss to something that suits what you want the character to be, esp. with only two characters in the game, yanno?


I'll echo Torr. Play the character you want and I'll work around you. With two of you it won't be a combat-heavy game especially based on the characters you've chosen.


Having reviewed the archetypes, it looks like I'll be going with Street Performer. Ultimately, the inspire courage and other abilities are just as circumstantial as what I'm getting in return for this kind of game, but they seem like they'll be a lot more fun when they do get used.


Overarching ambition

You may well choose to respond via a personal message rather than on this discussion thread. What I need to understand soon (not straight away unless you already know the answer) is what your character’s driving force is?

We’ve already agreed to a sand-box feel, so I have no pre-ordained path for you to follow – but a broad scope (set by you) will help shape the future.

Does your character want to rid the city of organized crime – or perhaps they want to be the new crime boss? Do they want to become rich beyond their wildest dreams or rid the city of poverty? Perhaps they want to build a cathedral to their deity or open a school for gifted bards (or alchemists). They may have more than one significant motive.

The reason for asking (and this overriding goal can change of course as the character develops) is that it will drive the opportunities you will be presented with. There is limited benefit in me creating a hook for both of your characters to turn their noses up at it. Similarly I wouldn’t want to spend the time creating adventures behind five hooks and then wasting the four you aren’t interested in.

So…you can let me know via a personal message, via this thread or through your character what your overarching ambition is and that will help me sow the seeds for future activity and start to build some set-pieces.


Nearly there. Once our bard is complete, I'll get us going.


Alright, I'll try to have the crunch finished within the next two days. I'll also try to get a revised character background with it.


No worries - and thanks for the update.


Last but not least you can come up with a reason for being together, or I can work with one I have in mind. It's up to you.


Actually, I assumed that we would be meeting in-game. If we're already meant to have met, I can work with that too.

I present The Bard, Fawkes.

Background:
Born the half-elven son of a human Calistrian prostitute in Riddleport, Fawkes was raised in the temple and on the streets. From a young age he was trained in the arts of hospitality, and he took well to music. When it was discovered that his music could produce real magic, he began to cultivate dreams of possibly being trained as a wizard. His mother had often regaled him with stories of her birthplace of Korvosa and the magic Acadamae there, but all attempts to find a wizard in Riddleport that would take him on failed. He continued his lessons within the church during the day, working in various capacities under Shorafa Pamodae when there was legwork to be done to foot the bill for the training he received.

Once he had mastered the lute, he began performing in alehouses or on the street whenever he could; he played for the love of playing more than for any need for coin, but that didn't stop him from learning to work a crowd. Realizing his own talent, he came to acknowledge that, unless he was resigned to a life of petty crime and playing in taverns, he had to leave Riddleport. And so, one night in late Desnus, he snuck aboard a ship bound for Korvosa, dreaming of a better life, leaving behind the only life he had ever known.

Steping off the ship a number of weeks later with a sack of coin and friendly slaps on the back from his fellow sailors, Fawkes beheld the city of Korvosa for the first time, prepared to put his hastily-crafted and poorly-thought-out plan into action. A month later, he found himself in a position much like the one he had left. The discouragingly-high price of tuition had dashed his hopes of training to be a wizard, and he had to make his way by playing for his dinner. In a moment of weakness after a particularly bad week, he began making in-roads with the local riff-raff, discovering that crime was treated with similar levels of acceptance in Korvosa as in Riddleport. It is in this state he now finds himself, low on luck but high in spirit, having traded one life of petty crime and performance for another.

Motivations:
At this point, Fawkes is motivated mostly by survival. He hopes that one day he'll be able to eat on what he earns himself without having to take it from others, but for now, it puts keeps him alive. He's still saving up money, ostensibly for tuition to the Acadamae, though he's realized that it's a pipe dream. He's discovered that Korvosa has somewhat of a cosmopolitan culture, and that skilled performers can actually make a living. He's discovered theater, which was altogether new to him upon his arrival, and he's taking a shine to it. Having realized that noble patronage is the most lucrative (as well as respectable) way of making money as a performer, that's what he aims to do, so he's trying to break into the noble circles any way he can. He also remembers his mother telling him once that his father was an elf from Korvosa, though he has decided against seeking him out, at least for now, and tries not to think about it for the most part. Secretly, though, he harbors the fantasy of maybe hitting the big time in Korvosa and meeting his father after a performance.

Possible link to Torr:
Fawkes is trying to make his way with nobles; Torr is a noble. Clearly, Torr is actually quite different from most nobles, but Fawkes might find a certain charm in that. Whether or not Torr would deign to consort with unscrupulous artists practically begging on the streets is, however, entirely up to you.


In that.case, I'll start you separately and bring you together. I'll craft the opening later on today.


And we're off......


At any time you want me to move things along, put a note here. I'm always loathe to break up banter like this!


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

any time is fine with me... the chat can continue later lol


Male Half-Elf Bard (Street Performer)

I'm also fine with continuing. It seems you have an idea of where you want to go from here, so I'm hesitant of hijacking the scene, at least for now. And I'm getting the feeling that Fawkes is the sort to hijack most anything. I've enjoyed this so far; the character's starting to write himself, and the friendship between him and Torr doesn't seem forced. It can be difficult to get two characters to gel without forcing it upon them.


Male Half-Elf Bard (Street Performer)

Just out of curiosity, what are the assumptions being made regarding the events of CotCT? Have they yet to occur (if they are to occur at all), concurrent, or have they already happened? I haven't played CotCT, but I'm aware that certain significant events occur, notably

Spoiler:
the deaths of the king and queen.


I'm working on the premise that this occurs pre-CotCT.


The Bard, Fawkes wrote:
I'm also fine with continuing. It seems you have an idea of where you want to go from here, so I'm hesitant of hijacking the scene, at least for now.

You should both go where the mood takes you. No doubt I'll intervene at the most inappropriate moment for you!


HP 13, AC 14 (T 12, FF 12), F+3, R+3, W+0, CMB 3, CMD 15, init +4, perc +4 human Barbarian(urban)/1

lol... okay - whenever you want to jump in is fine with me... until then we'll just have some fun rp


Male Half-Elf Bard (Street Performer)

Sorry for the delay; yesterday was busy non-stop, culminating in a lengthy drive.


It's my wife's birthday, so I may not post frequently over the next 24 hours...

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