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Hello! I’m Samnell or I have hollowed out his body and wear his skin as clothing, which is pretty much the same thing. Inspired by this thread over here, I’ve decided to give running the Dragonlance series a go. Cool? Cool.
GM in search of 4-6 PCs (and matching players) to play the Dragonlance saga. I have three spots spoken for from the thread where I got the idea. They got me excited about it, so it would be rude to shut them out. The spoken-for spots go to a player interested in a cleric, a wizard or knight, and a rogue or bard. But that’s only half to three-quarters of a party. Probably half, given the odds, but who knows? The closer I get to six, the less worried I am about having a classic or semi-classic balanced party.
But here’s some stuff.
Yes. The original 1980s adventure epic involving the warring, riding, and lancing of various dragons. The ones with the kender, the Solamnic Knights, and the weird-eyed wizard in dire need of a lozenge.
I have the originals and started off reading through them in the course of deciding to do this, but learned after reading the first adventure in both versions that the 00s update is faithful right down to word-for-word passages and seemed to have no substantive changes to the story. So I’ll be drawing mostly from that. They don’t seem to have left anything out, except some dated presentation that I can’t say I miss. It’s not fair to compare thirty year old adventures with modern stuff, of course. I’m just more used to how adventures have been written in the past fifteen years or so and thus find it much easier to navigate.
If you’re interested in this game, you probably know the story. It’s been thirty years, right? The series started before I entered kindergarten. The whole thing comes with premade PCs that have all the familiar names and probably act like the characters in the novels to most of us. That’s cool and all, but insisting upon all of that wouldn’t make for much of a game. For purposes of this game, those PCs largely do not exist. Your PCs will take their places and be the Heroes of the Lance. You are not, by and large, obligated to follow their choices. Your PCs are your PCs. We’re here to game, not play canon police. It’s fine, of course, to be inspired by a canon PC in creating your own. I am not the boss of your brain.
With regard to the canon PCs, I say “largely” replaced because a few of them on the fringes of the core group may still show up as NPCs and serve as occasional supporting players. It’s still your story. They’re just visiting.
With regard to the canon choices, I’ll be honest: The DL series has very set start and end points to scenarios and isn’t especially fault-tolerant. Within a scenario you can explore alternate options. Individual adventures can be more open-ended than the series’ reputation suggests, but sometimes they do live up to it. You don’t have to go where the plot appears to demand, but there is a limit to how far off-script one can go and how long one can remain there. This is much more like an adventure path than a sandbox. It demands a bit of playing along. While it might seem more abrupt than usual (and if you’ve ever read any of the adventures, you’ll know it gets heavy-handed) I’ll do my best to keep it within the normal social contract inherent in an adventure path.
That said, there are occasions where choices are forced. I’ll do what I can to mitigate them and try to make the choices seem reasonable in-character. This includes at least a few occasions where the party are scripted to lose fights and get taken prisoner. For the times I’ve looked closely at in advance, there seem to be ways around the foregone conclusion and they will be available to the party without breaking the plot.
But there’s a big one you can’t really dodge: About a third of the way through the main narrative, which is a very long RL time off, a party split is forced. The party remains split for the back half of the adventure path, only coming back together for the big conclusion. The two halves of the story proceed on different ends of the continent and run concurrently in-world. I plan to let the players decide how to best handle that and to pick where they go rather than imposing the choice upon you. The party will fission into two roughly equal-sized half parties, who then get augmented with new characters and/or NPCs taken over by players. We’ll work out the logistics when the time comes. If no one is really interested in one of the plot forks, I’ll skip it and you’ll all go with the one you prefer. What has to happen to keep things going, I’ll handwave as proceeding offscreen.
Oh yes. I’m not going to turn Takhisis into a good guy, but it’s inherent in GMing that I’ll adjust things to taste (mine and the group’s), to suit the party’s abilities, and in the interests of fun as well as to accommodate the medium. I’m not a massive fan of comic relief and gully dwarves make me a little bit uneasy. That doesn’t mean either will be absent, but I’ll probably tone them down a bit. It’s fine for you to like them and all, but if you’ve just got to have the all-gully dwarf laugh parade then I’m probably not going to give you what you want in a game. No hard feelings.
PBPs are slow, so I’ll definitely be outright skipping some encounters, rolling others together, and handling others through brief narrative references like “You slay several parties of draconians on your way to the outhouse.” I’ll narrate through small potatoes stuff, not plot-critical elements or your first fight against a cool new monster. I might make reference to injuries suffered and healed in narration, but consider all that dealt with by virtual resources that don’t really count against you.
The deal at the start of the AP is that the real gods either pitched a fit, and a mountain, at Krynn and abandoned it for centuries or the people of Krynn turned against them and they respected the choice. The latter is technically the canon version, but as you might have guessed I’m open to alternative readings of events. The details don’t matter so much as the consequence: nobody has cast a divine spell or worked any species of gods-given miracle for three hundred years. All clerics, druids, and so forth are heathens who lack the knowledge and possibly the inclination to follow the true gods. As such they don’t get any magical abilities, period.
That sucks, right? Who wants to play a spell-less cleric? Possibly no one, but if someone does want to take one for the team then I’m ok with that. However, know going in that the divine blackout ends at the conclusion of the first adventure and you will have limited healing access before then via a plot device. When the blackout ends, you’ll have the option of an epiphany that permits you to swap any and all of your existing levels for levels in a divine spellcasting class. So you can play something else that fits your concept and then trade up if that’s your thing, rather than being stuck with a class missing class features for a goodly while.
I would normally tack this on the end of the post, or at least spoiler it, but it asks a bit more than usual of you in the way of backstory and concept so I want to put it up here. The initial conceit of the game is that the party already know one another and all grew up in or around the town of Solace in Abanasinia, the latter of which I am extremely likely to misspell. Its unofficial nickname is Misspelled Ethiopia because I am a dork. Anyway, about five years back, the plucky youngsters left home on various business. They were all nominally looking for signs of the true gods, but may have had other things in mind too. Now they’re coming home, as agreed beforehand, to share what they know with one another. Nobody found the true gods just yet. It’s totally fine, and encouraged, if you and another PC spent all or part of the five years abroad together.
Solace is a majority-human place and not particularly diverse. It is at a crossroads and has trade with elves and dwarves, as well as kender crawling around, but it’s not really home to many unusual races. Even some otherwise normal Dragonlance races would be unusual. There’ll be a full list in the chargen.
Are you out of luck if you want to play something unusual? Not really. The easiest way to do that would be for your PC to meet and befriend one of the Solace crowd in their travels and come back with them. Or your friend from Solace could have died at some point, but you came to let his hometown know and get caught up in things. I’m open to suggestions.
I think that hits all the high notes of stuff you really ought to know upfront, so let’s get into some chargen stuff.
25 point buy. You may lower one score below 10, before racial modifiers, but don’t go too crazy with it. Feel free to avail yourself of the calculator here.
Level: PCs begin the game at 5th level. You will advance on hitting key plot points, not by xp accumulation.
Gear: You know what, I hate keeping track of gear. I bet you do too. This game will use virtual gearing. Every level you get an allowance, in gp, which you can spend on whatever gear you like provided that it’s not breaking some setting provision. (They’re fresh out of healing potions.) Whenever you level, your allowance increases and you can reconfigure your armament. You can also do so in any sufficiently large city, given a bit of downtime. You still need to track your burning through scrolls, wands, and other items with limited uses because they can run out in the wild, but when you have the ability to replenish you can replace them. If you choose to take item creation feats and/or craft skills, you can charge yourself with only the cost to craft of items you make for yourself. If you want, you can even use the skills for others. In that case, the crafting cost would come out of their budget.
Looting will mostly reveal plot devices and story information, since it’s all abstracted. However, from time to time I might give you something of in-world significance. Plot devices don’t count against your gear total, but more ordinary cool things may. It’ll be decided on a case-by-case basis. There are situations where the adventures obviously give you something to help out with a tough boss fight, usually a single-use item. I wouldn’t charge those against you. But a cool sword that’s basically a normal magic item with a good backstory? That probably would. It’s something we can talk through when the occasion arises.
This isn’t the most realistic thing around, but it skips almost all the discussions about who gets what or whether or not people are about even and it does so with very little overhead. You’re just responsible for tracking your own PC, which you would do anyway. :)
Allowed Races: human, hill dwarf, Qualinesti elf, half-elf, kender. The dwarves and elves use the PRD/PH rules. There are other kinds of dwarf and elf, but they would be more unusual in Solace and need a bit more explaining. Likewise minotaurs, which live on the far corner of Ansalon from Solace. Goblinoid sorts would be an especially hard sell.
If you need rules for one of the Krynn-specific races, let me know and I can hook you up. I’m using the versions in the 3.5 campaign setting.
Allowed Classes: Rather than make a big list, let me lay out some general points. If a class doesn’t run afoul of them, you should be good to go. If you’re not sure, please ask. I rarely bite. Also remember that divine spellcasters can’t cast spells yet.
No Asian-themed classes.
No occult classes.
No spontaneous arcane spellcasting...except for bards. (There’s a minor continuity snarl with regard to bards, since they were very different in the 1e that DL was written for. The books have “bards” of a sort going way back, so this is my compromise. The Order of High Sorcery does not consider bardcraft within their purview. Bards cannot cast healing magic.)
You can play non-wizard, prepared arcane spellcasters but the Order of High Sorcery would understand them as under its purview and treat those who didn’t cooperate, take their Test, and enroll as dangerous renegades. No such character can cast any cure X wounds or other healing spell, but they can retain the rest of their spell list.
Dragonlance is a pretty goody-good sort of story. PCs are generally assumed to be altruistic. However, it’s a goody-good story that also has as a major trope that evil turns on itself. The most famous character from the novels is a guy who starts off neutral and turns evil, but still proves an asset to the party most of the time. As long as your PC can work well enough with the other PCs and you’re not stomping on one another’s fun, I don’t particularly mind if someone wants to play neutral and/or evil. It will, however, necessarily fall on you to figure out why your PC is still on the side of the angels in this particular case. Maybe you just like the party more than you do the bad guys.
I can provide a list if necessary, but there’s one axe I’m going to grind here. The continent-wide common tongue that everyone grows up speaking drives me nuts. It’s a gaming abstraction, I know, but it’s an abstraction that gets in the way of a lot of flavor. Languages are pretty easy to acquire in PF, so I don’t think removing Common hurts too much. The dominant language of trade and commerce in Abanasinia is Abanasinian. Everyone gets it for free, no matter where you’re from. Other languages will be useful in-game, and you can probably guess or already know several of them. I don’t intend to hassle you endlessly about language matters, but now and then you might need to find an interpreter or use some magic to communicate.
Let’s keep it simple: take your maximum at every level.
Give me a paragraph or so of text telling me about your PC, how they came to Solace, and what kind of person they are. You can write more if you want. This is how I’ll get a sense for who might go well with the party and who might clash badly, as well as interesting dynamics that might emerge. Other than the backstory, I only know a PC by stats and they’re rarely eloquent on such matters.
Initiative and Fights
I learned in my other PBP that trying to do individual resolutions of actions in fights bogged things down very badly and most players soon lost track of what was happening. So here’s how it’ll go: Whenever a fight begins, I’ll roll the initiatives for everyone. The PCs, and any combatant friendlies, will then have their rolls averaged together to give a group initiative. Same for the bad guys. This group initiative decides who goes first, you or the opposition. I’ll resolve individual actions together in order of posting, unless someone declares a delay, either all the good guys first or all the bad guys first, depending on the outcome of the group rolls. It’s not quite as granular as tabletop, but I found out in my other game that it was much easier for PCs to coordinate actions together and made a lot of intuitive sense to most people.
After every resolution, I’ll post up a due date for actions. Usually it’s about two days hence. If you haven’t posted a declaration by the time it rolls around, I may bot your PC for the round to keep things going.
Curse of the Magic
This is a variant rule from the 3e campaign setting. In the books, characters using arcane magic often have it take a lot out of them. To model this, whenever a character casts an arcane spell the character must roll a Fortitude Save, DC 10+spell level. If you succeed, you’re fine. On a failure, you become Fatigued. Fail again while fatigued and you’re exhausted. Fail while exhausted and you fall unconscious. These states can be remedied through rest or with restorative magic.
Given the low DC, I think this will be mostly a flavor thing unless you purposefully build for it. If it seems too intrusive or fun-ruining, let me know and we can discuss the issue. I think it’s cool, but I’m not married to it.
Most of this is probably pretty standard.
I will share battlemaps via Roll20. I don’t think you need to sign up for an account to view; there’ll be a link above the thread when the time comes. If you’re not familiar, Roll20 is a handy virtual tabletop that works through your browser. If you want to make accounts, then I can attach your PC token to your account so you can move yourself around the battle. It also facilitates fog of war and such very nicely, which makes for easy exploration and battle set-up. No other method I’ve used to do those things online has been half so easy to manage. It’s even got little health bars to help you keep track of friends and foes. Doing those chores used to be the absolute worst when I ran games online. I understand that not everyone loves it, but I rate the thing an essential tool.
I plan for a post a day or thereabouts. If it’s been roughly that long and I haven’t heard from you, I may bot your PC in the interests of keeping things moving. I know from experience that it’s really easy to get into a waiting loop in online games.
Please list key stats (current/total hit points, ACs, saves, initiative, perception) on the little text bar under your alias. You can include more if you want, but those are the big ones that I’ll likely need from everyone all at once and rather often so having them in the thread is very convenient.
I’ll roll combat-beginning things like perception and initiative, as well as anything else that would benefit from immediate resolution. So if I throw a fireball at you, I’ll roll the saves. You are free, and encouraged, to write flavor text for how you dodged and made your save or how you failed to do so. I’ll do all these rolls in the open using the dice commands, but bury the lot of them in a spoiler and just put descriptive text outside it to avoid making walls of numbers. That does mean that the dice gods may cruelly frown upon you, even lethally, but I’ll try to minimize fatalities. Story-driven games tend to rot when from within with too much cast turnover.
When you do something that requires a roll from an NPC, like casting a hostile spell, I’ll roll that save. There are too many conditional bonuses, resistances, and immunities that might come into play to frontload a listing of them all and at times the PCs should be surprised by them. When foes come loaded with buffing spells and the like, I will do my best to remember to indicate that in their descriptions under the premise that active magical effects in close proximity generally have some visible manifestation.
I will be more forthcoming with ACs, as they tend to be all-or-nothing affairs. If I forget, feel free to remind me. Thus you should ordinarily be able to resolve things requiring attack rolls in the post with your declaration. You’re encouraged to flavor your hits and misses how you like. Most of the time, I plan to outright give you the hit point totals of your targets so you can know right away if you did them in or not. For important NPCs and monsters, I’ll keep the hit point total hidden but plan to give you general descriptors of their condition like “unharmed” and “near death”.
Please try to get along, at least so far as the game threads go, OOC. We’re going to be spending a fair bit of time together.
I will probably screw it up. Be patient. :)
I’ll take submissions until 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, on November 17. That’s a week from today, more or less.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? That’s what the thread’s for. :)