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The Dragon has summoned you to her audience chamber. It seems she has set her eye upon the fruitful - though dangerous - region of Gelkrosh to the southwest. It also seems she expects you to realize her ambitions for her.
Hello all. I am setting up a campaign that will heavily use the Kingdom Building rules, set in my homebrewed setting of Eldreon. This setting isn't particularly off-the-wall, so it shouldn't take too much adjustment.
This campaign features a group of miscreants who have been sent to expand the domain of their mistress, a powerful dragon who already rules a sizable realm. My plan is to select a single player who will be the Dragon's hand-picked leader, and then that player will help select the other players to fill out the rest of the group.
This game can be thought of as open-ended within a certain frame - it has specific objectives, and a clear ending point, but no set path to get to any of them. Players will start at level 5 (with the leader starting at level 6) and can be expected to level as high as 10-12 or so depending on specific paths taken.
A generation ago, the Gelkrosh region - in the midst of an economic and population boom - was struck by disaster: prehistorical monsters dubbed mantids were unearthed from an ancient slumber beneath the vast coal and tarpits of the central badlands and spread rapidly, driving people away from a vast swath of the area and cutting off travel and trade for even more. But this was before the lands of the Dragon bordered Gelkrosh. She has had her alchemists devise a antidote for the most powerful weapon of the mantids - their paralytic poison. With this, she believes she can begin to make inroads to taking the region and its mines and farms for her own.
But how to do it? She is already at war with the giants to the north, and has no interest opening another front in the combat. She wishes to take the region more subtly. Picking a small number of her loyal followers, she directs them to subdue the region as much as possible before revealing her involvement.
There are many paths they can take to victory, by stealth, intrigue, and assassination, by the steady grind of clever economics, by sheer bold brutality, or by these and others mixed in a deft combination. All possible, and legitimate, paths to domination. But there will be worthy and clever opponents at every turn, and should they fail in their charge they'll have no refuge back in the Dragon's lands...
This campaign will begin with 3-5 players (one being the acknowledged leader, appointed by the Dragon herself) along with a company of around a dozen 'soldiers' (a motley crew of brutes, fit for fighting but not much else) being dispatched to the region known as Gelkrosh. They will decide on how and where to enter the region, how they'll go about building up a power base, how to deal with the other factions and threats, and how they'll rule the lands they control. It is entirely possible that they'll get in over their heads and end up assassinated, defeated in open battle, or simply deposed by an unruly populace.
Furthermore, after the players have established the "kingdom" aspect of the game, they'll be able to roll up secondary characters. These characters will be controlled as NPCs (but be available to inhabit kingdom roles that need filling, if desired) unless and until their corresponding player's primary character dies (a very real possibility), in which case they'll take over the secondary character.
I like high roleplay focus, low loot-focus games. I've created Eldreon to be a world where magic is rampant but magic items are rare. You won't be getting wealth-by-level, and even powerful characters might not have much in the form of permanent magical gear.
On Alignments: You can be any alignment. Generally speaking, I treat the alignment of any mortal character as "light." They have some leanings in that direction, but obviously are not embodiments of the alignment. The exceptions being divine spellcasters, other extremely religious people, and characters who single-mindedly fulfill their alignments tenets (mass-murdering psychos or feed-the-hungry philanthropists, to pick extreme examples). This extends to the use of Detect Evil/Good/etc spells: most regular people won't show up as anything in particular.
Also just a heads up, the economy is silver-based instead of gold based. Mostly that just means we transpose "gold pieces" to "silver pieces" and leave gold for much larger sums of wealth.
The ideal kind of player who's fit to be the "leader" of the group should enjoy the idea of the managerial aspects of a Kingdom Building game, as they'll need to be able to consider a lot of info over the course of the campaign. They also need to be able to make decisions and tell other people what to do, naturally.
I don't want full-on character builds! I select players based on their ability to dream up and role-play a personality first and foremost. What I want to see are character concepts. Use the details about the Dragon's Realm below, sketch in a few details of your own, and run with it. Will you be a clever but formidable fighter leading your subordinates in battle? A priest who wants to see the region they subdue come to the worship of a particular god? A spider-in-the-web puppetmaster who'll come to power by wit and machination? Something much less cliché than these?
You SHOULD include at least one tidbit of history - what you have done to bring your name to the Dragon's attention. Have you worked for her directly up until now? Were you merely a notable resident somewhere in her realm? The scion of another loyal servant? Whatever. Give me some of that history.
You can include thoughts on crunch if you like, but the fluff/background is what I'm really interested in. Once characters are selected, we'll do character builds and such in the discussion thread before beginning the campaign.
As far as race/class choices go:
Race - this region of the world is highly diverse. With all sorts of races living alongside each other (though not always peacefully).
Human - common, many human cultures both sedentary and nomadic live in the area.
Hobgoblin - just as common and varied as humans (fun fact, hobgoblins in Eldreon have no native concept of gender and reproduce asexually).
Halfling - The halflings in this part of the world tend to be more rough-and-tumble than elsewhere.
Goblin - Goblins tend to be short-sighted and prone to violence, but their communities are still tolerated in some places due to their surprising industriousness and their willingness to do dirty, dangerous jobs.
Ogre - Ogres tend to be quite dumb and violent, but they're also incredibly strong. Found frequently as bodyguards and laborers when their employers have the talents and means to keep them under control.
Elf (and half-elf) - Elves are generally disliked by the other races of the region (and vice versa) due to myriad old grudges as well as the tendency for elven communities of this part of the world to "cause trouble" (freeing slaves and such). However, some elves have managed to carve a place for themselves (often by matching the violence and savagery of their neighbors). Half-elves are more common, but also frequently the subject of bigotry.
Orc (and half-orc) - Several orc tribes exist in the area and are often found in martial trades.
Kobold - Kobolds tend to stick to themselves and don't often interact with other races, but in a kingdom ruled by a Dragon several of them have risen to prominence.
Gnoll - Gnolls are uncommon in this part of the world, but not unknown.
And finally, a homebrewed race called the Drecna which you can read about here. They're uncommon here as well, but are famed travelers.
Classes: You don't actually have to decide on one now, but I'm open to considering any class except barbarian, monk, and alchemist, and psionic-types. (Barbarian and monk 'flavors' can be worked into other classes if desired). I tend to favor people who work within the basic classes (fighter, ranger, wizard, etc) and their archetypes.
Currently, I'm planning to post a separate recruitment thread for the rest of the party once this recruitment is done.
This campaign sticks to the region of Gelkrosh, and the players don't need to know much about the world-at large. If you would like to read a bit just to see if I'm a terrible or passable world-builder, I threw some stuff up on a blog awhile back (including some things about religion, which might be useful). The Blog Is Here.
Information you'll actually want to know is in the spoiler marked "The Gelkrosh Region" or in the attached documents.
In this folder you'll find a map and a document with some initial information on the various notable settlements.
Gelkrosh is a hinterlands region bordering The Dragon's controlled lands and a couple other regional powers, one of which (a nation ruled by giants) the Dragon is engaged in a border war with. She believes the time has come to claim it, but she wants to start things off quietly by building up a base of support so that she doesn't anger the other nations before her control of Gelkrosh is already a done deal. That is where the players come in.
In the distant past, the region was very sparsely populated, with mostly nomadic populations of humans, halflings, and hobgoblins living and warring over the grazing regions. More recently burgeoning populations to both the east and west drove settlers into the area, mostly displacing or assimilating the original tribes. Once the river floodplains were found to be incredibly fertile, the increased food production began a population and expansion boom in the area. Discovery of the tar pits and coal seams in the eastern badlands region only accelerated this. However, disaster struck early into the process - coal mining opened up a cavern which held some dormant monstrosity from earlier times, enormous venomous insectoids that were dubbed Mantids. Awakened, they erupted from their cave, slaughtering most of the nearby mining town overnight and spreading rapidly. Over the coming months they caused nearly the entirety of the badlands regions populace to flee or die, and even threatened the farming towns to the north. Furthermore, they made travel so dangerous that it choked off most of the region's trade.
Almost 25 years later, the region has reached a sort of stability. The central portion is still mostly deserted, and dominated by the mantids. Gelkrosh still provides food to the rest of the area, but must transport it along a threatened route in heavily guarded caravans. Hafton has survived on its own surrounding lands and trade from unthreatened routes to the north and west. Swampside has remaining largely cut off from the rest of the region except for a small trade in magical and alchemical goods, small enough to be carried by more highly-mobile merchants who skirt the mantid's territory or pass through it by unknown means.
As a GM, I may beat, burn, rob, abuse, and kill your characters – but I will never abandon them. I have been in several dropped games on these forums, and so here is my pledge to you as players: I will never, ever abandon a game if even one player wants to continue. We will find other players or make it a solo adventure. Due to real-life reasons, games may be delayed and they may slow down – but so long as I have players, my players have a game.
Yeesh, that's a lot of stuff. If I've forgotten something or you have other questions, feel free to ask. This recruitment will go for at least one week, with the recruitment for the rest of the party shortly after.
Dot for interest, If Gnoll is in fir consideration I may apply as a Pyromancer of some kind, kinetisist or sorcerer probably,
However I may also want to play a Brawler, but i definitely don't want to be the groups face. I have one game where I basically am, and honestly I don't want to be the one responsible for telling thr others what to do :P
As for my character, if I'm making a Gnoll I'll want to do a character based around honor and pride... Mostly pride, and with a sense of honor that excludes hiding daggers in boots and shivs between fingers. basically I want a character who on the surface appears to be a respectable person, but earned their position by stabbing people in the back, literally.
Alternatively I may want to make a real honorable character, but that's unlikely
I guess my question is this- even with the alignments being less of a factor, is this a generally evil- aligned or generally good- aligned dragon? I've got a pair of ideas with which I'll flesh out a little bit more, but that depending on the above question will determine which character I actually propose.
|Vitaliano da Riva|
So part of me of course asks how you make the character. I know that crunch isn't like 100% needed to build a character but the difference in what you can make with a 4d6, focus foilable, or a point buy character is immense and would change drastically what I'd build.
For instance if I roll something stupid strong, my first thought would be to build a Kobold Dragon Disciple to be.
In this part of the world, might generally makes right. The Dragon herself is pretty neutral and pragmatic, but you might say she has an evil lean as there are almost no possible methods she does not use when those are the methods that will work. She's not particularly vicious or cruel, but her overall goals are inherently selfish - she likes ruling, she likes riches and power, etc.
So, characters of any bent/alignment will fit in her employ, but chances are they'll need to be at least somewhat disciplined (if they'd be selected as the leader). No random murderers or unrestrained lunatics. If you're mad, bad, and dangerous to know, there should be a method to your madness.
@ Vitaliano: I prefer the rolling method, BUT for the leader I was going to do a 20 point buy so that they can be designed a little more deliberately. I'll probably do 4d6 drop lowest for the followers.
|Vitaliano da Riva|
If we’re using Kingdom Building rules, then Charisma is going to be a pretty key attribute for the ruler. I might go with a Draconic Bloodrager who’s distantly descended from the dragon herself. How does that sound? If a descendant is less than workable in this setting, perhaps a trusted agent who, through some magical means, is imbued with a bit of the dragon’s power.
|Vitaliano da Riva|
|Lord Foul II|
@All: I will mention that the party leader does not necessarily need to be the Kingdom leader. And in either case, people who are not necessarily interested in being the party leader role are free to dot here, as I will make an announcement when party recruitment is up and link the new thread.
@Ouachitonian: Having the bloodline of the dragon herself is certainly a possibility. She's been ruling this kingdom for hundreds of years and also has several full-blooded dragon children who serve as her agents and enforcers.
Economically speaking, the Dragon controls a nation/province. This nation has vendors, guilds, and merchants devoted to increasing her coffers. There are also public works needing to be established/upkept. Cathedrals made in her honor. A Palace for every day of the week... Depending on her ego vs her pragmatist nature - these merchant houses could still retain the noble houses established before she took over that still carry weigh in the neighboring provinces. These merchant houses could have spread out some from her power base into other nearby provinces.
I love the idea of a Dragon that has ranks in Finance. A hoard of gold is not going to get compound interest but wise investments with multiple brokers will... Diversity in investments over the long haul...
She is using her military to have a border war. This causes a wartime economy. Resources are produced rapidly as productivity is increased. Threats of being sent to the front line provide the incentive to be productive.
Because of the border war, she doesn't want to open up a front line against mantids/humans who used to occupy the Gelkrosh province. She would most likely need to get grain from the Gelkrosh province to feed her military, since she converted her farmers to infantry.
Thinking of a merchant type that would have access to providing exports that the Dragon had into Gelkrosh. Probably establish businesses in Hafton and the area near Gelkrosh while undermining the influence of Zaw's Rock. Even set up shop at the Lodge to sell the mantid poison.
Why risk using the poison against the mantids when you can sell it to adventurers who will use it. Use the money to buy land, stock in businesses, and favors.
I have some ideas. One is a dwarven cleric of Childa, Bragi, who a cohort of a human Mastermind. Willing to start out the dwarf as 4th level to reflect the level of the Mastermind. Would rather see the dwarf played out. The mastermind works from the shadows. When the mastermind is revealed, would be fun, and should be an Event. (Not such if the mastermind is pro or con against the Dragon).
Alright, so here we go. I've got two characters to look over, because the answer to my question was eminently unhelpful in my decision- making process- nothing against you, DM! Rather, just inspired me to write about two different characters that I think will do well.
Here's the link to the fluff/backstories; if there's any comments you have, or anything else you'd like to see, please let me know!
Thanks for opening up your time, DM!
I've had so many campaigns end, sputtering and dying. Kinda like having a stamp of "no quitting without a good reason" going into it. :)
4d6 ⇒ (2, 3, 5, 6) = 16
4d6 ⇒ (2, 2, 3, 5) = 12
4d6 ⇒ (6, 3, 6, 4) = 19
4d6 ⇒ (5, 5, 5, 4) = 19
4d6 ⇒ (4, 5, 4, 3) = 16
4d6 ⇒ (1, 6, 1, 2) = 10
Total: 24 points
Going to make a Tiefling Bloodrager who will go into Dragon Disiple. Should make for a fun natural attack build, and one which will fit the campaign well. Choosing Tiefling for the tail and permanent claw attacks for when not bloodraging.
Str (18) Dex (16) Con (14) Int (7) Wis (12) Cha (15)
* Darkvision (60ft)
* Prehensile Tail (can retrieve items from pack as swift action)
* Maw or Claw (2x 1d4 primary natural attacks)
* Fiendish Resistance (Cold/Electricity/Fire 5)
Feats VMC Cleric
Lvl 1 Feat: Fiendish Heritage 3d100 ⇒ (24, 90, 81) = 195 (+2 Wisdom)
Lvl 3 VMC: Protection Domain (to shore up the horrific Ref/Will saves)
Lvl 5 Feat: Armor of the Pit (+2 Natural Armor)
Lvl 8: +1 Int (8)
Lvl 11 Dragon Disciple: +2 Int (10)
That's it for now. Will finish up rest of crunch and fluff later.
Basic idea is that this character comes from a long line of dragon-priests. Men who worship The Dragon as a demi-god who rules by divine mandate. He will have been born with scales, claws and a tail, which will have been taken as being proof that he has the blood of dragons in his veins. Him being sent here as a lieutenant will be due to familial connections and his gifts from birth, two things which he will have relied on his entire life. Obviously not his intelligence.
@Lessah, Re: Occultist: I mostly say no to psionic classes because things that don't "feel" right to my setting make my soul itch. :) I have no experience of the occultist, and from a brief glance it seems they could be treated largely as an arcane caster? So I might give them a try.
@Brett: All of your planning vis a vis setting up shop and selling the antidote rather than using it is entirely valid and a possible strategy to try. Also, you've hit upon another likely challenge to the nascent nation: the Dragon's lands are having trouble supporting their population and food requests will be a thing - as will migration waves that increase your own population.
@Artemis: yeah, I understand. The Dragon having no particular lean certainly doesn't help alignment decisions, and I understand option paralysis very well. I'll take a look at your link and give some feedback a little later today!
@Grumbaki: Yeah, half the campaigns I get into end within a couple weeks. It gets old fast.
To others after Grumbaki: I'll request no further stat rolling in the recruitment thread, as I'd prefer to do that during actual character building in discussion once choices have been made.
Sorry about jumping the gun. If selected can always fix the rolling issue later. Just wanted something concrete to build around.
Also have you considered allowing this?
At lvl5 can make a medium sized dragon. Part of the Dragon’s brood, sent out to gain valuable experience (away from the real front lines) and to prove themselves against their peers.
I'm wondering if you would even consider a submission from me, as I have no PbP history to observe. PbP guides generally suggest that you stalk your prospective player's posting history. They also suggest that a GM take in a new player or two, but I don't suppose you want your party leader be a new player.
As a side note, I think having a party leader is a great idea for an open ended kingdom building campaign run via PbP, based on a conversation where several veteran players discussed doors, sandbox campaigns, and the decision paralysis these things can lead to. I'm also a fan of your guarantee, and the game you've been running since 2014. I would not consider applying if I didn't think you would be a good GM.
I am a student at a liberal arts college about to begin my second year, planning to major in medieval European history. Gary Gigax had some understanding of military history, and originally designed Oerth with the migrations of various peoples across the island of Britain in mind. I have begun to create my own homebrew setting, and am trying very hard to make it as internally consistent as possible. As a huge fan and student of Tolkien, I understand how internal consistency and intelligent design greatly faccilitate immersion and allow for a much more enjoyable product.
I believe that my writing is strong, and I know that I have a very high degree of patience and determination. If you consider me as a player, I will be able to produce a strong submission with a complex and powerful set of motivations and desires. I haven't read through your setting material yet, as I do not know if I will apply, so I as yet have only the barest inklings of a character.
Let me know if you will consider selecting me.
Love both the concepts. There'd definitely need to be some tweaking done on the exact details for either one, but the core of each is promising - especially love the first one, a displaced native of the region coming home to take charge! Very cool. And an intelligent warrior type makes for an excellent leader figure. Thanks for the entries!
I have no qualms about having a newer player be the leader, so long as you think that you as a PLAYER can handle the higher time commitment and the need to make broad decisions on fuzzy knowledge. :) If you decide to submit a character idea, I will consider it just as strongly as any other person's.
I'm likewise a huge Tolkien fan and moreover someone who has a pretty big desire/need for internal consistency within a setting, especially one I'm creating myself.
Edit: Also, thanks for the post to the old forum link, looks like a good read.
Dragons are master tacticians. They have long lives. Their strategy evolves into two avenues: short-term survival and long-term betterment. The border war feels like it was years in the planning - which is going through the normal activity that she has already flow charted out.
The arranging for the land grab into Gelkrosh feels like a gamble or spur of the moment option. Either the border war is not going as planned or is going too well to plan.
The border province going not to plan means delays in absorbing that province. Her food resources are dwindling so she needs a new source. This doesn't feel right as she has merchants who can purchase grain/food... Could be she doesn't want inflation to hit Gelkrosh if she suddenly purchases all the grain. Love a Dragon with ranks in Finance. So she wants a stable neighbor to produce grain, which means kill the mantids...
If the war is going too well, means not as many causalities, so more mouths to feed. The border province may not have enough food to feed itself and her victorious army. If the Dragon used peasant levies, then no one back home is growing food. She can't have her civilians starve - when citizens starve and get bored they revolt.
Meanwhile, there is Zaw's Rock. The Rock is probably buying as much food as they can from Gelkrosh farmers. Their exports of iron and lead probably have been reduced as that flow has turned to weapon forging for the front line against the Dragon. If the export level is still consistent or increased then the border province is in desperate need of coin for their war chest.
Speaking of Coin. Zaw's Rock would be a good source of silver to mint coin or trade bars.
Goals for campaign and Leader:
Secure food for the Dragon's official province and soon to be conquered border province.
Secure Zaw's Rock for the Dragon. Or deny it for the border province.
Develop infrastructure for a vassal nation to the Dragon or independent nation that trades favorably with the Dragon. The border province will need time to adjust to the Dragon's rule. Two or three generations should do it. The Dragon should understand that it can't assimilate two provinces into her fold without the infrastructure to hold both from rebels. Rebellions show weakness to other Nations.
Bankrupt any border province merchant houses. Or claim them through marriage, majority stock/mergers, or trade deals. Dragon could authorize a price war with the border province for Gelkrosh Grain. Pay more than the border province can afford. She can drive up the price of grain then have her vassal merchant houses sell on credit to the border province. Love a Dragon with ranks in Finance.
Ally or avoid angering the "Power". Unless the Dragon is a Black Dragon - no need to claim swamplands. Plan to outlive the "Power".
Best option is to absorb the border province quickly. Wait the two generations, then culturally annex Gelkrosh. Propaganda (I don't see directly fighting the mantids as smart - unless for morale or to impress), merchants and their debt, the military dictating martial law in the border province can then roll into Gelkrosh.
Once she is done with Gelkrosh and the border land, how does her border look in regards to a three-province nation. Can she keep her borders or must she expand somewhere else? This means, how much border would she have and can her forces hold that (I assume) longer stretch?
The more the Gelkrosh option feels rushed. She has to do this now rather than handle Gelkrosh in a few decades.
This is the true campaign.
Dotting for interest. Thinking of doing a former pirate that was captured by the Dragon's nation, and is being given a stay of execution to act on her behalf here because he wouldn't otherwise be recognized as an agent of her nation. Likely doing a Human Swashbuckler.
This is what I've got so far
- Gender: Male
- Age: 24
- Height: 5'9" (175cm)
- Weight: 179lbs (81kg)
- Skin Tone: Jasper Orange (#de8f4e)
- Iris Color: Olive (#808000)
- Hair Color: Bistre Brown (#967117)
- Hair Length: 4"
- Hair Style: Wavy. Combed back.
- Facial Hair Color: Bronze (#cd7f32)
- Facial Hair Length: Clean-to-less than 3/20" (4mm)
- Facial Features: Square jaw. Hooded eyes. Strong nose. Leathery skin.
- Physique: Toned. Obviously does some form of manual labor.
- Might makes right.
- People lack intrinsic rights; they have the right to only what they can protect.
- A person's life has a quantifiable value.
- Will harm or kill others when doing so is more convenient than not.
- Will steal or vandalize when doing so is more convenient than not.
- Will lie, cheat, or manipulate when doing so is more convenient than not.
- Revels in being strong, but not necessarily in inflicting harm.
- Is not capricious; consistency through risk-reward evaluations.
- Generally outgoing; puts on a show for others.
- Tends to trivialize acts of cruelty in casual conversation, rather than making ominous threats or the like.
- Open-minded; willing to hear others out and try new things.
- Tries to plan ahead, but capable of improvising as necessary.
- Hates when people ask for what they're not entitled; loathes when people snivel or beg.
Dorf Fort Philosophy
- Does not respect the law.
- Values loyalty.
- Sees power over others as something to strive for.
- Finds blind honesty foolish.
- Greatly respects the shrewd and guileful.
- Values eloquence.
- Sees life as unfair and doesn't mind it that way.
- Values decorum, dignity, and proper behavior.
- Finds artwork boring.
- Values cooperation.
- Treasures independence.
- Finds those that deny their impulses somewhat stiff.
- Prefers a noisy, bustling life to boring days without activity.
- Truly values merrymaking and parties.
- Has a great deal of respect for worthy craftsmanship.
- Believes that martial prowess defines the good character of an individual.
- Really respects those that take the time to master a skill.
- Values hard work.
- Sees sacrifice (for others) as wasteful and foolish.
- Views competition as a crucial driving force in the world.
- Greatly respects individuals that persevere through their trials and labors.
- Sees war as a useful means to an end.
- Values knowledge.
Dorf Fort Personality
- Does not easily fall in love and rarely develops positive sentiments.
- Does not easily hate or develop negative sentiments.
- Often feels envious of others.
- Is often cheerful.
- Almost never feels discouraged.
- Has a calm demeanor.
- Often feels lustful.
- Can handle stress.
- Is very greedy.
- Occasionally overindulges.
- Would never pass up a chance for a good fistfight.
- Doesn't mind a little tumult and discord in day-to-day living.
- Is a friendly individual.
- Could be considered rude.
- Is generally quite confident of his abilities when undertaking specific ventures.
- Is please by his own appearance and talents.
- Is very ambitious, always looking for a way to better his station.
- Takes offered help and gifts without feeling particularly grateful.
- Doesn't mind wearing something special now and again.
- Finds the humor in most situations.
- Doesn't tend to hold on to grievances.
- Is sometimes cruel.
- Tends to share his own experiences and thoughts with others.
- Doesn't cling tightly to ideas and is open to changing his mind.
- Is quite comfortable with others that have a different appearance or culture.
- Does not generally respond to emotional appeals.
- Does not go out of his way to help others.
- Finds obligations confining.
- Sees others as selfish and conniving.
- Enjoys being in crowds.
- Has an overbearing personality.
- Likes a fast-paced life.
- Seeks out exciting and adventurous situations.
- Has an active imagination.
- Does not have a great aesthetic sensitivity.
I have a question about the world before I started doing a backstory. Namely, I need to know where the game is taking place. You've got a world map and a local map, but I'm not sure where on Eldreon the Gelkrosh Region is located, or the Dragon's nation for that matter. Personally hoping it's vaguely western Golm, because that area looks the most likely to have pirates. Gotta make sure the concept is even viable before I go full dive into trying to work out a backstory, after all.
Love the angle. Some of the details would need to be tweaked to fit the actual realities of Eldreon (and the actual realities of the Dragon's orders), but it's a good concept.
A quick question about the 'mastermind' concept you mentioned at first: what exactly did you mean? Would the mastermind be the secondary rolled character, who ends up being sort of in charge of the scheme? I'd be willing to entertain that. It seems to have disappeared from your second write-up, though.
The Dwarf Fortress personality stuff tickles me. Also, the pirate is certainly a viable concept, and I do like the idea of the dragon making use of you for plausible deniability (that was definitely going to be established no matter who the party end up being!).
I've included a new graphic in the folder to answer your question of geography, and re-upped the link below this spoiler. Gelkrosh/Giant/Dragonland is actually in the east, but it isn't as barren as it looks - just less fleshed out. Furthermore, the map is in its first iteration and will definitely be gaining lands further east of Golm. There's plenty of opportunity for pirates there. Heck, make up your own homeland if you like - maybe I'll make it canon.
To answer Rotaretilbo's question about the location of Gelkrosh, I've added a picture to The Info Folder. See the red markings to the right/eastern portion of the map (also known as the northern part of the continent of Golm). It's probably horribly out of scale, but it'll give you the right idea.
|Vitaliano da Riva|
I really like Murumasa, the soldier, too- and as I mentioned in my notes, he seemed tailor- made for a submission- my only concern was that there might be alot of submission of military for the dragon. That, and the barb- thing.
P.S. I gave you editing privileges on the doc, so if you want to make notes/list of correctables, go ahead.
The true game is one of revealing motivations and secrets. This is a chess match between the Dragon and the Mastermind. The Giants, the Mantids, Bragi, the Party - they're all pawns.
The Dragon would be complicit in allowing Bragi to journey under her banner. She hopes to stabilize her two provinces. She hopes to get Gelkrosh as a third. She hopes to identify the Mastermind. She hopes to prevent revolt and riots in her streets. Allowing Bragi to travel under her banner, she is able to spy closely upon him.
Otherwise, the Mastermind may still send Bragi out to do his bidding within Gelkrosh without the Dragon's control.
There is an aspect of near-immortal beings handling ruling provinces that I haven't seen done well before. Long-term plans, the outliving an opponent, the boredom of such a life, the time jumps. Periods of torpor. Intrigue must factor in with decisions and impulses.
For her reputation, the border province must fall. Open warfare has been declared. No way to save face if the border province doesn't fall. So she must win that. Gelkrosh, is covert, if she partially fails, she still wins. Only the Mastermind would know she has failed.
Gelkrosh is not quite the gamble I earlier mentioned, but it is a stalling action. Feed her people. Relocate troublesome citizens. If she successfully takes it, then she has three provinces. If she partially succeeds, she gets to keep the border province and try again for Gelkrosh.
She knows that Bragi doesn't want the complete mantid poison that is available, yet. Something about the mantids being a valuable Placeholder. One doesn't knock a Placeholder out of position until one is ready to occupy that territory. Or allow the vacuum to be filled by someone else.
Speaking of Placeholders, is Bragi truly going to carry in his Trade Caravan empty crates to the Crossroads Lake Settlements? This assumes a tight budget, lack of available trade/surplus of goods and the Crossroads Lake Settlements are the closest population centers in Gelkrosh province.
Inzeldrab is coastal then. Wunderschön.
Here's what I've thrown together.
- equitorial archipelago east of Golm, Volligluck
- Volligluck initially colonized by dissidents from Inzeldrab; semi-autonomous due to distance
- minor port city on equitorial peninsula, Arglos
- maritime trade opens up between Golapor and Inzeldrab, results in Arglos becoming major trade hub
- Volligluck too far south for Inzeldrab to reasonably govern; insurrection
- pirates begin praying upon naval trade between Golapor and Arglos
- pirates support Volligluck insurrection in exchange for commission and safe harbor
- Wolfgang is born on Volligluck to a prostitute, father is absent and unknown
- mother cannot support him, proprietor has no work for him, but does not put him out
- at 14, Wolfgang is leased to privateers to pay the debt he has incurred being housed and fed by his mother's proprietor thus far, serves on the Red Fox as cabin boy
- at 17, Wolfgang wins his freedom from the captain of the Red Fox through gambling; Wolfgang cheated
- the captain refuses to honor the bargain regardless, and Wolfgang slits his throat in the night
- the new captain, on a whim, grants Wolfgang his freedom, provided Wolfgang stay on as a privateer
- Wolfgang agrees, and is nicknamed the Blood Wolf by the captain
- at 23, the Red Fox is led into a trap by fellow privateer, and captured by the Inzeldrab navy
- much of the crew is executed by hanging for piracy, but Wolfgang is spared
- as a man with little prestige and no loyalty to the pirates, he could be useful
- the Dragon knows that Wolfgang will act on her behalf, if that is in his own best interest
- she demonstrates her power for Wolfgang, demonstrates the price of failure, the absence of possible escape
- Wolfgang has no intrinsic loyalty to Inzeldrab, but he is loyal to himself, and serving Inzeldrab keeps him alive
I hope I am correct in my assumption that Inzeldrab is the nation which we will be serving. I poked around the blog, and noticed that it was referenced as a nation ruled by a dragon. If not, substitute that for the correct name. If any of these details don't line up with the world as it currently exists, let me know and I'll make alterations as necessary.
The major assumptions are that Inzeldrab has existed for at least 30ish years, likely much longer, that Inzeldrab would have any interest in colonizing an archipelago to the south for purely national reasons in the absence of an important resource on the island, that trade between Inzeldrab and Golapor is both possible (politically, economically, and physically) and that it's fairly recent (less than 30 years ago), and that Inzeldrab maintains a navy sufficient to deal with pirates, but is not willing or perhaps able to otherwise crush the rebellion on Volligluck.
Also, here's a link with vaguely where I imagine Volligluck and Arglos are located.
That's nice to hear. I like the occultist myself because you get a bit of magic and sword hitting, but not quite as combat focused as the magus. Also some of the implement abilities are really neat.
I think I'll start tinkering then, but as I'm not looking to lead, I'll try and stay out of your hair for a little while :-P
Apologies, almost missed your comment! Many of the details would be little things, and not really worth getting into unless you end up in the campaign (whether as leader or party member). The biggest one that you can pay attention to now is timeline issue.
Basically, the timespan you have is too short. There's no way Muramusa could have been there before the modern settling period and still be in his prime by the time of the return. Here's the timespans we're talking about, if we use year 0 as the discovery of coal/tar in the region:
Year : Event
-20: Settlers being to flood the region
-15: Friction between indigenous nomads and settlers begins
-15 to 0: Nomads increasingly pushed onto less and less land, but their traditional ways of life continue
0: Large coal and tar deposits discovered in central Gelkrosh badlands
0 to 10: Increasing amounts of industry, trade, and immigration further sideline the nomads, many nomads lose young people who go to the towns to work in mines, pits.
5: Mantids unleashed
5 - 6: Mantids spread, pushing everyone out of affected area. The few nomads who remain must survive on marginal land to the east, or be pushed beyond the river to the west.
This isn't definitive, but you see the sort of time involved. Assuming we want to keep Muramusa relatively young (30 or so?) he was probably born sometime right around when the mantids were unleashed or just before, assuming at least 20 years go by in between the mantids appearing and the campaign starting.
The nomads do survive in the area, so he can still know the life of a nomadic herder for a time before he leaves the impoverished region to join the Dragon's military, so the story still works just fine. But the amount of the events he experienced first-hand is more limited. He'd probably have heard the stories from his older relatives, though, so he'd be intimately familiar with them.
I've read through the setting materials and I like them.
I'm wondering exactly how much of a time commitment it will be to run a leader. I can post multiple times a day, but I don't think I can commit to ever spending more than an average of an hour and fifteen minutes a day. In general, my schedule tends to change with the seasons, and the weeks. I have to plan for my least available times, and I can't in good conscience apply to this game unless I know that I can meet the time demands.
I like your setting enough, and have become invested enough in my character, that I'll probably apply as a regular player if I don't end up the leader.
My submission will be a man in his early thirties who has traveled far and lived several lives already. But now, wife dead, homeland far across the seas, ship sunk beneath the waves, he's got nothing left but his skills and the need for a purpose in life.
I have a a few more general questions.
We're going to start at fifth or sixth level, about how powerful does that make us? Is everyone that an average villager ever meets first and second level? Are people substantially more powerful than us as common as ships?
What is the government of Inzeldrab like? Are there feudal nobility who rule in the name of the dragon and pay tribute to her, or does she do things more directly?
What is Hafton producing with it's industry? I don't know if this is a stupid question or not, but what are the demands and how does production meet them? I'm also interested to hear how widespread their products are.
How big is one hex on the local map?
Thanks for your time.
I forgot to mention a bit about being a barbarian: I dislike the class because I think it blurs the line too much between role/profession and culture. When people want to play a warrior who relies on rage (berserker type) that can be arranged. We can talk about it should you end up in the campaign!
That sounds fine, and I'm always fine with people needing breaks or delays (provided they don't mount up too crazily). Basically, I meant the team leader needs to be able to be mostly on top of the info presented. Hopefully his team will be engaged with everything and willing to shoulder burdens that fit their characters without too much input, but should they require direction it's up to the leader to give it.
As to your questions:
Vis a vis power level (very good question, and one I'll be making clear to the picked players): The average power level of this world skews a little higher than the average Pathfinder setting. You can think of it as a bell curve centered somewhere around level 7, with larger cities having more higher level people. Level 5 is still pretty high - there are people who 'live' their entire NPC lives and don't make it that far. Your average NPC will be level 1 or 2, say. Most leaders of small towns might get as high as 5 and no higher. So you guys will be pretty badass for the region in general right from the start, but NOT right at the top yet. And of course there will be certain outliers.
Inzeldrab can be thought of as feudal, sure. A couple of people have had questions about this now, so I'm brushing up a document I used to get all this straight in my own head. I'll post it up later today. Generally speaking though, the Dragon is on top, and the various regions below her are semi-autonomous as long as they offer up taxes and troops when called upon. Her realm is highly heterogeneous when it comes to who is in direct charge of day-to-day governance.
Hafton is, essentially, the main industrial center that both the Gelkrosh region and the neighboring regions (including regions this campaign will only deal with indirectly) largely depend upon for anything that can't be made by a local blacksmith, including raw metal ingots. Lots of farming equipment, generalized engineering equipment (fittings and fixtures for mills, as well as tools for various trades which need specialized tools) come from here. It also turns out much of the weapons in use in the region. Their products are of good quality, but they don't turn out enough of them to be very widespread (due to low demand in comparison to more populous areas such as the kingdom of the Dragon). It also produces gems, as it sits upon a modest sapphire mine - most of these gems are shipped further inland (southeast and northeast), though, given the danger of trade to the west.
Mostly, Hafton gets its metal ores from Zaw's Rock and similar settlements, and charcoal from Zeb.
Our regional map is smaller-scale than the average Kingdom building map. A hex is 3 miles across (thus, 3 miles from the center of one hex to the center of any neighboring hex).
Always happy to nerd out on worldbuilding details!
Alrighty, I've got a basic outline of the major history of my character's life. I'll be turning that into something that is hopefully well written and polished over the next few days, but if you'd take a look at it now and let me know what things don't make sense to you I'd appreciate it.
If anyone else in this recruitment thread would like to take a look at my background materials at this time or any point in the future, I would appreciate it and be willing to provide my own suggestions about your submission.
Edit: thanks for answering my questions, GM, I'll probably have more.
Some thoughts as Bragi reads through reports in his tent. Drinking ale slowly from his frost giant skull. A prized possession, the skull keeps ale properly chilled. Bragi doubted that the frost giant shaman who cast multiple permanency spells upon himself expected such an outcome. However, Bragi enjoys the slight chill upon his beard when drinking from it - some droplets cascade from a deliberate design flaw in sealing the eyeholes. He paid the warrior well for the purchase and more importantly, the bragging rights to such a kill.
What are the Powers That Be outside the sandbox? Who would be potentially angered if the Dragon took the Gelkrosh province? Is Zeb likely to be attacked by elves from the Wyrdwood? What are the cities towards Golm's central lake? Does the Dragon control a Coastal port?
Can the Dragon's alchemists work on a Mantid frenzy effect, a Mantid attractor, and a Mantid paralysis effect (Bragi enjoys a deep sip as he savors the poetic justice mixing ). What are the Mantids goals? Can they be persuaded to be citizens of the Dragon? Can they be manipulated to attack the Giants?
The Mantid's control central Gelkrosh province.
North of that is the Giants control Zaw's Rock, which has a network of trade with Gelkrosh city, with vassal thorp of Harraw, Birksdreb (outside former Capitol), and Hafton, which already has a vassal thorp of Zeb. Could be argued that the Lodge is within this area of trade, commerce, and travel.
South is the Swampland is various population centers of the Power.
The Dragon's nearest entry into a province population center would be directly opposite the Rock. The Dragon's entry point into the province would be Crossroads Lake Settlements. Either expand into the Power's area or into the Lodge. Tough choices with both. The Power due to name branding or the distance to the Lodge. Need to talk to cartographers if there is a suitable place for a population center between us and the Lodge... Doubt that Her Highness would promote the Power within her span of control.
Betting a silver piece that the mantids have a burrow speed. That is why they can't oust Gelkrosh city or the Crossroads Lakes Settlements. They drown underground if they burrow into those areas. Bragi speaks to someone who is not present, but can obviously scry upon the tent. With some amusement in his voice as he raises the frost giant skull mug, Be named Sherrif or Magistrate of the Crossroads Lake settlements, first order of business is to find an easier mouthful for the towns.
I've been working on my submission intermitendly, something has come up in my personal life which has prevented me from finishing my first draft by now. I'll probably be done before the end of tomorrow, though.
I'm wondering how many pages we're allowed to write for our backstory? I'm assuming the answer is as many as we want as long as they are fairly interesting, but maybe I should try to keep myself within a certain limit? Would it be bad if I wrote too much?
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@Brett's Questions - I'm going to rephrase some of them as actual OOC questions since I'm curious.
1) Are the Mantids intelligent?
1a) Do they build stuff (that has been observed)?
1b) Have anyone tried communicating with them (Tongues/Vermin Empathy ect)?
2) If yes to any of the above; does the Dragon have access to that piece of information/expertise?
3) Do any of the other neighbouring realms have any interest in Gelkrosh?
4) What's the general policies of the neighbouring realms? (Interventionists, isolationists, hates X, wants to spread Y ect ect)
And some of my own since well I'm still curious :P
5) What flavour of elves are accessible?
My thought went to the drowier kind - the Dragon has questionable morals, access to a mountain presumably filled with caverns and Poison Use seems nifty here. I mean it's part of the plot and without worrying too much about magical marketplaces and wbl one might actually get to poison someone without crying tears of money.
Plus they might not be quite as insanely evil (or that part might not be common knowledge) here so playing one isn't a constant game of dodge-the-pitchfork.
6) What flavour of giants rule the neighbouring nation?
I think this has been asked, but I couldn't find the answer.
On a separate note, I'm sure some of these questions might be answered in the blog. I'll go and look there now : )
Edit: I took a look at the blog and now I have another question!
7) What's the arrangement of Planes like?
(This isn't really something I'll use in building a character - this one is really just to indulge myself!)
Alright, I finished up Surtur! I included a timeline at the end, and assuming the campaign starts 20 years after the mantids are unleashed, everything should be a little more continuous. At least, I hope so! Here's the link, in case you need it.
Let me know if there's anything else that needs doing!
@GM Mercy. No worries. Wanted you to understand the direction my character will go / where my mind is. If the Questions are public knowledge then info dump works. If the answers are secret, then we'll have fun finding out.
Big thing to convey is that this Dragon plan feels rushed. Which is very cool in tone.
@Lessah... Thanks! Your Questions rock too...
Alrighty, backstory completed. I would absolutely love any feedback.
I would welcome any other applicants providing me with commentary, and would of course be willing to reciprocate.
I'm probably going to add a brief description of my character's appearance and something which is intended to convey his personality.
Cuneo’s mother died in childbirth, his father left with a cold bed and a second son to warm his shrinking heart. The same full moon which watched unblinking as he was birthed had born witness to the long and slow downfall of a once great house, his father becoming ever more bitter as the years rolled on. There was little love for Cuneo within the stony walls of the keep, what little was left of the family fortune set to pass on to his older brother.
Instead, he found delight in the highlands and forests outside the crumbling walls of the estate. Cuneo always loved to wander in the woods, especially on stormy days, when the sound of rain on the leaves above filled the forest with roaring noise, and thunder could be felt far off on the mountaintop. Lurking then beneath the dense canopy, watching those at the castle whose attention was fixated on the wind and the rain, he felt safe. Then he could laugh without fear that he would be heard, and could behold the majesty and wrath of the heavens undisturbed.
Though his father payed little attention to Cuneo, it was arranged that he would receive training befitting a Donealian noble. He received instruction in grammar, spelling, and mathematics, although he found it difficult to concentrate on these subjects, mind wandering to distant trees and old forgotten pathways. He was trained, too, in archery and in swordplay, for which he showed a great propensity and love. It seemed that so long as his body was in motion, Cuneo was satisfied to focus on nothing but his immediate surroundings and the challenges he had to overcome.
As he grew older, Cuneo began to spend much time with an aged herbalist of tenuous family connection. Here too, he showed talent, categorizing and sorting plants patiently and precisely, and watching intently as tonics and tinctures were prepared. The old man would bandage wounded returning from fearsome forays and Cuneo would watch with wide eyes. He always showed a keen interest in matters of life and death.
When Cuneo was thirteen, the herbalist began to speak of moving away from the castle, to serve under a different lord. The man was thinking of Cuneo, wishing to bring the boy with him and rid him of his father’s influence. His father thought it a fine idea, hardly wishing them well as they set out on the old road that led away from the castle.
As they traveled through the countryside, Cuneo saw firsthand the horrors of long and bloody fighting. He had heard about the plight of his countrymen from tutors and teachers, but payed it little mind, content instead to think on crimson sunsets and rain in the forest. Now, as starving villages pulled their dead from bleak fields to salvage what few crops had survived the burning, Cuneo understood what true suffering meant. Twice they had to hide in the undergrowth beside the road as troops of soldiers passed by. It didn’t matter whose side they were on, they were rough men and the herbalist would not risk something bad happening to Cuneo.
Finally, after two weeks of travel, they arrived at their destination, another castle, this one nearer to the bloody border. Kneeling before the lord, they placed themselves under his service. Together, they set bones and sawed off limbs, preparing potions and picking herbs when there were none to care for. Cuneo found he missed the little woods of his childhood home, and the view from atop the mountain. He could not wander alone in a place as dangerous as this, and it never rained when they went out.
Instead, he focused on those other things which had kept him occupied, archery, swordplay, the toughening of his body and of his mind. Though there was no one to tutor him at his young age, he still remembered the drills he had been given, and executed them ceaselessly. By the time he was fifteen, he was able to bend the heaviest of hunting bows, and to drill his footwork for hours at a time. The soldiers and guards sparred with him regularly, and he found great delight in learning from them. So long as his limbs were sore and his breathing sharp he felt he was becoming better, preparing for the day when he could venture beyond the walls of the castle and shepherd those who could not defend themselves through their valley of darkness.
When he was sixteen, he was given arms and made a soldier of Doneal. Now he was the one to tramp noisily through the roads, and the one who everyone feared. But soon they were beneath the northern forests, and all was forgotten save the ceaseless warfare against the orcs. Many wounds were suffered, and much blood was shed beneath the broken boughs. Cuneo felt companionship, the soldiers far better than his real brother at making him feel safe and strong. This life lasted until he was twenty one.
At that he fell on the field of battle and was nearly killed. The other soldiers had saved him, but he was grievously wounded, and his life hung in the balance for several days as they marched back to the castle to lick their wounds. It was only when they arrived and the grey haired herbalist of his youth began to tend to him that his condition improved, and he began a long and slow recovery. By the time he had recovered from his wounds those soldiers who could had already ventured north once again, the orcs not waiting for them to recover. Cuneo found that, though his wounds were healed and his life saved, his old strength was gone. He strained his weakened body as often as he could, but it would be a long time before he could shoot a warbow again.
Feeling then weak and alone without the brothers he had made on the battlefield, Cuneo spent much of his time with the herbalist who was more of a father to him than his real father ever had been. But now the old man was bent and wizened, and could only shuffle about his patient’s bedsides, old wrinkled hands shaking as he changed their bandages. Then he began to cough, and it was not long before it was he who lay on the bed while Cuneo administered herbal teas and old forgotten remedies. It was to no avail, the old man died in his bed, leaving Cuneo tearful and isolated.
Feeling grief, despair, and anger, Cuneo returned at last to his childhood home, where he found his father and brother, still struggling to maintain their slipping grip on the mountainside. He thought perhaps the old woods and paths he had found in his youth would do him some good, and that he could again climb to the mountaintop and gaze across the lands below. Another, more sinister motivation lay beneath his journey, which he came to realize as he walked again across the countryside. Perhaps, he thought, if he could confront his father and learn why the man had always treated him like was worthless, perhaps then he could renounce the man and move on. Perhaps then he could learn to love himself now that the only man who had ever shown him unconditional love was dead.
He arrived during a feast, marching in through the front doors and taking a seat beside his father. The man was old, now, and his greying beard reminded Cuneo of the herbalist, though they could not have held more different places in his life. They spoke for some time, his father unapologetic about his loveless treatment of Cuneo. That was the hard reality of the world, he said. Like his fortunes, his love was finite, and had to be portioned in careful measure. Quaffing his wine, Cuneo left, sleeping on the hard ground outside the castle walls, which had become more comforting to him than a soft bed. He took comfort in the thought that there was nothing for him here. Though there were still soldiers he would have liked to see, his brothers in blood, but he knew that he did not need them. Lying beneath an ancient tree, rain beginning to fall softly, Cuneo knew that, above all, he needed nothing from anyone to survive. His hand rested easily on the hilt of his sword as he fell asleep.
The morning sun rose on a castle in turmoil. His father had been found stabbed to death in his bed, window shattered, a note signed with Cuneo’s name on the pillow beside him. His brother now in control of the family estate, the guards left in search of Cuneo, and found him, unaware of what happened, on the road towards the castle gates. Their captain took pity on Cuneo and told him to run, run through the woods he knew so well, run far beyond the end of the mountain, and run till the borders of Doneal were long behind him. Then he marched onward, his troop averting their eyes and following their captain’s lead.
Within a few weeks Cuneo was in Chadreal, his childhood home behind him, his old life in the northern forests a dim memory. With money he had saved from his exploits against the orcs, Cuneo was able to rent a room in a small from an old couple. For a month he relaxed, staying up late to tell the stories of his scars with their daughter, who listened with eager ears. Like many of the folk from that land, her past was simpler and brighter, her life more full of love. Like many who have a long and hard past, Cuneo kept himself emotionally distant and reserved.
After a month of soft hills and small forests, Cuneo found himself utterly bored. There were few matters of life and death here, and few things which held his interest. He found that he had less motivation to go and shoot his bow, and that when he drilled with his sword people looked at him strangely. Bidding the old couple and their daughter goodbye, Cuneo went south once again, all the way to the coast and over the sea, going far away to strange lands in search of something he could not find in this land of peace and plenty.
Across the rocking waves of the Sea of Stones, Cuneo arrived in a small city towards the western edge of the Belshiran Federation. There he heard tales and stories of the Vurkane forest, the many whispers and rumors surrounding its trackless interior stirring him like a wounded man stirs a healer. He found three likeminded souls in a tavern beneath a gibbous moon, and together they discussed plans and intentions. Allustan was in search of magical sources of power. Borris wanted to test himself and prove his might. But it was Arodel whose mind was most like Cuneo’s. Arodel had come from a wealthy family and had been well looked after, he had no need of money or of power, or anything else that could be found in the Vurkane forest. Arodel, like Cuneo, was in search of a purpose. Some men are like dogs: they must find something to sink their teeth into.
For three years they wandered through still hollows and sun spattered groves, returning occasionally to the city to gather supplies and consult ponderous tomes. Cuneo found himself totally and completely engaged. His body hard like a steel spring, his eyes open and his breaths quiet and short, he could think of nothing but that which was around him. They quickly learned that they were in over their heads, and had to avoid many fell and terrible things which creept silently through the still leaves. It was strange for Cuneo, so used to being a predator, but exhilarating all the same. And he found comfort, as he had since youth, in the smooth boles and high crowns of many high and ancient trees. They were straighter and taller here, in the dense forest, crowding tightly against one another with no humans to cut them down.
Soon after returning from a trip to the city, Borris was killed. They had to wait till the creature was done feasting before they could salvage what was left of his carcass. His family would be waiting. When the thing finally left, only a few meagre bones remained, shredded flesh still hanging off them, skull missing the jawbone. They each kept a knuckle, and brought the rest back to the city.
It was then, on the journey back to lay his bones to rest, that each of their lives was changed forever. They had a small boat which they used to move quickly back and forth, and as they sailed back along the coastline they were attacked by pirates. Surrendering immediately, they were placed at the mercy of rough men who live dangerous lives. Cuneo and Arodel were clapped in irons and sent belowdecks, Allustan was killed and tossed overboard.
For a few weeks, life was hell. They rowed each day from before sunup until after sundown, and if they slowed they were whipped and then returned to labor. Salt water made it’s way into the ship pooled at their feet, making their skin peel after the first day. They were given a meagre ration of bread and rat meat, not quite enough to keep them from starving. Manacles chafing, boat rocking, drums pounding, there was no comfort and no hope.
Land was sighted on the sixteenth day, southeastern Golm. They had come to the shores of Iskendal with a cargo full of stolen goods, ready to deal with a people who had few allies and few alternatives. Then came thunder in the heavens, and raindrops falling hard and fast like daggers from the sky. The ship was tossed about like a child’s plaything, turning and spinning in the wind and froth, the sea rolling and boiling like a witch’s cauldron.
A red sun dawned over a battered ship and a broken crew. For a day they merely drifted, moving ever to the south through unknown waters. Another ship was spotted on the horizon, flying a strange flag of green and white. It sailed next to them and hooked up, elves in armor holding bows, pikes flashing in the sky. They fought on the decks till blood ran down the sides of the ship, but in the end, the pirates were victorious and the elves defeated.
There were now only a few crew members left, barely enough to maintain order over the slaves. There were whispers of mutiny, and of one who could pick the locks with a fishbone and his fingernails. Then disease struck, and the whole ship was laid low in agony and despair, unable even to limp to the shore. And then the locks were picked, and the manacles flew open, and righteous revenge was exacted.
Only twelve slaves survived out of a group of nearly fifty, and all the crew now slept beneath the waves. The ship’s riggings had been damaged in the storm, and they were too weak to row, so they drifted at the mercy of the currents. For nearly twenty days the boat rocked gently, their food now gone, their water running out. Then land was spotted.
They had arrived on the northern shores of Mirem, land of excess, at a busy harbor, ship still full of cargo. Cuneo was weak as a kitten, but he put on the erstwhile captain’s hat and did his best to sell their stolen wares. The storm had come and gone, and they were still alive.
After three months in the harbor, the ship was freshly painted, and a new crew had been recruited. Cuneo and Arodel had spent many nights talking, and had decided they would venture further south, to Durnauc, where they could patrol the waters outside Cathuili beside enterprising merchants. Cuneo found that the hot sun and dense jungles of southeastern Golm were very much not to his liking, and the Vurkane forest now a dim and distant memory. Perhaps, in time, they could return to those lands and venture once again into the still and ancient airs beneath the trees. But having listened to Borris scream as he was eaten, Cuneo had realized that the horrors of that land were far beyond what he could face down with sword in hand.
For two years they sailed the high seas, Cuneo at the helm, Arodel at his side. The salt spray and gentle rocking of the ship held their own appeal, as did the elegant office Cuneo constructed, collecting curios on their many journeys. Cuneo found a stark beauty in the endless expanse of the ocean, the sparkling waves endlessly rolling on towards shores and coves left far behind. But, in time, Cuneo began to realize that a mariner’s life was not for him. Arodel remained his only real friend during this time, and though they had many long nights on the shore, and kept one another sharp and strong, he was not enough. Cuneo felt it was time to retire.
It was then that they sailed farther south and east, towards the remoter portions of Durnauc. There were many ships full of gems and precious stones, and many pirates which preyed upon them. Cuneo preyed upon the pirates. After several weeks without any luck, they heard tale of a particularly large and slow ship which had filled it’s hold with the contents of many merchants before sailing northeast along the coast. Cuneo set off at once after them, following as fast as they could manage. Many strange lands and small settlements fell away behind them before, finally, in the cold north once again, the caught their prize. A large ship indeed, sailing near the shore, decks full of scoundrels.
It’s crew proved to be few in number and weak of spirit, weakened by disease and by casualties sustained acquiring their cargo. Cuneo’s lads boarded the ship, captured the captain, and imprisoned the crew. Now master of two ships, they sailed onward, arriving in Inzeldrab in time for Cuneo to celebrate his twenty seventh birthday.
Cuneo took to the shores and began to relax for the first time since his brief stay in Chadreal. Arodel was still with him, and they found it was nice not to have to stay sharp. For a time. Then Arodel sailed off again, leaving Cuneo on his own in an unfamiliar city. Cuneo had decided it was time for him to retire, already his knees were beginning to feel a little stiff, and his bear had flecks of grey. A lifetime of stress takes it’s toll on the body.
Cuneo began to wander again in northern forests, as he had not done since his youth. But now things were different. He had seen the world and found nothing for him in it. Cuneo had relied on himself, as he knew he had to do the moment his father told him he didn’t have the love to spare for him. He had had adventures and tribulations. He had fought for his life on three continents and in two oceans, but he still wasn’t sure what he had accomplished. Cuneo began to drink heavily.
It was at this time in his life that Cuneo met the woman who was to become his wife. Elaine saw something in the hard glint of his eyes and the strange way he glanced around the room before sitting down and approached him to learn his story. He was distant at first, then confused. Why would anyone want to pay attention to him? The only man who had ever loved him was dead, and his only lasting friend had left for the call of the sea. She told him to come by her shop around closing time. It was an apothecary.
There is something about healing another person that is of inherent worth. Elaine found that Cuneo needed her skills, and Cuneo found that Elaine needed his. They moved far away from the city, to a small fishing village, and loved each other greatly for many years. It was strange, to have a place in the world and to feel another person’s unconditional love. Strange and wonderful.
Soon after celebrating his thirty first birthday Cuneo came home to find Arodel on his doorstep. The man had fallen on hard times, his ship’s spine had snapped, most of his crew died, and he had barely survived. He was working for the Dragon now, and he wanted Cuneo’s help. Cuneo promised Elaine he would be gone two months and set out to the northern borders of Inzeldrab, prepared to kill giants and take a small castle near the border. Meeting up with other forces of the Dragon, the successfully completed their mission through a mix of subterfuge, deception, and brute force.
Cuneo returned home to find that tragedy had struck the one home he ever had. Elaine had traveled north, upstream, to help soothe the slaves of a large farming settlement there. On her way, however, she had been killed by Mantids. There was no corpse to be found, only a heedless sun which scorched the earth until it there was nothing but dust. Dust, that was what she had become.
Cuneo went north. He had to get away. There was nothing left for him anywhere anymore, he was a broken man with only a hard glint in his eyes and a rough strength in his arms. The dragon would have work for him, perhaps, work he could set his teeth into and struggle with. He kept his wedding ring with his knucklebone, cruel reminders of past lives now lost. Perhaps Cuneo could add one more chapter to his life before the rest of his beard turned grey.
GM Mercy, is this too long? I could probably try to make it somewhat shorter if you want.
Well, writing more is not necessarily better. If the writing is not going to hold your reader's attention, then it being long will just make it boring.
I know that at some parts my writing was very good, but I think overall there's still a lot of room for improvement. Are there any motives that you don't understand, or that don't seem fully fleshed out? Maybe awkward phrasings? Periods of Cuneo's life that just don't make sense?
Personally, I'm not sure I'm completely sold on him not just going back to the Vurkane forest once he regains control of the ship.
Anyway, would you like me to read your submission and offer my suggestions?
@Zorblag: The standard Pathfinder/DnD hobgoblins are exemplified by the largest and most powerful hobgoblin nations (highly regimented, militant, etc). Players who wanted to go with Hobgoblin as their race could definitely go with the standard style. There exist other hobgoblin cultures, though.
@Duilin: Write as much as you like, but if it gets much beyond a couple pages I'd also appreciate a summary so I don't necessarily need to read the ENTIRE thing before I can understand what you're going for.
1) The Mantids display only animal intelligence. They do not build. Their nests are somewhat like ant hives. The characters wouldn't know about any specific attempts to communicate. The Dragon would probably tell you to assume such an attempt had been made, and that the person who made it was probably eaten shortly after.
3) So far as the neighbors go: There are communities that have an interest in the region primarily due to trade. Downriver to the South (past the Crossroads Lake on the map) are numerous settlements, and some distance to the west there is a smallish theocratic Hobgoblin nation that trades with Hafton and Swampside. For various reasons, none of the other neighbors is likely to try and directly control Gelkrosh, though - so while the players might somehow make use of the trade relations they wouldn't have to worry about sparking any kind of invasion from these routes. Unless they really worked at it, I guess.
4) Further inland from Gelkrosh there aren't a lot of cohesive realms until much farther away, but there are some other prominent settlements (and now I guess I have to name them...)
- Shorak's City (West, Hobgoblin dominated, Theocratic): A city that is slightly smaller than Hafton, dominated by a cult dedicated to a minor Hobgoblin deity. Occasionally belligerent to their close neighbors, but too far from Gelkrosh/Hafton to be militarily interested.
- Bel'kathine: ( Southwest, Elven dominated, Insular): Of the the few sizable elven-dominated settlements in eastern Golm, Bel'kathine is founded around the home of a powerful elven druid. They have very limited interaction with the outside world.
- The River Cities: (South, Human/Halfing majority, varied): A scattering of settlements both large and small that survive by virtue of the large river and marsh systems of the area. Band together to resist outside threats, but have never been conquerors.
- The 'Twin' Tribes: A combined nation of orcs and ogres, who warred with one another for a time before unifying into their present state. The 'unification' is rather haphazard, and while they are occasionally troubling to their neighbors internal strife usually keeps their numbers and attentions in check.
There are numerous other, less noteworthy (or less known, at least) communities of various sizes.
5) Drow don't exist as such, but if you feel like coming from a very "drow-like" elven community I won't mind at all! Just remember that communities in Eldreon (just like communities in real life) are rarely evil in and of themselves, especially the really large ones - but they can be LED by evil people.
6) I haven't finalized that, as it turns out. I find the "different giant flavor for every environment" kind of comical, so the prototypical giant in Eldreon is probably more or less a Pathfinder Stone Giant.
7) The Planes are more or less like Pathfinder standard, with a few tweaks to suit my personal tastes. I'm still cooking a lot of this up (and finalizing the details) whenever I feel like it, so a lot of it is subject to change.
Inner Planes - The Positive and Negative Energy Planes as well as the Ethereal Plane (I haven't nailed down exactly how I want to treat the Ethereal Plane, but it might just stay the same as standard)
Material Planes - The Elemental Planes and the Prime Material Plane. The Elemental Planes are coterminous with certain points in Eldreon (the passage between the Dwarven kingdoms in Ottrunval and Golm passes through the Plane of Earth, and other places exist where one can move seamlessly between Eldreon and the other Elemental Planes in places appropriate to each element - hearts of volcanoes for fire, deep places in the sea for water, etc).
The Outer or Spiritual Planes where most deities make their domains. I'm considering making a decently impactful change here, in that there might be only three Major, infinite Planes corresponding to good, neutral, and evil (Heaven, The Maelstrom, and Hell) and any similarly aligned plane technically exists within them. Thus, Elysium is the Chaotic-aligned part of the Plane of Heaven, and there are boundaries where you go from Elysium to other parts of Heaven without the need for magic/portals/etc. Thus, all good-aligned planes are coterminous with each other, and likewise for neutral and evil planes. Still deciding on that, though.
I'll get to character feedback for Duilin and Artemis a bit later.
Okay, still trying to deal with some stuff in my personal life, but I have a bit of time to do some work now.
0: Born in Doneal to minor noble who showed him no love
13: Left with Herbalist to go north to another castle
16: Becomes soldier, heads further north to forests and orcs
21: Nearly killed on the field of battle, Herbalist dies, returns to childhood home, learns that he truly never has had a family, resolves to rely only on himself, forced to flee Doneal
21: Arrives in Chadreal for a time, realizes he needs a purpose in life
21: Arrives in Belshiran Federation, begins exploring Vurkane forest with three mates, Borris, Allustan, Arodel
24: Borris Killed in forest, captured by pirates, Allustan killed, made to row with Arodel
24: Conflicts, disease, ultimately slaves mutiny against weakened crew, Cuneo ends up putting on captain's hat
24: Sell stolen cargo, reoutfit ship, begin to patrol waters from Cathituli to Golapor
26: Cuneo realizes he doesn't like this life, perhaps it's too boring, perhaps there aren't enough interesting people who he can call family (Arodel has sortof become his brother), perhaps it's the lack of trees. Decides to retire
26: They chase a pirate ship fat with gems north, to outside Inzeldrab, defeat it, dock, and sell gems
27: Retirement. Cuneo has fought for his life on three continents and in two oceans, but he still doesn't feel like he's accomplished anything. Becomes alcoholic. Arodel now captain of ship, not around.
27: Meets wife
28: They get married, move out to Southeast Belkrosh fishing villiages
32: Arodel comes for him for first time in five years, needs help for mission for Dragon, Cuneo agrees, they go north and take a city
33: Cuneo returns to find his wife was killed by Mantids on the way north, despairs.
With nothing left but a rough strength in his limbs and a hard glint in his eyes, Cuneo decides he needs a purpose in his life once again. Perhaps he can add one more chapter to his long life before the rest of his beard turns grey. He goes to the Dragon.
I should have a section on appearance later. I'm also going to try to create a section which is more focused on conveying his personality, and will probably also be able to do that later today.
Then tomorrow maybe I'll have time to respond to feedback and do some general revision.
I'm wondering how much longer you plan on recruitment lasting? You said at least a week initially, and it's been exactly a week. I'm wondering how much longer I have to work.
ALL: I have decided to END this recruitment on SUNDAY, JULY 15 at 8:00 PM EASTERN TIME. Any submissions should be posted before that time. I'll post my choice on Monday and start up the rest of the party recruitment immediately after.
I don't mind the length at all, it's a nice backstory. Do you envision him perhaps as a ranger? Not that you need to decide yet, that's just what I was getting from the story.
Honestly the only part that gives me pause - and this is not a big deal - is that the story seems so complete. I like how traveled the character is, and how much he's been through, but it seems honestly like his arc could be over. Instead he... decides to go to the Dragon to ask for work? After losing everything? Just seems like an odd continuation. But that can be worked on, I enjoy the character. :)
Solid write-up. Nothing big that would need changing. I do have a question over how the character deals with other people who he isn't looking to rob: what might his leadership style be? Knock heads together until people do what he says? Engender loyalty somewhow? I've never read Malazan or Prince of Nothing so I'm not able to get anything from those comparisons, I'm afraid.
Similarly, does he feel any loyalty or dedication to the Dragon, or was it a case of 'go work for the biggest, baddest creature around so I can reap the benefits' ? Both (or something else entirely) are completely valid, I'm just curious.
Yes, I had envisioned him as a ranger. I was trying not to be too concerned about that, though.
I don't know if you've ever done a sport competitively, but I have, and I know what that's like. Throughout a lot of high school I spent an average of more than ten hours a week training, plus competitions. Then I went to college, and they don't have my sport. It's was like there was this hole in my life that I couldn't fill. I started doing another sport, and that's been nice, although we don't go as hard as I would like. I think if I moved away again and they didn't have my sport where I ended up, I'd just take up another one.
Likewise, Cuneo has spent his whole life trying to stay sharp as a razor. From the age of sixteen he was a skirmisher in a dense forest against physically superior opponents, and even before that he was training. The only times when he wasn't trying to keep himself in peak physical condition and maintain his skills are a month he spent in Chadreal, which he ended because he was bored, and the time he spent after trying to retire. And his attempt at retirement was an absolute failure until he met his wife. So yes, I think he recognizes that if he tries to settle down there's going to be a hole in his life, and he identifies the dragon as the best way to get work.
I think that makes sense as a reason for why he needs a purpose with which to fill his life. I think he probably occasionally went out to the adventurer's lodge during the five years he spent with his wife, but mostly she was enough for him. I also think that makes sense. I should probably try to put that line of reasoning into the story more substantially. So we know he's not going to retire until he's old, and he's probably going to try to build a family before then.
It might make more sense for him to try to go on a personal quest of revenge against the Mantids for killing his wife, but that doesn't seem too likely. He didn't try to get revenge on his father or his brother, instead returning because he needed to resolve his own internal turmoil. I also envision him as slightly emotionally distant, which we see in the time he spent talking to the old couple's daughter in Chadreal. It's not even like this is the first time he's lost someone, since he watched the Herbalist die. Further, the Mantids are not intelligent, so he probably doesn't really blame them, although he might want to prevent them from killing more people.
So, I think going to the dragon is sortof like his last option. He's worked for her before, so he knows he's not going to be doing anything especially suicidal. I think he expected to get sent up north to fight the giants some more.
Does that seem reasonable to you?