Campaign Information

IMPORTANT NOTE: New characters coming into the campaign will not have spent their life in Strahl.

Campaign Information

01. Campaign Environment
011. Low-Magic
012. Isolation
013. Paranoia

02. Starting Area
021. City and surrounding encampments
022. Wilderness
023. Government
024. Law (and Crime)
025. Religion
026. Demographics
027. History

03. House Rules
031. Crossbows
032. Ability Scores
033. Extra Feat at Level 3
034. Move Actions (and their uses)
035. Healing Surges
036. Action Points
037. Injury

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01. Campaign Environment
011. Low Magic
Magic is not unheard of, but not an everyday event. Magicians are relatively rare; there will be small concentrations of them in larger urban cities, but for the most part, people will marvel at and perhaps even be amazed by a magic-user among them. Sorcerers are revered, Warlocks feared, and Wizards respected. At times, it may be prudent to hide your magical capabilities, and in other situations, flaunting them openly might be beneficial.

There is a wider selection of non-magical equipment and items that may provide the same benefits that their magical counterparts. People have compensated for their lack of magical powers by making what they do have better.

Potions are more expensive; although alchemy is a relatively mundane skill that most people can learn, the arcane knowledge that goes into potion making is coveted by few in comparison.

012. Isolation
Settlements within the forests are very isolated. There is no strong central government to take control of the vast area, so towns, cities, and “city-states” govern themselves. Trade barely exists due to the difficulty of travel through the dense and frightening forests.

As a result, reading material is not readily available in most areas. Books are a commodity sought by the wealthy and the curious – often, the wealthy and curious. This is related to the above topic in that Wizards require a formal learning environment and Warlocks require study as well. This is, in large part, why magic is rare. Sorcerers, being that they acquire their powers with no external intervention, are more common in underpopulated areas, while Wizards are more common in populous, urban settlements with centers of learning. Learned magic is regarded as a privilege of the rich.

And, so are books. People in more rural locations (a self-sufficient town of 200 in the middle of a forest, for instance) might be suspicious of someone who is well-learned, or in possession of many books. In other areas, a “book-wielder” might be regarded as very rich or important. This could attract the wrong (or the right) attention, depending on where you are. Keep this in mind.

013. Paranoia
The aforementioned isolation lends itself to paranoia and xenophobic tendencies of the population as a whole. This is not to say you will never be well-received when you enter a town, but it is more likely than not that when you approach a new city or settlement, you will be required to register your weapons at the gate and be treated with great suspicion – for a short time, at least. I don’t want to sap anyone’s fun, but I also want to maintain a realistic, gritty atmosphere.

Adventurers are often heavily armed, always drifting from place to place, could be giving you a fake name (and you’d never know), and their sense of morality is most often unpredictable. An adventurer is just a bandit who hasn’t committed any crimes yet, in the eyes of the general public. Be wary of making enemies with the wrong people.

02. Starting Area
021. City and surrounding encampments
You all have spent most of your lives within the city Strahl – located in the southern end of Kirkwood, Strahl is surrounded by several colonies for the purposes of resource gathering (farming, logging, mining). These small colonies are under constant threat from the forest’s inhabitants. Strahl is made primarily of stone, and includes a ring of tall stone wall to protect itself (the colonies sit just outside this wall). The features of the city include the normal – a blacksmith, a town hall, a tavern, etc. There is no wizard tower, and the “library” is very bare. Resources like leather and iron are scarce due to the environment – the livestock they have managed to keep throughout the years would be unwise to slaughter for hide, and given that Strahl does not share very close proximity to the mountains, mining is not so fruitful.

022. Wilderness

The woodlands around Strahl are dense and tangled, making travel very difficult – compounded with the threats of the forest, travel is almost impossible for average people. It could take a week to cross the distance one would normally be capable of in two or three days, and all the while they would be harried by all manners of vile creatures until they reached their destination or died. As inhabitants of Strahl, Kirkwood (where your city is located) and Spiderwood (located just to the south, as Strahl rests in the very southern end of Kirkwood) are your main concerns. Kirkwood, where you are immediately located, is home to hordes of Stirges. Spiderwood is, well, full of spiders. Very, very nasty spiders who enjoy feasting on the flesh of humans, especially in the absence of other wildlife. And they’re pretty huge.

You get it. This place is scary.

023. Government
The government of Strahl is a city council, to which people are appointed. The city council appoints its own members. They are, however, fairly ineffectual – although they claim to mean well, they are not often seen in public, and the laws they impose often do more harm than good (but not always). Corruption is speculated by many inhabitants of Strahl.

024. Law (and Crime)
Law enforcement in Strahl is weak. The scarcity of iron as a resource leaves many guards unarmored, and most poorly armed. Poor, too – or dead.

However, some laws are enforced harshly. No one is permitted to carry weapons within the city except the city guard. When entering the city, travellers (however few there are) are required to register their weapons at the gate, either having them peace-bonded (a loop of wax securing the weapon to its sheath; breaking this peace-bond is a crime) or removed depending on the situation. If the weapons are removed, travellers are permitted to retrieve their weapons from the guardhouse upon leaving the city.

And we all know criminals conceal their weapons.

The Silver Snakes are the predominant criminal organization in Strahl, characterized by their emblem of a silver snake on their gloves. Not much is known about the organization, beside that they are spectacularly greedy, and will kill for money and goods as they deem necessary.

025. Religion
The predominant deities of worship are the Raven Queen and Sehanine, reflecting the grim nature of society. However, Bahamut and Pelor are not unheard of – and Dwarves wouldn’t be Dwarves without Moradin. However, Dwarves are less religious than their traditional counterparts in this setting.

026. Demographics
The area is very predominantly Human. Dwarves and Halflings exist in very small quantities – more Dwarves than Halflings, at that. Dwarves have shortened lifespans to that of Humans; the Blight affected them gravely despite their resistance to disease.

027. History
The history of Strahl is a long and troubled one. Current recorded history goes as far back as the Great Blight (commonly just called “the blight”) which occurred about four or five generations past.

When the Blight hit, the knee-jerk reaction of the population was to purge it; quarantine and burn. Buildings, families, friends – all manners of people, places and things were set aflame in a frantic, paranoid effort to contain the plague. In this awful confusion, Strahl’s record-keepers were lost in the fires. Their homes were burnt to the ground, and the records they kept lost forever.

The forest closed in around Strahl rapidly. The creatures within grew more fearsome and threatening, while the trees grew denser and more tangled. It was never known whether this was an effect of the plague directly or a result of decreased travel due to the plague; but many such questions remain unanswered.

So began the new age of written history. A self-appointed city council rose to power to govern the city through the madness. The Blight rendered people helpless, inflicting great fatigue, muscle atrophy, and psychological disorders along with severe flu-like symptoms. Only the strongest would survive.

When council members fell ill, they would be removed immediately, and a new council member appointed. As a result, they went through many, many changes. The government remained weak and ineffectual, but not for lack of trying.

Even the resilient Dwarves were affected, falling ill, and though few would die to the immediate plague, their lifespans were shortened considerably. It was at this point that the Blight was speculated to have magical origins, or be a divine message – the Dwarves, so resistant to disease, were not likely to be bested by this plague. Modern Dwarves live no longer than Humans, and those that were physically affected by the Blight died only short years later.

Eventually, the effects of the Blight lessened. The mortality rate dropped considerably, and the people of Strahl (a much-diminished population) returned to their feet. The city council remained as it had been before, and began to enact measures to rebuild the once-great city.

It was in this chaos that the Silver Snakes came to their own sort of power, while the government was weak and law enforcement abysmal. They crippled the city council’s attempts to rebuild, inserting their influence wherever possible. It was not long until the silver snake emblazoned upon black gloves became an emblem of fear.

Time would pass, and history would be forgotten. Life before the Great Blight ceased to exist. A new way of life was adopted by the people of Strahl – one riddled with fear, paranoia, and grim prospects. The city council remains weak, and law enforcement is barely any comfort.

03. House Rules
Okay, so, I do have some house rules. Generally speaking, I will take whatever course of action makes most sense; this means if I don’t know a rule or don’t like a rule, I will make up something that is reasonable and likely. However, there are some things that I want to clarify from the beginning, as my personal preferences. Most are up for debate if you disagree. I’m open to input for new house rules, or changes to existing ones.

031. Crossbows
The crossbow deals a d10 damage die and has a critical threat range of 18-20. Historically, crossbows competed directly with longbows and their effectiveness phased out the shortbow. As such, they deal equal damage to Longbows, have shorter range, are load-minor, but have an increased critical threat range to reflect their superior accuracy and penetrating power. Superior crossbows deal a d12 damage die and have a critical threat range of 18-20 to compete with greatbows. The hand crossbow has a critical threat range of 18-20, but retains its d6 damage.

032. Ability Scores
Ability score generation will be done using the stat buy system with an allotment of 32 points. This produces an average of 14/14/14/14/14/14. If you are using the D&D 4E Character Builder, you can spend points up to a value of (-10). Otherwise, you can look up the rules for stat buy in the Player’s Handbook 1 and allot yourself 32 points.

033. Extra Feat at Level 3
You normally do not obtain a feat at level 3; you get them at 1, 2, and 4. However, to foster the early-game progression of your characters and get you into the “fun stuff” quickly, I want you to have 4 feats by level 4, rather than 6. Bottom line – I want the lower levels to be just a bit more exciting and character progression to be more rapid. You get to choose a Feat at level 3 in addition to all regularly scheduled feats.

034. Move Actions (and their uses)
So, melee guys already get to charge; +1 to attack rolls, charge into the guy, and get an attack in all for a standard action (meaning they can do it in addition to their move action). To compensate somewhat, I feel it is appropriate to allow ranged attackers an alternative use for their move action: Aim, or Concentrate. Ranged physical attacks (i.e. bow, crossbow, shuriken) gain a +1 to the attack roll if the attacker chooses to expend their move action to “aim.” Spellcasters firing a ranged spell may expend their move action to “concentrate,” granting them +1 to their damage roll. The basic reasoning behind Charge is that melee characters often find themselves in a position (especially in the beginning of encounters) where they desperately need to more mobility to get to a target; similarly, ranged characters often have little use for their move actions. The latter problem is now addressed.

035. Healing Surges
Healing surges are your life force and body’s natural reserves, which a very wide array of factors may affect, not just Second Wind, healing potions and magical heal spells. Remember this and understand that I can use your healing surges as I see fit.

036. Action Points
Characters do not have action points by default. Characters (and creatures) are given 1 action point at the beginning of every encounter. Whenever a character or monster scores a 20 on the attack roll, it gets an action point it must use before the end of its next turn (or it disappears). Characters and monsters lose all action points at the end of an encounter. This reflects adrenaline and increased momentum during combat as the result of good performance; good hits increase your morale, spurring you on to make further assaults.

037. Injury
Using the D&D 4E Disease system (contained in Player’s Handbook 1) as a model, I am implementing an injury system to promote the “gritty” feel of the campaign. When your character falls into a “dying” state or is affected by a trap designed to maim, you will roll a save against the injury (at the end of the encounter). The conditions of the injury will be determined by me, and I will try to be as fair as possible. You roll Endurance checks for recovery after every extended rest to see if your condition improves, worsens, or remains. I am also considering applying this to receiving critical hits.

Campaign Information

Forest of Sorrows Thanorodd