I’ve just recently started blogging in English, though I’ve been busy for a few years writing in Danish, so there is a lot to catch up upon. This time I’ll talk a bit about, what I play.
Now let me introduce two D&D-campaigns. There are played by the same group of five players and with me as the DM. The first one is the primary campaign. We play on average once a month, and this campaign has been running for some years now. During this period we’ve lost one player and gained two others. When we’re unable to play the primary campaign due to lack of players, we play the secondary campaign, it is our reserve-campaign and it is designed to be played in an episodic manner, so even if one or two players are unable to attend, we can still meet and play.
Both campaigns are set in the Mystara-setting and both takes play during the cataclysmical events known as The Wrath of the Immortals (just as FR had it’s great cataclysms during the shift from 1st ed. to 2nd. ed., so did the Mystara-setting, though there were no edition change for the first few years. Then it shifted to AD&D and not long after it died out, but it has always been my favorite setting).
The primary campaign: The Great School of Magic during The Wrath of the Immortals
This campaign is played using the 3,5 rules, though we usually call it 3,4 since we changed from the 3,0 to the 3,5 ed. during the campaign. It is about a group of teenage wizards attending The Great School of Magic in the Principalities of Glantri – a realm ruled by wizards, where clerigs are burned at the stake and those filthy dwarves with their pesky magic resilience are used for experiments. There are no forbidden forms of arcane magic, some may be dark, but none forbidden.
The campaign focuses on the many troubles of a being a teen in an aristocratic society, where status is everything and you can only become something if you master arcane magic (and can pay the fee for attending the school, nobles can). The nation consists of several ethnic groups, that are the result of several migrations – some interplanar – resulting in a complex social milieu. So not only do have to deal with your fellow students, you also have deal with your familie’s expectations, fashion, your ethnic identity, your social class, the secret society, you’re expected to become a member of, and your teacher’s expectations. And then there’s the war. The Principalities have entered a war with a distant magical empire for some very convoluted reasons. This is the basis for our drama.
There is no dungeoneering, but plenty of drama and intrigue. Sometimes they go exploring the outer planes as part of their studies or by accident. We use quite a few house rules to support our playstyle. Some I have already described in earlier posts, other will be described in coming posts.
- No divine spell-casters (they’re forbidden in the Principalities)
- No dwarves, halflings or gnomes (they are viewed as something to experimented upon)
- Extra feats – feats are fun, therefore more of these
- XP’s are gained from attending classes and passing exams (done by skill check, succes is the full amount of XP, failure is half. Time spend adventuring prolong studying)
- Study-time rules (by actually playing some of the studying, a bonus is gained for the exam-skill check)
- The Even More Cool-rule
- The art of finding spellbooks
- Thing’s my Master taught me (how to improve spellcasting in a dramatic manner)
- The Art of Using Magic (on how to terrify commoners with any spell)
- Good and Bad Habits
- Plot Points
- Earning Magic Items
- The Coolest Magic Item Ever
- The Art of Whining and Dark Plot Points
- Multiple characters (The Primary, The Secondary, The Gossipers, various others)
- … and a few others.
The secondary campaign: A Thyatian Diplomatic Mission during the The Wrath of the Immortals
This campaign is played with the D&D 4th ed. rules and it takes place at the same time as the other. The Thyatian Empire is allied to the Glantrian Principalities and is thus involved in the war between the two magic nations. The Thyatian Empire was caught in a surprise attack by the Alphatian Empire and it lost most of it’s magical airfleet. One ship got away, Himmelørnen (The Skye Eagle), and it is now a secret mission to gather more allies for the Empire. It’s mission is to go the Wyrmteeth Range and re-establish an ancient alliance with the dragons there.
- The campaign is episodic. Each session is an episode, and begins and ends with the session. In each session Captain Glantripopulos, master of the ship, played by the DM, declares the mission of the day for his crew and elects a number to go the mission as an away-team (think of series like Star Trek or Star Gate, i.g. go the local town to gather supplies).
- Each player have three characters. When the mission is declared, the player chooses which of the three characters, he or she wants to play.
- Levels are gained for all characters on a regular basis.
- Magic Items are gained by playing certain flash back-scenes.
- Minimal backstory – the character’s backstory enters the game through flashback scenes instead
- Minor: each character can activate a minor scene, where some element from their past is introduced. This introduction grants a skill bonus.
- Major: Each character has a limited amount of major flashbacks. A Major flashback is a crucial moment in the character’s life, and when the character is in dire needs (such as falling off a flying ship), he can activate it, and then we play the flashback-scene. Afterwards we return to the present, change the outcome of the die roll and play on.
- Embarrassing Moments: Each character can activate an ‘encounter flashback’ with a certain theme. The player chooses whether he or a fellow player creates the flashback for a better bonus.
- Telling Stories
- … and a few minor other mechanics.
This campaign is more or less simultaneous with the primary campaign. They both take place during the fall of 1005. It is described in greater detail here.