Shakespearead in D&D: This will perhaps be the most unique twist on our campaign. It may be a successful experiment, or a miserable failure, but there’s only one way to find out! We will be borrowing certain elements from Shakespearead to develop the plotline.
What does this mean to you? Ideally, over time, the campaign will work through 5 Acts, building towards some global resolution. Along that path, each character will at some point reach some personal conflict they must resolve. A richer backstory for your character will likely mean a richer plotline. The players will be encouraged to help determine possible outcomes to their conflict with the DM, as each case arises.
The general plot will follow one of the following paths; tragedy, comedy, history, romance, or horror. The players will also be able to influence and change this path through roleplaying and actions, though they will not be made directly aware of any changes in the group’s fate.
Each character will pick one of the above story paths for their character (Is your character a romantic? Do they desire fame? Are they light-hearted or do they come from a difficult background?) Consider each path, and choose one which is right for your character.
By the same token, each player will need to pick a ‘hubris’ for their character; what is your character’s tragic flaw (arrogance, cruelty, narcissism, pride, anger, lust, greed, jealousy, inaction, gluttony, fear, resentment, etc.)? If you need help with this, talk with other players or the DM. Your character’s hubris may also take a significant role in the development of your character. If you fall into a rut, you will not be able to get yourself out; you will need the help of the group. (After all, our flaws are, by nature, self-destructive.) While a character’s hubris is active, he or she will be driven completely by the destructive nature of the hubris, and all decisions and actions must hold to the nature of the flaw. Breaking this path will not be an easy task, and the group as a whole may need to spend significant time in trying to snap a character out of a funk.
By the same token, each character will pick a feature which describes the character, and impacts the way the world interacts with them. They will all also play a part in the character’s personal storyline. A list of features and cost associated with each is available at Character Features
The last element to Shakespearead we will be borrowing will come in developing the storylines between characters. Each player will pick a relationship with the character on their right, and that person will in turn define the conflict of that relationship. In this way, the entire group will be intertwined with each other and with the story.
Races available to PCs:
Humans, Dwarves, Eladrin, Half-eladrin (half-elves in book), Gnomes, Halflings, Dragonborn, Elves, Tieflings, Githzera, Shardmind, Wilden, Shifter, Goliath, Half-orc, Minotaur, Deva
Classes available to PCs:
Any available in Player’s Handbook 1, 2 or 3.
Character names: Character names will be stylized based on race. Players are allowed to deviate from these bounds, but some explanation should be provided. Perhaps your Dwarven father was deeply endebted to a Half-Eladrin and named you after them. Or your parents worshipped an obscure God, or read an ancient text and named you after a long-forgotten hero. A unique name will be noticed by strangers, particularly those of your own race, and may call attention or create suspicion about your origin.
In this campaign, your name will also hold significant religious connotations. The naming of a child solidifies their ultimate fate, and ultimately defines your character’s soul. This will play a significant role late in the campaign.
For a race-by-race breakdown, visit Names by Race
Generating starting attributes for a new character: Players are allowed to either build a character by table point distribution, or they may roll a new character as was done in the old- fashioned system. If you choose to roll a character, no starting attribute will be allowed to be beneath a 6, and a roll resulting in less than 6 will be increased to this threshold. Rolling a character can be an exciting and potentially rewarding way to create a character, but do so with extreme caution: If you wish to play a wizard and roll a character with low intelligence, you’ll likely have to choose a new profession.
For new characters or players who know exactly what class they wish to play, I’d highly recommend using the table point distribution system which allows you to tailor-make your character. For those who are more interested in role-playing a random character, chance, or someone undecided on what class to play, rolling may be a good option. Re-rolls will not be allowed though, and you will need to play a character rolled, even if they are poor, so consider the pros and cons of each system. All significant NPCs will be created by the rolling system, with possibly very rare exceptions.
Rolling your character
Choosing an alignment: We will be reverting to the traditional 3×3 D&D alignment table which consists of Lawful Good, Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Evil and Chaotic Evil alignments. Players are encouraged to pick a neutral or Good alignment, though evil alignments (with the exception of chaotic evil) are allowed for more advanced RPers. However, if you choose to play an evilly aligned character, be prepared to justify why he or she is willing to travel with the group. Actions which significantly harm other PCs will also be prohibited (no backstabbing your fellow traveler’s in the middle of an encounter). Chaotic evil alignments are not allowed for PCs due to the nature of the alignment.
Choosing a God: Gods will not provide a philosophical conundrum in Chelona: Gods occasionally take an active role in the lives of the people, and their existence is not in question. This does not mean, however, that everyone is religious or chooses to worship a God. For certain classes such as a Paladin or Cleric, faith and discipline is necessary. For a rogue or a fighter, devoutness of faith has little bearing on their effectiveness. When it comes to matters of worship, our campaign will follow closer to a 3.5e style than a 4e style. The significant differences, and their importance, will be listed below.
For classes such as a cleric whose powers are faith-based, their skills will be drawn directly from their chosen God of worship. This means acting in a fashion opposed to the God’s alignment too often may lead them lose powers temporarily, or in extreme circumstances, permanently. When powers are lost, a character may need to perform a pilgrimage to return to their God’s good graces, or if they have been completely exiled by their patron God (for instance, a lawfully good God would not look kindly upon the murder of an innocent civilian) they may need to undertake a mission to be allowed to represent a new God. Nothing a PC will do will cause either of these scenarios unknowingly; either the character will act against their God knowingly, or the DM will warn them that a certain action may affect their good standing with their God. There may be scenarios where an action which benefits the group runs against the will of a character’s God, and that character will find themselves in a crisis of the soul. How they chose to act in these scenarios will play a significant role in defining the legacy of that character.
If the players find themselves in an area where a God does not have power, the above classes will also be without power, as well as any other class whose power is faith-based. A list of Gods who will be lacking power throughout this campaign is listed at Chelona’s Pantheon, and a player is highly discouraged to pick any of the Gods whom will be lacking power during portions of the campaign, unless you desire a significant challenge in role play, and you are willing to play a significantly disadvantaged character for what may be long stretches of the game potentially including the final encounter.
Your character’s alignment and your God’s alignment do not need to be the same, though most commonly a good character worships a good god, a neutral character a neutral god and an evil character an evil god. Any variation from this pattern is at the player’s discretion.
All other Gods will have power throughout the entirety of this campaign.
A note on the Demigod epic destiny
A demigod is one who was conceived by a mortal and a God. As such, if you wish to follow the Demigod path, or you are uncertain and wish to have this available as an option, you have two options available to you.
1. If you know you wish to follow the path of a demigod, openly declare one of your parents as a God. This will also likely play a significant role during the campaign. However, by doing this, you will not have a choice in your epic destiny; it will be set from the beginning of the game.
2. If you wish to keep the option available but you do not wish to make that decision this early in the campaign, leave one of your parents a mystery, perhaps one your character wishes to solve during the campaign.
Table talk: Players are always free to talk at the table, but game-specific questions or advice cannot be granted if the player’s character is incapacitated or not present. (If your character is knocked out you can’t give battle advice to the other players. Similarly, you can’t recommend a purchase if your character isn’t in the store).
Player jobs: Certain players will need to volunteer for a few positions at the game table. A list of player roles which need filled is available at Player Assignments
Rolling Dice: All rolls made by the DM will be made behind the screen. This will not be done to “punish” players or to manipulate results, but rather to allow the game to flow naturally, and keep mystery involved in passive and active skill checks. Players are encouraged to roll “damage” and “to hit” die at the same time to save time and speed up battle efficiency. If a player is taking an excessive amount of time to decide on a course of action in a battle, their character may be delayed by the DM until they are ready to act in battle. In this sense, their turn will not be lost, but their order in initiative will be altered.
Rules discussions: Any rules disputes will be copied down by the lawyer and these disputes will be resolved at the end of each session. As a DM who hasn’t ran a campaign in over 13 years, and as one who has never ran a 4th edition campaign, it is a guarantee I will occasionally get things wrong. As a result, issues which come up may be briefly discussed, but ultimately as DM I will make a ruling which allows the flow of the game to continue. Issues will be revisited after the session is over, and if significant harm was done by misinterpretation of the rules, the lawyer and I will come to an agreement about how it will be resolved.
Experience distribution: Experience will be distributed at the end of each session, and it will mostly be evenly divided among players. Players, or small groups of players, may receive bonus experience for great role playing, or their character going above and beyond in the call of duty on a task. Explanations behind where experience came from will be provided when the points are distributed.
Treasure distribution: The characters will decide how to distribute gold and treasures amongst themselves. The group leader will have final say if there is a disagreement.
On mercenaries: Occasionally, an NPC may be hired to help with an adventure. The mercenary may be asked as many questions as the group would like, and hiring price may occasionally be negotiated. However, the mercenary’s motivation and skill will not be made directly known to the party. Mercenaries can be a great addition on difficult missions, but they may also be a burden, or even a danger. Use caution.
On death: Death is tragic, and it must be treated as such. If a character dies, they may be resurrected by the rules dictated in D&D, though it is worth noting that it is very costly. Any player who dies at level 3 or below may create a new character with similar equipment starting at the same level. If a player chooses to do this, they are highly encouraged to create a completely unique character, not a carbon copy of the lost one. It will also be up to the player to create a new backstory for the new character, and the group as a whole must decide how to introduce the new character to the group.
If the deceased character is above level 3, a new character created will be 3 levels beneath the previous character, with a minimum level of 3. (IE a level 5 character dies, the player may create a level 3 character to replace them. Similarly, if a level 8 character dies, a level 5 character may be made to replace them)
Besides resurrection or rolling a new character, there is one other option available to a player. The party may choose to hire a mercenary, and a player may choose to take control of the mercenary. The player will receive any equipment the mercenary currently has, as well as the money paid to hire the mercenary. This comes with some caveats: The player will not have access to the mercenaries’ stats in advance, and will have little say in the background of the character. It will be up to the player/group to find a motive for the mercenary to remain with the party past the mission he or she was originally hired for.