Introduction to the Exploring New Lands Campaign
 

Imagine a world with unknown lands. The Empires of ancient Gridaldi (Greek), Persia, Egyptian and more recently Aquilian (Rome) have come before and fallen. The most recent empire was the largest; the Aquillian Empire. It fell when an army of humanoids sacked the city. Before that it was a world spanning empire covering most of the civilized world. It traced its roots to the Gridaldi (Greek) Peoples and before that the Etruscans.

The world is now recovering from a Dark Age it has been 612 years since the sack of Aquila (Rome), and most of its citizens were rooted out and replaced by various races of humanoids (Orcs, goblins, gnolls and the like). Time is reckoned from the sack of Aquila. The tide has changed and the more populous human race has taken over the area, but the wilds are still filled with humanoids, ruins from the previous empires. There have been several attempts to widen the existing human empire, but most of them failed

The Inhuman War was fought with demonic forces siding with the Orcs, the demons, the mindflayers, and even off-planet allies. Heroes rose to the challenge, started by the brave forces of Avalanche, who defeated the Inhumans 50 years ago. Helping to establish the new Empire of Reason.

The party members are native to the city of Seagate and its locality. There has been a lot of work done in the neighborhood. Gongaga is now a major elven city. A city has sprung up around the trade routes founded by Avalanche, and several other cities exist, but Seagate is still the major city. As a result Queen Ann has initiated the Empire of reason, reforging the old Aqualin Empire with Seagate as its capital.

The general mission of the party is one of exploration and diplomacy. Players should keep in mind that they are representing the Empire of Reason and so must be suitable for that task. Monster races, while allowed in the game, may not be the best choice for potential ambassadors.

It took 50 years to unite the Inman Kingdoms with Lilis under the Empire of Reason. A group of squabbling kingdoms that could rarely agree on anything. The old king abdicated the throne to his daughter, Queen Ann, because the stress of working with the Inman Kingdoms was too great. It took a little less than three years to unify the majority of the continent.

It is not my policy to lead the party by the nose, I like them to have control over their own destiny. It is probably a good idea to take at least one skill rank in Diplomacy. You won't start as diplomats, but you will move into that field if you are successful at your early missions. The game will be about 60% combat and 40% role playing. This isn't wasting time talking, this is talking and trying to reach a common consensus with players as well as Non-Player Characters (NPCs).

Character Sheets
 
I am going to want to keep a copy of your character sheet on file to refer to during planning for the game. That way if there is say a need to search for a secret door then I can look up your Perception and secretly roll it to see if you notice the secret door. Also if you say you have equipment then you can write if down on the character sheet and record your feats. This way there won't be any argument about what you have and don't have. Of course when the data changes I will need you to email me the new sheet, and I understand that everyone won't have a computer at the game to keep track of their computer file, but you all have access to computers at home and can email me before and after the game with an updated sheet. I perfer an editable Adobe PDF file. You can either use the Adobe Reader or FoxIt to read and edit the file, both programs are free.
 
Allowed Alignments
 
Any
Good Characters will usually work together and promote the common welfare. Chaotic Characters could care less about the laws, rules and order, but they will follow the party leaders direction because they can profit from doing so and the rules are not too strict. Neutral Characters could also care less about the laws, but they are not as apposed to them as Chaotic Characters are. Lawful characters want the organization that laws provide and will more likely to follow the rules and the party.
 

I have problems with the following alignments for specific reasons:

Chaotic Neutral Characters Characters are so greedy and self centered that they can not be trusted, most of them are also insane, with no foundation for a moral character that is acceptable in society. They are true mavericks and so it is hard for them to be trusted.

True Neutral Characters must balance evil with good and so they will work against the general goals of the campaign or party half the time.

Neutral Evil Characters tend to backstab the party and often work against the general goals of the campaign.

Lawful Evil Characters would turn the party over to the evil humanoids for a bounty, never mind working against the goals of the party.

Chaotic Evil Characters will backstab the party and work against the general goals of the campaign. they will refuse to work with anyone, not like them, and not fit into the campaign.

That is why myself and many DMs like to confine the party to good alignments. More often than not players want to chose these unapproved alignments so they can "screw" with the party or the game, a self centered, selfish goal. The whole idea of heroic fiction is the morality play of good vs. evil. And the game itself is a saga of that epic struggle. With the heroes working together to defeat the bad guys.

I have let the party play in an evil game; I am going to be wanting players to try and play good. I will reward players who are good aligned and play good alignments with more role playing experience points when they actually play a good alignment.

I am allowing evil alignments in my game, however you must cooperate with each other and defend the town. I have had too many people abuse it in the past. I realize it gives you more freedom to play an evil alignment, it also gives you much more opportunity to abuse the game.

In the real world things are all in shades of gray. Even Hitler was nice to his friends and was honestly trying to improve the lot of German Aryans. He took his nation out of an economic crisis and depression and made them into a world power. The problem with Hitler was in his methods and many of his warped goals. For example the "Final Solution" was first applied against Jews, but it would eventually have been applied to any non-Arayan race. He is a classic example of the saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The best working definition of "Good" is a philosophy where the person is willing to sacrifice for the welfare of others. Some of the historical paragons of "good" like Christ, Joan of Arc and Martian Luther were all willing to give their very lives to help others. Good characters will want to cooperate with the party and the campaign.

The best working definition of "Evil" is a philosophy where the person is willing to sacrifice the welfare of others to improve their own condition. Most dictators fall into this category, especially ones like Kim Jong-il, or Saddam Hussein both lived a lavish lifestyle while ruthlessly suppressing the freedom of their people and forcing most of their citizens to live in poverty, some even in abject slavery. They want things their own way and have little tolerance for those that do not see it their way; not an ideal attitude for an adventuring party.

The Neutral philosophy's sit somewhere in the middle. Usually, they are more complex than the black and white issues of absolute good and absolute evil. However, it is often possible to get them to cooperate with the campaign. They may be a bit selfish and greedy, but they are willing to work together.

That is the problem with evil aligned characters is getting them to work with the campaign.

In 2nd and 1st edition of D&D Alignments were straight jackets with the loss of a level as a consequence of changing alignments. Few people really played their alignments though; most party members had the alignment of Chaotic Greedy. Good and Evil are more than just a point of view they are a way of bringing about that viewpoint. Most of the DM story lines are outlined with the ideal of good triumphing over evil. This is also the theme present in most fiction, myths and stories of a society. These stories become a fundamental part of that societies nature.

There is a place for the other alignments though. There are Anti-Heroes and cases where those who could be called "good" and "evil" worked together. Stalin was a cruel despot, but he worked with Great Britain, the United States and the Allies to defeat the evil that was the Axis. None of the Allies were perfect, but their common goal of defeating the Axis Alliance could be considered a "good" one. If Hitler had won, his "Final Solution" would have been applied to most of the world; resulting in the extermination of the majority of the world's population.

If you want to play a non-approved alignment you must work with your DM to do so and for the game to succeed you must create a character that will follow a few rules:

1. The party has to know that you have their back. Almost every thief has been guilty of under reporting the amount of treasure they find and pocketing the profits for their own use. However, if the party is in trouble almost all of those characters are willing to do anything to help. If the party can't trust its members it will start a war within the party and cause the party to fall apart.

2. The party must be wiling to follow the DMs Story Line. DMs are responsible for creating a reason for why all that happens in their lives does happen. The life of an adventurer is not a string of accidents, but a road to an eventual goal; usually one that saves the world or fulfills a similarly impressive goal. The DM may put up a lot of stories, they may disguise the story line, there will be random encounters, and the party may stray from the primary story line from time to time; but you cannot have one group want to go here and adventure and another group that wants to go in an entirely different direction to do something else and still expect the DM to run both parties. This is why every DM hates it when the party separates, they can't do two things at once; they can't run two groups at the same time.

3. The party must get along, they don't have to like each other, but they have to agree to work together. If the party members can't get along together then they will not have a legitimate reason to adventure together. There are reasons why an evil creature and a good creature could adventure together; mainly to defeat a foe that they have in common or to prevent the destruction of what they hold dear. Their ways of going about it will differ; as to their alignments and they will argue over that, but if they can't agree to work together then there is no reason for them to do so and the game will fall apart. If the party won't stay together, working on a common goal then there is no reason for the party to exist. The goals may change, and the motives may vary and everyone may not be working on the same goal at the same time, but they can't be working against each other or against the story.

The easiest way to insure that these rules are not broken is to force the party to have similar or compatible alignments. If the players can come up with good reasons for the party to be together without sharing the same alignments then they can work that out with the DM in their background story. Those party members must also insure that when the DM's plot unfolds that they will be able to keep with the party and the storyline. Otherwise they will not be allowed to play an unapproved alignment. I do not expect everyone will always work together, but I want the group to aspire toward that goal.

It is not a situation of US "the party" vs. THEM "the DM." It is a situation of ALL OF US trying to resolve the problems posed by the DM. You must create a character who is willing to follow that goal.

Character Background
 
A player can't create their character in a vacuum, there was a past from which they came and a history unique to that character. The DM needs to know some of this. It is also possible to insert major campaign goals and achieve extra experience points when reaching these goals. An example of a background goal may be to avenge the death of your father at the hands of a famous duelist, or maybe trying to clear the family name and prove that your father didn't do the crime that he was accused of.

A background should be from 1/2 page to 3 pages long. Much longer than that is hard to remember, and much shorter than that leaves too little for the DM to work with. Players will be awarded extra experience points based on the background history that they submit to the DM. Including extra experience points for narrative hooks (typically 100 points for a hook and up to 750 experience points for a well written story).

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