originally Jan. 22, 2009:
Another_Poet's Five Fingers Sewer Campaign
Hi everybody. Another_Poet here. I haven't posted much on these forums (yet!), but on my other gaming forums I notice that campaign journals are quite popular. The one thing that always bothers me about them is that they don't usually include stats or detailed notes, so other DMs can't really grab the cool parts and put them in their own campaigns.
Now, I'm not trying to presume that my campaign is going to be so cool you'll want to use it.... but hopefully there will be the occasional gem in there. I plan on taking it level 1-20 so there should be plenty to choose from. Plus, I'm mapping and populating a detailed (and LARGE) sewer system, so why keep it to myself?
Anyway, here we go...
First off: The Rules
Combining Pathfinder and IK
We're using Pathfinder RPG as the base ruleset, rather than D&D 3.5. Of course, Pathfinder is D&D 3.5, mostly. In case anyone doesn't know, Pathfinder is a 3.5 revision put out by Paizo in an effort to keep the awesome corpus of 3rd edition D&D material alive. There are a few changes, mostly to rebalance the classes, power down the spells a bit, and add more character options. There's also some streamlining of the "problem" rules of 3.5 such as grappling, turning undead, etc. There are fewer skills (listen + spot = perception, for instance) and thus fewer skill points. Other than that, it's the same old system and I've had no problems integrating regular 3.5 monsters or NPCs into my Pathfinder games. Mostly I'm just grateful that someone is still supporting my favourite roleplaying system, and especially happy that the entire Player's Handbook is free online.
Still, IK rules are already a little different from 3.5 and trying to combine them with a whole new system poses some challenges. Here are the main changes that you should be aware of as you read about the campaign:
-Sorcerers are completely different from the 3.5 PHB version, much more like the Warlock class. They must choose a bloodline from monstrous or outsider species, and this determines the powers they get. They also tend to acquire physical traits (bat wings, etc.) that mark out their ancestry. Combining this with IK is roleplaying GOLD. Sorcerers are already feared and hated, giving them weird outsider powers and making them look like mutants just fans the flames. Even if I wasn't using Pathfinder I'd houserule this class into any IK game.
-Barbarians (or Berserkers for us IK fans) no longer suck, and have a lot of different abilities they can spend their rage powers on. My favourite is gaining a bite attack while grappling so you can bite your opponent's ear off.
-HD are different! Barbarians still get d12s and other warriors still get d10's. Divine casters still get d8's. But all support/skill characters (Rogues, Bards) now get d8's as well. And no one is stuck with a measly d4 - all the caster classes got bumped up to d6's. I've extended these changes to IK classes as well so (for example) Arcane Mechaniks get d8's now.
-More HP at first level. All characters now get double their max HD, plus their con modifier. So a wizard with a Con score of 12 would get 6 + 6 + 1 = 13 hp at first level. Much more survivable, and definitely helps in the IK. Basically it translates to cooler (and longer) 1st level encounters, then becomes less meaningful as characters level up. (At 2nd level and all subsequent levels, you only get your normal 1 HD + con.)
-Unlimited 0-level spells. Yep, those cantraips and orisons can be used over and over with no limit. Of course, Cure Minor Wounds has been removed altogether to avoid abuse.
-Almost anything can be sneak attacked or crit'd. This includes most undead.
1) None of the PC's have ever been to Five Fingers before, ever, for any reason.
2) The PC's must have some common element or deep reason to stick together. They're siblings, or all the same race or profession, all members of the same union - something. No meeting up at a bar; tie your backstories together and tell me what the common group goal is in coming to Five Fingers.
3) Players do not need to worry about creating a balanced "caster-healer-fighter-skillguy" party. If they roll up (for instance) four rogues, or a bunch of melee specialists with no healers, I will do my best to tailor the campaign to their party most of the time. Major themes of the campaign are exploration and player freedom, so they can find work that suits their classes.
4) I use hit point piles for groups of identical enemies. This makes it easy for me and, more importantly, it frees up the PCs to spread out over the battlefield rather than ganging up on one creature at a time. Of course, for unique enemies or statted NPCs I may still use individual HPs.
Second: The Premise and the PC's
Before rolling up characters the players were told the basic premise of the campaign. They will be arriving, for the first time in their lives, at the city of Five Fingers. Why they are there is up to them.
Here's what they came up with. They are all from Khador, from a small town in the very far north. Rather than waiting to be conscripted they all decided to join the military together when they came of age. They put their talents to good use, and even though none of them became officers they were all given specialist jobs and a fair amount of respect.
Their unit never saw much action. They were sent from place to place, but it seemed they always arrived a week after the heavy fighting. With only a few battles under their belt, they completed their term of service to the Empress and got their discharge papers. They had long talked about going to a big city - a big city far from the war front - and trying to make their fortune. They made good on their plan, and headed for Five Fingers.
The characters they made are as follows:
Utar - male Skirov Cleric of Morrow. Utar is from the PC's home town, but he was not in the military unit with the rest of them. Rather, they ran into him again as he traveled through occupied Llael trying to give aid to refugees. They were glad to see a familiar face and he agreed to come with them to FF.
Played by J, a structural engineer and deeply spiritual man
Sabvra - female Skirov Druid. Sabvra was known for gathering rare herbs and other ingredients for the town healer as a child, but no one suspects she is actually a druid in training. She wisely kept her chosen profession to herself, and fit into the military unit as a scout. She has not called an animal companion, though she reserves the right to do so if she feels the need. She gives loose worship to the Devourer Wurm.
Played by my ex-wife A, who is the person that first got me into D&D
Vasili - male Umbrian Bard (but from Khador). Vasili's bardic abilities were viewed with interest by the Khadoran special forces, and they had hoped to put him to good use. A guitarist by training, he is also the only Menite in the group. Luckily this is the less strict Northern variety of Menite, and he's hardly what one would call devout; he gets along fine with the party priest.
Played by N, a sarcastic guy who enjoys outsmarting people.
Thamateal and his Fabulous Fingers of Fury! Male Thurian Wizard (but from Khador). Thamateal learned what little he could of magic from the local alchemist back home, and managed to squeak by the entrance exams to be trained as a junior wizard in the military. He's worried about being perceived as a sorcerer, so he has styled himself as a stage performer and tries to pass off his abilities as mere sleight-of-hand. The other PCs know the truth, of course. Thamateal is often the over-eager voice of the party, and is a bit reckless. He chose Summon Monster I as one of his two starting 1st level spells, fully knowing the risks.
Played by M, the only guy I know who talks louder than I do.
As you can see I've taken some liberty with the population distribution of the human ethnic groups. My players are coming out of much looser worlds, typically playing without any world map and making up geography as they go. Plus, with the potential for favourable ability adjustments it seemed cruel to limit their ethnic options. So unless something is very far south I didn't take it off the table. Despite their ethnic backgrounds they are all from the same "diverse former trading town" (a depressed mining town where the mine ran dry), and they all consider themselves firmly Khadoran. They're getting good at roleplaying this, and when (for instance) Vasili is presumed to be Llaelese they know how to use it to their advantage.
NEXT TIME: Crazy jobs, settling in, baiting the PCs, and a gang fight gone badly.
(Also, is there a way to do spoiler boxes so this post isn't so huge?)