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D&D 3.5: North by Northwest, or The Dead of Winter [Full]

Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
I've been itching to run a straight D&D game to go with my Call of Cthulhu d20 game (see signature), and, rather than try to restart my old Eberron game or my Shackled City game (mostly for reasons of scope — running a full 32 page module takes far too much time in a PbP unless I'm willing to distill large portions of it), I've decided to start up a game that'll run on the coat tails of the first PbP game I tried to run around here, The Dead of Winter.

I have, however, modified the concept quite a bit, and I'll be running the game in my homebrew instead of the Forgotten Realms, which means that the base assumptions of the world, the races, and the classes will be quite different. Anyhow, we'll start with the basic information and then run from there. The game proper wouldn't start until after the New Year, as I'll be gone for four days starting the 23rd and ending the night of the 26th, and I imagine a lot of other folks'll be off and about, too.

Concept: Two thousand years ago, the Fifth Peloran Crusade failed, forcing the elves and dwarves out of their homelands in the far north and leaving the ancient halls of their forefathers in the clutches of demons and undead. Tomorrow morning, a small group of explorers will lay the groundwork for their return.

Basic Information

Style: Heavy exploration, heavy intrigue, medium combat. The vast majority of the adventure will take place off the map in places where very few people have set foot for thousands of years, so there'll be a pretty heavy lost civilization, lost world type vibe. Pulpy stuff. Please note that, in order to facilitate a speedy game, I will not be posting maps, which'll also mean that AoOs will be pretty free-form.

Posting Speed: Three to four times a week.

Number of Players: Six. One of the players should be in charge of keeping track of party treasure (common funds and possessions).

Level of Magic, Tech Level, Treasure, XP: Standard high magic D&D, just a peg below FR and Eberron. Late medieval, early renaissance, minus gunpowder and with some clockwork. Treasure will be given in rough accordance to the tables in the DMG. XP will be awarded on an ad-hoc basis when specific goals are met and at the end of chapters.

Dice conventions: Players roll their own dice using Invisible Castle. Please provide links in your posts.

Books in Play: Core rulebooks, MMII, MMIII, spells from the Complete Book of Eldritch Might and The Book of Hallowed Might, maneuvers and stunts from The Book of Iron Might (all Malhavoc Press), Unearthed Arcana, the Behind the Spells line (Ronin Arts). This list will be updated. Books in play pending progress of the campaign include: Arctic Heroes (Lion's Den Press), The Book of Roguish Luck (Malhavoc Press), EN Critters, Vol. 3: Tulenjord (EN Publishing), Frostburn (WotC), Mythic Heroes (Bad Axe Games), Valley of Frozen Tears (Ancient Awakenings).

Character Generation

Stat Generation: Use the following array — 17, 15, 14, 13, 10, 8 — and arrange as desired.

Races available: Human, Canis Kobold, High Elf, Hobgoblin, Swamp Dwarf. Homebrew races (in italics) will be posted shortly in another post.

Races not available: Halfling, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Gnome.

Classes available: All, except for psionic classes. Some of the standard classes have been changed. These changes will be posted shortly in another post.

Level, Equipment: Start at Level 1. Max gold.

3x2, Signature Item: As part of their background, players should come up with 3 specific goals for their character (Sample prompts: Why are they part of the expedition? What do they want to find on it? How does this relate to their long term plans and hopes?) and 3 people (mentors, siblings, ancestors, rivals, etc.) that they know. Also, each character should have one signature item, something that's important to them for personal reasons (classic examples: their father's sword, their betrothed's ring).
 
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Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Homebrew Races

High Elves, as PHB, except:
  • +2 Dex, -4 Con, +2 Cha. Preternaturally beautiful and graceful, high elves are also extremely fragile and easily wounded.
  • High elves have the Fey subtype.
  • Severe Iron Allergy: High elves lose one point of Constitution every round they wear armor of iron or steel, or when otherwise in contact with a comparable amount of iron or steel. The Constitution loss is temporary ability damage and returns at the rate of one point per day. (from R&R: Excalibur)
  • Spell-like abilities: A high elf with a Charisma score of at least 10 has the following spell like abilities, each usable 1/day: dancing lights, daze, faerie fire, ghost sound, cure minor wounds (CL 1st; save DC 10 + Cha modifier + spell level).
  • Automatic Languages: Elf, Common. Bonus languages: Dwarf, Fey, Gnoll, Sylvan.
  • Favored class: Sorcerer.
The Hobgoblins of the Northern Reaches live in villages built into the walls of the Chasm. Despite their savage appearance, these hobgoblins are renowned throughout the Northern Reaches for their honorable and noble behavior. Many times, all that has stood between the outpost of Caerrhen and destruction, be it from opposing armies or from plague, has been the goodwill and aid of the hobgoblin tribes.
  • +2 Dex, -2 Cha. Hobgoblins are frightfully fast, but hobgoblin customs and manners do not translate well towards non-hobgoblins, causing no end of problems in diplomacy and trade.
  • Medium-size, 30 ft. base speed.
  • Darkvision 60 ft.
  • +4 racial bonus to Move Silently. Hunting in the Chasm, where even the slightest mistep can cause echoes to reverberate for miles, has taught the hobgoblins the value of stealth.
  • Contrary to the SRD, most hobgoblins tend towards LN in alignment, with LG and (L)N being common as well. LE is no more or less common than it would be in a human society. Non-lawful alignments are exceedingly rare in hobgoblin society.
  • Automatic Languages: Hobgoblin, Common. Bonus languages: Elf, Giant, Gnoll, Terran.
  • Favored Class: Fighter or Paladin.
Swamp Dwarves are the descendants of the ancient hill dwarf tribes that previously lived in the broken lands north of the Chasm. Forced to evacuate their ancient homes during the failed Fifth Peloran Crusade, they settled in the Great Western Swamp, between the Sink and the southern edge of the Caerrhenians. Over the five centuries since their migration, the swamp dwarves have tamed the swamp as much as possible for a non-native people.
  • +2 Con, -2 Cha. Living in the swamps has maintained the famous hardiness of the old hill dwarf clans but has done little to improve their surly demeanor.
  • Medium-size, 20 ft. base speed.
  • Darkvision 60 ft.
  • Swampcunning: +2 racial bonus to any checks to notice quicksand, bogsinks, sudden changes in depth of water, and other environmental hazards in swamps and marshes. Coming within 10 ft. of anything unusual within this environment is enough to grant the dwarf a Search check. He may also use the Search skill to find traps, natural hazards or man-made snares, as a rogue.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poisons and diseases. Living in the swamp for so long has inured the dwarf to many of the contagions carried by the various types of vermin that call the terrain home. Also, their ancestral resistance to poison has remained intact.
  • +1 racial bonus to attack rolls against lizardfolk and gnolls. With the move out of the north, it became necessary for the swamp dwarves to readapt their training to new foes.
  • +2 racial bonus to Craft checks related to building boats and rafts for use in the swamp. This bonus also applies to any Profession (Sailor) checks the dwarf may need to make. Swamp dwarves are intimately familiar with operating small crafts to navigate some of the less hospitable areas of the Great Western Swamp.
  • +2 racial bonus to Swim checks. Years of life in a swamp have tended to nullify the ancient dwarven apprehensions about water and swimming.
  • Automatic Languages: Dwarven, Common. Bonus languages: Gnoll, Goblin, Terran, Elf, Draconic (Lizardfolk dialects specifically).
  • Favored Class: Ranger.
Canis Kobolds are said to be the result of a wizard mating goblins and gnolls, but the canis rarely possess the malicious characteristics associated with their biological cousins. In fact, most canis kobolds will take great offense just at the suggestion of this relation. Generally speaking, canis kobolds look like small, bipedal dogs with red or brown fur and bright, intelligent eyes. Fond of company and society, the Canis tend to live in human and elven cities.
  • -4 Str, +2 Dex. Although their small size makes them rather elusive and nimble, they tend to be substantially weaker than other races.
  • Small-size, base speed 30 ft. Because of their small size, canis receive a +1 natural bonus to AC.
  • Low-light vision 60 ft.
  • +1 racial bonus to saving throws. Canis kobolds are almost obscenely lucky.
  • +2 racial bonus to Bluff checks. Because of their strong resemblance to domestic hounds and seemingly guile-less demeanor, most people are favorably disposed to believing a canis, even at times when they shouldn’t be.
  • +2 racial bonus to Sense Motive checks. Their canine ancestry allows the canis kobolds to figure out the truth behind someone’s intentions via scent. Literally, something may just plain "smell wrong." Things that may hide scents generally negate this ability.
  • Scent (Ex). Canis kobolds possess an exceedingly acute sense of smell, detecting opponents within 30 ft. by scent (60 ft. upwind, 15 ft. downwind, 60/120/30 ft. for strong scents like smoke and garbage, 90/180/45 ft. for overwhelming smells like skunk musk). Scent reveals presence, not location, as a general rule.
  • Automatic Languages: Gnoll, Common. Bonus Languages: Elf, Dwarf, Goblin, Sylvan.
  • Favored class: Rogue.
Humans, as PHB.
 

Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Classes

The following classes are allowed as written: Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue.
The following classes are not allowed: Psion, Psychic Warrior.
The following classes are allowed with the changes below:

Barbarian
  • High elf and canis kobold barbarians use the whirling frenzy instead of the standard rage ability, gaining +4 bonus to Strength, a +2 dodge bonus on AC, and a +2 dodge bonus on Reflex saves. They also gain an extra attack at his highest BAB, although all attacks suffer a -2 penalty when this aspect of the whirling frenzy is in use. Instead of indomitable will, a high elf or canis kobold barbarian gains evasion at 14th level, although only while in a whirling frenzy.
Bard
  • Bardic traditions in the Northern Reach have a touch of druidic training, resulting in the following changes to the class:
    • Survival becomes a class skill in place of Decipher Script.
    • Gain animal companion, nature sense, and resist nature’s lure as a druid.
    • Lose bardic knowledge, inspire courage, inspire competence, inspire greatness, inspire heroics.
Cleric
  • Drop HD from d8 to d6.
  • Use poor BAB (as Wizard).
  • Class Skills: Concentration, Craft (any), Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge (any), Profession (any), Speak Language, Spellcraft. A cleric gains skill points equal to 6 + Int modifier/level (this number times 4 at 1st level).
  • Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Clerics may use simple weapons and light armor.
  • Lore (Ex): Thanks to long hours of study, a cleric has a wide array of stray knowledge. This ability is identical to the bardic knowledge class feature, using the cleric’s class level in place of the bard level. This ability stacks with similar abilities that may be granted by other classes.
  • Domains: In addition to the two normal domains granted by his god, a cleric also has the Knowledge domain.
  • Spellcasting: Add the following spells to the cleric’s spell list: 0—message; 1st—erase, identify, unseen servant; 2nd—fox’s cunning; 3rd—illusory script, secret page, tongues; 4th—detect scrying; 6th—analyze dweomer; 7th—sequester; 9th—vision.
  • When using spells from outside of the PHB, clerics must drop a spell of the same level from their list in order to add a new one.
Sorcerer/Wizard:
  • Elven traditions of arcane magic replace the traditional familiar with an animal companion (as druid of half his sorcerer class level). Multiclass levels in druid stack for purposes of determining an animal companion’s abilities. For instance a high elf Sor6/Drd2 would have an animal companion of equivalent to a 5th-level druid.
  • Wizards are referred to as Mages (abbreviated as Mag). A wizard is a very specific being of a high level of power.
 
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Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Other House Rules and Notes

Intimidate may be based on Strength or Charisma, as appropriate to the character. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed.

Metamagic Feats: This campaign uses the daily metamagic use variant. A character can use any metamagic feat that he has access to up to three times/day, on the fly. It can be applied to a spell of a level equal to the maximum level the caster can cast minus the level adjustment of the metamagic feat as written.

Themed summoning lists: All spellcasters summon monsters according to a theme, as per UA. I'll be happy to work out appropriate themes with players.

Alignment: This game does use alignment, but monsters and NPCs don't have predetermined alignments based on species and race (save for outsiders). Just a word to the wise. ;)
 

Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
I've attached a map and what follows is a quick and dirty gazetteer of sorts. It's enough information, hopefully, to get people settled as they develop characters. As you can see, the political power is largely in the hands of the elves (high elves). Please note that most of the campaign will be taking place in and north of Caerrhen in the Broken Lands and the Ice Sea (and beyond in the far north). Also, the scale on the map is incorrect: each square should be closer to 50 miles across.

Gazetteer of the Northern Reach

The Arandhine — Mountain range on the SE coast of the peninsula. Contains a number of active and dormant volcanoes as well as the town of Cauldron.

Arándhe — One of the twin cities of the southern half of the peninsula, along with Sufford. Mostly human.

Araudine — Elven colony on the Floodrun Isles.

The Broken Lands — ancestral lands of the elves and dwarves, abandoned during the Fifth Peloran Crusade. As far north as you can go before heading towards the Ice Seas. Very hilly and currently home to an obscene amount of undead and other fell creatures.

Caerrhen — Northernmost village on the peninsula. Only remaining outpost of civilization in the Broken Lands.

The Caerrhenians — Mountain range on the NW coast of the Northern Reaches.

Cauldron — ancient town built around the inner bowl of a nameless, dormant volcano. The bowl itself is filled with a crystal clear, cold lake.

Chandoth — Elven colony on the Nortide Archipelago.

The Chasm — Canyon located due west of Caerrhen. Home to numerous hobgoblin tribes.

Floodrun — Key elven port on the western coast. Controls all legal shipping routes to Araudine. Formerly a human town of little importance.

Floodrun Isles — Island cluster off the NW coast of the Reach. Swampy and hilly. Elven colony of Araudine settled there fifty years ago. Largely unexplored still.

The Great Western Swamp — Dominate geographical feature of the Northern Reach, the GWS covers most of the land south of the Chasm, west of the Splinterwood and Thorned Forest, and north of the Arandhine. Home to swamp dwarves, gnolls, and lizardfolk. Scattered communities of other races may exist, though...

The Ice Seas — A large, solid expanse of ice, not unsimilar to a polar icecap; entirely unmapped. Not considered navigable by most peoples and dangerous to try to reach anyhow because of the current occupation of the Broken Lands.

Knave's Wood — Small forest on the Nortide Archipelago's largest island.

Rexem — Elven colony just north of Knave's Wood.

The Sink — Large, inland lake in the middle of the GWS. Due west of the Thorned Forest.

The Splinterwood — Forest north and west of the imperial seat of Tharokas. Across the river from the Thorned Forest. A number of human villages exist here, built on multiple levels up and through the trees.

Sufford — Sister city to Arándhe.

Tharokas — Imperial seat of the Northern Elf Empire. On the eastern coast of the Reach, due east of the Splinterwood, due west of the Nortide Archipelago.

The Thorned Forest — Forest south of the Splinterwood and north of the Arandhine. Little to no inhabitation here, aside from the occasional camp of gnoll hunters.
 

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Phyrrus

First Post
I would like to throw my name in the hat for a hobgoblin barbarian who will taking the path of a bearlord if we get that far down the road.

Given to extreme bouts of rage and morosness, he will have been labled just as much a hinderance as a help, but none can deny that when the battle fever takes him, he is a sight to behold.

A pariah because of his Chaotic Neutral outlook, he is looking for his place in the world, but hindered by the fact he is constantly frustrated that none can grasp what he feels his place is.

If you think this char could work, please let me know and I will try to flesh him out further.
 

Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Phyrrus: Is bearlord a PrC from one of the Complete books? If it is, that's not going to work out (I don't own or plan to buy any of the 3.5 classbooks), but the base concept could work very well. The question that we'd need to answer would be: Why would he be on an expedition into the far north to reclaim the elf and dwarf homelands?

Nick
 


Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Party Composition: This should be above, but I felt I should throw it in here. I tend to like balanced parties, so what I'd be looking for here would be something like this for the party composition: 2 martial classes (Ftr/Brb/Rgr/Pal), 1 Clr, 1 Sor/Mag, 2 wildcards.

Nick
 


Phyrrus

First Post
Kajamba Lion said:
Phyrrus: Is bearlord a PrC from one of the Complete books? If it is, that's not going to work out (I don't own or plan to buy any of the 3.5 classbooks), but the base concept could work very well. The question that we'd need to answer would be: Why would he be on an expedition into the far north to reclaim the elf and dwarf homelands?

Nick

With him being an outcast among his own kind, he has to survive somehow and while his manners may not be enough for the high courts, they are enough to earn him a position as hired help. For the price of his services, he can give a group a powerful combatant and outdoor guide. It is just dealing with his moods at first that may make the others wish someone else had been hired.

Also, with the fact that it is in the Complete books, I am more than willing to switch it over to Frostrager if the situation presents itself to meet the freezing requirements.

But I am more than willing to switch over completely and go with a more traditional melee class that fits easier into the pattern.
 


Hi Nick
I'll play a simple human fighter, adventurer.
who wants to get rich and sees an oppurtunity in this mission.
Where do you want me to post him, any RG for the characters ?

Roy.
 


Fenris

First Post
Alright, I'll put in for Swamp Dwarf Rogue out to reclaim his native home.

KL
[sblock] I haven't decided how to approach him yet. Would the UA variant where I give up Sneak Attack for Fighter Feats be acceptable? pg 58 UA. Might fit a dwarf better. But feel free to say No. And feel free to offer suggestions ;) [/sblock]
 

Eluvan

First Post
Mmmmm... yes please. :D

I'd love to play a High Elf in this game... I always have been a big fan of the more fey-heavy interpretations of elves. I'm thinking a Cleric, with the conceptual focus resting on the lore. I see him as a historian and researcher, who's jumped at the chance to do some field work in the ancestral lands and perhaps even to make his own contribution to his race's history.

Also, I'd be happy to take responsibility for tracking the party's pooled resources. :)
 

Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Phyrrus: Sounds good. As for the class, I want you to play what you want to play, and Hobgoblin Brb is fine. And Frostrager would be a fine goal.

Lord_Raven88: Excellent.

Strahd: Good enough. Post him here first. I'll open up the RG when characters have been approved.

Fenris: I think you answered your question by yourself, but, just in case, no, they just have simple weapons and light armor. And if you want to play that variant, yes. As a matter of fact, we could even hard code it as a house rule/racial tendency.

Eluvan: Yeah, me, too, so that sounds great to me. Use the gods in the PHB.

Okay, so here's what I've got for a roster so far:

1. Phyrrus, Hobgoblin Brb
2. Lord_Raven88
3. Strahd, Human Ftr
4. Fenris, Swamp Dwarf Rog
5. Eluvan, High Elf Clr

We still need at least one player, and we need a Mag or Sor. I will recruit until we hit 8 players, with the last two volunteers filling in alternate slots. Players in alternate slots might need to play specific classes, so waiting to generate a character is probably best.

Also, if anyone's thinking of playing a Rgr, you should know what the monster pallette is for your favored enemy: demons/devils, fey, giants, humanoid cultists, prehistoric animals, undead, and aberrations native to cold lands. This isn't to say that we'll not use other types of monsters, just that the encounters will be heavily tilted towards these.

Nick
 


Old Fezziwig

Alive Again
Thanee: Sure, those would work really well. And that brings something up that I should have mentioned. I will entertain just about anything that's on the main WotC D&D website for free, so ask and we'll see what we can do.

1. Phyrrus, Hobgoblin Brb
2. Lord_Raven88
3. Strahd, Human Ftr
4. Fenris, Swamp Dwarf Rog
5. Eluvan, High Elf Clr
6. Thanee, Human/Canis Kobold Sor/Mag

Still looking for two alternates...

Nick
 

Phyrrus

First Post
KL: Does this mean I get to look forward to almost dying by a spell to qualify for the PrC..:)

All in all, I will start prepping him, and soon one grappling beserker will be amongst the midst.
 

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