Current Status We are currently accepting players. The more the merrier! We have enough players ready to play that delaying the game any more would be downright silly! The gates are open for play! System 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. If you don't typically enjoy story-driven campaigns or find yourself preferring simulationist systems, please read on and get a grasp of the setting before you dismiss the game based on the system, because I can assure that it is not a typical story-driven campaign, nor is it terribly abstracted and based around set-piece encounters as so much 4e material is. Original OP & Other Information Welcome one, welcome all to the as-promised update. Setting - The setting is, in a sentence, "Go West." Our story begins in the year of 2261 with the Empire of Khaled. Well, sort of. You see, the Empire of Khaled has been at war for the last decade with a neighbor of ill-repute, and at long last the war is coming to an end. What this means is that, for the first time in a long time, the Empire can finally begin to pay attention to its colonies... or it will soon, anyway. This is where our heroes, such as they are, come in. Intrepid explorers, thrillseekers, or even just plain old "high risk businessmen", these men and women have decided it is high time to set out across the Great Western Sea to attend one of the Imperial colonies before the Empire proper turns its attentions back to expansion of its borders. In other words, the land of opportunity, and the timing of a lifetime, has presented itself - a land ripe for the picking, open for expansion and exploration, and not a single government in a thousand miles willing or able to interfere because of the war. Whatever their personal reasons, many adventurers have seemingly flocked to the opportunity. While certainly not a life path chosen by many (read: almost none) because of its extreme danger, adventuring can prove extremely rewarding - such is the hope of each individual who makes the journey across the Great Sea. This leads us to the specific setting we will be using for the campaign: the Town of Anchorholde and lands surrounding. In game design terms, those of you who enjoy "old school" roleplaying design can consider the wilderness surrounding Anchorholde as a kind of "megadungeon", which you will make sorties into at length. Anchorholde Bordered on the eastern side by the Great Sea, Anchorholde is a town somewhat in disrepair due to the lack of attentions from its mother country during the war. Built in a natural harbor, it is home to some 1,856 people in a region roughly 1/3rd of a square mile in size (roughly 1 mile along the coast by 1/3rd mile inland). Surrounded by a wooden pallisade to protect from danger, it is a constituent city of the Khaled Empire and governed by its, well, governor, the human named Kama. His captain of the guard is a warforged (whether he is a servant of the governor, owned by him, or simply indebted or else with an extreme sense of duty is unclear) with a name equivalent to his title: Captain. The town makes almost all of its subsistence from the ocean with fishing and harvesting of minerals from the sea, leading to the outlying areas (beyond the pallisade) being lightly patrolled, if at all. The town has a single large church devoted primarily to Pelor, though there are alcoves for the lesser deities as well. In addition it has a myriad of housing and docklands, as well as a fairly distinguished market for a town of its size. Indeed, several naval vessels may often be found on maneuvers nearby, and it is likely upon them that the adventurers arrive. As a constituent town of the Empire of Khaled the town of Anchorholde behaves primarily under the governances of the Empire, including its calendar and currency. The Imperial Calendar The Imperial Calendar is very similar to our own in the modern day, albeit with fairly different naming conventions. In addition to the year being 2261, the days and months are as follows - Raqday Errsday Insday Melday Corsday Sehday Pelday Similar to our own weekday calendar, each day ends in the suffix "day" and is devoted to a major god of the D&D pantheon. Weekends are often time off, just like in the real world, and the above days run equivalent Monday through Sunday. The months - Duisternis Chandrakant Maganyos Pantheras Vahan Cathair Diogo Vedrus Khal Orchimens Novern Ultimens equivalent January through December; the names of the months originated long ago, long enough that their significance has been forgotten by the living memory of the world's population in the Empire of Khaled. Imperial Currency As a foreword regarding the town of Anchorholde, it is not large enough to warrant the use of Platinum pieces - as such the town's banking institution tends to be the only ones to use them, often as a means of transacting the purchase of land by a landowner or exchange with the Empire at large via boat. The copper Mina is minted in individual regions by the governors, barons, or other ruling class members. In Anchorholde it features a portrait of the mayor on the face, and on the reverse it features a cornucopia to represent its peasantry-associated intentions. The edges are not milled and are in fact somewhat irregular, leading the slightly seedy underbelly occasionally to engage in coin clipping. The income gained by clipping copper coins isn’t terribly substantial, though, so for the adventurers arriving for the express purpose of making money it is unlikely to become interested in a lifetime of counterfeiting pennies. The Crown presents a raised image of the king (supposedly because a silver is in wider circulation than a gold, and therefore his image is more well known among his subjects as a result). Upon the reverse (“tails”) side is an engraving of the king’s heraldic crest wreathed by a crown. This symbolizes how the king is always related to the other kings (the crown) due to his position, but that he is mostly an individual (most of the imagery changes from king to king). These coins were minted around three years ago (when the current monarch took power). The Sovereign (“Draco”) coin is embossed with a large, stylized dragon (in medieval fashion a la the stylized Lion on Richard the Lionheart’s banners) upon the front, with milled ridges along the edges of the coin (though not raised or exaggerated in any way). The back is pictured with the same dragon image, though it is engraved rather than embossed. The date of mint, at present around ten years past, tends to go for quite a long time between remintings. The Piece of Torm is embossed with the visage of Torm upon the “head” of the coin, and upon the “tail” of the coin is a beam of light striking a squareish citadel temple, indicating Torm’s return to life after defeating Bane during the Time of Troubles. Though no true citizen of the kingdom would dare attempt to “coin clip” a Piece of Torm the rim is nevertheless carefully pressed with a raised lip, not only symbolically acting as a wall against chaos entering the flat of the coin, but additionally acting as a literal wall against the chaos of counterfeiters shearing valuable platinum from the coin’s edges. The Empire of Khaled once also used Electrum coins (a mix of gold and silver), though the purity could never be maintained and so they were eventually discarded in favor of a more robust system of coinage. The Responsibility of Players "Is that really all of the setting?" you may find yourself asking. Well, yes and no. It is all of the setting you're going to be getting from me. The rest of the setting that I'm working on is all set to the West of Anchorholde - things that you, the intrepid explorer, would not yet know about not having uncovered it! So, on my end, there is a lot more setting... but obviously telling it to you would make this a story, not a game. On the other end, however, I have purposely left a wide swath of empty in the metaphorical chapter on the Empire of Khaled. When you make your character and give him or her a motivation for heading to the West you can, and should, feel free to make up whatever you like regarding the Empire. I left it a pretty blank slate for a reason. First come first serve. Character Generation Guidelines Since you now know everything, fluff-wise, that you need to know to make a compelling character, I can now present you with the entirety of the character generation rules. The rules work as per Player's Handbook 1 (4th edition) for a first level character with the following exceptions and/or clarifications- 1) No races from the Monster Manuals or Manual of the Planes. 2) All backgrounds, while optional, are legal with the exception of "born under a bad sign" or "auspicious birth", both of which are by a long shot the best of all backgrounds putting them far enough out of line that I have decided you will not be allowed to use those two specifically. 3) All general themes, while optional, are allowed. Dark Sun themes are allowed pending DM approval because of their very specific fluff. 4) Setting specific feats and items (etc.) are allowed. You can have a spellscar, desert clothing, and whatever else you like from whatever setting you like. 5) Use Point Buy. No dice-rolling your ability scores, please, no matter how "old school" it makes you feel. This is in the interest of fairness. 6) All published classes, powers, items, etc. are allowed. No using playtest rules for anything, sorry. (This means if you want to be a Warlock you should keep in mind that your class will be getting updated in the next few weeks by Wizards via errata, and those changes will not take effect before they are officially published). 7) No evil aligned characters. For those of you who wish to begin making your characters but require help (i.e. those who have not played D&D before), please feel free to request it and I shall do my best to assist. SCHEDULING Alright, I promised to explain it, so here it is. There is no defined schedule, and that is what makes West Marches such an aptly suited concept to running online (or in any other situation where the players will be intermittently busy). There is not necessarily any commitment to showing up week in and week out on Tuesday. Why? How does that work? Well, the West Marches charter is simple: players decide what to do, not the GM. You don’t show up every Saturday and go “well, I can’t think of anything, time to go home”, either. It is the players’ job to organize the game. How? Here's an example of the kind of thing you could post: “Hey guys, I’m free Tuesday and I’d love to play a bit. What say we go check out that old ruined watchtower we saw in the distance last time? I can’t go by myself, who else is in?” From there you would all begin to have a bit of a chat about who wants to play and when they can do it, and hey maybe you should check out this cave you found in the swamp instead because that looked pretty cool et c. Still don't get it? Here's the simple version in four, easy rules (okay, the fourth is a bit long-winded): 1) The GM has to be available that day. 2) You must give the GM some time in advance (a couple days is fair for the most part) to prepare things that may not be entirely done yet in the direction you set off. The GM also holds the power to veto things he thinks may end up being a waste of time (“Let’s go grind out some levels against the kobolds!” *buzzer*) 3) You MUST schedule games via this thread. It doesn’t matter who you Private Messaged or Texted or went Bowling with at the London SB get-together, if you decided you want to play there, post it HERE! For those of you who enjoy a good bit of in-character there’s another bonus to this method – it represents yourselves, the adventurers, getting together in town and getting a plan set in stone before you go somewhere. In the real world if you were planning a hiking trip (not to mention something as severely dangerous as raiding a dungeon!) you would ask around for people to come with you, and plan out your provisions, and when you were going. It works just the same here. Please keep in mind that in the interest of scheduling it is probably best to come back to town at the end of every sortie into the wilderness (this is rule 4). In fact, I strongly encourage it. VERY STRONGLY. If you camp out in the wilderness that means that your characters are not in town to schedule another excursion with those who are. This leads to us having to wait for your next session with the EXACT same people to resolve your "not back in town yet" situation, which is hard since, given the way the game is designed, getting the same 4 or 5 people together within a short span of time may be difficult. It also puts us into the very odd continuity warping situation of a second party, tired of waiting for the first to be done, happening to venture near where the first party is frozen in time between sessions (as an example, Party A leaves town on the 15th [real time and game time] and pauses in the wilderness. On the 17th [real time and game time] Party 2 gets bored and heads to where Party 1 is going. They raid the place of loot and get back to town. Party 1 then resumes the game only to arrive at the place where a party two days in the future have stolen all of the loot! That is not good for gameplay!) Please do not put the GMs through having to deal with that and plan your time accordingly to make it back to town at the end of every session wherever possible. Time Zone Primer Here are some popular time zones as of the moment - GMT/UTC - UTC (Universal Time, Coordinated) is the official neutral time zone as measured by an atomic clock. It is accurate to within fractions of a second. Besides its accuracy, it is equivalent to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Times are usually expressed in GMT or UTC plus or minus (+/-) X, where X is the number of hours ahead or behind your time zone is. Eastern Daylight Time (US Eastern Seaboard), Central Daylight Time (US Central), Mountain Daylight Time (US Mountain), Pacific Daylight Time (US Pacific) - Arizona does not use Daylight time, and therefore is on Mountain Standard Time, which is equivalent to Pacific Daylight Time. EDT = UTC - 4, CDT = UTC - 5, MDT = UTC - 6, PDT = UTC - 7. All the nations of Great Britain and Ireland are currently on British Summer Time (BST). BST = UTC + 1. All nations of continenal Europe from Spain in the West through Poland in the East are on Central European Summer Time (CEST). CEST = UTC + 2. When discussing time, please feel free to use these conversions for sake of clarity. Current Player Roster (Class; Token Status if Unfinished) - Preferred Playtimes Magus Zanin (Paladin; No Token) - n/a Shibosho (Fighter Weaponmaster; No Token) - n/a blackseven (Swordmage) - Mon-Friday 4-11pm UTC, Sunday after 11pm UTC Gray Area (Executioner) - Sun-Wed after 22:00 UTC, Thurs after 20:30 UTC, Fri after 17:00 UTC Mith (Barbarian/Sorc Hybrid) - n/a 100thLurker (Warlord Marshal) - Weekdays after 19:00 UTC, Weekends "preferred" Vizzi (Barbarian) - "anytime" Silver Paladin (Rogue ...with a hat ) - "Prefer" Monday-Thursday after 01:30 UTC, "can do weekends but usually have stuff planned" Aratech (Wizard Arcanist) - "To my knowledge my schedule is free [at 14:00 UTC on Saturday]" Tral (Warlock) - "Usually no Saturdays or Thursdays", "Can usually make any other day otherwise with some heads-up" Draveziovas (Psion) - n/a Lost Star (Monk) - n/a FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Q: What about unusual party make-ups? What if the five wizards all want to play on Thursday with no paladin or ranger or, or, or- A: That’s how it goes, then. Sometimes in real life you don’t have a “balanced group”, either. Ideally you’d probably want to bring some of everything you need every time you go out, but if scheduling prevents it then don’t be afraid to go without a cleric! This applies to making your characters, too. Since there are so many of you it will be nigh-on impossible to plan out a "balanced group" in advance; don't be afraid to play what you want to be just because the role is "already taken". In fact, dealing with adversity of this type is often one of the most fun experiences. Nobody tells the story about the time they all did their roles reasonably well and beat the orcs, but the time that there were four wizards and the cleric had to tank, now that is much more interesting! Q: Can I run multiple characters at a time? A: No. Q: Wait, real time AND game time? A: Yes, time in the game will proceed in accordance with time in reality, while no games are being run, at a 1:1 scale. If it's the fifth today (which it is), it will be the fifth in the game. Tomorrow will be the sixth both in reality and in the game. This has important implications in things like the continuous timeline of the four seasons or slightly more mundane events like paying for room and board at the inn. After a game is complete, time in reality will need to catch up to time in the game (that is, if you leave today and it's the 26th, spend 2 days in the woods, and come back on the night of the 28th, you would be unable to play again until real time arrived at the night of the 28th. This is so our calendars remain synched and shouldn't pose any real issues). Q: How long does lamp oil last? A: A pint of lamp oil will burn for approximately 38 hours. The wick will last for so long that a replacement wick will not be a concern within the scale of this campaign. Q: How much do coins weigh? A: 50 coins of any type weigh 1 pound. Q: What sort of availability can we expect on items to buy from shops in town? A: Commodities like proper magic items (weapons with plusses on them) and things like horses are likely to be rare in a small colonial town like this because of a lack of materials, craftsmen, or imports. Over time availability may change due to different global conditions. The town does have an alchemist, so minor magic items and such things as alchemical consumables are likely not going to be too hard to get in at least small quantities. Q: Can we craft magic items? A: Yes, but you will need residuum, which is likely to be in somewhat short supply. Q: What happens if I die? A: In all likelihood you will stay dead. In order to portray the wilderness as unforgiving, and since the PCs in 4th edition are already pretty buff compared to older editions, you should probably not expect an easy raise dead ritual to be on hand. In this eventuality you will be allowed to construct a new character of a level deemed appropriate by the GMs should you wish to continue playing. Q: Do I need residuum to cast rituals? A: No, the gods of magic also accept cash, check, or mastercard. (You can use coins). Q: Why 4th edition and not Pathfinder, 3.5, 2nd AD&D, GURPS, et c.? A: I am most familiar with running 4th edition in an online medium, and it is therefore in the interest of smooth gameplay that I am using the system with which I am most familiar. Additionally I have neither the time nor money to invest in other RPG systems at this time, as well as many of them not possessing as clearly useful and freely available online tabletop applications like Map Tool offers with its user-created macro frameworks. The key constructs of 4th edition that will be getting used are its equipment, combat system, and character generation system. Since it doesn't offer a lot of advice on other topics, like overland travel, it makes sense that they are drawn from other places or else created wholesale. Q: What's this I heard about a "token"? A: A token is what Map Tool uses to represent your character on the virtual tabletop. Since we aren't sitting around a real table it is of utmost importance that this token contains all of the things that your character sheet would normally possess, such as your powers, skills, age, race, equipment, weight, height, backgrounds etc. etc. Playing without a token on Map Tool is the virtual equivalent of playing without a character sheet. Q: So, how can I set up this "Map Tool" thing, exactly? A: While the process has a tendency to get a little complicated (software isn't perfect!) you can start by navigating to this webpage and downloading the latest Map Tool client (1.3.b86). From there you can ask for further directions in the thread, by PM, or any other usual method of communication. Q: Are there any house rules? A: Yes. You can view their rationales in their entirety in this post, but long story short there is a restriction placed on Sunrods. They now cost 40 gold a piece and require a strength score of 17 or a constitution score of 15 to carry. In order to balance this "nerf" to the PCs' ability to see, I have also included a house rule that you may use an action point to take an action out-of-turn when ordinarily you couldn't, rather than just using it to take another action on your own turn (to be clear, you can still use them in the original way). Q: I still don't get it; how are we supposed to schedule these things, anyway? A: After the first session it will help a lot to think of this thread as being a sort of meta-in-character thread. You are the heroes (despite your forum guises) planning for your next expedition in the taproom of the Captain's Quarters Tavern & Brewery. Posting in character is strongly encouraged, though not necessary. If you think confusion may result, then pick a color (any color!) to post in-character things with, or else delineate them clearly. Keep in mind that since not every player will play in every session (in fact, very few will play in any given session) it will be very helpful to post in-character to the thread, that way when your characters do finally meet up they have a feeling of what the other is about despite never having been on an adventure together. Since the real time and date is roughly equivalent to the game time and date this is made even more immersive, since even if you post out of character you will still be planning in what amounts to real time, both in the game and outside of it. Q: This is all some kind of elaborate DM trick or charade, right? We're going to go somewhere and halfway there we're going to meet prepared encounter X? A: I can assure you that this is no trick of DM misdirection! You will be exploring a world that exists as-is; once the session starts the "worldbuilder" gloves come off, and the "fair arbitrator" hat gets put on. The GMs' hands are powerless to change the world itself once a session begins. Try to keep that in mind when you're being chased by a pack of wolves: I'd help if I could, but I can't! Q: How hard can I expect this campaign to be? Will I die often? A: That's mostly up to how well you play, or so I'd like to think. It does edge towards "harder", though, so I recommend caution rather than a heroic gung-ho attitude. It dips down into impossible if you don't keep your wits about you - you may stumble into the lair of something extremely nasty, and if you don't take the time to think about what you're about to do, it's easy to fall into the "he wouldn't put us here if we couldn't beat it! Charge!" attitude, and that may end up getting you in trouble.