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Quest of the Runestones

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2021 4:57 am
by Persimmon
Lots of ideas percolating for our upcoming C&C campaign so I thought I'd share some of them here. We start with the historical backdrop to the campaign. All dates are in Elven Reckoning, which dates from the founding of the Wood Elf kingdom of Earthstar in the Feywood. The chronology for the setting is fairly detailed so I'm only providing the most relevant dates here for the present campaign, which likely won't really get rolling for a coule months yet.

The Elder Days[No specific dates]
Dwarves emerge from the rotting carcass of the giant Ymir, who was slain by Odin. According to Dwarven bards and loremasters, the Seven Great Dwarven Clans were all created together.
These clans are:
1. Ironfist
2. Everast
3. Greymantle
4. Badaxe
5. Foehammer
6. Steelshank
7. Silverbeard

The Age of Mortals
E.R. 130--The Dwarven Kingdom of Earthfast is founded in the Skypierce Mountains by King Norrvik Ironfist

E.R. 175--Tharkun Silverbeard is named Overking of the Seven Dwarven Clans with his capital at the rich mining city of Azan, southeast of Earthfast on the edge of the Skypierce Mountains

E.R. 250-260--First Great War between the dwarves and goblinkind found in and under the Skypierce mountains. The dwarves are victorious, slaying Blacktooth, the Grand Goblin in the Ardentshire Hills not far from Starpoint Abbey. The area later becomes known as Blacktooth Ridge.

E.R. 510--Dwarfholme is founded by the Everast clan in the southern Laethe Mountains, not far from the Elven realm of Briarwold in the Sticklepine Forest. The elves and dwarves become allies and trading partners.

E.R. 533--Hordes of gnolls descend upon the Gnomes' city of Sturbrin from the edge of the Karim Desert, ravaging the gnomes. Nearby dwarven clans help them repulse the invasion. In thanks the gnomes forge a mithril crown, which they present to the aging King Tharkun, still Overking of the Dwarves.

E.R. 1272--A massive invasion of giants and humanoids from the Highlands assaults the Elven realm of Earthstar. The dwarves of Dwarfholme aid the elves and the invaders are defeated. In gratitude the Elven Jewelsmiths of Earthstar & Briarwold create the Seven Runestones for the Dwarven kings. Each Runestone is a separate flawless gem graven with the clan rune of one of the Great Clans. The gems were a ruby, sapphire, topaz, diamond, emerald, jade, and amethyst. The Runestones were stored temporarily in Dwarfholme.

E.R. 1300--The Dwarves of Dwarholme and the Elves of the Briarwold face simultaneous invasions from the Drow & Duergar. It was believed that they were after the Runestones. Once the invasions were turned back the dwarves decided to put the Runestones into the Mithril Crown of Tharkun, thereby solidifying the tradition of having the bearer of the Mithril Crown be the Overking. The crown was presented to Nali Silverbeard, who was based in Azan.

E.R. 1616--The Dwarf city of Rivendelve in the Valykrie Peaks is overrun by morlocks and nearly all within are slain. The morlocks were said to serve a demonic entity.

E.R. 1660-61--War in the Jasperflint Hills between the gnomes and halflings and the hobgoblins of Mount Faengmar. Many dwarven mercenaries aided the goodly folk.

E.R. 1778--Dwarf city of Azan is sacked by orc hordes led by Gorbad Ironclaw. It is unclear what happened to the Mithril Crown of Tharkun and the Runestones, though rumor has it that the stones were removed and scattered.

E.R. 1901--A dwarven runegraver and warrior priest assemble a band of heroes to embark upon a quest to recover the Runestones, retake Azan, and crown a new Overking.

Next time I'll introduce the character party we've assembled, the Fateful Eight....

Re: Quest of the Runestones

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2021 9:44 pm
by Persimmon
Here we have the brief backstories of our intrepid heroes, The Fateful Eight.

Nargrim, Male Dwarf Runegraver [Rune Mark]
A member of the noble Silverbeard clan, the surviving members of his family were driven out of the city of Azan over a century ago by orc hordes and driven to exile in Dwarholme. From a young age he was fascinated by Dwarven history and the beauty and power of rune magic. Befriending the volatile warrior priest Franz, the two have decided to gather a band of heroes to recover the Runestones and use them to rally the Dwarven clans to reclaim Azan.
Note: The Runegraver class is from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea. I like it a bit more than the Rune Mark, so I've basically combined them.

Franz Foehammer, Male Dwarf Warrior Priest
The fiery Franz is essentially a Dwarf Crusader whose mission in life since an early age has been to recover Azan from the humanoid hordes. His ancestors were also among those exiled to Dwarfholme. Animated by his fanatic belief in the supremacy of the Dwarven pantheon, he has convinced his friend Nargrim, along with a number of other impetuous youths, to join his Crusade. As a symbol of his devotion, he bears a holy water sprinkler in the form of a morningstar as his weapon of choice.

Glingal Glimmerdust, Male Gnome Arcane Bard
The son of a merchant family specializing in the gem trade, Glingal traveled the length and breadth of Krysonia from an early age, even once visiting the distant port city of Guantun. This made him an enthusiastic student of lore, particularly as it pertains to gems and jewelry. Thus, he became fascinated by tales of the lost Dwarven Runestones. In the course of his travels he became friends with many folk, including Primula, Franz, and Nargrim. He also picked up a bit of magical knowledge along the way. And even the Dwarves and Elves respect his ability as a singer of epic lays of Krysonia's past.

Primula Pickthorn, Female Halfling Ranger
Her father and uncle were Border Wardens, guarding the outskirts of the Ardentshire Hills. They were slain when she was young by marauding raiders from the hold of Gorbad Ironclaw. This set her on the path of the ranger to both pursue her revenge and defend her homeland. When she was approached by her old friend Glingal to join his band of adventurers, she immediately gave up her commission in the Border Wardens. Like many of her kind, she is quite dexterous, and plies a pair of hand axes in combat. Less common is her practice of keeping a string of humanoid ears in her backpack as mementos of her kills. When she returns home, she burns them before the graves of her father and uncle.
Note: I follow DCC in allowing all Halflings to be dual wielders, though the second attack in lower on the dice chain (d16), unless they have an 18 dexterity or are ambidextrous. In my campaign all characters have a base 1% chance to be ambidextrous. This rises to 10% for Elves and 5% for Half-elves.

Mizuko, Female Human Elementalist Adept
Born to a samurai family in Nara, Mizuko is beautiful, spoiled, petulant, and magically gifted. She longed to study the Rune Magic of the Dwarves and the secrets of the Elves so her wealthy father arranged for her to travel to Briarwold and Dwarfholme, where she met several of her current companions, most notably Valandil, the dashing Elf Purloiner. Because her family are major donors to Dragon Spring Temple in Nara, the abbot arranged for his young disciple Genso to accompany her as a bodyguard. She carries a jade ruyi sceptre as her spell focus.
Note: In my campaign world, the arcane casters of the Western (pseudo-Asian) lands are elemental masters and use the elemental spells of magic-users and illusionists. The divine casters from those realms are generally known as shugenja, and use elemental spells from the cleric & druid lists.

Genso, Male Half-Oni Monkj
Left outside the Dragon Spring (Ryomizu) Temple as a newborn, Genso is actually Half-oni. The kindly monks raised him as an acolyte, training him in their Dragon Strike (Ryudo) style of martial arts that specializes in kicks, sweeps, and the use of polearms. As he got older and his non-human features became more obvious, the monks convinced him to wear an Oni Kabuki mask, telling outsiders that he had been disfigured as a baby. This has helped him move about a bit more freely in society. The abbot is actually quite fond of Genso, but saw the chance to send him into the world as useful for the young monk as well as relieving him of a potentially embarrassing situation in the temple. Genso plies a chen yari in combat. He is shy and rarely speaks, but it quite loyal to the beautiful Mizuko.
Note: The Half-oni basically functions like a half-orc, with the ability to cast Cloud Ladder once per day. Historically the name comes from a monk from Japan who was Toyotomi Hideyoshi's envoy to Korea in the 1590s during Japan's invasion. The Koreans hated him and called him the "Devil Monk."

Isilya, Female Elven Archer
Eldest daughter of a minor Elven noble family in Briarwold, Isilya trained with the Queen's Thorns, an elite regiment of archers. But she chafed at the monotony of military life and decided to join her cousin, the rakish Valandil, in a life of adventure, with their friends Glingal and Mizuko, who had studied magic amongst the Elves.

Valandil, Male Half-Elf Purloiner (Cleric/Thief)
His father is a member of the Seelie Champions, the kinghtly protectors of Queen Celestial of Briarwold. His mother is a human druidess from the Vale the the east. Valandil inherited all of their talents, but none of their discipline, instead choosing the path of the purloiner as a follower of the Elven deity of mischief, Erevan Ilsere. He has been in trouble throughout his misspent youth, charming the ladies and often leaving with their jewels, and sometimes their virtue. Most recently, however, he has found himself taken with a comely visitor from faraway Mimana, and decided to join her on an adventure, things having gotten a bit uncomfortable at home for a variety of reasons. His cousin Isilya, a constant companion since childhood, also influenced his decision.
Note: The Purloiner is another AS&SH class. I'm just using the title since it sounds more interesting than Cleric/Thief, but this PC is just a standard multi-classed cleric/thief.

Re: Quest of the Runestones

Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:02 am
by Persimmon
Over the past couple days we rolled up the characters so I just thought I'd share a few observations on the process.

For ability scores we'd roll 4d6, drop the lowest and arrange as desired. Interestingly, amongst all 8 PCs there was only one 18 ability score and that was for Strength on a Dwarf so he had the racial +1 bonus. On the other hand, there were no scores below 9, as in a couple cases 8's got raised by racial attribute bonuses.

It was great fun trying out some of the custom backpacks and using some of the Adventurers Backpack classes and weapons. But the custom backpacks tend to be pricey and heavy so they can be a bit hard to buy or use for poor characters or those without high strength/encumbrance values. Still, cool to see the diversity there and they offer inspiration, even if you don't use them. Several players deliberately chose more unusual weapons to fit particular character concepts and/or due to encumbrance limits.

Our house rule of HP "kicker" at 1st level (d14 or d16 for martial characters) on top of the regular rolls went pretty well. The lowest HP total was the Adept (Wizard) at 10, with the Half-oni Monk getting 30 HP (due to getting 2d12+d16)+Con bonus of +2 per roll.

Starting cash rolls were generally on the low side and players pretty much maxed out their money, but the armor is fairly light for the group. So having those extra HP is gonna be critical.

Demi-humans having only 2 primes could also pose issues, but since they tend to get save bonuses, it may not matter too much. I do recall there being a fair number of failures on non-prime checks even at 4th-5th level, where our last C&C campaign petered out. There's only 1 human in this party of eight.