The Price of Power
Hello, welcome to The Price of Power campaign. This is a game that is story immersive, character progressive, and focuses a little more on role playing. There are some distinct differences that I instituted when I created this campaign.
Experience Points: One thing that I noticed when playing in other games is that characters are relatively young when the campaign starts. Through the course of the game, these characters level up and earn experience and by the time of their next birthday, these characters are at epic levels! This seems completely unrealistic (yes I know it’s a fantasy game, but bare with me). Because of this, this campaign is broken in up into long episodes that can last over several levels. At the end of an episode there is a (in-game) time span before then next episode begins. This time span can anywhere between a couple of months to a couple of years. In other words, characters will age, get wiser, and basically live their lives outside of “adventuring”.
Additionally, experience points are accumulated via defeating challenges; whether by combat, skill challenges, roleplaying, etc. In the Price of Power campaign, there are no “experience points” per se. Characters level up by reaching milestones in the game. Milestones are achieved by story and/or character progression. There are many ways to progress a story, but its all encompassing of what the players decide to do. In other words, “farming” monsters for experience will not level you. Milestones occur when characters uncover important plot points, advance the current story, etc. This ensures the characters level up, but in a consistent way that’s relative and relevant to the story.
Goals: I encourage my players to come up with long term goals for their characters. These goals and ambitions will play concurrently with the main story and can make for some interesting character development. The idea here is that the character will be more interesting to the player (and the game in general). Do they want to rise in power and become one the ruling houses? Do they want to become the leader of their own organization? The living weapon of their church? This plays into the ideas of Paragon and Epic level classes. You generally don’t wake up one day at level 11 and say “Hey, i’m a daggermaster!” or at level 21 and say “Hey, now i’m an Archmage!”. These things require clear goals and training to achieve these things. In the above examples: How did you get your daggermaster training? Did you seek out a teacher? Join a guild that taught you the technique? or in case of the Archmage, did you have a powerful mentor? Did you become a professor at a Magic Academy? Are you seeking a powerful artifact that amplifies your magic powers? Again, all these things are happening parallel to the story arc.
NPC’s: Another difference with this game are the NPC’s. A lot of campaigns that I have been involved in, the NPC’s are nothing more than quest givers. Occasionally there are few NPC’s in town that have minor recurring roles, and maybe a couple have some more important roles, but for the most part they don’t have an impact on what happens to the PC’s. In The Price Of Power Campaign, many of the NPC’s have their own motivations and goals that occur in the background while the game is progressing. These things occur whether or not the players progress the story as the world does not stand still. Generally, NPC’s have influences, various knowledge, and their own agenda. This ensures that the world is dynamic and help brings the setting to life.
Setting: You will starting the game in the capital city of Athkatla. Athkatla is a city run by rich nobles and corrupt merchant houses. They command vast fleets that rule the southern coasts of Fearun with equal. These ruling Houses have banned the use of magic except for a handful of licensed mages that are under their command. There is a constant whispers of rebellion as many of its people are becoming increasingly unhappy with the current state of their capital city. Money rules Athkatla and your very status depends on how much you have. In this city of decadence, anything goes if the price is right. Illegal acts are often looked up as legal as long as the fee is paid.
So, do you think you have what it takes to survive in a city where anything goes?
Then read on…..
Mood: The tone of the game is a gritty to say the least. Athkatla is a rich decadent city known for unsavory characters, scheming factions, and deadly consequences. Athkatla is a city of exotic sounds, smells, and sights where anything and everything is available for the right price. Everyone has an angle in Athkatla and naive adventurers may find themselves being taken advantage of or on the wrong side of a dagger if they don’t possess the wits to stay one step ahead.
From a player standpoint: Players should understand that the things they do have an affect on the world around them and the actions they take may come back to haunt them if they are not careful. Successful players in this campaign tend to be smart, quick, and charismatic that use their muscle at the right time. Try to think one step ahead and keep in mind that not everything are always as they seem.
Characters: In the Price of Power campaign, the characters are the true motivation and drive for story progression. Therefore, the game will be more involving (and hopefully interesting) for the players if they create a character that is a little more fleshed out. A tight concise background is helpful, but not always a complete package. Later on during character creation, part of the development of your character’s background will be slightly more fleshed out via a homebrew background table that helps insert life’s random ups and downs that made your character who he/she is today.
Attributes: Attributes are determined by using Method 2 from the PHB. Attributes are important, as they are a representation to the limits of what your character can do physically
and mentally. Do not be so quick to “dump” stats. You can not play a particularly smart character with an Intelligence 8.
Classes: Any of the classes are available, provided they fit with the Forgotten Realms setting. Keep in mind that magic is outlawed in Athkatla, only the Cowled Wizards are allowed to cast magic openly and unsanctioned magic use can result in imprisonment and sometimes death. Also, “The Price of Power” campaign is at its heart, an urban campaign setting. There will be plenty of situations where you won’t be in an urban environment, but keep in mind that “traditional” adventurer types may not have the skill set to feel as useful as they would like.
Races: Any of the legal races are allowed. Monster Manual races; however, are not. Keep in mind that the people of Athkatla will react to your race based on physical appearance and reputation.
Experience Points: Experience points are not given out in the normal D&D fashion, in fact, they are not given out at all. Characters are leveled as they complete gaming “milestones”. This ensures that characters are involved in the plot and can not “farm” exp and level through just sheer combat alone. Trust me when I say, it’s not as bad as it sounds. For those of you that are used to gaining experience points, it may be a little jarring at first, but it is really and easy system to get used to.
Starting Level: The starting level for new characters in Episode 2 is level 3.
Skills: Pay close attention to what skills you choose. There are plenty of skill challenges that involve the full range of skills that the “typical” PC may not use.
Profession: The characters in the Price of Power campaign are more then just “adventurers”, but is that the only way they have earned a living? Do they have any other skills that earn them money other than killing monsters?
Motivations: Characters in the Price of Power campaign tend to be motivated by more than just the act of “adventuring”. Think long term on this one. So what is your character’s ultimate goal? To control a Major House? To rise up in power within his guild? To become the city’s most dangerous assassin? Having a true motivation for a character will help make the character more than just a mere adventurer.
Magic Items: In this game, magic items are a more rare and special. There is no “ye old magic shop” to buy potions and magic weapons and stuff. Magic items are found in the game, possibly as rewards, through exploration, etc. This generally means that characters will have fewer magic items, but that they will have more meaning and be special. All the encounters are a balanced with the current power level of the group. All new characters start off with NO items.
Starting Money: Since there is a low focus on “itemization” (i.e. magic items) in this campaign, new characters start out with a 1st level +100 gp per level. This is a reflection on the character basically living life. Characters in the world wouldn’t have sudden stockpiles of money to spend on equipment. Also, this eliminates players, killing off characters so they can come back with oodles of money.
Contacts: Athkatla can be a big place, but it can be quite lonely if you don’t have any friends nearby. This is where contacts come in. Each player gets 1 contact per point of Charisma bonus modifier (with a minimum of one). You can choose a contact from the list of characters in the Character’s section or you can make one up. Each contact will have a profession and an area of expertise, such as “information dealer”, “poisoner”, etc. This is to reflect that characters on some level have formed relationships with other characters in the game world.
Optional Rules: These are optional rules that players are given if they want to inject a some randomness in their character background. There are a handy dandy set of tables that players can roll on to determine various things about their past. This has no way of limiting you on what class/race to play, but what it does is create an interesting, often unexpected turn of events that got your character to level 1. We can’t always plan for the randomness of life.
For example, You could want to play a human rogue. Of course you can write a history as we normally do which is fine. But if you rolled, let’s say you get: Academic Background: teacher, come from a pirate family, and through the course of life both your parents were murdered, also you made an enemy of a local organization.
These instantly bring about ideas and form stories in your head. These background things can have as little impact or as great as impact on your character as you want so it doesn’t have to mess with your character concept. These background tables are strictly for role playing purposes, and can add new dimensions to your character that you wouldn’t have considered before.