I have recently begun a new Pathfinder campaign for a group of players who, while veteran gamers, are fairly new to paper-based Role Play Games. Several of them played WoW and other electronic RPGs, but these are a very different experience to paper-based ones. Mostly this difference comes down to the actual role playing; in electronic RPGs its very easy to forget that you’re playing a character rather than a bundle of skills, passive buffs and tools for attack carried along by a usually appealing stat-mule.
This means I’m looking forward to what they’ll come up with. Having spoken to a lot of them about it just in passing, they have a fairly good idea about what mikes their character a character – i.e. their goals, quirks and personality. If they don’t, I’ll just chat to them about it a little more. I’m definitely looking forward to it, and hopefully so are they!
Due to a couple of logistical issues, e.g. one player living several dozen miles from the rest of us, I’m posting all the campaign material here. This is partly for ease of distribution to the players, but it will also demonstrate a bit of world building, character development and how to get new players comfortable with a rules system that is on the surface very simple but can seem quite densely packed and opaque to new players. As you’ll see there’s not much about the world as a whole; the background is mainly focused on what the players need to know immediately, and some general knowledge about the area and world they live in with which to build their backgrounds. There’s space for more gods, all the races and a variety of cultures which I can easily incorporate so they’re welcome to be as adventurous or conservative as they like.
Below is my very basic campaign background, with a small map of what the players currently know. The world they’re on, Po’Daw (the World that was Made), orbits about a star essentially fueled by a demi-god rather than fission or fusion (I forget which it is in reality, pardon my lapse of knowledge). The planet rotates perpendicular to its orbit, so there is a solar-stationary sunside and darkside, with a twilight equatorial band where most people live. Day and night are less defined as a result, although seasons still occur as Po’Daw tilts during its orbit of Dustar. The players are journeying to the dark side of the planet for adventure, treasure and fame – although what else awaits them (i.e. the campaign story) they don’t know just yet…
Our tale begins here, in the quiet town of Sunport. Sunport is the warmest, sunniest place in the Titan’s Spine – a mountain range dozens of miles long that has never truly been mapped. It is the Southernmost settlement in the spine, nestled in the safety of Phardric’s Skull from the sea storms that ravage the Dire Straits – the only access route by sea. Sure, you could go South across the Scarred Tundra but only the largest and best defended caravans can afford to do that as the territorial, warring tribes of wolf-men are always eager for fresh meat.
Phardic’s Skull is the Southern ‘peak’ of the Titan’s Spine, if you can call it that. The Skull is actually a squat, somewhat rounded volcano, dormant and ridden with tunnels. The Druids who pilgrimage to it once each year promise that it won’t wake from its slumber until long after men, dwarves and elves have stopped living there, and there’s not been so much as a tremor in the almost hundred years the town’s been there – nor before when explorers and treasure hunters used the Skull as bolt hole against Winter’s grip.
Phardic was reputed in legend to be Winter’s jailer, a titan lord tasked with keeping the Frozen Maiden in her prison at the crown of the world. True or not, Phardic’s Skull is almost unnaturally shaped and certainly smells of brimstone the further you go into the tunnels – although those who go too deep do not return. Most likely they become lost but…villager’s tales tell different stories, as villager’s tales are wont to do.
The Dire Straits are renown across the Charted World as one of the most dangerous and angry waterways in existence. They are formed by a maze of gullies and ravines that legend says are the last remains of titans and aser that fell during the Breaking, when Paradise was rent in half and the world created from the broken pieces in the middle. The walls of the Straits vary in thickness and shape, but all are a rusty red colour and bend in awkward, unexpected ways, whipping the currents into a frenzy as they run between them. Storms race along the corridors and ships have little shelter if caught too far from a junction. Some captains have found ways to travel the Straits, safer paths with less fury or by riding the storm, risking their lives and livelihoods on the whim of weather.
You have all come to Sunport for mercenary work – caravans going into the Titan’s Spine always want a bit of protection from the explorers and treasure hunters who turned to banditry, to roving yeti family herds and other indigenous wildlife. The tundra wolf-men sometimes venture north when food is scarce, although usually only a few survive. Bonafide treasure hunters still flock through the Straits in the hope of finding relics from the Breaking, magical artefacts beyond what mere mortals have produced since then. You all came in on the same boat, captained by Rishan Odurn, a dwarf who regular trades across the seas and is familiar with the storms and swells of the Straits. You all have some familiarity with each other as a result, and have decided to be a mercenary group rather than individuals as it is more likely to get you work.
The Titan’s Spine is not for the faint of heart. Temperatures along the base of the range reach exotic highs of ten or twelve degrees while the peaks rarely see anything above two or three. Most travellers us the caves and winding paths that hug the base of the mountains to get between the towns – most assuredly slower than going as the crow flies, but no crows fly in blizzards. Some small bands and individuals do forge through the weather, braving the snows and open terrain but not all of them reach their destination. Money’s tight, you have a sense of adventure or you’re running from something. Whatever reason you have to come to Sunport, it’s driving you, not bringing you.
Sunport is somewhat ramshackle, a palisade wall forming the outer edge. It shows sign of neglect and – worryingly – wear and tear from older battles. Everyone seems pretty comfortable moving about the town as you step of the boat though, and the town guard seem semi-attentive to their duties and more interested in staying warm and watered. The town is lit by a mixture of oil and candle lanterns, the docks carrying the faint scent of frying fat that whaling boats carry, and there are a number of traders around the town square. Several inns are in evidence, looking to be in varying states of respectability. There is a temple to Dustar and Winter, facing off in stark silence across the grey-black evening sky as they do in many southern cities.
Gods & Religion:
According to religious myth, Dustar is a mighty Aser who was rewarded by Kre’Ae for his actions in the Breaking. For preserving the True Paradise and staying behind on the world that was created to guard against Falsehoods, Dustar was made the mightiest of Aser. However the titans, fearing that they would forever be banished from the world that was made, ceased their hedonism and squabbling to imprison Dustar a frozen orb high above the world. However, his warmth and love for the world that was made set the orb ablaze and gave us the sun, from where he watches the world that was made. He rewards his followers with gifts of light and fire, to warm their hearts and light there way or burn their foes asunder. Generosity and good will to those who go in the light of peace are generally the tenants of the faith, and protecting those who are less able to protect themselves. “May the light of peace guide your eyes, least the fires of judgement take them from you.”
Neither Titan nor Aser, Winter is the only Season to have Awoken. No one is sure why, but she is mighty in her desire. She wishes to conquer the world that was made and make it wholly her domain. She fears her chance to do so will be gone once her siblings Awake, but neither Titan nor Aser wants the world to be Winter’s – hence the Titan vault and Dustar’s continued efforts to warm the world. Legends say she is trapped within a great prison, similar to the once created to encase Dustar, but with walls of liquid fire so her reach is cut short. Still her breath escapes, spilling out into the world from the North and freezing those who do not aid her escape. Despite this, she does not wish that all things die; merely they walk in her pure, crystalline world with awe and respect. Preservation of all things, alive and dead, is a main tenant of her faith and the perpetuation of the world as it is – without Aser or Titan, and the other Seasons sleeping. However, life is not more valuable to her than death and her followers are encouraged to follow cold logic when approaching the issue of her escape. She emphasises calculation in all things, fighting back hot and fiery emotions.
While the followers of Dustar tend to me more easily set to war and violence, Winter’s followers look to the long term – plotting and scheme complex plans and machinations, assassins and knives in the dark when violence is needed.
If there is a true, almighty god, it is Kre’Ae. All legends and all religions agree there was a being that created Paradise. This being is called various things but is generally referred to as Kre’Ae – First One. Paradise was created by Kre’Ae because it was lonely in its perfection, and it filled Paradise with all the creatures of the world, as well as Aser and Titans. The Aser were made of Kre’Ae’s thoughts and the responsibilities he felt for his creation, to guard and protect them from themselves and each other. The Titans were created to enjoy Paradise in all it’s glory, in every way.
Paradise was the creation of Kre’Ae and it was perfect besides the constant fighting of the Titans and the Aser. Their war eventually rent Paradise asunder, and created the world that was made.
“The world that was made”, where men and dwarves and elves and all other creatures dwell – and the setting for our adventure. Aser & Titans These are the direct creations or Kre’Ae and are the rumoured or mythological creators of all other races and creatures. Aser are generally considered good while Titans evil, or at least selfish.