Forgotten Realms: Empire of Ashes
The player characters are elite soldiers and operatives of the Resistance, dedicated foes of the Empire, and champions in the struggle for freedom. They may hail from most anywhere across the lands of Faerun (i.e. highly magical Late Medieval Europe and Near East, c.1400), and indeed from around and beneath the world of the Forgotten Realms: the lightless subterranean world of the Underdark, the exotic infidel lands of Zakhara (Arabia), fabled and distant Kara-Tur (Far East Asia), even Maztica (the New World), far across the western ocean.
Characters older than 17 years grew up, at least partially, in the old Realms … but most of the last two decades have been the story of the Empire: the lightning conquest of the western half of Faerun, the ruthless consolidation of power, the purges of potential threats, and the merciless depredations of the Netherese Patricians. Freedom is a fading memory, disappearances are commonplace, and non-citizens (i.e. everyone other than the Netherese) are no better than chattel. Magic, religion, weapons, and martial training of any kind are all forbidden, under penalty of death. Thus, most characters will be outlaws by their very nature.
Most “standard fantasy” races and archetypes are appropriate for the setting, but their individual usefulness will depend greatly on the particulars of a given mission. Each mission has specific requirements, some that apply to all PCs who go (the ability to avoid attention in an Imperial-occupied city, the ability to handle oneself in combat, etc), and some that need only be fulfilled by one or a few party members (magical scrying ability, dungeoneering & trap avoidance, etc). General combat, athletic, stealth, and adventuring skills are important for all characters, but an individual’s strengths and specialties will go a long way in determining what kinds of missions he’ll be sent on. Character creation (or selection of a pregen character) should be done with the present mission specifically in mind. Returning players may have to switch characters, if their old characters aren’t appropriate for the current mission.
Starting Point Total: 500 points, with up to -50 points in negative-point traits, and up to 5 quirks.
Starting Wealth: Special.
All PCs should buy their primary weapon(s) and/or professional tools as exceptional quality (and probably magical) Signature Gear; for this purpose, each character point spent is worth $10,000. Other equipment, including survival gear, and expendable supplies, is selected from various mission-specific loadouts. (PCs can have any normal quality, non-magical weapons and gear they want, limited only by TL, carrying capacity, and Holdout skill.) PCs don’t pay money for any of this; as a result, traits that affect wealth are irrelevant and unavailable.
Combat-Oriented Characters, particularly those who rely on heavy weapons and armor, need to be aware that they may sometimes be operating in (or at least traveling through) places where such things are illegal to bear. Most characters should have Signature weapons that are enchanted to be easily concealed (e.g. Conceal Magic, Hide Object, etc), but heavy armor is nigh impossible to carry, much less wear, on covert missions.
Campaign Tech Level: TL3 (Suppressed) in Imperial Lands; TL4 (+Magic) Overall (and for PCs). In the years leading up to the Empire’s reappearance, the lands of Faerun were in the midst of a magical Renaissance – advances in scientific and thaumatological learning were propelling western civilization from the dark ages into a new age of discovery and enlightenment. The Empire’s draconian laws have put a swift halt to this cultural revolution, plunging most of occupied Faerun back to TL3, or at best early 4 (most new TL4 technologies – gunpowder, clockwork, etc – are illegal in Imperial lands). Those who defy the Empire still make wide use of new technologies and innovations; by default, characters affiliated with the Resistance have access to full TL4 equipment, and to certain other magical and technological resources that aren’t available to the common folk. Characters may come from technological backgrounds other than the default.
Note that pale blue links lead to resources on the website of a sister campaign (Splendors & Shadow), used here to keep me from having to do a bunch of extraneous copying and pasting. The dark blue links lead to material that’s specific to this campaign.
- Racial Templates