View Full Version : A Simple Venture

08-22-2014, 10:42 PM
From a broadsheet posted throughout the kingdom of Kaldor in the winter of 719 Tuzyn Reckoning:


Let it be known that persons of various and needful skills and good character are being sought for an expedition to establish a new outpost in the name of King Miginath, to the glory of the crown. All persons accepted for this endeavor shall be paid a generous monthly stipend and rewarded handsomely upon its successful conclusion, in a manner commensurate with their service. The duration of the contract for this enterprise is expected to be not less than two nor more than four years. Any wishing to join this expedition are encouraged to present themselves at the Hall of the Mangai no later than the 14th day of this coming Nuzyael, along with such credentials and references as may be relevant for the position(s) for which they might apply.

As witnessed this 12th day of Ilvin,
Honelon of Udibis,
(his signature)
Master Litigant

(Or, in short: we're going to found a new town...who wants in on the literal ground floor?)

D&D 5e looks like a decent incarnation of the franchise, and that's what I intend to run. I put "weekly" for frequency, but that's flexible. I'd prefer players who are more mature, and who can handle a setting that's a little rougher around the edges than your typical fantasy world. I also prefer players who put a high value on cooperative play.

I will be posting more details...including bits you know are coming but that they aren't going to tell you about in the recruiting posters (marauding orcs, enraged barbarian tribes, political intrigue, factional power struggles, lost ancient cities filled with unimaginable treasure, raging sea dragons, hidden agendas...you know, the usual) very soon. Stay tuned.

08-22-2014, 10:42 PM
Harn: What you should know before creating a character

Note: Certain alterations have been made to the setting to fit within the D&D model. I will simply describe things as they are...which is all the characters would know and be concerned about.

The Isle of Harn

Harn is a large island (perhaps twice the size of the British Isles) located off the coast of its world's main continent. It is very rough (mostly hills, with mountains ranging to nearly 10,000 feet), largely wooded, and relatively thinly settled with vast areas of wilderness. The civilized portions of the island are largely rural; there are only a handful of settlements that are called cities, only two of which boast populations of over 10,000 people. The total human and demi-human population, including migratory tribes, is certainly under a million souls. Harn enjoys a very favorable climate, with cool summers and mild winters.
The inhabitants of the human nations of Harn enjoy a lifestyle which bears much in common with 11th-12th century Britain. Society is strongly feudal, with customs and technology much like that period. There are few nods to modern sensibilities, and tradition and superstition are powerful forces in everyday life. Political power is decentralized, and a ruler's commands are only as absolute as the loyalty of his vassals. Plotting and intrigues are like meat and drink to the nobility and the merchant class; even the common man will have an eye for the main chance, though it is often far harder to keep your gains than to take them in the first place. Of course honorable (or even altruistic) individuals do exist, but they are far rarer than many would have you believe.

The Races of Harn

Harn is dominated by humans...both civilized and tribal. The elves and dwarves each have their own homelands which are guarded jealously (and perhaps just this side of xenophobically), while halflings exist only in scattered tiny communities within other populations. Half-elves are exceptionally rare. The other races from the Player's Handbook simply do not exist (including half-orcs, as Harnic orcs...known as Gargun...are not interfertile with humans). Subraces of the non-human races are considered to be more a matter of genetics and predisposition than truly different types, and as such any physical differences will be far more subtle than those listed in the book.
I strongly encourage people to play human characters, but do not require it. This is largely because relations between the races tend to be distrustful at best, and prejudice runs rampant. Characters of non-human origin will tend to get a great deal of attention...much of it unwanted and undesirable. As such, choosing one of those races is far more than merely a choice of stat bonuses and abilities...it's also a commitment to some challenging roleplay.
Lest the humans feel left out, however, a moderate to high level of distrust applies to "foreigners" as well. It is certainly possible for characters to be of non-Kaldorian origin, but they too will find the going somewhat more difficult (even if it's easier than for the non-humans).

General Setting

Harn is considered a fairly low-fantasy world; while there are magic and miracles to be found, their practitioners tend to be somewhat more subtle about it. True magic items are quite uncommon; you will not find a branch of Ollivander's on Harn. Nor will all "magic items" be of the stock adventurers'-gear variety from the rulebooks...many of them are more practical items created by mages for the comfort and convenience (or entertainment) of said mages.
That said, magic does have a definite presence, there are actual centers specializing in the training of would-be mages, and a wizard can walk down the street without having insults or curses hurled at him (usually, and if he hasn't done things to frighten the populace like hurling fireballs within the city limits). The magical community does tend to police itself to a degree, and mages who have a bent for bringing unwanted attention upon their brethren (by, say, using their powers to try to exert control over common folk) can find themselves in a great deal of trouble.
The priesthood is a highly accepted part of Harnic life, though certain priesthoods are rather more accepted in some locales than in others. In fact, the various churches also wield a considerable degree of secular power because of their mutual support of the local nobility...or in some cases, antagonism. However, just as with the general populace, the degree of piety within a given order can vary considerably, and scheming to obtain position within a given church is hardly a rarity. The different gods of Harn will be outlined in a different article; not all of them are suitable for PC play.

Other Considerations

As noted elsewhere, I prefer players who are into cooperative play...that means that I don't tend to put up with characters (or players) whose "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude disrupts the game. While I do require that all characters be of Good alignment, I don't expect them to be shining beacons of purity. Nonetheless, neutral and evil alignments are considered the province of the GM.
The same applies to the "Sorcerer" character class, because of the actual origin of their power. Any such person, if their abilities were discovered, would be persecuted ruthlessly and with extreme prejudice by the magical community (and quite likely by some churches as well). While a game of avoiding detection might be interesting on its own merits, it simply isn't compatible with what I want to run.

08-22-2014, 10:43 PM
What's the point, anyhow?

Yes, I know...adventurers don't want to be tied down, they want to wander freely, explore new and exciting places, and rescue beautiful monsters from ravening princesses! Who the hell wants to help build a stupid town? Well, there are actually several potential upsides to the situation. Here's what the characters are aware of at the beginning of the campaign...

Rumors have been swirling in Kaldor for months about some major project being undertaken by the Mangai (the association of guilds) with additional support by Earl Hemisen Curo. Apparently, their intention is to construct a small fortification on the banks of Lake Myen, a large deep freshwater lake some 60 miles up the Hemurin River from currently settled lands. Part of the alleged reasoning behind this venture is the discovery of certain natural resources nearby; the lake is nestled in the foothills of the Felsha Mountains, and the region has never been especially developed so it is believed that there must be some fantastic deposits ripe for the picking. And indeed, given the heavy support of the Miners' Guild, this story seems to carry a strong ring of truth to it.

Naturally, this means that there must be more to it all than that...because there are surely more easily obtained sources of ore and salt. First off, the land in that area is claimed by the semi-nomadic Taelda tribes who, while not exactly at war with Kaldor, aren't exactly bosom buddies either. They tend to be neutral until their privacy and territory is invaded, at which point they display some very effective guerilla tactics that have been the frustration of generations of Kaldoric military officers. Their cooperation in the matter could probably be purchased...or at least rented...but there are many independent tribes and keeping them all on the payroll could be a bit pricey.

And then there are the Gargun (Harnic Orcs). There is a known Gargun colony at Gifuso, about 25 miles from the lake. As such, the entire area is subject to frequent Gargun patrols, and any planned site would require a strong military presence to dissuade attacks. Trying to bribe Gargun is about as useful as putting wheels on a house...even if they stayed bribed (which they don't), the constant power struggles inside a Gargun colony ensure that new leadership...and a new palm to be greased...is only a sword stab away.

And if those aren't enough, the area is also known for Ivashu, the monstrous creations of the god Ilvir. While some Ivashu are harmless, most aren't. Some very decidedly and aggressively aren't, and since Ilvir is known for his love of experimenting with new forms, one could run into...well, anything out there. I mean, there are old wives' tales of a sea dragon living in the lake itself, as if any self-respecting sea dragon would live in a freshwater lake a hundred miles and more from any ocean.

So the question is, with all that going against it, what in the name of Morgath's left nut is there that would be worth all the time, manpower, and expense? On that point too, rumors abound.

Some of the tamer notions being floated include the construction of a small port on the shore of the lake, to bring goods downriver directly to the capital Tashal itself. The idea would likely be to siphon off part of the trade from the Fur Road, which currently runs to Olokand (home of the ambitious and wildly unpopular Sheriff Maldan Harabor, the eldest...and illegitimate...son of King Miginath). Such a shift in revenues could have a decided impact on the balance of power in the realm, which becomes increasingly important as Miginath, who was never in all that great a health to begin with, ages and refuses to designate an heir. On the other hand, Olokand also happens to be the seat of the royal family, who might take exception to the loss of coin.

Then of course, there are rumors of a find of an extremely rare metal, platinum. Such a thing sounds credible because the Khuzdul (Dwarves) were known to have mined the Felshas for platinum and even rarer metals in ancient ages; a deposit which might have seemed a trifle to them could still be large enough to be worth several kings' ransoms. Since by decree all metal deposits are the property of the king, mined under license, royal approval and involvement would be a necessary step (and one which appears to have been taken).

There is also question of ecclesiastical interest, specifically from the Church of Ilvir. Since one of the major pilgrimage routes to Araka-Kalai, home of Ilvir on the shores of Lake Benath, runs somewhat through this area, a "forward base" of sorts from which pilgrims could launch their treks through this dangerous region would be quite welcome. Unfortunately, the church may be many things, but it is most assuredly not rich. On the other hand, Earl Curo...a known supporter of the church...most assuredly is.

Of course, even more fantastical rumors swirl about, including the possible discovery of a fabled Earthmaster site, Lahr-Darin. Mages have been hunting unsuccessfully for it for centuries, if for no other reason than that every Earthmaster site ever found to date has contained a trove of magical artifacts (many unfathomable) as well as clues to what happened to the mysterious race who built these indestructible monuments so many millenia ago. Any even vaguely serious information about the site would be enough to set wizards' ears buzzing all the way to Melderyn.

So, with all of the above, it hardly seems unlikely that an enterprising group of free-minded individuals might desire to find some way to attach themselves to the endeavor and one or more of the major personages associated with it. Judging by the white-hot glow of the rumor mill, they're likely to have quite a lot of competition for the opportunity.

Or they could just stay at home. Your call.

08-22-2014, 10:43 PM
The Gods of Harn

There are ten major deities, who are listed below along with a selection of their most common titles and a short description. Most folk on Harn are adherents of one primary deity, though an occasional prayer to a different one is not unheard of when they would directly influence the task at hand.

Note that the alignments of the gods themselves are often more than a bit vague in the D&D sense; therefore, they are sometimes listed in only one axis (the gods of Harn are ineluctable and inscrutable, and do not consider themselves to be bound by the simplistic belief systems of mere humans). Because of this, a list of acceptable alignments for priests is provided.

Agrik (AG-rik): Align E, Priests E. Domains: Tempest, War
The Emperor of Flame; Immortal Warlord of Balgashang; Lord of the Four Horsemen; Master of the V'Hir; Breeder of Plague, Squalor, and Decay; The Reasonless Reaper; Tyrant of the Foul Chamber; He Who Knows the 10,000 Ways
The fiery, evil god of war, favored by those who enjoy cruelty and destruction. His symbol is flame, and the number eight and the colors orange and black are significant to his worshippers. Agrikan worship on Harn is concentrated in the Thardic Republic and Kingdom of Rethem; it is proscribed elsewhere except in Orbaal.

Halea (ha-LEE-uh): Align G, Priests non-E. Domains: Light, Trickery
The Empress of Opulence; Queen of Pleasures and Self-Fulfillment; Maker of Bargains; Guardian of the Treasure Hoards of Heaven; Enslaver of Hearts and Loins; Mistress of the Stolen Moment Forever Lost; Unchaste Lady of the Ten Forgotten Arts; Golden Temptress of the Crimson Chamber
The Goddess of wealth and pleasure, though she is no mere hedonist. Halea is a jealous goddess, and demands unswerving devotion from her adherents. Her symbol is a golden bell, and the number seven is significant to her worshippers. Her worship is widespread in Harn, but concentrated in urban sites. Only women are allowed to be clergy.

Ilvir (il-VEER): Align CN, Priests C. Domains: Life
Master of Araka-Kalai; Brooder in the Blasted Plains; The Serpent that Dwells Below; Accursed Lord of the Barren Cycle; Prince of the Fatherless Multitude; Craven Lord of the Sterile Lands
The mysterious, mystical creator of the Ivashu; he favors individualism and creativity. His symbol is the sundered claw. His worship is scattered and uncommon except among the Jarin peoples of Orbaal, but there are numerous shrines maintained by the devoted. Ilvir is unique among the gods in that he dwells on Harn, at Araka-Kalai on the shore of Lake Benath.

Larani (la-RAH-nee): Align LG, Priests LG, LN, NG. Domains: Light, War
Shieldmaiden of the Worthy Cause; Guardian of Dolithor; Protector of the Brave; the Unwilling Warrior; Lady of Paladins
The goddess of chivalry and battle, who is favored by the feudal nobility. Unlike the other gods of war in the pantheon, she does not glory in it. Her symbol is the longsword on a red and white shield, and the colors red, white and silver are significant to her worshippers. Her worship is strongest in the Harnic realms of Melderyn, Kaldor, and Kanday.

Morgath (MOR-gath): Align CE, Priests E. Domains: Tempest, Trickery
Tormentor of the Unlamented Dead; Master of the Principle of Evil; Lord of the Gulmorvrin of the Black Pit; Wielder of the Shadow of Incarnate Evil; Master of Chaos; The Lord of Darkness
The master of chaos, evil, and the undead; despiser of all that is fair and noble. Of all the gods, he is the quickest to anger and most prone to violence and insanity; where Agrik revels in violence, Morgath simply embodies it. His symbol is the black circle on a field of brown, and the number thirteen and colors brown and black are significant to his worshippers. His worship is uncommon at best, and confined largely to the Thardic Republic and Rethem; it is proscribed elsewhere on Harn.

Naveh (NAH-vay): Align NE, Priests E. Domains: Trickery
Lord of the Pitch Shadows; Master of Deceit and Evil Dreams; Lord of the Last Illusion; The Unseen Lifter of Lives; Trancer the Cat; Wealth's Worry; The Merchant of Death
God of darkness and murder, bringer of nightmares, favored by thieves and assassins. His clerics are said to be so fanatical that they will commit suicide to prove their faith. His symbol is the skull, and the color black is significant to his worshippers. His worship is quite uncommon (and largely proscribed) but hidden temples are suspected in the major cities.

Peoni (pee-OH-nee): Align G, Priests G. Domains: Life, Light, Nature
The Bringer of the Life Renewed; Maker of Balms; Lady of Truth; Everliving Daughter of White Virtue; Guardian of the Meek; Lady of Industrious Labors and the Ripe Harvest; Confidant of Lovers
The gentle goddess of healing and agriculture, warder of the poor, who is worshipped by most rural folk. Her most common symbol is the white flower, and the number four and seasonal colors are significant to her worshippers. Her worship is extremely widespread; even in Rethem where it is officially proscribed, it is unofficially ignored.

Sarajin (sah-rah-YEEN): Align C, Priests C. Domains: War
King of the Icy Wind; Lord of the Perilous Quest; Wielder of the Blooded Axe; Master of the Frosty Climes; The Gray Slayer
The god of battlelust, who demands honor and bravery from his adherents. He is the patron god of the Ivinian people (rulers of Orbaal, as well as a great deal of the northern part of the Lythian continent). He loves the "sport" of war, and has been known to participate in large battles. His most common symbol is the battleaxe (single, or a pair crossed). His worship is largely centered in Orbaal, though the wanderlust of the Ivinian people means that shrines are found in other places where they reside in some numbers, like Rethem and Chybisa.

Save-K'nor (SAH-vay-kuh-NOR): Align LN, Priests LG, LN. Domains: Knowledge
Sage of the Gods; Lord of Puzzles, Conundrums, and Mazes; Lord of Jesters; Mixer of Potions; Knower of Many Things; Keeper of the Var-Hyvrak; The Lost Guide
The god of knowledge and enlightenment; he is revered by those who gather knowledge in all its forms. He is the arbiter of the Ke'lha-Hy-Var-Hyvrak, the Concordat of the Illimitable Tome, an agreement amongst the dieties of Harn which sets the rules on how they may compete for dominance and intervene in the affairs of mortals, and of how lore may be shared. His symbol is the darkened lantern, and the numbers four, five and especially six are significant to his worshippers. His worship is limited in numbers, but scattered widely across Harn.

Siem (see-EMM): Align N, Priests/Druids N, NG. Domains: Knowledge, Life, Nature
Master of the Lords of Dream; Bringer of Meritorious Dreams and Blessed Forgetfulness; Lord of the Starlit and Thrice-blessed Realm; King of the Uttermost West; Master of the Sundered Ones in Exile; Spirit of the Mist; Never-changing Lord of the Azure Bowl
The god of magic, mystery, wisdom and dreams. He is the special deity of the dwarves and elves. He is the oldest of the gods, and the most patient; he actually turned down guardianship of the Illimitable Tome in favor of Save-K'nor. His symbol is the azure bowl, and many colors (blue chief among them) are important to his followers. There is no organized church as such; followers of Siem act to learn and protect the natural order, and his special blessing is sometimes given to those who are moral, compassionate, trustworthy, and strive toward greater wisdom and patience.

09-01-2014, 08:57 AM
Rather than continuing to post piles of detail here (and anywhere else I'm recruiting), I'm trying to take advantage of Obsidian Portal's campaign management tools.

You can find information here: https://a-simple-venture.obsidianportal.com/

09-19-2014, 01:47 PM
For anyone reading this and sitting on the fence, wondering just what kind of GM I might make, I offer you the following excerpt from the character creation notes on Wizards:

The touchword for Harnic wizards is restraint. The concept is pounded into an apprentice’s head from the beginning, and even moreso once he reaches the rank of journeyman (which is what all Wizard PCs would be considered at start). This emphasis exists for two major reasons:

Mystery: Part of the respect that wizards are given in Harn is that they tend to act subtly, using their most flashy and obvious powers as a last resort. If nobody knows exactly what you’re capable of, but that it might well be something devastating, they’re going to be a lot more careful when it comes to messing with you.
Safety: The other part of the respect, to borrow a phrase, is that mages try not to go scaring the normals. This is in large part because there are a hell of a lot more of them than there are of you, and panicked mobs tend to react unpredictably and destructively. Think pitchforks and torches, if it helps. The common folk certainly will.

Now, wizards want to sound wise (same root word, after all), and they will throw around all sorts of gobbledygook about “preserving the magical balance” and “not overtaxing local mana sources” and whatever other nonsense they can con you into believing, but at root their motives are simple: they want to learn all they can, and it’s really hard to study when people are trying to hang your ass from the nearest tree. Thus, restraint. If their fear of angering you exceeds their fear of having you around, they will leave you the hell alone to study.

And, for students who really manage to prove that they just don’t get that idea, there is always the prospect of being declared renegade and hunted down by any other mage who has the spare time. Since doing this tends to take them away from their studies, and this tends to annoy the hell out of a mage, said hunters tend to be quick and merciless about it.

Such trivialities aside, a wizard will have a home chantry (the place where they were taught their art) which is devoted to the same school of magic as the PC. As a means of showing gratitude to the people who spared their time to teach you (or sucking up to them in hopes of earning favor), alumni will be expected to make occasional donations…a nice magic item, perhaps some new spell you’ve thought of, a little time spent doing minor tasks, that sort of thing. Students without the wisdom to understand the importance of keeping the school’s masters happy probably didn’t make the cut for training in the first place.

Finally, while there is a professional conviviality among the schools…we’re all mages, after all…there is also a certain degree of guarding of secrets. If you’re part of the School of Enchantment, it’s unlikely that an Abjurer will just happily teach you his nifty little spell just because you asked politely. A little palm-greasing goes a long way.

After all, being a wizard may be about Fantastical Magical Forces that Mere Mortals Cannot Comprehend, but that’s no reason not to be practical about it. A mage has to eat, you know, and all that experimental apparatus is bloody expensive.