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Farcaster's Musings

The Year of Blue Fire - Campaign Background

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I am starting up another campaign soon. I may be a little crazy for trying to run two games simulateously and "assist-DM" in a third, but I just couldn't resist when my buddy asked me to run a game for a group he was putting together.

Unlike most games I have run in the past, I'm not coming to the table with a campaign idea already in hand. Instead, I am working with the players to create their backgrounds and then I am going to build the campaign organically from their backstories. I used this technique in the planar game I started earlier this year, and it has been a smashing success so far. Why? I think because it's not just my story. It's theirs, and that makes them far more invested in the game and their characters.

The campaign itself does have a little bit of a "background" to start with though. It will be set in Forgotten Realms just after the cataclysm of the Spellplague. I think this will be an incredibly interesting period of time to explore in Faerun's history. What do you think? Here's the campaign introduction I sent the players last night along with a list of questions for the players to consider as they are creating their own backgrounds.

Magic has failed. Horribly. The very fabric of the Weave has come completely undone. Wizards who once were regarded as the most powerful men to walk Faerūn have become nothing more than frail, old men – broken, and those are the lucky among them that did not lose their minds entirely with the Weave’s sundering. Free willed spells tumble over the landscape leaving it scarred and forever changed, while the prayers of the faithful go unanswered.

This campaign will pick up in the immediate weeks and months following the worst cataclysmic events to rock Faerūn in thousands of years. The goddess of magic has been murdered and the consequences to the world have been catastrophic. The network of magic that Faerūn has relied on since the beginning of time has been destroyed. Magic that still works is often unstable and unpredictable in its results. But, there are those who have begun learning new ways, apart from the Weave, to tap into now raw and unbridled magical energies. Perhaps this is you? Or perhaps you are among those who never relied on magic in the first place and you find yourself suddenly elevated just a bit?

Whatever the case, the world is currently a mess. Baldur’s Gate, one of the largest and most renowned cities in Faerūn, has so far avoided the “Spellplague,” which has begun to spread across the land, but they have been far from unaffected by the disaster. Refugees have begun to pour in – perhaps you are one of them? Their presence overflowing into the streets is undeniable. Disease, which was previously easily kept under control by the many priests residing within the city walls, is now a real threat, and the city’s guard finds themselves overwhelmed and unprepared.

This is where find yourselves. It is 1385. The Year of Blue Fire.

You are starting out at 1st level, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t already seen some adventure. 4th edition assumes that 1st level characters are already quite a bit ahead of the curve compared to the common man. Another consideration is that with the failure of the Weave, you may have personally lost some power. Perhaps before the Spellplague, you were actually a fairly accomplished spell caster and now you have to relearn a whole new way of using magic. Even divine priests have to learn new ways to tap into their god’s power.

Here are some other questions to keep in mind while you are crafting your character background. You should not feel compelled to answer all of these verbatim, but you certainly can if you like. The more quality hooks you work into your background, the better.

  • What were you doing before the Spellplauge? Was you an adventurer? Were you diminished in power by the fall of magic?
  • Why did your character choose to become an adventurer? Was it a choice at all? Does he even see himself as such?
  • What do you do now? For coin? For fun?
  • Baldur’s Gate is one of the places that is known not to have been hit by the Spellplauge. Is that why you are here, or were you here before the Weave collapsed?
  • Was anyone you cared about affected by the catastrophe? A lot of things happened when magic failed, even in Baldur’s Gate. The most predominated effect seen was magic gone completely wild. A spell cast by a wizard intended to allow him to fly would instead turn him into a human sized fly, for instance. Portals were suddenly ripped open to planes such as the Abyss, allowing demons to spill in. Even minor cantrips or prayers might have resulted in deadly and completely unintended consequences.
  • Have you lost anything or anyone close to you? What would you be willing to do to get it back?
  • What training do you have? How were you trained? By who? Why?
  • What was the single most defining moment of your life leading up to this point?
  • Is there anything that makes you special ... unique?
  • What are your morals? Your beliefs?
  • Do you belong to any organizations?
  • What are your motivations? Do you have any goals or plans for the future?
  • What friends do you have? Family? Lovers? Professional associates? Enemies?
  • Do you know any of the other player characters already? How did you meet? What do they know about your background?
I can't wait to see what they come up with!

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  1. Otakar's Avatar
    All right! I'm telling my wife we're moving to WA. Is it wrong to pick-up your family and move just to role-play?
  2. yukonhorror's Avatar
    this doesn't happen to be an online game does it
  3. Malruhn's Avatar
    Otakar, bad news, it would appear that Farcaster is about to be kidnapped and brought to Boston for my pleasure. You are welcome to come here to play this great idea...

    VERY nice, Farcaster!

    Other than hamstringing sorcerers/wizards and clerics, you seem to have left fighters and rogues alone! Still, WAY interesting!
  4. Farcaster's Avatar
    Otakar, I'd say not. Seattle is a great area to find D&D games too. Very active community of roleplayers here... for some strange reason. I'm sure it has nothing to do with WotC and Paizo being here.

    Yukon, It's an in person game. Although we are going to have one player remoting in using Skype / Facetime.

    Malruhn, the game picks up with at level 1. Any divine or arcane PCs have their full abilities for a level one character. Now, back story wise, they may have once been much more powerful. And, as far as the campaign setting goes, there are far fewer powerful wizards and clerics running around. That actually gives the PCs the chance to become one of the most powerful forces in the land and forces them to rely more on themselves.
  5. erikscottdebie's Avatar
    This campaign's going to be awesome. I will be bugging FC for details at every occasion.