Random Character Gen Notes

A few random things that I’m collecting here:

  • Yes to inherent bonuses. You won’t be seeing many magic items and inherent bonuses seem reasonable.
  • Equipment: Metal equipment is extremely rare on Athas. If you can’t imagine a non-metal substitute, then the equipment may not exist at all.
  • Themes or other RP stuff: In general, these are fine with me.
Character Starters
Kick starters

So, here’s the deal. I’ve written up a bunch of character starters that should generally be able to be mapped to many different race/class combinations. I will roll randomly an order in which people will pick one choice. I will email you the list of what’s taken on your turn and you pick. You should only tell me (some would be very unfavorable to reveal, so it is best if none reveal). I will continue to email people asking for choices until everyone has 2 character starters. Here they are:

  1. You are all about family, through and through. So what if some members of your family aren’t really “competent” or “productive” – blood runs thicker than water and you gotta take care of your own. Besides, you are smart and dedicated enough for five people.
  2. You are all about family and thank goodness, because if not for them you’d probably be dead or on the streets or maybe even both. You aren’t the smartest or most reliable guy, but you are definitely loyal.
  3. The good life is what you want. Wealth and power. You definitely aren’t there yet, but you’ll do what it takes to get there. You aren’t a terrible person, just ambitious. At least, that’s what you tell yourself at night to get to sleep.
  4. You are a simple person who just wants to find a little peace and tranquility in this broken world. Unfortunately, there is so much misfortune that you can’t rest until you’ve done something to help improve the lot of the suffering.
  5. Let’s face it, you are dumb as dirt. Thank goodness for other people telling you what to do or you might not even be able to dress yourself in the morning. Luckily, there is one thing that you do understand and that’s how to kill a monster. Kill things, smash smash!
  6. You were born to lead. You are decisive and almost foolhardy. Everyone else in the party is on /your/ team, but you’d do anything for them. People who aren’t on your team need to get with the program or get dead.
  7. You are quiet and thoughtful, searching for something greater than yourself. You haven’t found it yet, but need to experience a lot on your way. It’s all about the experience.
  8. Technically, you are a criminal in the sense that you are compulsively stealing constantly. It is hard for you to make lasting friendships, since you are robbing your new friends so often. Even if you don’t need the money or the items, you just can’t stop. Worse still, you are very good at stealing, so the problem just compounds itself.
  9. You live to get attention and validation. You will take undue risks to get attention and to get credit for accomplishments. You will always do things in the most ostentatious manner possible, even when this brings risk upon yourself (or others). Any day where you can take a few bows, is a good day.
  10. You love your spouse so much that you can barely even talk about it, but he/she needs powerful healing. You can’t afford bribes for the templars and you know that you will have to seek out a cleric for him/her, but how to find someone with enough power? Somehow, you have to find a way…
  11. You love learning and knowledge, but in a realm where scholars are few and far between it is a difficult task. Maybe if you spent more time out of the cities, you could go beyond what you have available to you under the thumb of the templars and sorcerer-kings.
  12. You want to save Athas. Sure, some terrible things have happened and evil runs amok. Sure, it is basically like the apocalypse has already happened. So many take a negative attitude and focus on how doomed everyone is. Not you, you are bringing it back: the water, the forests, the rich farmland… everything. It’s going to take a long time, but you will do it.
  13. You can’t stand your family. You have to get away from home and stay there. Any excuse will do as long as you get the hell out of here. Beyond defining yourself in terms of how much you hate your family, you’ll have to figure out who you are exactly…
  14. You are convinced that you are thri-kreen who has been separated from your clutch and clings to the first group you found. You have a thri-kreen’s worldview. (DM’s Note: This does NOT require you to be a thri-kreen)
  15. You seek fame and glory through battle prowess. You want to be known the world over for your exploits and heroics.
  16. You are actually a templar (servant of a Sorcerer-King) who is on a sinister mission on behalf of the sorcerer-king. You keep this is a close secret and have a cover story. The details of your secret mission will be revealed to you.
  17. You want power for yourself and will use whatever tricks you need in order to get it. You want to twist the world towards your will.
  18. You have an unhealthy mental obsession: maybe it is delusions of grandeur, maybe it is multiple personalities, maybe it is necrophobia, maybe it is all of the above. Otherwise, you seem normal, but eventually everyone will find out.
Character Branches
It's always good to have a backup plan

For characters, I have decided to create a “Character Branch” scheme instead of a full blown character tree.

Create two characters: a level 5 and a level 4.

When your primary character gains a level, you can apply that level to your “protegee” as well. If your primary character dies, you can bring in your protegee to play. Then you can create a new protegee one level lower than your new primary.

Let’s have a example.

Paul’s primary is level 8 and his protegee is level 7. Paul is playing his primary and gains a level! He now levels up to level 9 and 8 respectively. The very next session, his primary dies (in the most unexpected manner imaginable, I’d wager). Now his level 8 character is his primary and he creates a new protegee at level 7.

Genocide Happens

Similarly, if you open up the Character Builder and try to choose a race, it is basically ridiculous. Almost all of these races are absurdly out of place. It is easier to just list approved races.

Races that certainly make sense on Athas:

  • Humans
  • Thri-kreen: These insectoids are plentiful and have an interesting culture based on small bonded groups.
  • Dragonborn: These are the hideous dragon spawn (Dray). They are uncommon, but not unheard of on Athas.
  • Dwarf
  • Elf: Remember, elves aren’t forest people on Athas – they are lazy nomadic people with a reputation for treachery. Even “good” elves get a really bad rep on Athas.
  • Goliath (half-giant): Tons of these monsters running around. Often mercenaries/guards.
  • Halflings: Feral tribal people. Not afraid of a little cannibalism.
  • Kenku: Bird men that are fairly common. I’ll allow it.
  • Mul: Dwarf/human hybrids, typically raised to be slaves. Common race.

Races that would be very uncommon, but allowable/conceivable:

  • Genasi: In the absence of gods, elemental powers are pretty much all that is left. These guys would be targets of dragon-kings and templars alike, but probably would be just fine outside of the major city-states.
  • Eladrin: This is pretty sketchy, but I guess I can buy the argument that these Fey-kin are basically an extremely rare group of folks that just haven’t committed suicide yet based on how much it sucks to be on Athas. Again, don’t expect to be popular with dragon-kings or templars.
  • Githyanki/Githzerai: So, there is virtually no planar travel, so these guys are just stuck on Athas, descended from their plane hopping brethren. Things have gone downhill for them a lot. Don’t expect the level of magic and tech from their “culture” that you might expect otherwise. Gith in general are pretty feral.
  • Revenant: I’m banning Vampires, but I guess you could be a revenant. Don’t love it, but I could imagine such a thing. You need one heck of a story as to why you haven’t been destroyed by… basically everyone who hates the undead?

Pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE on that list is ridiculous, but let me call out some things that extra special banned due to how insane it would be:

  • Orcs, bugbears, goblins, hobgoblins: As part of the plot of Athas, these races have been destroyed by genocide long ago. They are all dead and have been for thousands of years.
  • Pixies: There are absolutely no damn pixies on Athas. None.

If you have other race ideas that seem like they fit, ask.

Rejected Classes
Some things don't fit

So, I have tried to keep an open mind about the direction that D&D 4E took with the Darksun campaign setting and many of the changes I agree with. Some of them are just hurtful in how dumb they are. So, if you open up the D&D Insider character creator and select “Dark Sun” as your campaign setting, you will get a wide variety of class choices. The following are banned from this campaign (at least initially):

  • Artificer: Does not fit a world of very low technology, magic, and engineering. Doesn’t make sense.
  • Swordmage: Arcane magic is too rare for such extraordinary specialization. Doesn’t make sense.
  • Sorcerer: Arcane magic doesn’t come from blood like this on Athas.
  • Vampire: What the hell? Seriously. Yes, there are undead on Athas, but this isn’t frickin’ Twilight. No vampires.
  • Warlock: I’m willing to accept that various dark pacts could exist to get warlock powers, but warlocks are extremely rare and almost always in the service of extremely powerful, evil wizards. I may allow them eventually, but not to start with.
  • Wizard bladesinger. Same argument as Swordmage.
  • Bard (skald). There are plenty of less magic-focused bards that make more sense. Play one of them.

If you have your heart set on one of the above and just can’t live without playing that particular class, talk to me and maybe we can come up with some alternate explanation of why you have your powers or what have you.

Athas is Different
Things that are good to know

Athas (the world of Dark Sun) is a special place. Here are some obvious differences, but more will be provided as time goes on:

  1. Athas is mostly an extremely harsh desert. Water is extremely scarce and precious. Food is hard to come by. Cities are sporadic (in fact, there are only seven real cities in the primary region).
  2. The world is simply brutal. In addition to a lack of the basics, the creatures are extremely tough and there is little trust. The concept of “good” is pretty weak in this world.
  3. There no gods on Athas. No gods, no paladins. Divine magic tends to be linked to the elements (Fire, Air) or land spirits. The land spirits are pretty pissed off, by the way, since the world is so screwed.
  4. Most arcane magic comes from defiling – the process of ripping the life force out of stuff around you in order to create effects. This is why the world is wrecked – LOTS and LOTS of powerful defiling magic.
  5. There are a handful of very powerful wizards running around and they want to keep all the magic to themselves. Thus, they make it a top priority to kill off upstart wizards. They also have legions of elite servants working to help them murder off people that make them unhappy. Further, systemic misinformation campaigns for centuries have left the world in a state where basically everyone hates and fears wizards. Casting spells or even writing (when you aren’t one of the elites that has a reason to write) can literally get you killed in the street.
  6. Metal is extremely rare and valuable. Most weapons are made of bone, stone, or wood. These weapons are less effective and prone to breakage. Magical items are unbelievably rare and valuable and draw lots of attention. Powerful characters are lucky to have even a few magical items which require careful guarding.
  7. Familiar races aren’t what you’d expect. Elves are tall nomadic people notorious for being lazy and treacherous. Halfings are feral forest dwellers who are known to engage in cannibalism now and then. Half-giants (Goliaths) are pretty much brutal mercenaries, not friendly giants. There are new races too: Muls (half dwarves) and Thri-Kreen (insectoids with a bizarre culture).

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