by Alex Thompson
This campaign was designed to suit two players, and the intension was to use the gestalt rules and particularly high point buy to give the players very powerful characters. The story elements included within are based heavily on the assumption of having two players, although a third could be worked into the story, more than this would probably have some players feeling unimportant to the story.
If more players are used, however, a DM could ditch the central story a use the other elements outlined. The PCs could all still be involved with the Orolamina, and be given quests by the two brothers. Bloodlines
The Ord dynasty has been a long and proud one, sworn to protect the monarchy, they have been powerful individuals and fantastic leaders. Long has the fate of the Kingdom of Bast been tied to the fate of the Ord family. Many generations ago, they held the throne with a series of benevolent warlords, including Calad the Conqueror, all of whom benefited from the council of a gold dragon. The dragon even permitted Calad I to ride him into battle and together they expanded the kingdom’s borders so they eventually stretched from the great ocean in the West to the Mountains of the Gods in the East.
In more recent times, however, the Calad II mysteriously surrendered the throne to his second cousin and took up a position in the wealthy nobility. The new king, Regdar, and his successors Thomas and Regdar II have not been as competent rulers and only through the ‘mysterious’ deaths of a number of prominent figures have vicious civil wars and invasions from across the mountains been avoided. The ‘barbarian’ kings of the North declared their independence from the Kingdom without reprisal and there is talk amongst the sea faring Cathins from the South of independence as well.
To the Ord family, this was no surprise; the foreign invasions and the threats of civil war were coming no matter who was King. What Calad II saw though, was a chance to better protect the monarchy – rather than rule themselves, the Ord family now influenced the fate of the Kingdom from behind the scenes. No longer were long meeting with foreign diplomats with forced smiles and stiff handshakes the domain of the Ords, they would now impart their influence through knowledge, bribery, blackmail and assassination, shifting the course of events throughout the kingdom by relatively minor acts.
The ‘mysterious’ deaths of key rebel figures and foreign diplomats and generals held no mysteries to members of the Orolamina, the organisation built by Calad II. Sabotaged vessels, a drop of poison here, a bribe there, and current threats to the Kingdom were systematically eliminated.
Calad III, the grandson of Calad II, was the Grandmaster of the Orolamina until recently when arsonists, likely assisted by pyromancers, started a great fire in his home so great that the only thing recovered was the magical blade he wielded. Said to be indestructible, the blade never left his side. Engraved in the hilt is an ancient prophecy that the Grandmaster lived by;
“Through the fires of the nine hells, two suns of gold will emerge and illuminate the great kingdom.”
Calad III had interpreted this to mean that from war and unrest that his two suns would reunite the Great Kingdom forged by his ancestor. The Ord family had, in prosperous times, been referred to as the ‘golden family’. He placed much pressure on his sons however and they left soon after they came of age for reasons unknown to all but the young men. They went their separate ways until now.
Now with the Grandmaster of the Orolamina dead five years later, his two sons have returned to the funeral of their father, a large tombstone in the former grounds of his home, down the hill from the scorched earth and ashes. Rejoining the Orolamina, the boys have their own ambitions formed from their own experiences in the last five years and the death of their father to deal with.
Population : 20000
Distribution : Human 73%, Halflings 8%, Half-Elves 5%, Gnomes 4%, Elves 3%, Dwarves 3%, Others 4%.
A cosmopolitan city with everything you would expect from a metropolis. Notable locations include the high temple of Pelor, a large delegation from the Mages’ Guild, and the Great University. The Orolamina also make their headquarters in Tedega, unbeknownst to all but a few.
Peoples of the World
North of the Kingdom
There are a number of large towns scattered across the Northern Steppes which are home to a hardy and gruff people, traditionally referred to as the Northern Barbarians by those ignorant of their customs. Recently some of the tribes declared independence from the Kingdom and to this point have faced no repercussions. The patron deities of these people vary from town to town and from tribe to tribe, but include; Ehlonna, Obad-hai, Kord and Erythnul.
Living in The Wastes are a strong and hardy people know as the Jund, considered by many in the Kingdom as little more than simple hunters. For the Jund, hunting is life – a poor day’s hunting results in a meagre dinner and a poor week of hunting weakens all – the hunters and warriors, mothers and children, tradesmen and holy men.
A common story related amongst the people of the Kingdom is of a particular tribe of Jund, who after divining the coming of a long winter trekked south to warmer lands. The trek was long and hard, good meals were few and far between until they were struck by a once-in-a-generation rain that lasted for no less than one and one-half score days, leaving the tribe desperate and hungry. The story then goes on to describe how those least able to continue were slain and eaten by the remainder of the tribe. Now, this story is probably true – the Jund are driven by survival and purtenance, those who were eaten were most likely satisfied with their fate which enabled the survival of the tribe.
Jund encountered within the Kingdom are often either traders of one of the closer tribes or exiles, doomed to wander the world away from their people. Occasionally, messengers are sent from one of the Chiefs. Jund are reserved and strong willed people, letting their actions speak of them rather than words.
3 Possible Adventures with the Jund:
1. A (possibly) corrupt Baron claims that Jund have been attacking his messengers and enlists the PCs to deal with the problem. The Baron may be after the Jund’s lands, or he might have (possibly intentionally) infringed on Jund land vital to the tribe’s survival.
2. A messenger from a Jund chief seeks out the PCs, having heard of the groups continued miraculous achievements, believing them to hold divine favour. Some of the tribe have been afflicted with a wasting disease – it may be mundane in nature, from either a natural source or from someone bent on the tribe destruction (maybe even the baron from above) or magical, caused by a nearby monster.
3. A series of grisly murders have taken place in a large city and the town watch hasn’t the faintest idea of who, or what, could be committing them. Bodies have been found with meat eaten from the bones. The murderer is a Jund, driven mad by exile, who wanders the slums and alleys by day, and stalks his prey by night.
A typical Jund settlement:
Population breakdown by race: 100% Human
Population breakdown by class: 70% Non-Combatants (woman, children and the infirm), 23-25% Warriors, 1-2% Experts, 1-2% Rangers, 1% Adepts, 1% Barbarians, 0-3% Other
Highest Level NPCs: Chief Layrk, Rng8; White Wolf, Adp6
Past the Mountains of the Gods lies a people who do not worship gods, but the spirits of ancestors gone by. Some towns are occupied by men and women happy to trade and communicate with those from the west; they are in the minority however. The differences between East and West seem too great and war is inevitable. Just as there are Knights in the west, there is an elite warrior caste in the east – the Samurai, these fearsome warriors are a match for many Knights.
Order of the Four Blades
This order of mercenary Assassins resides within a cavern in the Mountains of the Gods. Lying between the vastly different worlds of the East and West, those who are aware of the Order’s existence pay the exorbitantly high fees to see enemies removed. Motivated almost entirely by gold, the Order is a sworn enemy of the Orolamina. The ‘Four Blades’ are the Bastard Sword, representative of the power the order holds over men, the Rapier, representative of the skill of those in the order, the Dagger, representative of the stealth and secrecy that the order goes about their work, and the shuriken, the classic weapon of the Ninja, who make a large part of the order.
Cho; Male Human Nin6; Medium-Sized Humanoid; HD6d6+6; hp30; Init+7; Spd30; AC 19; +5 Melee/+7 Ranged; +8 Melee (1d6+1, MW Short Sword); +6/+6 (1d6+1/1d4, MW Short Sword, MW Kukri); +8 Ranged (1d2+1. Shuriken); SA: Sudden Strike +3d6; SQ: Acrobatics +2, Ghost Step (invisible), Great Leap, ki Dodge, ki Power, Poison Use, Trapfinding; SV: Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +5; AB Str12, Dex17, Con12, Int14, Wis16, Cha10.
Skills: Balance +12, Climb +10, Disable Device +11, Disguise +9, Hide +12, Listen +12, Move Silently +12, Sleight of Hand +12, Spot +12, Tumble +12.
Feats: Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Two Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Proficiency (Ninja, Simple)
The islands to the south have always been inhabited by dark skinned people. They have possessed a strong, independent culture, even since they were conquered. Much of their traditions revolve around life by the sea, they are skilled in boatcraft and fishing. There are rumours that leaders of these people are talking of independence from the Kingdom since that of some of the Northern tribes. Like the Kingdom, many Southerners worship Pelor, God of the Sun.
On the Spear River floats a town made up of the most peculiar shaped boats – some are rafts with huts built upon them, others are conventual ships converted to serve as homes and some others are just visiting the town on the way through to cities downriver. A thriving little town, trading goods with whoever passes through, Tarbun literally lives on the river. A majority of their food is fished from its waters, traders travel along the river by boat or alongside the river by horse and visit the town for supplies. The town has spread to the banks as well, with some permanent structures and farming. A small temple to Farlanghan floats in the middle of the river and a larger temple to Pelor sits on the east bank.
Those who inhabit Tarbun were once like many of the other Southeners, but over time have grown to be much more like many of the wealthy towns within the Kingdom. More and more of Tarbun’s people can afford to spend many hours a day on leisure activates and floating businesses dedicated to various aspects of hedonism are becoming more prevalent.
Population breakdown by race: Human 70%, Half-Elves 10%, Halflings 8%, Elves 5%, Gnomes 4%, Others 3%
3 Possible Adventures in Tarbun
1. The PCs wake one morning to find that a number of the magic items have been stolen. Investigation turns up information that a thieves’ guild has been created in the town. The PCs can then either attempt to ‘clean up’ the town, possibly alienating a number of local businesses or join the thieves’ guild, earning the ire of the guild’s victims.
2. The PCs arrive in town to a festival. During the festival, the PCs (or a group of commoners nearby) are attacked by a lycanthrope. If the PCs can defeat it, they must then investigate others who were attacked by the lycanthrope which likely includes their family.
3. One night, a significant number of people die. Upon investigation, the PCs learn that they were all poisoned. Further investigations show that the poison was in fish and may have been caused intentionally by someone upstream, or as the runoff from an alchemy or wizard’s laboratory.
The Ord family have wielded exceptional power for more generations than history cares to remember. If the campaign is played with two people, they may take the roles of the Ord brothers using the Gestalt rules (where only major NPCs and the PCs are gestalt) and 40-point point buy. DM Note (change text colour to read): “ The Ord brothers possess a major gold dragon bloodline (see Unearthed Arcana, or d20srd.org). This can be used as a plot for an adventure in and of itself.”
If the players are taking the roles of the Ord brothers, they start off on level 3 with the following bonuses from their bloodline: +2 Racial Bonus to Sense Motive, Alertness, +1 Racial Bonus to Strength. Also, they should have the following skills, although the DM may choose not to enforce this: Any knowledge skill (2 ranks), Diplomacy (4 ranks), Any other charisma skill (2 ranks)
If the players are not taking the roles of the Ord brothers, the DM should feel free to decide the starting levels and power level of the campaign just as they would for any other,