Here’s some pre-preliminary stuff I have put together for the faithful few who follow this blog.
I am preparing a game for Easter Monday for the people who will be in town over the holiday. This is the mail I sent out:
The world is a waterworld dotted with a few islands and some island chains, but few and far between. They tend to be small, volcanic, and heavily bejungled. There are floating raft cities, ships. You get the idea. Yes, dirt is a saleable commodity – but not a way to get PC-level rich.
The world is hot. Damn hot. Hot and sweaty. All day, every day. Civilisation (as far as you know) more or less centres around the north pole. As you go south, the winds and storms become more severe. The equator and 30 degrees or so north of it is more or less a permanent tropical cyclone whipping around the globe continuously – winds, lightning, hail the size of volkswagens. There *may* be civilisation in the south, but that speculative.
The world is fairly low-tech, not Eberron, doesn’t have magic items for sale on every street corner. Not a lot of metal, either.
Ritual casting is important, especially casters that can influence the winds and currents. Or at least predict them. Using rituals will be key to the campaign.
Getting from A to B will involve skill checks related to sailing. I am hoping to pull some rules together for navigation, drawing up a map with prevailing winds and currents. The campaign will have roles aboard ship (ships carpenter, quartermaster, navigator, discipline officer, whatever you can make up) whose skill checks will affect events. Discipline officer needs a good intimidate. Disease is an issue. But this will not be relevant for Monday, which is just a small group of people with a smallish ship that they do not need crew for.
- No Dwarves. Dwarves are legends. So are gnomes. Earth races. Maybe in the underdark, but not as players.
- No Eladrin, or other fey races. I’m not going to tell you why.
- Warforged? …. meh, yeah ok for now.
- NO ARMOUR HEAVIER THAN LIGHT ARMOUR. Not aboard ship, anyway. It’s a tough call, but the campaign will feel dopey if people are aboard ship wearing plate. This rule applies to your enemies, too. Unless you (for some reason) need to raid a fort on one of the few islands >:-) . There will be swinging on ropes, so light armour only. No mounts, either. Heavy warhorses and lances are *right out*.
Again – no scale mail. No medium armour. Definitely no heavy armour.
If your race does not breathe water, there are magic items that do the air-bubblehead thing for an hour. They occupy a neck slot, so consider that before splashing out on a +3 cloak.
Ships are not equipped with siege gear – it’s just too inaccurate. Basically, you pursue the other ship and board. Common crewmen are minions. It’s bad form to kill ’em, and not a good idea if you want to take the ship as booty. Sailing a ship with skeleton crew imposes big penalties to your checks (you have to limp along under one sail).
Elves have a japanese/generic-oriental theme and are the main race occupying the few fixed islands. Any elf character will have a facial tattoo indicating family, and a backstory. Elves do not usually go to sea.
Other humanoid races have a spanish/french/italian european theme, and are seagoing. Can we please have no more than one character named Inigo Montoya.
The map for our little prequel (where the characters live and probably grew up) is:
Each hex is one league. A league is 3 nautical miles, and 1nm is 1000 fathoms. Easy, right? A fathom is 2 yards, or 6 foot, or
about exactly one 4th-edition D&D square.
A league is also the distance a ship in a fresh breeze can travel in an hour. This means that this archipelago is about a days travel from end to end.
And also significantly, a league is the distance to the horizon for a one-square-high human standing on the ground. That is, you can see one hex in all directions if you stand up in a small boat. The distance increases as the square root of the height. A lookout in the crow’s nest of a big ship – 2 squares high with a 6-square high mast – can see three leagues to the horizon.
Don’t have all the rules worked out yet – particularly for pursuit and boarding – but never fear! It will (of course) be a skill challenge.
I do have the story and how it ties into the campaign. I just need to write some bad poetry (with the exuse that it was translated into common).