View Full Version : Abscides Manum Illius

2010-08-14, 02:14 AM
So I recently decided, with the approval of my friends, to DM a campaign. It is relatively overpowered, but after having done the first session to see how things go, making encounters more difficult seems to balance it fairly well. The guys and gals seemed to enjoy it, so I'm probably going to keep going along a similar path.

Here I present the campaign document that was sent to all the interested parties. Very few questions were actually asked, and those that were asked were taken care of easily. After the footnote are the elaborations and errata related to said questions, and after that some rewards and the progression table. Since I have a lot of text, I will break it up into nice tasty sections.

The title, by the way, is a reference to a joke one of the players and I were a part of several years ago. It does not have any direct reference to the campaign itself.

Abscides Manum Illius
or "How I Befriended a Young Woman and What I Did to Her After She Forcibly Removed One of My Kidneys and Sold It"

Campaign DocumentBackground:
You are a trained combatant, chosen during childhood to fight for the pleasure of your rulers and for the glory of your people. You will face challenges both physical and moral, and compete to earn the power and prestige due you. Will you be a champion of the people, fighting to spite the rulers? Will you be an agent of the state, performing any task you are asked to forward the political cause?

Campaign Mechanics:
This is a combat-focused campaign, with side-foci of things like political intrigue, saving people as agents of the state, et cetera. These "side missions" will not increase levels, but will increase standing with the state, thereby earning better rewards among other things.

When an encounter is finished, each player will receive a certain amount of gold. After a certain number of encounters, characters will attain their next level as well as a choice between a set of special rewards.

As your character represents a combatant initially poorly-trained and learning only by surviving, base multi-classing will preferably kept to a minimum. As there exist many schools and types of combat, though, all base classes and races (including monsters capable of taking PC class levels) in all source books are open for selection.

As you gain power and influence, prestige classes will be open to you beginning after the sum of your original class levels and the total number of levels in the prestige class sum to twenty (i.e. 20 - number of prestige levels (e.g. a wizard could start taking levels of archmage at sixteenth level)). As a prestige class signifies a characterís advancement in fame and glory and whatnot, again, multi-classing will preferably be kept to a minimum (e.g. one; see footnote). Again however, all prestige classes in all source books are available for selection.

Characters will begin at third level.

Base ability scores will be assigned using this array: [18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 10].

Combat Training:
For purposes of hit dice, all characters enter at first level with a d10 hit die (unless the class hit die is higher) and have the Improved Toughness feat. After first level, use the class hit die.

Classes with no armor proficiency are considered proficient with light armor, which also does not cause spell failure, but otherwise incurs regular penalties.

All classes receive, for free, the Weapon Focus feat for any one weapon they desire, which allows those classes that are able to take the Weapon Focus/Specialization chain to qualify for that feats involving that weapon one level/attack bonus earlier. If a player chooses a weapon that requires the Weapon Proficiency feat, the character is considered to have said feat.

All characters start with access to certain equipment in the Player's Handbook. These are considered masterwork beginning at third level, signifying your standing is high enough to garner some respect:

Light and medium armor
All shields except tower
All simple and martial weapons
Said limitations will be lifted after a certain point, signifying the privilege of using strange or less-common weapons and armor by way of proving oneself.
For spells that require "costly material components", said components are available at 75% of the normal cost from the state alchemists.

Special Considerations:
Character customization is encouraged. Use the Crystal Keep Indices if you want. Flaws, traits, variants, vows, templates and the like are open to take as you wish, with some limitations:*

No more than two flaws
No more than one variant
Adherence to level adjustment will be fairly strict*
Vow of Nonviolence is a horrible idea for this campaign.

Footnote, for those who canít find it:
* All limitations are subject to being waived by the DM for purposes of awesome.

Elaborations and Errata
Starting gold: 850gp
Starting equipment: 1 masterwork weapon, 1 masterwork armor, and 1 masterwork shield if needed. After choosing those, anything extra must be paid for, but at 75% of the usual cost.

Potions and oils are available at 75% of the usual cost.
Wands and scrolls of up to second level are available at 75% of the usual cost.

Progression Table
I have the progression table planned out until level 25 or so, but it is not something terribly difficult to come up with.

{table]Level|Encounters 'til Next Level|Gold Per Encounter

Special Rewards
These do not necessarily have to be exactly what is here, obviously. These are, though, some of what I plan on using.

DR 1/adamantine, stackable

+1/up to 5000gp weapon or armor property

(level-appropriate miscellaneous gear of DM's choosing)

Bonus feat

default per level gold x2

(various level-appropriate armor of DM's choosing)

+1 to any ability

(character learns one of various appropriate spells of DM's choosing)

Spontaneous spellcasters: +1 spell known, any level
Preparatory spellcasters: +2 preparations, any levels
Melee/ranged: +1 attack/round at highest bonus, full attack only

+1 hit die

(various level-appropriate weapons of DM's choosing)

Level 3 Encounters
These are the scripts I have written for the first few encounters. For the first session, I added the option to continue to the next set of encounters in return for special rewards so that the session would not be quite so short. It seemed to work well, and as mentioned earlier, my players seemed to enjoy it.

Difficulty-wise, I stuck to CRs from the party level to a max of party level+2. Numbers and difficulties are again up to the DM.

Some things, like the zombie encounter, are dependent on a "behind-the-scenes caster" concept; alignments can make for good mechanics as well.

Entrance and Level 3, First Encounter
You are in the elevator shaft, the rumbling of the elevator rising a familiar feeling, though you continue higher than you used to, above the underground training floors. You shield your eyes upon reaching the entrance to the main arena, the alabaster walls bright, the crowd cheering, jeering, and some even fearing they may not be entertained today. As a group, you walk out into the enormous, vaguely circular arena, and the crowd's attention shifts toward you, some cheering, some cheering more loudly than they were.

The announcer says, in his omnipresent booming voice, "Welcome to today's gladiatorial spectacle; it is a glorious day for blood! Am I right? Of course I am! Today's first challenge for our newest, most promising batch of competitors comes straight from the king's exotic gardens in the south!" A small section of the crowd boos and shouts expletives at this. "My oh my, looks like we have some fans already!"

Along the outer wall of the arena, a figure begins to glow. After several seconds, a single golden bolt of what looks like lightning races from the cloudless sky, striking near the center of the discontented attendees, leaping from the first unfortunate person to the next, and from that person to the next, forming a coruscating web of lightning that completely vaporizes the entirety of the booing crowd, leaving a rather conspicuous empty space in the stands. A gate nearby opens, allowing more people in to fill the gap.

"Aaaah," says the announcer. "Our venerated priests and all-powerful god seem to disagree with the south! At least we saw some action today!" The crowd cheers again, loving it, eating it up. "And now, for our feature presentation!"

As he finishes speaking, the large gate at the opposite end of the arena begins to rumble open. You ready your weapons, ready for almost anything, but the gate never opens completely. In fact, it only opens to a height of three or four feet. You see blue flashes coming from inside, which move toward the opening and become almost invisible in the bright light of the arena. The gate closes.

(DC 13 spot check to see lizards, DC 8 after one move action, party sees them clearly after a total of two move actions)
(DC 15 knowledge(nature) check (untrained allowed) to know what they are. 16-18 to know they can electrocute. 19-20 indicates knowledge of everything they're capable of)

Level 3, Second Encounter:
"The atmosphere is positively electric!" cries the announcer, the crowd still cheering. "It's a shame the king will never see those again! And now, for our second round! A brute, a beast, hailing from the island of Orot! A killing machine! Can heroes face the MINOTAAAAAAUUUUUR?!"

Again, the gate opens. Unlike earlier, it opens completely. What is obviously a minotaur steps out into the sunlight, slightly hunched, possibly from being confined. Contrary to the stories, this one does not seem to have a unquenchable thirst for the blood of anyone who opposes it, but rather seems more calm and composed, though its eyes are wide and its body shakes with anger.

(DC 17 spot check to see small flickering of its form)

Almost immediately, the entire party hears a small whisper: "Help me."

(After moving closer, DC 15 sense motive check to realize it seems afraid, not angry)
(DC 29 Will save after first direct interaction to disbelieve illusion; natural 20 still believes, but knows something is not quite right)
(The young wizard will cast Shield and Mage Armor on himself to start with, then cast Message to the entire party, then Magic Missile if he is still alive; if still alive for more than a few rounds, he'll try Summon Monster I or Gust of Wind)
(If the party slays the young wizard, and they probably will, the slayer takes 3d6 points of damage from Vengeance Halo)

After Second Encounter
"Gladiators these days! Making it look easier and easier with each passing year!" the announcer announces, just as enthusiastic as it always is. "Wait, what's this? Folks, I have an announcement! The king himself is here today! He wishes to give our competitors something special!"

The crowd hushes, making a collective gasp, and all heads, including yours, turn toward the most grandiose area of the stands, directly above the competitor's entrance.

The king is easily the most regal there. "Gladiators, welcome to our arena once more! We have a proposition for you all: continue to fight, and we will reward you with a very special token of our appreciation. Should you choose to rest, none in our court will think the less of you, and you will receive the reward you would normally have earned. Now choose!"

A small section of the arena floor, several feet wide, slides open, and a pedestal containing two small glowing orbs ascends, stopping once it is about three to four feet above the ground. One orb is green, the other red. You all walk to the pedestal and examine the orbs for several seconds, all the while conferring amongst yourselves. The green orb indicates that it is an answer to the affirmative, the red negative.

(Either orb casts Dancing Lights of its color into the air, showing the party's decision)
(If the party chooses the red orb, they receive the default gold reward)
(If the party chooses the green orb, continue to level 4, first encounter)

Level 4 Encounters
After giving my players the option to continue encounters, which they took, the proceeded to these.
Level 4, First Encounter:
(If starting a new set of encounters, the party rides the elevator once again)
(If continuing directly from level 3, second encounter, just keep telling the story)

"Are you ready for this encounter?! Straight from the marshes of the east; squishy, smelly, atrocious, and just out of negotiations with our most recent envoy of diplomats, the Green Zombie Gang!"

You see several flashes of light, and a group of zombies appears near the center of the arena. A disgusting stench fills the air. The crowd shows its obvious displeasure with the smell, but cheers loudly at the prospect of blood. Contrary to the announcer's statement, the zombies are obviously white and pale. Who know where he comes up with his material?

(After 1d4 rounds, a giant shark suddenly appears where the zombies first stood. The shark is useless, but is fun. It broadcasts a telepathic message to the party, saying "Oh no, not again." and then promptly suffocates and dies)
(Knowledge(religion) checks can be made, but these are just plain zombies)
(If the zombies are defeated, a shadow coalesces out of the combined shadows of the zombies)

"Oh no, folks! It looks like someone doesn't like our competitors!" booms the announcer upon seeing the shadow appear.

Level 4, Second Encounter:
"Okay folks! Our next challenge is all the way from the Grey Realm of Death!"

A nightmare (knowledge(religion, the planes)) appears on the arena grounds before the announcer even stops speaking. He stamps his front hoof impatiently while the announcer prattles on, and addresses the slayer of the wizard from the last encounter when the announcer is finished.

"You have committed an act of great evil, which I sensed even from the Grey Beyond. Should you and your companions defeat me in combat, I shall permit you to keep my company as a mount. Should I defeat you, I shall take your soul with me to know everlasting torment."

Upon issuing his address, he rears and whinnies and intimidates in general.

(Should the party defeat, the addressee may keep the nightmare's company as a mount. Should the addressee die, his soul is taken back to the Grey Beyond and tormented eternally, though normal means of resurrection still work)

"A stunning display of prowess! Drinks all around!" says the announcer, above the sound of clanking steins.

(If the party chose to progress normally, do so)
(If the party chose to continue directly from the third to fourth encounter, continue to after level four, second encounter)

After Level Four, Second Encounter:
The party, having proven themselves in combat, is given the choice between three rewards. These rewards are presented on silver trays by young women, who appear to be from among the kings concubines. The king himself is not there; his closest advisor presents the rewards. The advisor is a frail-looking man, with pale skin, dull grey eyes, and dull black hair. The rewards themselves are small discs of differing materials; the discs elaborate on their designated rewards upon being touched.

(all characters have the option of choosing between gold, amethyst, and copper discs)
(gold: double normal gold reward)
(amethyst: +1 to chosen save)
(copper: any +1 armor or weapon property)

Condensed Encounter List
These are the numbers I used. The wizard kid is for a little bit of foreshadowing. Here is his character sheet. (http://pifro.com/pro/view.php?id=5394).

Level 3
1: 3-4 Shocker Lizards (MM 224-225)
2: Wizard kid, persistent image of minotaur

Level 4/Continued Level 3
1: 8 Human Commoner Zombies (MM 266)
1 Huge Shark (ineffective, telepathic broadcast) (MM 279)
1 Shadow (MM 221), appears out of zombie shadows when zombies all die

2: Nightmare, (MM 194), offers itself as a mount to an evil character if party can defeat it

2011-04-14, 08:48 PM
Found you!
Edit: Crap,sorry for the thread necromancy. Finding my friend via Google was so fun and exciting that I forgot myself :(