View Full Version : Building a 3.5 setting & campaign from scratch

2012-06-23, 07:06 PM
First let me preface this with a technical update.
My main source of internet comes from a laptop that constantly scrolls to the right.
This makes tables and much other formatting difficult if not impossible to pull off.
So some things may have to appear in a less than beautiful format at first until I get the chance to format them on another computer.

So I have a couple friends who have never played D&D before, but have always wanted to. Also I have a couple friends who have played a couple times before and want to again.
I know the rules (any set of rules) the best out of the lot of us and the rules I know (3.5) are free (SRD).
The SRD is where virtually all of the non-homebrew crunch will come from.
I'm planning on homebrewing and also have the MM3, DMG2, Draconomicon, and Dragonlance setting to draw from.

To give a sort of a timeline I'd like to be able to start playing with these guys by august. The setting will be far from complete, but it will hopefully exist enough to play in while it grows. By August really means in August.

Right now it's at a point where small pieces are surfacing in my imagination, but I'm not sure how they all fit together yet. I find this forum and it's members to be a great resource for this sort of thing and a pleasure to discuss and develops this game with.

Part of starting from scratch is that I really want to give these players the chance to be whatever they want in this made up world. As such each character's progression will be homebrewed custom for them. In time a more set system for character building may develop.
I have an idea that would allow players to choose multiple "paths" and each type of path would have minor, medium, and major progression. More on that another day.

I'll tell you the Character Concepts as I have them now (players may change their minds).

First we have a Wood Elf with a shape shifting familiar. Much like the daemons in His Dark Materials they share a soul and if one dies so will the other.
She also possesses a magical gift with animals as well as some other nature based magic which she casts spontaneously based on Wisdom.
She would also like to be a skilled rider and equestrian.
So my starting point is basically the Druid and my goal is to pull it back to Tier 2.
I'd like most of the PCs to be Tier 2 or 3.

The Familiar will be able to change into any animal, but at first will only be able to be a (size category) Small version of it. I'll be looking to the Animal Companion, Familiar, and Special Mount for progression abilities beyond a wider range of sizes. I'm not sure whether it will progress with Animal HD or Magical Beast. I'm also not sure if it should eventually be able to take Magical Beast forms...

I've compiled a list of Spells that deal with (or can be restricted to) Animals, I'll save it for another time when the "Class" can be presented nicely.
Suffice to say it's not an extensive spell list, but there are some other things she wants such as Commune with Nature.
I think making Summon Nature's Ally a Class Feature would be a good idea.

As far as this being a cut down on the Druid besides have a shorter Spell List she wont Wildshape (leave the shape shifting to the Familiar), I think she'll be low BAB, and her HD will be d4.

In fact most Classes will be d4. I want this to be a world where getting hit hurts and if someone can take punishment it's impressive.

The Second Character is a Dark Elf and a Werewolf. He also wields Elemental (Air, Earth, Fire, Water) magic that includes certain other energy types such as Cold and Electricity. He is, however, a good guy and also casts healing magic.

In this setting Dark Elves do no live underground, but rather are extraplanar beings. They reside on a plane very near the material one and sometimes visit, though they cannot stay for long. After a certain amount of time they go invisible, then ethereal and eventually completely back to their home plane.
They live secluded, even from other Dark Elves, in small family groups or clans in their realm that is something of a first layer of hell. It is a dark reflection of the mortal realm where everything is evil, suffering or both. Its nothing compared to the realms of the demon and devil lords though.

This makes Dark Elves a little more like evil spirits and I think they'll be Outsiders (Sample Dark Elves and other monsters to come).

Now because Dark Elves cannot stay on the Material Plane without a little help I killed 2 birds with one stone and created a new type of Werewolf.
This Dark Elf has been bound to a mortal creature to allow him permanent residence on the material realm.
At first the Wolf and Hybrid forms will have Int penalties and pretty normal stats, but as levels progress the two spirits will merge and become much more powerful. No casting in Wolf or Hybrid form until later levels I think.

Elemental powers may be dealt with in Class Features or Spell Casting. The Player and I have agreed the Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Healing Domains are a good place to start.
Also I think this character should rebuke and command elementals as an evil Cleric does to Undead.

The third Character Concept I'm working with is a "magical assassin" with both sneaky (invisibility, spider climb, etc) spells and blasting damage spells.
He wants to do prepared casting. I'd like to limit his spell list to just a couple or few schools if I can.
My idea for the source of these powers is a sort of secret service for the human kingdom. I think there will only be one major human kingdom society on the continent.
While this character will also have a d4 HD he will probably have full BAB and some good skills.

There are two more Character Concepts that I've been given so far and a few other ideas I've had, but a time constrain has come up so I will be back another time.

I'm glad to just get the Playgrounds involvement started really look forward to this whole process.

EDIT: I know this might be a little dry so far, but I think if I get the other characters and some other ideas out there some of you might find something to sink your teeth into and soon I'll start with some crunch such as character classes.

The next Character is one I doubt will make it to Tier 2, but that's OK.
He's a travelling human with a Bard's knowledge, but without the music or magic.
He wants to be a moderately good swordsman fighting defensively with a shortsword when he has to.
This will be a fun class to make, so far I haven't come up with much other than feats and skill bonuses although I have had some ideas on defensive fighting.
The Character is a little on the older side and the player really wants to focus on his diverse knowledge.

The last Character Concept presented to me was an amanita eating viking.
I don't know if this player will actually be in the game, but this concept made me think of a rage inducing psychoactive mushroom that some use to gain magical powers (I smell a Base Class and infinite PrCs).
Also I wanted a viking-like culture on a small archipelago somewhere north of the human civilization to raid coastal communities.

Since I'm here anyway I might as well explain where the Dwarfs went. Oh, sorry, there's no Dwarfs in this setting... well, not like the one's in the PHB anyway, but there used to be.

Do you remember the old saying "The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep"?
Well it happened here too, a long time ago, and the Dwarves abandoned their mountain homes and the world was consumed by war with the evil that was unleashed from the depths.
All things pass, however, and those days are all but forgotten.

The descendants of Dwarves live on, though their ancestors' name no longer fits them. They have out grown it.
In the open air they have grown and now average at least 7 feet tall with the same stocky build of they ancestors.
I'm thinking +4 Str and Con, -2 Dex and Cha, Powerful Build...

This is a tough world, the "older" races are all more powerful than humans by far. That's part of what gives the human government such control over it's people. That and the fact that they control most magic with human society.
The control consists not only of their "magical assassin" secret service, but also of a Lawful Good brotherhood that serves as a police force and public service. While mostly kind hearted individuals they are owned by the government and fully believe it to be as good as the source of their power.

I haven't decided yet whether or not to center the human society around a king figure. Could go either way at this point.

So these descendants of Dwarves (need a name) are still master masons as is their heritage. They also maintain their Darkvision and have adopted nocturnal lives on the surface.

Their land is not large and lies amongst some rocky norther hills where they quarry stone to build their bunker-like structures, strategic walls among the hills, and traps to keep intruders out.

An even smaller group of them have taken up residents on some stormy and rocky northern islands. Staying there only made possible by the strength of their stone buildings and the loot they take from their raids on coastal communities.

For much of the year the water around their islands is too stormy to launch their boats, but when the calm reaches north in the summer they take to the seas hungrily.

Well that's it for now, next time I'll tell you a bit more about Dark Elves and Trolls.