Heroes of the New Day
This page will cover the major topics related to creating a new character for this game. Most rules will be exactly like what you see in the published Wizards of the Coast 4e D&D materials, though there are a few extras (see below).
The theme of this game is fantasy adventure. There will be dungeons, there will be dragons. However, there will also be moral choices. A lot of the way I run my games involves letting players make choices, and then letting parts of the world react to those choices. You don’t have to be a lawful good Paladin (though Stephen Colbert reminds me that is redundant), but you should probably feel bad when you realize that your rogue’s quick-money false potion routine is actually causing sick orphans to get placebos instead of actual medical care. Sure, your character may have a particular dislike of a particular race (I’ve built a lot of racial tension into the world’s backstories), but that doesn’t mean your tiefling will laugh at the dragonborn flailing in the pit of acid, dangling a rope just out of his reach as his flesh boils off, just because tieflings & dragonborn have some tension in their shared histories. You can be gritty, greedy, and even a bit of a jerk… but don’t be EVIL.
Characters can be most any race & class published by Wizards so far, even the anti-hero stuff from Heroes of Shadow. You want to be an assassin? Cool. A necromancer? Alright. A warlock who’s made pacts with demons? Sure. Even the official designator “alignment” is somewhat fluid. I do ask one thing: that your character has a conscience. So even if you’re technically “Unaligned”, you won’t torture kittens for fun and profit (unless they’re evil… which, frankly, most kittens are… though they hide it well behind cuteness). Ahem, sorry, where were we? Oh, right, in general, just don’t be a bastard. Gruff, sure. But not a bastard.
I’d also like for there to be reasons for the party to stay together. Some of your back-stories may involve growing up together in the first town we game in, or fighting together as volunteer soldiers off with the Alliance under Captain Featherin, but others of you will no doubt have different backgrounds. I’d like it if there were some reason(s), even from a meta-game standpoint, that you all might figure out as justification for keeping a party together. I’m certainly open to solo scenes and whatnot, but I’ve tried the one-character-goes-solo-for-five-adventures thing in previous games, and it doesn’t work all that well.
We’ll be using most every race that Wizards has published. I intend on doing a separate Wiki page for each race, along with some interesting bits about what folks from that race generally know and do in this world. There’ll be a “What My Racist Relatives Think” section that explains just that… the sort of extreme views that some members of your race may hold. That doesn’t at all mean that these are majority viewpoints, and you certainly don’t have to think that way, but know that growing up with some of those ideas being thrown around, you might have picked up a stereotype or two. There will also be a “Dark Racial Secrets” section in which I describe some of the lesser-known things about that race that many members may “never talk about” or might be ashamed of. Technically everyone will have access to view every race, so it’s not like these will be huge plot points that are hidden from you… but if you know from the get-go that you want to play one race, it might be fun if you didn’t scroll down to the Dark Secrets sections for the other races. Less for you to keep track of, and also more cool little surprises later, should any of those secrets come to the surface (not that I’d ever consider doing that…). Or if you do feel the need to be “in the know”, just don’t meta-game it and try to make your character act surprised when you learn that the Elvish ear thing is actually a prank being played on the rest of the world with cheap costume ears.
Themes, Backgrounds, & Bonus Feats
Backgrounds are a fairly core “optional” rule that either give your character a bonus to some skill, an extra trained skill, or some other similar small benefit. But it’s a one-time, lvl 1 character thing. There are backgrounds listed in pretty much every character book Wizards has published. Backgrounds won’t have a huge story effect on your character, though they’re nice for flavor.
Themes are a newer introduction, put in a few of the recent online Dragon articles and in the newer books (Neverwinter, Shadow, Feywild, Elemental Chaos, etc). Themes are sort of like your background job when you’re not adventuring. Themes tend to give you the opportunity for repeated cool bonuses, like a power at level one, then a damage bonus at level 5, and an extra skill bonus at level 10. Themes also give you the chance to swap out one of your class utility powers for a theme-specific utility power at certain levels. I may also add some themes of my own, as time & my muse allows. Themes will definitely have a story impact on your character.
I will allow characters to take both 1 background and 1 theme when making their PCs.
However… I’m going to give you some options. If you DON’T take a background, I have a random feat table upon which you can roll for an extra feat. Most of these will be the sort of story-related feats that many folks overlook (like skill focus, or that one that lets you walk normally on ice) and some of the utility feats that folks sometime forget (like the one that gives you more healing surges, or that one that lets you shift while prone). If you don’t take a Theme, you can roll twice on that table and get 2 extra feats. But they will be RANDOM, as opposed to knowing what you get with a background or theme. I know… decisions, decisions.
Just to be clear on math, that means you can do either: [(1 background) or (1 random feat)] and [(1 theme) or (2 random feats)]. That means you could end up with a very planned character with a theme & background, or you could potentially end up with 3 random feats and an open destiny in front of you.
I’m a big fan of the whole random treasure idea. I think it adds a bit of uncertainty to a game that otherwise might be boiled down to a particular set of numbers. As such, I’ll be trying to use the D&D item rarity system. This means that Common items can generally be purchased at any magic shop and sold back for 10% of their list price. Uncommon items are harder to find (though sometimes still in shops) and sell back for 50% of their list price. Rare items are only ever found in the field, sell for 100% of their list price to shops, and tend to have well-known stories about them (you might even be able to quest for such an item). Unfortunately, almost none of the books have items’ rarities listed, so if you’re unsure, either check the online Compendium or ask me and I’ll check it. If I ever have a spare Saturday, I may go through and annotate all my books with write-ins of the rarities, but that’s one of those projects that is in no way entirely assured of occurring. Oh, and I’m also open to Bluff and/or Diplomacy checks to haggle on prices for items bought and sold.
If you’d like to submit lists of the sort of things your character might particularly like, that’d be helpful when planning treasure lots, though I won’t guarantee that everyone will get everything they ask for. Still, it’s helpful as a guideline.
I’ll also create the occasional custom items, based on my own evil machinations and thoughts for what might be cool in the game.
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