The Bagram Gaming Community, so generously supported by so many of you reading this right now, is back in full swing and several sessions into what is turning out to be an awesome campaign—and one that is going to end up challenging me as a GM, I know already.
We started out with a “Welcome to 4th Edition” session, where everyone chose a pre-generated character and I explained the character sheet in detail. Then we played a sample encounter (from the D&D Red Box). The next session was supposed to be group character generation, but two players brought their own PCs and the rest were happy to continue playing the nameless pregens they had used, but turn them into full-fledged PCs.
The original concept for the Bagram Gaming Community was to run a full, true-to-form D&D Encounters sessions each week, right along with the rest of you folks. Well, as with all good things in gaming and war, that plan didn’t survive contact with the players. They have stated clearly that they are not interested in playing only one encounter per night, nor do they want the kind of strictly on-the-rails experience that Encounters delivers. Several of the players are huge fans of the Elder Scrolls style games, and they specifically asked that I deliver a kind of game similar to that. Which, of course, sent me back to the drawing board. Chris Tulach of the Wizards Organized Play Team was AMAZINGLY generous to send me copious amounts of materials for D&D Encounters. I’ve got the maps, tokens, cards and adventures… everything I need to run D&D Encounters. The cool thing is that the same materials are also, as it turns out, exactly the same stuff I need to run a full D&D Campaign.
And thus the Redwall Campaign was born.
I snagged an area of my homebrew world of Brittanis that I hadn’t developed yet, and mapped it . I then looked at the info I had (being mostly Keep On The Borderlands at the time as well as all the donated modules and books and such) and promptly blended the two. I say blended because I took a lot of the background from KotB and folded it into the history of the Redwall region, and then firmly tied the PCs to the area. For instance, Lord Drysdale got the serial numbers filed off and became Cedric Tremayne, an NPC from a campaign I ran YEARS ago (an Iron Kingdoms RPG game, in fact, back in the days of 3rd Edition. Good times.) In the original game, Cedric Tremayne was an old but robust cleric who had “retired” and become what amounted to the Special Operations manager for the Church of Morrow. This version of Cedric is many years younger than the original, but no less robust. Once a knight, Cedric was given title and land by his king on the stipulation he could reclaim it—the castle and surrounding region had been a wretched hive of scum and villainy for a couple generations now. Basically, “it’s yours if you can claim, keep and tax it”. And so he did. Restwell Keep became Barradin’s Hold, but remains mostly unchanged. The Chaos Scar looms nearby, deep in a mountain valley carved by the meteor. That kind of thing.
Tremayne needed forces, and he needed them fast, so he did something nobody had ever really thought of before (mainly because of the sheer audacity of it): he opened his noble House to damn near anyone. Bastard born? Swear allegiance and you’re a cherished member of the family—as long as you have skills or abilities to contribute. On the run? As a knight, it is within Tremayne’s rights to dispense justice, and ten years sworn service to a Lord is acceptable penance for most crimes. Youngest child of another House? Swear to Tremayne and come make a name for yourself. That kind of thing. And so, about a year before the campaign starts, Tremayne marched to the castle his King had gifted him with and conquered it in a day, using the accumulated power of his new but slightly rag-tag noble House. Only a couple folks have tried to go back on their sworn word to Tremayne, and his vengeance has been both swift and terrible. It’s better to serve him than be his enemy, to be sure.
Among those who have sworn to House Tremayne are (all 1st level):
- Ehod Kathsten (male human ensnaring swordmage): Born the ELDEST son of House Kathsten, we still haven’t pinned down exactly why Ehod left his birth family, but he did. The Kathstens are close allies with the dwarven refugee colony in Krokar, and Ehod takes that to the extreme, studying dwarven magic, language, culture and everything else he can get his hands on regarding the stout folk. His tactical acumen has proven a great boon for the party thus far as well. (DM note: In the Player Guide, I describe the Free Dwarves as a refugee people desperately struggling to hold on to their culture in the outside world. Ehod’s player has latched on to this trait and run with it, basically styling the dwarves as Kabbalistic Jews, and even goes so far as to describe the runes and magic his character uses in those terms. I think he might even be learning some Hebrew and using it in place of Dwarven. I LOVE this, and am letting him take it as far as he wants to. I might even give him bonus XP or a magic item or something if he writes it up. Never know. Ehod’s player is also the only experienced 4E player at the table and serves as an assistant to me in helping everybody else learn the rules—for which I’m IMMENSELY grateful. )
- Vimak ap Neb (male goliath fury blackguard): Vimak is a Primal, a creature born with the influence of the spirits of nature on his soul. Unfortunately, Vimak was also born into a family of raiders and slavers who preyed on the trade caravans and frontiers of the Redwall region, and it eventually caught up to him despite his distaste for the family business. Vimak’s family raided the wrong caravan and he was injured and left for dead. Several days later he was surprised to find himself alive and being tended by the servants of a knight. That knight recognized his primal nature and offered him a new start in exchange for an oath of fealty and service. Vimak accepted, renaming himself “ap Neb”, meaning “son of Nobody” in recognition of his severed ties to his family. Now he learns from Lord Cedric (also a paladin, but not a blackguard) and harnesses his fury into abilities that can benefit others instead of preying on them. He still has a vicious streak and is more than a little bloodthirsty, but he does his best to control it. It’s entirely possible that Vimak’s family will become very entwined in the storyline soonish.
- Kaine (male tiefling star binder): born into slavery, the tiefling child known as Kaine lived most of his life in Barradin’s Hold as a nothing, beaten bloody and abused by the bandits who owned the Keep. A year and a half ago, Tremayne and his forces arrived and swept through the castle like a cleansing fire. The slaves kept by the bandits were given a choice—serve Tremayne as a freedman or leave. Kaine chose to serve the man who broke his chains and has been happier in the time since than ever in his life. A menial servant his whole life, he felt he wanted to contribute something greater and told Lord Tremayne, who had the tiefling boy taught to read and set him loose in the library to find his calling. What Kaine found instead was a handwritten journal of a star-obsessed wizard. The journal told of entities with names like Ulban, Caiphon, and Nihal—entities of vast power from realms far beyond the stars. The journal also gave instructions on how to call to and make pacts with these creatures, to harness their power and use it at whim. Kaine leapt at the opportunity and followed the instructions in the journal, making a pact with Nihal, the Serpent Star. Now Kaine uses his magic to form, transmute and manipulate the magic of shadow, having sworn to the service of one unknowable master in order to pay the debt he feels towards a second, mortal Lord.
- Thorad (male dwarf earth warpriest): DM Note: Thorad is our newest player, and doesn’t have much of a history right now. He will shortly, and I think it will be rather simple, likely involving being a member of the refugee colony of Krokar sent abroad to look for artifacts of the ancient dwarven kingdoms. Or something. Thorad’s player was originally going with a dwarven slayer, but after switching to warpriest this last session, I think he’s found a good niche and will be sticking with it for a while.
- Tayle (male elf spring sentinel druid): Hailing from the deep, mountainous forests near Barradin’s Hold, Tayle has been a guardian of the wilds his whole life, constantly vigilant against the scum and bandits that have inhabited the area his whole life. With the coming of Tremayne, however, the rough elements have been pushed into the wilds, and as such have infiltrated the elven lands and pushed them back and back again over the last year and a half. Tayle was sent as an emissary to Tremayne to ask for help, and Lord Cedric agreed when Tayle offered himself as a vassal to the newly-made Lord for a period of ten years. Tayle and his wolf companion (who is almost always either bloodied or near death, it seems) consider his time in the lands of men to be serving a double purpose—he secured a powerful, ambitious Lord’s aid for his people and he gets the protection of that same Lord while learning more about potential threats to his people. It’s a win-win situation, as long as he can stay alive to fulfill it.
- Maxis (male human executioner): Maxis has known Lord Tremayne since he was simply Sir Cedric, a knight sworn to the new King’s grandfather. Maxis was born the son of a barmaid, a bastard child whose father was never known, but always looked up to Sir Cedric as a kind of father figure because the knight often took his meals at the inn where Maxis grew up. When his mother died, Cedric tried to take the boy on as a squire but that proved to be a failure, but instead of casting him out, Cedric took a teenage Maxis to see a friend of his and train with him. Now that friend is Lord Cedric’s castle seneschal and Maxis is his apprentice in more ways than one. As it turns out, the seneschal’s name is Culwych, and he is a renegade member of the Red Scales assassin guild! He taught Maxis the way of blade, garotte (with which Maxis is RIDICULOUSLY deadly) , stealth and trickery and now Maxis is one of Tremayne’s most trusted field agents—even if the young man’s fingers do happen to be rather sticky now and again.
These are the characters we have currently, and their story is unfolding week by week. Next time, I’ll bring you up to speed on how their adventures have panned out thus far, Constant Reader, and about the powerful enemies they’ve managed to make less than a day into their adventuring lives together!