Stronghold: Heroes


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Game Description

The Kingdom of Old Antion, like all kindgoms that had survived since before the Great War, had entered a long era of decline. The marvels the mages of old had built were lost in the mists of time only a few centuries after the Great War and the death of the last great mage Adiom - after whom the kingdom was named.
Spanning five hundred leagues from end to end and taking up most of a great plain between encircing mountain ranges, the Kingdom had been largely isolated from the rest of the world for millenia. Few still know the story behind that isolation but the lords and ladies of the realm; during the Great War, Antion was just the lands belonging to one archwizard, Adiom himself. When the forces of darkness bred armies beyond count, Adiom cast a mighty spell that grew a corona of mountains around his lands, mountains too tall for breathing beings to pass and too hard for anyone save mighty mages to drill through. And then he constructed a series of border keeps both to guard the passes to neighboring regions and as anchoring points for spells of concencration and warding so that terrible fiends could not teleport or be summoned into the kingdom and that undead could not stay long without getting severely weakened as long as the wardings stood.

At least, that's what has been passed down in the ranks of nobles and champions for millenia. Events seem to support the stories; from beyond the realm, four foreign intrusions seem to be invasions from dark forces of one type or another or hordes of horrible savage creatures bent on pillage and destruction and delegations from other civilized lands are far between.
With the great accomplishments of the Golden Age of magic - the widespread magical food production, the self-moved automatons and cheap magical labor, the curing of almost all wounds and diseases and control or surpression of adverse natural phenomena - Old Antion is greatly diminished. Ancient texts which, the experts say, must be greatly exxagerated noted the kingdom's population of old as close to half a billion.
Today, it is no more than twenty million spread over a vast area in dozens of smaller feudal states with wild lands between. Lords and Ladies that rise to the position through a combination of personal renown and accomplishment, political backstabbing and small-scale civil warfare nominally rule one fief each and are usually the only authority within their domains. The Council of Lords and Ladies as a whole convenes every few years to decide large-scale policy, usually those few laws that apply to all fiefs, large-scale trade... and who is responsible for maintaining the Watch.

The Watch, also called The Eternal Vigil, The Guardians at the Gate and other such apellations heavy with meaning has been a part of the kingdom's life for millenia. The ancient castles at the borders must be maintained else the kingdom might fall into chaos and darkness and maintaining them as well as repelling the occasional invasion is of paramount importance as well as a task requiring military, organization, social and arcane skills of high caliber. Generally speaking, only the Lords and Ladies have such skills.
However, the position is dangerous physically as well as politically; a lord or lady far away from their own lands and the political and military activities of the cities is bound to lose both political and economic power rapidly - and the term of service is no less than a decade. Thus, by mutual and silent agreement, the Council of Lords and Ladies always assigns to the task those of their number that threaten their peers in some way or are "dissidents". The choice is not always easy to explain since voting is always secret and there are always deep political currents underneath but refusing to go is forbidden and punishable by death. Should a Lord or Lady perform exceptionally well in the Watch however, they are likely to gain back what they lost with interest once their service is done. And should they fail... by mutual agreement the Council stations a force close to any newly reassigned castles until the new Lords and Ladies prove their ability to defend them. That force has orders to intervene should the defenders fail... and capture the failures for punishment. In recent history, only seven Lords and three Ladies have failed, endangering the realm.


Campaign Premise:
You are a lord or lady of the realm, once a powerful ruler of your own lands. For whatever reasons (be creative in your backstory!) you have been voted to stand Watch in one of the Borderland Keeps. Unfortunately, upon your arrival you find out that the previous Watchers, being lucky enough not to face any invasions in their time, left the Keep without support and repair for years, skimming off supplies to augment their own treasury. While the Keep itself is as resilient as the mountains that surround it, its weaponry and ammunition, its troops, the supporting villages and a myriad other essential things are in a dismal state. And while for five years the keep has seen no significant attack, that might well mean the enemies have been building up their own forces for that much longer...

Requirements:
If this is going to work as a game, it will need frequent posting and no players suddenly vanishing right after joining or without notifying in advance for absences. I've had it happening in other games and it breaks up the action.

How the game plays:
Once you are settled into the keep - which will be a small intro phase - the game time will break up in two speeds. One, I'll be advancing time at one-week increments and pointing out matters that require your attention. You can discuss stuff OOC and implement them IC, assuming you discuss things sometime during the phase. Depending on what you decide to do and how, I'll note down how well you succeed.
Secondly, while the long phase is going on, I will be inititating short phases in normal DnD game time to deal with emergencies such as an invasion, a worker strike and so on. You will also be able to initiate short phases between you for social interaction.

Characters:
Each one of you will be playing a lord or lady of the realm. These will be high-power characters but I also require some decent background; fleshed-out characters are good. This is what you need to do;
1) Pick an overall concept for your character that would be useful in the situation. Are you going to be primarily a spellcaster? A great fighter? A great politician and leader? A scholar with the knowledge skills needed to organize the castle's support plans, design its weapons, defenses and supply routes? Challenges of each individual type will be tough and jack-of-all-trades may not work well.
1b) One side of your gestalt (see below) must be a straight base class. This is the mechanical equivalent of having an overall concept.
2) Build a level 16 gestalt character at 40 point-buy. This is a high-powered game. (but see below)
3) Available races in the kingdom are elf (any type), human, dwarf (any type), planetouched (any type), half-elf and orc-kin (as half-orc but without either the charisma or the intelligence penalty. They are closer to humanoid in looks due to extensive interbreeding)
4) The kingdom's nobles come from various eldritch bloodlines; you should have from 1 to 3 LA at one side of gestalt that doesn't contain your base class, usually filled with a minor template or two though some races already have a LA and qualify on their own. You must remain a living, mostly human-looking creature.
5) You only get half the treasure of your level for your magical items. The other half must be spent on supplies for the castle. Choose what supplies you'll take carefully.
6) A good background including character looks, likes and dislikes, how your character views subordinates and how he/she interacts with other lords and ladies and why your character was sent to the Watch.

Sources and banned stuff:
Any non-campaign-specific WotC 3.5 books are allowed. Campaign-specific material and stuff from the dragon magazines will be allowed on request only if they aren't broken. Third-party stuff and homebrew not allowed.
The castle's wardings prevent the calling of any creature and the teleportation of any non-native creature. Summonings still work. Also, the grounds are typically hallowed. If you want undead legions, you'll have to unhallow first-but that might make it easier for evil things to slip inside.
Persistent spell doesn't exist.
You can't benefit more than once from the same exact item, spell or ability even if it would otherwise be possible.
I reserve the right to ban broken stuff.

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