"It was the darkest winter Arkadia had ever known. Blood-Handed Ivan, the mad tzar, had been on the throne for ten years. No one, from the mightest boyar to the humblest serf, had escaped his terrible wrath. His son remained locked away in the heart of the tzar's fortress, a mystery to all. It seemed our suffering would never end.
In the depths of this bleakest winter, I was sent to Arkadia as a sacrifice - a bride from the distant West, an appeasement worth more than gold for the mad tzar's son. Or so my mother hoped.
I had no prayer of surviving a year in this harsh land. Not without the help of heroes. And in my hour of need, the Firebird provided. "
Greetings! This this setting has been rattling around in my head for too long, and absolutely refuses to leave me alone. It promises to be a brutal, yet exciting game - very different from my current one, but nonetheless great fun. Break out the vodka, neighbor. Come closer to the fire. Let us tell the tales of the Frost Queen, who brought us out of winter into the light once more...
I am the only Game Master. I expect to post once per day; when I cannot, I will let you know. Likewise, I expect all my players to post once per day.
Bitterly cold Arkadia, land of the everfrost, has entered into the depths of its darkest winter. The mad tzar Blood-Handed Ivan has killed hundreds as he claimed power with an iron fist, and hundreds more will die at his hands. At this bleak time, a princess has been brought to the kingdom, a bride for the tzar's mysterious son. It is up to our heroes to escort this princess to greatness, and hopefully bring the winter kingdom into the light.
Blood-Handed Ivan, however, is setting his own plans in motion...
This is a campaign meant to begin at 5th level and continue until it ends. Expect to see intrigue, exploration, and travels across the vast frosty wilderness. The setting is more or less set, but I'm open to new ideas; offer me a suggestion and I'm likely to say “yes”.
The campaign setting is one with a casual attitude towards sex and violence. Russia's history has enough gore to drown a hundred murderers, and lovers who embraced life passionately. I fully intend to tell its tale to the fullest.
The game is centered around a fantastical version of Medieval Russia, during the time of Ivan the Terrible (a man who richly earned his epithet). Calling Ivan "evil" doesn't do the man justice; the PCs will be in for a difficult fight. Much of the game will center around aiding and assisting a foreign born princess; fans of history may well guess who this woman is inspired by, but suffice to say she is destined for greatness (and yes, I'm jumping through time shamelessly). Most, if not all, of my posts as DM will be told in the first-person past tense, through her eyes.
If you're familiar with the writing of Guy Gavriel Kay, you'll understand my inspiration and the style of writing I hope to see. Realistic, passionate characters; a sense of humor; almost, but not quite, history. Provide those for me and you're in.
Adding historical detail and texture earns you bonus points with DM, but is not necessary by any stretch – I'm engaging in some shameless hand-waving in the course of bringing this setting to life. I’m going to be firm on the basic campaign concept, but open to suggestions regarding classes and races. If you can convince me, I’ll allow it – but work to convince me. Cheese for its own sake will not fly; tell me a good story and I’m yours.
The SRD, Tome of Battle, and Frostburn are all excellent resources. The Complete Spell Compendium may well be a help, as will the Complete Divine. Sandstorm, oddly enough, has some useful items as well.
All characters begin at 5th level with maximum starting hp for your first 2 levels, randomly generated hp for the final 3. Bear in mind that the environment is almost always cold or worse. I will be enforcing environmental penalties. No evil PCs, please.
Gold is low, simply because I want to keep magical items to a bare minimum. 5,000 gold for most characters, 7,000 for highborne class characters. I normally start games like this at 1st level, because I don't want showy magic items in a quasi-historical setting. I'm asking for your cooperation at "hiding" the magic items as much as possible. +1 swords, aren't magic swords. They're really, really masterful masterwork swords.
Colorful magic items help beat the "standard D&D Magic Blues" as well. Wand of cure light wounds? How about an ivory scrimshaw of a saint of the Mother Church, something that radiates warmth and a sense of well being when brandished? Treat every magic item you carry as an artifact and we'll play well together.
Experience with this setting has taught me that mounts are a must. A lot of outdoor combat occurs in snow, which literally slows your movement to a crawl. Extra mobility is tremendously important. Choose your skills and feats accordingly, blow some cash on good horses, and think about the implications.
Statistics are generated via a 32 point-buy system (DMG, p.169).
PC's Needed: 6
Date due: 11/20/12
I will be using a massive damage variant. Massive damage occurs when you take (Your Constitution score+(your levelx2)) in damage. When massive damage occurs, roll a DC 15 Fortitude save; failure reduces your hit points to -8. For the purposes of checking the massive damage threshold, all damage taken in a round is cumulative. Example: A 1st level warrior with a Constitution of 12 has a threshold of 14. If one wolf bites him for 7 points of damage, an orc hits him for 4, a second wolf bites for 4, he must make a DC 15 Fortitude save.
We will also be using the armor as DR variant. For convenience's sake, the permitted armor for this setting with DR and armor value are available here.
Some additional weapons and banned weapons are here.
Equipment and clothing unique to the setting may be found here.
Perform is a class skill for any class with Profession or Craft on its class skill list.
If a character has 5 or more ranks in Craft(poison), he never risks accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade. The character is also treated as having the Poison Use class feature for the purposes of qualifying for feats.
A homebrew class, the highborn, is available here. Note that you will need access to the Tome of Battle for the class. This is a game where courtly intrigue is front and center; I firmly recommend you look closely at this option.
Wizards select their spells from the druid spell list as opposed to the wizard/sorcerer list. Spells from that list are still arcane in nature; it's just the spells that are different. Remove any divine focus requirements for any spell. Along the same lines, any other arcane class must pick from this list (which means that arcane classes such as the duskblade and beguiler will not be permitted). Arcane magic is referred to as "geomancy" in this setting.
Conventional specialist wizards are not permitted. However, domain wizards are. Cold and fire domain wizards are especially common in the setting, but other domains are not unheard of.
Druids and monks will not be permitted.
Rangers will be using this variant: instead of a combat style, they may shapechange into any Small or Medium animal native to the area and gain fast movement as per a barbarian. Wolves, swans and black bears are extremely popular choices in Arkadia, and such shape changers have their own "lodges" (and resources to share with their fellows). You may well get an opportunity to voluntarily limit your forms and gain other bonuses in play. The ranger spell list is unchanged, but it is considered arcane rather than divine (and uses Intelligence rather than Wisdom as the key stat).
Clerics have two deity choices: Mother Firebird, a good deity with Sun, Good, Fire, and Protection as potential domains; and the Grey Wolf, a stern goddess who grants the War, Winter, Animal, and Law domains. Generally, both deities are worshiped in conjunction. Exact details of worship haven't been fully spelled out, but are inspired by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Warblades and crusaders from the Tome of Battle are permitted. Don't bother talking about The Sublime Way or martial schools; I consider these classes to be mechanically different fighters and paladins in this game, not classes with their own lore.
There may well be other classes that are suitable for this setting; bear in mind the changes to arcane classes when you apply.
Barbarians and scouts look promising, but bear in mind that there is a significant amount of courtly intrigue in this game. "Bezerkers"? Certainly. Barbarians? Maybe not.
These classes strike me as being particularly suitable:
In addition to humans, three custom races are permitted: The birdlike biata, the sagely domovoi, and the savage ursa. They may be found here. Other racial choices will probably not be accepted.
You have been summoned to the court of Blood-Handed Ivan - a potentially lethal situation. Who has called you? (Or, perhaps, who did you offend to get in this predicament?) Why did you come? What do you want from the mad tzar?
Post the following information in the Application thread of this game:
Link to character sheet
Reaction to opening scene
If I’ve omitted anything, remind me gently and I will amend. Thank you for your interest and submissions, and I’m looking forward to playing with you!