This is the first in a series of articles talking about what I have done to revamp my old D&D setting for D&D 5th Edition. The sessions involved in this post ran from the 14th of January 2015 to the 18th of May 2016; a total of 32 sessions. (Edit: This might seem like a long time ago but DarkElf keeps A LOT OF NOTES so this is pretty easy for him – Night Owl).
Here is the 1st in a series of Gazetteers of the known world. It is also the home of “Bargle” the wizard found in the single player storyline in the red box Basic Rules.
It is a medieval fantasy combining a conquered Romanesque ruling class over a Transylvanian middle and lower class. Throw in some elves, dwarves, halflings and gnomes for good measure on the side of the government and a bunch of orcs, goblinoids and gnolls as the base bad guys, and the extraordinary evil being werewolves, vampires and dragons.
I chose this as my first foray into 5th edition as I have run this setting and location many times and can cover a lot of it from memory.
Six players, each having backgrounds that fitted into the setting or changing the setting slightly to allow for the backgrounds to work.
- Traladaran (Transylvanian style) – Can choose Traldaran as their starting language, as it is the common tongue of the country, where Thyatian is the common tongue of the region.
- Thyatian (Roman style) – Must choose Thyatian as their starting language.
- Mixed (blending of human races) – Can choose anything as the starting language
- Stout – Standard halflings, except no native halfling language
- Black – dragonborn in the area, as Black Dragons are found in the swamp. I have the Dragonborn being sexless, with only one to two generations of them being in this setting and only now making their way out into the world
- Red – dragonborn found near the mountain range
- Even though I specified no Half-Elf, players did not listen and brought them into the game, so they became freaks of nature hated by both humans and elves. They are the byproduct of magic and not natural.
- Callarii (wood elves) – Elves sort of based on Legolas
- Vyalia (intended to be Eladrin but better suited to the new Shadaki) – Mysterious elves that no one wants to get near or interact with (new additions to the system make Eladrin again the best choice with seasons as a option suiting the feel of the setting)
- Also though I specified no Tieflings, we had one join this game as players are very bad at reading instructions.
- Common becomes either Thyatian or Traladaran with players choosing which based on their upbringing.
- Learns twice the number of spells as a wizard at first level and every other level. Can gain spells from scrolls and prayer books. Required to carry a prayer book (spellbook) representing their adaptation for their religion.
I had the group start in the Village of Threshold, were they were the class of adventurers 1000 AC. Each group expected to spend time protecting the village and surrounding area as part of their education.
It also had a adventure book released of combined modules for the Basic Rules called B1-9 In Search of Adventure. This was an amalgamation of 9 of the Basic level adventures (levels 1-5). The basic level adventures fall into Tier 1 level play quite nicely and I have taking this as an adaptation going forward with the Gazetteer series of the base power level I am expecting from the adventure.
I first ran this book in 1989 amongst a group of friends in my first year of high school when I was 12 years old. Was bought by one of the group and traded around till it found me and like most other books at the time I traded, or bought it from the previous owner so I could learn its secrets and run it better.
There is a story progression in the book, and I tried following XP advancement, with downtime activities required for levelling up and after 32 sessions in the one Gazetteer 1 I realised I had gone a little to far in one setting. Characters made it to level 6 and had done two of the modules from the Expert Rules set.
I had set up experience tracking, and day tracking for this campaign with the expectation that it would progress to the next gazetteer rather quickly. What I was not paying attention to is how quickly a character does level and when they do, how long it takes for this to happen as the characters reached Tier 2 quicker than expected, and being caught up in the story and not advancing the time enough we over played this setting.
My next campaign I would improve on this, as I had an XP chart done in Excel that I was keep track of for all my characters.
I put this setting into Realm Works, and I was using it to organise all my notes, except on game nights it always seemed to need an update just before the game, or the server was down for maintenance and would not let me open a local copy.
Notable changes to the setting:
- Dragonborn – Black in the Blight Swamp, Red in the Wufwolde Hills, White in the Altan Tepes Mountains, Bronze along the cliffs of the Eastron Road.
- Goblins, Grey – In the Altan Tepes Mountains north of Castellian Keep is a tribe of advanced goblins using Brilliant Energy weapons.
- A Elder Red Dragon claims the Wufwolde Hills region as his own and demands payment and supplication from groups passing through the area.
- Cult of Halav is run by both Hel and Odin opposing each other with reincarnation.
- Church of Karameikos is the mainstream religion, and offshoot of the Church of Thyatis. Each has a similar pantheon of gods.
- Church of Traldar is the backward religion focusing on the last king of Traldar Halav, his queen Petra and their friend Zirchev.
- Order of the Griffon is a group of people serving the Church of Karameikos as griffon riders and knights of the realm.
Isle of Dread Changes to the setting:
- Arenea (spider people) found on the Isle of Dread have access to extra planar connections
- Rakasta (cat people) found on the Isle of Dread have access to magic allowing travel out of the atmosphere
- Dragonborn – Green in the forests, Black in the swamps, Red in the mountains
Next up: GAZ2 – Empirates of Ylaruam