Back in January ‘08 I put the question to the group on what system and setting people would like to try out. Initially the idea was to pick something temporary until June when 4th Edition came out. Among the ideas presented were Ptolus, Rise of the Runelords AP, Savage Tide AP, Shackled City AP, Age of Worms AP, Forgotten Realms, Rokugan, Call of Cthulhu, Mutants and Masterminds, True20, Qin, and Shadowrun (and probably a few more that I’m forgetting a year later when writing this). The group choose to go with Iron Kingdoms with the D&D 3.5 rule set. While I was incredibly interested in IK, I’d not read any of it yet.
One of the things that I wanted to try was a concept that Fear the Boot advocates often, the group template. Their early episodes elaborated on the group template and gave an example one. The idea is a simple one, before people go off and create characters have the players as a group come up with a theme or idea behind the group and connections and stories behind the characters. By working together on backgrounds and connections the players provided me with a better sense of where they wanted to take the game and why the group was together. It worked out alright, I would’ve liked a bit more crazy ideas to come out of this stage, but for the first time using the group template it did what it needed to ~ provide a framework for character creation.
Using the maps from Western Immoren the group picked a backwater city in Ord, central to the action of the setting as a starting point for the game. They also decided that they would all be members of the Explorers Guild, a guild dedicated to map making, assaying, and wilderness exploration. An easy hook for me to get people out of the city and off into the forest.
Many of the players were intrigued by the options available in the Iron Kingdoms Character Guide and grabbed onto those with gusto. The others took to the character backgrounds and setting information in the book creating a wonderful group of characters who felt very integrated into the setting. There is nothing that will ruin a DM’s motivation more than a player who wants to play something completely out of scope of the setting (ie. throwing in a gnome monk would’ve been difficult to justify in IK).
With that in mind here is a general overview of the characters that came out. Each will link to their character sheets once I get that far into the game.
- Finn Rayverse elven cleric of Scyrah (Goddess of Healing) Finn is looking for the source of his goddess’ coma, believing that the cloistering xenophobia of Ios is doing even more harm. Finn’s travels began with Tarna in Ord as it is the birthplace of sorcery, thought by Scyrah’s clergy to be the source of the mysterious death of their entire pantheon.
- Yrgh the Well Endowed trollkin fellcaller Yrgh wanders the backwaters of Western Immoren looking for more of his kind. He does not belong to any clan, having integrated himself into Ordian society. He yerns to join others of his kind but is currently content to provide his expertise to the group.
- Victor ordian arcane mechanic Victor is an arcane mechanic from up the river who has come to Tarna because of his previous master.
- Fennigoth the Red ordian sorceror Fennigoth is the one serious member of the Explorer’s Guild with actual geographic knowledge. He is from Tarna and tries his best to reign in the more easily fooled members of the group.
- Piran laellese swashbuckler An exiled member of the Laellese gentry, Piran is an expert swordsman from a dueling society. He’s entirely too guillible for his own good, which is probably why he is wandering around with a landlocked pirate.
- Nicollo laellese gunmage Nicollo is also an exiled Laellese who fashions himself a pirate, except he’s never been on a boat. Oh but he does have the parrot and tries for the accent too. Not really the voice of reason for the group, Nicollo is often encouraging everyone else to follow any lead no matter how illogical.
Working it all together
While an odd group, they all believe in the Explorer’s Guild’s mandate, which of course none of them really know. As an arm of the Tarna University they are at the beck and call of the professors and deans there. Many of whom treat the guild like a glorified messenger service. As long as they are sent out of city they are all happy.