For the next section of the Shandar background handouts there were a selection of possible starting points – each with its own selection of likely types of characters and initial adventures. While player-characters inevitably outgrow their starting locations, their roots will – or at least should – continue to shape their motives and later adventures throughout their careers.
Mychtlan; A Besieged Elven City:
Things were relatively normal six months ago. The city was besieged by the Hin and the monsters of the wild as usual, but it was a casual thing.
Then an Albracht shattered the city walls, and let the Hin inside. If it hadn’t been for the undead legions of Lord Korac- a Rakkon Necromancer – the city would have fallen. With them – and their immunity to poison – the Hin were driven back. Unfortunately, many of the nobles and most of the members of the warrior orders perished in the fighting. The merchant houses and temples, such as they were, were devastated, and the slaughter among the common folk was unprecedented.
Today Korac is the de facto ruler of Mychtlan. His undead minions “man” the defences, patrol the streets and hold off the Hin while every effort goes into restoring the city walls. Unfortunately, between Hin sabotage and the sheer scale of the project, progress has been slow. Small-scale strikes against the Hin have had very mixed success and, despite the ongoing efforts of the undead, people continue to vanish, and the Hin continue to raid the city.
Typical characters from Mychtlanare young survivors of the “upper class”, middle-aged tradesmen forced into adventuring, and escaped slaves. Typical adventures will include scouting/strike missions against the Hin, city- based espionage/counterespionage and intrigue, and attempts to gather favors and influence. Repairing the city walls, or finding somewhere else to go, are probable long-term goals. Most Shandarian races are available, but Hin are not advised unless they are clearly property of someone else. Rogues and Bards should be common and character’s may find the “Resistance To Divination” feat useful.
Haldun; A Khamroth Trading Settlement:
The valley is defined by the aura of Mynkulf, one of the few surviving Dyrhyddyn – a tree of memory, holding the hidden essence of the elder world. The energies of both Cinghalum and Glowstone are dampened while elemental forces are enhanced. Defenses are still needed, but not at the scale required by the rest of Shandar. Sadly, the area Mynkulf protects is relatively small. Despite the assistance of the local druids, it cannot support a self-sufficient community – much less the towers of the Khamroth- without trade and materials from outside. Here adventurers – Vampire Slayers, Druids, Dweomer-Masters, Rangers, and Mystics especially – are a well-respected, vital, part of the community.
Almost any kind of character or race can be found in Haldun. However, except for a few ambassadors, everyone here is associated with either; 1) The Merchant Houses, 2) The Khamroth Loremasters or the Warrior-Orders which they sponsor, or 3) the local Druidic Circle. Outsiders are looked upon with great suspicion. Characters from Haldun must consult the GM on the availability of magic and mundane items prior to equipping themselves. Most of them can be presumed to know each other well; Haldun is a very small community.
Tethorak’Mak; A Lost Dwarven Stronghold:
They sealed the doors a thousand years ago. They cut careful blocks of stone and filled the hall. They laid spells and wards and arranged for the path to be forgotten. They retreated into the depths and tunneled deeper. The years passed peacefully.
The world beyond faded into myth and legend. A realm of terror and destruction which the people had managed to escape – or a “promised land” into which they might one day emerge.
That changed a little while ago. Some of the younger dwarves accidentally drove a shaft into a natural cavern. That had happened before – but this cave opened up into a network of caverns with no apparent end. Many of the older dwarves want it sealed. Some of the younger ones want to explore.
The ruling council eventually authorized a “limited” expedition. A few of the younger, and better-trained, volunteers would be equipped and allowed to venture out.
Characters from Tethorak’Mak are normally limited to Dwarves, the Half-Elven descendants of the few Humans and Elves who took refuge with the dwarves – and possibly a few Khamroth or Elven/Human throwbacks. While lacking in practical experience all such characters have a good deal of official backing; they will be able to purchase most lesser magical items, metallic weapons, and armor, for 1/2 the listed price – and can expect to be healed or otherwise assisted at minimal cost when at home. Multi- classed characters are rare – as are Rogues and Druids. Clerics and Fighters are quite common, as are Engineers and Craftsmen. Typical adventures will involved exploration of the cavern system or hunting down menaces which have somehow gotten inside the stronghold.
Carnevon; A Thriving Elven City:
Safe within it’s “walls” of deathless radiant birds, the wealth and beauty of Carnevon have accumulated over the centuries. Sadly, over those centuries, it’s people have turned back upon themselves – their courtesies and arts are elaborate, their intrigues vicious, their amusements cruel, and their their society highly stratified. Power is divided between the noble houses, the merchant houses, and the mages and priests. The “Middle Class” is limited to “minor” members of those groups and to those few freelance “operatives” who have managed to survive. Most of the population consists of slaves who – outside of being modified, drugged, and kicked around at the whim of their owners – are generally ignored. The power of each merchant “house” is founded upon control of one or more underground trade routes; these are fairly secure, since it is forbidden to dig deeply within the city. It is said that a horrible fate awaits anybody who is fool enough to do so. Finally, the Emperor Ezar is very very old now. There are even rumors that he may soon choose a successor, and the maneuvering for position has already begun. There has not been such a chance for hundreds upon hundreds of years.
Characters from Carnevon come from four major groups – young nobles, freelancers (Adventurer’s who are hired for “special missions”, ranging from running ghosts out of the cellar to inter-house warfare), young members of the merchant houses and oddities who conceal themselves among the slaves (Such as Hengeyokai, Lycanthropes, and the occasional Hin). Young mages or clerics are usually young nobles or merchants; no one else can find anybody to teach them. Elves, Half-Elves, Khamroth and even the Planetouched may be members of noble / merchant houses. There may be some Rakkon, Dwarven, or Hin “freelancers” in the city somewhere, but for the most part members of such races are slaves. Members of “appropriate” social classes may start off with a good deal of “free” items, contacts, or backing. Typical adventures will be almost entirely within the city – or, if the characters belong to a merchant house, involve trading expeditions. Going outside the city is fairly suicidal unless the group is of sufficiently high level (10+ is recommended).
Khon; A Rakkon City-State:
Wrenching a living from the cold and barren plateau is an endless, backbreaking, task – made worse by the need to support Lord Seconthil and his flight. The radiation of the Cinghalum saturates the land like moisture after a storm and the eyes of the overseers are everywhere. The caged, tormented, souls of rebels hang in the center of every village, while their bones labor in the fields. To venture into the jungle below is to die in a fashion perhaps equally unclean.
But the voices of the dead cry out for peace and still rebellion whispers in the wind. Where there is no spark of light, the power of darkness shall serve.
Everything, and everyone, in Khon is the property of Lord Seconthil and his favorites. Even the younger Rakkon are not safe, although they rank above the mere slaves. Still, the overlords are thinly spread and are racially incapable of really understanding cooperation, loyalty, inspiration or leadership beyond the level of the pack. While Seconthil has foolishly dispensed with councilors and advisers in favor of direct rule by might, organizing a successful revolt, escape – or even an overthrow by a more reasonable overlord – will take a lot of work. The fate of failures will not be pleasant. Characters from Khon start off with minimal gear, little money, and not much free time. On the other hand, they are exposed to the energies of the Cinghalum from birth. Those few who survive have learned to tolerate, or even channel, such forces. They may either internalize it (Add Tiefling racial abilities with no level modifier, base race does not change), resist it (Gain SR [10+Level] vrs relevant magic and +10 resistance versus negative energy effects), or channel it into active effects (Gain [IM+1] relevant Feats. Consult the GM if this option is taken). On the other hand, armor, major weapons, and notable magic items and/or displays of significant occult abilities, will not be tolerated. Violators will be eaten – or worse.