Welcome to this mini campaign. In an effort to make things work in an efficient, streamlined fashion I thought it a good idea to come up with a bit of a background rationale for the player party to be doing the adventures that they will be doing. This is the best I could come up with 😉 I dislike railroading players and would rather you find your own way in the fantasy universe, but that said, if some direction isn’t given then many hours can be lost in frustrating (for us all!) wheel spinning as the players look for a quest that seems obvious to me but is less so to them.
So here is the idea. Your party has come about due to your volunteering (or being indentured to!) junior members of a “guild of freelance law enforcement agents”. Or to put it bluntly semi-organised Bounty Hunters, known as the “Brotherhood of the Justice Moon”. The opening adventure will be designed to provide the characters a bit of a shared experience and an excuse for those that choose to be Chaotically aligned to be stuck in a “Lawful” organisation; for now at least.
After the intro adventure, you will have down “down time” where the novices are given basic training (IE get to level 1) Soon after the “graduation” of the whole party to 1st level you will be given your first mission for the organisation. You and some more senior members of your “Guild” are being sent to Rakhan Island by the organisation’s new Patron the Mage “Zathabarius” to investigate some leads. In the past members of wanted gangs of criminals have used the smallish subtropical isle as a bolt hole after committing some sort of unspecified felony on the mainland. Its become a bit of a “Pirates Haven” due to its location, not because it actively has encouraged this sort of thing. IE the populace are largely innocent of wrongdoings.
You and your masters have split into two teams each combing one side of the Isle. Your group being the more junior has been given a scroll case that contains the warrants and bounty details of some of the less experienced villains while your more senior Guild mates are going to scour the only city worth the name on the other side of the isle for the more high level members of the hunted group. The magically treated wanted posters contain in addition to written descriptions of their targets a pair of spells that will declare, once to you, and once to a public authority, that the individual you have slain or captured is wanted and that there is a reward of “X” on their heads in the mainland. These devices are well recognized and any town or large village should have the equivalent of a “Sheriff” that will act as a witness to your completion of a capture.
All the targets on your list are wanted dead or alive (and privately dead is usually preferred). However there may well be an additional reward for you if you manage to get one of these villains incarcerated alive. That’s a dilemma you’ll have to play out depending on your alignment and class.
Why would members of many differing classes take up the life of a bounty hunter? Well in part its because your patron said so and thats the end of it. But thats a tad unsatisfying really. So hopefully I can persuade you to invest a little in the premise in some way you will need to decide for yourselves. In my opinion the idea isn’t so unbelievable at least in the short term, for any player class, a little creativity is all thats needed. Role playing is always to be encouraged and rewarded in Dungeon Crawl Classics.
Some examples of your character’s motivation for doing this could be:-
- Personal revenge. One of the Villains personally cost you or your family something and you want to see them brought to justice, the others of their crew are at least accomplices in your eyes…
- Glory seeking. You want to prove your worth against foes that have shown they possess some strength of their own. Having a legal reason to kill them is a pleasant side effect…
- Champion of justice. If you’re a Lawful or Good character then these felons deserve what’s coming to them. The reward you’ll get is almost immaterial to you knowing the world will be better off without them.
- The better theft. One of the gang you’re pursuing stole something you particularly want. Having the bounty hunters aegis allows you to relieve them of this item or knowledge without it becoming obvious that you’re also a thief of sorts…
So in conclusion you have a list of names. You could in theory go after them in any order. However, given the fact you’re starting at low level, taking on one of the more powerful ones will get you your heads handed to you most likely. So I am going to start you off with a lead to one within your capabilities and will direct you to the next in the series one at a time. This should help with episodic play. Ideally each scenario ought to take one or two sessions to play out (unless you are overly cautious or just plain unlucky!) I reserve the right to have the target(s) in any given scenario “flee the scene” if you take too long without engaging them forcing a scenario advancement from time to time. Naturally if that happens you wont get full XP for that scenario.
Your quest begins on the far side of the Island. The only civilization you’re likely to meet (for the time being) will be small villages and the likes. So before you ask, recall the only equipment you’ll be able to buy/replace will be simple stuff that a village might be able to obtain. So look after your gear as much as you can! You can however start with any non magical item you can afford from the main equipment lists, this will be assumed to have been obtained on the mainland before you set out. An exception to this is horses and transport animals in general. Your ship didn’t have room for too many and the few that were transported went to your senior guild mates. Furthermore as you’re on an island there is relatively few areas where large animals can be raised so horses, cows etc.. are rare indeed and hard to acquire. Likewise few villages will have stabling facilities as a result. The actual domestic (food) animals of the isle are limited to swine, chickens and a few sheep for the most part.
Magic and magic items: I plan on playing this campaign “magic rare”. Even the lowliest peasant knows there is such a thing as magic, and wizards will command a GREAT deal of respect even if they are low powered. However most common folks will have at best met an itinerant cleric that cast a few minor cures or similar low level spells in return for lodging and a chance to spread their own particular “Gospel”. Only large villages will have a resident priest or two, and on this side of civilization they will rarely exceed 6th level. There is a rumor of a pretty powerful wizard living on your side of the island however. His presence, if confirmed, may explain why there are comparatively few others spell casters…?
We look to be having around 6 players here. That’s a good number for a party by itself but I will make a few recommendations just to be on the safe side. In the sad event of a non recoverable death new characters will enter at the dead ones level but at Minimum XP for that level. Ideally each of you should get a “reserve” character set up – just in case. The Intro scenario ought to help achieve this.
Ideally there should be at least ONE member of each of the main character types represented in the party; Fighter/Mage/Cleric/Rogue. An extra Fighter is probably a good idea but not essential.
I am providing you with some special background options that you can take for your character. These are divided between you they are NOT available to you all! You have to decide among yourselves whom has what. But first come first served if you have an idea for a character in mind, or have taken the time to read this site diligently before we start the campaign proper! You do not have to take them at all if you don’t want to, each will come with a drawback as well as a modest advantage (these you will have to find out later in play). These options are:-
1. The Veteran. (Optional Recommended) This character will start at Second Level in whatever class they choose. This could be because they received some intensive training or because they “volunteered” for some extra missions in the time between the Intro and the Campaign start. However the player wishes to define it. This guy has been blooded and will start with better (Normal) equipment as well as a higher Experience level.
2. The Legacy. (Optional) This character has been left a magical item by a relative and starts with it as part of their equipment. The precise item will be decided by myself based upon the characters class and background. Any such item will be a permanent one that will develop in power as the character using it gets more experience with it. There relative will have told them something that it does when they gave it to them so it will be useful from the start.
3. The Companion. (Optional) A character choosing this will gain the companionship of an NPC of another class chosen by the DM that is his loyal friend and retainer. The NPC companion will be friendly to other members of the party (at least in the beginning) but will only go out of there way to aid the player whom they are attached to. They will gain XP as if they were a full party member less 10%, so they will stay roughly in line with the party in power as you all gain levels. This xp will not detract from the parties XP in any way and is essentially “Free”. Claimed!
4. The Prodigy. (Optional) This option allows the character to add 4 points to their attributes (but no more than 2 to any one attribute). They are a more highly trained or physically refined example of their race and class. The Prodigy will also gain a 5% additional bonus to all experience points they earn in the game due to their superior status. This option can ONLY be assigned to somebody that started from 1st level.
5. The Dealer. (Optional Recommended) This character has the knack of getting what they want wherever they are. A character with this background will have bonuses on acquiring/selling rare items for the party even in the most obscure places on the map. Inherently “lucky” this character starts with MAXIMUM cash for their class and seemingly has the ability to acquire more funds and goods whenever they need it. Likewise if anyone is likely to pick up a rumour where your next targets are its this guy.
6. The Hunter. (Optional – General) This characters is really into their chosen profession. Perhaps they have some back story why or maybe its as simple as they like fighting and being a part of a Merc band with a purpose like this gives them a great excuse. Either way their enthusiasm has been noted and before you set out the Master of the company calls you in to his suite for some special instructions and perhaps parting gift… This option can be selected now or will be used for players that join later as replacements for fallen Heros or for one shots for visiting or temporary players.
Holder of the Warrant. (Special) This player is the “Official” Sheriff of the party and carries the scroll tube of wanted papers. The warrant holder is authorised by the offices of the King of the mainland to make arrests and bring declared felons to justice etc.. etc.. They also have one other special ability that I will disclose to them alone when the Holder of the warrant has been selected. This title will be reassigned by the master of the Mercenary Band from time to time. One of the purposes of this mission is to see which among you has leadership potential. Basically I see this “Office” as rotating each set scenario.
Experience points will be awarded in most of the usual ways. Monster kills acquiring magic items etc.. But there are a couple of special cases as well that I am bringing in to speed progress along a bit.
1. Finding and defeating one of the villains on your “List” will bring a flat EXP. award to ALL party members involved in their defeat. These awards will go a long way to getting you the points you need to level I hope.
2. Completely finishing a dungeon/scenario will also grant a completion award as you guys will have materially helped the general populace in the area in some way or another so this reflects public gratitude etc. I hope.
3. I give no EXP for simply Finding treasure. However if you Spend treasure in some character appropriate way I give you exp. then based on what you spend. Bear in mind most small settlements have only a limited amount of resources you can spend your loot upon!
4. Good role playing will always give you an instant Exp. award for particularly apt acts in character 😀
5. At the start of each session you will be given a “Special Orders” card. Some will be blank one or two may contain a special instruction you are to focus up in that adventure session (only) as part of your personal evaluation by the Mercenary Guild. Playing in line with this instruction will garner extra XP rewards at the end of the session.
Characters will be allowed to gain levels in the field without the need to go find a trainer in many cases. Occasionally however I shall declare the party must camp out in the same area for a week or so while a character levels up.
The campaign is designed to start at first level (though see the special options above as well) But I have assembled what I think will be enough material to see us through to 5th level or a little higher, though given the proposed playing schedule that should provide us with a lot of stuff to do. The individual scenarios I am trying to set up so they could be played out in about two sessions each if everyone does well, none should need more than 4 session (about a months worth real time). If folks stay hyper cautious and slow the whole thing may drag out on us.
So play with verve and gusto, and don’t get too paranoid on me I don’t want this to be a sluggish game. There isn’t gonna be a trap around every corner etc.. Relax and enjoy.