All's Right With the World

The following is a game brief for Talen's D&D3.5e game, All the King's Men 2: All's Right With the World.

A New Chapter for an Old History

Fifteen years ago, the Symeiran nation underwent an upheaval. While in the Southern lands of Kyngdom, a king died and civil war began to be a real threat, the living nation of Kryphaneos was burnt back, leaving a scar across its dominion, the province of Gorkov, now a semi-independent state under Symeiran rule. The now-queen Elahna III took her place on the throne at the death of her father, Titan Magnus II.

Meanwhile, the church had its fourth order of knights brought to its attentions, and, most importantly, the entire Passage of Estrusca was revealed to be fraudulent, texts implanted in the Holy Writ of the Erhymnist Church some two and a half thousand years prior. While the most irrelevant of revelations in the day-to-day lives of the average Symeiran citizen, this information was a chisel set to the stone of established church truth.

What this revelation did was set that most insidious of things to work within the church; doubt. Suddenly, Holy Writ, the laws of ages, the guidance and collective wisdom of thousands of years, was cast into the light of being potentially written without divine inspiration, and perhaps far worse, even with malicious intent!

South, Kyngdom is embroiled in the first stages of a civil war; with Sanders having invaded Willowsebb, and the leadership of both the Church and State can acknowledge that war is a destructive creature; civil war the ultimate expression of a sickness within a nation. With that in mind, the greatest minds of both arms of the Symeiran nation have composed an idea.

Heterodoxy; the establishment of a new, perfect scripture. To do this thing, they will need the most pure of the original texts, obtained from as close to the source as possible. While scholars pore over the ancient libraries in droves, a contingent will be sent to the tomb of Oltar Inius, the first Archprelate, to retrieve the First Script, penned in his hand alone. Other books will follow, of course, as the Holy Writ is recomposed - but this most vital of tasks must begin the others, and this task cannot be charged to any single order. To do so would demonstrate favouritism.

Therefore, the church has assembled for itself a representative of each order, armed with wit and skill, and is sending them off to this hugely symbolic mission.

Character Construction

The player characters in this game are going to be representatives of the five auspicious wings of the church. The Pandions, the Lethenites, the Cyrinists, the Chardunists and the Church Soldiers. Travelling with the party will be a sixth character, the unaffiliated member.

Pandions

"I don't know what's more terrifying; the Pandions at war, or the Pandions at peace."

The Pandions of Symeira are famed cavalry chargers, and, in times of peace, the steadfast heavy hand of the Watch. Currently under the somewhat antiauthoritarian (and yet still authoritive!) Commander Kyrie Bladeborn, the Pandions of Symeira have undergone minor shifts in the past ten years. Whilst other orders have lost their leaders, the Pandions have only just had a minor transferrence, as Dux Rescent has moved from his position as both Preceptor and Commander of the Watch to just Preceptor, and has in his stead placed Kyrie.

The Pandions are Lawful and structured; famed for their regimented lifestyle, the Pandions are probably the least flexible. All Pandions are expected to be capable of riding a horse, even if only for transport, all Pandions are expected to be proficient with some form of armour and at least one of the weapons they prefer (lances, greataxes, bastard swords, greatswords). For this reasons, most Pandions tend to have fewer areas of study than other knights.

Common Classes: Fighter, Crusader, Adherent, Favoured Soul
Preferred Weapons: Greatsword, Greataxe, Lances, Bastard Swords
Colours: Black armour with a royal purple cloak

Lethenites

"Dress it in as many pretty words as you like; the simple truth is that people have not changed very much, so understanding our past is an invaluable tool for understanding our future."

While the Cyrinists are famously unrestrained and the Pandions are intensely structured, the Lethenites are famed for being the moderates of the Orders. Typically, while the Crynist turns to his instinct to guide him through a battle, the Pandion to his training, the Lethenite looks to history, to strategies and to his knowledge.

The Lethenites are most often seen as a uniting force amongst the Orders. The Cyrinists and the Pandions tend to argue bitterly, but both have respect for the Lethenites and their opinions. The Pandion regards the Lethenite's opinion as borne from the experience of others, and the result of serious study and understanding, while the Cyrinist recognises that the Lethenite is acting based on what he knows to be good sense, rather than simply following 'the rules'.

The Lethenites promote scholarly understanding amongst their knights; indeed, the Lethenite Commission is a gift given to each of the members of the order. This Commission is a full three-year scholarship and University course at one of the Universities within Symeiran rule. Simply put, the Lethenite puts information at the fingertips of its members.

The Lethenites are less structured with their martial training. They drill and they study, but it isn't in large groups, disciplined by a drill sergeant. Instead, they tend towards small study groups of three or four knights - often led by a more experienced knight - who fight and drill together. For this reason, the Lethenites are often much more suited to small squad-based combat, and they tend to perform best in versatile groups rather than in large, regimented forces.

Lethenites are probably the most realistic of the four orders; the Cyrinists bank on million-to-one chances, the Pandions adhere to rules even to their own demises, and the Chardunists don't even consider non-human factors. The Lethenites are the engineers and mathematicians of war.

Common Classes: Fighter, Swordsage, Duskblade, Bard, Ranger, Adherent
Preferred Weapons: Shortswords, crossbows, hand-axes, longspears and spiked chains
Colours: Silver armour with navy-blue cloaks

Cyrinists

"There are three types of madness which can seize you on a battlefield; there is cowardice, where you put your allies at risk to avoid your enemies; there is heroism, where you put everyone at risk to avoid failure; and then there is being a Cyrinist, where you put your enemies at risk to avoid thinking."

The Cyrinists are the blunt objects in the arsenal of the Erhymn church. Smashing apart sieges, destroying defenses, and demoralising opponents, these copper-tinted knights are famous for their battlefield presence. Of course, one often wonders what the Cyrinists do when they're not fighting, but thanks to the large number of drinking establishments - and ready opponents after a few rounds - the question has never had to be answered.

Cyrinists are chaotic and instinctive, and tend to view combat as the finest pursuit one can have. Whether they fight to protect their allies, for the betterment of their country, or for any other high goal or not, the Cyrinists are united in their zeal for combat. Typically speaking, Cyrinists are, if not actually fearless, very good at faking it.

Common Classes: Fighter, Warblade, Duskblade
Preferred Weapons: Mauls, Zweihanders, Martel De Fers and Fullblades
Colours: Copper-steeled armour with dark green cloaks

Chardunists

"I'm not sure I'd advocate anyone trust an organization in which a guy like me can hold rank."

The Chardunists, the 'new' Order, are actually as old as the three original orders, founded in secret by Chardun, the semi-immortal Preceptor. Now having abdicated his post, the Chardunists are being administered almost by council, with a Preceptor governing over a group of disparate intelligence agents. Simply put, the Chardunists are extremely discrete and stealth-oriented, with operatives handling 'black tasks' - deeds the church wanted done and the state needed done, but which all involved required deniability. In this regard, they were a kind of political genie - through the use of their psionic hunters and political movers, the Chardunists were able to take action on the behalf of the crown, inciting enemies to in-fighting and occasionally comitting the odd outright assassination.

Since coming to the public eye, the Chardunists have instead opted for a role best compared to the role of the Pandions. While the Pandions use visible shock and awe tactics to disrupt the enemy, the Chardunists use hidden fear and terrorism tactics. While the Pandions patrol visible crimes, the crimes on the street, of thefts, murders and burglaries, the Chardunists investigate and punish secret crimes, of noble money-laundering, of shifty back-alley trades that don't kill anyone, or even hurt anyone - just impoverish the whole nation and destroy the lives of so many people at the bottom.

The Chardunists are not widely respected amongst the populace - their colours are much more likely to inspire fear rather than respect. The Chardunists honestly don't mind either way - it is good to be feared, and good to be loved, but it is far easier to be feared.

Common Classes: Rogue, Lurk, Psychic Warrior, Psion, Divine Mind, Ardent
Preferred Weapons: Daggers, short-swords, hand-picks, tonfa
Colours: Grey steel armour and black trench coats. The Chardunists favour glamered armour and many of their number don't actually wear armour per se

Church Soldier

"Redback is the best possible option you can have as a jester. It works as the punchline to anything."

The Church Soldiers of the Erhmynist Faith are very different from the Knightly Orders. First and foremost, the Church Soldiers are enlisted and salaried, rather than nobles or inheritors of titles. For most Church Soldiers, the job pays only slightly better than does farming or some other labouring job they could do.

Also, the perception of the Church Soldiers amongst the Knights is almost entirely negative; the Church Soldiers are mockingly referred to as the Redbacks for their tunics and surcoats (which form a distinctive, bright-red cross on the battlefield).

The Redbacks themselves are fairly varied, and tend to not be tightly regimented. Unlike other orders, merely being able to swing one of the Soldier's favoured weapons (polearms, halberds, or longsword) qualifies you in the eyes of their training regime. With this in mind, many with alternative areas of study - such as career criminals, or arcanists seeking field utility for their magic - have taken up the Church Soldier banner, as it's a fine way to ensure your own personal fitness, whilst still giving you enough free time to focus on your other fields of study.

Also, the Redbacks own no small amount of weight in the eyes of the law - many a Rogue has slipped into the Church Soldiers in an attempt to assuage suspicion of his own nocturnal work - and if ever caught, one can claim absolution! After all, for anything but the most heinous of crimes, the position of Church Soldier offers the Limit of Absolution - meaning the Soldier can simply throw himself upon the mercy of his Chaplain, and indebt himself to the Soldiers instead of serving time in prison.

Common Classes: Fighter, Rogue, Battle Sorceror, Duskblade, Favoured Soul, Adherent
Preferred Weapons: Halberds, longspear, longsword
Colours: Red surcoat, with white sashes and white train

Resources

The core sourcebooks for this campaign are as follows; Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook (3.5), Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide (3.5), and the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (3.5). In addition, each of the Wizards of the Coast books in the first Complete series (Complete Adventurer, Complete Arcane, Complete Warrior, Complete Psionic and Complete Divine), the Races of books (Races of the Wild, Races of Destiny, Races of Stone, Races of the Dragon, Races of Eberron), Unearthed Arcana, Magic of Incarnum, The Miniatures Handbook, The Book of Nine
Swords
, The Tome Of Magic, and all Cobrin'Seil material.

Banned Material

From these resources, there are some changes. Specifically, the following player resources from that book are banned for being overpowered and potentially abusable:

  • Artificer (Core Class) (Eberron Campaign Sourcebook)
  • Master Transmogrifist (Prestige Class) (Complete Arcane, pg 58)
  • Thought Bottle (Magic Item) (Complete Arcane, pg 150)
  • Ur-Priest (Prestige Class) (Complete Divine, pg 70)
  • Miasma (spell) (Complete Divine, pg 168)
  • Hulking Hurler (Prestige Class) (Complete Warrior, pg 40)
  • Half-Ogre - Cobrin'Seil has its own mechanics for half-ogre characters (Races of Destiny, pg 96)
  • Persistant Spell (feat) is banned (many different incarnations).
  • The Druid (Core Class) (Player's Handbook)
  • The Cleric (Core Class) (Player's Handbook)

The following are banned for other reasons.

  • All Shadow Magic and Truename Magic is banned from the Tome of Magic. Shadow Magic and Truename Magic are both almost woefully underpowered, and while they are impressive and thematically interesting, making them as powerful or as useful as other options to player characters at this level would be a great deal of effort for little gain, and would amount to a basic re-write of the book.
  • From The Complete series, the Swashbuckler and Samurai are banned. These classes represent classes that have no practical application except for early dips and abuse, as the classes themselves are just plain badly designed. Other options, like the Spellthief, have their problems too, and I recommend against them as character options.
  • The classes presented in //The Miniatures Handbook //have their own issues, as none are particularly well designed as full 20-level classes. The Marshal, much like the Swashbuckler and Samurai, is quite weak and mainly has a use as a potential avenue for abuse, so it's out, too.
  • The Healer sucks.

There are some alterations necessary to other classes. Of course, you will want to talk to your GM about what you want to play, and, more importantly, you will want to discuss your character options with your fellow players. Players should seek to avoid too much mechanical overlap, after all.

Unearthed Arcana Options

From Unearthed Arcana, the following rule options are in place:

  • Totem Barbarians
  • Bardic Sage
  • Divine Bard
  • Savage Bard
  • Cloistered Cleric
  • Druidic Avenger
  • Thug
  • Monk Fighting Styles
  • Planar Ranger
  • Urban Ranger
  • Wilderness Rogue
  • Battle Sorceror
  • Specialist Wizard Variants
  • Favoured Environments
  • Whirling Frenzy
  • Prestige Bard
  • Prestige Paladin
  • Prestige Ranger
  • Building Characters
  • Character traits
  • Character flaws
  • Spelltouched Feats
  • Weapon Group Feats

Stat Generation Method

We're going to be using a 42-point point-buy. Ability scores are purchased according to the table below.

Stat 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Cost 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 14

House Rules

  • Die Rolls: Any die rolled that fall of the table have to be rerolled on the table. I don't care if it was a natural 20 when it landed on the floor. Remember that, next time, it may well be a natural 1 when it hits carpet, and do you really want to hang onto that?
  • Starting Level and Equipment: The characters are all starting at Level 6, with the appropriate starting budget of 13,000 gold pieces. No more than half of your budget can be spent on any one object.
  • Skill Checks and Critical Successes: There is no such thing as a critical success on a Bluff roll. There's also no such thing as a critical failure, either. With skill checks, you do not automatically succeed on a natural 20, nor do you automatically fail on a natural 1. This is because there are some things you just can't do, and there are some things so blindingly easy you could seriously fluff the roll and still succeed. In fact, in most cases of the latter, you won't even be required to roll (but hey, you can if you want to).
  • Remember, You Can Do It Right: The Take 10 and Take 20 rules exist for a reason.
  • Whoops: No fumbling rules. Life is hard enough without more bookkeeping.
  • Life and Death: Characters die at -their Constitution hit points, rather than at -10. It doesn't make much sense that a Con 6 Spellweaver dies once unconscious as easily as the Con 45 Bahamut. Stabilising while unconscious is not a 10% chance; it's a DC 15 Fortitude save.
  • "Good; Bad; I'm the Guy With the Gun.": Alignments are in play, before you ask. You have to have one. Sorry, folks, that's the way it runs. Start killing things in the street and you're going to shift into Chaotic Evil pretty quickly. All alignments are equally viable if played right, though.
  • Item Creation XP Expenditure: A character can choose to suck up some of the XP cost for crafting an item, if they're the the beneficiary. If Billybo the Half-Elven Rogue wants to help Goodgrief the Half-Orc Wizard make him some Lockpicks Of Nosepicking, there's no harm there. The XP cost is spread equally between the two, with the caster making up the odd numbers.
  • Ammunition Woes: Thrown weapons and ranged ammunition (barring for thrown stones) can be recovered after a combat unharmed on a successful Search roll. The DC for the Search would be 20 - the archer's/thrower's/slinger's dexterity modifier, minus any enhancement bonuses for being magical or masterworked.
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