I am the GM for a brand new campaign set in a fantasy ancient Greece setting. We’re using the latest (5th) edition of Dungeons and Dragons. This article is more for my records and I doubt anyone out there would find this very interesting at all. At the very best it might give some inspiration to someone doing a google search for random campaign planning stuff.
I am using the following books and RPGs for reference and toolkits:
- D&D 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Mazes & Minotaurs
- D30 Sandbox Companion
- The Isle of the Unknown
We used an experimental method of character creation, which generally I thought worked well, but if I ever did it again, I would revise a few things. Here’s what we did and in what order:
- We used the Playbooks from Beyond the Wall to both generate each character’s childhood as well as ability scores. This was done by rolling on a few tables that gave each character plenty of background, boosts to certain stats and even the opportunity to create an NPC or location in their home village, Mykonos.
- We then used A Quiet Year to collaboratively create their home island and to determine major events that occurred from their childhood until their adolescence. This worked super well and was a segue into…
- Choosing Backgrounds from the D&D 5e Player’s Handbook. These choices were inspired by the history and timeline of events of their home village and island.
- Finally, to represent their coming of age, the players chose their characters’ Classes.
Now I’d have liked to give some detail on the characters, but I’m missing some info. In the meantime, here’s a brief list:
- Arcas (Jonathan): a Noble-Rogue
- Paios (Andrew): a Sailor-Warlock
- Protus (Ryan): a Criminal-Ranger
The Village of Mykonos
This home village for the heroes has Plenty of Barley, but due to recent events is in need of Obsidian (which used to be mined in the nearby dormant volcano) and Antelope (which has mysteriously disappeared from the island). It is ruled by a single mayor (chosen by birthright from the wealthiest people). The general reaction to outsiders is amusement.
Thanks to Beyond the Wall (and the D30 Sandbox Companion to generate details), the following key locations were created by the players (and given life by me, the GM):
- The Inn of the Sleeping Sphinx: A worn in, 2-story, timber building with medium-sized rooms (each with a single straw mattress). Over the hearth in the common room are strange, ancient runes that no-one can read. This place has a reputation for its crippled, tale spinning owner, . Their featured main dish is lamb simmered with almonds and spices.
- The Forum: An roofless, semi-circular stone auditorium where the Mayor and village elders make big decisions. They also pass judgment on criminals here.
- The Market Square: Mostly unused and barren now. Details to follow
- The Gallows: where convicted criminals receive punishment. If not hung, then the preferred torture method is the “Street Sweeper’s Daughter”, which is a metal clamp placed around the victim’s crouched body; tightened or loosened to fit severity of crime; may last for days, weeks or months…
- Mining Guild: A wooden building where miners came to weigh, evaluate and trade-in their collected minerals from the mountain. Mostly unused at the moment.
- The Yard: An outdoors, columned area where warriors and hunters train and compete.
- Abandoned Manor: An abandoned manor on the outskirts of town where Astera, an old wise woman, resides. She still maintains an old library there.
Again, thanks to Beyond the Wall, the players came up with the following NPCs. Note: one or two are missing because I don’t have all of the notes:
- Tithonius, Captain of the Guard. A militant, slightly envious yet honourable and bullnecked middle-aged man with chiselled good looks. He trusts in discipline and toughness (“take your beats!”). He is Arcas’ father. Motivated by impressing his son who has chosen a higher calling. He has a constant, vague sense of longing…
- Hiero, innkeeper. A thickset, withdrawn man. When he was younger, he returned from the mountain without his legs and tale that he slew a dragon. Now that prospectors are saying that they’ve seen the dragon, he is nervous (more about his reputation than for the safety of the village). He has an almost comically excessive fear of fire. He is Protus’ father.
- Artemas, Ship Captain. An old, rough and adventurous mentor to all young sailors. He teaches the value of information and news. Because he encourages wanderlust, he is not always liked by the village elders.
- Astera, Village Wise Woman. A reclusive, bitter and paranoid old woman who lives in a hovel on the outskirts of the village. She reluctantly trades wisdom for food and other necessities. She is particularly distrustful of magically-oriented men, such as wizards and priests.
- Melas, the Fisher. As a young man, he endlessly boasted of the adventures he would have as an adult, not wanting to waste his life as a “mere village fisherman”. Currently he is a village fisherman, but still boasts of what he’ll do, eventually… Someday…
- Eos, Head Huntsman. A boastful, prying, heavy-set, weak-chinned man with hazel eyes and closely cropped reddish-brown hair. Motivated by a goal to serve Artemis who visited him in a dream. He is a tad obsessive-compulsive and has been heartbroken for many years.
- Borus (aka Biggus), Mayor of Mykonos. An arrogant, mildly manipulative, beefy, handsome man with piercing blue eyes and long, wild dark hair. He has well maintained, bushy sideburns. He won his position by eliminating his rivals (accused them of being secret members of the forbidden Dragon Cult). Motivated by Greed, Inspired by his father, has a sense of alienation and has a fear of the dark. Think of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
Recent History of Mykonos
These occurred over the years in chronological order from the PC’s childhood (6 yrs. old) to their adolescence (16 yrs. old):
- Arcos saw a very bad omen and told the village: a single ant brought ruination to its hive through its short-sightedness.
- A major harvest began in the barley fields.
- Prospectors and shepherds saw proof of the Dragon’s existence! A feeling of dread and doom settled on Mykonos.
- Lalage, a charismatic young woman, started a cult worshiping the Dragon. Very promptly all of the followers, including Lalage, were hung in the gallows and a witch hunt ensued (a contender for the role of mayor won his seat by eliminating his rivals with accusations of cult involvement).
- A beloved elder (a founder of the village) fell ill from a mysterious disease. The entire community made an expedition into the wild to find a cure. This caused a serious delay of the barley harvests.
- Due to the delayed harvest, crops began to rot and a strange fungus infected the entire crop.
- Despite the rampant fungal infection, the harvest went through and was very plentiful. The village sages and elders scrambled to find a use for the toxic crop.
- The mutilated remains of Lovus, the mayor’s popular and charming daughter, are found out in the barley fields. The wounds resemble those from an animal attack, yet a mysterious black leather glove was found near her body.
- A hunting expedition, led by Eos, goes into the Dark Forest in a desperate search for food, despite the rumoured dangers.
- A plague spreads through Mykonos! This delays all projects.
- All of the Barley is fermented and made into an intoxicating ale. All of it is sold off to Brigands from the north.
- Eos and most of his hunters have gone missing in the Dark Forest.
- An outsider from another island comes to Mykonos bringing a supply of Obsidian. Desperate for the resource, he is accepted into the village. A second plague decimates the community.
- As a last ditch effort to save the village, any remaining able-bodied people are sent off into boats in a quest to trade for food. The population is dangerously low.
- The northern Brigands have become tainted and twisted from the fungoid ale sold to them. They want vengeance and are planning raids.
- Eos, the greatest hunter, is missing in the Dark Forest.
- There is a Dragon in the southern volcano.
- Famine and two plagues
- A mysterious monument in the northern mountains: an evil place? The brigand base? A portal to the underworld?
The Heroes Reunite
The characters reassemble after a few years in their respective tasks and decide to try to save the community by first setting off into the Dark Forest to rescue Eos.
The Dark Forest is rumoured to be the home of giant insects, monstrous peoples (such as satyrs, centaurs and worse) and wild women worshippers of Dionysus called the The Bacchae.
More info on this soon, as well as an outline and map of the island.