Starting a Calidar campaign

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Korro Zal
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Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Thu May 04, 2017 5:46 am

I was giving some thought about starting a new campaign with B2, The Keep on the Borderlands. In other to make it a bit more interesting to me, I'd like to add some new elements to the setting, and one thing I considered was putting it in Calidar. My initial thought was that the Keep is an outpost in the Dread Lands, perhaps serving as a base for seitha crews looking for deposits. The PCs would arrive on a skyship that drops off supplies and occasionally travelers as well. The Keep would be populated with the various ethnicities found in the setting and devotees of the divine powers detailed in Beyond the Skies. Perhaps agents of rival off-world powers would be found there as well, likely to disrupt or steal from successful seitha-exploration crews based in the area.

It seems an interesting idea on the surface, but it raises the following issues:

1) Would the humanoid foes found in B2 be appropriate to Calidar? I suppose they could be former Ghule raiders stranded on Calidar, but would they be able to survive for any length of time in the Dread Lands without triggering multiple reactions from the World Soul that would wipe them out?

2) Similarly, could the Keep avoid triggering such a response? The very act of constructing a settlement seems likely to provoke numerous reactions.

3) Is there any other reason a keep would be placed in the Dread Lands other than serving as a base for seitha crews? Any other kind of resource gathering (mining, foresting, etc.) seems out of the question given the inevitable reactions of the World Soul.

Of course, I can hand-wave anything I want if I like it, but I would find it more interesting to resolve these issues in a way that is true to the setting. Does anyone have any thoughts regarding such an idea? Any ideas are welcome.

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Ambreville » Thu May 04, 2017 12:31 pm

Korro Zal wrote:1) Would the humanoid foes found in B2 be appropriate to Calidar? I suppose they could be former Ghule raiders stranded on Calidar, but would they be able to survive for any length of time in the Dread Lands without triggering multiple reactions from the World Soul that would wipe them out?
These could be descendants of stranded humanoids who've adapted to the Dread Lands. They would be more akin to the Dread Lands natives.
2) Similarly, could the Keep avoid triggering such a response? The very act of constructing a settlement seems likely to provoke numerous reactions.
Yes, this is an issue on the mainland. I would suggest placing the keep on an island. At least hostile "natives" aren't an issue there. The keep could also be ruins left over from an older civ now defunct.
3) Is there any other reason a keep would be placed in the Dread Lands other than serving as a base for seitha crews? Any other kind of resource gathering (mining, foresting, etc.) seems out of the question given the inevitable reactions of the World Soul.
Given an arrangement that provides at least a minimum of security, you could use a flying barge to shuttle the seitha prospectors back and forth between a nearby dig and the keep.

Of course, I can hand-wave anything I want if I like it, but I would find it more interesting to resolve these issues in a way that is true to the setting. Does anyone have any thoughts regarding such an idea? Any ideas are welcome.
You definitely have to tip-toe around the Dread Lands. As a referee you have the option of declaring an area, large or tiny, a weak spot in the Dread Lands, making it more manageable. When your mischief has been managed, you can then declare that the region has "healed" and that the Dread Lands are reclaiming what was once relatively safe. :)
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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Fri May 05, 2017 4:11 am

I like the idea of colonists reclaiming a ruin used by a previous civilization. Who would most likely have built the original structure? Fellfolk?

If the humanoids have acclimated to live on Calidar, going "native" as it were, then would a band of adventurers raiding their cave complex provoke the World Soul?

Last but not least, I was thinking about making the evil clerics in the caves devotees of some off-world power, hoping to destabilize seitha production (or steal it themselves). What off-world cult would be most likely to make common cause with the humanoids? Vipermen clerics of Sabyle? Or perhaps orcish clerics of some alien Ghulean entity, come to lure their brethren back into the fold?

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Ambreville » Fri May 05, 2017 12:24 pm

Korro Zal wrote:I like the idea of colonists reclaiming a ruin used by a previous civilization. Who would most likely have built the original structure? Fellfolk?
Anyone, from native fellfolk to alien starfolk.
If the humanoids have acclimated to live on Calidar, going "native" as it were, then would a band of adventurers raiding their cave complex provoke the World Soul?
The humanoids could have joined adventurers to raid some forgotten cavern (maybe they are looking for something there, which they have "omitted" to tell adventurers.)
Last but not least, I was thinking about making the evil clerics in the caves devotees of some off-world power, hoping to destabilize seitha production (or steal it themselves). What off-world cult would be most likely to make common cause with the humanoids? Vipermen clerics of Sabyle? Or perhaps orcish clerics of some alien Ghulean entity, come to lure their brethren back into the fold?
None of them really, as others worlds use other means of space travel. Acquiring seitha would therefore have to do with entering the netherworld rather than space travel. I would suggest the same as what I mentioned in my previous response, your outer world folks are looking for something else in the same area, and are seeing the adventurers and their quest for seitha as troublesome. They'd rather want to get rid of their presence to protect their secret. Hope this makes sense.
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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Tue May 09, 2017 11:37 am

Thanks for your responses, Bruce.

I think I will make the Keep an abandoned outpost. It was originally constructed by Starfolk, long before colonists from the three moons arrived. What brought them to Calidar is unknown to scholars who have examined the ruins, but it is known their early efforts were thwarted by the World Soul, which reacted in ways that inflicted numerous setbacks upon the alien visitors. In time, the Starfolk settled the issue by bringing an artifact with them to the planet's surface which the World Soul recoiled from, turning the area around the Keep into a weak zone where the Starfolk could carry out their operations without fear of interference. (The nature of this artifact is unknown to the scholars who have attempted to decipher the few records left behind, but they believe it was something the Starfolk found out in space in the far reaches of the solar system.)

What happened to the Starfolk is unknown, but in the years since explorers from Meryath have discovered the ruins and used it as a staging area for seitha exploration crews and the Guild of Dragon Slayers, taking advantage of the weak spot in the World Soul's defenses. However, it has drawn others as well, both Ghulean raiders left behind and those who have heard tales of the mysterious travelers who arrived long ago with the means to overcome the World Soul itself, at least in one small area. In recent years, a secret cult made an important discovery after carefully reviewing what little scholars had gleaned from the records left behind, that the artifact the Starfolk had employed was still here, and its constant presence was what kept the World Soul from reclaiming the area.

Seeking to avoid alerting others to their objective, the cult secretly made contact with the stranded Ghuleans, who had since acclimated to life on Calidar, and informed them of a hidden artifact of great power buried in the region. This immediately caused the chieftains of numerous tribes to drive their subjects to seize the artifact first so they could rise dominant over all the others, and soon multiple tribes inhabited the cave complex the cultists had identified for them, battling with each other while searching the ruins, unaware of the fact that the wicked clerics had already narrowed down the artifact's location to a cave complex which they had already taken for themselves...

But the sudden activity did not go unnoticed by the Keep and its seitha crews who, after several run-ins with the belligerent humanoids, called upon the Guild for budding heroes to address the problem. The cultists, of course, plan to excavate their prize while the would-be heroes battle their pawns and hope to be gone before anyone learns of their presence...

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Ambreville » Tue May 09, 2017 12:44 pm

Sounds pretty good. How large would you say the affected area is?
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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Wed May 10, 2017 4:36 am

It needs to be large enough to hold the map in B2, which looks to be about three miles or so long by a little more than two miles wide. I think I will put the keep relatively close to a coastline so that travelers will not have to move through the Dread Lands to get there, so perhaps the total size of the affected area will be about four miles by four miles or so. An artifact capable of repressing the World Soul in an area so large for so long would have to be potent indeed.

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Thorf » Wed May 10, 2017 7:53 am

What a great idea! I love how you've repurposed the module for Calidar. We need more of this kind of thing. :D

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Ambreville » Wed May 10, 2017 12:25 pm

Korro Zal wrote:It needs to be large enough to hold the map in B2, which looks to be about three miles or so long by a little more than two miles wide. I think I will put the keep relatively close to a coastline so that travelers will not have to move through the Dread Lands to get there, so perhaps the total size of the affected area will be about four miles by four miles or so. An artifact capable of repressing the World Soul in an area so large for so long would have to be potent indeed.
How does the coastline's existence make it easier to approach the keep? The Dreadlands extend, at least to a certain degree, to the surrounding seas. Aren't the heroes relying on a skyship to get to the keep? Even the airs are likely to be fraught with random aerial encounters. :)
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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Wed May 10, 2017 4:19 pm

I think there's far more danger of provoking a reaction over land. Since airships aren't likely to despoil the land much (assuming they're traveling straight from point A to point B and not setting down on land in between), the main instigator of a hostile reaction would probably be fighting. An airship would probably come under attack from a tribe of natives with missile weapons or large flying creatures, which usually wouldn't stray too far from the coast. As such, if you're journeying to the Dread Lands, you'd probably be better off staying over open ocean as long as possible. It certainly doesn't guarantee you won't provoke a reaction, but it seems safer nonetheless.

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Thu May 11, 2017 12:45 am

Thorf wrote:What a great idea! I love how you've repurposed the module for Calidar. We need more of this kind of thing. :D
Thanks for the kind encouragement!

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Azure Admiral » Thu May 11, 2017 12:40 pm

Thanks for sharing this pitch. I'm eager to see updates as your new campaign will going on!
“Don’t ask for loyalty from you airship crew. Die for them instead on the sky battlefield„

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Fri May 12, 2017 1:57 am

Thanks! I'll post what I come up with.

Right now, I'm going through the list of pre-generated NPCs at the back of the module and fleshing them out, giving them names, brief backgrounds, notes on what deity they follow (if any) and the divine benefits they may have received from Beyond the Skies, etc. This is so they can be used as NPCs to interract with or recruit while the PCs are at the keep.

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:03 am

It was mid-morning when the aging airship finally arrived at the Keep on the Borderlands. Rikalum stretched his long limbs as he considered the walled keep before him; it was the only permanent structure he knew of in the untamed lands outside the caldera most of Calidar`s civilizations made their homes. Who had made it no one knew; it had been discovered here by seitha prospectors decades past. The world itself had a way of fighting back against interlopers; the ship itself had experienced several battles with avian creatures and unusual weather on the way here simply for the crime of passing over the ocean. Why this structure was allowed to stand without provoking such a response was unknown, but that didn`t stop Meryath from using it as a base for seitha exploration, the very resource that allowed the nations of Calidar to take to the skies and beyond.

But that seemed to be changing; the seitha crews had come under attack more frequently while venturing into the untamed lands, attacks from bands of humanoids previously unknown to the Keep`s inhabitants. The soldiers who patrolled the outpost were too few in number to protect the crews, and were unwilling to venture too far into the dangerous lands outside the keep. That was where Rikalum came in, Istar willing. But then again, it seemed as if the Meryathi patron of luck had been with the bold Dragon Slayer thus far in his quest to make his name known, so why would she abandon him now?

Unlike the others on the airship, Rikalum was not a soldier, a seitha prospector or a sky sailor; he was an adventurer, one of those bold enough to risk life and limb venturing into those places others dared not go. He was still young and relatively untested, but he did not lack for courage or ambition, and trusted in his steady swordarm and in his divine patron, Istra, in his quest for recognition and glory. And, of course, in his like-minded companions.

Cast:
Rikalum, Merathyi Fighter Level 1, Casual Faithful of Istra
Thyrm, Nordheim Cleric Level 1, Zealot of Tyr
Silverglade, Elf Level 1, Pious Follower of Delathien

Challenged at the gate, Rikalum asserts that he and his two companions are adventurers looking to offer their services in defense of the exploration crews they have heard have come under attack. The charismatic fighter is convincing, and the guards admit them. Once inside, the guard sergeant speaks to the trio, asking them about their background; the Merathyi is a little unsure regarding the stern, solemn Nordheim cleric and the reticient elf, but he warms up quickly to his countryman who reveals he is an initiate of the Dragon Slayers guild informed of the trouble here by his mentor.

Meanwhile, a runner dispatched by the sergeant returns with another elf, this one a finely-dressed character who introduces himself as an advisor to the Keep`s castellan. The elf informs the group that the attacks have not been launched by the native Fellfolk or by beasts, but rather by groups of surprisingly well-organized humanoids they believe to be of Ghulean descent. The taciturn cleric of Tyr interjects at this point, asking about the nature of these foes; his order is known for keeping an eye on the Ghulean threat from beyond, and even hosts an order tasked with doing so out in the great vault beyond Calidar in pyramid-shaped fortresses. The elf replies that many subspecies are known to comprise the Ghulean threat, and in particular orcs and hobgoblins have been spotted by surviving seitha crew members, usually waiting for the prospectors to venture on the surface before attacking in great numbers. Recently prospectors had been driven away from one promising excavation site.

Rikalum thanks the elf for the information, and promises to share anything the team learns in their explorations beyond the keep. Thyrm nods his thanks as well, deep in thought; what seemed to be nothing more than an expedition to prepare him for the greater journeys ahead might be his divine patron directing him…

The elf thanks them, and then asks Silverglade in their native tongue if they can speak later. The elf agrees, and the counselor returns to his duties.

After purchasing some supplies at the local trader`s shop, the trio make their way to the inn. On their way, they encounter a rotund, jolly cleric of Istra, with three acolytes in tow; when Rikalum tells him they are here to see to the recent attacks, the cleric offers a hearty blessing. Rikalum nods his head in appreciation, and the group continues on their way.

In the inn, a glum-looking group of miners nurses their ale. Rikalum starts a conversation with them, and receives a wealth of information in return. Not only do they confirm what the elven counselor said, but also provide him with a map showing where recent crews have traveled and where attacks have taken place. The crews are capable, but haven`t the numbers nor the arms to repel attacks from such numbers of hostiles, and few mercenaries are willing to venture into the Dread Lands. This was in spite of the fact that the Keep`s inhabitants had reported no unusual incidents within several kilometers of the Keep; the World Soul was oddly muted here. Rikalum assures them he will do what can be done; the charismatic Dragon Slayer is rewarded with a round of drinks and toasts.

Returning to his companions, Rikalum shows them his map. Silverglade, an experienced forester and tracker, silently studies the map while the cleric and fighter talk (the Nordheim cleric seems a little annoyed at the Merathyi`s view that this venture is a great opportunity to gain glory for himself), and then interrupts the pair. If bands of humanoids have come together to harass seitha production, the ideal location for the base, judging from the places where ambushes have occurred, would be….here, the elf says, pointing at a spot on the map with his long finger.

A wide grin splits Rikalum`s face. “Then that`s where we`ll go!” he says, slapping the cleric on the shoulder. “That`s where we`ll make names for ourselves, and with enough luck maybe even that dour deity of yours will smile on our efforts!”

Thyrm scowls at the jubilant Dragon Slayer. The runes has revealed to him that his path lay in the lands of the southerners, but did it have to be with this fool?

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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Ambreville » Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:11 am

Very cool. Thanks!!
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Re: Starting a Calidar campaign

Post by Korro Zal » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:14 am

The next day, the trio packed their gear and departed the keep, receiving more than a few words of gratitude and encouragement from the guards. They set out at a fairly rapid pace, travelling along the road that ran from the Keep (who had constructed it was unknown, as with the Keep itself) as far as they could, eager to see if the forester`s guess about the humanoid`s base camp would be proved true. However, the elf also warned his companions to tread carefully; out here, the environment itself could be their enemy if sufficiently provoked; the fact it had not happened yet this close to the Keep did not reassure the cautious elf. The cleric nodded in understanding; the effervescent fighter made efforts to restrain his larger-than-life personality (though not nearly enough to Thyrm`s mind).

Silverglade paused at points to examine the ground, and each time he did so he nodded in satisfaction and continued on. This continued for several hours until the group made their way to one of the spots denoted by the prospectors as the site of an attack; it did not lie on a straight route to their destination, but the trio decided to make this slight detour to see if more information could be gleaned. This required them to leave the road and enter the thick, tangled forest, which resulted in an hour of hard travel before the entered a small clearing.

Evidence of the skirmish was immediately evident to the group; the already-decaying corpse of a prospector lay slumped against a tree, peppered with arrows. Another lay face down in the dirt, axe still gripped in his fist. They also spotted several other corpses, much smaller than man-sized; it seemed the prospectors had put up a good fight before they fled. Rikalum kicked one over to reveal a scaly humanoid with dog-like features.

“Kobolds,” said Silverglade.

“Scouts and skirmishers for the Ghuleans,” added Thyrm.

Rikalum sniffed; they didn`t look like much to him. The dour cleric was always going on about the threat such foes poised, but it had been a decades since the last invasion and the brash fighter suspected the threat was vastly over-exaggerated—how much trouble could these runts be? Spotting what looked like a glimpse of steel, the dark skinned warrior ventured further away.

“Must be the descendants of a party stranded here during the last invasion,” the elf noted. I suppose they`ve figured out how to go native to survive out here.” The cleric nodded; a disturbing thought, indeed. Were they somehow doing the will of their dark masters even here, some sort of beacon for a renewed assault?

The sharp –eyed elf then turned his glance to the wandering fighter, who was bust examining a discarded tool of some sort in the grass. It was then that suddenly two kobolds, both quite living, scrabbled on top of a fallen log in front of the kneeling fighter. Snarling, they both prepared to hurl their spears at the unaware Dragon Slayer.

“Rikalum!” the elf shouted.

The fighter looked up just in time to see the two spears hurled at him. He ducked under the first and his hastily raised shield deflected the second; the luck of Istra was still with him, he marveled (reflected in the natural 1 and 2 I rolled for the kobolds` attacks). Shouting a war cry (“For glory!), the brash warrior hurled himself at the reptilian foes; a swift bash of his shield stunned the first, dropping it, while his swiftly descending blade split the skull of the second. This was punctuated by a yelp of alarm as a third kobold dashed out from behind the log in the opposite direction; an arrow launched by Silverglade cut its retreat short, however, pinning it lifelessly to a nearby tree.

The cleric grunted; at least the fighter`s prowess with a blade matched his boasting. Beaming, the victorious warrior turned to Thyrm and clapped him on the back yet again. “Did you see that?” he thundered. “No real challenge indeed, not for the likes of us! Let`s finish off the rest of the little bastards and get back to let the prospectors know they`re safe!”

“Somehow I don`t believe it`ll continue to be this simple,” the cleric said darkly.

“We`ll know soon enough,” the elven tracker replied. “These tracks lead this way, in the same direction we`re headed. Maybe we`ll find their lair right where we thought we would.”

The trio continued on, and this time the fighter`s enthusiasm could not be contained so easily. Both the cleric and the elf had to remind him to lower his voice on several occasions, which elicited nothing more than a grin in reply.

The way become more difficult as they continued onwards; the tangled thicket grew more so, and darker as well, creating a foreboding atmosphere.

Finally, the trail led to clearing which gave way to a wide ravine, around 200 feet or so and stretching at least 400 to the west. Entering cautiously, the group noticed numerous tracks that didn`t require the keen eyes of an elf to spot, and they also noted rocky cliffs extending 100 feet or more above them; their current field of vision didn`t allow them to see exactly how far they extended. Clefts and cracks in the rocky formations lined in shadows were abundant, denoting numerous places where an ambusher could lie in wait, and some of the larger ones appeared to be caves. Thyrm had the uncomfortable feeling of eyes upon them, and even Rikalum had sense enough to be silent.

They knew at that point they had found their destination.

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