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Hand-out

Welcome to my glorious, new campaign. I have made this hand-out for you as a manual to create your character in my world. I would recommend going through this manual step by step to ensure a fully-incorporated character that ties well into the world. See the checklist on the right side of the page to keep a clear overview.  

Rules and Mechanics

We are of course going to use the rule of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, but leveling will be a bit slow. But do not fret, as a lot of focus lies on downtime activities and learning new things outside of the advancements that D&D gives us. Speaking about downtime activities, we will play with my own version of long/short rests. For short rests, the only change is that you cannot use hit dice to regain HP. For long rests, this means that you will not regain all of your HP and half your hit dice. Instead, you will get the opportunity to use your hit dice to regain HP in the way it would normally work during short rests. In order to regain hit dice, you need to spend a certain time (maybe a week, I don't know yet) on downtime activities.
Show spoiler
YAAAAAAAAS. I'M DONE HAVING TO PLAN 3 COMBATS PER DAY SO PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY VALUE SHORT RESTS AND USE THEIR HIT DICE FOR ONCE. NOW YOU WILL FEAR LOSING YOUR HP, AS YOU JUST HAVE A FEW HIT DICE LEFT AND YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE TIME FOR DOWNTIME ACTIVITIES, WHICH. WILL. ACTUALLY. BE. AMAZING. FOR. CHARACTER. PROGRESSION. End of rant, continue.

Downtime Activities

So, downtime activities. Your character will start a little weaker than a normal D&D character would, but this is to ensure that there is enough room for advancement, without having to use level-ups as often. Every time you want to spend time in a city to do stuff, you can do whatever that city allows you to do. Think of things like:
    • Work for a local farmer, because you need money and you don't have the intelligence for shop keeping or the strength for hunting, or you just feel like this is your calling.
    • Study the library to find information about a thingy that you have encountered and want to know more about. (Maybe this leads you to eventually finding something of high value, this is a magical land nonetheless).
    • Make acquaintances with the local nobility to ensure you have the right contacts when it's needed.
    • Find a mentor to train your awesome combat abilities.
    • Enter a tournament in the hopes of gaining some money and maybe make some enemies in the process, who knows.

1. Race

Firstly, forget the stats that a certain race gives you. Choosing a race will primarily determine where you come from and what kind of cultural and personal background you have. Secondly, don't forget that wherever your background takes place, when the story begins, your character will be in the Empire. Keep that in mind when choosing a race/birthplace. Also, choosing a birthplace outside of the Empire will make a part of your history harder to tie into the story.
The Fenorian Empire cover
Options for every race
    • Every race would be able to have a place in Farendil, the capital of the Empire.
    • Also, every race can be found linving in the dense, mystical and dangerous forests as bandits or druids or doing something very mysterious only you know of.
    • Anchises Vel Sawaya is a union of nations to the north where most races can be found, except for Dragonborn. This place is perfect if you want to go for an approach where your character is totally new to the Empire. Additionally, this place makes it possible for you to be very creative in how your character has lived, because these lands have not been determined yet. If you want to do some world building for your character, go for this option. It might be some time before your background would tie into the story though, keep that in mind.
    • If you want to have 0 background connection to your birthplace, go for an outlander idea where you travelled very far to reach the Empire. (I would not recommend this, but it is possible).
Dragonborn
    • Vy'shuk, a Dragonborn city on an island, just off the coast. This clan of Dragonborn have been living for longer than records go back. They live very close to their Dragon ancestor spirits and are very religious/spiritual and have a long history of fighting and war as well.
    • A few Dragonborn can also be found in the capital of the Empire, Farendil.
    • If both backgrounds don't fit your style, consider an "outlander" Dragonborn, originating from a far away land, not known to the Empire.
Dwarf
    • Thrinom, a large city inside the mountains of the Ala'thas Barrier. These Dwarves seldom leave their fortress inside the mountain and some have never even seen sunlight. They are a bit grumpy, but what would you expect with so little vitamin D. The economy of these Dwarves is mostly based around mining and export of gems and metals. (Mostly Mountain Dwarves, I would say).
    • Only a few Dwarves live in Farendil, but there is a small Dwarven community inside the Crescent Peaks.
    • Anchises Vel Sawaya, DIY background.
Elf
    • The Wood-elves in Seriliya live in the trees of a dense jungle. They hunt and gather, live a very secluded life in harmony with the forest. Now, instead of the forest or monstrous creatures attacking them, the forest protects them and they protect the forest.
    • Elaored is a city of knowledgeable High-elves and is not a part of the Empire as they have been able to defend themselves until 400 years ago, when Elyria gave up on attacking them. Every High-elf has some affinity with magic, but some of them have mastered the arts of magic and have become Wizards. These Wizards are mostly found among nobility, researching the world and having intellectual discussions. Other classes are possible for this background, but for Wizards this is the perfect place to start.
    • Kragglin to the north-east is an option if you are looking for Elven conflict (ask for more information if you want to go for this path).
    • Anchises Vel Sawaya, DIY background.
Gnome
    • In the Empire, there are 2 places for gnomes. Fizzlebrick for Rock Gnomes and Puddlebranch for Forest Gnomes. The Gnomes in the Empire love creating new technologies and are always busy with research, often combining magic and physics. The Forest Gnomes are more busy making weapons, traps or other things that help them hunting. The Rock Gnomes are more focused on irrigation, machines that do their cleaning or other labor.
    • Sky Marble Enclave, living that pirate/no-government/primal life.
    • Anchises Vel Sawaya, DIY background.
Half-elf
    • Choose a place where humans live or the capital Farendil. High-elves and Wood-elves don't really like you as you can't meet standards of the High-elves and you don't have the feel with nature, the Wood-elves have.
    • Maybe an Elven nation in Anchises Vel Sawaya will accept you tho, DIY background.
Half-orc
    • The Orc Horde in Krasogg accept only real Orcs and it is impossible for a Half-orc to pass of as a real Orc. So if you want to be in the Empire, you'll have to go for the capital Farendil.
    • Sky Marble Enclave, living that pirate/no-government/primal life.
    • Anchises Vel Sawaya, DIY background.
Halfling
    • Wheatburrow. As the name suggests, you're born of a farmer in a Lord of the Rings Hobbiton town.
    • Anchises Vel Sawaya, DIY background.
Human
For Humans there are different ethnicities.
    • In the Assiduus Desert, Agralis is a village next an oasis. This city functions as an important trade-route between Thrinom and Farendil, as it is safer than through the forests. The people that live here have adapted to the climate and hunt the creatures that roam these desert for food. Arabian-esque culture.
    • Lerwick and Marlow are 2 human cities along the Sanguis river. They are settled in a special, magical forest that absorb magical energy. The humans here despise magic, as according to them, the use of magic is the cause of the weird behavior of the forests and its creatures. Lerwick is an important city for trade within the Empire, as most sea trade routes go through their harbor and are then distributed throughout the Empire.
    • Sky Marble Enclave, living that pirate/no-government/primal life.
    • Farendil, the capital of course.
    • Shaamikh, the capital of Anchises Vel Sawaya. Think south-asian culture.
    • Further north in Anchises Vel Sawaya, DIY background.
Tiefling
    • You could come from anywhere, but in the Empire you would definitely be trying to cloak your true identity. If you don't want to be doing that (which you still will in the campaign which takes place in the Empire), go for the Anchises Vel Sawaya DIY background or the Sky Marble Enclave, living that pirate/no-government/primal life.
Something else
Every homebrew race is possible as long as it isn't too outrageous, just tell me in advance if you want to play something special.  

2. Class

Outside of the Empire, you can make of your class whatever you want, but it is good to know how all of the classes function inside the Empire. Also, these are just some ideas. If you want to know if your idea would work as well, just ask me.
  Barbarian
    • Would definitely fit well in the dense forests, jungles or mountains as a hidden tribe that isn't loyal to the empire (could be bandits, or just people who don't care). Might be a good idea for a Half-orc here.
    • A mercenary, protecting trade or a bodyguard to someone.
    • An Orc of The Orc Horde. (Important: not Half-orc)
Bard
Should fit in every society I guess. The bard can do everything and does it well, so do whatever you want. Travelling bards have an important role of spreading knowledge about other nations or cities, because not many people travel due to the danger on the roads.   Cleric
Clerics in the Empire can be loyal to 1 of the 4 spirits. If you want to play a Cleric domain which is not based on the PHB, choose one of the 4 spirits where it fits most.
    • Cleric of the Earth (Tempest, Light, Nature).
    • Cleric of Wisdom (Knowledge).
    • Cleric of the Soul (Life, Death).
    • Cleric of Struggle (War, Trickery).
Clerics take an important role in communicating the will of the spirits. A cleric focuses on protecting the domain they have chosen (or the domain has chosen them) and act as a physical form of the spirit it serves. You could find a cleric in a temple or serving an important, governing person, giving them advice based on what the spirit tells them. If you're not from the Empire, go for whatever Deity you want.   Druid
    • Druids would fit well in dense forests, jungles or mountains as a hidden tribe that isn't loyal to the empire and just don't care.
    • The Wood-elves in Seriliya would be a good fit.
    • You would of course still be able to find a druid anywhere in the Empire, as it is important for everyone in the Empire to make sure the forests are taken good care of. Maybe you really want to find out what is causing nature to be so twisted.
Fighter
    • A soldier for the Empire's army
    • Mercenary, protecting trade or bodyguard to someone.
Monk
    • Secluded temple, somewhere in the mountains.
    • The people in the Assiduus Desert, Agralis are known for their spiritualism and closeness to their body energy.
Paladin
Paladins who serve in the Empire can be loyal to 1 of the 4 spirits (Earth, Wisdom, Soul or Struggle). They don't care about the domains, they just fight for what is important to their spirit. Paladins can be found among the army of The Fenorian Empire, but can also be on their own quest of course.   Ranger
    • Rangers could fit very well in the wilderness as they are kind of made for this.
    • Would work as a hunter/gatherer in multiple societies.
Rogue
    • Bandit in the wilderness/forests, maybe hiding from the government.
    • A thief in a city.
    • An assassin, working for some organization or alone.
Sorcerer
Sorcerers are very rare, but the people who do have sorcerous bloodlines, most often become important figures within a government and some work as mercenaries. There are many noble families throughout the empire that have sorcerous bloodlines and having such a bloodline is something many nobles show off with. Commoners often despise these people and are disgusted by their pride and elitist manners. This is why many commoners who have a sorcerous origin often don't explore powers and just live an ordinary life out of fear of being different.   Warlock
It is possible to be a Warlock with the Empress, Elyria as patron. All other Warlocks are seen as traitors, as they hail the forces that once destroyed their lands. If you are a Warlock, chances are that you are living in the wilderness/forests or hiding among society.   Wizard
It is almost impossible to become a Wizard. It is not about reading a few books and learning magic the "Harry Potter" way. Becoming a Wizard means having another Wizard personally teach you. Most Wizards however value their time too highly to take the time to teach anyone. If you want to play a Wizard, expect to be having a hard time.
    • The most likely option is that you have lived in Elaored for a while to learn from a Wizard, but when the story starts, you will be level 2 so think of why you left them before mastering all of the magic.
    • Maybe you were taught somewhere in Anchises Vel Sawaya.
Other/Homebrew classes I'm okay with homebrew classes, even if you make them yourself. Just let me read them through first.  

3. Contact your DM

Present your choice to your DM and wait to get a reply with some valuable information that is going to help you start the remainder of you character-creation-journey.  

4. Start of the Campaign

At the start of the campaign, your character is on their way to one of the following cities Marlow, Lerwick or Elaored. You could also be on your way to Lerwick just to take a ship to Vy'shuk or to wherever you want. Check the map for your current location. Think of why you are on your way to one of these cities, what are you going to do there, how long do you intend to stay there. It could also be that you're going in the opposite direction and are travelling towards any other city in the Empire (check the map). In that case you would coincidentally meet the others at the same point. Whatever your destination is, you are not travelling alone as the forests are very dangerous. You are travelling in a convoy with primarily merchants, some soldiers and a few mercenaries, paid to protect the convoy.
You are here
 

5. Background

Normally, you would choose one of the x amount of backgrounds from the player's handbook. I prefer to follow the PHB a little bit more loosely, so I would like you to come up with your own background. Also, for D&D it is standard for your character to be an "adventurer" at the start of the campaign. I would instead like to start off with your characters having some kind of occupation. So determine what your character would be doing normally to earn money or sustain their life, how they spend their free time. But, keep in mind that your character should in the end of your backstory tie into the start of the campaign's story.  

6. Religion

The Empire recognizes only the 4 Spirits as their deities. Most people pray to every spirit, but most have a favored one. Often this is because of the job they have or the environment they live in. A farmer would most likely pray to the Spirit of the Earth and maybe Soul. He wouldn't care that much about Wisdom and Struggle. When choosing a religion, keep this in mind. It is also very well possible to follow none of the spirits. This could be because you don't think they exist or you are just indifferent about it.

Spirit of the Earth
Domains: Nature, Tempest, Light
The Spirit of the Earth stands for mountains, forests, weather, natural disasters, the sun and the moon.

Spirit of the Soul
Life, Death, Grave
The Spirit of the Soul stands for life and death, good and evil...   Spirit of Struggle
War, Trickery, Forge, Protection
The Spirit of Struggle stands for strength, fighting, war, but also trickery and deception, everything that can be used to defeat an opponent.   Spirit of Wisdom
Knowledge, Arcana
The Spirit of Wisdom stands for the mind, knowledge, books, history, magic.   See also: The 4 Spirits of Fenoria  

7. Check back with your DM

Now you have an idea of what you would like to play. This is the point where you will meet your DM in real life OwO. With the ideas you have, we will figure out what would work and how and where and when. We will also roll stats and determine proficiencies etc. After that, you're free to write a few pages on backstory or make a book out of it.  

Stats

    • Ability scores are determined by 3d6 with the restrictions of at least 2 scores being 13 or higher and a minimum total of 65. You may then distribute the scores however you like.
    • You will gain all of the features from your race and all of the features from your class, except for the equipment. I'll determine from your background how much money you are going to start with and you can purchase your own items from that money.
    • You may choose a Feat based on what is logical for your background
    • We will see which other proficiencies you will get based on your background and maybe a Weapon Mastery or other small stuff.

8. Characteristics

How does your character behave? Choose one word for every category. The words between the brackets are just examples, you may of course use your own words to describe your character.
Social:
    • How do other perceive you? (Cheerful, Talkative, Reserved, Charming, Witty, Relaxed)
    • How optimistic are you? (Enthusiastic, Hopeful, Fatalistic, Grim, Self-assured, Brooding)
    • How trusting are you? (Gullible, Open-minded, Skeptical, Suspicious, Naïve, Trusting)
Decisions:
    • How assertive are you? (Humble, Adaptable, Commanding, Timid, Easygoing, Impatient)
    • How strict do you follow rules? (Scrupulous, Pragmatic, Dutiful, Honest, Flexible, Wild)
    • How empathetic are you? (Kind, Stern, Thoughtful, Protective, Hard-hearted, Oblivious)
Dire Straits
    • How courageous are you? (Brave, Competitive, Steady, Cautious, Reckless, Fierce)
    • How do you feel when faced by setbacks? (Stoic, Driven, Happy-go-lucky, Vengeful, Bold, Impassioned)
    • How are your nerves? (Calm, Skittish, Restless, Impulsive, Patient, Unshakable)

9. Write the rest of your background

Use the following points as a guideline to write your backstory.
    • Most importantly: your character should have a reason to stay with a group of "friends" (the party). If your character just wants to do their own thing, they are not going to last long as it would probably be more logical for your character to leave the party when you don't need them anymore.
    • We start at level 2, so your background may be something that doesn't involve any adventuring or fighting, but keep in mind that your character has been at it for a while. You are not just a farmer who just picked up a sword, but you have done things and you have probably gone through some heavy shit.
    • A minimum of 5 names and 3 events or choices that made you who you are.
    • What do you want to achieve?
    • How did you gain your proficiencies (things like athletics, insight, perception etc. that you are proficient in).
    • Don’t forget to check your class and background in Xanathar’s, they have some really cool character ideas you can use.
    • Has your character developed love or hate for certain races, classes, people or things.
    • What is your occupation, how do you earn money?
    • What are your character’s interests/hobbies/goals?
    • Why did you decide to adventure?
    • How did you acquire your class?
    • How did you acquire your equipment?
    • What’s the worst event of your life?
    • What’s the best thing that has happened to you?
    • Do you stay in contact with your family/friends. What do they think of you and your career?
    • What is your Lifestyle? Your lifestyle also impacts your costs of living. Wretched 0cp, Squalid 1sp, Modest 1gp, Comfortable 2gp, Wealthy 4gp, Aristocratic 10gp.
    • Think of some exclamations your character might make (i.e. “Bahamut’s healing breath wash over you” as you use lay on hands)
    • Strength: *What does it mean for your character that you have a high/average/low strength score*
    • Dexterity: *What does it mean for your character that you have a high/average/low dexterity score*
    • Constitution: *What does it mean for your character that you have a high/average/low constitution score*
    • Wisdom: *What does it mean for your character that you have a high/average/low wisdom score*
    • Intelligence: *What does it mean for your character that you have a high/average/low intelligence score*
    • Charisma: *What does it mean for your character that you have a high/average/low charisma score*

TL:DR Probably

Character Checklist

1. Choose a race.
2. Choose a class.
3. Let your DM know what you want to play.
4. Decide how your character ties into the start of the campaign.
5. Think of a short idea for a background story.
6. Consider religions.
7. Meet with your DM to check your ideas and roll for stats.
8. Make a personality.
9. Finish your background.

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