Tuesday, October 10, 2017

D&D Adventures in Karameikos: Tinkers, Tailor, Dwarf, and Spy

A campaign beginning.

Just ran the second session of a new 5th Edition D&D campaign. The campaign takes place in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos where the player characters are members of a secret police force that investigates threats against Duke Stefan Karameikos. The secret police force is called The Tinkers and they answer to a secretive mastermind named The Weaver. This combination of factors led the players to name the campaign "Tinkers, Tailor, Dwarf, and Spy."

The Grand Duchy is one of the main "starting" kingdoms of the Mystara game setting. I've long been a fan of the Mystara Setting for Dungeons & Dragons. One big reason for this is that it was the setting used in the Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert and BECMI editions of D&D. The biggest reason though, is that I love the bizarre anachronistic mashup of cultures in the game. You have a culture based on the Roman Empire that is doing trade with a culture based on renaissance Venice. It's got a touch of everything.

Having a bit of everything does take away from the verisimilitude, but when you add the reasons for the Hollow World setting inside the world the setting actually makes sense. The world of Mystara is hollow because the god Ka the Preserver, the first dinosaur to attain sentience and eventually immortality, sought to create a refuge for the societies that collapsed on the surface of the world. One could induct from this that Ka's sponsor builds the surface world from the collapsed cultures of other worlds.

At least that's how it works in my mind-canon, not that it will affect the campaign that all of the kingdoms are actually rescued cultures from other worlds. Though that will allow me to bring in some of the material from Freeport more fluidly.

The campaign begins with The Weaver sending the characters to the town of Stallanford to investigate whether the annual King's Festival is being used as recruiting grounds for the Cult of Halav. After the PCs have been given time to do initial investigations and get a night's rest, Orcs attack the town and kidnap the town's cleric who is also the man the PCs are supposed to spy upon.

I'm using the King's Festival module as the launching point for the campaign, with the following open threads added.

1) Depending on what happens, the surviving Orcs may seek to have the PCs put to trial for murder/wrongful death.
2) Is the cleric a part of the Cult of Halav? Is that cult a threat to Duke Stefan?
3) Is the big bad a part of the Iron Circle? Are visitors to the Orc Caves also members of the Iron Circle?
4) Who is the Weaver?
5) Who is Bargle the Infamous?

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