What is the campaign setting? What world is the campaign set in?
An alternative fantasy version of historical Earth.
Imagine the Earth, your Earth, in ancient times, in medieval times. But it isn’t your Earth. No, it isn’t your Earth at all.
It is similar to your Earth in that ancient Rome exists, as does Greece. Sparta, Athens, Macedonia, they are all there.
The Gauls span Europe but the dark-age Franks rule Frankland while Aragon, Castille, and Granada constitute medieval Spain.
In Briton, the Celts control the remote highlands of Wales (Cymru) and Scotland (Pictland) but Arthurian Britons control Angleland. Ireland is two islands not one, and they are larger. But they are all Celt.
Iceland (known as Stelland) is Norse, as is Greenland (Albornia), and stretching across the lands of Scandinavia are the Saxons and Danes.
To the east of the Hellenes, one comes across the Persian Empire, but here the known maps begin to change. The Persians are based out of Troy and their Empire extends around the Black Sea to Armenia but also to the north to the mighty Serpentine Mountains which run from the Inner Seas to Spain.
North of the Mighty Serpentines are the lands of the Scythian Horse-Lords and the Slavs.
The geography to the east is very different and contains the arid lands of the Bablyonians, the Sumerians, the Phoenicians, and the Assyrians.
South is the Nafad Desert and numerous Arabic Sultanates.
Ancient Egypt exists as does it neighbours, Punt and Kush.
The shape of the continent of Africa (called Ghana) looks similar but a closer look reveals substantial differences. Many of the ancient nations exist (Ashanti, Masai, Zulu, etc.) but the landscape is very different.
A large desert (the Ankh Desert) consumes the north and here can be found some familiar nations (Libya, Carthage) but also some unfamiliar ones (the Red Glaze nations with a similar culture to Carthage).
The eastern side of the continent is dominated by a massive Jungle and populated by Indian peoples (Khalistan, Hindustan, Islamastan).
The south has been conquered by a pale-skinned northern people who call themselves Abyssinians. Their culture resembles medieval Germany (or Warhammer’s Empire).
Across a narrow sea to the east can be found the continent of Quistom (Australia). Now this continent has no similarities with your Earth but instead is home to dense, lush forests in the north which house the largest Elven Realm (The Anoraranian Elves or Sun Elves).
The middle of the continent contains a massive mountain range and beneath them live the Dwarves of the Deep Realms (from Forgotten Realms).
Along the southern coasts dwell the hillfolk, the Gnomes of Glittlerand.
Only the western portion of the continent contain humans and here we find Bablyonian peoples who have migrated southeastward to establish a number of kingdoms that together are known as the Babylonian Federated States of Quistom (BFSQ).
The Scattered Sea Islands that fill the waters to the north of Quistom are home to more Indian nations.
But north of the Scattered Seas the geography bears no similarities to your Earth but instead provides a desert continent that is home to many Arabic Sultanates and Caliphates in the south but shifting to hills and mountains, and Mongols to the north.
Across the eastern seas lies Japan in all its Shogonate glory.
What lies east of Japan is only myth, legend, and conjecture. There is no knowledge as to the size of the Earth. The most knowledgeable about these matters claim that the continent of Middle Earth, 400 years into the Fourth Age and after the destruction of the One Ring, lies far, far to the east, beyond all maps and known travel routes. But access is blocked by The Great Rift, a sea of endless blackness that consumes all who enter. The origins of the Rift are unknown but clues and hints lie in the mythologies of both “worlds”.
To the far northwest is the continent of Balston (North America). Here we find a geography that has many similarities but also many differences. The First Nations (Haida, Anishinabe, Dakota, Apache, etc.) are spread across the continent but so too are Norse Clans (Nordheim) that have migrated from the northeast and are in a constant state of war with the Indigenous peoples.
To the south are dense, lush forests and again, we come across another group of Elven Kanons who belong to the same Realm we encountered in Quistom.
South of these rain forests can be found the lands of the ancient Aztec, Mayans, and Incans.
But the entire continent of South America has been replaced with Hyboria (Conan’s world). The map is almost exactly the same and contains all the same nations (Cimmeria, Aquilonia, Turan, Stygia, etc.)
But the peoples mentioned thus far constitute the Good Kingdoms (for the most part), the Servants of Light, the Southern Nations. Where lies Evil then? Evil can assuredly be found everywhere but one of its primary sources can be found deep under the Earth, in the Underdark, in the cities of the Dark Elves (the Drow from Forgotten Realms), such as Menzoberranzan.
But look also to the North. The most northerly sections of the world maps contain a territory that spans from east to west and is known as “The Burned Lands” or simply “The North”. It is said that in times past an army of prisoned demons were unleashed from Hell to wreak havoc upon the Earth. And their fiery path as they moved from east to west left a barren, frozen wasteland. The North is home to the Servants of the Shadow: Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, and Giants, Skaven, Beastmen, and Draconians, Bugbears, Sahuagins, Gnolls, and Kobalds.
What is the premise? The plot? The story?
While the Northern Hordes that have gathered in the Burned Lands of the North are “primitive, uncivilized, and savage,” they have been given common cause and have fallen under the command of the One, known only as “The Arrivor”. The greatest Evil to ever threaten the Earth now looms over the world.
The world has produced many Evils, in many forms, that have threatened the forces of Light. But the forces for Good have always prevailed. Until now. In the middle of the second century (S)ince the (F)oundation of the Balstonian Empire (266 SF), there was a “disturbance”. Prophets, Seers, Diviners, and Oracles from across the Realms “sensed” the existence of a new Dark Force and the depths of its powers were stultifying. But they could see no more. What was it? Who was it? Where was it? Had it arrived or was it in the process of arriving? The answers to these question remain shrouded in mystery and protected by sinister forces. And so this new, penultimate Dark Enemy became known only as “The Arrivor”. Yet even without a physical presence, the new Dark Lord is able to gather and unite his Servants like never before. The Hordes gather for war in the North; the forces of Darkness work relentlessly to prepare for their final War which will overwhelm the known world.
And it is up to the Party of the Pendant to stop Him.
The Party of the Pendant (named for the distinctive pendants they wear) is an international band of heroes dedicated to fighting for Light and against the Shadow in all its forms. For five hundred years, the Party has waged a constant battle against Evil in its many forms and saving the world on numerous occasions. From its headquarters in Pendant Estate, on the eastern shores of the island of Shemar far to the south, the Party of the Pendant accepts good-aligned peoples from across the world who wish to join the adventuring group.
How do I create a character?
While there are not an endless number of spots in the game, there is always room for more players.
The campaign has been ongoing, constantly, since 1982. It has never stopped, there has never been a hiatus, even for a few months. This consistency and longevity is one of the most valuable aspects of the Game. Therefore, players should recognize that they are not joining a fleeting or temporary campaign. You are being invited into a long-term project. That said, life intervenes and people inevitably come and go.
The first point potential players should realize is that unlike many campaigns, you have considerable flexibility in creating your character. There is not a set template for you to choose when it comes to your race, ethnicity, culture, religion, class, etc. Races and peoples exist that have yet to be discovered; new classes can be created. All of this happens through consultation with the DM. But, remember the words of the novelist H.G. Wells: “If anything is possible, nothing is interesting.” There are limits to what you can create. No, you can’t be a god, or a dragon or a beholder! So, while you have flexibility, your creativity must work through the DM.
Potential players should immediately recognize that while this campaign began as Dungeons and Dragons (1st and 2nd edition) back in the 1980s, it has evolved into its own hybrid or “homebrew” rule system. Players will recognize aspects of the traditional rule systems, as well as the numerous incarnations (3rd through 5th editions) that have come and gone. They will also recognize random rules adopted from other game systems (Iron Crown) as well as many rules that are unique to our campaign. But the essential point is to use your game knowledge to your advantage while not confining yourself to it. If you are obsessed with following a traditional rule systems and being unable to adapt, this campaign is not for you. Instead, you will discover a hybrid system that employs and adapts all the best rules from many systems into the most fluid game out there. The game system is dynamic. And this essential characteristic is one of the keys to the games longevity.
The first choice to be made is species/race. Do you wish to be human, elven, dwarven, gnomish, or hobbit? Do you wish to be mixed-blood? Or would you rather be a renegade from a typically evil race, such as orc, goblin, gnoll, lizardman, drow, etc? Or a mixed-blood of one of these races? Or are you proposing a new race that does not yet seem to exist in the game?
The second choice to be made is gender. While the racial selection might shape the choice of gender, it is up to you whether you are male or female (or something else). This choice is important and should likely not be as haphazard as it first appears. This is a game with a heavy role-playing aspect. Not every male can (or perhaps should) play a female. And vice versa. If as a male you don’t really get female sensibilities, stick to what you know.
Once you have chosen your race and gender, it is time to choose your ethnicity/culture/geography. In other words, where were you born and raised? This choice is most relevant for humans. Because the world is an alternative fantasy version of historical Earth, you can choose from any pre-gunpowder society: Roman, Greek, Celtic, Norse, Indigenous, Aztec, Mayan, Incan, Scythian, Persian, Arabic, Japanse, Chinese, Mongolian, African, Babylonian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Assyrian, Slavic, Frankish, Spanish, etc. It is important to remember, however, that these civilizations are placed on their own unique historical timelines. So, some events from our history have happened, while others have not (and will not). Also, remember that you can choose to come from Middle Earth (400 years after the One Ring has been destroyed) or Hyboria (Conan’s world, 500 years after Conan’s death).
At this point, you know your species/race, your gender, and your ethnicity/culture. Perhaps you are a male Spartan or a female Celt, and through these choices you now know where on the map you have come from.
It is now time to choose your class/profession. Your “standard” choices are: Warrior (fighter), Thief (scout), Cleric, Wizard (magic-user), Psionicist, Ranger, Druid, Shaman, Assassin, Bard, Alchemist, Holy Warrior (paladin), Medicine Wo(man), Martial Artist, Mystic, Seer, Monk, Shapeshifter, Battlemage, Witch (warlock), Roguemage, Healer. All of these classes are well developed based on our own homebrew system. But again, there is a fair deal of flexibility here. For example, you can be multi-classed. You can have as many classes as you wish when you start or you can learn new classes as you develop. There is no advantage or disadvantage to being a single class or being multi-classed. The system is balanced. Your experience points will be divided among your classes. And if you wish to create your own new class, that is possible as well.
The last step involves creating your backstory. With knowledge of your species/race, gender, ethnicity/culture, and class/profession, you can now narrate your life up to this point by writing up your background. But again, this is done in consultation with the DM to ensure that what you want to incorporate is indeed possible. Some of the decisions you will want to make involve your economic class, your family, any important events, etc. You should think about what has happened in your life to this point and why you are likely seeking to join the Party of the Pendant.
You are now ready to set up your character sheet, select a picture/portrait/drawing to represent you, and choose a figurine!
What Resources exist for the Game?
The main resource for the Game is our website, known as The Cave.
While the Party of the Pendant has a Headquarters on the Prime Material Plane (Earth), located in Pendant Estate, outside the village of Ironthrust, on the island-nation of Shemar, it also has a top-secret HQ (built in a series of caverns) located in an air pocket on the elemental plane of Earth. An Earth elemental (named Haroch) serves as Governor to The Cave.
The website is built around this concept. It contains numerous “rooms”, each containing links to information. For example, the Map Room provides access to a massive collection of maps; the Gallery contains biographies (and portraits) of every party member to ever serve with the Party of the Pendant; the Alchemy Lab contains the massive database of magical spells (including incantations and hand movements), potion and magical item recipes/processes; the Library contains many important documents such as explaining all the classes and skills, the history of the world, prophecies, campaign documents, etc.; the Armoury contains weapons collected for purchase; the Smithy contains charts for smithing; the Training Room contains charts indicating how many training days it takes to develop skills; the Ranger’s Den contains documents on plants, poisons, traps, familiars, and tracks; the Temple contains Alcoves for many religions, containing relevant information for priests including prayerbooks.