Sky Pirates Campaign
Concept: A new empire has swiftly come to dominate the Sea of Fallen Stars. It has an immensely powerful navy, including a large number of Halruaan skyships. The PCs are rebels fighting this empire. At first they do so as pirates: they raid shipping and ports and generally try to make trouble for the Empire however they can. However, as they learn more about the Empire’s true nature and plans, their efforts shift to attempting to beat Imperial explorers to a number of powerful artifacts hidden all over the world. If the Empire gains enough of these, it can change Toril forever.
Motivation: Characters should have a good reason to oppose the Empire. This can be relatively general (“I’m Chaotic Good and opposed to Evil Empires on principle”) or specific (“The Empire murdered my parents!”) But the beginning scene will assume that you are willing to fight against the Empire. You can start as an established corsair crew, or you can meet in the initial scenario – in which you are recruited by enemies of the Empire for a dangerous mission.
Level: 8. If you play a member of a powerful race, your HD count as levels.
Character Generation: 25 points for characteristics (for characters of “normal” races.) Hit points: max for first level, then rolled, but you can take low side of average (e.g. 5 on a d10) if you roll low. Everybody gets two “background” skills which will automatically level up with you. These should be Craft, Knowledge, Profession, or Perform skills not directly related to your character class. One of these should be Profession: Sailor, unless you want to be a comic relief character.
Approach: I’m open to unusual characters. If you want to play a weird race or class, or to do something that the rules don’t allow for very well, we can work it out. As long as you’re more or less balanced against the other PCs, it’s fine. In unusual cases, we may have to sit down together and work out an approach, and then correct it during the campaign. If you’re playing a powerful race, I’ll probably make your stats closer to an “average” member of that race rather than reducing your Hit Dice/levels.
Equipment: You’ll start with 20,000 gp worth of equipment. In addition, each of you will possess a “signature” magic item. This item will be a part of your character and will level up with you. I will assign its stats in game terms, but I want you to tell me its nature, theme, and what sort of abilities you think it should have or eventually acquire.
You must specify the following about the item:
1. Its name.
2. Physical description.
3. How you obtained it.
4. The nature of its powers – some sort of theme that will aid me in selecting powers for it.
5. (Optional) Its history before you obtained it.
If you’re really not interested in the signature item concept, you can opt out and start with 33,000 GP worth of equipment.
Setting: This will be in large part an aquatic/aerial campaign. It would be especially appropriate to have an aquatic or flying character/animal companion/mount. Rangers and druids especially should keep this environment in mind, although we will visit many exotic terrains.
Action: Some of the action will be dungeonish, as the characters explore ancient ruins in search of powerful artifacts. Some will be urban, as characters make contacts in cities to organize the Resistance. But I also plan to have ship-to-ship combat, so you should plan to have something to do in such combat – whether as pilot, gunner, sniper, or flying boarding party.
Shipboard Roles: There are a number of roles that need to be filled aboard ship. I’ll fill them with NPCs if need be, but PCs should consider them:
The Captain: The captain has nigh-monarchical power aboard his ship. He is a leader first and foremost. He should have a high Charisma and skills that allow him to motivate and command the crew. If he can actually improve their performance – with Bardic Song or something like it – so much the better. If a PC captain takes the Leadership feat, he can acquire a crew loyal to him personally. I’ll allow such a character to start play with a free ship (although I make no guarantees about how long that specific ship will last). (Bill expressed some interest in this role).
The First Mate: The First Mate is the second-in-command aboard the ship. He should have some seamanship skills (less than the Pilot needs, unless he is also the Pilot), and some leadership skills (less than the Captain).
The Pilot: The Pilot is chief in charge of maneuvering the ship. He should have as high a skill in this as possible. In a storm or other hazard, it’s up to him to keep the whole ship afloat. In combat, his maneuvering of the ship affects the whole crew’s tactical position.
The Navigator: The navigator is the guy who ensures that the ship gets where it’s going. His Survival skill should be as high as possible.
The Boatswain (Bosun): The Boatswain is in charge of the rigging. He sets the sails and is in charge of the motive power of the ship. He usually has a small sub-crew of Bosun’s Mates that work directly under him. The Bosun needs a high Profession: Sailor, but also Climb and Acrobatics skills; a good Bosun is as agile as a monkey in the rigging.
The Lookout: The lookout is the eyes of the ship. His job is to look for other ships and navigational hazards. The sooner the ship sees these, the sooner it can react – and the crew needs time, because sailing ships, even flying ones, need time and space to maneuver. The Lookout should have a very high Perception skill; Survival would also help; so would low-light vision and a telescope. (Ryan’s character might be well suited for this role.)
Weapons Crews: In ship-to-ship combat, good weapons crews make a vital difference. Weapons Crews characters should take Weapon Proficiency with weapons such as Catapults, Arbalests, Greek Fire Projectors, and Cannons. They may even take additional feats such as Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, and Improved Critical with these weapons.
The Spymaster: Since you will be outlaws, making contacts in urban areas is dangerous. The Spymaster is in charge of urban operations, whether fencing goods, gathering information, or organizing Resistance cells. He should have a high Diplomacy and Knowledge: Local (and maybe others such as Nobility & Royalty).
The Sage: The enemy employs ancient magics not seen in the Realms in millenia. A scholar who can understand these magics will be tremendously useful. Other knowledge skills, such as architecture/engineering and history, will also come in handy, as will certain obscure languages (some of them realms-specific.)