In this, the next installment of The Five Kingdoms, we follow our heroes as they overcome seemingly impossible odds while facing nigh implacable enemies for a truly improbable goal.
Well, it may not be quite as exciting as all that; but, I hope that it will at least be fun. That is, after all, the reason we pursue this uber-nerdy hobby. Let me tell you a little about the characters my boys came up with for this little endeavor.
I have a feeling these posts may evolve into a combination campaign log and world building exercise. I’m OK with that. When we decided to actually run a campaign we sat at the dining room table, as you do, and held our Session 0. I led them through the character generation process and we started their first adventure. Son the Elder rolled up a half-elf ranger named Falconsight; and, Son the Younger built a human monk named Tenzen. I won’t go into great detail regarding stats and such1. The numbers are the least interesting part of these characters anyway.
What I would like to share, however, is some of the less crunchy bits of these characters. In fact, I think we had just as much fun, if not more so, coming up with the “story bits” as we did rolling the dice for the stats. They built their backgrounds together and, without any prompting from me, worked out why they were adventuring and how they had met each other.
Son the Elder chose the Local Hero background for Falconsight, and for his defining event he chose “I trained the peasantry to use farm implements as weapons against a tyrant’s soldiers.” Here’s how he fleshed that out.
“The local noble, Lord Shuto, was abusing the peasants. I was a garrison recruit; but, I deserted when I saw what was happening to the people. I trained the villagers in some basic drills and came up with a plan to help them. We abducted Lord Shuto’s tax collector. When Lord Shuto sent the garrison to fetch him, those I had trained stood ready to defend themselves while I went to the king for help. One of the Knight Commanders, Sir Leon, heard my plea, gathered his forces, and with the kings approval, aided my village against the tyrant. Lord Shuto was deposed and banished from the kingdom. His lands were reverted to Crown land and our headman was made a royal steward. Lord Shuto swore revenge against me for his loss of title and wealth. Knowing that my people would be put in danger should he return, I left to ensure their safety.”
That’s pretty neat, I think. What’s more, with this little paragraph we have added a ton or rich detail to the campaign world. We have a nobleman, Lord Shuto, a king, a Knight Commander, Sir Leon, and a plausible reason to leave home. Also, with the deposed Lord Shuto, we have a built in story hook and a possible recurring villain.
Son the Younger chose the Hermit background for his monk, Tenzen, and his story goes like this. “I became a hermit because my personal beliefs came into conflict with the teachings of my monastery, Sholong Temple. I fell in love. Attachments outside the order were forbidden by the order as they were believed to distract the seeker from attaining the True Self. Also, because they were thought to threaten the secrecy off the Well of Arcana which the monastery protected. For my crime I was put into contemplative isolation. After 20 years I emerged and was exiled from the temple. Upon my release I learned that my love may still be alive, although she had left the town where we met. I have spent every day since then hoping to find her. Because of my long isolation I am a little out of touch with the world. I am not comfortable in large crowds. I still follow the code I was raised with, but feel their interpretation of affection is wrong. Affection does not lead to weakness, but rather to greater fulfillment. I will do anything to find my lost love, Shaundi Talstag.”
Once again, and excellent story. It has pathos and adequately explains why he’s out and about. Also, we have another great story hook. I’ve already given him clues to Shaundi’s whereabouts and he’s eager to get there. They then explained to me how they met each other on the road, at some nameless town in an equally nameless inn. Tenzen shared his story with Falconsight, because he shares his story with everyone. Falconsight agreed to help the monk in his search, and together they continued the journey.
In the next post in this series, I’ll relay the first adventure they faced together. Until then, may the road rise up to meet you and the sun be always at your back.2
- I will note, however, that the method I gave them for rolling said stats was a variation on the “roll 4d6 and drop the lowest” method. I had them roll the dice 7 times then choose 6 for their abilities. ↩
- A curious blessing that. It sounds like you wish for someone to always be travelling up hill, and to turn around at noon. ↩