Arcasia – The Dark Realm
The Kingdom of Arcasia:
It is just after dawn of the second age of mankind. The land of Arcasia is dark and dangerous, thousands of years ago the land flourished, however those days are long forgotten. Only a handful of the oldest written records have even a mention of a memory of a time before the darkness. Humanity has retreated behind walled cities. Structured religion and magic have no place in this land, the first victim of the darkness. You will find no organized religion, no churches, no clerics, no Arch Mages or friendly merchants selling magical wears, those are relics of a bygone era.
The second victim of the darkness was the safety and security of the realm. Where once farms stood, instead hordes of Orc’s pillage freely. Dark Elves fight hordes of roaming Lycanthropes over control river crossings. Dark cursed beings wander the swamps searching for something they will never find. The land between the walls is a place of chaos and vile.
Arcasia is a collection of cities that were built and established behind tall walls to separate humanity from the darkness that wanders the countryside.Each city is an almost entirely self contained ecosystem, farms, forests, livestock, all can be found inside of the walls.
A citizen could live his/her entire life inside of the walls, never seeing an ocean, or experiencing the outside world. While mostly overgrown roads, rivers and paths connect these cities, large expanses of land sit unclaimed, forgotten and abandoned.
Though there is money to be made outside of the walls. Those willing to transverse the wilds find themselves richly rewarded. Caravans form with people of all walks of life moving from town to town, for there is some semblance of safety in numbers, and a large warm fire at night keeps the darkness at bay, at least for a little while.
Merchants, mercenaries, thrill seekers and adventures plan the journeys between cities. Organizing, and persuading those to accompany them. Large sums of money are to be made outside the walls, if you are willing to risk it. Caravans are planned, days, weeks and even sometimes months in advance for they are not handled lightly and are usually preceded by huge send off events, wishing luck and good fortune to those making the journey.
The land is ruled by King Greyland the 16th, who is both King and Deity of the land. The people thank him for their bountiful harvest and curse him for their misfortune. The King provides, therefore is the higher being of the land, but more on that later.
The City of Darkmouth
Dungeons and Dragons, a game about stories, heroes, monsters and villains. But what if the Heroes never existed. Imagine a land where the monsters, and things of nightmare roam. Humanity has retreated behind walled cities, each relatively self-sufficient, while those that travel between the cities are the wealthy and daring. Here, in Arcasia there are no Heroes, not yet in any sense.
You will embark on the perilous journey from being a lonely farmer, merchant, city guard or whatever other profession you may choose, and work your way up to be the very embodiment of hope freeing the continent from Darkness, or the very definition of evil and forge an Empire crushing the light. The choice will be yours, for who will stop you? Only the creatures and monsters that lay claim to the outside world, for none other are strong enough.
Your Character, Your City, and You:
The Rolls of Player Characters work differently in this campaign. Where in a campaign a player will start out at level 1, having already been established as a "Hero” here in Arcasia there are no heroes. No High-level guards, no Knights that will come to the rescue. No high mage to learn from, no High Priest to hold back the darkness.
You as a character will start out at what is called level zero. You will have every stat as a base 10 plus whatever racial bonuses you may have, and you will stay this way for some time.
Now as your character is not a hero and yet will be going up against goblins, werebeasts and things that go bump in the night, survival is not guaranteed, even on the best of nights. As such, each player will be able to create and house two characters
Players will be starting out in the city of Siegeholm, a moderate town on the eastern coast of Arcasia. It is here where the story will start.As a part of the backstory, each character will be able to select a profession in the two from a provided list. These professions will take the place generally of the backstory of the character. You will be able to still select a background for the sake of gaining proficiencies, however these professions will replace the general information regarding your background.
If a character dies, you will have an open spot on your list of characters. These you can replace through a mechanic called Campaign Coins. Which will be mentioned later in the PDF. These characters will be named, and come with a predetermined stat block, however, will not have a class associated with them.
By spending encounter coins, the NPC will fill a blank spot on your roster and can be used immediately with the provided stat array of the particular NPC.
For specific information regarding classes, continue onto the Classes Section.
*For information on leveling your village character see the Leveling section.
** For Information Regarding Classes in this campaign, visit the Class Selection
Leveling will be handled through the milestone system. Which means that rather than getting experience through traditional means, such questing, killing monsters, and solving puzzles. Instead levels will be gained when a meaningful event has taken place, a story line has concluded, some other similar event has taken place, or at the discretion of the Dungeon Master.
When leveling only your active character will gain a level. The character in your village reserve will stay the same level no matter how many active character levels. In order to progress the level of your reserve character, you will need to either activate him and play, or level him up using a Campaign Coin(See Campaign Coin).
The Campaign Coin:
Much like the inspiration coin, Campaign Coins are a largely out of combat mechanic. These coins can be used to purchase various NPCs in order to restock your Village Reserve if your character were to die, level your reserve character, or they can be used to craft magical items should you feel the urge and have a class available to make(see Crafting).
Coins can be earned a number of ways.
· Completing a major quest earns 1 coin at random.
· Freeing an area from a major threat will earn 2 coins(to be distributed by the party).
· Players can vote, no more than once per quest directly and without the parties knowledge to the DM to award a coin to a particular player. If a player receives a 2/3rds vote by the party, that player will be awarded the coin.
· Can be distributed in place of Inspiration Coins
(Note: This is optional, and if the party prefers we can do the normal class selection)
Heroes, and Villains come in many shapes, sizes and creeds. These are embodied by what makes them a hero. A Strong Fighter that raises his shield to guard the innocent, a stealthy rogue that slips away as the noble drinks his poison, or the wizard commanding his army of undead.
In Arcasia these things do not exist, you will be the first. There are no Master Swordsman, no High Priests, no Archmages. You will be the first, and as such, classes will be randomized to a degree. As you progress through the darkness you. Will acquire objects which will allow you to become a class. Objects will be gained after missions by rolling on the below chart. Once every member has an object, the party will gain its first level in whatever object the character is holding at the time. You are able to pool objects, and distribute them
At the time of gaining the first level, players, using the point buy system, will be able to adjust their ability scores accordingly.
The secondary characters will gain their first level in a similar way. Once every person has one leveled character, class items will stop being a guaranteed drop, and instead will be handed out as loot. Once an additional object has been gathered, it can be given to a secondary character and that character will gain that level. Once leveled, they are able to engage in general downtime activity, and generic questing. They are unable to advance the story, or clear a roaming encounter number.
Magic In The World:
While magic does exist, you are unlikely to encounter any humans in the civilized lands that have the ability to wield anything more than a simple cantrip. That is not to say that Magic does not exist, just that no humans within the walls have the power to bend the weave. This makes magic items extremely rare, and extremely valuable, while it makes specialty items such as Silvered and Adamantine Weapons the most efficient weapons against the darkness.
The majority of Magic items that the party will come across will need to be created by the party. A player will need to spend gold and in game time in order to craft whatever magical item, provided that they would have the necessary ability, and required materials.
Magic items will be handed out where appropriate in the adventures and are able to be found. But they are relics of a long past era, lost within the deepest pits and the most dangerous hovels of the continent. An Era where it is only a legend even in the most ancient book in the Kingdom.
Races in the World:
While the Dark Realm is filled with monsters, creatures and horrors, not all races are found roaming the wilds, and even then, they are rare. The overwhelming majority of the land is Human, with sprinkles of the other humanoid races but these races are treated with distaste, and distrust. Dragonborn, Tieflings, Warforged and the monstrous races are not permitted. As such in combination with the Village Garrison each player is permitted to have 1 Non-Human character.
As the nature of this campaign is gritty, dark, and full of darkness curses and monstrosities are not uncommon. For this reason, outside of the races named above, most other races can be found in some form or another in the Dark Lands. Certain races are slightly different from what is found in the book, with the added benefit of two added Human Variants.
Simic Hybrid Race – While originally from the Ravenica setting, in the Dark Land there exists any number of monstrosities. Per cannon Simic’s are biologically enhanced beings, created by magic. In the Dark Lands, Simic’s are the result of the corruption of the land. Living, and growing near a place of mass darkness does things to a being. Not all of them are good.
Other humans view Simic’s as inhuman, lesser beings. They are often discriminated against, and it is not uncommon to find they are not allowed in certain establishments. It is not unheard of to find a dead simic behind a tavern with no one recalling if it had been there the night before.
Shifter – In the Dark Lands, Shifters are the descendants of lycanthropes. Destined to be cursed for all eternity, While In cannon Shifters have their own race, here they are humans who have some minor ability to control their unnatural ability. As such, Shifters tend to keep their abilities to themselves in order to blend into the land.
Religion in the Dark Realm
While there are numerous pantheons of deities throughout the history of Dungeons and Dragons, as such as Religion in the Dark Realm is different. Here the King protects and provides for the citizens, and has therefore taken on a place of divinity of the people. No matter what happens in the realm it is believed that it is the Kings will. The King is thanked for good harvest, and cursed for illness. In all sense the King is the higher power, but without the actual power. While the citizens of the immediate capital are aware that the king changes from time to time, those in the outskirts of civilization may never hear word of the changing of the Kings. All they know is that King Greyland has protected their family as far back as memory can serve, and therefore he protects them. This has developed into an Imperial Cult like system where he is worshiped as the higher being, but without the actual power. Similar to the Pharaohs of old.
Any Clerics or Paladins in the campaign, like the Arcane users will be the first true “Magic users” they will be the first Clerics and/or Paladins of the realm. Up until this point the deities have little to no interest in the realm, however as events unfold, their gaze will turn to Arcasia.
Now from a Meta Perspective, with the agreement of the group, we will be forgoing the normal D&D pantheon and instead, constructing our own. I have created and built out 5 deities, using generally the same concept as the current Pantheons are built around. Which will be revealed throughout the campaign.
Alternatively, if a player who selects a Cleric or Paladin wants to create their own Deity, that is an extremely viable option and we will work together to make it work.
Crafting Magical Items:
Magic in Arcasia is a rare thing. It is something to be feared, wielded by Hags, spirits and monsters in the wild. You will find no magic item shops, and most people you will encounter will have no idea what to do with one if they were to find them. However, that does not mean that there will never be a magical item in the campaign. You are able to spend downtime crafting items using a combination of the Campaign Coins, Gold, a predetermined amount of time from the Xanthars Guide To Everything crafting guide, and a little luck. The Campaign Coins are representing the various material components that would normally be required. Any character of the arcane classes are able to attempt a crafting roll, and spells such as Magic Weapon, Bless, Protection from Good and Evil, are able to assist in the enchanting. Additionally a Roll of 100 will cut the Campaign Coin cost in half, alternatively, a 1 will double the cost, and you will not be able to attempt another crafting till the cost is paid.
*DM’s Note, Potions of Healing creation will follow the Xanthar’s Guide chart. However, potions of healing are available to purchase in limited supply around the continent. For purposes of finding them, I am not considering them a “magical item”
Roaming Encounters and Quest Lists:
The goal of this campaign is to develop not only the first Heroes (or Villains) of the land, but also to clear the land of the darkness. I have developed several charts for roaming encounters, where instead of one roll for each night of traveling, a roll will be made once per trip, which will result in a random encounter. This encounter could be good, bad, or somewhere in between. These encounters also will not scale with your level, roll a high CR challenge at a lower level, running is always an option. Roll a low-level CR at a high level, get ready for a steam roll. As the party begins clearing the encounters, the Kingdom will become safer, and the world will react.
Likewise, the cities of the Kingdom, while having the main story, will have a specific number of quests/contracts that the party can complete. Each of these will aid or potentially hurt the town, allowing the town to change in the process, and the party having a real impact on the direction of the Kingdom.
Misc Notes from the DM:
There will still be an overarching quest, questlines and what not. However how you interact with the world will determine how the quests go, and how the world evolves. My goal with the campaign is not to limit choices here, but start the actual foundation for future campaigns and allow the players to have a real impact. A good bit of this campaign concept was crowdsourced from several people I have spoken to, and am always willing to add ideas, or change current ones.
All ideas in the doc are meant as a starting stone, and are able to be changed if there is something the party agrees with that needs changed.
The land of Arcasia is a dark and dangerous place, I tried to establish in the document that you will encounter everything from Orcs, to plagues to things of nightmares and I am not promising your character will survive which is the reason for the Campaign Coins and the city system.