Campaign Idea – Shadowrun in Sharn

Shadowrun in Sharn

Campaign Concept

D&D5e. Instead of a band of dungeoneering adventurers who roam the land, you are a team of expert infiltrators and problem solvers. Based in the metropolis of Sharn, this squad will take secret missions from mighty Dragonmarked Houses and other shadowy employers. To complete your missions you will need to evade the law and also vicious private security forces.

Tone / Theme

  1. 1940’s style cloak and dagger noir, but in a fantasy city. No “good guys” or “bad guys”, but only shades of grey. The PCs are experts without allegiance.

  2. Cyberpunk gadgetry and tricks, but in a fantasy city. Instead of cyberware and gadgets, we will substitute magical items, spells and wands.

  3. Outmatched and outgunned. Although they are experts in their own right, the PCs are the underdogs. The organizations they go up against have enormous resources to spend on elite defences and crack squads. 

    1. Do not expect encounters to be “balanced” to the party. There will not be a typical adventuring day. You will need to be clever, work as a team, and -sometimes- you will need to run. This is not “unfair”, it is in keeping with the intended tone. 

  4. Missions will be standalone scenarios. There will be downtime between shadowruns. Stories will be very episodic, possibly with a different crew of PCs each mission, and (maybe) a changing roster of Players also.

  5. I’d like most sessions to be tightly focused on the mission. During the week before the session I will send out a pitch for the mission. When we sit down to play, we will start with a short Q & A with your handler, and then begin the mission immediately. Aim to do one mission every session.

  6. Sources of inspiration;

    1. Oceans Eleven

    2. Gotham

    3. The Usual Suspects

About Sharn

“The City of Towers can be as impressive as it is oppressive. With a tremendous array of cultural, culinary, and commercial delights to sample, and its position as the gateway to Xen’drik, Sharn attracts visitors and adventurers from around the world. It is a hotbed of activity, known in equal measures for its wonders, it’s crime rate, it's amazing amount of corruption, and it’s genuinely exciting atmosphere.” (Eberron main book).

Sharn is a massive human city, built layer-upon-layer on the ruins of an ancient goblinoid metropolis. It is located over a region that is closely tied to the Plane of Azure Sky, and gravity has less effect here. As a result, buildings have been built higher than anywhere else, and indeed the Skyway district actually hovers above the skyscrapers. The wealthy elite live at the peaks, and society's hierarchy descends to lower one looks. 

Airships and floating barges traverse the gaps between buildings. The lower levels, where sunlight never reaches, is home to the downtrodden poor, and creatures that thrive in shadow.

Link to read more

About Madame Ira

A sophisticated medusa who runs an exclusive nightclub and jazz bar in Upper Sharn. She stays out of the public eye, and maintains relationships with all illicit organizations. When the Dragonmarked Houses need something done quietly and quickly, and dare not send their own teams to do it – they come to Madame Ira.

She keeps files on dozens of freelance agents and operatives, assembling teams to solve problems discreetly. Your character is one such operative. 

Her contacts also monitor the movement of magical items through the black market of Sharn. Every week, she will have new items available for purchase.

About the Factions

Each of these could be your employer this week, and your target the next. The PCs have no loyalties, except to one another.

  1. Dragonmarked Houses. These are 13 family bloodlines, empowered by strange magical tattoos. The different Dragonmarks grant varying magical powers, and these Houses are super-wealthy multinational organizations.

  2. Governments. The Last War is currently paused. No peace treaty has been signed, only an armistice. Royal families try to outwit and outmaneuver one another so that when the war resumes, their country will have the upper hand.

  3. Other Factions. Cults such as the Lords of Dust and the Emerald Claw. Research institutions like the University of Morgrave. Religions like the Blood of Vol and the Silver Flame.

Forces of the Law

A variety of divisions have been created to combat different kinds and degrees of lawbreaking. Each is very effective, but you can hope that their jurisdictional infighting will hamper their efforts.

  • The Sharn Watch. Street level constabulary. Riddled with corruption. The lower levels of the city have fewer Watchmen. Their ranks also include a number of gifted investigators and detectives.

    • Blackened Book. Specialist division of mages called upon to deal with magical threats to the Watch.

    • Goldwings. Hippogriff mounted division to deal with aerial crimes.

    • Wharf Watch. Tax collectors who oversee the dockside.

    • Guardians of the Gate. Dedicated to monitoring of suspicious foreign nationals.

  • The King’s Citadel. Direct agents of the king. Higher than the Watch in authority. Can commandeer resources of the Watch. They are concerned with high level threats to the whole city or the kingdom, and not basic crime.

    • Dark Lanterns. Intelligence division. Spies and agents.

    • Kings Swords. A royal knighthood.

    • King's Wands. A small clique of magic users.

  • The Redcloak Battalion. Military force of Last War veterans, including magic users and elite fighters. They stand ready to defend the city from military threats. While they do not normally operate in the city, significant threats will be escalated to this group.

  • The Royal Guard. Guardsmen for royal properties and persons. 

Dragonmarked Houses

  • House Cannith. Mark of Making. Human bloodline. Engineers who control the transportation and military manufacturing industry. They created the Warforged.

  • House Deneith. Mark of the Sentinel. Human bloodline. Bodyguards and mercenaries who control the private security industry.

  • House Gallanda. Mark of Hospitality. Halfling bloodline. Hotels, restaurants and entertainment industry.

  • House Jorasco. Mark of Healing. Halfling bloodline. Healers who control the medicines industry.

  • House Kundarak. Mark of Warding. Dwarf bloodline. Bankers and financiers. Security consultants.

  • House Lyrandar. Mark of the Storm. Half-elf bloodline. Weather control and transportation (including maritime and aerial).

  • House Medani. Mark of Detection. Half-elf bloodline. Seers, scryers and uncanny knowing.

  • House Orien. Mark of Passage. Human bloodline. Transportation industry, including shipping, roadways and locomotives.

  • House Phiarlan. Mark of Shadow. Elf bloodline. Entertainment and espionage. 

  • House Sivis. Mark of Scribing. Gnome bloodline. Translation and linguistics. They control the communications industry for long range messaging. Also a legal powerhouse.

  • House Thuranni. Mark of Shadow. A splinter group from House Phiarlan. Focused on intelligence gathering for fringe organizations.

  • House Thrashk. Mark of Finding. Half-orc and human bloodline. Law enforcement, bounty hunters, explorers. Strong interests in the mining and finding of rare dragonshard crystals.

  • House Vadalis. Mark of Handling. Human bloodline. Animal bonds, breeding, eugenics. Also animal awakening.

Underworld Organizations 

  • Boromar Clan. Smuggling, gambling, fencing. The largest criminal organization in the city, with links to the Auram and a fearsome influence over the Sharn Watch.

  • Daask. Monstrous humanoids from Droaam. Strong presence in Cogs (the lowest city level). Engaged in a guerilla war with Boromar Clan.

  • House Tarkanan. Small in number, but highly skilled expert burglars and assassins. Have an arrangement with Boromar Clan.

  • Tyrants. Mind readers, telepaths, shapeshifters. Not much is known about them. They trade in information.

Character Creation

  1. The following races are allowed. I want to stick fairly close to traditional Eberron flavor.

    1. All PHB races except Dragonborn.

    2. Warforged, Shifter, Changeling as per this Unearthed Arcana. This document will not count as the +1 Other Official Book you are using.

  2. All class options in the PHB +1 Other Official Book are available for you to create a character.

  3. You begin at Level 3. You will earn Milestone Chips by completing missions (and a single consolation chip for failing a mission). To gain a level, you will cash in a number of milestones equal to your current level. E.g. to advance from level 3 to 4 will cost 3 milestone chips.

  4. Use one of the default methods for creating your Ability Scores (pg 13 PHB).

  1. Standard Array 1 of 15,14,13,12,10,8.

  2. Standard Array 2 of 15,15,15,8,8,8.

  3. Standard Array 3 of 13,13,13,12,12,12.

  4. or use the Point Buy (with 27 points).

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