Welcome imageWelcome to Nueva Celestia: Explorations of the New World, a campaign that strives toward a sandbox-style of play for a constantly changing group of men and women (and orcs, and minotaurs, and so on) who set about navigating the land around them: mapping the environs, meeting the inhabitants, and learning the secrets of a continent recently colonized by a Renaissance-era fantasy city half a world away: Celestia, the Shining City.

This page is still under development, so stay tuned for more.

My basic idea is that, rather than have a party with consistent players, I’ll create a consistent homebase for a pool of possible players (and any number of characters) – that way, the adventure won’t be tied to certain people always having to show up. Plus – and I know Skylar is into this – the setup of the game is such that you can just have fun and create a stable of characters until you find one you really connect with (or always have the PC a given group needs to round out the roles and be ready for action).

So without further ado: I finally decided what game I’d like to run. Here’s hoping you guys will want to play.

I want to do something “open world” but non-traditional – I don’t like doing pure dungeon crawls because I’m not good with maps and have difficulty creating truly realistic dungeons. But I love the idea that D&D is about exploration and discovering what’s behind that door/hill/statue/horizon. So I racked my brain and decided I was going to use those ideas to create a game that I would love to play in but that is nonetheless nontraditional.

Campaign Hook: It has been five years since Jarek Earthstrider returned from across the sea with news of a New World: his galley bursting at the seams with treasure, his sailors swearing they had seen cities made of gold and drank of the fountain of youth. Celestia – the Shining City – feasted and feted Earthstrider for months; amazement became acceptance, and acceptance soon turned to boredom. Now the city’s politicians have stepped in and decided that, with so much gold lying around, what the New World needs is some Celestine guidance (and settlers).

That’s where you come in. You are all adventurers, malcontents and ne’er-do-wells who find yourselves gainfully employed in the New World (Nueva Celestia, the official name of this unmapped land, has yet to catch on with hoi polloi). Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to bring “civilization” to the unenlightened and return treasure to your mercantile masters in Celestia. Success will leave your patrons indebted to you, insuring that the Old World artificers will go that extra mile to give you the magical equipment you need to defend the city’s interests across the seas; failure will mean you have to make do with what you have (or loot the natives, which comes with its own perils).

This isn’t Colonialism: The RPG, folks, though I fully cop to the fact that this is my inspiration. This is a situation wherein your job is to truly discover the New World; you will map it, meet its inhabitants (and help create them), and figure out where your colony and your adventuring company fit in now that you’ve intruded onto land that does not necessarily want palefaced merchants and missionaries interrupting life as it is in the New World. Will you be conquistadores and take what you want irrespective of the consequences (or, worse, without caring to understand the situations in which you interfere), or will you bring tales of mutual wealth, cooperation and religious tolerance? Or something in-between?

Player Information: My hunch is that we need a reason for each PC to have found himself/herself in the New World. There are two ways to go with this.

1. You have been hired by a Celestine faction with a prevailing interest in the first colony to the New World. These factions are usually wealthy, politically important, and divinely or magically inclined. My logic is that it takes a great amount of capital to send over colony ships loaded with materials; it takes political influence to allow immigration to occur, no matter the reward, and to select a governor. Arcane magic is no doubt necessary to protect the ship from the sea monsters that plague the Silanian Sea, while Divine magic is what’s needed to keep the colonists alive and healthy.

Possible factions to consider sponsoring your PC:

A. Mor’tannar Mercantile Association
B. Membership in the Celestine Pathfinders Guild
C. Membership in a Holy Order that ensures “mission” presence
D. Designee of the Arcanum, Celestia’s order of Arcanists.
E. Private Patronage from a very rich person who has their own ideas about the governance of the colony.

So you’ve decided to leave Celestia to make your fortune across the sea. Congratulations! You stand to make a killing for you corporate masters, spread the good word of your god(s), and increase the collected knowledge of Celestia by a previously unimaginable amount! The more treasure, converts, knowledge and exploration you do, the more influence you gain back in the Old World (which will play itself out with material or roleplaying rewards).

But there’s a catch: If you’re a Celestine colonist, you are limited to choosing one of the following races: Tiefling; Human; Dwarf: Gnome: Half-elf; Elf: Eladrin; Minotaur. You also cannot select any classes from the Primal Power Source or the Psionic Power source.

Possible ways to integrate New World PCs into the game

If you’re not swell on selecting a character who is a colonist there’s no reason why you can’t be an inhabitant of the New World. Your exact angle can be negotiated with me pretty easily (I like to say “yes” to things that make sense or seem fun). One obvious angle you can take is that of a “guide” hired to help the adventurers out; a combination translator, pathfinder, local expert. If that’s what you want to do, pick any race you like in the character builder, and just reskin them into something vaguely Inca-inspired. In terms of classes, Primal Classes work GREAT for this type of character but don’t be limited by them; “flavor” or reskin the class you like to fit with an Incan, Aztec, Amerindian or just plain odd sort of thing (non-Western stuff if at all possible).

The only class-type you can’t play are Psionic characters. Psionics in 4e really sucks, so it’s for the best.

Other reasons for being in the New World
Perhaps you aren’t getting paid for being here; perhaps this is, instead, a punishment for you; the cheapest jail on all the earth. Your service to the city and the colony were solicited from you by politicians and judges with no regard for your choice on the matter. Questions to ask: do you like the city, believe in the work you’re being forced to do?

Game Mechanics Information:

We’re using Dungeons and Dragons 4e for my system. Players start at level 5 with a total of three magical items: one of level 6, one of level 5, and one of level 4 or lower. All characters are using Inherent Bonuses, an option found on the “Summary” page of the DnD Character Builder. I would highly recommend someone playing the game who’s really into D&D and isn’t me sign up for D&D Insider so that the rest of the group can have access to the character builder (each person who buys it allows four other people full access, too; Wizards of the Coast assumes people will share.

I know Jon Cogburn is playing a Ranger, and really wants to play one character. That’s great! I know Skylar wants to make a bunch of different characters and mix them up when game time comes around depending on what he’s in the mood for or what that night’s party needs. That’s also great!

What I would suggest everyone else who wants to play to do is the following. Create at least two characters using the D&D Character Builder; it’s free to make characters of up to 3rd level in it, so everyone can download a preview and go to town. Create a few characters with the above guidelines on races and classes in mind. Some guidance on what D&D 4e assumes about characters follows.

Basically, all of the classes are divided up into four distinct archetypes: Leaders, Strikers, Defenders and Controllers. Each of these classes has a specific playstyle and appeals to different people.

Leaders specialize in party buffs and healing; they can deal some damage, but where they excel is in keeping the party standing and making everyone else more awesome. I love playing leaders because there’s nothing like making sure your friends are doing well and having fun. Clerics are your archetypal Leader, but I’m a huge fan of the Warlord (sacrifices some healing ability for a massive bump in tactical control; not a class for people who aren’t into strategy games).

Strikers specialize in dealing damage and lots of it. If you want to be a mobile nuclear bomb of damage-dealing ability, this is the class for you. Rogues and rangers are the archetypal Strikers in 4e, but you can also do some really neat stuff with barbarians, sorcerers and avengers (the holy assassins of god).

Defenders single-handedly hold the front line of the party against all comers, a living wall that protects the Strikers, Leaders and Controllers from taking too much damage. A Defender in 4e forces enemies to focus fire on them, brutally damaging enemies foolish enough to take their eyes off of the Defender before them. Fighters are the Defender of choice, and are my pick for the strongest class in the game. Other Defenders include Wardens, Swordmages, and Paladins (if you want to play a Paladin talk to me because there’s one build that’s way, way better than all of the others). Play a Defender if you want to be the person upon whom the party depends most when the monsters try to get up close and personal.

Controllers are the characters who shape the battlefield and debuff enemies; they’re a tactically-minded class that can lay down game-changing effects; they also specialize in area attacks that can wipe out swathes of weaker enemies in one attack. Wizards are the obvious Controllers, but don’t count out the Invoker (think Moses in his calling down plagues on Egypt mode) or the Druid. Play a Controller if you want to make my monsters’ lives a tactical hell.

Each of the classes in the game fit into one of these four roles, with differentiation between classes lying upon the power source that the characters draw upon; so Fighters are Martial defenders while Wardens are Primal defenders. Wizards are Arcane Controllers, while Invokers are Divine Controllers.

I think this is enough for now. Please respond to this e-mail and let me know that you received it and are interested in playing the game. I’m available to help you make characters if you want me to help out; I’m available via phone, too. Understand that being interested in the game doesn’t mean you have to play every time (or even most of the time); it just means that I’ll invite you to play every time we play.

I know a bunch of people are going to Korea soon, so you’ll be unavailable for a while. That’s cool. I’m going to try to have a game within the next week, but if it doesn’t happen then that’s cool, too.

But for now, e-mail me back! And if you have the time, please go over to the Campaign’s burgeoning Wiki site Nueva Celestia! Signing up is free, and I figure this wiki will be a good way to centralize all of the exploring you guys will do over the next few months!