BACK TO THE MUD

5E Dungeons & Dragons Campaign

Themes:

Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

Grim / Dark Fantasy (actions have consequences, death is permanent as no high level clerics exist). Ripple effects of actions within the greater struggle.

Fight the power! Revolution! Rebel!

Starting Pitch:

High Level wizards run the world, from kings, to banks, to merchant guilds the Mages run it all behind the scenes. Most folk are blindly unaware of this setup. Players, however, all have had a run in with one of the powers that be and came out on the wrong end of it.

Mercenary Guilds / Adventuring Companies exist to explore old ruins looking for vital artifacts or just gold and jewels. These are also used by the powers that be.  

Source Material / Inspiration: The First Law Trilogy (Joe Abercrombie), A Song of Ice and Fire (G.R.R. Martin), The Black Tongue Thief (Christopher Buehlman). 

House Rules:

Character hit points cap out at 3rd level (no more gains afterwards).

Upon reaching 4th level, characters have attracted notice of the powers  that be and will be courted or hunted (depending on the powers).

All classes are available. 

Races will vary, and will be discussed if strongly desired. I prefer human-centric worlds but I can be persuaded.

Magic user prolongs life. For every level of spell user class, double characters age (yet his appearance remains youthful. After using spell slots the user ages and shows signs of wear and tear. 

Powers that Be:

Northern Power: 

Based at the University of Dunmara. An isolated citadel on an island in the lake the Dun Water. Made of black stone, this school is known in the folk tongue as the Black Rock. 

The Axe Lands: This is the North, yep that north. The High King sits upon the throne at Caer Mont. 

The Dun Water: Headwaters of the Dun River. (Dun means brown). 

Dunmire (city of mists): Dark, pine forests, cool, fog, mist, rain. Mud.  The common saying amongst the southerners is What is brown and smells of shit? Dunmire. It is very apt. Very.

Odar (pronounced: Othar). Patron to the players (all will have a background  tied to Odar). He is a mid-level wizard that has hired parties for ruin exploration here in the north. He was once a student at the Black Rock.

Witch Hunters: These are agents of the high mage, seek out potential problems (high level characters).  Most are human, a few are Dopplegangers.  Chapter House located in Dunmire. 

Luthar Bloodwyrm. Head Witch Hunter in Dunmire. A hex blade (3rd level). 

Southern Power: Serene the Snake of Olpal ( pronounced: Sareen)

Olpal (think of New Orleans as a reference). Lowland city, port, swamps, bayou,  high crime, vices, forbidden fruits. Ruled by the oligarchs of the merchant guilds (known as the Guilders).  She is based in the citadel known as the University of High Arts (called by most just the Old School) – moss covered walls, willow trees in the courtyard. Looks overgrown and abandoned but that is deceiving as it is a thriving citadel of Serene‚Äôs people. 

History:

The Timeless Age: Birth of Demi-humans (the First Born)

The Dawn Age: Rise of human civilizations

The High Age of Esoteric Arts:  The rise of powerful mages around the world and as they organized and grew, they began to jockey for control of each region. This led to the Age of Strife.

The Age of Strife: Wars ravage the lands and ruins dot the world. Fallen cities, ruined citadels. Other worldly monsters stalk the realms after being turned loose by wizards long dead. (Monsters are ageless as they are extra-planar monsters and do not age on this plane). The demi-humans fade into the mists of time (few still interact with humans).

The Age of Heroes: The most powerful wizards were overthrown by their students but as power corrupts, they too became despots. These wizards rule all facets of life (kings, banks, guilds, etc.) all pay homage in one form or another to one of these powerful wizards.

The Age of Dying Arts: A grim time for humanity, power is hoarded by the most powerful magic users though smokescreens and curtains they pull the strings of all the world. The common people (anyone not of their sphere of power are treated as chattel. Used roughly and tossed aside on the midden heap of human suffering. 

Notes:

Dungeons exist as traps and tunnels protecting portals to other locations around the planet. This is how the mages and their agents are able to move freely about the world without having to travel through the wild lands. 

Some bandits and thugs take over small dungeons and base there, others are used by ageless monsters stuck in this reality after being summoned by powerful wizards.

Travel overland is fraught with peril as monsters summoned and unleashed upon the world wander freely and rarely challenged in their supremacy. Outlaws and hill men live outside of civilization as well.