First, I would like to address why D&D 5E. I appreciate a balanced game. D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder have advanced beyond the balanced realm with the plethora of material available. Don't get me wrong, this is great when everything can potentially be overpowered and min/max can be accepted as a usable character build. There can be balance within either system, but it takes a ton of effort and DM management to make it happen. 5E may not be the best answer, as some people are not as pleased with the product, but it works well and has been a great system from all my recent adventuring (which includes DMing the starter box adventure (The Lost Mines of Phandelver), the new hardback modules and Adventurer's League modules). The character builds are simple once you know the paragraph structure in the Player's Handbook, and you can fly through them pretty quickly. We also know why 4E was not on the table. It is great for miniature and MMO style playing aspects, not so good for worldbuilding and role-playing. It does have its good qualities, just not as an RPG that everyone has become familiar with. (I suggest checking out the board games made during this time with 4E rules. they are great fun, and you will understand and possibly admire the 4E mindset!!!)
Ok, moving on. With some of the crew being old school gamers, we wanted to go in a more fluid direction, with chances of having extra weakness and the possible ability score deficiencies. The 5E spread offered of 15 - 14 - 13 - 12 - 10 - 8 has worked splendidly with all the previous builds and seems to be the best choice for character creation. But we wanted more! So we went with the 4d6 and drop the lowest. This allowed for a wider range of character stats and diversity among the characters. As a side, even though this does well for higher results in normal circumstances, the starting characters were not so pretty. Time for some clever role-playing... which was the point anyways.
One my side as the first DM to open the flood gates, we needed a playground. So I surfed the web for a possible starting point. Understand, I have a campaign setting that is being built as you read this (The Chronicles of Ballidrous), I wanted to make this seem slightly detached as other people will be contributing their ideas and adventures to the mix.
And I found....
(Maxime Plasse, 2015)
Red Turban Press has a setting for the Cloak & Coin RPG. The map by Plasse demonstrates an eye for cartography as well as having a strong nomenclature, love the names. With an anthropological background, language is very important aspect when creating a particular quality for a campaign setting. Red Turban Press is in the midst of building this setting, and I cannot wait to see what they create.
Then comes the hard part, how to build these adventures and the proper structure to create a balanced format. I dropped a town on the road south of Faeil Dair, knowing I wanted to start small and have the players work towards a larger city. Again with the random aspect of this start, I found a Random City Map Generator on Inkwell Ideas. Thus, the birth of Bora Sadir ("The Green Spires"). The maps generated may seem to lack pizzazz, but you must overlook this as it has clean features and the ability to keep producing something new to work from at a later date.
For the character origins, what better place than to ride that trope we all love to hate (especially me). We need a lovely orphanage for all the destitute wannabe adventures to come from. So I found this hidden gem, Orphanage Name Generator from the Fantasy Name Generators website. The Honey Drop Orphanage was now a landmark for Bora Sadir.
And then for the final launch into adventuring, a random inn generator. There is a special site that I have found useful a number of times in my recent DMing years, donjon. They have a useful Random Inn Generator. This is where I found some healthy rumors and a waitress that ended up being a girlfriend to one of the players.
As you can see, the internet can be your friend when working on a gaming project. I am thankful to all those responsible, for their many hours, to put out such useful tools. With all this collected material to start the setting, I now have a place and direction for the characters.
- James S. Austin