Campaign Intro and Background
The setting for this campaign will be the city of Ptolus. Ptolus is a unique environment. It’s not uncommon for wizards to walk down the street escorted by summoned elementals or to see someone riding a Dragon. Shopkeepers routinely use minor magics when bargaining with people and the City Watch employs trolls and wizards.
The Ptolus Campaign is set in and around the city of Ptolus. While there may be short interludes where you travel in the wilderness most of the adventures will take place in the city and the Dungeon located beneath it. Keep that in mind when creating your characters. Characters with an urban focus will be more at home than those with a wilderness focus. There are many ways for a traditionally wilderness focused to adapt to a city campaign. Many rangers in Ptolus are “urban” or “dungeon” rangers able to track and hunt creatures in the streets and dungeons of Ptolus. A Rogue is the archetypal urban class and will find many uses for their talents in the city. Many NPCs are Rogues or Multi-Class Rogues.
We will be using the D&D 4th Edition rules. Not every class and race that you might like is published at this time but you are allowed to swap your class or race for new one later on with no penalty if you wish. If you have a really unique idea for a class or race you’d like to play let me know and I’ll work with you to come up with something. In the original Ptolus play test campaign one of the players was an Umber Hulk, so really anything goes.
These races are common throughout Ptolus with Humans and Elves being the most populous. These races all have full racial stats and feats for 4th Edition.
Dragonborn – Draconic Humanoids
Dwarf – There are 2 kinds of dwarves in Ptolus: Grailwarden and Stonelost In game terms they are nearly identical with only a few differences in their skill bonuses.
Eladrin – Elder or High elves, not as common as other elves.
Shoal Elves – Elves from the Players Handbook
Harrow Elves – Elder Elves twisted by Ghul.
Tieflings – Descended from humans who long ago made a pact with the infernals.
Warforged – Living Machines created by magic
Genasi – Humans descended from the elemental powers; many different varieties
Goliaths – Humanoids descended from giants.
There are many minor races that inhabit Ptolus. The following races have full character creation stats but no racial feats. If you wish to play one of these races, we’ll work out racial feats for your character. If you’d like more details on only of these let me know and I can send you a short PDF.
Cheribum Elves – Winged Elves rarely seen outside their homeland.
Doppelganger – Changelings, Humans able to shift their form
Githyanki – The Githyanki and Githzerai are races from the Astral Plane Githzerai
Litorian – “Lion-like” Humanoids; Unique to Ptolus
Shadar-Kai – Dark Humans from the Shadowfell realm.
Shifters -Descended from Humans and Lycanthropes.
Classes fall into one of four Roles:
Tank: Take damage and push enemies around allowing strikers to gain combat advantage. Tanks are also formidable melee fighters.
Striker: Strikers are damage dealers. They are meant to work with a tank gain combat advantage and bring enemies down quickly.
Leader: The leader classes support the other classes providing bonuses and healing. They are also fairly good fighters but not as good as a tank or striker.
Controller: Controllers deal damage to large numbers of creatures rather than dealing damage to a single target like a striker. Controllers also provide some support to other classes through spells.
Each class draws is powers from a certain kind of magic:
Divine – Magic of the divine powers
Arcane – Magic drawn from he elements
Psychic – Powers of the Mind
Primal – power is drawn from nature
Martial – Not realy magic, but the skill of the individual itself.
Cleric – Divine Leader
Fighter – Martial Tank/Melee Striker
Wizard – Martial Arcane Controller
Rogue – Martial Melee Striker /Thief Skills
Ranger – Martial Melee/Ranged Striker
Warlord – Martial Leader
Warlock – Arcane Ranged Striker/ Thief Skills
Swordmage – Arcane Tank/Controller
Paladin – Divine Tank/Leader
Shaman – Primal Leader
Barbarian – Primal Melee Striker
Druid – Primal Controller
Avenger – Divine Melee Striker
Sorcerer – Arcane Ranged Striker
Psion – Psychic Controller
Assassin – Martial Melee Striker
Artificer – Arcane Leader/Ranged Striker.
Monk – Psychic Melee Striker
Character can be Lawful Good, Good, Neutral, and Evil. Playing an evil character can be difficult in Ptolus. Ptolus is a good-aligned city and many merchants and city officials commonly use magic to detect evil. They may refuse to deal with or even harass evil characters. However, there are quite a few evil people in Ptolus, and they also use lots of magic. An evil player may have an easier time dealing with the criminals organizations of Ptolus.
Chaotic Evil characters are not generally allowed unless approved by the DM in advance.
Ptolus has a higher level of technology than a “standard” D&D game. Black powder firearms, while not common, are readily available. Firearms are mostly used by Dwarves, who can create them, and organizations like the Shuul, who employ many “clockwork” and “steam-powered” gadgets. Firearms are “magical” in nature. Realistic black power firearms would never be workable in D&D. (They take too long to reload.)
There is also Chaositech, which blurs the line between technology and magic. You can find more information about Chaositech in the players guide and world guide.
There are many organizations that exist in Ptolus. A short description is given for each in the Players Guide. Your character may want to join one or more of these organizations. The Delvers Guild is of particular interest. They provide many benefits to the large number of adventurers in Ptolus including a 10% discount at certain shops.
It’s entirely up to you if you want to have a detailed background story but there are a few things you need to decide about how your character fits into the campaign.
Are you from Ptolus?
If so, what District did you grow up in?
If not, where are you from?
Why are you an adventurer?
Why did you come to Ptolus and does your characters Goal or mission beyond being an adventurer?
- Get money to start a business in Ptolus.
- Get rich from adventuring and set yourself up as a noble.
- You are wanted criminal/heretic and have come to Ptolus to hide out.
- You are under a curse or hex and have come to Ptolus to fulfill it or rid yourself of it.
- You have a powerful enemy and you have come to Ptolus to gain treasure and experience in order to defeat them.
- You wish to join one of the more powerful organizations in Ptolus such as the Inverted Pyramid, Knight of the Pale or one of the crime syndicates.
- Even better, you want take control/lead of one of these organizations.
- You want to breach, explore and loot Goth Gulamel, and Jabel Shammar because no one ever has.
With all of the adventures bringing magic items and treasure out of the Dungeons below Ptolus, buying and selling loot is a formal industry. There are quite a few shops in Ptolus that specialize in buying and selling magic items. In general, you can sell a magic item for 20% of its listed value. You may be able to sell magic items for more than the standard 20% by allowing one of the stores to sell it on commission. There are also “agents” in Ptolus who specialize in finding buyers for powerful magic items or high priced loot. Member of the Delvers guild get better deals on buying and selling magic items and the guild can put you in touch with an agent. You may also be able to get a better deal by establishing a relationship with one of the local merchants.
If you wish to purchase magic items, you are at the mercy of whatever the stores have in stock. If you wish to find a particular magic item you will have to work with the merchants to find it or go through an agent.
The Dreaming Apothecary holds a virtual monopoly (some might say criminal) on magic item creation. If you wish to have to have a custom item created you will have to find out how to contact the Dreaming Apothecary in game.
You do not need to “train” to gain a level. You character “levels-up” at the end of any adventure where you acquire enough xp to gain a level. There are many high level trainers in Ptolus. Training with one of them can give you a permanent bonus to a skill or ability.
Attributes: I recommend using Method One or Method Two for generating your attributes. These are described in the Players Handbook on Page 17. I’d prefer you didn’t roll your stats but if you really want to let me know, I’ll need to witness your rolls.
Ptolus Knowledge Skill: All players have the Ptolus Knowledge Skill in addition to their other skills. This skill is based on INT.
Skill Training: All Characters receive training in one additional skill above and beyond what is provided by their race and class.
Rangers: A Ranger may be an urban Ranger, replacing Nature with Streetwise on their skill list. A Dungeon Ranger should take Dungeoneering. (Which is already on the class skill list.)
Harrow Elves: Harrow Elves have the same Racial Stats, Feats, and powers as the Drow.
Dwarves: All dwarves are proficient in firearms.
Religion: Clerics and Paladins choose a deity from the Ptolus World Guide rather than the Players Handbook. Note that Paladins do not have to be Lawful Good, but do have to have an alignment compatible to their deity. A Chaotic Evil Paladin is a different class entirely and not available at this time. Chaotic Evil clerics must be approved by the DM in advance.