After the end of our long-running Obsidian Frontier campaign, we decided to venture to a little-explored region of Greyhawk: the Archbarony of Blackmoor.
Inspired by Dave Arneson‘s legendary campaign setting of the same name (one of Dungeons & Dragons first-ever settings), Blackmoor promises a mix of ancient magic, weird technology, and the strangeness of the Egg of Coot … whatever that is. Given the Old School inspiration for the campaign, we decided to go old school with the characters as well. We’re running the 5th Edition equivalent of zero-level characters – everyone picked their race, background, and alignment and then rolled up — but didn’t assign — six character stats using the 4d6, drop the lowest option. This gave us a skill or two, but not much more.
The first session saw us all slaves to the Empire of Iuz, an evil realm in the northern reaches of the Flanaess in the World of Greyhawk. We knew that a group of slaves were about to be shipped out to a death camp filled with undead minions and that we had to escape. As the night progressed and we decided on our actions, we picked which of the pre-rolled stat numbers we wanted to use.
We got ourselves added to the caravan headed to the nightmare village, defeated our guards using improvised weapons like a yam shiv and sharpened shovel, and then headed north seeking freedom … and maybe Blackmoor. We still no class (heh, heh) but thanks to the first adventure we have an inkling of who our characters are.
Mine is Valafar, a tiefling. In keeping with the campaign’s randomized kickoff, several of us used the background tables from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything to create our characters. Valafar’s parents were baseline humans from a small village in the Shield Lands. Their mother was murdered when they was young, leaving their father to raise Valafar and their two younger siblings. As lesser nobility who’d done nothing of import since earning their title, Valafar’s family was reasonably well off but they were always resentful of what should have been theirs and hating how those in the village treated the obvious (and unexpected) tiefling child growing up.
At the first chance they got, Valafar left the village and headed north to Iuz, assuming that their status as a tiefling would mean instant respect.
They were wrong. Instead, they were enslaved and thrown into a work camp.
Given Valafar’s noble background, I went with the knight variant and negotiated three in-camp retainers with the dungeon master. One of these was an assistant cook, who helped us escape (and provided us with the aforementioned yam shivs). Given their lust for power and glory, I fully expect Valafar to swear a pact to some powerful force and become a warlock, but we’ll see what happens in the weeks to come.
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For Valafar’s character sheet, I went with this Old School style sheet. Now if only I had some green or golden rod paper… Credit: Ken Newquist