Cursed Earth

"Cursed Earth" is a D20 3.5 system Dungeons and Dragons campaign run between 2011-2013 with the west Houston RPG group.

The campaign followed the previous adventures of the player characters in the Grand Duchy of Valderin, located on the DM-created southern continent of Gantara on the world of Oerth, from the World of Greyhawk campaign setting. The campaign story concept was plot-based and character-driven, allowing for the player characters to interact with the setting as much as they saw fit. The players were able to navigate this campaign more effectively than in previous adventures, since there was already a wealth of knowledge and understanding about certain dynamics, having used a similar setting in the Revenge of the Lich campaign. The first episode was played on June 25, 2011, and continued on a weekly basis until October 13, 2013, with the game sessions happening on Saturday evenings. The campaign entailed a 100 episode story arc, after which the adventures retired, so other campaigns/game systems could be enjoyed.

Since there is a large group of players who contribute to the campaign, participation on a weekly basis has ranged from three to ten players per episode. All active players have yet to show up simultaneously for a single Episode. The current list of players includes Adam, Allison, Andrea, Brett, Cassandra, Donny, Evan, Forrest, James B., James D., Jason, Jerry, Joe, Kelli, Korie, Leigh, Russell, Talisa, and Tommy. The position of Games Master is performed by Joel. The campaign meets regularly on Saturdays. However, on some weekends, there is no game because of absence by the Games Master, LAN parties, board game nights, or low attendance. Game sessions are being played at James and Leigh's home, and Joel and Lisa’s home.

Campaign Setting

The year is 663 C.Y. and seventy five years have passed since the Order of the Red Star defeated the White Necromancer in the “Revenge of the Lich” campaign.

The Golden Age of Gantara has come and gone. Threats to the empire no longer plague its people, as citizens celebrate the demise of the Folding Circle led by Santo Koribayed over seventeen years ago. As member of the Order of the Red Star passed away, new safeguards were put in place to help assuage any chance of another malefic force to threaten the people. The Wardens of the Red Star were created to help protect the Empire of Gantara, as it spreads across the continent of Gantara. The warforged protectors come from the Source in Hightower, one of the parting gifts of the Order of the Red Star. Bale tempests still ravage the land, but magics of the departed Osric Grimwarden now allow the Royal Road to be a safe haven for travelers.

Humans are still the primary race in the empire, particularly in the Grand Duchy of Valderin. Many of the towns and cities of Valderin have grown in the past age with Celesthem becoming the largest by far. Saltmarsh is still considered a highly magical city, but relations with the lizardfolk are not nearly as strong as they once were. Aspenbrook still maintains itself title of “gateway to Valderin” although its growth has not matched Celesthem.

As the White Necromancer fell at the hands of the Order of the Red Star, the overlord realized that allowing for evil religions to propagate among the region was the chief cause of the Church of Holy Fire rising to power. Non-human monster races had been relatively left unchecked since past overlords had sought peaceful relationships with them. Known as the Great Purge, in 587 C.Y., Overlord Judson Roaden decreed that all extremist religions to be outlawed and removed from the empire. In a moment of compassion to the fleeing churches of Hextor, Erythnul, Vecna and Nerull, the overlord bequeathed Melekure as a free island to these religions, to be governed by itself. The unintended side effect of this ruling has led to several monster races as well as all sorts of unscrupulous individuals call this haven their home. As Melekure was petitioning for its freedom, the island of Newstark also appealed for its own independent status, claiming the need to maintain human purity among the bevy of races which inhabit the continent.

With the fall of the White Necromancer, the lands of Gantara are not as prosperous as they once were. Some sages and scribes have long held the belief that life of the land is slowly ebbing away for some reason. What was thought as the removing of a cancer with the evil religions being swept away, has allowed for the people to become complacent, possibly leading to a more subversive peril to invade the land.

Player Characters

The main function of this campaign is a plot-base storyline that is character-driven by the actions of the party. In order to add a new concept to the campaign, players have the option of running one or two characters simultaneously. This concept should allow for a primary PC and a secondary PC, with the hope of allowing players to play whatever main character class they desire while contributing with support characters that every well-rounded party needs. Only a handful of players have chosen to go this route, using it to transition to another primary character.

At the outset of the campaign, each player started with one character. Stats were issued and not rolled: 18, 17, 16, 14, 14, and 12. All hit points were considered maximum up to and including level 5. Any race was allowed; as long as there was no racial adjust penalties to contend with. Characters were allowed to be any non-evil alignment throughout the entirety of the campaign. Character classes, feats, and skills were allowed from any D20 3.5 core book or supplement book. Special caution was asked by players who considered options from D20 3.0 materials. Any player who started a character after the campaign had begun would start at two levels below the highest level character; lowest level being level one. Any player who was able to make it on a regular basis, would be level adjusted by experience points as to be no less than two levels below the highest level character.

In order to add flavor to the campaign, each character provided three secrets for the DM to possibly use in the campaign. The importance level of the secrets depended on what the players decided upon. The secrets could be minor or major, or benign to malign. Due to the scope of the campaign, not all of the secrets were used for various reasons, particularly in regards to the number of episodes planned and the viability of some of their unique aspects.

Adam played Ruin, a whisper gnome in search of his kidnapped sister. Forrest played Vhandreal Vhaldrine, a human beguiler masquerading as an elven bard. James B. played Omega, a warforge warblade who was unique with his individuality. James D. played Joran, a dragonfire adept looking for adventure in a new land. Jason played Edgar Koribayed, son of one of the most vile warriors of the realm. Jerry played Cartu, a fighter looking for his missing family heirlooms. Joe played Tharin Overkill, a human duskblade suffering from amnesia. Leigh played Arianna, a crusader of Kord who was looking to make amends from her past. Kelli played Lilith Grace, a ranger with a gambling problem. Korie played Orcraft Stract, an angry dwarven barbarian.

Important NPCs

As the campaign was self-contained with the area of the Grand Duchy of Valderin, the players had ample opportunity to meet and establish a variety of NPC contacts, allies, and enemies. Each NPC had a different significance to the campaign, but all were important to the outcome of Episode 100. Minor NPCs tended to add enrichment to the main plot points, while major NPCs offered a perspective which either complements the players or adds an adversarial aspect to the campaign. Due to the scope of the campaign, actions of the players sometimes dictated the importance of NPCs to their characters' lives. Places in the campaign often had more significance as players associated influential NPCs with their surroundings. Some NPCs were not grounded in one place and would appear in totally unrelated locations, while others would always be in the same place for the players to find them.

At the outset of the campaign, the PCs were traveling to the Grand Duchy of Valderin in search of new opportunities to expand their wealth and influence. During their voyage to Celesthem, the players were diverted from their original destination by the Blood Mast pirates. Working together to rebel against their captors, the group made it to the mainland and decided to band together as the Silver Blades. Throughout the campaign, the players had to contend with their current situation, as well as dealing with possible issues from their past.

Episode Guide

Each weekend the players assembled to play what has been designated as an episode. The characters initially were brought together by circumstance, all being kidnapped by the Blood Mast pirates and stranded at their base. Later, the group decided to assemble themselves together as a mercenary company known as the Silver Blades. Each week, a recap of the most recent episode’s happenings was posted to allow those who have been missing for many or few episodes to get a feel for what they had missed. Any postings on this website would be the same information given out each week via Facebook, although much of the personal commentary was left out. Players wishing to join the Facebook group called Gamers needed to speak with the DM directly.

Places of Note

The main plot of the campaign revolved around the encounters taking place in the Grand Duchy of Valderin. Although other cities, duchies, and countries might be mentioned, there were beyond the scope of the campaign, and considered non-essential to moving the plot along. A map was created to give the players a visual aspect of where their characters are traveling to and from. Individual towns and cities were not mapped out, and general information was given to flesh out the campaign. Most towns were based upon a star-shaped wheel spoke, as the first settlers decided this would be the best arrangement. Altercations would happen in cities and towns, as well as out in the wilds of Valderin. The characters had easy access to the major points on the map when using the Royal Road, which did not hamper the party with movement penalties. All of the party members were new to the area and would seek out those NPCs in each locale that best suited their character’s goals. Much of the area had gone through some sort of change since the Revenge of the Lich campaign: population centers had grown, formerly wild areas had been cleared for farming, and several areas infested by monster races had been redeveloped for human use. Not all of the unfound secrets of the past campaign had been unearthed and there were still many mysteries surrounding the land.

Rules and Redundancy

The main goal of the campaign is to have fun. Unfortunately, there are times when rules can come into conflict when players are attempting to achieve their goals. House Rules allow for situations like these to be mitigated when there is insufficient information to deal with specific encounters.

Weapons Locker

Core rule books contain a plethora of melee and ranged weapons for the players to choose from. However, there are times when the characters encounter weapons and items of power that go beyond the scope of what is readily available for purchase. Herein lies an inventory of non-standard items encountered throughout the campaign, from the mundane to the spectacular.

Cursed Earth by James Bates, Important NPCs by Hilma Khuriroy, Places of Note by Ben Galley.

All artwork on this page falls under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.