Sins of the Past

"Sins of the Past" is a D20 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign run between 2016-2019 with the Houston-area 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. However, much of the campaign happened away from the map primarily used in the past two campaigns: traveling just off the southern edge of the original map, a secret island political prison of Bellorux, the pocket dimension of a mad water genie, an air-filled section of the Elemental Plane of Water called Waytoll, a section of the Underdark, then finally to a long-feared island called Melekure. 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 May 21, 2016, and continued on a weekly basis until March 30, 2019, 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.

Campaign Setting

The year is 704 C.Y. and forty-one years have passed since the Silverblades defeated Damlegan Gault in the “Cursed Earth” campaign.

Thirty years ago (674 C.Y.), the wise men first realized something was wrong when all of the bees died. Country folk noticed that rainbows after a summer storm no longer held the same luster, and the Bale Tempests, which have plagued the continent for centuries, appeared to have permanently abated. Sages noticed that birthrates of all races began to decline. Harvests livestock growth was no longer as robust in years past. Even the gnomes retreated underground en masse, claiming that Garl Glittergold had called them all to Great Oaix (or Slumber). Both divine and arcane spellcasters noticed their power began to fade. Word from Oerik indicated the great kingdoms were also experiencing unrest as the magical mainstays of society began to falter. The final tipping point was when the Source (also known as the Great Forge) in Hightower suddenly extinguished itself one day and the Wardens of the Red Star ceased to move.

The greatest minds of the Empire of Gantara came together to find a solution to this malady, as mankind quickly recognized how the crutch of magic had been so essential to their existence. With divine magic waning, society began to crumble under the weight of sickness and disease, forcing the duchies to fall back upon the old ways of healing. With arcane magic waning, monster races from the south felt more empowered to test the mettle of a more vulnerable human population, pulling common folk from their lives to reinforce the armies of the Overlord. Once living in fear of the might and magic of mankind, tribes of goblinoids became more aggressive, forcing the leadership of the southern duchies to make difficult decisions on how to best safeguard the population. Heroes were summoned and quests were taken to gain any sort of insight to better understanding the epidemic. Their endeavors availed them nothing then.

Twenty-seven years passed before the Plenitude: the name given to a mysterious blinding flash of light which bathed Oerth in magical energy. True, the magic had returned, but it had changed in some way. Crafters were no longer able to create the powerful magic items of legend, and a dissonance was found for those who attempted to horde magic for selfish reasons. In other areas, magic was just as potent but required greater resources to complete. Although the gods began to answer their followers more readily again, it seemed that the living healed more rapidly, and disease appeared to abate for the short-term. As the gnomes returned to the world of mankind from their slumber, dragonborn and tieflings have also become more prosperous, leaving some to question their resurgence during the years after the Plenitude.

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 not grown as they did in the past age, yet Celesthem is still the largest by far. Saltmarsh was once considered a highly magical city and much adventure is found around the area of this coastal town, but relations with the lizardfolk have faded as the state of détente is no longer something their swamp-living tribes continue to subscribe to. Aspenbrook still maintains itself the title of “gateway to Valderin” although the more recent appropriate title would be the “exit from Valderin” as many refugees from the south had fled before the Plenitude.

Nevertheless, many consider this to be the dawning of a new age of prosperity as citizens from the north have slowly begun to trickle back to their homelands, and push even further south in the goblinoid controlled territories. What is old is new, and mankind desires to further take hold of the continent.

Player Characters

The main function of this campaign is a plot-base storyline that is character-driven by the actions of the party. To add a new concept to the campaign, players have the option of running one or two characters simultaneously. At the outset of the campaign, each player started with one character. Stats were issued and not rolled: 16, 15, 14, 12, 12, and 10. All hit points were considered maximum up to and including level 5. Any race was allowed with the DM having the ability to override this decision. Character classes, feats, and skills were allowed from any Dungeons and Dragons 5e core book or supplement book. 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. Alignments are limited to any except Lawful Good, Neutral Evil, or Chaotic Evil. Any player who was unable 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.

Important NPCs

As the campaign was self-contained with the area of the Grand Duchy of Valderin and later expanded to a multi-dimensional adventure, 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 started out in Hightower being banded together to accompany two wagons of supplies to the south to reinforce the troops protecting an area infested with goblin activity. Since it was winter, finding able-bodied humans to travel to help protect the empire was difficult to come by; many were pulling in the last crops or reinforcing the militias which protect the cities. Regardless, the Men of Masterson resorted to hiring anyone they could find, and a motley crew of non-humans was found to help accompany the wagons to the southern part of the Grand Duchy of Valderin.

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 hired by the Men of Masterson to accompany a caravan to the southern part of the Grand Duchy of Valderin. Later, the group decided to assemble themselves together as a mercenary company known as the Dark Tide when they found the need for revenge upon a common enemy. 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 and other extradimensional locales. 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.

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 allowed for situations like these to be mitigated when there was 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.

Sins of the Past by James Bates, Important NPCs by Bruno Cesar, Places of Note by Ben Galley.

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