Designing player characters for
the Hero-Cities Campaign
Getting a character for the first game
You can either design a character on your own,
have me design one for you, or some combination.
Several options are:
- Design the character yourself and bring the
character to the game. This will require you to
have access to the D&D 3.5 Player Handbook, and
to read the guidelines and procedures below.
- Design a generic D&D 3.5 character, and then
modify it at the first game. You need the PH,
and to read the guidelines below, especially race
and class restrictions..
- Design a generic D&D 3.5 character, and
then send it to me to modify. I'll mail it back
before the game.
- Mail me as much information as you've decided
about your character and ask me to design the
rest. For example, ``I want to play an Elvish
wizard who's fast, good at illusions, and a bit snooty
about how wonderful elves are''. Come
a little early to the game, to run through the
character and make any modifications you want.
- Come early to the first game, and
make up a character with me.
- Pick one of several characters I've already
designed (pre-gens) when you arrive at the game. Arrive
a bit early to make
a few modifications.
Guidelines for Player Characters
We will use the D&D 3.5 Player Handbook rules,
with a few minor variations. However, one of the
goals in this campaign is to make rule artifacts
also part of the game world. For example, D$D 3.5
has a strict rule about how many spells a
beginning wizard can cast. In the Hero-Cities, this rule is
a law enforced by the Cults of the wizardly heroes.
Wizards are able to cast more spells, but doing so
except in real emergencies
is illegal and may result in their being expelled
from the Cult and so cut off from further advancement.
This ``reification'' of game concepts to world
concepts will require some tweaks to the rules, but
usually it is a reinterpretation of the rules rather
than a change.
I'll present first game-world guidelines, and
then modifications or interpretations of the
D&D 3.5 rules for the campaign.
If you are designing a character from the Player's
Handbook, here are some rule-specific guidelines.
- Characters should be heroes, risk-takers
who undertake dangerous adventures, either out
of duty or hope of personal gain.
- The San Diego group is somewhat nomadic. It
would be helpful if your character were not
very settled, without longterm commitments to a place.
They will be members of a hero-cult, an organization
of like-minded adventurers who seek to emulate
a legendary hero and draw their power from this
hero. Being a member in good-standing is essential
to progress in the game.
Hero-cult membership will have few privileges or
responsibilities to start, but both privileges and
responsibilities will accumulate as the character
grows in power.
See Hero-cults for the
list of cults.
Morality: For practical reasons, I prefer
characters that will work
together co-operatively, and like each other.
They do not have to be of stainless character or
selfless defenders of the weak.
There are both selfish and altruistic motivations
to adventure, and a stable party can have
characters with mixed motivations.
not to start with any characters who are outright
evil, seeking harm to others for its own sake.
There will be opportunities for a character
to ``go to the dark side'' during the game.
The civilized humanoid races native to this part
of the world that the game is in are humans, dwarves,
elves, and hobbits. Your character should be one
of these four, or a half-elf. If you desire it,
it may be possible
to play a kind of intelligent creature which is usually
good or neutrally aligned, e.g., unicorn.
However, I prefer most characters to be of standard
races, so I may limit the number of such characters.
- Barbarians and monks do not have corresponding
cults. So I prefer no characters from these classes
- Currently, most characters are 3rd to 4th level,
so you can have a starting character of 1st or 2nd level.
(A first-level character will be second level by the
end of the first session, so it won't make that big
A monstrous character can have an ECL of up to 4 to start, but
expect some difficulty advancing.
If you want to play a monstrous character with a high
ECL, we may be able to arrange for you to play an
immature, inexperienced monster.
- While it's not been critical for play so far,
each character should come from one of
thirteen homelands, founded by the 13 heroes.
If you are uncertain, pick one at random.
for a list.
Abilities: Use the standard probabilistic method of generation:
Roll 6 times, 4 six-sided dice. Take the best three.
Arrange in the six attributes as desired. Repeat
if negative bonuses or no score of 14 or above.
Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Half-elf, or Hobbit (Halfling).
No gnomes live nearby. Half-orcs will face severe
prejudice. Monstrous characters will be at least
a source of rude curiousity, and may also face
prejudice, depending on species.
There are no preferred classes or experience penalties
for multi-classing per se; but a small penalty applies
to multi-classing into the cult of a hero of a
Classes: Barbarians and Monks have no hero-cults to join.
If you must, you can have a character from outside the
area who is a first-level monk or barbarian, but
further advancement will be through multi-classing.
You can take the Aristocrat or Expert classes from
the DMG, if you want (but I'm not sure why you'd want.)
D&D 3.0 had an apprentice system for
beginning multi-class. There is no corresponding
system that I could find for 3.5.
Beginning multi-class using the DMG 3.0 system is possible,
modifying for 3.5 rules as best we can,
but only for the following combinations, usually in
only one cult:
bard/ranger (Ellander); bard/rogue (Tomkins); druid/fighter
(Enkidu); druid/ranger (Beryl, Enkidu);
druid/wizard (Caerfallin); fighter/ranger (Enkidu); fighter/paladin
Characters that multi-class one of the above combinations
will have the possibility of taking levels in an avatar prestige
class assoicated with the corresponding cult. These
prestige classes are designed to circumvent some of the
disadvantages with high-level multi-class characters.
These classes require you to be level 9 in a single
cult, so it is unlikely that they will affect play much
soon. (I expect characters to reach level 9 in about
45 sessions of play, so perhaps after 2 years level 9 PC's
will be an issue.)
Skills: Some Knowledge skills are tailored to
the setting, or slightly reinterpretted.
See Knowledge Skills
for the list
of non-standard knowledge skills.
Feats: Some advanced feats are only available
to one cult, but this shouldn't matter to
starting characters. Each cult has some special feats available,
too. These are usually powerful for starting characters,
but diminish for advanced characters because they are not
Exclusive and special feats are listed with the appropriate cults.
Equipment: Start with equipment worth the maximum
amount of starting wealth
for a character of your class. If your character has
an item creation feat, start also with one item
of the type that your character could make. (I think
the only possibility is a first-level spell on a scroll.)
If your character has the ability to summon a
familiar, she can start with any standard familiar.
Druids can start with an animal companion, preferably from
the standard list and one that doesn't
mind sea voyages. You should have only a few gold
unspent after purchasing equipment.
Alignment is a matter of magical attunement, not
personal morality; unless your character flouts
standards dramatically, her alignment will be determined
by her cult. Most people revere all the gods;
a specific religion is only appropriate for clerics.
See religion for
a description of the religion and gods of the land.
There are no evil cult alignments in civilized lands,
and you should start civilized.
You will be given opportunities to ``go to the
dark side'' as the game progresses (although this
will probably be eventually found out and lead
to expulsion from the adventuring group).