Matt's Fallcrest adventure path
This is my Fallcrest campaign. This page covers the general house rules.
I am going to be the DM of last resort, so that if the usual group is not assembled but people want to play, I can jump in to serve up a session. I’ll be ready to let anyone play the next encounter in this adventure. That means that several characters will be floaters who can be played by anyone. If you want to keep a character special to just you, and control its advancement, be sure to mark it well with your name as its owner.
I’ll be pretty loose about characters appearing and disappearing, even in the middle of a dungeon, so you can play the character you prefer. I’ll assume that everyone takes an extended rest before the session starts, so there is not much reason to worry about carrying over effects, except maybe curses and diseases.
The nice thing is that you’ll be able to experiment with classes easily.
I’ll describe more here later, but the main thing is that Fallcrest is a large town on a river at the intersection of two once-great trade roads. Like much of its environs, it was devastated a century ago by invasion and never fully recovered. It’s full of ruins, burned-out shells of grand houses, and its people struggle to survive in the cold, harsh climate.
Please only make characters with the character builder . You can do it at my house if needed. Only use races and classes that appear in the character builder and are in the Player’s Handbook 1 or Player’s Handbook 2 (PH1, PH2). I want to get a good feel for the basic systems, so please do NOT make Hybrids or any other non-PH1 and PH2 classes or races. Please avoid multiclass aspects until you are at least Paragon tier unless it’s really important to you and you are well experienced with 4E. Stats should be done with the point-buy or array system, not by rolling.
As long as it follows the rules above, you can make, bring, and use characters of the same level as the stock characters that we have in house. Ask me what that level is. You start with the amount of gold it gives you in the character builder by using the “Total money: Level-appropriate” button (ask me how if you can’t find it). Then buy all your gear at market price, no markup. Buy any magic item up to your level plus 4. This simulates the loot you’d have gotten by now. Study your character ahead of time so when you play, you are not figuring out all your powers for the first time! If you are slowing things down, I will simplify your work by making you play only half your powers (the lower half) with two uses each.
If you want to play with a character of lower level than the campaign party, that’s fine; I will give you a “sidekick” bonus which makes you like a higher-level version of your character, with fewer powers to choose from.
For now, no evil characters. Unaligned characters are welcome but it’s not a license to be kind of evil. Someday I will run a campaign that allows much darker behaviour, but not here.
Here’s what you can buy without DM interaction while in Fallcrest (more towns to be listed later). You can buy all the mundane items from the PH at regular price. You can buy magic items of a level at or below your character’s, at a 20% markup. If you want to buy anything higher level, talk to the DM—it may take some work to find, since your connections are only as good as your station in life (your level). So focus on making magic items and finding them in adventures.
You can sell as described in the PH: you can’t sell mundane gear, and magic gear sells for 20% of its market price. However, just as with buying, you can’t sell any item higher than your level without checking with the DM.
Misc. house rules and adjudications
I stick to the rules as written quite closely, but I have a few changes or more often, interpretations of the rules…
In skill challenges, there is no passive skill checking. So be clear and say you are doing a check for knowledge, insight, or perception on a given person or object or topic of conversation. It’s usually rewarding and risk-free, so try those with each thing.
In skill challenges, I tend to keep the required number of successes and failures secret. In general, compared to the DMG advice, my SCs tend to have harder DCs but allow for more failures.
There are few cases where you can retry a skill check over and over on the same thing, or simulate the same as a take 20. Unless there is a book rule for it, assume you can’t.
Don’t track mundane ammo (including thrown weapons). I think it’s boring. Pretend that ammo is free, weighs nothing, and you always have enough. If you end up in privation, far from civilization for a long time with dwindling supplies, then I will ask you to start tracking it as if you have 20 units left when the privation starts. Magical or expensive ammo (more than 3 sp each) you do need to track faithfully.
I like and reward good roleplaying. To make things immersive and weighty, I tend to take anything said seriously, so beware! If you say jokingly, “I grab the shopkeeper by the shirt and shake him”, I’ll play it like you actually did it. If you say anything that could possibly be said by your character, then I’ll usually play it like your character said it. If you want to be sure that I don’t take something seriously, start what you say with “OOC” or hold up the “L” sign on your forehead as you say it.
I like real moral decisions with big consequences, and it’s not always clear what is the right thing to do or how to avoid bad consequences for your actions. And no action is sometimes the most dangerous choice of all.
I also take reputation and consequences seriously. Things you do can have a big and permanent impact on the world and how people in it treat you. To enforce this, your reputation will tend to stick to you as a player, not the character. So if you kill innocents with one character, you won’t dodge retribution by changing to a new character later. Any character you play will carry that reputation! It’s not too realistic, but it’s the only way to have real consequence while letting people pick up characters in a loose and flexible way. Some firewalls between your characters can apply, if you want to develop two different types of character, but be sure to let me know that’s your intention ahead of time. In general, this crossover of reputation is strongest among your characters of the same alignment.
I am going to use a lot of pre-made material from the D&D Insider site. So I’d appreciate it if people stayed away from reading that material. (I will not use the Scales of War adventure track material, but Floyd will, so stay away from that as well. Unless you are Floyd.)
To keep my prep work minimal, you won’t really have a choice as to where to go. Just go with the flow and enjoy it. Someday I will do a big sandbox that gives you lots of choice.
I run a consistent subplot alongside all my adventures, and weave it into every adventure that I can. This plot has a long arc and will really reward good note-taking over the long term. I encourage you to use the subplot wiki page to keep a common record. At first there will be a lot of fragmented information and mystery, but it will come into focus as you rise in levels. It all starts with the discovery that Szartharrax the white dragon in the Kobold Keep adventure was keeping as prisoners three women, naked and nearly dead with cold, their spirits broken but led by one with an unsettlingly calm acceptance of her slavery. Pursuing this mystery sent you down the rabbit hole.
This subplot and what you do with it sets up and will affect the starting condition a new campaign I will make someday, the one with a lot more evil, moral ambiguity, and intrigue in a city setting. The more you learn, the more you will get out of it.
The subplot is quite dark and touches on some uncomfortable and weird issues at times, with an exploration of evil and neutrality, chaos and good, and the recesses of sentient nature. I’m treating you as adults here, and expect you to respond in kind.
Here, more than in any other aspect of the campaign, I take roleplaying seriously and will make you go through the consequences of your choices and actions, even if you did something out of reckless impulse or comic relief. At times there will appear to be no good actions to take, merely the least bad action, and sometimes you’ll find yourself dealing with severe consequences you could not have anticipated. That said, there should be no way for you to completely screw yourself: I can adapt the subplot through a wide range of outcomes.
I am revealing a web of interconnected events and people. So don’t expect things to be tied up in a neat bow at the end of each adventure. There will always be loose ends, mysteries, unfinished business, unattained goals, and paths not taken. Think of it like the TV show Lost: you get some answers each time you play, but you get just as many new questions. I will try my best to make it fun every step of the way, even though it will have maddening mysteries. Just roll with it and enjoy the questions as much as the answers!