August 14, 2015

A Deep Carbon Observatory Campaign: Adventures in 889BC

We've started a new campaign yesterday.  It's based upon my recently purchased copy of Deep Carbon Observatory.  This new campaign is set within the mapped area of my KI.EN.GIR setting (fantasy Mesopotamia), but instead of the main campaign that is set in 3000BC using Labyrinth Lord this new campaign is set in 889BC using 2nd Edition rules.  So yeah, now I'm running a game every Thursday.  Each week we'll switch between characters, time periods, and rule systems.

I like to stay busy I guess.

That's Deep Carbon Observatory shoehorned into ancient Iran.  6 mile hexes.  If my calculations are correct, a loch about half the size of Loch Ness should be able to flood that whole green mountain valley rather nicely

We have four players and I'm making an effort not to scare them off right away.   For some reason not everyone seems to appreciate "roll 3d6 in order" style character creation.  They also seem to like the idea of having race separate from class.  Oh well, I'm here to please.  I've jettisoned all my home-brewed races, and we're making PCs straight out of the 2nd Edition Player's Handbook.  There were some questions about kits and proficiencies.  One of the guys wondered aloud about rerolling low hp rolls.  Suggestions were made.

I've decided to acquiesce to all demands.

Since character creation in my main KI.EN.GIR campaign is a bit harsh and unforgiving (roll 3d6 in order for stats and if you roll a 1 for hit points that's just too bad), I've decided to go the opposite direction with this new Deep Carbon campaign.  This is my version of being super generous and benevolent during character creation.  We're going with "4d6 drop the lowest" for stats, and MAX HP EACH LEVEL, and I'm starting them off at 7,500xp (or 8,250xp if 10% bonus for prime requisite).  Everybody also gets a henchman with 3,500xp.  I'm also throwing in some sweet proficiency benefits/bonus slots.  Oh, and don't forget about those helpful house rules.  Shields Shall be Splintered!, and the d30 rule is in effect too.  And hey!  I'll even throw in some magic items :-D

Don't worry though.  The monsters are all getting max hp too, and I'm still using the Arduin crit table and my own crazy fumble table.  I fully expect to be smiting some characters in the near future.  In fact one of the henchmen died during the first encounter of the campaign, so we're off to a good start.

I'm getting off topic though.  I really just wanted to lay out some setting info.

Fantasy Mesopotamia in 889BCE.  This is the dawn of the Iron Age.  The Assyrian empire is now quickly rising to power.  This is about 300 years after The Catastrophe in which almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was permanently razed within a forty to fifty year period.  This may have been caused by a combination of attacks from the Sea Peoples from the west and unknown barbarian groups on horseback from the east, but stories are sketchy and little is known for certain.  During the following Dark Age many people suffered and starved as the web of trade within the known world began to collapse.  Empires faltered and grew weak, but Assyria survived intact and mostly untouched thanks in part to their large standing army.  It was during this time that Assyria allowed the influx of displaced elves and dwarves to enter Assyria so long as they settled within the mountainous border region near the kingdom of Urartu.  Soon the cities of Elvholm and Dworvholm flourished as their kin flocked to these safe havens.  The elders and artisans of these far flung races have come together and begun to reassemble their ancient cultures and relearn the old crafts.  Assyrians protect these cities and trade with them heavily.  Dwarven metallurgy and elvish magic has helped to propel the Neo-Assyrian Empire into a superpower.

The Assyrians are currently fielding three different armies, each moving in a different direction and rolling over all who oppose them.  The first army is moving northwest through Anatolia toward Greece.  The second moves southwest through Canaan toward Egypt.  The third army has swept south through Babylonia, turned eastward and is now in the midst of conquering the Elamite lands.  Their armies are well equipped and flush with treasure, but when fielding three armies simultaneously manpower becomes an issue.

The PCs are all indentured soldiers, mercenaries in the third army.  The PCs each have their own heritage and background, but whether native born or the child of slaves from distant lands they have all now sold their services to the Assyrian army in order to pay debts and buy a better life for their families and loved ones.  They all signed up for a term of either 5 years or until Susa (the Elamite capitol) was captured.  Desertion is punishable by death, and their loved ones would be sold into slavery unless they could pay back the advance that was given.  The PCs were in it for the long haul.

Susa was taken yesterday.  The PCs are free to go home now, but have heard tales of the ancient treasure palace that lies nearby in the mountains to the north.  The great battles are over and the Assyrian army is headed west to take the poorly defended city Chogha Mish.  If the PCs hurry perhaps they can claim some of the treasure and magic for themselves before the army turns north and lays claim to it all.

Following the river north of Susa, you'll be heading toward Carrowmore and into the valley of the Optical God.  This valley is one of the main population centers for the Gutians, the wild hill people who live all around the Zargos Mountains.  They claim to be descended from the first human slaves to escape from the clutches of their Anunnaki masters.  Arattu was the name of the first Anunnaki research facility/treasure palace where humans were created.  When the Anunnaki moved west to build the first cities and create Sumeria, Arattu was hidden when the Igigi loyal to the Anunnaki built the Great Dam.  The Dam, the Igigi, and the area north of this valley are all taboo to the Gutians.  They all know where it is, but they will not go near there and few will even speak of such things.

All credit to Scrap Princess.  All I did was make it ugly by scrubbing off some numbers and a few other tells.  Now I have a player's map to hand out.  Turns out one of the PCs is Gutian and grew up in this area.  His folks helped him make a map of the valley.

All the PCs were recently soldiers in the army.  You have no money, but you are all fully equipped with whatever you want.  No pack animals though.

Proficiencies are a little different than the book.  Any weapon your class has access to can be used without penalty.  Using a Weapon Proficiency slot will give a weapon +1 to hit and +1 damage.  Weapon specialization gives +2/+2.  You can use Weapon proficiency slots as non-weapon slots if you want.  Bonus languages from high Intelligence = bonus non-weapon proficiencies, use them for whatever.
Everyone starts off speaking 2 languages for free.
Free: Common = Aramaic
Free: Elves get Elvish, Dwarves get Dwarvish, everyone else rolls a d6.  This might help determine ethnicity/background also.  PCs probably grew up in Assyria or Babylonia, but maybe a parent was taken as a slave or was just a traveler from another land.
    1. Assyrian
    2. Babylonian
    3. Elamite
    4. Gutian (Zagros Mountian region)
    5. Roll a d8 instead 
    6. Roll a d8 instead
            1. Egyptian
            2. Iranian (Persian, beyond the southwestern edge of the map)
            3. Urartian (Caucasus Mountain region)
            4. Moabite (Canaan)
            5. Phoenician
            6. Luwian (Anatolia)
            7. Harappan (Meluhha AKA India)
            8. Greek

Ancient Languages: Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, Hurrian
Reading/Writing: One slot makes you Literate in every language you can speak

Wizard spellbooks start with twice as many spells as the wizard can memorize (so a 3rd level wizard has 4 first and 2 second level spells in his book).  You pick those spells, then add Read Magic and Detect Magic for free.  Specialist wizards work just like the book says, so they end up starting out with more spells in their spellbook since they can memorize more.  Failing a roll for % chance to learn a spell is lame, so don't bother.  Auto-succeed all those rolls.

OK, I'm tired now.  Next post will be all about deities and religions.  I'm pretty much just stealing the pantheons from Jeff Rients world of Cinder, mixing in some Sumerian deities, and converting them all to 2nd edition rules so that we can have various factions of clerics in this Deep Carbon campaign.  The super brief, cursory glance version looks like this...

Priests have to choose a deity, for everyone else it's optional
Lawful Good + occasionally NG and LN: Church of the Gold Dragon = same as Cleric in the book, no spell restrictions
CE+CN: The Loathsome Frog Gods = Vampiric heal spells, Wizard necro+summon spells, some clerical spheres restricted, MU weapon + armor restrictions, possible mutamorphosis
All Varied Alignments: The Old Sumerian Gods = no weapon restrictions. Bonus abilities and spell restrictions vary by deity.  Family tree below.


  1. Lovely Sua, capitol of امپراطوری هخامنشیv! Bravo

  2. Thanks, I didn't know anyone would be so happy to see Susa on the map :)
    This is all set a few hundred years before the Achaemenid Empire took off though.