A Forgotten Realms Campaign

by kurtiswiebe

One of my favourite hobbies is a creative one. It’s a joint story telling experience with a lot of hilarity, drama and fun. It is called Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, it’s true. I’m an avid gamer. I am always the narrator, delighting in the reactions of players to my plot twists and character moments. A few years ago I ran one of the most complex games I’d ever devised and for all you DM’s out there, you might find this a very interesting plot.

It eventually became joking referred to as the “Secrets” campaign, and the moniker stuck because when we look back and talk about it now, everyone says, in a hushed whisper, “Secretsssss”

I drafted an elaborate back story, as detailed below, and every player had their choice of a character to pick and once they did, I let them see their special write up. They even had the option of starting at 1st or 4th level, and to my surprise, about half the group chose the former. The 1st level characters were the children of the Cliffside heroes.

The introduction is what I read to every player present. At the very end, I read that section to those who played a character from the disbanded adventuring party.

Hopefully you can get some use out of it and if people are actually interested I can post up the introductions I wrote for each session!

The Order of Iron Hearts

The story is said of the six heroes that peril and death awaited them, but the adversaries of the Order of Iron Hearts were vanquished and balance was restored to the land.

In the year 1360, the Order of Iron Hearts was called upon by town of Murann for assistance against bandits operating out of the Mytharan Wood. The bandits had been organizing raids and capturing weapons and armour shipments coming in from Port Kir to the south.  Under the advice and leadership of Captain Horace Love, the heroes tracked down the villainous leader of the bandit operation, one Villiant Ravenblood. In a mighty battle with his forces, the heroes slew Villiant and captured many of his operatives. As part of the deal, the Order of Iron Hearts received a substantial reward from Captain Love and were gifted a large percentage of the recovered goods.

For some, such adventures would only be the beginning, but the Order had accumulated more wealth than they had ever imagined. After receiving their reward, the Order was officially broken and the heroes retired a few short years after they began.

Friendship won out and together they sold their possessions and founded Cliffside. This small, isolated town on the edge of the Trollbark Forest, proved a valuable investment as in the recesses below the town, deposits of Amber were found. In the ten years since, Cliffside has grown to a collection of families, all seeking a quiet escape from busier towns across the Sword Coast. 80 people call Cliffside home, of all races and cultures, drawn together by the heroic stories of the Order of Iron Hearts and the quiet, unassuming riches the village has to offer.

Cristus Tennison (Human, Male, Warrior Class)

Starting level: 4

Classes Available: Fighter, Barbarian

Alignment Options: Any Non Evil

Starting Equipment: none

Resources: Mayor, Land Owner, 125 GP

Secret: Cristus severely injured or possibly even killed Villiant’s daughter, Bianca, in the battle that ended the man’s life. Bianca was a young teen at the time. Cristus remembers only that his blade cut her head in the heat of the fight as she, for some reason, entered the fray, and it looked to be a mortal wound. Cristus carries this guilt to this day. No one else knows this secret, he guards it with his life.

Hannah Dague (Elf, Female, Priestess)

Starting Level: 4

Classes Available: Bard, Cleric

Alignment Options: Any Non Evil

Starting Equipment: Holy Symbol

Resources:  Religious Leader, Land Owner

Secret: Hannah sought religious redemption after learning the truth about her actions. The Church of Sune in Baldur’s Gate demanded an act of repayment, to return to Murann and build an honourarium for those she played a part in killing. Hannah, afraid to return, never atoned for her crime and as a direct result was banished from the Church. Hannah still has her powers, but is no longer recognized amongst her brothers and sisters. Her shrine is a violation of being excommunicated and she is not ordained to lead others in worship of Sune.

Banyon Krae (Dwarf, Male, Warrior)

Starting Level: 4

Classes Available: Fighter, Barbarian

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: None

Resources: Land Owner, 300gp

Secret: Banyon has hinted to his son, Brom, of the true nature of their ‘heroic’ story, despite the group consensus to remain completely secretive about the events of ten years past. What is more, Banyon is grooming his son and daughter to eventually lead an expedition against Captain Horace Love in an act of vengeance. His reasons for revenge are up to you. While it was agreed that all income received from their ownership in the mine would go back into the town as a means of atonment, Banyon has been skimming for his personal coffers so that eventually he can afford new gear. Until now, he has claimed his daughter, Canyon, requires medicinal assistance from Beregost as a way to cover his tracks. Canyon has played along with his game.

Kettle Brighteyes (Gnome, Male, Arcane Caster)

Starting Level: 4

Classes Available: Sorcerer, Wizard, Bard

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Ring of Invisibility

Resources: Land Owner

Secret: During the battle with Villiant, Kettle disappeared using his Ring of Invisibility. His actions directly resulted in the death of one of their number. His name was Greyson Thurm, and he was betrothed to Daria Sunbow, who a few months after his death learned she was pregnant with his second child. When confronted, Kettle lied and said that Greyson and he had become separated, and when the battle was over, he had found him dead. They did become separated, exactly why Kettle disappeared and how he feels about his actions are entirely up to you.

Fulstrom Klement (Halfling, Male, Rogue)

Starting Level: 4

Classes Available: Rogue, Bard

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Bloodfinger (+2 Shortsword)

Bloodfinger – +2 Weapon, beginning of every battle must wound wielder for 1d4. Cursed, cannot be removed. Ask GM for details.

Resources: Land Owner, Bay Bandit Connections (Baldur’s Gate thieving ring)

Secret: Fulstrom was the one who delivered the killing blow to Villiant Ravensblood. In the seconds before his death, Villiant explained how the Order was being used by Captain Love to hasten his ascendancy as ruler of Murann. Fulstrom was the only one to ever hear the story. When asked later by the group, Fulstrom covered up the truth and insisted Villiant never said a word before he was dispatched. Whether or not Fulstrom believed Villiant, whether he killed Villiant accepting or disbelieving the story is entirely up to you. His reasons for killing Villiant should be discussed with the GM. Regardless, the blade that was used to murder Villiant was cursed that day forward. Fulstrom can never be without the blade, and must always use it in battle.

Daria Sunbow

Starting Level: 4

Classes Available: Ranger, Druid, Barbarian

Alignment Options: Any Non Evil

Starting Equipment: Stone of the Dead

Resources: Land Owner, Harper Connected

Secret: Daria has never gotten over the death of her lover, Greyson Thurm. In the years since his death in the battle against Villiant, Daria has become obsessed with speaking with him just one more time. Three years ago, Daria sought out a Necromancer named Xan who provided her a Stone of the Dead for a small amount of gold and a personal debt to the mage, of which she still owes. For years she has tried to contact Greyson, but has never found his spirit.  She carries the Stone with her at all times, hopeful that someday, Greyson will speak with her through it.

Kent, Jemma, or Thursten Tennison (Human)

Starting Level: 1

Classes Available: Any, +2 Diplomacy, +2 Appraise

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard

Resources: Mayor’s Son/Daughter

Secret: The Tennison children know the original name of the Order of Iron Hearts to be the Brethren of the Sun. They do not know why their father tells people otherwise.

Vileria or Xander Dague (Elf)

Starting Level: 1

Classes Available: Any, +500 if Cleric (Sune)

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard

Resources: Child of a Priestess

Secret: The Dague’s remember changing their name 10 years ago, before moving to Cliffside and settling there. Their mother never explained why.

Brom or Canyon Krae (Dwarf)

Starting Level: 1

Classes Available: Any, +500xp if Fighter

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard, 1 free weapon of choice

Resources: Rich Father

Secret: The Krae siblings know a dark secret. Their father has informed them that the heroic tale of the Order of Iron Hearts is a skewed version of reality. On nights of your father’s frequent bouts of drinking, he has informed you that what the Order says happened that day is true, but that Villiant was not the villain of the story, Captain Love was. He has told you nothing more. He is also training you for some reason, in secret, and he murmurs about sweet revenge over a half empty mug.

Amberlee Brighteyes (Gnome, female)

Starting Level: 1

Classes Available: Any, +500 if Sorcerer, Wizard, or Bard

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard

Resources: none

Secret: Your father secretly cherishes a Ring of Invisibility. You know exactly where he keeps it, safely hidden beneath his mattress.

Korinita, Dasher, or Hugo Klement (Halfling)

Starting Level: 1

Classes Available: Any, +500 xp if Rogue or Bard

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard

Resources: Connected Father

Secret: Your father was once connected to the Bay Bandits in Baldur’s Gate before his time served with the Order. You discovered a letter once, indicating a contact name, Sirus and code word that can be used to get in contact with them.

Falcon, Raven or Hawk Sunbow (Half Elf)

Starting Level: 1

Classes Available: Any, +500 xp if Ranger or Barbarian

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard

Resources: Mysterious Uncle

Secret: While visiting Beregost over two years ago, you were secretly approached by a mysterious benefactor who went by the name of Atticus Moonbell, an Elven mage from Mulhurand. Your mother not present, Atticus said if you ever decided to claim your heritage, all you must do is visit your father’s brother in Baldur’s Gate. Atticus supplied all the information on your uncle, one Frey Thurm, as well as promise of a small inheritance. Atticus insisted that Frey would be an invaluable asset if they ever needed assistance, but most important, your mother must never know.

Voon Kruk (Half-Orc, Female, Warrior)

Starting Level: 3

Classes Available: Barbarian, Fighter

Alignment Options: Any

Starting Equipment: Class Standard, Leather Armour +1, Masterwork Weapon of choice

Resources: Guard Captain of Cliffside, Ex-Baldur’s Gate Drillmaster

Secret: You moved to Cliffside 2 years ago, under the pretence of hearing about the town and its recent discovery of Amber. You offered to head up a security detail after living amongst the people for a few months and were readily accepted for the position. You have become fast friends with Cristus, the mayor, and earned his trust. What you are hiding, however, is that you are really here to learn secrets about Cristus, to glean information from him. You are secretly part of an informal information network out of Baldur’s Gate that looks into rumours and proves or disproves them. They are called The First, and are not formally connected to any other faction other than their own. The rumour you are investigating surrounds Cristus, who is supposedly linked to a group called The Brethren of the Sun, a faction that was responsible for the murder of a freelance mercenary captain out of Port Kir.

So far, you have learned nothing.

Brogan Malstar (Elf, Male, Ranger)

Starting Level: 3

Classes Available: Ranger

Alignment Options: Any Non Evil

Starting Equipment: Class Standard, Studded Leather +1, Composite Longbow (mastercraft)

Resources: Harper

Secret: Under the guise of a simple elven wanderer looking for a place to settle down for a short while, you rolled into Cliffside a few months ago. While helping with hunting and gathering of medicinal herbs, you have been looking into the increasingly erratic behaviour of Daria Sunbow, an ex-Harper who cut off communication over 10 years ago. You are to keep your Harper allegiance a secret while you investigate the reason behind her disappearance and also what her connection to the Necromancer Xan is. Xan is a wicked mage who operates near and around Beregost.

The Secret Story

The truth behind the events 10 years passed are much different than the story you concocted. A tale of heroism, glory and honour are woven to create a mask to shield those you love from the truth you have been harbouring for the last decade.

The story has elements of truth. You did work for a man named Captain Horace Love, he actually did hire you to eliminate a mercenary named Villiant Ravenblood, but that is where the fact separates from fiction.

The truth is quite simple: You are the villains of the story.

Captain Love had planned for years a silent coup in the city of Murann, slowly, carefully plodding his plan. When the city council learned, rather by accident, of his plan, they hired a mercenary team out of Port Kir to ambush the weapons shipments that Love had been amassing in secret. The Mercenaries, led by the good hearted Villiant Ravenblood, assisted the councilmen of Murann in their desperate bid to stop Love’s plan on a sole condition: not of financial gain, but of standing. Villiant wanted to be awarded the job of protecting Murann once Love was dealt with.

It was never to be. Love sent word to local adventure guilds about desperate need of assistance and it was your team that answered the call. He manipulated you to believe the city council had a plot to overthrow his regime, stating he stood firm against a growing obsession with northward invasion along the sword coast. He fabricated evidence citing key political players, evidence enough to fool your company, then called the Brethren of the Sun.

With the moral high ground, you investigated and eventually located Villiant’s mercenary company and narrowly escaped with victory. Villiant was killed, along with many of his men, and a handful more were captured and turned over to Captain Love.

It was after the battle his treachery was unveiled. On pain of death, Love ordered you to leave Amn at once and to never again speak of the events of that day. He honoured his word and paid you handsomely, even cutting you in on the spoils of battle.

The treachery fragmented the Brethren. Two members left, forever broken by their actions. Two of their members, the illustrious bard Bastille Joon and the warrior paladin Fenris Caldir, parted company and were never again seen. Another of them, lover to Daria Sunbow, Greyson Thurm, fell in battle.

Together, you forged a story to reclaim your honour, selling all your worldly goods to establish a town. You changed the company name, some even changing your family name to hide away from the shame,
and to forever put your past behind you.
But, the past always has a way of catching up with you…