Dark Sun: Gulg
Gulg Character Generation rules
Campaign Setting: Gulg, the African-themed forest city of Athas.
Merchant House: Your characters are associated with or part of the Merchant House Inika.
-House Inika is the only merchant house allowed to trade directly with the citizens of Gulg. All other trading must be done through the Queen’s Scribes. This allows the bypass of tariffs, although it means Inika can raise prices on outsiders.
-House Inika was originally part of House Riben. House Riben’s patron, Teun-Ke Riben made a series of offenses to other trading houses and Tyrian templars. Inika Riben took members of the House and formed a new house, an event call “The Parting.” They petitioned the Templars for help, although the nature of this petition has remained secret. The next day, Teun-Ke had disappeared, a trail of blood leading from his bedroom to the forest.
-House Riben members attempted to keep the house alive for another 10 years, but eventually either disbanded or were accepted into the Queen’s Scribes. Animosity between Riben-blooded Scribes and House Inika has existed since, but the Templars apparent approval of Inika has kept violence to a minimum. At least one Templar monitors House Inika since that time, roughly 20 years ago (30 years since The Parting).
-House Inika functions much like a normal trading house. Blooded members of the house bear the Surname Inika, although House Inika views itself as another People. Adopted members gain the name Inika, although this is not done lightly.
-Inika Headquarters are in the Queen’s Trading House Dagada, outside the Queen’s Gate of Gulg. Other Houses maintain small structures, but Inika dominates the area.
-Lastly, characters who are officially part of the House, are not part of any Dagada (i.e. not a citizen of the city-state of Gulg.) Moreover, if you are a named House Member, or under Contract, you must obey the Trader’s Code.
Social Positions: Every character must pick one of these.
-Templar: At least one Templar for the last 20 years has been assigned to watch over House Inika’s dealings. Traditional Templars in Gulg have a primal/arcane mix. The Templar Theme and/or Sorcerer-King Pact Warlock are appropriate options. You gain Favor, the Shakes, and Nganga Authority.
-Dune Trader: At least one character should select be Dune Trader theme. You gain Supplies.
-Drum Circle Liaison: A more shady character, the Drum Circle is a Dagada dealing with the more “underworld” of Gulg. Mystics, entertainers, outlaws and artisans ply their wares here. This House member/contact character should have an appreciation of the arts, poison, magic, and/or assasination. Bard and/or Athasian Minstrel are appropriate, but assassin, rogue or something fairly sinister might work. A bard dune trader could be interesting. You gain Drum Circle Protection and an Nganga Ally.
-Judaga: Becoming nobility in Gulg is based on martial talent. Any character who uses a weapon to determine damage is appropriate for this. Judaga means Headhunter, so be wary as this will be a bloodthirsty character who delights in combat. The Judaga will be an ally of the House, but also a dedicated defender of Gulg. You gain Fame and some nice equipment.
-Slave: This character does not have to be an actual slave, although slaves of Judaga character’s are treated very, very well. It could also be a House Slave, trying to earn (or regain) freedom, or an escaped slave from Balic, now employed by the house. A devoted Ally of the House. You gain some weird mystical boons, and Slave Respect
-Enlightened Seer: This character is either the Noble Adept Theme (although you are not necessarily a noble unless you are a Judaga), or a psionic powered class. You are a member of the Seer Dagada. This character will be a devoted ally of the House. You gain Bond and Psionic attacks.
No matter which position you choose, you should be playing a character devoted to the City of Gulg, The Oba of Gulg, and the House. Obviously this devotion will be different for each character, but it should end in the same result: you generally pick one of these factions over outsiders. Devotion can be in the form of admiration, friendship, worship, respect, fear, love and/or loyalty. In some situations this attributes will be more important than alignment.
Additionally, everyone should consider the Oba a goddess. While it’s easy for us to simply say she is a level 28 solo with lots of rituals, this campaign is built heavily on this belief (although obviously the campaign will progress). Keep in mind, the Oba has access to rituals that even the other sorcerer-kings don’t, including a ritual to make it rain. To your characters, she certainly appears god-like, for now.
Lastly, one of you will have to be the official leader, and I am not referring to character roles within the party. This means the House has appointed your character to be in charge of missions, expeditions, etc. Any of the six character options above are appropriate for this.
Character Creation House Rules
Character Builder: You must make and keep your character on my D&D account.
Inherent Bonuses: We will use inherent bonuses.
Divine Power Source: The Divine Power source is not available. Divine feats/powers are right out! As are divine rituals. Right out!
Themes: You must use one of the Dark Sun themes or the new themes from the Heroes of Elemental Chaos book. You’ll notice there are a ton on the list, making it hard to find the specific themes, so here they are: Athasian Minstrel, Dune Trader, Elemental Priest, Escaped Slave, Gladiator, Noble Adept, Primal Guardian, Templar, Veiled Alliance, Wasteland Nomad, Wilder. And the Elemental Themes: Demon Spawn, Earthforger, Elemental Initiate, Firecrafter, Ironwrought, Janissary, Moteborn, Primordial Adept, Watershaper, Windlord.
Essentials vs Normal: You can create an Essentials character or a normal 4e character.
Skills: You cannot train in the Dungeoneering skill. Dungeoneering (in this campaign) has nothing to do with being underground or knowledge of underground creatures. Underground checks fall under the Nature skill. Feats associated with Dungeoneering are not allowed.
Wild Talents: you get one and you get to choose it.
Theme: You get to pick a theme, and remember, it can be retrained later. Although this shouldn’t be done lightly.
Race: You should clear whatever race you want to play with me, aside from human. Culture is important on Athas, and if you don’t want to adopt the mindset of a certain race, just play a human, or close-to-human race. Also you cannot play a cleansed race or a monstrous race. You can play a a Revenant and choose a cleansed race as the Revenant race, but you will look human. Cleansed Races include: Half-Orcs, Gnomes, Drow, Shardminds, Pixies, Satyrs, Duergar, Svirfneblin and Devas.
Additionally the following races are mutations of human children born to normal parents: Changelings and Kalastar. Vryloka, Shifters, Warforged, Wilden and Bladelings are New Breeds from the desert. (Warforged have either hard scales, chitin or bone; not stone, wood or metal). Half-elves are not a true race, and are literally the children or grandchildren of an interracial union. Muls are the same. Genasi are children of unions between elemental beings and normal mortals, although you cannot be a sunsoul or watersoul Genasi. Shades and Shadar-Kai are a race from another realm; if you really, really want to be one, let me know; it will spoil some secrets later on in the campaign if you chose not to be one.
Additionally, Warforged need to eat, drink and breathe. They can attach or embed almost any item using simple tools. It should be noted that these items can be stripped by violent means.
Githyanki are actually the shell-backed Gith, and Githzerai are mutations of that species. Both are available options, although everyone usually hates Gith.
Rolling a Natural 1 on attack rolls:
Non-mental weapons: the weapon is Broken and becomes an Improvised Weapon. It requires a craftsman to fix. If it breaks again, it is Shattered.
Bronze Weapons: If you roll a 1, your bronze item is Bent, and becomes an improvised weapon. It can be repaired with a good hammer or other practical tool during a short rest. If you roll a 1 again while it is still bent, it is Broken and remains an improvised weapon. Another natural 1 after this will cause it to be destroyed.
Steel Weapons: Steel items can only be damaged when fighting certain supernatural enemies. Fire elementals or demons with acidic blood are good examples.
Rolling a Natural 20 on attack rolls: When a natural 20 is rolled, the attacker rolls a saving throw. A failed save means the weapon is treated as if you rolled a natural 1 (although not for purposes of damage).
Shattered: A Shattered item gives maximum damage, even for the additional damage rolled on top of normal damage. It is then destroyed.
Broken: A broken weapon becomes an improvised weapon. These stats are found in the character builder, but here they are for easy access: no proficieny bonus to hit, 1d4 damage.
Armor Breakage: If enemies roll a critical hit, roll a save if you are wearing nonmetal armor. If you fail, you lose 1 AC gained from armor, even if it’s an enhancement bonus granted by the armor. Once armor has lost ½ its protection, the next hit will destroy it.
Metal Armor: Metal armor gives -5 penalty to endurance checks to resist Athasian heat, on top of the normal penalty for the specific armor. But it rarely takes damaged.
Ranged Weapons: Ranged weapons that are not thrown cannot shatter, but they will not be destroyed either. Rather, if they are broken, they require a standard action to fix, and a minor action to reset, then another minor to load.
Implements do not suffer the chance to break that weapons do. Instead there is a stigma in wielding one. Even the psionic power source is feared by the lay-Athasian for its power, and ki-focuses and implements tend to intimidate those who do not understand them. Prepare to face fear and irrational response when using an implement or ki-focus.
Selling, Enchanting and Disenchanting
Items do not automatically sell for 1/5 of their normal price, although that can happen. Half is the general rule, although normal supply and demand will come into play. All items disenchant for ½ their normal price. Defiling while doing this increases this to ¾. If you enchant an item and defile to do it the cost is reduced by 50%.
Weapons and Masterwork Armor
For the purposes of this campaign, any weapon or armor which is +1 to +6 and has no other power or ability is not magical. It is simply exceptionally made. Moreover, only metal weapons (steel, bronze) achieve +3 to +5 and only steel can be a +6.
Advice: A magical item is a rare and precious thing on Athas. Almost all magical items have a “artifact-like” nature to them. Other mundane items will give more bonuses though, such as certain clothing, head-wear, or a family ring.
Being able to mentally attack another person, or read their mind is something most Athasians have heard of, but not many can do. The Psionic Schools of Athas don’t usually teach this skill, although its safe to assume at least some know how. The Sorcerer-Kings likely know as well, but aren’t sharing. A true Mind-bender sometimes evokes more fear than a wizard. The basic mechanics of this will allow characters to make psionic attacks (which are different that what a psion does), especially on a critical hit, but I will develop this concept later in the campaign. Be forewarned!