Hello All,

I’m really excited to be playing 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons with you! In preparation for this Wednesday, I have some additional background information about the game. I also have directions from Jeremy, who’s kindly agreed to let us use his house on Wednesday (I found your email addresses, so I'll take the address bit out of here. Check your email for directions.)

And information for Wednesday:

We’ll be playing Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the first campaign released for 5th edition. Please do not read about the campaign or look through any of the campaign materials, even though these are available to you. Hopefully you all currently have access to a 5th Edition Players Handbook (PHB) and have had time to think about what kind of character you are interested in playing. I know Josh has finished an entire character build, which is great preparation!, but if you don’t have anything done at all when we meet, that is also okay. We will be spending the first part of Wednesday’s session making sure we have our character sheets filled out all the way, talking a bit about our backgrounds and contacts, and then hopefully playing our first mission! The rest of this email should help prep you for the character creation. Please read through it!

I’m including some supplementary Bonds and Background Features in this email. While it is not strictly necessary to pick one of these bonds as your character’s bond, doing so will tie your character more tightly to the campaign world.

Your characters will start the campaign in or headed towards the city of Greenest, which is a small city on the crossroads between the western Sword Coast and the eastern Dragon Coast regions of Sembia and Cormyr, and sees its fair share of Trade Caravans (which need hired protection against raiders). Greenest is also near the Coast Way, which connects the great southern cities in Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan to the wild Sword Coast. Otherwise, Greenest is situated amongst fertile farmlands. Your character might have family or friends in Greenest, plan to meet someone there, plan to obtain some hard-to-find goods there, might be passing through with a trade caravan, or maybe Greenest is your hometown. Or some other reason! But your character has a reason to be going to Greenest, so figure it out.

Each of your characters will have two personality traits, one bond, an ideal, and a flaw. In the PHB, each background has tables of suggested personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws. Please don’t pick the flaws and bonds you think will be least relevant to the campaign in order to minimize your attachment to the world. Instead, pick bonds and flaws that you want to play out in game, which interest you and which you want to become part of the story. You don’t have to pick off the table in the Player’s Handbook (they differ between backgrounds, so if you don’t like the suggested ones for your particular background, shop around), but the bonds and flaws you come up with should go along the lines of those you see in there (also see the attached list of Bonds). A new mechanic in 5th Edition is Inspiration, which gives you a bonus on any D20 roll of your choice. Inspiration is awarded when your role play is inspired: such as when you play your character in accordance with the personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws you have chosen for your character.

When creating a character, you will choose both a Background and a Class; please think about how the two intersect in the life of your character.  Your character is either on their first adventuring mission, or is about to take up their first adventuring mission. Backgrounds are intended to illustrate what your character did immediately before this:

For example, say you are playing a Monk (Class) and you are thinking about taking the Sailor Background because it offers some cool appealing features. What does being a Monk have to do with sailing? It has something to do with it if your monastery is a floating pagoda, or if it is the home of the fabled sea-going monks—it would be fairly easy to integrate both these monastic and professional backgrounds. The Sailor background intends you to have maritime contacts, experience on long voyages, former rank/marine job experience, and sailing knowledge. Maybe your monastery knows secret routes through seas, rivers, or lakes, and runs a business carrying commercial goods to support the monastery. These monks would sail those secret routes.

Or maybe your monastery dispatched you on a long sea voyage to recover a sacred relic that has been uncovered somewhere along the Sword Coast, and you are heading to Greenest to meet a contact who can fill you in further on where to recover the relic. Maybe you joined the famous floating monastery to learn their powers, knowing full well you would betray your brothers to join a rogue, power hungry political faction. You managed to hide your duplicity (or so you think), but you have severed your ties to most of your monastic resources. When you got word that your new friends were ready for you, you skipped out on the first merchant ship that sailed into the harbor, and you are currently headed to your destiny in that black network. It’s up to you what you choose, but if your background seems complicated or contorted, maybe try to think outside the box to recreate a simpler (that doesn’t mean less interesting) one.

Remember, whatever your character’s background, they’ve chosen or will be about to choose to give up everything they have to live a life of itinerancy in pursuit of treasure, artifacts, power, righteousness, or dreamy-eyed adventure. (Or have they? Maybe you are on a mission specifically issued by your organization. Maybe your organization encourages members to follow their hearts and conscience, but it didn’t necessarily sanction your mission.)

Our setting is the Sword Coast of Faerûn, an established D&D setting. Here is a non-authoritative map of Faerûn (this map is from 3rd edition) — but just for context, as your characters most likely won’t know much about the greater world.

The Cult of the Dragon has recently grown bolder, and begun to draw attention to itself. Your character has/will stumble/d into the Cult’s scheme, or has a connection to dragons. The following tables provide you with bonds tailored to the campaign. Use them in place of or in addition to the ones you selected from (or created for) your background. While in many instances it may be okay for multiple characters to have the same bonds/features/etc, it is desirable for each character to have some unique characteristics. So come with ideas, and we’ll formalize it Wednesday:

Bonds (d10):

1. Leosin Erlanthar, a wandering monk, once saved your life. He's sent urgent word for you to meet him in a small town called Greenest. Looks like it's time to pay off that debt.

2. When an orc raid drove your family from your home, the people of Greenest took you in. Anyone who threatens Greenest is your sworn enemy.

3. Every five nights, you have a strange sequence of apocalyptic dreams. The world is destroyed by cold, choking fumes, lightning storms, waves of acid, and horrible fire. Each time, the dream ends with ten evil eyes glaring at you from the darkness. You feel a strange compulsion to travel to Greenest. Perhaps the answer to the riddle of your dreams awaits you there.

4. Ontharr Frume, a crusading warrior and champion of good, is your friend and mentor. He has asked you to travel to Greenest is search of rumors of increasing dragon activity.

5. You have heard rumors that your close childhood friend,a half-elf named Talis, has been kidnapped by a strange group of dragon cultists. Your investigations into the cult have led you to the town of Greenest. You must save her!

6. Being the grandchild of a renowned dragon slayer is usually a good way to impress people, but just last week a gang of ruffians attacked you. You barely escaped with your life, but as you fled the ruffians told you that the Cult of the Dragon never forgets and always avenges. You're hoping to lie low in a sleepy little town called Greenest until this blows over.

7. On his deathbed, your father confessed that he had become involved in a group called the Cult of the Dragon. They paid him to smuggle goods across the Sword Coast. Wracked by guilt, he begged your to investigate the cult and undo the evil he may have helped foster. He urged you to begin your search in a town called Greenest.

8. The dragons destroyed everything you hold dear. They killed your family and destroyed your home. Now, with nothing but what you carry on your back and a horrid scar of the near fatal wounds you sustained in the attack, you seek revenge.

9. You and your family were members of the Cult of the Dragon, until your rivals in the cult arranged to wipe you out. Though they slaughtered your kin, you survived--but they think you're dead, and now is your chance for vengeance! Your hit list consists of three names: A human cultist named Frulam Mondath, a half-orc named Bog Luck, and a half-dragon named Rezmir. You have arrived in Greenest, knowing it's the next on the cult's list of targets.

10. You have a secret. You once were a gold dragon who served Bahamut. You were too proud and vain, to the point that Bahamut decided to teach you a lesson. You have been trapped in a weak, humanoid body, with your memories of your former life but a dim shadow. You remember only one thing with perfect clarity: Bahamut's command to go into the world and prove your devotion to the cause of good. If you prove worthy, on your death you will return to his side in your true form.

Below are two optional features that you can choose in place of the feature granted by your background:

Cult of the Dragon Infiltrator

You have infiltrated the ranks of the Cult of the Dragon. Having spied on the organization for quite some time, you are familiar with its inner workings and customs. You have a second identity as an initiate of the cult, enough of a facade to blend in as a simple grunt or servant.

Dragon Scholar

You have studied dragons and their lore for many years. You can automatically identify locations built or used by dragons, and you can identify dragon eggs and scales by sight. If you fail an Intelligence check to recall lore relating to dragons, you know someone or some book you can consult for the answer unless the DM rules that the lore is unknown.

Sam Berney
605-415-2841 (same as: 732-723-7639)