0 General Notes of Great Importance
You will be building 3 separate characters each for this adventure, each with its own background, personality and appearance.
You will designate the order in which your characters will be called to action.
If your first character dies, the second may be called into action, through the Soul Stones that you have been given. Read about the Soul Stones to figure out how, how to activate the third character, and what happens once all your characters die.
This is a very low magic campaign. Magic exists, but you generally won’t encounter it. No magic shops, no magic wielding foes (that you will need to fight), no temples, no magical healing, no magical equipment, no magical traps, etc.
Book learning is of very little use in this adventure, as practically nothing is known about the region you are traveling into. Yet knowledge is power is perhaps truer in Desert Heat than in any other previous adventure you have played. The only difference is that here characters will have to scrounge for the knowledge themselves.
1 Ability Scores
25 point buy.
There are no permanent ability score enhancers in the game, so what you start with is what you’ve got.
Desert Heat focuses on survival and social interaction. Dumping Charisma is a very bad idea that you will come to regret very quickly. I highly recommend that his score be at least 10 for ALL characters. This is why you start out with such a high ability point buy. Wisdom and Constitution are also very important, while Intelligence is less important than in normal Pathfinder/D&D games (see Skills to understand why).
Please go over the House Rules before building your character, as the new combat rules, changed Traits, Skills and new Feats there may influence your build.
All races are allowed, with the exception of Gnomes. Gnomes require a special addendum to their character background and may impose roleplaying difficulties, particularly at the first stage of the adventure. I will allow them but you need to contact me before you build your character’s background.
You start out at level 5. The adventure will take you to level 8-9.
Note: yes, you can all be rogues. Unlike normal D&D adventures this will actually work in Desert Heat. All classes with Spellcasting abilities or their like (i.e. Alchemist) were disallowed. Gunslinger was disallowed for flavour.
4 Pick a Faction
At level 3 your character joined one of Blackdeath’s Thieves’ Guild Factions. To see which factions your character can potentially belong to read up on Thieves Guild Factions. Note that all factions have prerequisites to join them and that you cannot switch between factions once you’ve made your choice. Factions determine:
• Which bonus trait you gain at level 3/6/9 (and also 12/15/18 – but these levels are irrelevant for this adventure).
• Your character’s Code of Conduct, training, and some of its goals.
• Your characters’ Personal Mission (will be given once your build is complete).
• Contacts that your character can access.
• Social skill bonuses for your character’s interaction with other guild members (see Pledgeing Alliance for more info).
• Other bonuses and perks that you will unlock as you advance in level and Guild Ranks.
Take time and look over the various factions before building your character. They are worth taking into account in the early stages of character building.
5 Pledge Allegiance
We will not be using D&D or Pathfinder’s alignment systems, but rather D20 Modern or Black Company’s Allegiances system.
Each character can have between one and three alliances. You all have the Thieves’ Guild alliance (sub-alliance to your Faction), and you may never discard it. You may choose to only have that alliance. If you choose to add one or two other alliances (either at the beginning of the adventure or when you level up), they will always be at a lower level of importance than the Thieves’ Guild alliance – which will always be your most important alliance. You may discard any of your other alliances at any time in the adventure (or I may tell you to discard them due to your character’s behavior), but you may not discard the Thieves’ Guild alliance, and you may not gain new alliances in place of those that you discarded until you level up.
Alliances grant you a +2 circumstance bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks made when dealing with a member of your alliance – provided that you make your membership known to the other member in-game.
Breaking alliance in an “ugly” way may lead to penalties when interacting with former alliance members, and so should not be done lightly.
To keep tab of the number of ideas, organizations, individuals etc that you can pledge alliance to, I’m limiting them to only those described in the Pledging Allegiance page on this this site.
Note: as the adventure progresses, new options for alliances will come up and be added to that page. It is recommended that you check it regularly.
Don’t invest in Knowledge skills whatsoever. They won’t ever come to play. If you want to know something, you’ll just have to figure it out by yourselves.
No Use Magic Device – no magic devices to use. No Spellcraft needed – no magic to use it on.
Social skills are crucial, as are Heal, Appraise, Perception, Stealth and Survival. All characters should have some level of social skills. At least one character should have Heal. At least one character should have Survival. It is highly recommended that all characters have some level of Stealth.
Note that the Heal skill has been changed (see House Rules to see how). Heal is now a class skill for the Monk and Barbarian class as well as the Ranger class.
Each character gets a free trait at character creation (this is in addition to the two traits that you can pick for your character in level 1). You may not choose the free 1st level Trait – it is predetermined, and is called Blackdeath Thief.
Blackdeath Thief – you are a full member of the Blackdeath Thieves’ guild. You gain +1 bonus to Stealth checks and Stealth is always a class skill for you.
In addition to this trait all characters gain bonus traits every 3 levels. The traits are those specified by the Faction that you belong to, and you cannot pick them.
We will be using the Black Company rules for wealth and equipment (with the exception of magic items, which you won’t have access to). I’ve sent the relevant chapter to you.
You start with 1,800 sp.
Blackdeath is considered to be a Metropolis for equipment purposes. Note that for all items above Staple scarcity you must roll a percentile dice to see if you can find them. For the purpose of character creation only you may purchase two items without having to roll to find them (this includes Unique and Exotic items that are normally very difficult to find).
I recommend that you spend all the money you start with. You will receive a small amount from the Guild to use for bribes and the initial travel phase to the south. In Blackdeath money not spent is money stolen.
9 Personal Mission
All characters want to advance in ranks in the Thieves’ Guild – each character just wants to advance for its own personal and unique reasons.
At the beginning of the adventure each character will have their own personal mission. Once it is complete, the character will gain a personal reward and advance in guild ranks. Higher guild ranks give characters access to better and more contacts, to secret equipment stashes, and allows them to ask for favours from other guild members.
10 Calculate Hit Points, Action Points, Carrying Capacity, Combat Stats