A Brief History:
300 years ago, the Desstrumite explorer Raymond Raylor sailed East across the Orean Ocean in search of the lost continent of Eethrum. Ten years later he returned, claiming to have found the fabled land. He brought with him the corpses of several strange monsters, the likes of which had never been seen in Desstrum. Raylor quickly acquired funding for a second voyage, and set sail for Eethrum once again.
A mere two months after Raylor’s second voyage set sail, tragedy struck on a global scale. The seas rose up and swallowed the coastline, cities and all. It is estimated that the sea level today is nearly 100 feet higher than it was 300 years ago. This event is now known as “ The Rising.” As a result, Desstrum’s people lost the technology to build ocean faring vessels capable of crossing the Orean Ocean. Raylor and his “New World” were quickly forgotten as people struggled just to adapt and survive in Desstrum.
After centuries of warring over resources and new national boundaries, Desstrum is now in a state of relative stability. The eladrin control a fertile and diverse region that provides an abundance of goods for their people. The halfling nation is well known for its fleets of fishing boats, but it must pay a heavy tax to fish in the Adamantite Sea. The navy of the elf nation has become unparalleled in Desstrum, and their lands provide rich resources for their people. Humans remain ever vigilant, and their determined spirit has provided them with an expansive nation in eastern Desstrum. The richest farm lands of the dwarf empire of old are now underwater, and dwarves today get by in the world by trading their precious metals and gems to other nations. Dragonborn, who rarely leave the extensive volcanic mountain range that they have called home for millennia, remain aloof and secluded from the problems of the other nations. The tiefling Eepire that once dominated one third of the continent fell into ruin after The Rising. Their people now control only the massive desert in northeastern Desstrum.
You are currently in the city of Hren, which sits against the Adamantite Sea, directly on the border between the Human and Elf nations. The city itself is actually divided down its center by the river that marks the border between the nations. Hren is a hub of trade and information. A few days ago you came across an ad that read:
Adventurers Needed for Dangerous and Possibly Deadly Mission. Must be willing to travel by sea.
Meet at the Drowning Swan Tavern, this Friday, at 7 o’clock in the evening.
DM Notes to Players:
-You are about to embark on a voyage across an ocean comparable in size to the Atlantic Ocean.
-In this campaign you may play a bard, but I’m not opening up any other parts of Player’s Handbook 2 at this point (just too complicated for me as a first time DM).
-There are some important differences between the races of this world and the one described in the Player’s Handbook: Dragonborn don’t usually wander the world, Dwarves have never been enslaved (although they have a history of being forced to pay extensive taxes/tributes to various groups throughout history), Eladrin don’t hail from a twilight realm (although their nation is one of the most magnificent and wealthy), Halflings are a fishing folk (not nomadic), and Tiefling actually do have land of their own (although it is just a massive desert).
-The only sentient people groups on Desstrum are Dragonborn, Dwarf, Eladrin, Elf, Half-Elf, Halfling, Human, and Tiefling. Because of this your character may only learn the following languages at the beginning of the game: Common, Draconic, Dwarven, or Elven. Also, keep this in mind when making your backstory (e.g., no one’s sister was kidnapped by Kobolds, because those don’t exist in this world).
-Desstrum is a somewhat more “grounded” place than a traditional D&D world: Magic wielders are rare and revered, gods do not directly interact with the world, and no one has lizard mounts. Keep this in mind during character creation.
-If you want to do a non-standard ability score array (something other than a 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) you may, as long as it fits your backstory appropriately.