For the curious, below you will find the text of a document I handed out to my players during our second session, attempting to nail down some setting elements in our game of Expedition. It’s pretty standard fare, and not too comprehensive, but there you go.
Expedition RPG: Our Setting Primer
The Bastion of Sorrow
Things are not so good in the Bastion of Sorrow. Once it was known as the Kingdom of Tremont, until the death of Queen Fylla IV, when the Dark Storm came. The Storm left only ruin in its wake, and the land has never truly recovered.
Still, people eke out a living as best they can. The Bastion of Sorrow is a land of exiles, criminals, and downtrodden folk. Humans and ogres are found in abundance, sharing an uneasy peace. Elves, however, wish to see nature finish off what it started so long ago with the Dark Storm, and their kind has plagued the people of the Bastion for years.
Several times throughout the years there have been rumors of the last heirs of Tremont, but all claimants have proved to be pretenders.
On Monday I got together with my group for our second game of Dennis Santana’s Expedition, which you should really check out, by the way.
We added a third player, and thus Grok von Pintel and Rad met Sindri, who is quite the character. My friend has watched a bit too much Vegan Black Metal Chef, and thus wanted to create a character who embraced the metal. I told you this alpha playtest was silly territory.
Once Grok von Pintel and Rad completed their preparation, I distinctly recall saying to the players “Let’s try out combat before we all have to go home.” (We were playing at our FLGS, you see, and they were closing in an hour.)
I laid out the map of the area: a stone bridge over a large, deep, rapidly-flowing stream. One thing I really enjoy about Expedition‘s combat is the concept of Zones. Instead of a grid of 5’x5’ squares, Expedition divides the battlefield into several arbitrary, conceptual spaces. For this battle, I had six: Near Bank, Far Bank, West River, East River, Bridge, and Dense Forest.
I put some elven Mooks on the bridge and in the forest, and a troll on the far bank. The players started, naturally, on the near bank. After the pieces were placed, Rad’s player announced “Time for initiative!” I laughed, and we agreed that, naturally, negotiations had not gone well.
This afternoon two friends and I dived head-first into my pal Dennis Santana’s alpha of his Expedition RPG. We had a good deal of fun, and much hilarity ensued as we tried to work out how to put what was on paper into practice.
Character creation went smoothly enough. Expedition has only four Archetypes, which roughly correspond to the classical base classes of D&D with some interesting twists. For instance: the Fighter is actually quite knowledgeable about traveling and is good with people. Compare this to the typical bland meatshield niche that warrior-type characters typically fill.
My friends created a Fighter and an Oblate, which is a divinely inspired archetype who has the gift of prophecy. Since fantasy races don’t factor in to the mechanics of the creation process, I got some odd results: the Fighter is a two-headed ogre named Grok von Pintel, and the Oblate is a ghostly being of light known as Rad. This is all a bit silly, but it is also an alpha test of the game so to some extent that is to be expected.
As a quick aside: I have to give kudos to my players. Generally one thing that bothers me about those who claim to be ardent “roleplayers” in RPGs is that they attempt to use their character concept or play-acting to gain mechanical edges beyond those allowed by the rules. Despite my players’ rather interesting choice in species, neither even hinted at wanting some kind of special treatment beyond the scope of their archetype. Considering I never mentioned this to them, I find myself full of respect.
Characters made, we proceeded to THE ADVENTURE!