Madrigal is an ongoing campaign and a world with a long history. Madrigal 3 starts a new chapter in the ongoing story, and we are using this opportunity to move the game forward both in time and in story. Because of this, it is a great time to start a new character and join our game with either a fresh start or with fresh eyes.
New characters have the opportunity to explore the races and cultures of Aerune that have risen up in the time between campaigns. With this comes the opportunity to create a new character history for your character. We wanted to take some time to explain how the campaign is designed, what you can expect from a character history, and why your character might be drawn into the story.
A Sequestered Past
Madrigal is designed so players learn about the world in game. We understand that players are eager for lots of details to help fill out their character histories. The world, however, is a large and dangerous place, where travel and the passing of knowledge is difficult and not all that common. Although we expect the players to overcome these restrictions as characters playing the game, the average and even above average person in the world of Aerune does not have the opportunity to see or learn about much of it.
We ask that players, when they create histories, do so assuming that their characters have had a sequestered past. They can be larger than life characters, and can have some larger than life experiences, but for whatever reason the knowledge about the actual world is limited. Perhaps your family has kept you busy with mundane duties so you couldn’t travel as much as you would have. Perhaps your opportunities to really learn the history and cultures of the world were lost because you were trying to keep yourself fed. Perhaps you’ve been on the run and you have maintained a low profile such that you haven’t been able to gather lots of world experience. For whatever reason, your knowledge of the world is pretty much limited to the information about the cultures that have been released.
Cool Stuff Happens In Game
Madrigal is also designed so the cool stuff happens during the game rather than between game events. This means that we minimize or eliminate off board activity, restricting it to day to day activities you might need to survive. You spend your time gathering or purchasing food, maintaining armor and equipment, and otherwise preparing yourself for gatherings where many people meet.
We ask the same of your character history. While we definitely want you to have key moments to define who you are, we want to limit the truly heroic action to the game. We definitely want players to be able to create tidbits and scenes in the past that give them good material to role play with other players and characters. We also want players to be able to justify that they are well trained; a 50 point character is above the average soldier, bandit, or similar combatant in effective skill. Do keeping in mind that you are starting at 50 character points, and that some creatures like greater undead, Drowned Elf nobles, Vellingrim nobles, and the like are probably still too powerful for you to defeat, at least until you confront them in game.
Finally, while we have included a number of named characters in the rule book for characters to use in their character history, in the end you should not have a history that makes you so comfortable with a named character that you would have a special bond with them. We prefer those bonds to be formed during game.
Reincarnations and Descendants
Some new characters are reincarnations or descendants of previous characters from earlier incarnations of the Madrigal campaign. If you are making a character with these options you will need to read both this document and its sister: So, you are continuing a character?
The Story So Far…
In the days and weeks leading up to the first event, tensions between the Commonwealth of Blacktallow and Vellingrim have risen. Bandit attacks on both kingdoms have increased. Although the official reports claimed that Hobgoblins had staged the attacks, both kingdoms had accused the other of staging the attacks or even working with the Hobgoblin tribes and encouraged or financing the attacks. Skirmishes have broken out on the border of the two kingdoms, occupying the attention of both.
The hobgoblins have not only struck south. They have been seen roaming the walkways through Dremasque, raiding caravans of silk and even hunting the lizardfolk found there. The raiding has also disrupted supply lines to Morgrave and Kyrzenwold, causing both to have to turn their defenses to their supply lines. Morgrave, with its weakened lines, has seen an increase in undead attacks. With the Kyrzenwold Rangers distracted with watching the supply lines there have been kidnappings reported in that area. The hobgoblin attacks have thrown the lizardfolk into war, and Dremasque and Sollos are occupied with lizardfolk raiding parties. As tales of the raiding and fighting spread, more and more kingdoms and peoples have taken notice of the conflicts and stories.
While fighting erupted along the border to the south, and with the other nearby kingdoms moving to shore up positions weakened by hobgoblin or lizardfolk raids, the Guild Arcana was forced to investigate the situation itself. The Hobgoblin numbers have rapidly increased, and the raids have become more and more organized and bold. Caravans and merchant houses have been sacked, and travelers of all sorts have been accosted. Hobgoblins in record numbers have poured out of the mountains, threatening all nearby lands. With so many kingdoms embroiled in their own troubles, the Hobgoblin attacks have gone unanswered and the doorstep of the Guild Arcana has become all but impassable to merchants without heavily armed escorts.
The Guild Arcana hired scouts and adventurers to determine the origin and reason for the attacks. Reports back to the Guild Arcana traced the Hobgoblin attacks through the Forbidden Hills and south towards the mountains. In the broken lands south of the Forbidden Hills, the scouts reported ruins with strange lights. Some reported hearing music drifting from those wild and wooded areas. The lone scout to return attributes his survival, and the success of the mission, to a baleful and forlorn spirit that healed him after his scouting party had been defeated by Hobgoblin forces, yet refused to speak or interact in any other way.
These reports caused a flurry of activity among the Guild Arcana, and experts and scholars were brought in to determine what these ruins, lights, and music could be. Some countries and kingdoms sent what representatives they could, including Kyrzenwold, Sollos, Dremasque, and the Commonwealth of Blacktallow. The speculation produced several theories, though it wasn’t until members of the Illuminarium arrived that anyone produced any substantiated information. The Illuminarium, an obscure organization of mystics and sages whose goal is to unearth information lost in the three Cataclysms, claimed to have some insight into the ruins.
The order put a name to the structures; the ruins of the lost city of Nocturne. Those in attendance were shocked; that legendary place was swallowed by the earth during the first Cataclysm and eradicated, or so it was thought, from Aerune. The Illuminarium claimed that the ruins that had risen from the earth were ancient structures from Nocturne, and the order hoped that some of the magic of Nocturne had emerged with the ruins. The Illuminarium claimed its origins harkened back to the ancient city, and described Nocturne as it once was; a sprawling wonder filled with magic and music that, if tales were true, used song to bend spell and used magic to enchant songs.
Although the Illuminarium has called upon the kingdoms to provide forces to explore the ruins and fight back against the hobgoblins, most of the Kingdoms are embroiled in their own struggles and can scarcely afford to commit forces to fight for an unclaimed piece of wild and untamed land; ruins or not. It doesn’t help that the Illuminarium are an obscure and poor order with few allies in the courts. Although the Guild Arcana has made use of its impressive wealth to enlist mercenaries from as far away as the Free City of Ket, the Guild is too interested in protecting its own borders and keeping the merchant roads open to send forces through the Forbidden Hills and into the wild to explore ruins.
The Call of Adventure
The Illuminarium might have faded once again into obscurity, and the ruins of Nocturne with them, but the Tapestry, apparently, had other designs. Although rare in the current days, there are exceptional individuals that have been taught or somehow encouraged to follow the Aspects of Virtue and the Aspects of Strife. They uphold the ancient teachings from before the Night of Screams, and maintain the example of one of the Virtues or Strifes. These individuals, called Paragons, are the last folk to embrace those teachings
Paragons all over the lands have received dreams; visions leading them to the ruins of Nocturne. Some hear music, some hear laughter, others hear voices long thought silenced calling them forth. Some Paragons tell tales that they have heard the Sun speak to them, and others speak of the voice of the Moon. Whatever these impossible whispers and visions might mean, the phenomenon has sparked the imagination and interest of many folks.
With this new information, kingdoms near and far, although unable to commit major forces, have called on heroes and agents to go forth and enter the ruins. Paragons have begun to travel toward the Forbidden Hills to see what calls them from beyond. With the dreams of the Paragons substantiating the claims of the Illuminarium, other adventurers have also come forth. Nocturne did not only have tales of music and magic; the tales also told of great wealth and magical treasure that would no doubt have been buried with the city. If the ruins have begun to emerge, one cannot help but wonder if the treasures of that place have also surfaced…