When I first sat down with my group, after weeks of getting them together, helping them with characters, backstories, all of those things, I read them this piece of the Draconic Prophecy (I wrote it):
Five beasts, still bloodied and ragged,
will rise again,
And fight til they are no more.
One once lost, but now returned,
and take the shattered bone
for their own.
For those who don’t know, the Draconic Prophecy is the living story of Eberron, written in the sky, the mountains, even on the flesh of the Dragonmarked Heirs. Many scholars in the world study it. Half my table knew the importance of the Draconic Prophecy to the game world. Rob was counting the players trying to see if they were the ‘five beasts’ as Paul was nodding, trying to read deeper into what was written I assume. The other two just kind of nodded and thought this might be an eccentric thing I did to open the game, but it isn’t. This is the campaign. The entire story of what’s going to happen has been given to them in the first five minutes of the campaign.
Madness, I know!
With this, I’m setting up a major theme of the campaign. Can they change fate? Will they work to fulfill this prophecy? Or will this happen no matter what they do? As the events of the game begin to match the prophecy, I’m interested to see how they’ll react. At this point, they don’t even know if they’re part of this prophecy, even though they’ve already been drawn into it.
This is where I’ll usually go deeper into an encounter that I wrote that I thought was really cool or particularly epic. I’ll analyze the nuts and bolts of it, give information on what inspired it, post monster stat blocks, and tell how the players liked it.
But, because this is about beginnings, I’ll talk a bit about one of my player’s character and his beginnings.
Andy is new to DnD. He’s been playing Gamma World with me, but beyond that I think he has maybe two or three sessions of DnD under his belt. Because he’s a very good friend of mine and I wanted him to get the full DnD experience, I invited him to join this campaign. The character building was easy for him, doing it by hand was new to him, but it went without a hitch (side note: one trick I use to help a new player make a character is to ask them to think of a character from fantasy or sci fi books or movies that they’d like to emulate and then use my knowledge of the classes and races to help them make that character. It’s never failed me). He made a Dragonborn Fighter and it’s a very good character. Where he had trouble was the back story. Andy knows practically nothing about Dungeons and Dragons and even less about Eberron. He’s used to playing an avatar, like in World of Warcraft or other video games; he’s not used to playing a fully realized person. So I had to help him by feeding him information and facts about the game world. Eventually we figured out that Tarion was born in Q’Barra among the primal Dragonborn tribes that live there. He decided to leave for Sharn to learn new fighting techniques and strategies. He’s heard of the proud military tradition of his people and also heard of the proud military traditions of Karnnath and House Deneith. While helping him with this, I tried to give him enough to make a good back story, one with substance he can use to mold his character and with juicy hooks for me to bite into, while also trying not to inundate him with information, giving him too much and making him feel like his back story was lacking. It was a tough balance, but there was one fact I feed him that seemed to do the trick and make everything click. I mentioned that he’d heard stories of Argonnessen, the continent that dragons live on. I told him that the Dragonborn there have proud military traditions like the Romans. That was all we needed and from there the rest grew.