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The Lesser of Three Evils

This is a Dungeons & Dragons campaign being played by J, K, S, and L, with Brent as the DM.

The game is set on Eldeshi, a small world surrounded by an asteroid belt. The story centers on the kingdom of Hanaa, which is a major part of the spice trade.

The world includes underground cities and ruins (think Moria), as well as beautiful mountain kingdoms (think Rivendell).

Three Unique Things

Humans Only

There are no sentient non-human races. There are a few wild, weird beasts on the periphery. Dragons are mythological beasts.

There are no generic zombies, no vampires, and no demons in the Judeo-Christian sense.

Old Technology Lies Around

Pieces of fantastical old technology are scattered about the world. They range from laser pistols to crashed ships. These require engineering to fix and make use of.

Magic is Nanobots

Magic actually consists of nanobots controlled by the human mind. Humans used to have perfect control over these nanobots, but over the centuries, mutations have made mastery of magic rare. Anyone can learn a few basic spells like Light, but only about 10% of the populace can progress beyond that, and of those, less than 1% become powerful spellcasters.

These nanobots have created a sort of animism. Objects possessed for many years by one person become invested with nanobots that can make the item pseudo-sentient, or more powerful if used by the owner, or more powerful if used to complete one of the owner's missions, etc.

World History

The Founders (those of the ships who first established societies.) The Empress of Samrajya gets the Mandate of Heaven from the matriarchs of the first research party. Hanaa is the center of trade for the known world. Everything can be bought here.

  1. The Beginning
    1. The Creation of the World. Dragons created the world, and made the mountains, the land, the ocean.
  2. On the Ark
    1. Factions arise on the Ark. One faction sabotages the engines, causing the Ark to crash-land on Eldeshi.
  3. The Settlement
    1. The crash on the planet leaves a sphere-shaped piece of wreckage in the orbit of the planet, hidden in the asteroid belt that surrounds the planet. Some believe it's a god. Some believe it's a ship that comes and takes people.
    2. (1,000 years ago) A woman named Hana finds the metal in what would become Hanaa and establishes that nation.
  4. The Sundering of the People
    1. (900 years ago) The discovery and widespread use of Hanaa's metal kicks off the Sundering, a great diaspora of people to various lands.
    2. (800 years ago) The Purebloods arise, claiming direct matriarchal descendancy from the Founders. The break off from the main people and form the Samarjya Empire.
    3. A great general abandons his duties and founds one of the great religions. This religion teaches a Zen-like acceptance of all things.
    4. (700 years ago) The metal begins changing people. An entire mining colony is lost underground and becomes the the fabled “underdwellers.”
    5. The empire of Kerala is established by the ruthless warlord Kali, taking over the entire eastern continent.
  5. The Cataclysm – Exploding AI spreads nanobots into the atmosphere, raining down and becoming absorbed the people, the environment, animals, etc. They cause genetic mutations, and allow for “magic.”
    1. (500 years ago) The ship's AI explodes and begins spreading the nanobots over the planet.
    2. (500 years ago) The dragons are revitalized/reawakened by the nanobots. The dragons have been more passive, but the nanobots are making them more active. The dragons woke up angry and scoured the north.
    3. (400 years ago) Kerala's empire collapses into provincial city-states, including Hanaa, Myzore, and Tugana.
    4. (350 years ago) The Zem (northeners) give the dragons a gift which cursed the dragons. The dragons, in return, cursed the people of the north.
    5. (310 years ago) Due to the lack of foundation or structure for society, the demoralized people chose the greatest minds of their generation to go into the crashed ship and research it.
    6. (300 years ago) A group of adventurers breach the ship and establish a research base there. They investigate the ship's technology and are slowly changed by it and the nanobots. They pass on their knowledge to the people, becoming legends.
  6. The birth of the modern world
    1. (200 years ago to 120 years ago) The Spice Wars, involving Tugu, Hanaa, and the other city-states that were once part of the Kerala Empire.
    2. (50 years ago) The Myzore Invasion
    3. (8 years ago) The Samarjya Empire goes to war with Hanaa. Some land changes sides over the course of 3 years, but Hanaa lacks long-term and large-scale war resources, while Samarjya finds itself fighting the equivalent of a land war in Asia. The war grinds to a halt and a peace treaty is signed. A civil war now brews between the Houses of the exhausted Hanaa.
    4. (9 months ago) The Looms are discovered in a volcano in Hanaa, prompting a massive war between Samrajya, Hanaa, Myzore, and every other major or minor power on the continent. At the climax of the final battle 3 months ago, a strange event occurred that is described differently by different observers. Some say the Looms were taken away by our Tolkienesque threat, over the Mountains of Madness. Some say a dragon took the Looms into the Far Realms. Others say the Looms were destroyed.
      1. The death of Darven IV causes great mourning within Hanaa. The people don't like Giren Astalon. A lot of muttering and discord. There's a new rabble-rouser who's had a bad history with the law. He provides inside information about Giren Astalon that's just credible enough to be believable. He operates out of a pub, the Green Dragon Tavern.



Hanaa was a prosperous, comfortable, and relatively remote province of the eastern Kerala empire centuries ago. Kerala's collapse caused Hanaa to evolve into its own city-state. Its plentiful natural resources, particularly its rich veins of metal, made it powerful. However, multiple wars with greedy outsiders have kept its military exhausted and unable to expand the country's borders.

Its first major war was with the rich Tugu traders from the far east. While the Tugu opened up trade with Hanaa and made it a massive center of trade, they wanted to take over. This started an on-again, off-again conflict that dragged on for 80 years, with Golden Pavan trading hands several times. It ended with the taking of the Tugu's Five Towers and immolation of all Tugu in the capital. The Towers were since rebuilt into the Five Towers of Magic.

The second conflict lasted 12 years, in which Hyder Ali attempted to expand the nearby caliphate of Myzore into Hanaa. He attacked Hanaa several times, succeeding at first but was faced with so many riots combined with problems back home he was forced to retreat. He attacked Hanaa several more times, but was ultimately undone by his overextended war.

Hanaa is currently in the middle of a power struggle between the Astalon and Jask clans. Emperor Darven (Jask) IV died 3 months ago in the Battle of the Looms, putting Giren Astalon on the throne. Giren Astalon is the only person with any remote blood claim to the throne still alive, except for the moderate claims of his half-brother Dozle and his half-sister Kycilia (they were born from a different mother).

The Emperor lives in a vast palace with a huge number of servants in the capital city of Golden Pavan. The imperial court is a city unto itself, and anyone associated with it receives the royal tattoo–a stylized, curved dragon–on back of their right hand. Imperial servants (which includes local magistrates and chiefs-of-police) receive an absurd number of perks and must be treated with respect, though there is growing unrest about this.

The palace borders a lake, and opposite it each House has built a Summer House, each of which contains a grand veranda and docks. House business – especially that which requires representatives of multiple houses – is conducted here, under the colorful House banners.


The Land of the Zem

This is a cold, mountainous land in the north of the continent, ruled by Brigit's mother. Her main adviser, Akar, told Ahjay where to find Brigit.


A caliphate between Samarjya and Hanaa, Myzore consists of a number of largely independent emirates that pledge allegiance to the Sultan of Sokoto (Sokoto being the capital of Myzore). The caliphate built sakbé roads and ribats (fortified hostels / retreats / monasteries) in return for the emirates' loyalty.

The official religion of the country is Ashra, an arcane religion of many practices and beliefs with several denominations. It has one primary text, the Book of Ebon Bindings, and about a dozen minor works stitched together by its 101 prophets.

Slavery is widespread. Slaves are captured from nearby kingdoms and taught the Ashra religion in the hopes their families will convert, but claims of conversion are treated with suspicion and a slave typically requires a superheroic act of faith to be set free. Children of slaves are not viewed with such suspicion and, if they demonstrate Ashran piety, are usually freed upon adolescence.

Ashra teaches (among many other things) the importance of meditation and learning of simple magic. All Ashrans use magic to create small lights, read occasional surface thoughts, and such. Ashran clerics are often very skilled sorcerers and healers.

The current Sultan, Hyder Ali, is a harsh man starting another push to expand his empire. He won many slaves during the War of the Looms, and is looking to get more.


Nuvania is nestled in the low mountains north of Hanaa. Further north are the frozen mountains of the Zem.

Nuvania benefits from lush and fertile land, making it a major exporter of wine, mutton, and essential oils used in many potions. Combined with its hilly terrain and its peoples' firm pacifism, no battles have been fought here for over two centuries.

Its bustling capital city, Sharn, is home to many thriving guilds, societies, and clubs. It's a prosperous, cosmopolitan place of solid, unassuming architecture, governed by the Guild Council.



Player Characters

Brigit (J's Character)

16 Str
16 Dex
16 Con
15 Int
13 Wis
11 Cha

Brigit is one of the Zem from the wild, cold north. She is actually the daughter of Darven III (the recently-deceased emperor's father, who was a well-respected leader whose ship was caught in a storm and sank only 5 years into his reign).

She was betrothed to someone, but not feeling it at all. She then ran away to the underground part of the capital city. She used basic survival skills to survive there until she found someone she could seduce for their armor and weapons. She then murdered that person, only then noticing the tattoo revealing the victim was part of her family.

She then went crazy and ran to a different part of the city and trained in hiding.

Mahiya Shumi (K's Character)

12 Str
8 Dex
14 Con
14 Int
13 Wis
16 Cha

Mahiya comes from Samarjya, a matriarchal society. Her house researches and makes use of old tech in warfare, particular siege weapons and defenses. Her country invaded Hanaa but did so in a way that nearly tore it apart. She is sent to Hanaa as a peace offering / mild hostage.

Mahiya takes the Juice of Saphoo, which increases the power of one's nanobot usage (and, over time, colors the whites of the user's eyes blue). She needs it about once a week before going into withdrawal, which causes stomach pain, blurred vision, and a decrease of nanobot power. Saphoo is quite expensive back in her country, but moderately priced in Hanaa.

The Samarjya Empire has heard of Brigit and sent Mahiya to find Brigit and install her on the throne.

Ahjay El-Hashim (S's Character)

15 Strength
12 Dex
15 Con
9 Int
14 Wis
9 Cha

Orphan of a Myzore warlord. Now works for House Maudling. It has worked its way up to a position of power and effectiveness.

Lord Maudling has heard this rumor of this daughter of the throne. He wants her as a puppet, hoping she'll be a good ruler.

(???) (L's Character)


Major Characters

See also Major Characters.

House Rules

Each player starts each session with one Plot Point. A player can spend a Plot Point to add one fact to the world. Players can gain more Plot Points for cool role-playing.

At the beginning of each session, one player should give a brief retelling of the previous session. That player's character gains inspiration. Any player that wrote up a session report for the previous session gains inspiration.


First Session, 3 January 2015


Second Session, 17 January 2015


Notes for Next Session

Brent would like to change the earning of XP so it's based on the number of hours played.

campaigns/three_evils/start.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/30 13:04 by brent