|This campaign brought to you by material|
from The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica,
as well as The Explorer's Guide to
While Eightfold goes on - a little irregularly, and with a mix of local and remote players - I am running a sister campaign called Thunder Road, set on a different continent of the same world, where the Thunderhead Dominion - a successful union of the martial nobility of the minotaurs, a loxodon (elephant folk) diplomatic corps and a largely human civil service bureaucracy - and the Elysian Federation - a union of twenty-six states, largely controlled by an aristocracy of earth genasi face each other over the buffer zone known as the Free Moblands - the territories of mobs(1) of minotaurs who didn't form up into larger dynasties and alliances and join the Dominion. Since all the players on this one are in lockdown together, sessions are way more regular.
Session Zero began with the PCs on the titular Thunder Road, the trade and diplomatic routes across the Moblands. Each player introduced their character in conversation with the others, and a fourth traveller, an orc named Razak who was basically there to channel my DM questions as part of the character creation process.
The questions I was putting included: "Where did you come from?" "How did you get here?"and "What did you bring with you?" so that each character ended up with a bit of backstory, a philosophy and an heirloom. Then we rolled some dice, had a brief combat and called it a night(2).
The next day, I wrote up the backstories and added some details by running through aspects of the heroic chronicle system from The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, thus granting the PCs a few extra proficiencies, as well as some rivals and allies from their past. I added a secret fact for each PC that the player doesn't know yet, then passed the full backstory on for the players to comment and provide three goals for their character to pursue.
And then I took the three heirlooms and converted them into Divine Instruments, my homebrew world's version of Exandria's Vestiges of Divergence; magical items that get more powerful as they are used in more and more epic circumstances, and which have their origins in moments of divine conflict.
Here, I faced a bit of a challenge. The barbarian's greataxe(3) was easy; it's an axe, it gets some combative buffs. The bard's lyre was also straightforward. It has a range of elemental spell abilities that work when you play it(4).
And then there was the loxodon's tinker's tools. Now, a set of tools of any kind is not a traditional basis for a magical item, least of all the stuff of legends. I think I came up with something pretty good - basic level, it gives you mending, magical weapon every other day, and you can ritual cast tiny hut, with enhancements in theme as you go up - but as items of great moment and destiny go, it's a bit left field, and I'm not sure how well I'll be able to work in epic tinkering challenges without it seeming forced, even by heroic destiny standards. Moreover, very few divine conflicts feature much in the way of tinkering; blacksmithing, yes, but not much tinkering. Maybe the tools will turn out to have been fashioned from the parts of something bigger at some point; I'm not sure, but it will probably be fun finding out.
(1) I'm not sure why I settled on mob, if it's not in the book, since it usually applies to kangaroos or sheep, but I didn't want the minotaurs to have herds.
(2) My seven year old daughter has decided that she might join us for a D&D game when she's eight, so this was not a daytime activity.
(3) Technically a bronze axe that was swapped for her entirely mundane steel one by the minotaur mystic who led a raid on the caravan, knocked her out in one hit and thought it seemed like a good idea.
(4) Charm was too obvious, and it came through the aasimar's genasi family.