Joining the Game

Introduction

Welcome to the Coming of the Zioth campaign setting, based the 3.5 Edition Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game!

If you're reading this page, it's probably because you've read one or more of the game turns and are interested in joining. If you haven't read any, you should. They will give you a good idea of how the game works, so you can decide whether this campaign is right for you. Once you've read a couple of turns and explored the web site a bit, you'll be ready to create a character and submit it via email. At that point, I can help you fill in missing details, or make adjustments where things don't fit into the game world.

When I accept your character, I'll start keeping an eye out for places to insert him or her. I'm not one for the old “you're walking through the forest and happen upon Mr. Player Character, who you then, despite the suspicious circumstances, readily accept into your party and henceforth trust with your life” routine, so it might take some time. The game is played over email, which can make it take even longer. Don't be surprised if you have to wait several months before you actually get to play. To make up for the long wait, I'm sometimes willing to let new players play an NPC for a while, or play out the days before joining the party as a solo adventure.

It's possible that, as a player, you just won't fit into this campaign. If it seems to me that you won't fit in, I'll try to tell you as soon as possible, but chances are, you'll know whether you're likely to fit in before I tell you – probably even before you finish reading this page.

Before you create your character, you should read up on the campaign. You should start by exploring this web site, to get some background into the game world, and reading the house rules. If you have never played D&D before, you can read up on the rules at the free Hypertext SRD, or download them from the official Wizards of the Coast site. Unfortunately, D&D 3.5 is out of print, so it's difficult to find the actual books.

A game over email?

That's right. This game is played over the internet. That means no twelve hour power-sessions, no pewter miniatures or battle grids, no potato chips or pizza. So how does it work?

The game is structured as a series of turns. I usually send out some piece of writing to get the turn started, then players respond in a chaotic fashion, sending posts this way and that (but always sending copies to me), and producing a roughly linear time-flow. I respond with bits of description and NPC dialogue, which the players then further respond to. Eventually, there is a break in the action, or a good cliffhanger, and I decide the turn is over. I then put all the posts together, edit them and reformat them (although I almost never edit a PC's dialogue except for spelling and basic errors), assign experience point rewards, and produce a complete turn. The action never stops. Even while I'm putting one turn together, the next turn has already begun.

The main drawback of an email game is the speed. Occasionally, a player might neglect to post anything for a while, due to work or family or whatever. If that player has a character who's central to the current scene, and the current scene is important enough, the game just stops. As an entering player, you should be flexible. Sometimes, players post multiple times a day. Other times, there are lulls. If you do not post often enough, the action may proceed without you, or, eventually, you may be asked to leave the game.

How does this game compare to others?

If you've played a lot of role-playing games in the past, you might know the basic scales they're judged by. Since this will help you decide whether this is the game for you, here's a basic summary:

Role-playing vs roll-playing

As you might have guessed by now, this game is focused far more on story-telling than how many dice of damage your character can deal. A low-powered character does not decrease your chances of survival, and good writing is rewarded more than combat.

Participation

This is a game of cooperative story-telling. The average turn is about 3500 words long, the equivalent of 14 printed pages, and at least half of that is from the players. Long, well-thought-out posts are fun to read and create complex interactions between characters and their environment. I don't expect all posts to be long, but a nice block of description, dialogue or introspection here and there really makes the turn worth reading. This game will be most comfortable for players who enjoy writing and telling a story.

Rules

D&D 3.5, with a few house rules. Nothing too game-changing. I'm occasionally loose with the rules in favor of story-telling. For example, I'm not going to give you some huge penalty if you try to do something unusual in combat. I encourage players to be creative, so don't feel bound by the rules. I roll all the dice secretly, and sometimes display important rolls to players. You should know, though, that I do roll those dice. I don't just make everything up arbitrarily.

Advancement

You can expect to gain about 100 XP times the average party level per turn, meaning you'll go up in level roughly every ten turns. A turn takes anywhere from a few days to a few months to produce, and consists of a series of interactions. The amount of XP gained depends on the level and quality of participation. There are also various ways to gain bonus XP discussed in the house rules.

Magic and Treasure

The game is very low-magic. Magic is considered a myth, though as the characters increase in level, it's becoming somewhat more common. The game is also very low-wealth. Since the world is mostly mundane, there aren't a lot of magic items around. Those that exist are hidden, lost, or their powers are unknown. Magic items that have appeared so far are unique to this campaign, so if you like to plan your character, don't assume you'll ever have that Belt of Giant Strength or Amulet of Natural Armor.

Combat

Combat is uncommon, happening maybe once a real-time year on average. The game is mainly mysteries, puzzle solving and political intrigue, though the last is slowly being replaced by magical mysteries. The world is supposed to be “destroyed and rebuilt” about nineteen years from now, but no one really knows for sure what that means. That's the central mystery of the game.

Privacy

All game turns are published on the web. While the amount of character information I display might vary over time, personal information beyond your name is always private, and if you want, your name can also be kept private.

What types of characters are allowed?

Socially, the game world bears a resemblance to medieval Europe. Non-humans and magic-users are myths, and discrimination based on religion, sex, race or birth region are normal. If you have an idea for a character who will come into conflict with these predjudices, please send me an outline first, so we can discuss the implications. I will always approve female characters created by female players, since I understand that some people have trouble playing characters of the opposite sex.

I would like to emphasize an important point: Like in the real world, sexism exists, but this game is not my outlet for personal predjudices, and I will not specifically target your character for humiliation. Female characters aren't going to be raped, or mistreated in any significant way. This is a relatively mature game, but “mature” does not mean, “make players uncomfortable.”

Role-playing is the key to this game, and I attribute a lot of importance to character creation. If your character is well-thought-out, and explained within the context of the game world, anything is possible. In the past, I've allowed a female archer, a necromancer, and a scholar with a custom class. If you're willing to put some work into it, you can play almost anything you want.

Character Creation

Enough trying to scare you off. If you've gotten this far, you're ready to create a character, so here's a nice little list of things you should include.

The Basics

Name, age, class, gender, alignment.

Physical Description

Eye color; hair color, length and style; skin tone; height, weight and build; and any unusual features. Clothing, jewelry and adornments. Also include things like mannerisms and how the character carries himself. Basically, give people reading your description a good picture of what your character looks like. This part should be at least three or four lines long, but write more if you like.

Background and History

This part is key, and verbosity is rewarded. A typical character history runs one to five full pages. If you don't like writing long histories, you probably won't like a writing-intensive game like this one. History is important for several reasons. It shows that you can write, and that you care about your character. It gives you some background information for role-playing, so that you know *why* your character acts the way he does. It also forms a basis for your character's personality. Finally, it allows me to work elements of your character's history into the game.

Personality

Anything that's not self-evident from the history should be included here (and maybe even things that are self-evident). I know this is a hard one, and I naturally expect many elements of the character's personality to come out in game-play; you don't need to send me a complete psychological profile (if you want to, there are some great character questionnaires on the Role-playing Resources page). Still, you should give it a try. Start from the history, and work your way out from there. A few basic personality traits and maybe a quirk or two would be enough. A couple paragraphs would be even better. You should also answer a few basic questions about your character's relationship with the world:

  • What is your character's opinion about his religion?
  • How about religion in general?
  • What is your character's opinion of the region of his birth?
  • What about the region where he now lives?
  • What does he think about the Zioth? Is it a myth? Is it something to be feared? Something to avoid through prayer?
  • Is he superstitious? Does he believe in magic?
Religion

If your character has a religion, explain his relationship to that religion. You can pick a religion from this web site, but if you don't like those, you're welcome to create your own (if you like, you can use the religion creation document on the Role-playing Resources page as a guide). Most of the religions currently available were created by players. There are some religions that exist, but about which even I know very little. Before you submit a fresh religion, give me a brief outline so I can compare it to what's already around. If you don't care about religion, just make your character a follower of Andritha, the dominant religion in Rang. Most characters should be Andrithan.

Basic Attributes

There are two ways of generating attributes. If you opt for the first, I'll roll you six 3d6s and send you the numbers. You can arrange the numbers any way you like, and then you may distribute four extra points among your stats. None of the extra points can be used to raise a score above the normal maximum starting values. The second method is to make up your own attributes. If you chose this method, the combined total cannot be higher than 66 without my permission.

As for hit points, I'll just roll those based on your class. For first level HP, I'll re-roll any number less than half the maximum for your class. After that, it's whatever the dice show.

Your level will probably be one lower than the average character level, so use the most recent turn as a guideline. If it has to be adjusted, I'll let you know.

Equipment and Money

You can start with whatever equipment you think is appropriate. If you don't know what's appropriate, ask. Most characters will not start with any magic items, as they are exceedingly rare. This also means that the wealth of most characters will be be considerably lower than in most D&D games.

Abilities

If you're a magic-user, you have spells. You can start with two and a half spells per character level, plus five cantrips. All characters have skills and feats. For those, pay close attention to the notes in the house rules. Your character also knows at least one language. It's unlikely that he knows any non-human languages, but he might have picked up the languages of other nations (there's no “Common” language spoken by everyone), or he might know Sarnam (the old tongue – language of clerics of Andritha and nobility). Can he read? Can he write? Neither of these is assumed in a medieval setting. Whatever you chose for skills, make them suit your character.

Personal Information

You should also send me some information about yourself. Other than your name, this information will not be given to other players or posted on the web site.

  • Your real name, age and gender.
  • The city and state in which you live (country if outside the USA).
  • The number of years you've been playing D&D.
  • The number of years you've DMed D&D (if any).
  • Your level of familiarity with Medieval history, society and technology.
  • How you found out about this campaign.
  • What kinds of adventures you enjoy the most in D&D games, and what kinds to you enjoy the least (political, mystery, horror, dungeon-delving, magical, psychological, romantic, etc)?

What's expected of me?

Be open

If you have any comments, questions, suggestions or criticism, don't hold back. If you don't like something I'm doing, I want to know, and I'm almost always willing to have a discussion about any aspect of the game. I am extremely difficult to offend, and I always take criticism in the best possible way.

If you think I made a mistake with the rules, tell me, but be aware that I'm sometimes a bit flexible for the sake of telling a good story.

If you're going to drop out, let me know. It's never fun when players leave, but it's much worse to have them leave without telling me, and make everyone wait for them to reappear.

Reply promptly

If you can reply to email as soon as you get it, that would be best, but I'm willing to give you up to two days under normal circumstances, and up to a week if you warn me beforehand. Be aware that however long you take to respond, that's how long you're making everyone else wait. I'd appreciate it you were extra quick on things like dialogue, because if we have to wait a week for each one-line comment, a conversation will take months.

If you're going to lose email access for more than a day or two, let me know as early as possible, so I can work around it.

Be respectful

Be respectful of other players. Inter-party conflict is fine, but don't take it personally, and don't turn it into an out-of-character conflict. If something is making you uncomfortable, bring it up with the offending player or with me, and we'll work it out.

Know what you're talking about

You should have some knowledge of medieval conditions. Your character is living in a world very similar to medieval Europe, so the more you know, the better you can role-play. Don't worry about this too much though, since I'm not the greatest expert myself.

Conclusion

If you need help creating your character, feel free to ask me. There are also a number of good character questionnaires on the web, and my own Role-playing Resources page has a few useful tidbits.

Well, if I haven't scared you off yet, I look forward to reading your character!

- The DM