Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Catamaran - Setup

I ran my session 0.1 last week for Catamaran, creating a Smallville-esque relationship map to detail out the island the players are on. While I am still typing up parts of that, other parts of the campaign prep are good for sharing and hopefully someone will find them intersting.

Campaign Overview

Catamaran is a campaign set in an immense cluster of islands scattered across a vast ocean, reaching from the tropics in the northern section of the cluster to more temperate and even arctic regions in the far south. The players are inhabitants of one of these islands, all members of a tribe that calls that island home. The players will build the island through a relationship map based system where each player gets to add people, places, threats, etc, to the island and establish links between them. The players will be faced with threats to their people and their island, over time travelling among the island cluster, finding allies, lore, and other aids to deal with the threats at hand.

Exploration - There’s always another island just over the horizon with its own mysteries and treasures.

Glory - What does it mean to be a hero? What deeds can earn you glory?

Community - The man who stands alone has no one to watch when he sleeps.


The Deadlands

The Whale RiderThe Telling of the Birth of the World

When the traitorous children of Keruna Who Birthed the Sun Each Day slew their mother in the War Before, her corpse fell to the world in the great ocean now known as the Kerunan Sea. It was here that Keruna Who Birth the Sun Each Day shattered, her divine power unable to be contained in a damaged vessel. Three hundred and thirty-three fragments were created. These each fragments formed an island in the Kerunan Sea, all but one. That one the largest, the fragment that had been the heart of Keruna, became the first tribe of humans.

Each island formed from Keruna was born with a god that called it home, each god holding some small portion of Keruna’s power. These came in myriad forms; Haruk the Judge is a massive volcano, Brother Storm is a permanent thunderstorm cloaking his island, while Mergal Who Swallows All is a vast field of every growing fungi. These gods are never easily mobile beings and none of them can leave their island without also shedding their divine nature; instead each god can name a single mortal agent, a single cleric, to see to that god’s needs. These clerics are granted the powers of their god and are seen by their people as emissaries of the divine, though other islands often view them with varying degrees of respect based on the relationship between the patron gods of the two islands. Though some gods have grown bored and given up their divine nature in to become demigods exchange for adventure, most remain on their islands contemplating their place in the universe and working with their servants to fulfill it. Those islands left vacant by a god become home to druids who harvest the remaining divine power in the island to their own ends.

It is among the islands of the Keruna Sea, the Bones of the Sun as they are called by some, that your people trade, war, and make peace. There are stories of other realms, realms where the god who slew great Keruna hold sway over humanity, where weapons are forged in the bones of the earth and not wood and obsidian. These are tales of terror and woe, of despots and tyranny, used to frighten children and caution against fighting for conquest, but some are starting to think they are more than stories. The Isle of Bones

The Isle of Bones is well known among the Children of Keruna as it is where you take the dead to be interred so they may reach the afterlife in the Seas of the Dead, that realm left by Keruna for her followers to inhabit after her passing. The Isle of Bones is the domain of the Bone Witch, a god of death who makes sure the living and the dead receive their proper rewards. The remains of those of virtue are thrown into the volcano the Fire of Keruna so they can receive her blessing, while criminals and other ne’er-do-wells are taken to the Skullyard where their remains are used to serve the people they once wronged as undead. Corpses come from across the sea to be buried here and include offers in of food, wealth, etc, to ensure the corpses are properly treated by the Tribe of Bone. Also those who have not led virtuous lives can come to the island and serve in order to try and work off their sins, creating a population that is a mixture of families who have long been on the island and penitent criminals hoping to find their way into Keruna’s fiery embrace.

It is well known that the people of the Isle of Bones do the bidding of the Bone Witch, and so are welcomed politely but with fear when they leave their island. There have been times when the Bone Witch decreed the deaths of those outside the island, usually for inscrutable reasons, thus visits from the people of the Isle of Bone are always cause for alarm.

A split has developed on the Isle of Bone regarding the disposition of bodies. The Bone Witch is at best a misty presence that whispers to her cleric or when she sits in judgement, but she cannot personally judge all the corpses that come to the island. Thus overtime the leadership of the island, under the direction of the Baron/Baroness of the Bone Hall, has taken up the slack in helping decide who has earned a trip to the volcano and who is condemned to the Skullyard. Over time complaints of bribery and corruption have begun to circulate as known criminals whose bodies came with great offerings of wealth have been sent to the volcano despite their crimes. Thus far nothing too obvious or far over the line has happened, but it has created a rift between the inhabitants of the settlement who want to see the people of the island prosper and those who want to see the will of the Bone Witch be done. 

Races of Keruna

The following races are commonly found among the islands of Keruna. While others do crop up from time to time, usually from beyond the seas, they are very rare. The important thing to remember is most of these races live intermixed; only scalefolk, tritons, and goliaths really live apart from the other races. Thus most races do not have their own culture, territory, etc, and instead have been absorbed by the Tribes of Keruna.
  • Aasimar - Born of divine power, aasimar have been known form in areas where Keruna’s power is particularly strong. They are seen as a good luck charm by most tribes and readily adopted. 
  • Demigod - A god who has left their island, and most of their power, to find adventure elsewhere in the world. 
  • Dragonborn - The dragons were creatures beyond Keruna who came to settle in the islands ages ago and have created dragonborn to serve as servants. While rare, occasionally dragonborn eggs are found and raised by tribes. 
  • Genasi - Born of the elements, these beings are spontaneously created when the elemental powers of an island grow too great. 
  • Goliath - The mountain people, they live among the taller peaks found on the larger mountains of the Kerunan Sea. They are said to be outcasts from the Godless Lands from beyond the Kerunan Sea and shunned by most Children of Keruna. 
  • Scalefolk - A race of lizardmen who often raid the tribes of the Kerunan Sea. Not all are hostile, but most are. They are said to be born from the remains of a god that was slain in the battle that killed Keruna, that nameless god’s body falling among the remains of Keruna and forming the Vermid Islands, home of the scalefolk. 
  • Tiefling - Born with the blood of the infernal in their veins, tieflings are mainly found near the Hellspont, a region of the Kerunan Sea known for having a weakened border with the Hell Realms. 
  • Tribes of Keruna - The inhabitants of the islands of Keruna, they are found just about everywhere. Human stats.
  • Triton - A race of aquatic humanoids, they live in pockets throughout the Kerunan Sea. Broken up into clans, most of the local tritons are refugees or colonists from the distant Tritus Empire. They are not native to the Kerunan Sea, but have been using it as a refuge from the Empire for decades.


All classes in the 5E Players Handbook, plus the mystic playtest and the rune mage playtest, are available.

Barbarians are often either members of more primitive tribes where their rage is seen as the tribe’s martial strength, or loners in more civilized tribes who may be shunned for their anger until danger comes around. Barbarians sometimes gather in totemic or warrior lodges, teaching and sharing in their secrets. Some such lodges are tied to the god of the island.

Bards are the diplomats, historians, and storytellers of the Kerunan Sea. Many tribes rely on oral tradition for their stories, and those that do have written word usually do not have in depth language.
While there may be many who sing or tell stories, only true bards are worthy of the title. These individuals have been given the language of Keruna, the Godspeak, letting them work magic through song and fill the spirits of others with power. This gift can only be passed from one bard to another, and all bards have a code among themselves they follow because they call carry the Word of Keruna:
  • Do not attack a fellow bard until words have been had 
  • Do not steal from a fellow bard without asking first 
For each island there can be one god. For each god there is one cleric whose domain is determined by their god. So if a player chooses to play a cleric, at least one island controlled by the tribe has a god living on it. If there are multiple cleric PCs, then the tribe must control multiple islands in some fashion (same with druids). Despite being unable to leave their island physically, gods can communicate with each other and have rivalries and relationships with other gods. Clerics of these gods are expected to carry out these rivalries and alliances for their god.

For those islands where there is no god, there can be a druid. You cannot have a druid and a cleric drawing power and living on the same island. If there is a druid and a cleric in the party the tribe controls some secondary island. Druids are usually friendly outsiders, living outside the tribe but allied with it.
The druid of an island will normally pass on his title to a student when he or she gets too old to see their duties (assuming they still age, as high level druids have abilities that affect that). If a druid is slain without an heir the power of the druid may be claimed by anyone who befriends the spirits of the island.


Fighters are normally found in warrior lodges among the tribes of the Kerunan Sea, each dedicated to a specific fighting style it uses to defend its tribe.

Nothing special yet.

Nothing special yet.

There are only six paladins in the world, all inheriting their abilities from a previous paladin, all of whom get their power from the Knights of the Sun that once served Keruna. They retain a pure fragment of her power. If a paladin dies without an initiated apprentice, that fragment of Keruna’s power is lost. There used to be hundreds of paladins, but they have died out over time. 

Paladins are often allied or train with the warrior lodge of their tribe.

Rangers use the new ranger version from Unearth Arcana. Rangers harvest power like druids, but generally harvest so little they can do so despite the presence of a god on their current island.

Rogues are sneaky fuckers.


Sorcerers are those who have magical abilities due to the blood in their veins, their ancestors having some non-human blood in their veins. Many say wild magic sorcerers are descended from the gods that rose up against Keruna.

Warlocks are widely feared within the Kuernan Sea as they make deals with forces outside the world to get power that is not meant for them. Only those few warlocks called to serve the Parliament of Ages are not at least somewhat ostracized.

When Keruna was slain twenty five stars fell to earth with her and bound with members of the first tribe of humans. These became the first wizards. There can only every be twenty five wizards, and as they grow more powerful they become less and less human/mortal, slowly turning into beings of star stuff. When a wizard is slain, the closest suitable host becomes gains the capacity to wield a wizard's arcane power.

Mechanics to follow in later posts.

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