The Isles of the Sun
I'm CB Droege, a science fiction/fantasy author and geek culture journalist. I've also been a dungeon master across various systems for over 20 years, and I've spent the last four of those, in part, developing this campaign setting for a small group of friends. Now I want to share it with the public.
The Isles of the Sun is a fully developed d20 campaign setting. Compatible with any d20 system, including D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder.
Here's an excerpt from the introduction to the guide:
"In the distant seas, two archipelagos converge to form a group of islands called simply The Isles of the Sun. The central Islands are controlled by The Fallen Children, the most populous race in The Isles. The frigid north is in the hands of the Drakes, a Draconian race with a strict honor system. In the north east is the Island of The Eponwood, where the vast forests contain the most advanced, intelligent, and long-lived species on the planet: The Epon, a race of sentient telepathic trees who are tended and revered by their seedlings, the Shay. Directly to the south of the Island of The Eponwood are the marsh islands called home by the Lynx, a race of sharp-eyed felines. The humans and the minor races that came with them on the settlement ships many years ago occupy the islands in the South-West, where the land is newest, and the landscape is most sharp and dangerous. In the south east a small string of tropical islands are home to The Trodden Children, a race of stoic monks and laborers of small stature.
"The islands themselves range from small enough to hold barely a trading post up to large enough to hold an entire civilization. There are many small islands which are not officially explored or claimed, and there are still others, like the Island of the Undead, known long ago as The Lover's Isle, which are purposely left out of trade and politics."
The guide contains all the information you need to run a campaign in The Isles. There is information about the world itself, including lots of maps and politics, but there are also new races, monsters, weapons, equipment, feats, spells, and prestige classes (see below for a more detailed break down). All of these new things are built and tested to be compatible and balanced within the d20 system, so you could even incorporate the things you like, piecemeal, into your own d20 campaign.
My DMing style focuses on the story of the characters more than the fights and loots, and this campaign setting reflects that. In addition to the carefully built, verisimilar world, you'll find that the side-bars of the book will have numerous bits of advice and suggestions for house rules from my long experience running table-top games, all of which can be, like with all of the other material, applied in part or whole to any d20 campaign.
Also offered is a Player Edition of the guide. It's slightly cheaper, but the real appeal is that it doesn't contain any of the information that the player wouldn't need to reference during the game.This makes fewer pages to flip through, but also allows the DM to keep the players surprised by some of the elements. This will be especially important if the Stretch goal is met, and you want to use the campaign for your players - it's a branching story, and letting the players know exactly where the branches lead in advance might detract from the experience. The Player Edition could also be useful to DMs who already have an established world, and just want to give the players some more character generation and equipment options.
Brian Ambrozy of Icrontic.com, who was also one of my playtesters, said this in his write-up of the project for the Icrontic community:
"I spent four years in the Isles, and it is a tremendously well-developed campaign world, filled with distinctive and memorable personalities, solid and believable geo-politics, intrigue, mystery, dangers, and wonders. The mythology and background is fascinating and fantastic. This place is a joy to run adventures in."
The project also caught the attention of my colleagues over at TGDaily
So, What do I need the money for? If the project is mostly my labor which is already a sunk investment, why not just send it to a print-on-demand press?
Mostly, the funds will be going out to the illustrators. A book like this needs lots of illustrations, and my own skills only extend to maps and equipment illustrations. Any figure illustration (which is a huge part of what's needed), I will have to pay illustrators to create. The amount given as the goal is the minimum required to pay the illustrators a fair price for their illustrations plus the initial printing cost of the books that would need to be ordered to hit that number plus the KickStarter fees.
The art is also the reason for the long delay to finished product. I've gathered a team of talented, yet part-time, illustrators. if I manage to recruit more, or if the ones I have manage to get more time freed up from their day-jobs, it might go faster. March 2013 is my worst-case scenario for press time, assuming six-months or so to get all the illustrations finished and inserted into the book. If it gets finished sooner, it will be sent out sooner.
Here's a breakdown of what will be in the book († indicates items left OUT of the Player Edition of the guide):
- 6 playable races
- 4 NPC races
- 18 feats, mostly reflecting the nautical nature of the campaign, along with changes to the way some existing feats and skills function.
- 7 prestige classes
- 50+ monsters and other enemies †
- 30+ weapon types
- 1 special weapon/armor material (Epon timber)
- 17 Sail Charms (a new category of magical item)
- 40+ unique magic items and artifacts tied into the lore of the setting †
- 4 maps of the world
- 6 detailed kingdom maps †
- 100+ dungeon, town and misc. maps and battle grids †
- Dozens of NPCs with personalities and descriptions; many with stat blocks †
- Detailed descriptions of pertinent aspects of The Isles, including religions, governments, commerce, a calendar, and hundreds of years of history and politics. †
- Setting appropriate 'house rules' and other DMing advice. †
- Lots of illustrations to accompany everything.
It has been requested/suggested that I create a couple of more stretch goals at lower funding levels than the original $6k stretch goal, so I have done. Here they are:
Stretch Goal: $3k - The Demon Hunter
If we meet this stretch goal, I will write an original short story set in the same world as the campaign, starring characters who are referenced in the lore of the world. This story will then be included in the guide, and available as a stand-alone novella.
Stretch Goal: 4.5k - Dragon Line
Dragon Line is an in-canon card game that the characters in the world play for fun or gambling. It's a simple deck-building, tactical card game, but the rules for playing the game in the setting guide are only which dice the players should roll to see how well their characters play the game. Real rules do exist for the game, however, and if this goal is met, I will have decks of Dragon Line cards designed and printed. These will be included with the top two pledge packages, and made available to anyone else for a small additional fee.
Stretch Goal: $6k - The Isles of the Sun campaign
The original stretch goal: Successfully meeting this goal will add a full campaign combining the above material with an original, epic, branching story.The Isles of the Sun campaign is designed to take players through a series of adventures, connected by a strong plot arc, which leads them from level 1 to level 20, while also showing them the width and breadth of the setting, rather than holding them to a single city or kingdom. The players' characters have no 'home base' and are constantly on the move from city to city, kingdom to kingdom, island to island.
The adventures are not stand alone pieces pushed together into a campaign, they are instead part of a continuous, branching story with little downtime. The characters move through an overriding quest that starts small and grows to encompass the fate of the world. The campaign will not be in the Player Edition.
If the stretch goal is not met, the campaign may be released at a later date as a separate book.
*Some elements of some images are copyright Dunjini. These elements are licensed and used with permission.
Risks and challenges
With the exception of the illustrations, everything listed in the 'contents' section of the main project description is already finished, it just has to be properly formatted to fit the shape of the book.
The main challenge then will be wrangling the illustrators. I have four illustrators lined up already, willing to work on the book part time for several months to get all the illustrations done, but illustrators, like any artist are fickle folk, and some may need to be replaced, or the team may need to be supplemented with additional artists to get everything done in the promised time-frame.
If the stretch goal is met, that will mean lots of additional work for me. The campaign is complete, but it's in the form of DM's notes spread over various notebooks and Office documents, some of it is only in my head, and some of it is incomplete, as it was intended to be a branching story, and when the group of players who first tested the setting would go one way, I would stop developing the other way. Gathering all of the information into one place, and developing the parts which are still incomplete will be an undertaking, surely, but I'm up for it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes. I've done the requisite research into the Open Gaming License and d20 licensing, and it's all legal. I actually haven't decided if I'm going to use the official d20 branding or not, since that comes with some extra restrictions, but under the OGL, as long as my book still requires you to get the core books from WOTC - in other words: my books can't contain the rules for character creation or advancement or basics of combat, etc. - I'm golden.
I'd like to use the campaign in a virtual tabletop software like iTabletop or Fantasy Grounds. Can I get all the maps and stuff in JPG or PNG, so they can be used there?
That's a great idea!
Here's what I'll do: anyone who has ordered a copy of the full guide - PDF or hardcopy - will also get an archive file containing all of the maps from the guide, so that you can import them into your virtual tabletop. I'll include with that a pack of tokens, made from the character art in the book.
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