I am still running our very first Epic RPG campaign, Hand of the King in Tuirdroth. It's a blast, once or twice a week. We love it, and now I get to play in our second Epic campaign The Burning Sea set in a custom gladitorial desert world my buddy Brandon created himself. I thought I'd share some of the details that make it such a fun and intriguing game from my player perspective.
Our people are called the Kalla, the Old Blood, descended from the four native desert cities east of the great Burning Sea, a mineral and salt sea not fit for drinking. A once broad Kalla culture was overthrown 120 years ago from our great throne on the Madassan Plateau and our oasis cities Droth and Golgotha. Most of our people were slaughtered or enslaved, or died in the escape from sieges waged by the Galamari (the usurpers, spit when u speak their name). The Kalla are meant for the desert. We are tall, strong, and able to survive the two days a week of Amon-Seth (when the second sun blazes the sky and temperatures reach 120f). We are tan, we drink cactus spirits, we need half as much water as the Galamari in a day, and we do not use money, slaves or oppression.
Our small sea village of 3500 Kals has transgressed into a new culture apart from the old days. We are mostly warriors, 95% of our men come of age as either hunters or warders in the Scarred brotherhood (based on the Scarred in Espirea). We retain one small group of philtrologist, the seer leaders of the Kalla known as the Kajji. The Kajji prepare our food, read omens, relay wisdom and lead our people. There are only 5 Kajji and one in training, and all of our people respect their words. Every Kalla speaks his own mind, among the warriors (who also moonlight as craftsmen, herders and miners) no man is above another. Whoever comes up with the best plan sees it adopted by all. Whomever takes charge leads, and whoever agrees can follow.
The Kalla have Grown into this hardened communal nature through necessity. We eat snakes from the sand and crocodiles from the sea made into a gruel or soup flavored by blood meal and herbs. We eat in private, in solitude. Only on the festivals of the 5 Gods over a few days every two and a half months do we slaughter our nabbi (goats from the plateau) and eat together. The Scarred travel with 2 warders and 1 or 2 hunters, hunting large scorpions, deadly snakes, or the small Galamari slaver parties that come up from the south to take our men.
The slavers take our people, as they always have, as slaves to serve their pious debauchery. They prize our warriors in the gladiator pits and the arena where our great strength and tenacity seems superhuman to the frail usurpers. They consider themselves above other men, which is why we Kals view each man his own free soul bound by no other bonds except brotherhood, blood, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
My character Raja and my cohort Aylish (I lish) started this campaign having just passed their coming of age, spending 5 years alone in the desert shunning others and ritually scarring our bodies from scorpion acid. We began a normal tribal life of hard work hunting, herding and crafting in our village.
We played our first 20 game sessions without ever fighting another man. Not one combat except the crocodiles, snakes, scorpions, and eventually the lions we hunted while gathering nabbi on the steepes of the plateau. We gamed in this simple yet rich culture of tortured past and hard trials next to the Burning Sea, and it was damn fun.
Eventually, we heard that our people once lived in a great city called Madassa atop the Plateau to our Northeast. Aylish and I convinced our people during the festival of Amon-Ra, on the day or Raeus, that we had received a vision bidding our peoples return to the Plateau city where rain, more fertile soils and food were much more plentiful (that means: present at all). During our post festival sojourn to the Plateau to mine and gather nabbi, we led a group of Kalla up to Madassa for the first time in many decades.
We discovered idols and temples left in tact (the Galamari worship our same gods we believe). We found some weapons made of steel (a weapon craft lost to our people now). We found plentiful nabbi, lions in the palaces, and cisterns to collect rain. We discovered hidden crypts in lost arts of stonework holding the treasures of God-Kings from days long forgotten from the memory of our peoples. We found out how the Galamari sacked and overthrew Madassa.
We returned to our people, vowing to prepare ourselves to eventually reclaim the city. The Kajji actually came to agree, and our culture now prepares to return there with most of us in a year.
We went back and searched out the aquifer under our ancient well, tracking the caves, lakes, and streams to the cursed schemes of the Galamari. We learned of the failures of our people hundreds of years ago that bred complacency, self centeredness and a lack of strength for when the Galamari came. We vowed to only bring the strength of the Kalla in our new society back to Madassa, not to return to the ways of old that divided our people from their right as the Old Blood of the desert.
We did all this, two or three games a week, without ever having a combat. And it was really, really fun. It's one of the best games we ever played, one of the best stories we've ever helped write, two of the best characters we've ever enjoyed developing- all without a single combat. No monsters, no imbued items, no bullying NPC's, no political opponents and no game that wasn't f'n badass fun.
We went and hunted slavers a couple nights ago and fought our first battle. 3 Kalla slayed 10 Galamari slavers. Oh they were tough, the nets (for the love of God fear the agility rolls), their relentless kopesh's, their tactics. We lost our great brother Gru (also known as Soup). We nearly died hunting these slavers, Gru did. It was heroic, and we gained 12 camels and steel weapons for our people, a great bounty. And this first battle, this glorious combat has opened a new door to us...
KILL THE GALAMARI! TAKE OUR LAND BACK, TAKE OUR WATER BACK, TAKE OUR PEOPLE BACK!
(But, why do have a feeling I may end up in the arena before all is said and done?)
Enjoying an incredible story in the incredible Epic system...
Jeff, Epic Guide
Currently Running: The Hand of the King, Tuirdroth
Currently Playing: Scared Kalla of Amon-Ra
"So, you say you can call the rain?" Aylish, before the great revelation, and the confirmation of our suspicions about the God Kings.