Out From the Shadows: Background & Set Up

This will be one in a series of running posts about a new custom D&D 5e campaign I am pulling together for the gang. The players will find themselves trapped living in the lower ranks of a hate driven caste system, and they will be struggling to escape.

The following is an excerpt from the players guide I am writing for this campaign that gives a true flavor for how abysmal the situation is that the players will find themselves in. Their oppressive upbringing will have hardened them in some aspects, but will create critical flaws for the players as a counterpoint. More to come on that in the next post.

Without further ado, the background and first plot point set up to Out From the Shadows.

Out From the Shadows

You and your comrades find yourself treading the well worn paths criss crossing the ramshackle rooftops of The Corners. Sounds of people moving about your impoverished district can be heard faintly below. A child can be heard crying a few buildings over to the East. The sky has now been gently blown clean of any clouds. The moonlight fully illuminates the City of Astoria in a bath of silver brilliance. Looking out across the rooftops, the Lord’s district dividing wall is now clearly in view. The districts are all separated by some physical barrier. Beggars Corners is the only district physically cut off from the others by a high wall. The Corners used to be a slave district over a hundred years ago until a King’s decree outlawed the practice of slavery in the region. The wall was a fortified means to keep the slaves “squalor” contained. The wall has several lookout towers long since sealed off and abandoned.

The wall is a relic of the past, but it’s impact has sent ripples of condemnation to the residents at present contained by it. The slaves may have been given their freedom, but their liberation ended at the physical removal of their shackles. No plan was implemented to give them purpose or a function in Astoria. The Aldermen were merely kowtowing to the King of their time, on the surface they were in compliance. At the core, the former slaves were abandoned to fend for themselves. Thus emerged from the old district the new district of Beggars Corners. Emerging from the darkness, the once destitute began making a slow creep into the normal society of Astoria. Constantly hassled by the City Watch, constantly scrutinized by the wealthy as a burden, they were left to make their own way. 

Few had any knowledge of the world outside the city, even fewer could read or write. Many had skills as laborers, and their labor was still needed in the city. Their wages were far from fair, but many continued their old slave duties now as free men paid the bare minimum to do so. Independent shops began to emerge in the Corners, and trade within this neglected district began to become established on a small scale. Despite the strides made and the accomplishments earned, the shackles of yesterday still haunt the current citizens of Beggars Corners. The social oppression has strong roots in the past that are not easily unearthed. The wound is never given a chance to close on it’s own, the privileged class of Astoria constantly find new ways to peel up corners of this scab and even at times rip it clean off.

To keep up this constant level of loathing and outrage is exhausting. Most Corner dwellers have accepted their station in life and focus on finding what little joy they can in the day to day. Some much like yourself have only found discontent and a thirst for revenge against the nobility in the name of your ancestors. A deep desire has driven you and others like you to work to reclaim your honor. The Corners is your home, and more importantly home to the Broken Trust. 

The Broken Trust was founded by Giles Drachen when he was fifteen with a small handful of forgotten urchins in the Corners. Now nearing his thirtieth year of life, Giles commands this small vigilante group on it’s noble crusade to protect the destitute masses of Beggar’s Corners. Over the years, Giles has grown his gang of merry men and women to almost thirty strong. Each member of the Trust is responsible to carry out a variety of reconnaissance, thievery, and sabotage missions against the wealthy ruling class.

This evening, you find yourself on such a mission with a few of your closest comrades. This mission is different, however, it is not sanctioned by Giles… it was sanctioned by the overindulgence of ale you and your comrades partook earlier this evening. Tonight, your target is the opulent mansion of Alderman Erest during the celebration of his Wife’s 50th birthday…

UP NEXT: Character Building

As I mentioned previously, the rough upbringing the party has endured growing up in The Corners will have bearing on their character in a multitude of ways. I’m limiting classes that are available and making magic something special in their immediate sphere. I’m have not completely decided if I will allow for magic to be more prevalent in other areas of the world or not yet. To start, it will be uncommon in the lower class for sure.

I’m also limiting races that are available. This will play into the history of the races used as slaves and play into the history of the region more than anything else.

Next post we will dive into the mechanics of how these characters will be built out, the benefits and detriments to each class, and how this can affect how each player role plays their character!