Ptolus Four By Four

“I think I have a secret, an important one. I can’t say what it is yet. I’m not trying to be coy; I don’t know it myself. But I have it inside me. And it’s something that demons and devils and gods and angels can’t know. I think they all want to end the world, and it doesn’t have to end.”

This is a campaign starting in late 2019, set in Monte Cook’s Ptolus: City By The Spire, played with Pathfinder v1 rules.

(I’m brand new to Obsidian Portal. Any feedback encouraged, including “on Obsidian Portal, we generally do things this way, instead of what you did,” so long as you’re not gratuitously rude about it.) I see this as primarily a place to keep a gaming blog where others might read and enjoy it (that being the point of blogging the campaign.) But I’m starting to find this is a convenient place to start taking notes, too.

I was handed the D&D grey books in 1973 and have been hooked on RPGs ever since. I’ve GMed every edition of D&D, I’ve run long and successful campaigns in Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Runequest, Ars Magica, Werewolf, Mage, and others. Marrying another gamer was the smartest thing I ever did.

To understand Ptolus, download the Ptolus Player’s Guide – that gives you the setting far better than I could describe it here.

I chose the “Four By Four” label for a somewhat complex (and possibly contrived-sounding) reason: my four players are each taking on two characters, who are each involved in two of the four major plotlines of the campaign; hence four plotlines, each with four primary characters; for each plotline each player has one character; but as the characters all know one another, for major adventures or significant milestone events they may all be involved together.

This campaign structure was an attempt to reconcile several goals in tension with one another:

  • My players were frustrated with the constraints of small parties and the limitations of playing a single role over the course of several years in a single campaign
  • While I enjoy running a game with multiple characters per player, inevitably some roleplaying depth is sacrificed when players, as they control multiple characters, of necessity refer to each in the third person
  • Ptolus is a huge, sprawling, complex setting that rewards subgroups being involved with multiple different organizations and following multiple plotlines, but when only part of a party is involved with a given plot, players not involved will be distracted and bored

I provided the players with a list of ten campaign themes and invited them to come to a consensus on approximately four that sounded most interesting.

The characters wer created over the course of several weeks that also produced an extensive family tree containing a substantial number of plot hooks.

I already plan to be deeply indebted to archonshiva’s Spire, Orangutank’s Slaking the Gamecock, to Bryan’s City By The Spire right here, and of course Monte Cook for making their campaign journals public; I intend to steal extensively from each.

The characters started out renting small apartments, but having found a vacant (if badly soiled) house on Citation Street and being oversupplied with characters able to cast prestidigitation, they have cleaned it out and filed the paperwork to rent it.

Ptolus - Four By Four

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