Player's Guide

Introduction

Guilty. You are a lawbreaker – the worst of the worst. Too dangerous to live amongst the good people of Talingarde, they dragged you in chains before a magistrate and condemned you. They sent you to the worst prison in the land, and there they forever marked you. They held you down and branded you with a runic F. You are one of the Forsaken now. You won’t be at Branderscar Prison for long; no, Branderscar is only a holding pen. In three days, justice comes. In three days, everything ends. What a pity. If only there was a way out of this stinking rat­hole. If only there was a way to escape. If only… No. No one has ever escaped from Branderscar Prison. This is where your story ends…

What is Talingarde?

Talingarde is the most virtuous, peaceful, noble nation in the world today. This land is ruled by King Markadian V, called the Brave of House Darius. He has only one heir – the beautiful princess Bellinda. This benevolent monarchy is heavily intertwined with the Church of Mitra, the Shining Lord. You are from Talingarde. This is your home. You have lived here your entire life. And if they gave you half a chance, you would have your revenge on all of them.

Who is Mitra?

Mitra, the so­called Shining Lord, is the god of the sun, bravery, honor, justice, charity, and other such rubbish. The Church of Mitra is the pre­eminent religion of Talingarde these days. The Knights of the Alerion, the elite warriors of Talingarde, are a Mitran order. The monks of St. Macarius, who travel the land healing the sick and the helping the needy, are also a Mitran order. The House of Darius, the royal family of Talingarde, are devout followers of Mitra.

It wasn’t always this way. Before the Darians took over, Talingarde worshipped an entire pantheon of deities. Pre­eminent among those deities was Asmodeus, Prince of Hell, Lord of Ambition and Order. Now it is forbidden to worship Asmodeus. To do so is to be condemned. The Mitrans destroyed all the Asmodean temples and burned his books and priests. There are no followers of Asmodeus left in Talingarde – at least, none you know of. Devout Mitrans will not say the name Asmodeus. He is simply “The Fallen”, or “The Enemy”.

How did they catch me?

You tell me. You must pick a crime (there is a list provided below) that you were condemned for. There are only two requirements – you got caught and you really did it. It’s not surprising that the Talireans (the people of Talingarde) caught you, though. Talingarde is a fiercely lawful and good society. Crime (especially heinous crime like yours) is not tolerated.

Picking Your Race

All races are permitted. There are certain races that will be more difficult to play in this campaign. Extremely unusual or monstrous races are likely to be troublesome. PCs of those races may find themselves uninvolved in certain parts of this campaign. The PCs after all are on a secret mission to infiltrate and destroy Talingarde. It will be more difficult to infiltrate anything if you are travelling with a minotaur, goblin or serpent man for example. Tread carefully with these choices.

Picking Your Class

All classes are permitted, however a few classes require some special consideration below.

Cleric: Clerics make a great choice but must worship a god who approves of the villainous path ahead of you. Worshipping the lawful evil god Asmodeus is strongly encouraged. However, it is believed in Talingarde, that many of the other evil gods are in fact servants of Asmodeus. Asmodeus’ domains include: Death, Trickey, and War.

Druid: Evil druids are a perfectly valid choice, but you must decide why such a character would ever join an organization that honors a lawful evil god.

Paladin: The Oath of Vengeance paladin makes for an excellent choice for a character, and will fit in well with the theme of the campaign. We would just have to change the theme slightly so that you seek vengeance against the followers of Mitra, and flip any instances of celestials and fiends. The Oath of Devotion and Oath of the Ancients, while not expressly forbidden, would be very difficult to play effectively while keeping to you Oaths. Until the release of the Oathbreaker Paladin in the DMG, it might be best to wait on those oaths.

Rogue: Rogues of all types fit into the campaign easily. The Assassin in particular is a great choice for this campaign. Subtle killing can potentially be useful again and again.

Sorcerer: All types of sorcerers are welcome, though if taking the Draconic Bloodline, a chromatic dragon is the most recommended type.

Warlock: Any pact is permitted. However, the Fiend pact is the most thematic choice, while Archfey is a bit less thematic than the other choices.

Equipment

The characters begin with nothing. They have no money, no weapons or armor, no gear, no
animal companions of any sort, and no material possessions besides tattered, dirty prison
clothes. Equipment will be acquired in game.

Bards: begin without their instruments or spell components.

Clerics & Druids: begin having chosen all their spells for the day; however, they do not have their holy symbol or any material components.

Rangers (Beast Master): Their animal companion will not accompany them. Presumably, a companion was either slain during their capture, or had escaped, and awaits them outside. Regardless, such beasts would never be allowed inside the prison. Only if they escape from Branderscar prison will they have a chance to reunite with their companion, or be able to acquire another.

Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards: These classes will not have their spell books, material components, familiars or bonded objects. They do, however, begin with a full selection of memorized spells predating their incarceration.

Crimes of the Forsaken

Each character chooses one heinous crime which has earned them a place in Branderscar Prison. Each crime grants a minor benefit. You may have committed many crimes during your lifetime, but this is the crime that finally got you branded and condemned. This list of crimes is not intended to be comprehensive. Feel free to invent your own crime, punishment and benefit (with the GM’s approval, of course).

Besides simply choosing a crime, you should also consider how the crime was done. Was this a well-planned criminal enterprise, or a crime of passion? Did you do it alone, or did you have accomplices? Was this the first time you commited this crime, or are you a repeat offender? Answering these questions will help flesh out your character’s background.

This has been said before, but it bears repeating. Your character actually perpetrated this crime. You may have done it for what seemed like noble reasons. You may have gotten entangled in this criminal enterprise unwillingly. But there is no doubt that you are guilty. You have not been sentenced to the worse prison in Talingarde unjustly. You are here because you deserve to be.

Arson
You have willfully started a fire that destroyed property. To be sent to Branderscar, you didn’t start just a minor little trash fire. Your act of arson threatened a major town, city, church or castle, and likely cost someone their life. You’ll be punished for your crime by facing the fire yourself.
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: Whenever you score a critical hit with a fire attack or an enemy rolls a 1 on a save vs a fire attack, you receive a +2 fire damage bonus to your damage roll.

Attempted Murder
You tried to kill someone and botched the job. To be sent to Branderscar Prison, you did not try to kill just anyone. You likely assaulted someone of great importance and prominence.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Intimidate skill. If you already have this skill you may choose a different skill.

Blasphemy
Either you have defamed the great god Mitra, or you have been found guilty of worshipping one of the forbidden deities (among whom is pre­eminently Asmodeus).
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Religion skill. If you already have this skill you may choose a different skill.

Consorting with the Dark Powers (Witchcraft)
You have been found guilty of summoning an evil outsider. Likely you were captured by the famed witch Hunter Sir Balin of Karfeld. The last thing he said to you was, “May Mitra have mercy upon your wretched, damned soul.” If only you could get a chance at revenge!
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Arcana skill. If you already have this skill you may choose a different skill.

Desecration
You have violated one of the shrines of the church, cathedral or holy shrine of the great god Mitra. To be sent to Branderscar means that this was no minor act of vandalism. Instead, you have done something flagrant and spectacular to dishonor the Shining Lord.
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: You receive +1 trait bonus on all saving throws against divine spells.

Desertion
You have deserted from the Talirean military and been recaptured. To get sent to Branderscar means that this was not some minor or routine dereliction of duty. Instead, you abandoned your post during a time of crisis ­­ perhaps battle or while defending the Watch Wall. Regardless of the exact circumstances, your laziness and cowardness must have caused loss of life.
Punishment: Death by hanging
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Athletics or Intimidation skill. If you already have both these skills you may choose a different skill.

Dueling unto Death
You have engaged in a duel to the death and mortally wounded an opponent. The opponent was honorable enough to say nothing before he expired. Alas, his family or companions were far less honorable. Dueling was once common in Talingarde, before the House of Darius came to power. The House of Barca all but encouraged duels of honor. Now, dueling of any sort is punished severely. Dueling to the death is a sure way to be sent to Branderscar Prison.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to Constitution saves

Extortion
You have defrauded money from someone by holding information of their wrongdoing over their heads. To end up in Branderscar, this was no minor act of merely threatening to expose someone. Instead, you have attempted extortion against someone of great prominence, and for exorbitant stakes.
Punishment: Life of hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Intimidate skill. If you already have this skill you may choose a different skill.

Forgery
You have forged documents issued either by the crown or by the Church of Mitra. While competent, your forgery was not entirely undetectable. To be sent to Branderscar, this was no minor finagling of paperwork. This forged document could have cost lives, undermined the reputation of the Church, or endangered the security of the realm.
Punishment: Life of hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Deception skill. If you already have this skill you may choose a different skill.

Fraud
You tried to bilk someone out of their cash. To end up in Brandescar Prison, this was no petty con job or penny ante racket. Instead, you brazenly tried to defraud someone important of a huge sum of money. And it almost worked, too!
Punishment: Life of hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Deception skill. If you already have this skill you may choose a different skill.

Grave Robbery
It is forbidden by sacred law to dishonor a corpse after it is been sealed in its tomb by a clergy of the Mitran faith. Some may not honor this ban: necromancers, golem crafters, self­styled scientists, and alchemists delving into the forbidden secrets of life and death. These ghouls can expect no mercy from the Talirean Magistrates. And by sending you to Branderscar Prison, you have received none.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: When you score a critical hit, gain advantage on you next attack. You lose this advantage if it is not used by the end of combat.

Heresy
You have denied the supremacy of Mitra, and have been condemned for it. For this to be a crime, you were not content to keep your heresy to yourself. You tried to sway others. You were likely captured by the famed witch hunter, Sir Balin of Karfeld. The last thing he said to you was: “Mitra may forgive you yet for your lies. Taking aide will not.” If only you could get a chance at revenge!
Punishment: Death by burning.
Benefit: You receive a +1 bonus on all saving throws against divine spells.

High Theft
You had a foolproof plan to steal some great treasure. Alas, the scheme had a fatal flaw, and went horribly awry. To be sent to Branderscar prison, this was no ordinary robbery attempt. You tried to steal something of great value or religious significance.
Punishment: Life of hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You receive a +1 bonus to dexterity saves.

High Treason
You have willfully worked to bring down the current Monarch of Talingarde ­­ the beloved King Markadian V, called the Brave of House Darius. To be successfully tried for High Treason, you have done more than merely dislike the king; you did something tangible to undermine his rule. Alas, that you failed at your plot and are now headed to Branderscar Prison. Treason is the only crime that is still punished by the gruesome ritual of being drawn and quartered. Your stay at Branderscar will be brief.
Punishment: Death by drawing and quartering
Benefit: You receive a +1 bonus to Wisdom saves.

Kidnapping
You have abducted someone, perhaps to ransom them, or do unspeakable things to them. Unfortunately, you were caught and your victim was rescued (if they weren’t rescued ­­ you would be guilty of murder instead). To be sent to Branderscar Prison, you must have abducted someone of great importance or in a particularly gruesome manner.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: Your movement is not halved when moving with a grappled creature of you size category or smaller

Murder
You have killed without just cause, and been condemned for it. To be sent to Branderscar Prison, this was no typical killing, but a particularly savage and unforgiveable act. You may also have killed someone with powerful friends. Note:You are not allowed to have killed someone in the royal family of Talingarde. You may have tried (his would instead be High Treason ­­ see above), but ultimately they are too well protected.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You deal 1 additional point of damage when you have advantage against a foe.

Piracy
You have been caught in the act of piracy on the high seas. This is a rare crime these days, since Markadian I, called the Victorious, burned the last major pirate fleet to threaten these isles. Still, the crime is punished harshly. You are likely the sole survivor of your ship.
Punishment: Death by hanging
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Deception or Intimidate skill. If you already have both these skills, you may choose a different skill.

Sedition
You have attempted to covertly stir up rebellion against your rightful sovereign. This differs from high treason, in that you attempted to convince others to make war against Talingarde instead of taking direct action yourself. A subtle difference, to be sure. But, it is the difference between receiving the swift justice of the axe and of the slow suffering upon the rack.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Deception or Persuasion skill. If you already have both these skills you may choose a different skill.

Slave­Taking
Slavery is illegal in Talingarde, and a very rare crime. Still, once in a great while, slavers from the mainland will foolishly make an incursion into Talirean protected territories. When they are captured alive, they are always made an example of.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: Your movement is not halved when moving with a grappled creature of you size category or smaller

Slave Trading
Slavery is legal in other parts of the world, and it can be tempting to the most decadent of Talingarde’s nobility to acquire a “souvenir” when traveling abroad, or to purchase the object of their desire from a less than reputable merchant. However, you wound up trading slaves in Talingarde, were caught red­handed, and now you will lose more than simply your freedom.
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You gain proficiency in the Insight or Persuasion skill. If you already have both these skills, you may choose a different skill.

Player's Guide

Way of the Wicked Jynx_lucky_j